laugarvatn fontana

I almost didn't bother going to the Blue Lagoon as I was worried it would be overrated and full of tourists. I wondered if Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermal Baths - an apparent hidden gem on the Golden Circle Route - would be a good alternative.

alternatives to blue lagoon iceland

But having enjoyed many supposedly touristy sights in the past, I decided that I couldn't dismiss the Blue Lagoon as overrated without actually trying it, so I booked us (my sister Em and my ex Tan) in at both the Blue Lagoon and Laugarvatn Fontana. (Yes I spent most of my time in Iceland in spas lol.) 

laugarvatn fontana

I enjoyed Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermals Baths and the Blue Lagoon for completely different reasons. Other than them both being spas in Iceland, they are very different places. I think that one will appeal to you more than the other, thus I have written this Laugarvatn Fontana vs Blue Lagoon blog post to give you an idea of which one is best for you. I hope it helps :) 

I'm going to review the Blue Lagoon first, so if you only clicked for Laugarvatn just scroll on down :) 

1. The Blue Lagoon Iceland Review

laugarvatn fontana

Having read many other Blue Lagoon Iceland reviews before I went, I was expecting it to be bad for my hair (most complained about the waters drying out or even damaging their hair), full of tourists, and totally undeserving of being one of the most iconic sights in Iceland. This last part interested me the most: the site isn't even naturally Icelandic, but rather an accidental by-product of a factory which tourists started bathing in, so the factory went full-out capitalist and decided to start charging for that privilege. So why is it so popular? This was my personal experience:

The Blue Lagoon: pros and cons

blue lagoon alternatives

First things first, yes, there were lots of people there, but it's so large that it didn't feel crowded, it was easy to find empty (ish) spots for chilling out (read: taking photos for Instagram). The temperature of the water was about 36 degrees Celsius which complimented the 10 degrees temperature of the air well (it was September) - running around in the cold air before plunging into hot waters is one of my favourite hobbies, and having your head out in the cold, but your body in the hot relaxes the body but keeps the mind clear. Win win. 

alternatives to blue lagoon iceland

There are bars situated in the water - one for drinks and one for face masks. This was a stroke of genius because it meant that we didn't have to get out of the water and freeze our butts off to get our drinks or masks. Drinks costs extra, but everyone gets a free silica face mask with their entry fee. Slathering our faces with silica really added to the whole 'relax and pamper' vibe: 

blue lagoon iceland reviews

Blue lagoon prices: standard entry costs around 40 Euros (it's more the later you book or if you go for a peak time of day). This gets you entry into the spa, a silica face mask but no towel. 40 Euros seemed like a lot to me for an afternoon at the spa, but this is Iceland - a cheap supermarket sandwich will set you back 12 Euros. So yeah, entry is pricey, but in Icelandic terms, it's almost reasonable. Book your ticket here to be guaranteed a spot. Personally, I think it was worth it and I'd probably go back again (depending on my finacial situation at the time). 

Should you get a Blue Lagoon upgrade?

blue lagoon towel hire

Because I'm a travel bloggers slash YouTuber we were given a complimentary upgrade to the Comfort Package - this usually costs around 55 Euros and gives you an algae mask, a free drink and the use of a towel. As I try to only ever travel with hand luggage I never have space for a towel, so having that alone was a great perk (you need a towel). The algae mask felt nicer than the silica mask and the drink I chose (a blueberry smoothie) was yummy. So if you don't have a towel (take one from your hotel) or a bottle of water with you, the upgrade is probably worth it, but if you have those things with you anyway, it's probably not worth an extra 15 Euros. Cause like, if you have an extra 15 Euros, you might want to invest in this Iceland Bikini instead:

๐Ÿ˜ But while we're talking about towels, if you are going to travel with one, go for one that's streamlined like this one - it dries quickly, it's super absorbent and it folds down nicely. 

Back to hair and the question of it drying out: conditioner (this was before I stopped using shampoo and conditioner completely, yes I'm a #nopoo vegan). But back then I slathered it with conditioner beforehand and didn't get it in the water, and thus my hair was fine. If you're concerned about your hair drying out/getting damaged I'd recommend you do so too. I actually used this intense Intense Moisture Duo, Sulphate-free one because it was my favourite - it's cruelty free (aka not tested on animals) and it smells like an actual dream. Or if you want to be super cute, you could get this BLUEberry condition (also vegan) and get a BLUEberry smoothie at the BLUE Lagoon to match. Too much? Okay, let's move on

laugarvatn fontana geothermal baths

I have memories of the location of the Blue Lagoon being kind of out there. It's only 20 minutes drive from Keflavik Airport but it's a whole 45 minute drive from Reykjavik (I'm European, to me 45 minutes is far). I'd recommend that you either go to the Blue Lagoon as your last stop before going to the airport, or take a tour so you don't have to drive for 45 minutes after the Blue Lagoon - why? The Blue Lagoon was relaxing and tiring, I didn't want to drive for a long time after that :(

I don't really believe in cars anymore, but when I was in Iceland I worked with Lagoon Car Rental and I recommend them if cars are for you. But tours are more environmental, here are some goods ones:

Recommended Blue Lagoon tours:

For more visuals on the Blue Lagoon we also made a YouTube video:

2. Laugarvatn Fontana Spa and Geothermal Baths Review

laugarvatn fontana

Before I'd visited either spa, Laugarvatn Fontana geothermal baths appealed to me a lot more - located right on the Golden Circle, it manages to somehow be both conveniently located but, unlike the Blue Lagoon, still a bit undiscovered. Plus, most appealing of all to me, it also incorporates natural parts of Iceland. But what was it actually like? Is it one of the good alternatives to Blue Lagoon Iceland?

Laugarvatn Fontana geothermal baths is composed of a series of interconnected outdoor mineral baths and steam rooms. These are built over a natural hot spring and complement each other to create a healthy, natural and fairly unique experience:

Laugarvatn Fontana geothermal Baths Pros and Cons

fontana iceland

When it comes to Laugarvatn Fontana vs Blue Lagoon, Fontana definitely wins points for the number of people - Fontana was basically empty, there can't have been more than 20 other people there, so we had plenty of space to ourselves:


There were lots of different saunas to try out and because there weren't many people there, we had a sauna or two to ourselves. At 30 Euros = £26 = $34 Fontana spa is definitely a cheaper Blue Lagoon alternative, though, like the Blue Lagoon, this price does not include towel hire.

laugarvatn fontana geothermal baths

By far my favourite part of Laugarvatn Fontana geothermal baths was the fact that you can actually take a dip in the freezing Laugarvatn lake. This feels so primal, so authentically Icelandic and was one of the highlights of my whole trip. 

fontana spa

Being right next to the lake was one of my favourite things about Laugarvatn Fontana, it was so nice to chill in the pools whilst looking at the lake and the surrounding mountains. 

fontana spa iceland

Also, the beach was black and because it's heated by the natural steam which rises from the earth, it was hot! It was odd to walk across a black warm beach before plunging into a freezing lake. I wish I'd known at the time that visiting Laugarvatn Fontana geothermal baths at night to see the Northern Lights is an option. There's even a tour: Northern Lights Laugarvatn Fontana Tour.

Other Recommended Laugarvatn Fontana Tours

  • Tour from Reykjavik - if you don't have a car, don't miss out, take a tour to Laugarvatn Fontana from Reykjavik

  • Northern Lights - combine your trip to fontana with a search for the Northern Lights!

  • Full package - Laugarvatn Fontana, Northern Lights, Golden Circle, lunch and more.

  • Now for some cons: I loved the views of the lakes, but the little pools themselves weren't all that pretty (unlike at the Blue Lagoon). Apart from the 36 degree one with the nice black stones. But that didn't really matter so much, I was there for relaxing my body not feeding my Instagram habit.

    What I found the worst at the time were the showers. Before you go into spas in Iceland you are required to have a shower naked. In the Blue Lagoon they have recently brought in private cubicles, but in Fontana, there is a big communal shower for the women and no private cubicles. This would be fine but it's not a case of simply washing under the bikini, you're required to strip off completely. There's even a (female) member of staff waiting to check you do it. Nowadays I wouldn't care, but back then I was super prudish and was not comfortable doing that. I still think having a 'guard' there is kind of excessive. But hey, maybe you don't care. 

    Overall though I really enjoyed my time, here's a vlog about it: 

    Verdict: Laugarvatn Fontana vs. Blue Lagoon

    Before visiting either I assumed I would prefer Laugarvatn Fontana to the Blue Lagoon in every single way. As it turns out I loved them both for completely different reasons:


    • Scenery - Laugarvatn Fontana
    • The prettiness of the pools - Blue Lagoon
    • Number of people - Laugarvatn Fontana
    • Iconic-ness - Blue Lagoon
    • Authentic-ness - Laugarvatn Fontana 
    • Not having to strip in front of staff - Blue Lagoon
    • Price - Laugarvatn Fontana
    I can understand why the Blue Lagoon has become the unofficial symbol of Iceland - the beautiful scenery both inside and outside the pool, the bars in the pool, the iconic Icelandic photos you can take there - in our era of selfie loving narcissists (myself included) it makes sense.

    All in all, nowadays I'd opt for Laugarvatn Fontana, it's cheaper, it's more authentic, it's conveniently located on the Golden Circle and there are fewer people - my kind of spa. Maybe I'm a secret seal, but being allowed into a freezing lake is a big win in my books.

    But they are so different and if they both appeal to you, and you have the money and the time, why not just go to both?

    More alternatives to Blue Lagoon Iceland

    In terms of price, scenery, number of people and 'authentic-ness', Laugarvatn Fontana geothermal baths is definitely one of the best alternatives to Blue Lagoon Iceland, but are there any others?
    • Secret Lagoon - like Laugarvatn Fontana, the Secret Lagoon is on the Golden Circle route - aka easily to get to if you're on that route. 
    • Reykjadular hot springs - upside free, downside hard to get to
    • Minniborgir cottages - hello private jacuzzi.

    For more information on the Blue Lagoon click here. For Laugarvatn Fontana click here

    laugarvatn fontana

    What do you think? Which one would you rather go to? Let me know in the comments below :)

    Looking for more European thermal baths? Check out Szรฉchenyi thermal bath Budapest Hungary 
    Want more of Iceland? Check 7 reasons to visit Iceland!

    Disclaimer: Travelling Weasels were offered a complimentary upgrade to the Blue Lagoon and complimentary entry into Fontana in return for honest reviews. As always all opinions are our own. 

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