Iceland: Borgarnes and Blue Lagoon

It’s 4am and my body is like, nah man. No more sleep. I made the mistake of taking an accidental nap on the plane while watching The Revenant yesterday, which I didn’t get to finish, for the record. Everyone else is still sound asleep but I can’t do it. I take a shower to kill some time and start googling things to do when you only have 24 hours in Iceland. We have a reservation at the Blue Lagoon which is now required.If you haven’t heard of it, the Blue Lagoon is like a geothermal spa with a ton of healthy minerals and natural heat. The water is bright blue and an absolute delight to swim in.

Four years ago when we visited we walked in no reso no problem, but now, as I assume Iceland’s dedicated marketing campaign to increase tourism is seeing some success, reservations are a requirement. We find that the earliest we can book ourselves in is 7pm, which is actually really convenient as our flight to Oslo leaves at 1am tonight/tomorrow morning…you know what I mean. So the plan is to get a bit of lagoon relaxation in andhead straight to the airport.
Everyone finally decides to join me in becoming conscious, and we eat breakfast downstairs which is set up buffet style. This little bed and breakfast is so cute!! The only downside is it’s random placement. Awkwardly situated between the airport and Reykjavik, we have no other option but to get around by cab. Instead of relying on those all day we decide to go back to the airport and rent our own car.

While Dad is busy setting that up, I use the airport wifi to find a route for a little day trip we can do to keep busy until our reservation at the Blue Lagoon tonight. I figure anywhere we go we’ll find beautiful scenery so I don’t feel like we can go too wrong. It’s Iceland. I find a helpful blog that suggests many quick and easy drives outside the city, and ultimately we decide a visit to Borgarnes will be best for today. If we make it in enough time, one of Iceland’s many beautiful waterfalls, Hraunfossar, is just another 45 minutes away from the town, so I’m really hoping we can hit that too.

We drive into Reykjavik to have some lunch before heading out on the road and sit down at a cute bistro on the main strip of Laugavegar. Severin (my baby brother, for those of you who don’t know me) orders a Minke Whale dish, while I have a casual and apparently traditional lamb soup. It’s good, but nothing epic. Lamb. Potatoes. Carrots. Soup. The whale was definitely a better call, but Sev’s a gem and let’s me try some.

After grabbing a quick coffee to go, we set out towards Borgarnes. As expected, the scenery is beautiful as we drive along the coast, between the mountains and the sea. Some landscapes are barren and rocky, and others are covered with grass and patches of beautiful purple lupins. The locals hate these flowers because they’re invasive and grow like weeds all over the place, but I don’t see anything wrong with purple weeds. Let’s make this a thing back home! I’ll bring some. Smuggle some weed into the country. Sorry, weeds*.

There’s a tunnel along the road that takes us deep under ground. Dad estimates that it’s about 7km long, descending for 3.5 and ascending for 3.5. I’ve never driven through a tunnel so deep but I’m sure it has to do with some kind of shipping channel or waterway.

We stop at a couple nice lookout points, but when we make it to Borgarnes we realize we don’t really have enough time to drive out to the waterfall and be back in time for the Blue Lagoon. I’m a little disappointed by this…but you can’t see it all in a day. The drive in itself has been cool, so it’s still a successful day trip.We settle for a quick tea at a café instead of turning around right away.

This little town of 1800 people is small and sleepy, but boasts beautiful views of the ocean and mountains out in the distance. Almost all of the peaks here are flat topped, which Mama is particularly curious about so as soon as we get wifi we Google it. Fun fact: Iceland doesn’t actually have any “mountains”, just valleys. My mistake. Their landscape has been eroded and carved away by glaciers, which give the impression of mountains to the untrained eye. Who knew!?
A couple hours later we’ve arrived at the Blue Lagoon, feeling super happy to have booked a reservation. There are big tour busses full of people all parked at the entrance, and a bit of a line at reception. Usually I find those busses so annoying, but I’ve been thinking, and I feel like there are two ways to take advantage of the free stopover with Iceland Air. 

1. Stay for the full 5-7 days you’re allowed and try to see as much as you can.

2. Arrange for an 8-12 hour stopover and take a tour bus to and from the Blue Lagoon. Ive never done this, but it seems so easy and convenient. I’m not a fan of tours, but the lagoon is always an incredible experience, and super close to Keflavik Intl. so in this case I’d argue that it’s totally worth it.

We indulge in silica and algae mud masks, sparkling wine at the swim up bar, and then enjoy a nice dinner at the new Lava Restaurant. When we visited 4 years ago there was nothing but a little café that offers pre packaged sandwiches, yogurt, salads etc., which still exists by the way.

By 10pm we’re on the road to the airport for our 1am flight to Oslo. We won’t be staying in Norway’s capital city, just passing through with a connection to Tromsø a few hours after we land. By this point I’m sleepy, but a 2.5 hour flight shouldn’t be so bad. At least I’ll get to finish the Revenant.

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