It’s Northern Lights season, meaning now is the best time to catch a glimpse of this natural phenomenon. Read on for our travel guide to Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, one of the best places to catch a sighting of the lights in 2020.
When it comes to bucket list travel experiences, seeing the Northern Lights is number one on our lists. After all, who could fail to be stunned by the incredible natural phenomenon lighting up the night sky?
If witnessing the Northern Lights is on your wish list, then you’re in luck, with now being the best time of the year to see them. The Northern Lights season runs from August through to mid-April, with the shimmering streaks of green, pink and purple most likely to be visible on a clear, dark night.
And the best place to view the auroras? We recommend Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, one of the top wonders of the world.
Even if you’re not lucky enough to spot the Northern Lights (sightings are sadly never guaranteed), a trip the Blue Lagoon is still an out-of-this-world experience. From unique spa treatments to unmissable food, we can’t recommend it enough.
Read on for our pick of the best places to visit at the Blue Lagoon. Happy travels!
Best places to stay in the Blue Lagoon
There are numerous options for accommodation near the Blue Lagoon. Whether you choose to stay by the lagoon itself, or in the nearby town of Reykjavik, we’ve handpicked the best selection below.
The Retreat Hotel
The aptly named Retreat hotel is nestled in a private inlet of the UNESCO Global Geopark, meaning you’ll feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of modern life as soon as you step inside. The hotel’s minimalist design means the stunning views of the surrounding moss-covered lava fields and geothermal water take centre stage, with floor to ceiling windows offering pure escapism to the Icelandic wilderness.
But aside from the views, it’s the rooms that really make this luxury hotel worth visiting. Each of the hotel’s 62 suites have been impeccably decorated, with stand-alone baths, rainwater showers and giant, comfy beds all aligned with the minimalist Nordic aesthetic The Retreat has become known for. If you’re lucky enough to get a Northern Lights wakeup call, step out onto your private balcony to watch the spectacle light up the sky across the lava fields, or head up to the hotel’s terrace to take in the seemingly-endless night sky across the lagoon and the surrounding area.
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina
Located right in the heart of Reykjavik, the Icelandair Hotel is the perfect base from which to explore Iceland’s capital. Each of the 108 rooms boasts views across the Andes Mountains and the Arctic Sea, making this the perfect place to unwind with a glass of wine after a day of sightseeing. There’s even an in-house library for those wanting to borrow a book for their stay.
Best restaurants and bars in the Blue Lagoon
There are plenty of delicious places to eat and drink near the Blue Lagoon. Check out our selection below.
If you’re looking to dine somewhere truly special during your trip, then book a table at Moss, which has just been recommended in the 2019 Michelin Guide – and for good reason. The beautifully decorated restaurant is offset by a floor to ceiling window that looks over the seemingly never-ending fields of moss that stretch out as far as the eyes can see.
Of course, the real star of the show here is the food, with creative five- and seven-course seasonal menus available each day. Dishes in the past have included re-imagined beet salad with blue cheese “snow” and langoustines served with wild garlic, butter and croutons. Be sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment.
The Retreat wine cellar
Take a lift deep underground to uncover this hidden gem, built into frozen-in-time lava that erupted hundreds of years ago in 1226. With bottles of every wine imaginable stacked as far as the eye can see, the cellar is worth a visit even if you aren’t drinking. Ask one of the friendly sommeliers to guide you through the vintages and check in for an evening of wine exploration.
The stunning Lava restaurant is built right into a lava cliff, giving the whole restaurant an out-of-this-world feeling. Reserve a table by the floor-to-ceiling windows and feel as if you’re dining inside the lagoon itself.
The Spa restaurant is the ultimate place for a post-swim meal or nourishing smoothie – plus, you can eat in your dressing gown, and what could be more indulgent than that? Sit back and relax as you soak up the stunning views of the mist rising off the water of the Blue Lagoon.
Best things to do at the Blue Lagoon
From seeing the Northern Lights to a magical in-water massage treatment, there are plenty of things to keep you occupied at the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon
Unsurprisingly, one of the best things to do at the Blue Lagoon is visit the lagoon itself, named as one of the 25 wonders of the world by National Geographic. An out-of-this-world experience, the water in the lagoon is characterised by a bright blue colour, highlighted by the white silica clay that surrounds it. The lagoon’s water is enriched with silica, algae and other minerals, and is renowned across the globe for its skin healing properties. Fancy giving it a try for yourself? Visit one of the lagoon’s mask bars, where you can scoop out some of the clay and smooth it over your skin. The unique blend of silica and algae will leave your skin feeling silky smooth and completely revived, while the soothing warmth of the lagoon’s waters will relieve tension and aches in your muscles.
The Retreat Spa
While you’re at the Blue Lagoon, why not treat yourself with a visit to one of the world’s most luxurious spas? Built into an 800-year-old lava flow on the south shore of the Blue Lagoon, the Retreat Spa is enclosed in a private section of the lagoon, and is the place to head for that perfect Instagram photo (there’s even a helpful host of photographers who will capture the best angles for you). Order a nourishing smoothie (or a glass of fizz) from the handy drinks hatch and soak in the views while you submerge yourself in the water, or book in for a treatment at the spa itself.
Using all natural products, most of which are produced at the Lagoon itself, the spa offers a range of treatments (we recommend the spa’s unbeatable 45 minute facial). All guests at the spa can also enjoy access to the Blue Lagoon ritual, which will leave your skin humming with joy.
Head off on a guided hike
The Blue Lagoon is surrounded by miles of the gorgeous, rugged scenery that Iceland is famed for. Book in for a hike guided by a specialist from The Retreat and head off on an adventure. We recommend trying the Thorbjorn Walk to the top of the volcano – there might even be a hot chocolate and pastry-based reward for you at the top.
See the Northern Lights
Sadly a sighting of the ethereal Northern Lights can never be guaranteed, but August through to April are the best months to visit the Lagoon to be in with a chance of spotting them. There is barely any light pollution at the Lagoon thanks to its remote location, making the incredible sight even more dazzling.
Try something truly different and book in for an in-water massage in the Retreat’s Lagoon. You’ll be swaddled in soft blankets and carefully laid down in a float, before being massaged with the Blue Lagoon’s own mineral massage oil. Close your eyes and drift off, or look up at the vast, ever changing skies and let your mind wander. Either way, you’re guaranteed to leave feeling relaxed.
Images: courtesy of hotels/locations, Unsplash