Visiting the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Visiting the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

If you’re travelling to Iceland (or felt inspired by my post titled Top 5 things to do in Iceland) chances are that a visit to the Blue Lagoon will be on your Iceland bucket list. I had always wanted to go there but when it came to booking I became a little sceptical as I kept hearing about it being an ‘overpriced, overcrowded tourist trap’.

Nevertheless I booked my ticket for the Blue Lagoon, because when do I listen to what the critics say! Sure, it’s not that cheap but as someone who tends to save all her splurging for when she’s on holiday, it didn’t bother me too much. And you know what, it wasn’t crowded and I had a lovely time!

The Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Getting there

The Blue Lagoon is actually closer to Keflavik Airport than it is to the centre of Reykjavik, so for some people who may be catching a late flight, this makes for an ideal last day activity. We had already pre-booked our trip as part of a package with the travel agent so we had coach transfers to and from central Reykjavik already sorted.

Have a relaxing soak in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon

What to bring

Obviously swimwear is required and you will need a towel to dry off too. You can hire these for a fee, or bring your own. I also took my waterproof camera but as the water is so milky and full of minerals I kept it out of the water then put it safely away in a locker after I was done taking a few photos. You may wish to bring sunglasses with you too if it is a sunny day as the sunlight reflects off of the water.

Visiting the Blue Lagoon

What to expect

There are separate male and female changing rooms that are decent, clean and spacious. When you arrive you will be given a wristband for your locker to store all of your belongings. The wristband also acts as a credit card so you can buy refreshments whilst having a soak (yes there is a bar in the lagoon!). You are required to shower before entering the lagoon and they also recommend that you cover your hair in conditioner to help stop the clay getting stuck in it. I didn’t cover my hair and instead tied it up, most of it was ok but I was left with a bit of a dry clay feeling around the hairline.

Scooping up a face mask at the Blue Lagoon
Silica mud bar

The blue colour comes from the way the silica reflects in the sunlight and the water is a glorious 37-40 degrees celsius and contains silica, algae and minerals – all good for your skin. There are different spa treatments such as facials and massages that you can pay extra for but if you opt for the cheapest ticket price you can still benefit from the silica mud masks which you apply yourself at the various silica bars dotted around the lagoon.

Thumbs up for the Blue Lagoon
All you serious travel bloggers looking hot in your instagram pics ain’t got nothing on me! I even got a creepy man eyeballing me LOL

Verdict

I really enjoyed my visit to the Blue Lagoon and if you’re planning on a vacation in Iceland then I would definitely recommend. Of course there are less touristy alternatives but National Geographic wouldn’t name it as one of the 25 wonders of the world for nothing would they?

If you enjoyed this, why not check out my True Blue pinterest board or follow me on Bloglovin.

Dining out Icelandic style

On the carnivore scale I sit a lot closer to bunny rabbit than T-Rex, infact I’ve thought about going vegetarian but I can’t quite commit to ditching a juicy cheeseburger for a mushroom burger just yet (Food fact #1: I hate mushrooms but really wish I didn’t).

Anyway, when we were in Iceland, my husband was keen to try some of the unusual meats they had there. While I wasn’t that bothered, but still a little curious, we decided to go for Icelandic tapas – a taster of the local cuisine without the full-on commitment of an entire meal of something unfamiliar. As they say, when in Rome do as the Romans do.

We dined at Tapas Barinn in the centre of Reykjavik, a cosy little Spanish-inspired restaurant. We decided to share a tapas set menu – the Icelandic Gourmet Feast – good for curious tourists and indecisive folk like us. The Gourmet Feast consisted of a shot of Brennivin (Icelandic spirit) followed by 7 courses, the first being smoked puffin with blueberry brennivin sauce.

puffin-dish-icelandic-tapas
Smoked puffin

I tried puffin. I can’t remember much about the taste but the texture wasn’t great. And I felt guilty eating it… puffins are kinda cute.

Following the puffin we were presented with some assorted seafood dishes, unsurprisingly seafood is big business in Iceland. We had Icelandic sea trout with peppers-salsa, lobster tails baked in garlic and blue ling with lobster sauce.

Lobster tails
Lobster tails

Next up was the lamb dish, another popular meat in Iceland. Now, I don’t actually eat lamb but, as I said before – when in Rome (or Reykjavik). I must admit it was really tasty!

The last of our savoury dishes was minke whale with cranberry sauce. I was quite wary of eating whale but I was reassured that the minke whale is not an endangered species. Whale to me was a bit like steak but really salty, I was more interested in the ginger mash it was lying on a bed of (Food fact #2 I love ginger – I think it’s hereditary!).

Minke whale
Minke whale

Saving the best for last, the dessert course! I do have a bit of a sweet tooth so the white chocolate Skyr mousse with passionfruit coulis was of course my favourite dish. Skyr is an Icelandic yogurt that is a big part of Icelandic cuisine, you can’t go to Iceland and not eat Skyr, although it is pretty much just thick yogurt, it makes for a good breakfast or dessert!

Dessert!
Dessert!

So that was our tapas with an Icelandic twist, but what else?

Well in England, where I’m from, fish and chips is a popular dish so we thought we might as well try what Iceland has to offer! The restaurant we ate at was called, unimaginatively, Icelandic Fish and Chips. The fish is so fresh that the menu varies day to day so I can’t quite remember what I ate (I chose it from the menu on the blackboard) but it looked like this-

Icelandic fish and chips
Icelandic fish and chips

The chips were more like potato wedges but were pretty good. We also ordered some dips to go with our dishes, including Skyronnaise (it’s that Skyr again!) and of course, the obligatory pot of tomato ketchup.

So if you’re ever in Reykjavik, why not try Spanish style tapas with a twist or British inspired fish ‘n’ chips – all served with fabulous Icelandic flair!

Top 5 things to do in Iceland

Being just a 3 hour flight from the UK, Iceland is an ideal destination for a short European break. But how do you make the most of your time there? Well here are my top 5…

Gullfoss
Gullfoss

1. The Golden Circle

A popular excursion for any first-timers visit to Iceland is The Golden Circle which includes Thingvellir National Park, where you can see the American and European tectonic plates that Iceland sits across. It also includes the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall, as well as Geysir – an area of geothermal activity that gives its name to the waterspouts known as, well, geysirs.

Geysir
Geysir

2. The Blue Lagoon

Take a relaxing dip in the mineral-rich milky-blue waters of the Blue Lagoon. This man-made lagoon with geothermically heated water is surrounded by a dramatic black rocky landscape and is another popular destination for visitors. You can even scoop up some of the clay to make your own face mask while you’re there and come out looking 10 years younger! (maybe!).

For more info, check out my guide to visiting the Blue Lagoon.

The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon

3. Wander around Reykjavik

Reykjavik is the world’s most northerly capital and is unlike any other city I have been to. It’s clean, small and quiet which makes it easy to explore on foot. During my visit I actually forgot it was the capital as it was so peaceful but I hear that it comes to life on Friday and Saturday nights when the locals come out to party!

Reykjavik
Reykjavik

4. Hire a car and explore

For most of our trips in Iceland, we pre-booked our excursions with a travel agent, but for one day we decided to hire a car and just drive. Now, I’m not the most confident of drivers, but Iceland was a pleasant drive once out of the city. The roads are relatively quiet and there’s stunning scenery all around you wherever you look. Just don’t forget the sat nav!

Nothing for miles!
Nothing for miles!

5. Witness the Aurora Borealis

Seeing the Northern Lights will depend on the time of year but the best time to go is from late September to early April. We went in October and were lucky enough to see them but it’s not always guaranteed. If you’re planning a trip to Iceland during winter, make the Northern Lights the icing on the cake rather than the main purpose of your visit.

Northern Lights
Northern Lights

Those were my top 5 highlights but I would love to return one day to see glaciers, go whale watching, ride an Icelandic horse, spot puffins and experience the midnight sun!

Have you been? What are your top things to do in Iceland?

Random round Reykjavik

In a similar notion to odd things I didn’t buy in Japan, I thought I would share a photo collection of random things I found in and around Reykjavik…

fresh-icelandic-mountain-air

Fresh Icelandic Mountain Air. They were selling these cans in a shop outside of Reykjavik (Geysir, I think), yours for a bargain price of 1,100 ISK (which equates to roughly £5GBP!). Needless to say I didn’t buy one and instead opted for the free version outside.

Here’s the nutrition facts…

quirky-icelandic-souvenir

What amuses me is the part that states this is a “collectors item” – do people collect cans of fresh air from around the world then?

how-to-tie-a-tie

bubblegum-giraffe

I spotted these two pieces of street art just on the sides of shops in the centre of Reykjavik, my hubby thought the ‘how to tie a tie’ wall art was pretty useful but my favourite was the giraffe who came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass! How can you not love a giraffe in 3D glasses 🙂

cute-shop-in-reykjavik

This quirky little shop was tucked away in a corner off of the main pedestrian street in Reykjavik. I didn’t buy anything in there but I liked how cute it looked.

Speaking of cute…

letters-to-the-icelandic-santa

This festive letterbox was outside a Christmas themed shop in the centre of Reykjavik. We weren’t quite ready for Christmas in October but we still bought an adorable tree ornament all the same.

And last but not least, my favourite quirky thing in Reykjavik….

single-gloves

A place for all the single gloves to hang out! – Single gloves speed dating never dies…

We walked past this gate a couple of times and the gloves hanging out there actually changed! Speed dating for gloves actually works. Perhaps someone should set one up for lost socks too!

speed-dating-never-dies

Our Northern Lights Experience

In my last post I mentioned that I had recently been privileged enough to see the Northern Lights so I thought I would share my personal experience of the event.

Iceland has been high on my travel wishlist for a good few years now and this year it finally happened. Initially my husband and I had wanted to go there for his birthday in June to experience the crazy long hours of daylight, but the price was always far too expensive. Fortunately, we found an excellent deal for October and jumped at the chance to go.

And I don’t regret it for one second. If we had gone in June, we would never have witnessed the natural phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis, aka the Northern Lights.

We arrived in Reykjavik on a Sunday afternoon and when we reached our hotel, we were told that we were being picked up an hour earlier than we expected for our Northern Lights excursion, so after a few slices of take away Dominos pizza in our hotel room, we were all set to leave for our quest. I knew that it was never a guarantee to see the Northern Lights, so I tried not to get my hopes up too high. I was here in Iceland to see and do lots of other wonderful things, the Northern Lights would just be the icing on the cake.

After a bit of an introduction to the Northern Lights by our guide on our coach journey away from the glare of Reykjavik, we arrived in the pitch black darkness in the middle of nowhere. And here we waited. It was cold, very cold, but fortunately there was a little café on site where we could buy ourselves a cup of hot chocolate to warm up. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to sit since every seat had been filled by a fellow traveller and even standing room was a little on the small side.

I set my SLR camera up to the settings that the guides on the trip recommended, if you’re interested then this is basically what my camera was set to (although I hasten to add, I am not a professional photographer!)

Mode – M for Manual
ISO – Around 1600
Shutter speed – About 6 seconds
Aperture – f/4 (I think)
Focus – Infinity

I allowed myself some time to just play around with my camera to see what was working against the night sky and got shots like this-

night-time-in-iceland

Grainy and a bit hazy yes but like I said, I’m not a professional photographer.

Time ticked on and by about 10pm I was fed up – over an hour and a half standing around in the freezing cold looking into the black nothingness. We ventured back into the café as my knees were shaking with the cold. The guides, however, never lost their enthusiasm and at around 11pm (after approximately two and a half hours of watching and waiting) they announced that they were seeing something over the mountains. Out we rushed, all those warm café seats were vacated and we stood and watched, sure enough we could see a fleck of green in the horizon. I hurriedly set my camera up on a nearby bench but the photo turned out pretty rubbish and then the lights were gone.

my-wonky-northern-lights-image

We didn’t have to wait too long for them to reappear though and by this time, fortunately we had found ourselves a little patch of ground away from the other tourists. And here are the results…

3-aurora-borealis-in-iceland-by-quirky-little-planet

2-aurora-borealis-in-iceland-by-quirky-little-planet

1-aurora-borealis-in-iceland-by-quirky-little-planet

So they’re a little crooked but I wanted to post photos exactly as they came from my camera – no Photoshop. I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out anyway, but I will add that what you see here is far more powerful than what you see with the naked eye.

My top 5 tips for viewing the Northern Lights

  1. Take an SLR camera. Nothing else will do it justice.

  2. If you have a tripod, take that too. I only had a miniature one so I had to prop it up on a bit of slab we found. It did the trick but a proper tripod would have been better.

  3. Do some research into photographing the lights before you go. My camera settings may not work for you but are here for a vague guideline of what worked for me.

  4. Dress warmly! Think lots of layers and thick socks. You don’t know how long you may be waiting.

  5. Be prepared for disappointment. There is no guarantee you will see the lights, but many companies offer for you to go back with them on another excursion for free if you have no luck.