Iceland is a country renowned for its geothermal activity. Spurting geysers, bubbling mud pools and steaming rivers hint at the activity occurring just beneath the surface of the earth, and these canny Icelanders have harnessed this power not simply for power, but for leisure as well.
The Blue Lagoon and the Sky Lagoon are two geothermal spas set amongst the spectacular Icelandic landscape, both within easy reach of the centre of Reykjavik. But which is better?
On a short weekend trip to Reykjavik, when you need to fit in a northern lights cruise, a whale watching excursion and a trip around the Golden Circle, you want to make the most of every minute you spend in Iceland. So, to help you pick, here is our lowdown of the Blue Lagoon and the Sky Lagoon, which will hopefully allow you to weigh up which to visit on your Icelandic adventure.
What are the lagoons?
The Blue Lagoon is probably one of the most famous tourist attractions in Iceland. An expanse of iridescently blue waters, heated to perfect bathing temperatures thanks to the hot, pressurised water found deep in the earth’s crust.
It now attracts hundreds of visitors every day, who come to bathe in the mineral rich waters situated in the otherworldly location of a rocky lava field.
It’s been around since the 1980s, when a geothermal power plant extracted this highly-pressurised water in order to power their steam turbines, with the run off creating the luxurious lagoon you can visit today (don’t worry, the water is incredibly clean and full of beneficial minerals!).
The Sky Lagoon is the newer baby brother to the Blue Lagoon, opened as recently as 2021. It is built into the dark grey and black volcanic rock on the edge of the ocean, with its waters warmed to a pleasant 38 degrees by geothermal energy.
Built into a coastal cliff, it offers wonderful views of the surrounding ocean and feels incredibly sheltered, with nods to traditional Icelandic heritage evident in the design of the classic torfbaeir, or turf house, that you will find on site.
Where are the Blue Lagoon and Sky Lagoon?
Both lagoons are within easy reach of Reykjavik’s city centre, and on a trip with Not In The Guidebooks, you would receive a private transfer from your hotel for either.
On your own however, it’s useful for you to know exactly how much time to factor in to your day for travel.
The Blue Lagoon is around a 50 minute drive from Reykjavik city centre, closer to Keflavik International Airport. There is parking if you choose to drive yourself, where out of Reykjavik you simply follow Highway 41 to Highway 43, before following the signs to the Blue Lagoon.
There is a reliable and frequent shuttle bus service to the Blue Lagoon from this point in Reykjavik, which will set you back around £45 per head for a return journey, but you can also select from many other pick up points on the Blue Lagoon’s official public transport partner’s website.
A taxi is the most expensive option, and will cost you anywhere from £100-£130 for one journey.
Like the Blue Lagoon, there is free parking at the Sky Lagoon, but the driving journey differs in that it only takes 15 minutes to arrive from central Reykjavik. Situated much closer to the city, your journey merely involves taking route 40 to Vesturvör, where you will find the car park.
You can also take a couple of local bus services, totalling around 20 minutes plus a few minutes of walking at the end of your journey, or you can take a taxi which will cost you around £10-£15.