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Heading to Europe? Have a Blue Lagoon layover

By Sean O'Neill
updated September 29, 2021
Courtesy<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeppe-photos/5828070332/"> jeppe-photos/Flickr)</a>

Some of the cheapest flights to Europe from New York City, Chicago, and Washington, DC., right now are on Icelandair and Iceland Express. For example, the lowest priced ticket for flights in mid-September between Dulles Airport and London Heathrow was recently on Icelandair.

The catch with these cheap flights is that they all make stops in Iceland, which lengthens the overall trip. Planes typically land around 6 or 6:30 in the morning, and then depart again around 7:45 or 8.

These layovers raise a question: Is there a way to take advantage of the time on the ground—say, until 4 p.m., or 7 p.m.—and enjoy Iceland a little bit before continuing your flight? Some travelers have found the answer is yes. They even deliberately pick a later departure out of the 34-year old Keflavik Airport to maximize their layover and have enough time to look around.

The most popular attraction to see is only a half-hour away: the milky Blue Lagoon.

We recently wrote about the Blue Lagoon in our story on affordable and picturesque public pools worldwide. Here's what we had to say:

The aptly named Blue Lagoon in Grindavik, Iceland, outside of Reykjavik, draws more than 400,000 visitors a year to its 1.6 million gallons of approximately 100-degree seawater. Steam rises from these sky blue hot springs across a surreal landscape of black lava mounds, and bathers slather themselves with silica mud, precipitated from the springwater and known for its relaxing (and purported healing) properties. Formed in the 1970s as a by-product of the neighboring geothermal plant (after the plant used the hot water, it was led back to the lava field and formed the lagoon), the Blue Lagoon spawned a wellness center in 1999. With a restaurant, a spa, a dry sauna, and steam baths, the facility draws visitors from around the globe. Accessibility: Year-round. Affordability: Day pass $42. Hours: Sept. 1–May 31, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; June 1–Aug. 31, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. 240 Grindavik, 011-354/4-208-800; bluelagoon.com

So what do you need to know—practically speaking—to add a Blue Lagoon visit to your next overseas vacation?

Hopping a taxi is the easiest but also the most prohibitively expensive option, at up to $50 each way per couple.

Hopping a shuttle bus is easier and it only take 15 minutes to get from the airport to the spa. Bus lines leave daily from the main bus station close to the airport for a fare of ISK850 ($7.50) one-way per person. But Excursion buses stopping at the Blue Lagoon don't start until at 9:30 in the morning Sept 1 - May 31, so expect to have time to pass through passport control and enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the spacious and recently redesigned food court. (In the summer, there are more frequent, earlier departures, too.)

Returns are frequent as well, with the bus line Excursions running a 2:15 p.m. bus that arrives 15 minutes later at the airport every day all year round, with additional afternoon trips during summer months.

Rival bus companies to Excursions may have better schedules, so check NetBus and Gray Line for more info.

Remember to pack your bathing suit and flip flops in your carry on, as your checked luggage will be left at the airport.

A layover of about seven hours between flights is enough to get to the Blue Lagoon, relax, and then get back, without feeling rushed or panicked. But the capital city is a bit farther away to get to, and the downtown is a bit of a walk from the main bus station, so you are best advised to only explore the city if you're staying over for the night.

Would you include a stop at the Blue Lagoon on your next trip to Europe?


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How To Score Tickets To Your Favorite Late Night Shows

How would you like your next trip to New York or L.A. to include a guaranteed celebrity sighting and a live performance by a popular musician or comedian? With a little patience, a little planning, and in some cases, a little luck, you can get all of that—wait for it—for free. Here's our ultimate guide to snagging tickets for seven popular late-night shows—with a cheat sheet to help you figure out which ones will be easiest to get your hands on. And just in case it didn't sink in the first time: they're all free. NEW YORK CITY Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC) Where: 30 Rockefeller PlazaTicket Score-ability: ModerateMinimum Age: 17 Now four–and–a–half years old, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (weeknights, 12:35 ET on NBC) has become an Emmy–nominated fan favorite. Tickets are relatively accessible: you can request tickets for up to four people by calling 212-664-3056, at least four to six weeks before the show you'd like to attend. Not bad for a talk show that also includes a nightly set by The Roots. You can also try the standby line for same-day tickets, which are handed out based on availability at 9am (on taping days only) under the NBC Studios marquee on 49th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues. For more information: Visit this website to learn more about free show tapings, how to see Jimmy Fallon's monologue rehearsal, and how to score a spot in the "Band Bench," a special section reserved for huge fans of the show's musical guest. Saturday Night Live (NBC) Where: 30 Rockefeller PlazaTicket Score-ability: DifficultMinimum Age: 16 Within the space of a couple of months last season, Lady Gaga, Helen Mirren, and Elton John graced Saturday Night Live's stage—even on an "off" night, it shouldn't be a surprise that the landmark program (Saturdays, 11:30 ET on NBC) remains one of the hottest tickets in town. Know ahead of time that it is challenging to get a spot—but not impossible, so keep hope alive. There are two ways of going about it: Sign up for the show's lottery system during the month of August by sending an email to snltickets@nbcuni.com—lucky applicants will receive two tickets to either a live show or a dress rehearsal. The second way to get tickets is to wait in the show's standby line under the NBC marquee (featured in the show's opening credits) on 49th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues. Tickets are given out Saturdays (during taping weeks) at 7am, limited to one per person, and good for either then 8 p.m. dress rehearsal or the 11:30 p.m. live broadcast. Sure, it's early, but you can get a jump-start on sightseeing at nearby MoMa, Central Park, Fifth Avenue, and of course, 30 Rock itself. For more information: Visit this website for more info on getting tickets to several NBC shows, including SNL, America's Got Talent, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central) Where: 733 11th AvenueTicket Score-ability: DifficultMinimum Age: 18 It's the most-watched late night show among 18-49 year olds; it's the winner of fourteen Emmys, thirteen of them back-to-back; its host has been voted "America's most trusted newscaster." Even the fact that The Daily Show (Mon.–Thu., 11pm ET on Comedy Central) tapes every day—usually an advantage in ticket-scoring potential—doesn't do much to increase the wishful fan's odds. The program's website makes no bones about it: "Unfortunately, there are no tickets to see The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at this time," it announces, laying down a virtual velvet rope. It turns out that your best bet is following the advice on that discouraging landing page and signing up for the show's email update list. Yes, such lists often lead you to a black hole of uncertainty and spam, but it helps to have a little bit of insight into how the ticketing system works. A representative for the network tells us that tickets, once available, are released every Friday (aside from days when the staff is out of the office) between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Each time this happens, announcements are made to the email list recipients, and also via the show's Facebook and Twitter pages. Those on the email list will also have the best chance of snagging a spot from someone who's canceled their reservation, which can happen "any day, at any time." So in other words, watch your inbox and Facebook/Twitter feeds like a hawk. For more information: thedailyshow.com/tickets. LOS ANGELES Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC) Where: Los Angeles 6840 Hollywood BoulevardTicket Score-ability: EasyMinimum Age: 18 (16 for Outdoor Mini–Concert Series only) A fixture on just about every big movie's press tour, Jimmy Kimmel Live! (weeknights, 12am ET on ABC) pulls in marquee names several nights a week. 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The Late Late Show is often considered an underrated gem, and ticket availability reflects that—spots are more accessible than those for 1ota's other late–night heavyweight, Jimmy Kimmel Live. One catch: for the most part, you're not able to see who the guests are going to be. However, with Dick Van Dyke, Kristen Bell, and Hugh Laurie among the recent and upcoming guests, the chances of a pleasant surprise are pretty high. For more information: 1iota.com Conan (TBS) Where: Warner Bros. Studios, 6564 Forest Lawn DriveTicket Score-ability: DifficultMinimum Age: 16 Conan O'Brien's high-profile scuffle with NBC may have set him up as an underdog, but you wouldn't know it from the ticket availability for Conan (weeknights, 11pm ET on TBS). As with Saturday Night Live, there are two ways to root for Team Coco in person: through a lottery, and through the standby system. 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How do you choose where to go on a three-day weekend?

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