I stayed in Iceland for over a week, with my last night at the Silica Hotel, which is a five-minute walk to the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon in Iceland
The Blue Lagoon is perhaps the most frequently visited location in all of Iceland. A large, warm, outdoor geothermal lagoon was created close to a large geothermal power plant that generates a large portion of southwestern Iceland's electricity, and what luck, it's also a hypnotizing blue color! The picturesque landscape of lava fields surrounding the lagoon only compounds the irresistible draw for many tourists when they visit the beautiful island country.
The Blue Lagoon is only a 20-minute bus ride from Keflavik Airport, the only international airport in Iceland. Several travel companies within Iceland offer various Blue Lagoon experiences, including both vacation day trips as well as quick lay-over trips to the lagoon. Both options include admission to the lagoon and round trip bus fare to and from the Blue Lagoon from the airport, or from Reykjavik, the busiest tourism city in Iceland.
Admission varies from basic, comfort, premium and luxury. Basic includes zero frills, charging you extra for anything down to the use of a towel, while luxury includes flip flops, a towel, robe, and even drinks and a dinner reservation at Lava, the restaurant attached to the lagoon (you can skip this one, I'll explain in another post). I strongly suggest you get either the comfort or premium packages in the winter months. The towel and/or robe are pretty valuable in the cold!
I personally stayed in Iceland for eight days and seven nights, with my last night at the alluring Silica Hotel; a luxury hotel only a 5-minute walk away from the Blue Lagoon via a path through the surrounding moss-covered lava fields (a beautiful walk, especially at sunset, by the way). This article is to help you decide whether or not you should bust out your wallet for the Silica Hotel or if you should just go to the Blue Lagoon instead and save yourself some major coin.
The Silica Hotel
This year my girlfriend and I decided to go to Iceland in February, and it just so happened to cross paths with Valentine's Day. I figured hey, why not try to stay at the Silica Hotel for Valentine's Day? That HAS to score some points, right? I managed to secure a last-minute reservation (which basically came down to me refreshing their website on my cellphone every 15–20 minutes for about two weeks, haha). The biggest draw of the Silica Hotel, is of course, the fact that it has its own private Blue Lagoon for hotel guests only. The larger Blue Lagoon is open to the public, but believe me when I tell you it is packed with tourists all day. There is no such thing as a "slow" time of day for them.
The bill for the Silica Hotel is not a cheap one, costing me just a little over $530 for a one-night stay. I figured it wouldn't be too bad since that $530 includes your night at their very nice hotel, breakfast buffet the next morning, Wi-Fi, two Premium admission tickets to the Blue Lagoon itself, and of course access to the private lagoon at the hotel. I closed my eyes and clicked "Book," trying to pretend that if I didn't see it, maybe it would cost me less.
For our purposes, the Silica Hotel was 100% worth every dollar. We used the private lagoon for hours up until it closed at midnight, and went to the larger public lagoon earlier in the day using the two included Premium admission passes. We even woke up early and used the private lagoon one more time before heading to the airport.
However, I will say that we probably would never stay there again. It is a one-time experience worth paying for, but repeats are totally not necessary. While it was fun and romantic, we both agreed if we were to come back to Iceland, we would simply book a half-day trip from Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon and purchase our own Premium access passes. The Luxury admission is very much not worth the money, you can save yourself a few hundred dollars on that right off the bat, in case you were considering it. You get a couple more bells and whistles but at an intense mark-up in cost. Not worth it at all.
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Getting to the Silica Hotel or Blue Lagoon
This was a tricky one since we did not rent a car. Whatever you do, do NOT get a taxi from Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon or the Silica Hotel, or you will be staring at a $140 USD taxi receipt. No, that's not a joke.
If you are staying at a hotel, simply ask your hotel concierge to give you the number of the bus company Reykjavik Excursions. In my case and I'm sure most cases, the hotel concierge will even call them for you to coordinate your pick-up. This company will send a shuttle to your hotel to scoop you up and bring you to the bus terminal in Reykjavik, which will have a bus that can bring you to either the Blue Lagoon or the Silica Hotel for around $20 one-way or $40 round trip. If you did not purchase bus tickets yet, you can walk inside the terminal and buy them there; it is very easy. This is hands down your best option if you have not rented a car. It is both comfortable and affordable.
Personally, I waited until our last day and only got one-way bus tickets to the Silica Hotel, and then paid for a one-way bus ticket from the Silica Hotel to Keflavik International Airport. The same company offers both tickets, so be sure to ask them if that is also your plan!
If you are day-tripping to the Blue Lagoon, then I can't stress enough how important it is for you to also buy your admission passes on their website in advance before you even get on the bus. Hopefully, you already purchased them days ago, as they sell out rather quickly and many families take the bus all the way there only to find out that they will not sell them passes. This is a major bummer not only because you traveled 40-minutes from Reykjavik for nothing, but also because you get to stare at the lagoon but not go in!
Take all of that stress off the table and purchase your passes in advance. Again, I recommend springing for the Premium access. Enjoy the robe, the flip flops, the included drink at the swim-up bar in the lagoon, and the included silica and algae masks.
As mentioned above, travel time from Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon and vice versa is approximately 40-minutes with no traffic. From Keflavik International Airport to the Blue Lagoon and vice versa is approximately 20 minutes with no traffic. Factor this into your plans for the day and give yourself a time cushion to shower (yes you MUST shower both before you get in the lagoon and after you get in the lagoon), and to lounge around.
Buses run about every 45–60 minutes to and from the Blue Lagoon. Make sure you check the bus schedule and plan accordingly, otherwise you'll get out of the lagoon, shower, get your things and walk out only to see a license plate driving away into the distance, and have to wait around for the next one, losing precious time in the beautiful country.
Remember the 6 Ps! Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance!
The Final Verdict
If you are seeking a one-time romantic gesture with your significant other, or you simply can't bear the idea of being surrounded by hundreds of people in the larger Blue Lagoon, then you should definitely consider a one-night stay at the Silica Hotel. The staff are very helpful and very friendly, and the private lagoon is very relaxing. Did I mention a staff member will gladly bring you beverages (including alcoholic) right to you in the private lagoon? That's service.
However, if you are already staying in Reykjavik and you are keener on exploring Iceland and packing as much as you can into your trip, then I would advise against staying at the Silica Hotel. It is very isolated, so basically your only options for that day will be private lagoon, public lagoon, or relax at the hotel. Booking the half-day trip to the Blue Lagoon will allow you to return to Reykjavik for exploration, other tours, or the shopping/bar scene, while also keeping some extra ISK in your pocket!
Oh, and stay off the moss!! :)