Iceland: The Blue Lagoon is a tourist trap

When admission to a swimming pool rises to the level of a ticket to Disney’s Magic Kingdom, you know its more than your body that is getting soaked.  Your wallet is too.

A ticket to Disney’s Magic Kingdom is Orlando, Florida costs about $130.  That includes a full day of shows, rides and attractions.  In contrast a ticket to Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, basically run off water from a geothermal power plant, can cost anywhere from $61 to $530 depending on how many extras you tack on.

And how long can you really soak in a hot tub?  After an hour your skin gets so wrinkly you’ll swear the water aged you. See those senior citizens over there?  They are really only 20 year old college kids who stayed in too long.

The Blue Lagoon gets away with its highway robbery prices because of its location near the airport.  With stop overs and long waiting times between connecting flights, many travelers choose to take a dip the the hot, soothing, Mother Earth heated waters rather then try to take a nap on the airport concrete floor.

For those with the money to burn the experience is fantastic.  Hot water, mineral mud to plaster on ones face and great selfies.

But for those in the know, Iceland has fantastic pools in every town and local pools typically cost less then $10 for a soak.  Some even sport slides.

We traveled around the Ring Road camping and sampled several pools as a break from hiking and to take advantage of the included showers to wash up and get refreshed.

The Hofsos pool is located on a hillside by the fjord of Skagafjordur. It gives a great view over the fjord and its islands, notably Drangey, Malmey, as well as the Thordarhofdi peninsula and the mountains on the other side of the fjord, all adding up to a stunning scenery.

The local pools were all different but each typically featured a large lap pool and several smaller hot tub pools.  We even tried out a hot spring fed set of little round tubs at the end of a farmer’s field for $5.

Town pools are often located next to schools in the center of town and can feature fun things like slides and hot soaking tubs.

The most expensive pool experience we had was $37 at the “Green Lagoon” in Myvatn which was kind of like The Blue Lagoon Lite.   The Myvatn Nature Baths featured a large natural pool with sand and stones on the bottom and a smaller hot pool.  They had Blue Lagoon like experiences such as being able to drink a beer or wine in the pool and a couple of waterfalls.  Just like the Blue Lagoon, Myvatn Nature Baths is located near an geothermal energy plant and the water comes from the plant.

If you stay in Iceland for more than a stop over you’ll find that swimming is serious business in Iceland. It’s so serious that learning to swim is even a mandatory part of the Icelandic education. Nearly every town has a public swimming pool. It’s a place to socialize, to work out and even to bathe.  Going to the pool for a soak in the hot tub is even a typical second date activity in Iceland.  Think about it.  In the winter when sunlight is precious and you want to soak up some rays, the only real way is to go swimming.  Plus the country has an abundance of naturally hot water bubbling out of the ground.

The Blue Lagoon is a big operation that is heavily promoted.  So much so that people feel the need to go and then tell everyone how expensive it was – the exorbitant price becomes a badge of honor to some travelers.  But if you have more time, seek and explore more of the swimming experiences Iceland has to offer.   Find a local pool and hang out with the locals, you might not get to rub mud on your face or drink a beer poolside but you might find a fun slide and save a bit of money.

Myntan Nature Baths provides a similar experience to the over hyped and priced Blue Lagoon.

Myvatn Nature Baths