So I’ve recently returned from a trip to Iceland where I spent 5 days exploring this beautiful country.
I’ve got so much to write about this place but I’ll try and keep it short and sweet.
We departed the U.K. On 17th January 2017 and returned on Sunday 22nd. I arranged the trip for my boyfriends 30th birthday.
Most major airlines from U.K. Airport fly to Keflavik international airport. We flew with easyJet from London Luton.
We arrived at the airport and picked up our hire car which we had rented from Budget. We paid approximately £165 for the 5 days.
We made our way to our hotel which was situated on the marina at the far end of Reykjavik. It took us about an hour to get to Reykjavik. When we arrived it was a little challenging to find the hotel entrance as this is facing the marina. We were very fortunate that the hotel had its own free parking. We stayed at the Icelandair Marina Hotel.
Our first half day we spent getting our bearings around the town. From our hotel we walked towards the town centre. We stopped at Reykjavik Fish restaurant where we tried the fish and chips. I had the breaded fish and chips and Barry had the traditional fish and chips. This was absolutely delicious. I really recommend paying them a visit if you have a chance. The food was reasonably priced (for Iceland) it cost us about £40 for two fish and chips and a beer.
Once refuelled we made our way through the town. It had been snowing so it made it even more beautiful, almost like a skiing village!
We took a stroll through the main town and visited the Hallgrímskirkja. The famous church that overlooks the entire city. The church it’s self is stunning. Inside the architecture is amazing. There’s a viewing platform that you can pay to go up. Unfortunately we didn’t have time!
Outside the the church there’s a small waffle hut, I highly recommend trying one it was delicious.
We found most bars operate a happy hour from 16:00-20:00. We found a small but friendly bar on the main road (Laugavegur). The drinks were roughly 700 Icelandic Karona for a pint of beer.
We headed out from our hotel about 11:00 am, if you can I would recommend leaving earlier. Driving the golden circle is such an amazing experience. You won’t be alone using a hire car the parking areas along the way were full of tourist cars and busses. The first stop on our 6.5hour driving was Pingvellir this is where the two tech tonic plates have split. The viewing platform at the top has fantastic views all across the countryside and the lake that is at the centre of the golden circle.
Whilst at Pingvellir we decided to take the short walk about 1km. Along the way we stopped at where the Viking parliament was founded. Still to this day they use the land around and host festivals. Öxaráfoss waterfall was beautiful we were so lucky with the weather whilst making our way to it. Toilet facilities at Pingvellir are payable and you can also find a small shop with food available such as sandwiches. Parking is also payable at Pingvellir – they also only accept card!
Our next stop was ultimately the most famous and well known Geysir.
There’s a wide selection of food and drink available at the Geysir and even a hotel nearby. If you’re looking for hot food along the journey I’d recommend stopping here. The toilets are also free!!!
We then drove onto our last stop which was Gulfoss waterfall, stunning but by the time we got there it was freezing and the temperature was well below -1. Quick tip if you self drive, you can either park right at the top of the waterfall or for easier access you can park on the same level just take the road before that turns sharp right down the hill.
We slowly made our way back to Reykjavik getting back into the city about 17:30. We came back via Selfoss. There had been heavy snow throughout the day so some of the roads on our journey were difficult but you just have to take your time.
Once we’d got back we headed out to the Lebowski bar, we had heard a lot about it but wasn’t overly impressed once inside. It was quite big and didn’t really have an atmosphere. I prefer placed that are smaller and cosier. We then headed to Laudromat for our dinner, as it seems it’s a laundrette downstairs and a cafe / restaurant upstairs. The food was really good here I had the traditional Icelandic cod which was also reasonably priced.
It’s safe to say after a long day out we headed back to our hotel and enjoyed a good rest!
The Blue Lagoon
Probably one of the many attractions for tourists we headed out to the blue lagoon. We’d book for a 10:30 entry and the comfort package. Again because we had the car for our duration we drove ourselves. It was an easy route to follow and only took us am hour. Upon arriving we were given our towels and shown where the locker area was. Including in our package where two masks and a free drink, we also made a separate reservation at the Lava restaurant for lunch at 13:00.
Expect it to be busy no matter what time of day you’re going, coaches drop off guests throughout the day. There’s also building workings taking place until late 2017 so some of the building noises don’t make it as tranquil as it should be. Nevertheless it’s an experience that has to be done.
Top tips for the blue lagoon:
- Bring flip flops
- Use the conditioner for your hair (ladies)
- Make sure you leave your towels in a bag hung up (people tend to take any towel)
- Don’t forget to claim your free drink and masks
- Head right out the back of the lagoon to get away from the crowds
- Take a GoPro or buy a waterproof case for your phone
I would highly recommend the Lava restaurant at the Lagoon. You’re looking to pay around roughly around 10,000 Icelandic Karona which is approximately £70-80. It’s a good service and you get a good amount of fish or meat whichever you decide. We even had a free drink of sparkling wine! I couldn’t fault the service.
Over night the weather had changed dramatically, everyone is right when they mean that you can experience all seasons in one day in Iceland. The snow had completely melted away and none was left. We had booked to take the quad bikes out with Safari Quads. After looking around for days before we left the UK we knew we wanted to go on an adventure but the snowmobile was almost £520 for the the two of us – something that I wasn’t willing to pay. So we compromised and went for a two our ATV with Safari Quads. Again we drove ourselves to their base camp where we were met by a really nice chap called Indi. We had chosen the two hour twin peak excursion which didn’t disappoint. We went to peaks one of which was Úlfarsefell.
It was a cold but brilliant day out. Highly recommend dressing warm they give you overalls when you arrive but it’s extremely chilly!!
The view from both peaks are absolutely stunning!
South Coast Iceland
Our last day!! I can’t believe how quickly the week went! We have absolutely fallen in love with this place!
So for our last day we decided to take a drive to the South Coast of Iceland. We headed straight of Skógafoss water fall. We’d heard about visiting the South Coast after our hotel recommended it. I think it’s probably one part of Iceland I’d love to return too. On our way to Skógafoss we stumbled across Seljalandfoss of course we stopped and took some pictures. You can walk behind the waterfall it’s amazing but be aware you’ll get wet!! Unfortunately we weren’t prepared and didn’t have a chance to walk behind it as much as I would have loved too. Seljalandfoss is just off the main road you won’t miss it. Drive along the main road and you’ll find Skógafoss. We arrived and the sun was shining over the water fall which created a beautiful rainbow. There’s a huge amount of steps to the way to the top we decided not to embark on that!
We stopped for some lunch at a cafe near the waterfall called Floss Bud. I highly recommend it. It doesn’t look so amazing from the outside but the food was delicious. We had fish and chips and a sandwich I was really surprised about the price too.
We then drove further South to find the very famous Glacier. It was easy to find and you can see it on the main road. We followed the 221 that comes off the main road. It was astonishing, I couldn’t believe what was in front of my eyes. We took the short trek to get as close as possible. You’ll find lots of tour groups starting from the bottom to do their glacier tour. Looking back if we had another day we would have paid to do that tour. To walk on a glacier would have been incredible. I couldn’t believe that the part we saw of this glacier was only a small portion of a small glacier. It was truly fascinating. We even managed to touch it!
After we visited the glacier we took our journey back towards Reykjavik, we stopped at the visitor centre of the 2010 volcano that erupted. The volcano caused 6 weeks of huge delays around Europe with the ash cloud. Eyafjallajökull was situated just off the main road, you’ll see the signs. The owners of the nearby farm had to convert one of their workshops into a visitor center people used to drive onto their land to find the volcano. The visitors center is only open Monday – Friday so unfortunately when we arrived it was closed. We had heard from friends that went the day before that the short twenty minute video was really worth it, they even got to meet the lady that owns the farm. We then made our way back to Reykjavik. The journey took about 1hr and 45 mins.
As our last night was coming to an end we decided we’d try the restaurant Apotek which is located in the high street. We had been past it several times during our stay in the city, and it had always been uber busy. We both had such high expectations of this restaurant which didn’t turn out as such. I think that perhaps we had a bad experience and anyone else going there would have a better one. Our main courses came out cold which were sent back to the kitchen. When we received our main courses the second time round these were much better however the potato wasn’t cooked. I mentioned it to the waiter that we had been disappointed. They offered us free deserts which was so generous but we politely declined. When we received the bill they had taken 20% off our food. I never expect to receive anything if I complain, about a service, it’s simply for feedback. I am sure if anyone visited you’d have a different experience. I would definitely head to this place for their amazingly delicious and different cocktails!
As our trip to Iceland came to an end we were sad to leave this beautiful island which is seeped in things to do. I’d love to come back in the summer to see more of what this amazing place has to offer.
- Flights – available from most major airports to Keflavik international airport
- Car hire – budget / Avis car rental company, get a compact or mini car. I would highly recommend on driving, parking is free in most places and transfers to and from the airport are £70!!
- Sat Nav- download SatNav and buy the Iceland map for £2.49! So worth it and much better than renting the satnav with the car, it’s so reliable
- Breakfast – if you can get breakfast included in your room rate
- Hotels – everything is pretty centrally located don’t fuss about an expensive hotel you’d hardly be there
- Blue lagoon – book in advance
- Plan your trip and your days out
- Download / check weather before departing, there’s a website for roads that are impassable in the snow
- Don’t bother with excursion apart from the Safari Quads, snowmobiles or glacier, you can do everything yourself at your own pace
- Get thermals and a decent pair of waterproof shoes if you’re planning on visiting in winter
- It’s expensive in a 6 day trip for two of us we spent approximately £850