So I know that it feels like every man and his dog has been to Iceland over the past couple of years, and you can probably read umpteen blog posts on the country, but this place has been on my bucket list for a good few years so I’m going to give you a short(ish) and sweet run down of my own experience over there.
Flights and Accommodation
Myself and Sam (Who I’m sure you are all familiar with by now) booked ourselves a package deal with Expedia, 6 weeks prior to our trip. Included in this deal were return flights with WOW air and a 3 day/3-night stay at the Park Inn Radisson hotel by Keflavik Airport. We were quite Lucky to get this deal, as our two friends, Robynne and Charlotte, booked on just after and weren’t able to get it, and unfortunately this worked out to be more expensive.
We landed at around 10pm at night so took a taxi to our hotel, this is where we first experienced the expensiveness of Iceland that we had heard so much about-£25 for an 8-minute Journey. Bloody Ridiculous maaaytee.
In the morning of our first full day we took a cab back to the airport and rented a car with Avis for the rest of our trip. Split between four of us we paid £50 each for the car and full insurance plus a further £25 each to cover the petrol for the whole trip. This was probably this biggest bargain we experienced all holiday.
Please also be prepared for some long drives We all naively went over there thinking we would be able to cover a huge part of the country in the 3 days we had but boy where we wrong, most of our journeys were around 2-4 hours between one landmark to another.
Where to be a top tourist
Honestly, the whole of Iceland is like a postcard, so just simply driving along you will see so many amazing sights; it’s hard to believe it’s actually real half the time! However, with that being said there is many a hot spot to park up at and admire.
The Golden Circle
Essentially the Golden Circle is the route between 3 main attractions in Iceland; Pingvellir national park, Geysir Geothermal Area and the Gulfoss waterfall –anyway that’s what I’ve been told. Along the route, there are several landmarks you can stop off at. Not being on an organised tour, I’m pretty sure we missed some places but here is where we did go:
Kerio- A Volcanic Crater lake- This is the only landmark you will have to pay for in order to see it, but it’s only £4 so hardly a bank breaker
Strokkur Geysir – Located in the Geothermal area of the golden circle the Strokkur Geysir shoots up in the air like a fountain. It does this on the regs so stick around for 20-30 minutes and you’ll see it in action once or twice.
Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss and Gulfoss- These are all giant, stunning waterfalls. Gulfoss has to be my favourite out of the 3 by far, I can’t comment because I’ve never been to Canada but I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s better than Niagara, so surely that’s saying something? FYI it’s super windy in the Gulfoss area so if you’ve got a hat on, hold on tight to it!
Pingvellir National Park- Can’t tell you what’s here to see in the day as we only went at night in an attempt to see the Northern Lights.
Our experience with the Northern Lights was an interesting one. We had parked upright by the tour buses and waited around for two hours. In our first hour, we had seen a shooting star and the faintest green strobe, this made us extremely optimistic about our chances of seeing them so consequently stayed around for a second hour. In the second hour we saw absolutely sweet FA, with our fingers about to drop off we decided to call it a night.
Typically, 5 minutes after we drove off we saw stronger green strobes in the sky. We decided to pull up on the side of the road, then all of a sudden they really came out and It was FRIKKING AMAZING. We were literally screeching with excitement- Thank god there was no one else around to hear us, or see our questionable ‘We’ve just seen the northern lights’ dance.
This is one of Iceland’s most popular Black Sand Beaches and a really amazing spot to watch the sunset over the horizon.
Lava Cave- Raufarholshellir
The caves are located just 30 minutes from the Capital. You have the choice of a 1 hour or 3-hour guided tour/ Geology lesson through the caves. Lava once used to flow through these caves over 2000 years ago- It’s pretty damn cool! With our limited time and ever-decreasing bank balances we went for the 1-hour tour at £50 a ticket.
An incredible spa built upon a natural geothermal area and another one of Iceland’s most famous attractions. Although we knew that this place was super popular, we were stupid and didn’t think to book our tickets in advance. This meant that the only slot we could get was 9pm, we ideally were hoping for a 5/6pm slot so we could see the lagoon both during the day and at night, but just grateful we managed to get a slot at all considering how late we left it. So my one piece of advice- BOOK IN ADVANCE!
Anywhoooo, we paid £70 for the basic entry, with this you get 1.5 hours in the lagoon, a towel, a drink of your choice and a face mask use. We all absolutely loved it in there, so calming, relaxing and worth every penny!
Unlike most people we didn’t stay in Reykjavik, so had to make a special 40-minute journey from our hotel to come into town. We have a lot of time here, so spent most of it relaxing, eating and drinking down by the Harbour, which was just bloody lovely and very picturesque. If you have a bit longer than we did, then definitely spend a bit more time touring around the city- I’m sure there’s more to see than just the harbour.
You can also get a boat from the Harbour to go whale watching, we didn’t have enough time to do this, but to be honest if you have friends that look like mine then you won’t need to waste your money.
LOL… obviously I’m joking my pals are beautiful and totally un-whale like.
Food and Draaankkk
To be honest with all the driving and travelling we spent most of our trip living off SNNAAAAACKKKSS, but we did have a couple of restaurant meals.
Kaffivagnnin– A Cute little brunch spot near Reykjavik harbour where they serve French toast and pancakes. We also had an Icelandic Pastry known as a ‘Loveball’ – it tastes quite similar to a doughnut and apparently, it’s something they only really eat it at the weekends.
Reykjavik Rost- Another cool little restaurant, with a really stunning view of the harbour. We stopped off here and had a sample of the local beer.
Not staying in Reykjavik meant that we couldn’t really go out to drink. We had bought some Gin at duty-free and stuck to drinking this back at our hotel. When this ran out we did attempt to go to the nearby supermarket and by more, but they stop serving most alcoholic drinks in the shops at about 8pm. We then resorted to getting a bottle of wine from our hotel. This cost us £15, you’re probably thinking that this isn’t too bad, but I should mention that this was for a mini bottle…. Yep, £15 for a MINI BOTTLE OF WINE. Just Sayin’, but Icelanders must have such healthy livers.
So Iceland, is it worth it? IT SURE IS! One of the best places I’ve been to by far. So in short- you NEED to come here!
And the answer the most important question of all…YES, they do in fact have Iceland in Iceland (But not a Kerry Katona in sight).
Dates: 1st-4th March 2018
Flights and Accommodation: £300
Spending Money: £350-£400