In my not so humble opinion, there is no better way to end a winter getaway to Iceland than with a stop at The Blue Lagoon. Emphasis on the "end." Because first of all? If I'm going to spend the next 10 hours on planes, a nice three hour soak in a magical geothermal spa sounds like the best way to prepare. But more importantly:
The Blue Lagoon is always open.
Well, almost. For the most part though, Iceland's insane weather doesn't have any impact on this Icelandic essential. The Blue Lagoon is open every day of the year, rain, sun, and snow... and it's on the way to the airport anyway. Along our travels we met several people who regretted spending earlier, nicer days in their vacation on The Blue Lagoon, only to have other activities snowed out later on.
They learned the hard way. Whereas we? Well... we did this totally by accident, but still. I reserve the right to be cocky about it.
So, on our last morning in Iceland we packed our bags, hopped on a shuttle and headed to one of National Geographic's 25 Wonders of the World.
Our wonderful friends at Reykjavik Excursions picked us up outside of our AirBnB in a shuttle and drove us to the bus terminal. From there, we took the FlyBus straight to the Lagoon.
During the winter, the Flybus leaves every hour for the Blue Lagoon, starting at about 8am. Then from noon on, the bus returns to the Lagoon hourly to take travelers to the airport.
A note: seating on these return busses is on a somewhat first-come, first-served basis, so it's important to be waiting out by the pick-up spot at least 15 minutes before your scheduled departure time. There's no announcement inside the spa that the bus has arrived either, which definitely requires you to keep track of time.
As was the trend in Iceland during our trip, when we first pulled up to the entrance there was no indication that a giant lagoon was anywhere on the flat, lava-filled horizon. There was just a small office where travelers could store really big luggage for a fee and a path carved out between the lava rock.
Eventually an entrance materialized and we headed inside to queue up for tickets. You can buy these ahead of time online and are encouraged to in order to have a reservation. If you've done so, you can also head to a much shorter line instead. Plus, you'll save the $5 walk-in fee that way.
At the counter, we checked in, declined upgrades for our tickets (we bought the most basic package, which is what I'd recommend... just pack a towel to plan for this!), and were given electronic bracelets that would act as our locker key, our electronic payment at the bar, and our entry device to the Lagoon. Ryan and I split up and headed for our respective locker rooms.
In the locker rooms, the locker process is a bit confusing at first and not at all intuitive or explained by any of the staff. Basically, you'll scan your bracelet on the lock pad for cluster of lockers and that will assign whatever open locker you select to your bracelet for the time being. The lockers themselves range in size from small little boxes big enough for a purse to big boxes that can fit a carry-on suitcase.
Once you store your stuff, it's the Lagoon's policy to shower without your bathing suit on before getting ready for the spa. There are stalls for this so you have some privacy. And each stall has body wash, shampoo and conditioner. I'd read elsewhere that it was a good idea to coat your hair with conditioner before heading into the spa, so I definitely left some in before I headed back out to meet up with Ryan.
The spa starts inside and there are doors in the water so that you can move outside while warm. However, the majority of towel hooks are outside. Which means you have to mentally prepare yourself for a quick run out into the cold to hang up your towel before you sink into the warm water.
Once in the water we crouch-walked out into the Lagoon and headed straight for the bar. This walk takes a bit to get used to: the water is never more than about three feet deep, so to stay submerged, you're more or less walking in a squat the entire time. But you get used to it and eventually you don't even notice.
We spent our first hour enjoying our drinks, taking pictures (I had my waterproof camera, but some crazy people had DSLRs in the water), and exploring the Lagoon. Eventually, we found one of the mud mask stations and put on our masks.
The mud at the Blue Lagoon is free and plentiful, so it was nice to take advantage of a little spa treatment while we relaxed.
We let our masks dry on our faces for about twenty minutes while we chatted with other tourists. Two of them shared with us that they had upgraded to VIP, which gave them access to a separate lounge. They even used their bracelets to buzz us in so we could check it out ourselves! Inside, there was a nice little fireplace and fresh fruit laid out for guests. A sweet upgrade, but definitely not worth the $130 or so up-charge in my opinion.
After we rinsed off our masks, we ran across a little snowy beach to another section of the lagoon with waterfalls. And I was so proud of my Southern California boyfriend, running barefoot, in a bathing suit in the snow.
We've come a long way, baby.
After several hours of blissful floating around the Lagoon, we finally got out, headed back to our locker rooms and got ready for our Flybus ride to the airport. Before we left, I was sure to dump another handful of conditioner on my hair in the hope that it would reduce some of the damage I'd read about. Also good to know: there are hair dryers in the changing rooms as well, and had I realized that then I might not have had wet hair at the airport. Life lessons.
We headed downstairs to the spa checkout counter where we turned in our bracelets and settled up our bar tab. Then it was back on the snowy trail out to the bus stop. Our bus arrived right on time (gotta love those punctual Iceland folks) and away we went to Keflavik.
The Blue Lagoon was easily Ryan's favorite part of the trip and an obvious highlight for me as well (though I'm not sure anything can beat snorkeling Silfra). It's the perfect way to close out your winter adventures and an Icelandic exclusive that is definitely not to be missed!
Thanks to Reykjavik Excursions for sponsoring this post!
Our transportation to Blue Lagoon and the airport was provided to us for free by them, but all my opinions are honest as usual.