Valhalla exists and it is the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon is something that I was worried would be a cheesy tourist trap, but I wanted to visit it anyway because it sounded like the perfect place to relax and soothe my aching muscles the day following the Reykjavik marathon. It is about a 45-minute drive from Reykjavik and on the way to Keflavik Airport. The major tour operators, Reykjavik Excursions, and Grayline Tours operate tours to the Lagoon that include transportation and your ticket - you can choose the price level of your entry ticket for the Lagoon. I chose the basic ticket in my original booking about a month before I left and I upgraded upon checking in because that’s how I roll. Well, the ladies on my bus were talking about their mid-level ticket and I suddenly realized my basic one would not suffice.
Reykjavik Excursions also offers a ticket that allows you to visit the Blue Lagoon as a stopover on your arrival in Iceland or on your departure. There are full showers, lockers, and luggage storage if you do this. I wasn’t keen on schlepping my stuff and having to worry about putting a wet swimsuit in my suitcase for a full day of travel so I chose to make it the focus of my Sunday.
Upon checking in, you get an armband, it keeps track of your ticket package. For example, I got one free drink with my mid-level ticket. If you’re getting a massage (I did and I booked it in May for an August visit) you get an extra armband for the massage therapist to check you in. Anything else you eat or drink gets charged to the ticket. Then you pay for it on your way out, either with the same card, another card, currency, etc. They’re flexible.
Once you’re checked in, you proceed to the locker room, remove your shoes and put them on the rack and find a locker. The lockers are operated with your armband as well. I brought a swimsuit and forgot my flip-flops. My mid-level ticket covered a towel, fluffy robe for use around the lagoon, logo flip-flops (souvenir!), and skin care samples. Oh yeah, and that free drink. Overall, I think I paid about $58-$60 for my ticket, the basic entry is around $40. The excursion price with transport and the basic ticket was about $81. Add about $20 for each ticket level up.
After getting dressed in your swimsuit, you proceed to the showers, where you take it off again, and shower. Because the lagoon is not treated with chemicals, they want everyone washed off before entering. I think this is a good policy. There are hooks for your towel, robe, suit, etc. Many women rinsed off in their suits. I followed directions and showered in the nude, this was Europe, after all. After showering, you exit the locker room and proceed to the outside portion, the best part. Upon walking outside, in August, it was chilly, in the 50′s and cloudy. I hung my towel, robe and took off my flip-flops and immersed myself in the 99 F water. Steam was rising off of the water in a hazy cloud. It was divine.
I floated around for a wee bit, got to know some of the nooks and crannies of the giant outdoor pool, checked out the other people relaxing, and then joined the line at the swim-up bar to get an Icelandic beer. Now let’s stop for a moment. There are a few things in life that when combined, make for the perfect relaxation experience. In my opinion, those three things are a hot tub or thermal baths, swim-up bars, and massage. Here I was, combining all three. Sunday Funday, indeed.
I floated around for about an hour - I imagine people can stay there all day - then I made my way over to the massage pool section for my 1-hour in-water massage. The massages offered at the lagoon, being in-water on a floating raft, are Swedish style and therefore relaxing. Don’t book one expecting a deep tissue or sports massage. It was wonderful and relaxing. I’m really active and athletic so usually, if I’m not gritting my teeth through the pressure of a deep tissue or sports massage, I don’t consider it a massage. However, it was nice to have a relaxing one for once.
After my massage, I made my way back to the bar and got a strawberry sparkling wine, not usually my drink of choice but quite delightful. I sampled some of the much hotter parts of the lagoon - there are signs that warn you - and laid on some rocks like a beached mermaid with my drink in hand and relaxed with just my head out of the water. Many people were scooping white mud out of boxes where it is collected and slathering it on their faces and necks and letting it sit for 5-10 minutes, it was supposed to make your skin softer. I didn’t partake in this (I know, I’m lame). I had enough fun just relaxing.
I had been warned about my hair getting coated in the silica that is in the water - which is what gives the water its restorative, spa-like properties. What makes the skin soft makes your hair feel like straw for a few days. I had a hard time getting a comb through my hair for the few days after even though, as instructed, I saturated my hair in conditioner before I got in the lagoon. I didn’t want to wear my hair on top of my head nor did I want to wear a shower cap in the lagoon (as if). I wanted to swim around and just deal with the consequences. The consequences were the most tangled, straw-like hair ever for a few days following. Whatever, I was on excursions, hiking in very windy conditions so I had my hair in a bun or a ponytail anyway. C’est la vie. If you’re a more high-maintenance person, you should probably not get your hair wet there.
After another hour, my fingers were legitimately wrinkled and I was sufficiently relaxed, and I had dinner plans in Reykjavik with my new friend from the Netherlands, so I took the 4:15 bus departing the Lagoon and got dropped off at a hotel near my Airbnb cottage at about 5/5:15 pm.
Final verdict: A+, go visit. Even if you are skeptical, how can you not enjoy a day in what is essentially a natural hot tub with a cocktail? It is truly the good life.
Reykjavik Excursions Blue Lagoon Packages
Blue Lagoon Information