Is the Blue Lagoon in Iceland worth the money?

There has been a lot of discussion about the cost of visiting the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. It is so expensive that only tourists are willing to pay for the experience these days.

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After visiting the Blue Lagoon for the first time on Feb. 21, 2016, I recommend only going once and only on a Sunday morning in the winter — when the odds are in your favor that it won’t be overcrowded. Make sure to purchase of the Standard Package (€40 – about $45), which is the cheapest option available. Bring your own towel and swimsuit. Yes, they will rent you a swimsuit for €5 – about $5.50.

24910058759_da5e39807b_kThink of it as a hot water theme park

While this geothermal swimming pool may be touted as one of the natural wonders of the world, that’s bull. It’s a spa-ified pond of hot waste water from the local geothermal energy plant. That being said, it’s still a cool place to visit if it’s offseason (Is there an offseason anymore in Iceland?)

Consider the Standard Package as a ticket to a unique amusement park. Some folks say save your money and go soak in the public pool in downtown Reykjavik (and we did eventually go there too), but a visit to the Blue Lagoon is more than just soaking in hot water. It is a full sensory experience.

Since we had only arrived in Iceland the day before, even the drive through desolate, snow-covered  lava fields to the parking lot was fascinating. Inside the Blue Lagoon, we were immersed in a place that was so different from anything we had ever experienced.

We languished in milky hot water and, because it was not crowded, we stayed for four hours. We watched the inconsistent but brisk wind blow steam off the water. We swam to the far edge of the pool and pretended we were the only ones in the middle of nowhere. Without waiting in lines, we sat in the steam room and stood under the waterfall. We were constantly amused by watching tourists take selfies and cringing when they dropped their cameras/phones into the water.

The visit would have been great if we had only bought two Standard Packages and called it a day.

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Skip the bathrobe and slippers

Before we arrived in Iceland I had splurged and purchased two Premium Packages for €70 (about $79) each. This package included a bathrobe, a pair of slippers and a drink. That extra $60 above the cost of two Standard Packages was wasted money. We should have spent it on Mikeller craft beers and Isbud Vesturbaejar ice cream cones dipped in black licorice sauce.

Even though it was a cold winter day, there was no need for the bathrobes and slippers. The distance between the building entrance/exit and the outside rack where you are supposed to leave your robe/slippers about 10 feet. The water is about 10 feet past the rack. We only wore the robes/slippers for about 15 minutes during our four-hour visit.

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There was not enough room on the outside rack to hold all the bathrobes, so  people were piling them up three-deep on the hooks. There was no way to tell one white robe from another so we gave up trying to find our assigned robes and just took ones that were handy.

According to the Blue Lagoon website, “We recommend that you take regular breaks from the water. The relaxation area, next to the changing room doors, offers comfortable seating and soothing music to relax to. It also has an amazing view, looking out across the lagoon.”

What they don’t tell you is that there are only seating for about 15 people even though they can get more than 800+ visitors some days. And those lucky folks camp for a while with their mobile phones — no doubt posting photos of the Blue Lagoon on social media like I would do! We opted to soak in the water rather than to wait in a line.

Yes, you can wear your bathrobe and slippers across the main lobby and in the attached restaurant, but you still have to pay for your meal.

The drinks in the package were disappointing. My tiny drink (one measuring cup worth) of green smoothie was more like a medicine than a pleasing beverage. Gene said it tasted like pureed lawn clippings. His Gull beer tasted like an Icelandic version of Budweiser. Again, money wasted.

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Hands off the massage services

Sadly, I also had booked two 30-minute, in-water massage sessions for  €110 (about $124). These were performed in a small pool area off to one side of the main pool. My husband Gene gave his Relaxing Massage a thumbs up. His masseuse glowed with a great friendly energy. Only Gene’s head and shoulders were above the water during the session, so he stayed warm the whole time.

I, on the other hand, got the Authentic Silica Salt Glow session, and it was awful. I was positioned on a floating mat above an underwater table, which left the back of my body above the water. The masseuse covered my body with towels dipped in the pool’s hot water, but it was a blustery 2° C (about 35° F) day, so they got cold quickly and stayed cold until he warmed them again in the hot water, which was never frequent enough.

Worse yet, the therapist brought no joy, no positive energy to the experience that I normally get from a massage in a traditional setting. I felt like I was just another slab of tourist meat he had to process before he could stop for the day.

Bottomline: Go cheap once on a Sunday morning in winter.

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About Kristine K. Stevens

Book Cover200Kristine is the author of "If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It Isn't Big Enough: A Solo Journey Around the World." This nonfiction book tells the story of how she sold her house, quit her job and traveled around the world.

Kirkus Book Review: "... Stevens makes a friendly, relatable narrator ... plenty of colorful stories to make this an enjoyable, inspiring read... An often sweet memoir about finding oneself in many different places."


Next travel book to spotlight Iceland

25817249396_f6c787ef9f_z Kristine broke free from a desk job once again, and this time ended up volunteering in the far corners of Iceland!

Details about the release of this book will be posted on Facebook.