If a cracking New Years Eve, celebrating until the wee hours and watching the sun come up on the first day of the new year sounds like something you’ve always wanted to do but you just can’t last that long, good news! Reykjavik could be your perfect solution.
Not only does it have New Year celebrations in spades but in winter the sun doesn’t rise until after 11, and so it was that after celebrating into the wee hours and getting some sleep, we found ourselves watching the sun dawning on a brand new year.
While soaking in a giant thermal pool. With mud on our faces.
The Blue Lagoon is about 30 minutes outside Reykjavik and is actually a by-product of the nearby geothermal powerplant. Clever Icelanders started bathing there and noticed the effect the silica mud had on their skin. Fast forward almost 40 years and today it’s a major tourist drawcard and one of the top must do’s whilst in Iceland.
The hot water comes out in several spots around the lagoon and you can decide just how lobster-like you’d like to become. Those wanting only a mild prawn pink can stick to middle areas where the water has cooled but if you’d like to go the whole rock lobster, you can hang out by the vents and feel the water coming straight in.
Depending on the package you’ve bought you can also try a volcanic scrub or an algae mud mask. A word of warning, the volcanic scrub is serious scrubbage – go gently! Or else lose a few layers of skin.
There’s also the silica mud you can try on your face. I did see some intrepid souls bringing this up from the bottom of the pool to put on their faces, but unless you’d like to rub someone else’s dead skin cells, hair and god knows what else into your face, I’d stick to the nice fresh bucket provided over by the bridges near the massage area.
In winter you can almost lose yourself in the steam which really adds to the whole experience but it was the spectacular sunrise at 11am that kept changing colour that will remain with us.
My Top Tips:
- if you’re going with a friend and get the Comfort package which includes either a volcanic scrub or an algae mud mask, you are given enough to share. So get the volcanic scrub first, share with your friend, then go over to the other side of the lagoon where there is a pot of fresh silica mud (do NOT use the stuff from the bottom of the lagoon!) to apply as a mask. Once that’s dried and you’ve washed it off you can then go back and share the algae mud mask.
- there is a private change cubicle in each locker room for the more private amongst us (me).
- You must shower first but you’re not supposed to shower with your bathers on. Icelanders, and indeed most northern Europeans are completely fine with shared showers and change rooms, but this little black duck likes privacy. Wear your togs into a private cubicle with a door and then shower to your hearts content.
- allow enough wallowing time. Soaking in the warm water is divine and even once you’re out, you may feel the need to get back in!
- You can book your tickets online for a 2 euro discount to guarantee your admission within an allotted window of time. We were there right on opening and walked straight in with no booking, but apparently it can get extremely busy with long wait times.
- If you have enough time, there are airport transfer companies who arrange a stop at the Blue Lagoon on the way to or from the airport. There’s luggage storage onsite for a few euros.
- don’t get your hair wet – it’ll feel like straw afterwards. If you do, you can wash it in the showers and there a hairdryers available to use.
- there are actually other thermal swimming pools that the locals use that are much cheaper and closer to Reykjavik if the cost is a little much or you’d like a less touristy experience. From what I’ve heard and read, it’s not for the shy.
- most of my shots are taken on my dodgy underwater camera. i did see some people take their non-waterproof cameras in but I wouldn’t risk it. It can get really steamy and accidents do happen!