Iceland is an amazing place to take kids. In a country filled with natural wonders, it can be hard to pick what to see and do. I didn’t have high expectations for the Blue Lagoon honestly, when you compare it to glaciers and a volcano tour and waterfalls and northern lights and horseback riding and everything else we planned to see.
One of our favorite family activities did end up being Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, though I admit it was pretty confusing to figure out our way around. I’m so glad that we did, because it is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions for a reason. None of us wanted to leave and my younger son constantly talks about going back to the famous blue lagoon and the new sky lagoon. If you’re planning a family vacation to Iceland (which you absolutely should do), I highly recommend a stop.
What is the Blue Lagoon?
It’s easy to think that the Blue Lagoon is a natural hot springs, but it’s actually not! The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa that is supplied by water used in a geothermal power plant nearby. I paused a moment when I learned that we’d be swimming in basically waste water, but it is perfectly safe. In fact, the water is known for its healing properties and is good for several skin conditions. The water is 70% ocean water and 30% freshwater, with silica, blue-green algae, and minerals.
The water itself comes from deep underground, heated by magma. This natural phenomenon is harnessed into power, and the excess water is enjoyed as an enormous, open-air hot tub.
The complex itself has several restaurants, a hotel, an underground spa, and a thoughtfully curated gift shop with beauty products made from the silica in the water.
National Geographic included the Blue Lagoon on its list of Wonders of the World in 2012, though it is not included on the traditional list of ancient or new wonders of the world.
Getting to the Blue Lagoon with Kids
As you drive up to the Blue Lagoon, the first thing you see is a lava field with dark grey volcanic rocks and milky blue waters. Steam rises and mixes with the mist and fog, and as you look at the mountains and water surrounding you, it’s clear that you’re in for a unique experience. It’s so fun to get a peek of the lagoon from the parking lot before before you even get inside, especially if you’re coming straight from the airport. We chose to do this because it is on the way from Keflavik Airport, where you will arrive on an international flight, and the capital city of Reykjavik, where you will likely be staying. It was about a 20 minute drive from the airport to the Blue Lagoon.
It is easy to get from the airport to the Blue Lagoon. The company itself has a shuttle that runs from the airport, but I found that in September, it did not run at frequent or convenient times for us. Instead, you can use a rental car or a car transfer. We purchased an airport transfer with a 2-hour stop at the Blue Lagoon from Snaeland Travel. They were reliable, helpful, and I would recommend them. I thought that 2 hours would be too long for what felt like a stop at a hot tub, but we ended up going over our time. Our driver was very kind in giving us a few extra minutes to enjoy.
If you choose not to add the Blue Lagoon as a stop to or from Keflavik International Airport, you can do it as a south coast day trip from Reykjavik. Another great stop nearby would be the Bridge Between Continents, which is the only place on earth that you can walk from one tectonic plate (North American) to another (Eurasian). Everywhere else in the world, the tectonic plates meet underwater. The bridge is more symbolic than an actual bridge between the plates, because the whole thing sits in the rift between the two continents. They are slowly moving apart, and the valley between them is several kilometers wide at this point. Regardless, it is a fantastic worldschooling opportunity for the whole family, and gives you a jumping off point to talk about geology, tectonic plates, and geothermal activity all in one day.
Pro tip: Pack everything you will want at the Blue Lagoon in one place so you can easily grab and go.
For some reason, I didn’t think much about the logistics of managing our suitcases and visiting the Blue Lagoon. We had to open every single suitcase to find each person’s swimsuit, and I gave up on finding a hair tie altogether. If I did it again, I would make a little bag with everything we need and pack it last, so that it’s the first thing I see when I open a suitcase. That would have saved us at least 10 minutes of unpacking and re-packing.
Tickets and Timing
You need tickets for the Blue Lagoon, and it’s a good idea to buy tickets in advance as there is a capacity limit. My preferred time was sold out when I went to get our tickets.
It was tricky to decide how much time we would need to get through the airport and to the Blue Lagoon in order to choose our entry time. Our flight landed at 9:30 am and the first available entry time was 12 noon. I assumed it would take us around 1 hour to deplane, get through immigration, get our bags, and get through customs and to our driver. In reality, it took a little less than that, even with a bathroom break. It was then less than a 30 minute drive to the lagoon, so we were early. They were nice enough to allow us to enter early, but don’t expect that this will always be possible.
I realized after purchasing our tickets that your time slot is for the entire hour, meaning that 12 pm ticket is good for an initial entry anytime during the 12 o’clock hour. Keep that in mind as you buy your Blue Lagoon tickets. You can buy tickets on the Blue Lagoon website, where you can also buy a seat on the bus if you are using their transportation.
There are different tiers of tickets to choose from. We did the comfort package, which includes your entry, a silica mud mask, 1 free drink, and 1 towel. For an extra cost, you can upgrade to the premium package. The premium package includes everything in the comfort package plus 2 additional masks of your choice, use of a bathrobe, and a glass of sparkling wine if you dine at Lava restaurant. Lava is their mid-tier restaurant, where dishes will cost around $45 each but where you can dine in your bathrobe until 4 pm. They do have a kids menu, but we opted instead for the cafe. They had very little that my food allergic son could eat and he was mostly relegated to packaged chips and other small snacks. In retrospect, I would have chosen Lava as our restaurant even though I wasn’t sure the kids would have patience for a sit-down meal just because it was so frustrating for my son to not be able to eat anything. Our allergies are eggs, peanuts, and all tree nuts.
When to Visit the Blue Lagoon
The best time of day to visit the Blue Lagoon entirely depends on what you’re interested in. The earlier time slots have fewer people, but the sun is not yet overhead and your pictures won’t come out as vibrantly blue as you might like. Fewer people in the photos, but more photo editing required! If I could pick any time to visit, I think the best option is early afternoon. It will be the warmest, which is nice because even in the relatively mild weather of September, the temperature was chilly and we froze getting to and from the water. It would also be nicer to enjoy that free drink later in the day. That said, our late morning arrival was perfectly workable and I don’t think there’s a bad time to visit. Keep in mind that your ticket time is just for your entry – once you’re in, you can stay as long as you like.
Many people visit the Blue Lagoon on their way from the airport. This is what we did, and while I worried that we would be too tired or the kids wouldn’t have the patience, it was actually the best place to go directly from the airport. The warm waters were a really soothing way to convince ourselves it was morning, not the middle of the night, and it was both relaxing and exciting. If you’re unsure about visiting the Blue Lagoon straight from the airport on a family trip, I encourage you to do it. It ended up being a great choice for us and an efficient use of time so we didn’t have to go back another day.
Blue Lagoon Locker Rooms
As part of the check in process, everyone gets an electronic bracelet. The kids’ bracelets were for entry and exit only – they could not make purchases on their bracelets. The adult bracelets could buy things at the swim-up bar and other areas. It was a great way to be hands-free during the experience and not worry about keeping money on you. However, the kids’ bracelets kept slipping off and I worried that they would get lost in the lagoon. I ended up holding onto theirs while I wore my own.
I have 6 and 8 year old sons and it never occurred to me that they might not let a child of the opposite sex join me in the locker room. When we were checking in, they had to go double check if my kids would need to go in the men’s changing rooms or if they could join me in the women’s changing room.
Thankfully, they let me bring them with me, because honestly they would have been lost and stressed had they been in there alone. It was confusing for me as an adult!
We got checked in and headed for the locker rooms. They require everyone to take a shower without a bathing suit prior to entering the lagoon to protect the mineral-rich waters. However, they don’t provide towels until AFTER you have been in the blue lagoon. We found that the best strategy was to get a locker, put on our swim suits, and store all our stuff. We then went to the showers and took our bathing suits down to make sure everything got clean before moving toward the lagoon.
Pro tip: If you have the luggage space, consider bringing your own towel
Make sure that when you head to the shower, you have everything you want to bring with you (phone, waterproof camera, hair tie, etc). Otherwise, you will be walking dripping wet back to your locker to get what you forgot before you go out of the locker room toward the blue lagoon.
Pro tip: Everyone was letting everything hang out in the women’s locker room. Prepare your kids for what they will see if they are not used to nudity
My almost-9-year-old was definitely a bit uncomfortable being in the women’s locker room. There was a lot of nudity that he didn’t particularly want to see, and he was very concerned about anyone seeing him.
There are private changing rooms in each locker section for those who want more privacy. However, there is only one room for about 40 lockers, so there can be a wait.
If you have long hair, you will want to pull it back from your shoulders to protect it from the water. The high silica content in the lagoon’s waters can dry out your hair considerably. In the showers, there is shampoo and conditioner. Use lots of conditioner to protect your hair while you bathe in the lagoon. I mistakenly thought that the leave-in conditioner would be nearer to the lagoon entrance and had to go back into the locker room. Don’t make that mistake!
You will want to shower again once you are done in the lagoon, and there are several vanities in the women’s locker rooms with hair dryers. I had thought I read that there are hair ties and basic hygiene supplies, but I never saw this anywhere and wouldn’t recommend expecting it.
Blue Lagoon with Kids
We finally got through the logistics of the changing area and headed out to enter the lagoon. You actually enter it while still inside, via a ramp that descends into the water. There is a swinging door you swim through to exit the building and start your experience.
The minimum age for kids visiting the blue lagoon is 2. Kids younger than 9 must wear floaties, which are provided in a big bin near the water’s entrance. No need to bring your own unless you want to. My older son can swim fine and was annoyed by this, but I found that once we had visited the swim-up bar and the kids were distracted with slushies, I was grateful for the extra flotation help.
We spent our time exploring the meandering pool, dipping under bridges and taking pictures. The kids had a great time, even though there isn’t much to “do,” per se. For the most part, the water is about 4 feet deep, so young children are going to need some help, even with the little floaties on. We did find a shallow section that was a perfect place for the kids to hang out for a while. I could sit on the ground and they could stand.
Included with every ticket is a face mask, which you get by swimming up to an island in the water. A Blue Lagoon staff member puts the mask into a bowl for each person, and you can smear it on your face, shoulders and chest. Any excess mask gets washed away in the lagoon waters. They say to leave it on for at least 10 minutes to get the full health benefits, but it was raining on the day we went and it started dripping in our eyes. We washed it off early to avoid stinging eyes.
The other main attraction in the water is the swim-up bar. Each adult entry gets a free drink, and they do have alcoholic drinks. I got a sparkling wine – nothing to write home about. I was somewhat confused and annoyed to find that the kids’ tickets do not include any drinks, even soft drinks. We ended up buying them each a slushie. The logistics of everyone having a drink in their hand was tricky, and if your kids can’t touch the bottom (mine couldn’t), then you need one adult per kid so you can have one hand for a drink and one hand holding a child.
We ended up finding a ledge the kids could stand on so that everyone could enjoy their drinks without feeling like we were doing acrobatics. Overall, the drinks were mediocre and expensive. A fun part of the Blue Lagoon experience, but we had no desire to sit and hang out at the bar. This could have been influenced by jet lag and the like, but don’t expect a swim-up bar like you’d find at a beach resort.
Blue Lagoon with Eczema Kids
My younger son has eczema, and I worried that the water would irritate his skin, as it did in the Dead Sea. I would definitely not recommend the Dead Sea for people with eczema! Thankfully, the high silica content and the warm water were actually quite soothing for him. He even tried the silica mud mask with no issues. We were running late getting out of the Blue Lagoon and I didn’t lather him up in lotion as I normally would after a dip in hot water, and he didn’t react with the dry, itchy skin I was expecting. Your results may vary, but for us, the Blue Lagoon was safe and enjoyable for someone with eczema.
A Word About Towels
The most frustrating part of the Blue Lagoon experience for our family was the towel situation. I recognize that they are trying to cut down on laundry, but the towel policies make for an uncomfortable and needlessly negative experience. You are not allowed a towel until AFTER you leave the lagoon, so you will be walking around dripping wet after that first shower on your way into the lagoon. For this reason, you will want to make sure you have everything you need and can go directly from the shower into the lagoon.
When you get out, a staff member will hand you one pretty small towel. You may be able to sweet talk your way into a second towel, but don’t expect that this will always work. If you only have the one, resist that very strong urge to wrap up in your towel as soon as you get out of the lagoon. Why? Since it’s the only towel you have, you want it to be dry for after you get out of the shower. If you have already wrapped up in it, now your towel is wet and you are drying off with a very damp towel and putting dry clothes on damp skin. If I had realized the realities of the towel policies, I would have paid up for the premium package, which includes a bathrobe in an attempt to alleviate the problem (I assume).
What to Bring to the Blue Lagoon
After experiencing it for myself, here are the best things bring with you when visiting the Blue Lagoon with kids:
- Waterproof phone case or waterproof camera – try this one for kids!
- Hair ties to keep long hair out of the water
- A small, absorbent towel
- A waterproof bag to hold wet swimsuits when you leave
- Flip flops or shower shoes
An Icelandic Family Holiday Success
Our whole family loved Iceland, and the Blue Lagoon was a big part of that. If you’re looking for more inspiration and a whole itinerary for planning your own trip to Iceland with kids, check out our complete guide. We cover what to do with 2 days in Iceland, private tours, and how we managed food allergies, along with lots more.