Geysers, hot springs, and the Blue Lagoon spring to mind when you hear ‘Iceland.’

Iceland’s geothermal environment makes hot springs, geysers, and heated streets possible. With so many options for a hot water soak, you have to decide which pools you want to experience on your visit. 

I visited a local City Thermal Pool, and the Blue Lagoon on my visit. I loved both experiences, for different reasons. Having visited both, I’m here to weigh in and help you answer the big question: Which one should you visit? A local pool, or the blue lagoon?

Here’s my recommendation after visiting both!

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City Thermal Pools

City thermal pools are the local experience. The water in Iceland is naturally hot, so Reykjavik has many neighbourhood thermal swimming pools. There’s likely one walking distance from wherever you’re staying! 

City Thermal Pools are great if you want the true local experience. Go in the evening, and you’ll be enjoying the hot water along with Icelanders who are unwinding and chatting with friends after a day at work. 

I went to Vesturbaejarlaug, a local favourite. The local pools included everything from personal hot tubs to massive waterslides!

Photo from: http://reykjavik.is/
Things to know before you go to a local Iceland pool:
  • it is standard to shower without your bathing suit on before entering the pool.
  • flip flops are a good idea for walking from the change room to the showers.
  • you must not track any water from the showers to the changing rooms after you leave. The floor in the change rooms are completely dry. 
  • access to local swimming pools are included in the Reykjavik City Card.
  • regular price of a City Pool: 500-600 ISK.

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The Blue Lagoon

The moment that I saw a photo of the Blue Lagoon, it became a bucket list item for me. Yes, it’s packed to the brim with other tourists, and yes, it’s still totally worth going!

Get the Comfort Package and dive in. The Blue Lagoon is much larger than it appears in most photos, but just as blue. There are a lot of people, and there’s also a lot of space so you won’t feel squished in.

Enjoy silica and algae face masks, and grab a cold smoothie at the swim up bar. Drift around on a pool noodle, or open your pores in one of the saunas.

The Blue Lagoon is built for tourists, and you’ve probably seen and heard tons about it. It’s all for good reason. I loved the Blue Lagoon and can’t wait to go back!

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Things to know before you go to the Blue Lagoon:
  • whether or not you receive a towel or sandals depends on which package you get, so pay attention to what is included and what’s not. The Standard Package is the cheapest option, but I chose the Comfort Package so that a towel and drink were included.
  • it’s a great idea to bring a small, carry-on sized bottle of clarifying shampoo, to remove the silica from your hair. (I like Live Clean Apple Cider Clarifying Shampoo.)
  • you can arrange transport to and from the airport and Reykjavik directly on the Blue Lagoon’s website.
  • If you have an afternoon or evening flight, make the Blue Lagoon your last stop in Iceland! Remember to bring a bag for your wet bathing suit. 
  • the grounds surrounding the Blue Lagoon are beautiful, so leave a little time to explore afterwards!

Local Iceland Pool vs. The Blue Lagoon 

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I loved both!

Have you been to a local thermal pool in Iceland, or to the Blue Lagoon? Did you prefer one over the other? Leave a comment below!

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Your Reykjavik City Pass Itinerary 

Iceland’s Golden Circle

 

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Posted by Nina Danielle

53 Comments

  1. merrygoroundslowly June 21, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Thanks for the post, very useful. We are considering a trip to Iceland sometime soon, so I will visit your blog again for more tips.

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    1. that’ll be so fun! And great, I’ve got a couple guides and suggestions on places to eat that I hope you’ll find helpful.

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  2. Aaaaah! Iceland! I plan to go there this year, hopefully. I hope my plans come alive. The thermal pools look good. Heck, everything looks good. Will be bookmarking this page for when I am ready to go.

    Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I hope so too, you’ll love it!

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  3. That’s good to know about the local pools! I hadn’t heard about those but of course have heard about the Blue Lagoon. Thank you for sharing, Nina!

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    1. The local pool was lovely! Nice way to spend an evening 🙂

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  4. The blue lagoon is definitely on my bucket list! Good to know about the different packages, super helpful tip!

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    1. Yes, look in to them! We were very happy with Comfort. The only disadvantage to Standard is no drinks or towel.

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  5. I’ve heard about The Blue Lagoon, and have to admit that I want to see experience it even if there are a lot of other people there. But I also love the idea of relaxing in one of the local pools. I’ve done hot springs here, and I know that I would love having this experience in Iceland. The more I read about the place, the more I want to visit the country!

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    1. I hope you do visit soon! It’s a fantastic place.

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  6. This is such a great comparison! Basically… do both?! Haha. I would really love to go to Iceland and the Blue Lagoon has been on my list for a long time, but I love local experiences so much as well.

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    1. Yes, do BOTH! I’m sure some people will choose one or the other, but I loved both 🙂

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  7. I did both as well and loved both experience. If I ever went back to Iceland again (hopefully in the winter to see the Northern Lights) I would miss the blue Lagoon and go for local pools. It was fun once, but probably not worth it twice.

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    1. I’d love to go back for the same reason. I’ve heard there are other hot springs you can get to if you rent a car too, which would be neat for seeing the lights.

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  8. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to need this when I head to Iceland in October. I haven’t booked the Lagoon yet, but this helps me to figure out what I need and what I don’t.

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    1. You’re going to love the Blue Lagoon!

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  9. authenticfoodquest June 22, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    Have not been to Iceland yet and it is on my bucket list. Great tips about the Blue Lagoon and the local Iceland pool. Hope to hit them both when I finally make it over. Useful tips here, thank you.

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  10. Love reading your perspective on this – I don’t think many tourists try the local pools. I lived in Reykjavik for 5 months and loved it – Vesturbaejarlaug was my ‘local’ pool! It was great soaking in the hotpot with all the locals and hear them chat about their lives – not that I understood anything… The Blue Lagoon was a fun experience, but if I had to chose I’d always go for the local pool!

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    1. ninanearandfar June 24, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      That’s so neat! Vesturbaejarlaug was a really lovely pool. I definitely loved having the chance to do both, if I were there for longer I could see just going to the local pools a lot 🙂

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  11. Glad to hear that the local pools are so easily accessible! I’ve heard wonderful things about the Blue Lagoon (and it sounds like you had an amazing, relaxing time!), but I think I’d probably shy away. The price and the fact it’s not a natural hotspring made me strike it from my to-do list… however the idea of a nice long soak before a flight does sound nice…. 😀

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    1. ninanearandfar June 24, 2017 at 11:57 pm

      Totally understand, it is a lot of fun though! It’s definitely a bit of a splurge, but you can spend all day there if you want to. Nice before a flight, yet!

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  12. I’ve honestly been dying to visit Iceland ever since I saw the Blue Lagoon photos all over Instagram. Although I didn’t know about its size. I’d always assumed it was tiny because it’s filled with people. Great comparison and I’m definitely going to try both if and when I do visit!

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    1. ninanearandfar June 25, 2017 at 12:59 am

      It’s bigger than you think! It’s sort of a bunch of different areas too, which is neat. I hope you make it there soon!

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  13. If I get a chance to visit Iceland again, I’m definitely going to do both! I’d also love to be at the Blue Lagoon a bit longer and get more of a spa treatment (obviously saving a LOT more money haha) and get a facial or massage as well as relaxing in the lagoon. Or at the very least, buy some products to take back with me 🙂

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    1. ninanearandfar June 25, 2017 at 7:22 am

      A massage at the Blue Lagoon would be lovely!

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  14. I love that there is no shortage of awesome natural hot springs in Iceland haha, heading there in September and had no idea there are so many options!

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    1. ninanearandfar June 25, 2017 at 11:38 am

      There’s way more than just the local pools and blue lagoon too, if you’re willing to drive!

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  15. I NEED TO GO TO ICELAND!!!! Every post I see gets me more and more excited for my future trip haha and hopefully I’ll have time to go to both the blue lagoon and the local iceland pool because I don’t think I want to miss either!

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    1. ninanearandfar June 25, 2017 at 9:14 pm

      I hope you do too! You’re going to absolutely love both.

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  16. Iceland is my dream destination. My plan was to photograph the landscape and watch the Northern Lights but those blue pools look soothing. I might want to check both out.

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    1. ninanearandfar June 26, 2017 at 7:11 am

      photographing the northern lights will be amazing!

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  17. Great post , it seems that both have their benefits and it’s great that you recommend to visit both. I’ve not been yet but from what you’ve written about them, if I could only visit one it would be the blue lagoon. It sounds quite expensive but for the experience it certainly seems worth it!

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    1. ninanearandfar June 26, 2017 at 7:11 am

      It costs enough, but no more than any other high quality spa and bathes that I’ve been to, and it’s definitely worth it 🙂

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  18. I loved ICeland and loved doing the Blue Lagoon. I didnt do any other pools…yet as I do plan to return one day. Great post and loving the photos nina. 🙂

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    1. ninanearandfar June 26, 2017 at 7:12 am

      I want to return to Iceland as well <3 so much more to see there!

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  19. We are going to Iceland in a few weeks – and yes we will be visiting the Blue Lagoon. You can’t not, can you? But thanks for the tips on the other pools, we will try to fit some of those in too. Mind you, with a 4 and 2 year old (neither can swim) it’s going to be interesting…

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    1. ninanearandfar June 27, 2017 at 4:08 pm

      The local pools were very shallow in some spots, like sit on the bottom. The blue lagoon will be more eventful with those ages I think haha!

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  20. Very interesting post! You have put up very good points about both so it’s good to know there is more than just the Blue Lagoon. I think I would have to do both!! Plus if I am going over to Iceland it will be for a while as it’s literally the opposite side of the world to me lol

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    1. ninanearandfar June 29, 2017 at 10:49 pm

      Hahaha! Yes, makes sense to go for a few weeks then, so you’ll have lots of time to soak!

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  21. These sound awesome. I have yet to go to Iceland but it is on the list 🙂
    I think I would try both 🙂

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    1. ninanearandfar June 29, 2017 at 10:48 pm

      Perfect! I think both is the way to go.

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  22. I like how you experienced both, I think I’d definitely do the same! Thanks for the tip on the comfort package and all the rest of your great advice. I can’t wait to go to Iceland!

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  23. Such a great post and perfect for me know about before my trip to Iceland later this year! I think the Blue Lagoon looks beautiful and I am happy to go there among all the other tourists, although I do like trying the less known places too at times. But Blue Lagoon does look beautiful!

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    1. ninanearandfar July 1, 2017 at 10:52 am

      The blue lagoon is super fun! It’s definitely worth going, in my opinion.

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  24. I havent been to either! Its been on the list for a while and this is fantastic guide for when I do go! I think I’d do both! Do you think if I went for 2 weeks that is enough time in Iceland?

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    1. ninanearandfar July 1, 2017 at 10:54 am

      I was only in Iceland for 4 days and I LOVED it! I did a city walking tour, the golden circle, a day using the city pass, and the blue lagoon. I think you’ll have plenty of time to explore with 2 weeks, the other things I really wish I had seen are in the southern part of Iceland, the black sand beaches and stuff like that.

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  25. We have been really thinking about going to Iceland! This post comes in handy that I can show my husband, maybe that will get him to decide!

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    1. That’s fantastic! Just show him photos of Iceland every day… eventually, he will convinced.

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  26. Fantastic Blog. Very much enjoyed reading.

    Reply

  27. What a great post! It seems like both experiences are a must because they’re so different from eachother (yet similar at the same time!) I’d love to get to do both!

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  28. Bucket list stuff for sure! I’d love to have both a local and major attraction experience! Really handy tips and info.

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  29. Thank you for this! I have read a lot of negative articles about the Blue Lagoon, so I was feeling a little nervous about if I should go. It sounds like it’s still at least worth one visit!

    Reply

  30. This is definitely helpful! I have been wanting to go back to Iceland and this time visit the local thermal pools. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply

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