When you think of visiting Iceland, geothermal pools and luxurious lagoons undoubtedly come to mind. The Blue Lagoon, considered a wonder of the world, is an Instagram favorite with its blue-green waters and has been the go-to for decades. But there’s a new kid on the block in Reykjavik, Sky Lagoon, which was just built in 2021.
My husband and I recently visited Iceland and checked them both out. You know, research, right? We took the plunge to help you decide which of the two is right for you.
Your realtor is right — location matters. And if you’re on a tight schedule, this is an important factor. We did not rent a car on our trip, and Uber and Lyft do not exist in Iceland. Taxi service is available, but they must be contacted by the hotel, restaurant, or attraction you’re visiting.
Blue Lagoon Is Near The Keflavik Airport
The Blue Lagoon is located near the Keflavik International Airport, a 45-minute to 1-hour drive from Reykjavik. This might be a good choice if you are on a quick layover to another destination. If you stay in Reykjavik and do not have a rental car, there is a charter service, Destination Blue Lagoon, available to take you to Blue Lagoon from Reykjavik.
Sky Lagoon Is Near Reykjavik
In contrast, the Sky Lagoon is located less than 5 miles from Reykjavik’s city center. A new shuttle service has just started through Reykjavik Excursions with multiple pick-up points in downtown Reykjavik. Taxi service is readily available from the city center.
Blue Lagoon Has Hotels On Property
Blue Lagoon offers accommodations at the Silica Hotel and Retreat Hotel Blue Lagoon, both located on the property, so it would be easy to make a weekend of it. This could be a great use if you book yourself one of the infamous IcelandAir layovers since it’s so close to the airport.
Sky Lagoon Doesn’t Offer Accommodations
There are no accommodations at Sky Lagoon, but I wouldn’t expect them due to its proximity to Reykjavik. Any hotel will be happy to summon a cab for you, and it’s less than a 15-minute ride from the city center.
3. The Lagoons
Blue Lagoon Has Been Around For Over Three Decades
The OG of Icelandic geothermal pools, the Blue Lagoon opened in 1987. Set amongst a backdrop of rocky, black lava fields, it is significantly larger than Sky Lagoon. When we visited, it was also far more crowded than Sky Lagoon, which could be simply because (at least for now) it is the more famous of the two.
Note: The minimum age at Blue Lagoon is 2 years old (children ages 2 through 12 are free), which means that many children may be in attendance.
Sky Lagoon Is New
The Sky Lagoon opened in 2021, so it’s practically brand new and more modern than its rival. Both lagoons are man-made and are filled with Iceland’s geothermal seawater. The show-stopper here is the 230-foot infinity edge on the pool overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean, which is truly stunning, especially at sunset. When we visited, it was far less crowded than Blue Lagoon, and we enjoyed multiple spots all to ourselves. Of course, as Sky Lagoon gains popularity and more tourists find out about it, that may change.
Note: The minimum age for admittance to Sky Lagoon is 12 years old. Only adults were in attendance when we visited, which made our time there even more relaxing.
Both lagoons have three-tiered pricing, but there are a few differences in service.
Blue Lagoon has Comfort, Premium, and Retreat Spa packages. All three give you access to the lagoon, the use of a towel, a silica mud mask, and your first beverage. Premium adds the use of a robe and slippers, a second mask, and a reservation at the Lava Restaurant (more on this below). The Retreat Spa package includes their three-step Ritual, which incorporates additional natural elements of the lagoon.
Sky Lagoon offers a Purelite Pass, Pure Pass, and Sky Pass. All three options include admission to the lagoon, towels, and a lovely Nordic-inspired public changing area with lockers and showers. The Pure Pass includes The Ritual — a seven-step bathing ritual — and Sky Pass adds signature skin care products and a private changing room.
5. The Rituals
Blue Lagoon’s Three-Step Ritual
If you opt for the Retreat Spa package at the Blue Lagoon, you can enjoy the spa’s three-step Ritual. According to staffers, it includes a mineral scrub to exfoliate and energize your skin, a silica body mask to strengthen it, and a moisturizing face and body mask.
We did not partake in this upgrade as the price increase is significant and we were pressed for time and didn’t think we’d be able to enjoy it fully. That said, we spoke to several fellow travelers who offered nothing but glowing reviews.
Sky Lagoon’s 7-Step Ritual
For me, nothing comes close to the seven-step ritual offered at Sky Lagoon, where we had more time. After spending an hour relaxing, soaking in the thermal waters, and even sipping champagne from the swim-up bar, we decided to continue The Ritual — the crown jewel of Sky Lagoon. I’d expected some sort of cold plunge, and I was right. Attendants suggest a couple of minutes of soaking in the Glacial Pool, but several teeth-chattering seconds were about all I could take.
Shivering, we were ushered into a sauna with nothing but a dramatic floor-to-ceiling glass wall separating us from breathtaking views of the North Atlantic and the moss-covered hills surrounding the bay. You can spend as much or as little time on each step as you wish. My husband was ready to move on, and I reluctantly followed him through a long room where we were sprayed with a cold mist to tighten our skin’s pores.
Next, attendants handed us bowls filled with an Icelandic body scrub, which we rubbed all over our bodies. Leaving it on, we entered a steam bath that aids in absorbing the minerals in the scrub. The final step is rinsing off in a warm, gentle rain shower. Afterward, my skin felt as soft as ever, and I’d reached a next-level state of relaxation.
Blue Lagoon Offers Dining Based On Ticket Level
Dining is where the Blue Lagoon really shines. The Blue Lagoon has a public cafe open to any patron with admission to the lagoon. Beyond that, premium ticket holders can make a reservation at the Lava Restaurant, which overlooks the central lagoon. The Michelin-starred Moss Restaurant is available for Retreat Spa ticket holders and guests of the Retreat Hotel Blue Lagoon.
Sky Lagoon Has Dining Options For All Lagoon Guests
At Sky Lagoon, the small Sky Café offers soups, salads, and sandwiches. It is open to all lagoon guests, as is the swim-up bar.
What To Bring
Bringing a bathing suit and some sandals or flip-flops is lovely. That said, you can rent a bathing suit if you forgot to bring one with you. Both lagoons have lockers and towels available for use.
We spent an afternoon at each lagoon. Of course, depending on your chosen experience, the amount of time spent at each lagoon can vary wildly. If you can plan to be at Sky Lagoon for sunset, you won’t regret the opportunity to sip champagne in the warm waters and watch mother nature’s gorgeous show.
After visiting both lagoons, I can confidently say that I enjoyed Sky Lagoon the most, although both are incredible, and you won’t go wrong with either choice. But location-wise, the more adult-oriented Sky Lagoon mixed in with the spectacular ocean views was the favorite this time around.
We had Sky Passes, which were priced at $112 each and include the Ritual. The swim-up bar is also available to all ticket holders, and you are issued a bracelet that you can scan at the bar to purchase drinks. The only comparable admission at Blue Lagoon is the Retreat Spa package, which is currently priced at $438. Of course, it does include some dining perks that aren’t available at Sky Lagoon, but that wasn’t our priority this trip.
Do one or both! You won’t regret the time spent enjoying this must-do Icelandic experience.