If you're planning a trip to Iceland, people will tell you to eat the hot dogs, tour the capital city and of course, visit the Blue Lagoon. I did all three during my trip in late April.
To be expected, the country's most iconic destination isn't cheap. Tickets to the geothermal spa range from a $55 "standard package" — which gets you in the door — to a $530 "luxury package," which includes entry to the exclusive lounge, among other perks.
I opted for the $95 "premium package," which is the most popular of the four options.
If you know you want to spend a day at the Blue Lagoon, you have to plan ahead. It's open every day of the year, but attracts so many visitors that you have to pre-book your ticket a few days in advance. If you want to go at a specific time, I recommend looking at tickets at least a week before.
The spa is situated between Reykjavik, where I was staying, and the main airport, so I booked my ticket for the morning of my last day in Iceland. Another popular time to go is upon arriving in Iceland: Many travelers head there straight from the airport.
Getting there is easy. There are hourly bus transfers to and from the lagoon, Reykjavik and Keflavik International Airport. I had rented a car, and the trip was a pleasant 45 minute drive from downtown Reykjavik.
The walk from the parking lot to the entrance, like the rest of Iceland, is decidedly scenic.
I showed up at 10:15 a.m. for my 10:30 a.m. booking. Here's the lobby area everyone enters into upon arrival.
After waiting in line for about 15 minutes, I scanned my e-ticket. I got a wristband that serves as a locker key and an in-water credit card, which I could use to buy drinks and refreshments at the swim-up bar.
Included in the premium package is the use of a towel, bathrobe and slippers.
Next, I headed up to the locker rooms, where all visitors are required to take a naked, full body shower. That's standard procedure at all Icelandic pools.
After showering, I was set loose to soak among these stunning views.
Swimmers can hang towels and robes on a rack by the lagoon entrance. Easy access to a warm robe makes a huge difference if you're visiting during the winter or off-season.
To give you an idea of just how cold it was outside in April, check out the lifeguard wearing a full-on parka.
As soon as you wade into the lagoon, the outdoor temperature — no matter how frigid — becomes irrelevant. The water temperature ranges between a perfect 98 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
I headed straight to the swim-up bar, where you can order beer, cider, wine and smoothies. The premium package includes a complimentary drink.
No matter what package you buy, you have access to the silica mud mask, the distinctive white face treatment you may have seen all over your Instagram feed.
You'll find it in the lagoon at the swim-up "silica bar."
You apply as much as you want to your face and body, leave it on for at least five minutes and then wash it off using the lagoon water — before taking a selfie, that is.
The comfort package also come with access to the algae face mask, which is supposed to nourish and moisturize your skin.
Here's a close up of the good stuff:
If you need a break from the pool, there's a sauna and steam area to relax in, as well as an indoor lounge area.
There's no time limit on your stay, but most visitors spend a couple hours in the water and stick around for lunch or dinner at the Blue Cafe or LAVA restaurant. I relaxed for about three hours before showering, changing and heading to the airport for a 5:00 p.m. flight.
It was the perfect, relaxing close to a whirlwind three-day trip.
But if you're looking for a relaxing spa day, unmatched views and the perfect travel 'gram — and you've made room for it in your budget — spend a day at the Blue Lagoon. It's a one-of-a-kind experience, and one that I found completely worth the price.