Why We Stopped Going to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
Everyone’s seen pictures of the Blue Lagoon.
Eerie looking, whitish-blue waters surrounded by piles of dark, sharp lava rocks. People looking like some post-apocalyptic anarchist gang with the white silica mud masks covering their faces.
But then you see the tiny plastic beverages in hand and what seems like hundreds of them trying to get the perfect photo for social media while also trying to keep their phones dry, and you realize they’re definitely nothing of the sort.
But, whatever the rest of them are doing, it still doesn’t exactly suck to have a soak in some hot water after a long flight or a week of travels.
Why did we stop going?
Two words: TOO. TOURISTY.
Let me break it down for you a little more.
It’s not a local experience
This is huge part of the reason. We do our best to take our groups to do things the locals would do.
We try to avoid most of the tourist traps and get our travelers to places that they might not find on their own. You don’t sign yourself up for a group trip so that you can get to the places you already know about. Considering this alone, the Blue Lagoon checks all the wrong boxes.
After you realize the hoard is not zombie but indeed human, you also start to hear what they’re saying (maybe not what they’re saying, but you hear them speaking) and you realize that none of them are speaking Icelandic. In fact, a large majority are speaking English.
When we used to take our groups, our Icelandic driver guide would tell us that she was the only Icelander in the pool. That in itself should be a solid indicator that this is NOT a local experience.
Just about every town has a hot pool that the locals go to. In contrast to the Lagoon, when I visit one of these pools I’m the only non-Icelander in the water.
It’s too damn expensive
Those local pools also happen to be a fraction of the cost of the Blue Lagoon. In Reykjavik, it’ll cost you around 900 Icelandic Krona (ISK) for a soak in the local pool, and sometimes even less in smaller towns. (900 ISK translates to around 9 U.S. dollars.)
According to their website, the “most popular” package at the Blue lagoon will cost you 9900 ISK or about $100. That’s the equivalent of you and about 11 of your friends at a local spot.
Not only that, but once you get in you have to pay extra for everything. Drinks, extra face mask, snack, lunch.
It actually might be the only place in the world that I suggest my travelers wait until the airport to get lunch because it’ll be cheaper! Yeah, you read that right. Lunch is cheaper at the AIRPORT.
We can sum this up with a couple of photos.
Here’s what you think you're signing up for:
Aaaaand this is what you get:
Think that’s bad? You should see the locker rooms….
What are we doing instead?
This year we started taking our groups to Fontana Spa in a small town called Laugarvatn, located on the Golden Circle.
It's way better, and you should check out our itinerary for more info, but as far as hot pools go, we found the perfect intersection of local, and touristy.
Fontana is much less crowded and definitely offers more of an authentic experience. Whereas you’d be hard pressed to find an Icelander in the Blue Lagoon, locals do buy passes to Fontana and use it as their local relaxation spot.
We have lunch there (better food at a more reasonable price), and get to check out how Icelanders bake rye bread using geothermal hot springs as their oven.
We traded the lava field setting of the Lagoon for a quite idyllic lake scene with beautiful mountains on the other side...complete with personal space!
We got out of the mechanically regulated power plant water, and into the geothermally heated hot pools and steam rooms. Plus having the ice cold lake to hop in is really quite the experience.
...Oh that’s right, most people aren’t aware that the Blue Lagoon popped up as a byproduct of a local power plant. (This doesn’t make it gross, but the point is that it’s not exactly natural.)
At the end of the day, if you decide to go to the Blue lagoon, you’ll most likely enjoy yourself.
And, no hard feelings. I mean it is beautiful, and if you complain about soaking in a hot pool and relaxing in a sauna you’ve got some evaluating to do.
We just think that including a visit to the most touristy place in all of Iceland doesn’t add value to your experience. And at the end of the day, that's what we're all about - providing the most authentic experience for you that we can.
Interested in joining us in Iceland? Seats on our Summer Midnight Sun and Fall Northern Lights trips are still available for 2018!