Sky Lagoon Iceland: a detailed review

Is Iceland’s Sky Lagoon Worth the Visit? A Detailed Review

November 11, 2022laurenslighthouse

Only a few months after Iceland’s newest geothermal spa opened, we were touring this formidable country on a 10-day ring road journey with our very first time in a camper van. It was the end of September 2021 and we were never short of a day when the cold weather made us want to relax in a steamy and refreshing thermal pool. We knew we wanted to spend one of our last days in Iceland at one of their top lagoons near Reykjavík, especially after soaking in the milky warmth at Mývatn Nature Baths on Day 5, but didn’t yet know if Sky Lagoon was going to be the best match for our time and money.

Iceland is home to many natural hot springs all over the island. There is so much geothermal activity throughout the country that there are now a number of luxurious spas situated across different corners of the island, with Mývatn Nature Baths and GeoSea Geothermal Baths in the North, Vök Baths in the East, and Blue Lagoon in the Southwest.

With all of this focus on luxury outdoor geothermal spas, how does Sky Lagoon compare as a new place on the market? We’re going to look at how Sky Lagoon stands out from the other options and whether or not it’s worth the money and hype. After all, we chose to visit Sky Lagoon over the already famous Blue Lagoon on our last day in Iceland. Did we make a good choice?

The Uniqueness of Sky Lagoon, Iceland

Many travelers to Iceland have the preconceived notion that the Blue Lagoon is only a hop away from downtown Reykjavík, when in fact it’s about a good 45-minute drive from the city and actually further south from the international airport. Sky Lagoon, on the other hand, is only 10 minutes from the city centre. This can make a huge difference if you’re staying within Reykjavík.

This was the case for us as we had already finished our outdoor adventures on the Fagradalsfjall volcano near Grindavík and now came full circle to end our trip and relax in the capital city. If you’re in Iceland for a short layover, however, I can definitely understand the appeal of hopping over to Blue Lagoon instead. We’d do the same thing!

What truly sets Sky Lagoon apart from the other thermal spas in Iceland isn’t just its location, but the fact that it’s the only one that offers a luxurious seven-step ritual. This is what had us sold!

Sky Lagoon’s Seven-Step Ritual

In true Nordic fashion for wellness, Sky Lagoon accentuates the practice of thermotherapy by creating a fluid cycle that involves alternating between hot and cold temperatures. Their signature seven-step ritual is what puts this spa on the map in our opinion, on top of its beautiful setting and facilities.

This unique ritual is included in the Pure Pass and Sky Pass, but not the Pure Lite Pass (more on the available packages later). You can only go through the cycle once during your visit and are given a specific wristband for the seven steps, which you hand over upon entering the indoor cabin at the turf house door.

Step 1: Wade in the lagoon. Your first step out of the changing rooms and into the spa will be into the large, luxuriating lagoon. Take as much time as you please to indulge in the beautiful sights and the warm water.

Step 2: Take a cold plunge. After you’ve spent ample time in the lagoon, it’s time to give your body an invigorating plunge into the cold pool. It’s a Nordic rite of passage to hop in here. Just dip in up to your shoulders, slow your breath, count to 10 and feel the tingling sensation all over your body as the cold water soothes your sore muscles!

Step 3: Relax in the sauna. Head through the wooden door of the turf house right beside the cold pool and step into the sauna situated on your right. You’ll welcome the dry heat greatly after the last step and marvel at the view through the floor-to-ceiling glass window which is the largest glass window in all of Iceland. Take a seat here for 5-10 minutes – the higher you sit, the hotter it’ll be so keep that in mind if it gets too much!

Step 4: Walk through the cold mist. Embrace the cold once again through the misty shower situated in an outdoor room and allow it to stimulate your body’s blood flow. You can pace around or have a rest on the wooden bench for a more prolonged experience.

Step 5: Rub on the Sky body scrub. Grab a small bowl from the table situated in the main lobby of the turf house and slather the seasonal Sky Lagoon sea-salt scrub all over your body minus your face. The body scrub will help exfoliate your skin of any dead skin cells and increase its rejuvenation.

Step 6: Decompress in the steam room. Head into the fog of the steam room and soak in the body polish you just put on. The salt particles will start to melt away and the heavy steam will help your skin lock in the moisturizing oils of the scrub. Take a few moments (up to 5 minutes) to inhale the thick and cedar scented air before making your way to the final step. If your pores start opening up, your skin starts to sweat and any congestion you had begins to clear up, you’ve spent a good amount of time in here!

Step 7: Rinse off in the showers. Wash off the remaining residue on your skin in the open shower stall and feel like your skin as the silky smooth surface it’s become before making your way back into the Sky Lagoon!

Sky Lagoon Changing Facilities

The changing rooms are composed of two different facilities: open and private. The private change rooms are available upon booking the Sky Pass and is essentially the distinguishing factor between this top tier package and the other packages.

The private changing rooms are quite tasteful and comprehensive. They have their own glass door shower with shampoo/body wash and conditioner, you have access to their signature body lotion, a hair dryer, extra towels, storage space and your own mirror.

The open changing rooms are very spacious, extensive and equally elegant to the private rooms. Your own towel is included no matter what tier you booked, which I believe no other thermal bath facility in Iceland offers.

One travel item you’ll need to pack with you on your trip to Iceland is a packable microfibre towel like this one! The one time you don’t need it is for your visit to Sky Lagoon.

The only true difference between the open and private change rooms is that in the former, you don’t have your own private area to change apart for the bathroom stalls. There are wooden benches in the open areas which is plenty of space to change, much like in a new fitness centre. I truly don’t think they lack anything and it’s very commonplace to change in the open for Icelanders. There’s no shame in it!

All the showers are individual private stalls, which is in fact not commonplace in Iceland thermal bath facilities. Having the many shower stalls all be private and line the hall that lead towards the change room exit and into the lagoon was enough confirmation for me that Sky Lagoon was aiming to bring a level of comfort and privacy to all their guests.

Each shower has a lockable door, hooks and installed bottles of the Sky Lagoon shampoo/shower gel and conditioner. The hooks are perfect to hang your swimsuit and towel.

Important note: In Iceland, showering naked is mandatory for all before entering the water of any pubic pool, nature bath or hydrotherapy spa. This is why I think Sky Lagoon creates a comfortable space for all guests as not everyone is okay to strip down and shower naked in the open.

The open change rooms are where you’ll find your locker, regardless of what pass you booked. The waterproof wristband you get at check-in has an RFID chip which allows you to open your own locker. If you forget your locker number when coming back in, don’t worry! There’s a small machine in the changing rooms that can read your locker number with a scan of your wristband.

Don’t forget to grab a black fabric shoe bag at the changing room entrance to place your shoes in. You have to take them off before stepping into the changing facilities… or else! In all seriousness, that’s how they keep the place impeccably clean. The shoe bags are so durable that we kept ours and have used them for shoe packing on all our trips since! If you need to store luggage during your visit, Sky Lagoon also offers luggage storage in a separate room which they will escort you to after checking in.

In the open change rooms, there’s also a fancy rock sink which doubles as a drinking water tap indicated by the glasses on the side for you to use. Make sure to stay hydrated during your time at the spa!

Inside the Sky Lagoon

Before entering the Sky Lagoon building, it feels like you’re stepping foot into a shallow cave in the middle of nowhere. It’s such a great visual contrast between the modern geometrical angles that compose the hollowed-out entrance and the turf house-like exterior consisting of a wooden wall and mossy green grass lining the entire roof. The Icelandic architecture of old and of new is well represented in the Sky Lagoon’s property. Everything onsite is carefully constructed to make it look like it’s part of the landscape. You’ll see this well on the inside when you enter the spa.

The moment you step out of the changing rooms, you’ll find yourself completely immersed in the lava rock theme of the spa. Though it is not a natural lagoon, it is fed by natural geothermal hot water that mixes with cold water in the pipes to reach the perfect temperature for bathing. The pool truly mimics so much of the volcanic terrain of Iceland so you never feel like you’ve left the natural scenery to come to a luxurious spa.

There’s a waterfall that trickles the tempered water and it’s so refreshing to dunk your whole head underneath. It’s infinitely warmer than any waterfall in Iceland, I’ll tell you that! As opposed to the natural lagoons like Blue Lagoon and Myvatn Nature Baths that contain silica, Sky Lagoon doesn’t have any harsh minerals that will stiffen and dry out your hair. So feel free to get your hair wet here!

One of the best features of the entire lagoon is the vast infinity edge that overlooks the North Atlantic Ocean. It’s so incredibly wide that there’s room for so many to sit by the edge and peer over at the horizon. The lagoon is the largest outdoor thermal pool we’ve ever visited and there are quite a few corners you could retreat to for a more intimate atmosphere. The lava rock walls help drown out the noise from other sides so you can get some quiet here as well.

Photography note: There are very few spots to put your phone or camera if you’re hoping to take pictures or document your visit. We didn’t bring in our mirrorless camera and we didn’t have our GoPro with us on this trip (though in hindsight that would’ve been a great one to have). I brought my phone in and shot most of the photos you see here in RAW and then quickly brought it back in to the lockers to enjoy the rest of our time gadget-free. If you’re hoping to get some shots it, I suggest only bringing in your phone with a waterproof case on.

Sky Lagoon Bar

You can’t have such a massive lagoon tailored mostly to adults (minimum age to visit is 12 with supervision for ages 12-14) and not have a swim-up pool bar. Housed under a large rock, the bar offers tons of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

The prices are a bit steep for drinks at around 1,390-2,390 ISK ($10-17 USD) for the alcoholic menu. The non-alcoholic options are, of course, priced much lower at around 390-690 ($3-5 USD). You’re limited to three alcoholic beverages during your visit. We sweat a lot more than we think in thermal pools so the alcohol limit is there for your benefit!

During our time here, we had to get at least one drink so I opted in for the sparkling wine and Jason got himself the Somersby Apple Cider. Refreshing to say the least!

How do you pay for your drinks, you ask? Your handy dandy wristband is all they need to log your order. Upon checking out of Sky Lagoon and returning the wristband, you’ll be able to pay for your tab. Easy peasy!

You can also do a little retail shopping on your way out if you loved their products so much. I know I was surely tempted! Especially with that marvellous Sky salt scrub made with sea salt, almond oil and sesame seed oil.

Sky Lagoon Dining

You might be getting hungry after hours of lounging around amidst the heat of the thermal water. After freshening up and changing, you can hit up the Smakk Bar for some delectable eats. On their menu, they offer platters and boards with ingredients all sourced from Iceland. Though we didn’t get to try their food, the Sky Platter has my mouth watering just reading the ingredients.

The Sky Café is the other casual dining spot offering coffee and light hot food options. If you’re not feeling a shareable snack and want something with more substance, check out the menu at the café.

Cost of Sky Lagoon

There are three different passes you can book at Sky Lagoon.

Pure Lite Pass includes admission to the lagoon. With it comes your own towel, locker and access to the changing facilities. It costs 6,990 ISK (~$50 USD).

Pure Pass includes everything in the Pure Lite Pass plus one cycle of the seven-step ritual. It costs 9,990 ISK (~$70 USD).

Sky Pass includes everything in the Pure Pass plus access to the private change rooms and signature Sky Lagoon body lotion. It costs 13,900 ISK (~$100 USD). This is the most luxe package.

If you book online fairly last minute, you might come across some time slots that are still available at a slightly discounted price, and everyday around 2.5 hours before he lagoon closes, they discount their price by about $7-14 USD as it’s a shorter timeframe for your visit.

There’s absolutely no limit to how long you can stay at Sky Lagoon apart from the closing times. The spa has quite a wide operating time range and is open every day year-round. Even the shorter opening hours are from 11am to 10pm on Monday-Thursday from September 1 to June 16. In the summer months from June 17 to August 14, it’s open daily from 8am to 11pm. Crazy!

These long opening hours allow them to never be at full capacity which only betters guest experience.

Which Sky Lagoon Pass Holds the Most Value?

I have to say, without a doubt, the Pure Pass is the best bang for your buck. I couldn’t justify the extra $30+ on a private changing room that doesn’t hold your own locker. You might think it’s worth it, especially if you don’t want the hassle of changing in the open or you’d like the luxury of having your own large shower. It didn’t make sense to us because the open changing rooms are soooo nice already and have everything you need.

I have to say though, booking the very first time slot of the day gave us the ability to come to a recently cleaned and dry changing facility, and I got to be the first to shower in the stall I had. It’s a small detail, but there’s an advantage of being at Sky Lagoon first thing in the morning before the rush.

Sky Lagoon for Two Packages

There is one more package I have yet to mention: the Sky Lagoon for Two. If you’re visiting the Sky Lagoon with someone else, I highly recommend this package option as a splurge. It wasn’t yet available when we visited, but if we were to go back, we would definitely book it.

You can choose either the Sky Pass or the Pure Pass for this “for two” package. With Sky you get two Sky Pass admissions, and with Pure you get two Pure Pass admissions. The other inclusions are the same for both options and include a drink per person (house wine, anything on tap or non-alcoholic beverages) to be redeemed at the Lagoon Bar or at Smakk Bar and a Sky Platter from Smakk Bar.

The Sky Platter is sold at 6,200 ISK (~$45 USD) if you were to get it on your own. With the Pure for Two costing 28,490 ISK (~$200 USD) and the Sky for Two costing 35,990 ISK (~$250 USD), it can be worth it depending on what drink you plan to get!

Is Sky Lagoon Worth It?

I have to say, without a doubt, 1000% yes! Sky Lagoon is worth it. Even though we paid $100 CAD per ticket plus $15 CAD for our drinks, it was well worth the experience of running the seven-step ritual and letting the stress on our minds and our bodies – from the 10 days of adventuring Iceland in the wind and rain for the first time by camper van – completely subside.

If you’re pondering the value of Sky Lagoon, I’d say do it if you have ample time to visit. If you’re hoping for only a maximum of two hours, it might not be suited for your Iceland trip. We spent a little over 3 hours here and were ready to leave when it came to it.

If you’re hoping to make it to Sky Lagoon on your trip to Iceland, be sure to book ahead to secure your tickets, and have a nothing but a blissful time.

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