Arriving at 4:30 am into Keflavík International Airport wasn’t the easiest way to start the trip, but I was thrilled that our first stop was going to be the Blue Lagoon, which opened at 8. I’ve been through Iceland’s largest airport only once before, on a stopover from France, and like most Scandinavian design, it struck me as calm and natural, made from wood and glass that felt neat, serene, and happy. It’s basically not the worst place you can end up hanging out for a few hours.
After snagging our luggage and the keys to our rental car, Jon and I ran a few circles around the Europcar parking lot in the snowy morning searching for our 4×4, only to find it covered in icy frost. Equipped with the tiniest of tiny scrapers (Jon called it an ice-cream cone), he scraped away, cleaning it off in the freezing, windy morning. With the air blowing through my loose pants, it was certainly a chilly hello to Iceland!
With a few hours to kill, we headed to Reykjanestá, an epic cliffside less known by tourists at the south-western most tip of Iceland. It was too snowy and cloudy to do any landscape photography, but we took note of the location and planned to come back at dawn the next day if the weather was better.
Now, we all know how much I love hot springs – I’ve talked about them so many times here on the blog – so it was a real goal of mine to go to the Blue Lagoon on this trip. I’ve heard many things about it, and seen many pictures, but I still wasn’t sure what exactly it was going to be. Some people say it’s super touristy, cheesy and expensive, and others say it was awesome – two incredibly different opinions. Jon and I try to avoid places that are too touristy, but I would never miss out on a hot bath, and so we scheduled the only available time that worked with our travel plans: 8 am on a Saturday.
The area surrounding the lagoon is a giant lava field covered in the brightest of green moss, and on the day we visited, snow and mist gave it an etherial atmosphere. It looked like a setting out of Lord of the Rings of some far away, mythical land. The Blue Lagoon is manmade – the happy result of an overflow from waste water back in the 1970’s. Locals started bathing in it and rumors of the water’s healing powers made it a popular site. Now, I don’t know about any healing powers, but I can tell you this: it was the best way to start the day!
The spa itself was well organized, clean and high tech – a small wristband was all you needed with you to lock/unlock lockers and order drinks. Apart from the sheer shock and agony of running from out the locker room doors and down into the lagoon (pro tip: there’s an inner pool that has a doorway to the outer pool), everything else was pure bliss. First, the pool is huge, working with the landscape of jagged, moss-covered rocks to create quieter, remote areas. Second, the color is just spectacular, an aquamarine worthy of its own Pantone color: 1779 U Lagoon Blue. And then, there’s the weather. Here you are floating in a hot bath during a snowstorm and loving it. Jon and I did two face masks, drank fresh smoothies while floating, and soaked till our toes were so wrinkly we hid them from each other. We spent most of the time idling in one place and then swimming around to find the hottest spot to hang out. In the less busy areas, I treaded water to avoid my feet from touching the jelly(!!!) – clumps of silica mud along the bottom of the lagoon that terrified me.
While there were certainly a large number of people in the baths, because of the shape of the pool, combined with the mist from the water, it never felt like there were more than 10 people nearby, especially once you moved away from the bar and entrance. And everyone was having a great time.
The Blue Lagoon was not only a unique experience, but a wonderful highlight of our first day! A few tips if you go:
- Go early to avoid crowds
- Do the Premium package if you don’t want to pack extra (they give you a towel, bathrobe and slippers)
- Order a drink – the smoothies were perfect for the early hours, but many people had wine and beer.
- When you take a shower before entering the pool, leave the conditioner in your hair to avoid damage from the silica (I didn’t have any hair problems, but the conditioner did irritate Jon’s forehead, so if you have sensitive skin I’d avoid getting it on your face)
- Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it’s not a fun time!
Refreshed, invigorated and warm, we drove east to Reykjavík and checked into our wonderful downtown hotel: The Kvoskin. Like many of our hotels in Iceland, this one was an undersold establishment where the photos online didn’t do it justice. It was adorable in person, bright and cozy. I spent a good 20 minutes browsing the coffee table book with photos of proud Icelandic women, marveling at the interior design, and playing with a squishy knot pillow which I now have to have.
The weather wasn’t fantastic around the city, and we were more than a little exhausted by the early wakeup, so after freshening up we headed straight for Bergsson Mathús for coffee and lunch. Then a short stroll around the city and along the bay.
Jon wanted to see the Icelandic Opera House, a stunning new piece of architecture which is all glass and angles. We spent a while wandering through, and photographing.
For dinner we ate at Svarta Kaffið, a soup restaurant known for their massive bread bowls and delicious stews. They have only two menu options: vegetarian or meat. Both were yummy and we enjoyed the cozy vibe at the little restaurant.
With only a few hours of sleep on the plane we crashed into our bed, laughing over the split comforters that reminded us of sleeping bags. It was going to be a very early start the next day and a very busy trip, so a good night’s rest was the key to staying energized for the week ahead.
More photos of Iceland’s stunning landscapes will be coming next week to She’s So Bright! Have you been to the Iceland? Tell me about your trip in the comments below!