I’ve been really excited to blog about Iceland as it was the most incredible trip! Anyone thinking of going should read this, purely because I would have liked to know all the things I learnt there before going! So, here is my post on the amazing things we did, the things they don’t tell you, and the do’s and dont’s!
We flew into Reykjavik and used the ‘Grayline’ transfers to be dropped off at our hotel. We stayed at Foss hotel which was in a great location. The rooms were lovely and modern and the breakfast was amazing. The quality of the buffet breakfast was probably one of the best I’ve had. We arrived really late on Thursday night so went straight to sleep ready for our adventures to begin the next day. One thing to take into consideration is the Northern Lights, when we arrived the tours that are offered for people staying Reykjavik had been cancelled for the last 3 days and were not looking positive for the next 2, so don’t expect seeing the Northern Lights to be a definite – We got VERY lucky, but this will be discussed later on.
On Friday morning we woke up nice and early as were going to the Blue Lagoon for 12pm. One thing that’s really important to know is that you MUST book this in advance. It’s really popular and people get turned away if you don’t have a reservation. The hotel organises transfers for this, so after being picked up at 10.30am by Reykjavik Excursions we headed to the Blue Lagoon. We had ‘comfort’ tickets, which supplied you with a towel, face mask & welcome drink. After getting changed in what seemed like a spa we headed in. If I was going to do this again I would probably book the ‘luxury’ tickets as these included a robe and slippers. We were lucky that it wasn’t that cold but usually it’s freezing, so definitely recommended. The whole experience was amazing, from swimming around the lagoon, to using the mud masks and enjoying our prosecco and beers! We stayed for around 2 hours but you can stay as long as you like. There are also saunas and steam rooms to enjoy too!
After the Blue Lagoon we headed back to Reykjavik to explore the town. It’s not big at all, so we used the rest of the afternoon to wonder and take in all the scenery and architecture. We stopped off in a famous ‘soup bowl’ pub and enjoyed this with a ‘gull’ beer – their local lager. One thing to be aware of is Iceland is a very expensive country, so anywhere you go expect to pay around three times what you would in England.
After having a wonder and visiting the information centre, we decided that renting a car would DEFINITELY be the best thing to do for the rest of the trip. The tours that were offered were really expensive and there would be a lot of waiting around. We wanted to fit in a lot into our trip so renting a car was the best idea. I would recommend this to anyone going, it works out economically better and the roads are so easy to drive down, there is literally one main road, so one shouldn’t really get lost. Plus it was an amazing adventure too!
We had been recommended the restaurant Kopar for dinner, knowing full well that it would be the most expensive meal of the trip but were really keen to try the fish and meat as had heard amazing things. The lobster risotto was probably the best risotto I have ever eaten, there was probably more seafood in there than rice, which is funny as usually it would be the other way round. It was such a lovely meal and so happy we enjoyed one special meal there.
Day two and the first day with the car. Our itinerary for the next 2 days was really full on so we headed out really early. When renting the car we had the option to get a GPS or wifi for the car, we went with wifi as google maps was a little more familiar than using an old gps! We headed to the south of Iceland, which is a really popular route.
We wanted to visit a few spots along the way before reaching Mýrdalsjökull which was were we did the glacier walk. On the way you could stop at 3 different waterfalls, we were keen to stop at Skogafoss out of the three as it looked amazing in pictures, but of course so much better in real life. As we were arriving a rainbow had formed over the waterfall and was so magical to see! The glacier was only a short drive away so headed off with enough time to meet the team and pick up the gear. They give you walking boots for this tour, so if you don’t have walking boots I wouldn’t worry! The glacier tour lasts about 3-3.30 hours and I would definitely recommend doing this. We had never done anything like this before. We trekked up into the glacier, enjoyed drinking fresh water, discovering ice caves and just taking in all the scenery. The tour was about £100 but well worth it. If you take transfers too be expected to pay about £100 more.
This finished around 4pm and after checking the visibility map which changes every hour and tells you the best area in the country to see the Northern Lights, we decided to be adventurous and drive another 2 hours, on top of the 3 we had driven already to go on a hunt to find those LIGHTS!! We knew that if we headed back to Reykjavik that evening we wouldn’t have a chance in seeing what we had effectively come to Iceland for. We drove to the town which had the best visibility for that evening, when I say evening this could range from 9pm to 3am. I think in the back of our minds we knew we wouldn’t be headed back to sleep in our lovely hotel room in Reykjavik.
We stopped to have a burger and a beer, again expect to pay around £40-£50 for 2 meals and a drink in a very standard restaurant. Nervous but excited for the night ahead we continued on our adventure.We stopped to ask for advice in the only hotel in the town, to get tips on what to do next. The lady told us that somebody sits outside all night and when the lights show they wake up the hotel guests up by ringing the rooms. She also told us that the 204 was so dark, the visibility would be best there (do NOT go down this road – it was very scary and unsuccessful). If your going to see the lights, anywhere in that town would have been perfect. After driving around for a few hours, we didn’t want to give up so decided our last chance would be to stay in the hotel and HOPEFULLY be woken up to a miracle.
We had just finished getting ready for bed when we heard the phone go!!! It was an incredible moment and were super happy that we got to see the Northern Lights as we really had given up! They were so magical just as we expected. We could go to bed happy and relieved!
The next day was an early start as was our last day in Reykjavik. We were really keen to do the Golden Circle on the last day and as we had decided to make a last minute decision to stay we had to change it up a little. We chose to drive towards the Golden Circle and miss out one of the waterfalls and go straight to Geysir – the erupting hot springs. If you have 4-5 days I would definitely recommend doing the South and the Golden Circle! We drove past the National Park which is on the way back and very popular for its natural beauty. Renting the car was the best thing we could have done as it gave us the freedom to do exactly what we wanted with the time we had! Tours would have limited as and worked out more expensive. We dropped the car of at the airport and it was all very easy.
If you’re thinking of going to Iceland then I hope this is helpful. It really was an unforgettable trip and couldn’t recommend it more.
P.S – Take a water bottle with you! bottles of water are around £5 and the tap water is so pure you can fill it up anywhere!