On our first full day in Iceland, we wanted to relax but we also wanted to get a glimpse of the place so we booked a tour to the Blue Lagoon during the day and another tour to see the Northern Lights at night.
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is a manmade lagoon and the water temperature averages at 37-39 degrees celsius. It was super relaxing! Here are some tips when visiting the Blue Lagoon. (These are notes to myself too, when I get the chance to visit again the future!)
How to Get There
If you’re renting a car, the Blue Lagoon is just a 45 minute drive from Reykjavik and a 20 minute drive from the Keflavik Airport. As for our group, we did not rent a car so we just booked our transfers from Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon together with our Blue Lagoon tickets. The bus driver picked us up at our designated pick up stop at around 9am, since that’s the time that we booked.
Once you get there, you will see the Blue Lagoon sign with a place on the left side where you can leave your luggage. Since the lagoon is near the airport, some would visit here right before they go to the airport to catch their flight or right after they arrive in Iceland. I have read online that they charge ISK 550 for each luggage that you store here. You may also bring a small bag inside the lagoon since you will have a locker.
Booking your tickets ahead of time is very important because they are usually fully booked if you book on the day. We got our tickets on their website a few weeks before and we just chose the package that we wanted and the time and place that we wanted to be picked up. We got the Comfort Package (85 euros) which already includes the following:
1. Entrance to the Blue Lagoon
2. Silica mud mask
3. Use of towel and lockers
4. One drink of your choice
We also booked round trip bus transfers from Reykjavik and it cost us an extra 39 euros each for that. They also have more expensive packages but I think we already had everything that we needed in the Comfort Package. You may check their other packages here.
We checked in and got our wristbands and towels and then we headed to the women’s locker rooms. The lockers were big enough for all our stuff (including our boots, our bags and our winter coat) and we got one locker each. I could not take a photo of the entire locker room but the changing rooms looked like that of a gym locker room. I took a photo of my locker so that I won’t forget my locker number. lol
You can change your clothes out in the open but there is also one closed cubicle per locker room for those who want to change their clothes in private. There were also mirrors outside of the locker rooms with a few hair dryers that are free to use. There were also plastic bags for your wet clothes, as well as some toiletries like cotton and tissue. They definitely had it all figured out. lol
The Hair Situation
After changing into our bikinis, we went straight to the shower rooms. We were asked to shower before heading to the lagoon. I accidentally got my hair wet when I showered but you actually have to decide which option you want for your hair:
1. Wash your hair with conditioner before getting into the water and tie it up in a bun (and try to not get it wet in the lagoon) so that it won’t get super stiff after. I tied my hair into a ponytail but I still got it wet with the water in the lagoon so it was still super stiff.
2. Not care at all and let your hair down. Just prepare to use loads of conditioner after because you’re going to need it.
I wanted to let my hair down for picture purposes but it just got super hard to manage because it got so stiff. (See photo above. lol) I just tied it up into a ponytail while I was in the water (See photo below of my stiff ponytail lol). Good thing they provide free shampoo and conditioner in their shower rooms. I actually applied conditioner thrice when I showered but my hair was still a little stiff. lol
It was almost 0 degrees celsius when we visited Iceland so it was quite amazing to be able to wear our bikini in the cold. There are two ways to enter the lagoon. The first photo below is the freezing slash courageous way and the photo below that is the bearable way. lol
Of course we entered through the bearable way which I just found out was the exit based on this photo below. lol
There were some cute mini bridges where we took some of our instagrammable photos. *It’s not like the whole place isn’t instagrammable already. ;)*
So we basically just took a lot of photos while making sure that we don’t drop our phones in the water…lol It also helps to put your phone inside a waterproof container or use any waterproof camera.
I think we were only 30 minutes in when I noticed that my ears were already getting numb and red. lol It was that cold.
But it still didn’t stop my brave self from getting out of the water to take photos like these… As they say, anything for the gram. lol But I literally just got out of the water for a few seconds just to take these. I couldn’t take being out of the water for more than that! lol
Our tickets come with a free drink so when we were already a little satisfied with our photos, we went to the refreshments booth to get our drink. You may get any one drink from their menu.
My sister and I got the Banana smoothie and I actually got excited to try it because it was mixed with the Icelandic yogurt, Skyr. It’s not like the typical Banana smoothie that we have here in the Philippines. I wasn’t that much of a fan of my drink (because Skyr has a weird taste) but I was still able to finish it. Vim got the green is good smoothie (he thoroughly enjoyed it lol) and Ting2 (my sister’s sister-in-law) got some white wine. You may also buy extra drinks, a waterproof cellphone case and sunglasses from the refreshments booth and charge it to your wristbands. Your wristbands will be scanned right before you exit the lagoon to pay for your purchases if you have.
After finishing our drink, we headed to the other side of the lagoon to get our masks. We got a complimentary silica mud mask and they say that it does wonders to the skin. I’m not really sure if it does but it was free so we just gave it a try. You may also try different masks for a fee and you may just charge it to your wristbands.
Selfie with our masks on lol
Was the Blue Lagoon Worth It?
Hell yeah! It is quite expensive but I felt like it was unlike any other lagoon in the world. I definitely could stay here all day if it weren’t for the tour that we had already booked that night. We actually also visited the Szechenyi Baths in Budapest and we really saw the difference of how relaxed we felt at the Blue Lagoon as compared to the Szechenyi Baths. We definitely enjoyed taking pictures, relaxing and just the whole experience.
We stayed at the Blue Lagoon for around five hours. I wish we stayed longer but the sun sets early during December and we also needed to do grocery shopping before our Northern Lights tour so we just boarded the 3pm bus to Reykjavik.
We ate early dinner at The Noodle Station because it was just near our airbnb apartment and I actually snoozed off for a few minutes. Here’s me snoozing off at our super messy apartment lol
The Northern Lights
The Northern Lights is in almost everyone’s bucket list and it should be because it really looks so amazing to see on pictures. It can only be seen from September to March so we made sure to book our tour early.
The Northern Lights Tour
We booked our tour from Extreme Iceland. We paid ISK 9,990 each (around USD 82/PHP4,300). I picked this tour because it already includes a pick up from the nearest stop in our apartment and it was on a small van with limited people. I didn’t want to book a bus tour because it might be too crowded and we might end up getting bad photos. lol It also says on the tour description that our photos will be taken by the tour guide/driver but I could not find him anywhere when the lights showed up so we weren’t able to take some photos from his camera.
What to Expect
I actually dreamt of seeing the Northern Lights right when I discovered about it from a friend’s post. It’s true, one should see the Northern Lights at least once in his life because it’s like a magical phenomenon but please don’t expect it to be as green or as colorful in person as what you see in photos. Cameras can capture some things that our bare eyes can’t. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I feel super blessed to have experienced it but just to manage your expectations, what I actually saw was just a ray of what I thought were clouds. It was not green and it just turns colorful in pictures. lollll Sorry I just had to get it out there first.
Our driver picked up as at 8:30pm and he drove us around 30 minutes away from Reykjavik to a super dark place, away from light pollution. The Northern Lights actually show more on places with less light. Tours may also be cancelled if the forecast is not too good for that day. You may just rebook your tour on another day for free so make sure to try to see the Northern Lights on your first night. If it doesn’t show on the first night, you can always try the next day.
What to Wear
The Northern Lights are quite unpredictable. You may wait for it to come out for a few hours or it may show right then and there so wear the warmest clothes that you have just in case you need to wait. I think I wore at least 4 layers of clothing and two socks under my winter boots and it was still not enough.
I suggest using heat patches to help you battle the cold. These definitely helped in keeping my extremities warm. These are available in Iceland but I was also able to buy these at CVS and in Japan.
Okay I’m not the most techie person so I just gave the responsibility to my boyfriend to take care of our camera’s settings. Our tour guide helped us set up our camera and while waiting for the lights to show, he asked us to take sample photos and adjust its settings until we like what we see. It’s something about delaying the capture of light. You may check this blog post if you want to set your camera yourself – How to Set Your Camera To See the Northern Lights
Here are some of the photos that we took before the lights showed up. We tried different settings until we were satisfied with the results. We used our Sony A600 camera and we brought with us a tripod as well.
And did I tell you that you need to stay still for a few seconds to be able to take a good shot? We had to stand still for 6 seconds to take all of these pictures on a negative-something-degree weather in Iceland. So guys, if you plan on proposing under the Northern Lights, think again because it will be a lot harder than you think. lol You might have the best backdrop, but you might also be all blurry in the photos if you don’t stand still. A lot of our photos looked like this. lol
Anyways, here are some of the successful photos that we were able to capture. lol The lights started with just one ray of light until it almost covered the entire sky. It’s super magical!
We headed home feeling fulfilled because we were able to squeeze in two exciting activities all in one day. It was definitely a nice start to our Iceland trip!