What is the absolutely most touristy thing you can do in Iceland? If you guess Blue Lagoon, you would have hit the nail on the head. You can’t avoid it. The ads are everywhere from the inflight magazine to the airport. Some say it’s a tourist trap. Some, like the National Geographic, names it as one of the 25 Wonders of the World!
So, with such diverse opinions, it was never a sure bet we would go there. As such, we churned on it for a while. But then when we threw in our most used phrases in travel such as “We are already here anyway”, “We are unlikely to come this way again”, “This is our only chance” . . . . you just know what will happen in the end. We buckled and booked our tickets!
No wonder then that we expected a huge carpark, lots of tourist buses, streams of visitors and long queues. And of course, the blue lagoon delivered in spades. We got all of that and more! It is hard not to really when it is on the list of possibly every tour agency here. They even make it so accessible such that you can visit the biggest hot tub in the world on just a stopover! (We saw visitors with what looked like all their luggage with them.) As such, it would be prudent to make your bookings early if you want to see what the fuss is all about!
After parking the car and taking the pathway that feels otherworldly due to the black lava rock walls on both sides, we were predictably met with a long queue. (And this is even if you have pre-booked tickets) Luckily for us, our travelling companions arrived much earlier and got a big head start in the queue. So, we just “merged in” and got to the front relatively quick.
It seems the reason for the queue is everyone gets checked in with an electronic wrist band. This cool little device will be the only thing you need once you get in. It gets you through the turnstile, accesses the bag lockers (which you choose) and even acts as a credit card. And at the end of the day, the exit turnstile will actually collect the wrist band before allowing you through too. It does this by opening up a compartment which you drop the wrist band into! We were quite impressed with the seemingly simple technology that has gone into it all.
Then it was a quick shower (there are a few cubicles available for those who can’t imagine showering in your birthday suit with strangers) which I know is required. But then it makes it absolutely FREEZING COLD when you step out. I don’t know how anyone can then step out through the glass doors outside when it is below zero in just your bathers! We saw that there is connecting pool just to your left as you exit the showers and headed straight there like our lives depended on it! This is such a sensible idea. From here you can then wade your way out through a swing door whilst submerged the whole time in the steaming warm bright blue waters of the lagoon.
Believe it or not, there is actually very little about the history of the blue lagoon that is natural. Unlike the natural hot springs found throughout Iceland, the blue lagoon is actually man made. When a geothermal plant, Svartsengi, was built here decades ago, the waste water was pumped out to a lava rich bed of silica and sulphur. This resulting mixture created a pool that was rich in minerals. In 1981, people started bathing in it when stories began to circulate about its healing properties. This was especially so for those with psoriasis. So much so that, a simple shelter was built by the Icelandic Psoriasis Foundation next to the pool for its members to change and have a shower. Eleven years later, the blue lagoon company was formed and it has not looked back since. (Interestingly, data has been gathered since then and now the Blue Lagoon is recognized as an official treatment centre for psoriasis by the Icelandic Health Authorities.)
That aside, what did we think of the whole experience? Well, it is a lot like going to the local pool with your family and friends. Except this one is hot (about 37-39 deg C) and it has a distinct blue colour to it. But it was still fun. We enjoyed soaking in the whole atmosphere (pardon the pun), looking silly with white silica on our faces and having a drink at the same time. Because of the wintry conditions, we were almost reluctant to leave the warmth of the lagoon. In the end, it was getting close to dinner (due to our booking time) and we decided to call it in.
Verdict: It is as touristy as it gets but if you like hot springs and a good soak, this is one to add to your list when you visit Iceland. Due to its nature, I reckon you won’t find another place like this anywhere else in the world.
- The geothermal seawater comes from 2km’s beneath the surface.
- The Blue Lagoon contains 6 million litres of it and it completely renews itself every 40 hours!
- The water is actually white! The sun makes it blue or when it is cloudy, greenish?
- The number of people in the lagoon are actually limited by the number of lockers.
- There is no time limit so you can virtually stay here all day.
- You can get married at the Blue lagoon.
For everything else blue lagoon, here’s the link to their website : http://www.bluelagoon.com/