A trip to Iceland
Put Iceland on your bucket list! Truly an amazing experience with gorgeous landscapes, people, bars and more. Traveling with a friend, we found an extremely cheap flight on WOW Airlines. Watch the extra baggage fees and seat upgrades, honestly, you do not have to pack a lot for Iceland. Also note, WOW charges extra for food and beverages; we purchased drinks, snacks and sandwiches at the airport for our 5 hour and 10 minute flight. Another tip, when you arrive in Iceland, the Duty Free at the airport has the cheapest beverages if you will be looking for pre-game drinks I would suggest getting them while you're waiting for your baggage. (Pictured above 1. harbor at Keflavik 2. Gullfoss Waterfall)
We flew into Iceland at 5am and checked into Hotel Keflavik; a 5 minute drive from the airport and 15 minutes from the Blue Lagoon. The hotel offered early check in for $40 extra, which allowed us to settle in, wake up for the sunrise at 9am, and have free breakfast. Their breakfast was wonderful and we got to try the local cheese yogurt called Skyr; it was very good! We walked around the quaint town of Keflavik before going to the Blue Lagoon. Paddy's Irish Pub was a great stop with locals who gave some to-dos for Iceland! One recommendation I would have is renting a car.
When you know you are traveling to Iceland book this as the first or last thing you do on your trip. They are building a hotel and addition onto the property, leaving me to believe that in the future it will be even busier. The time slots book up very fast, so go on their website and I would recommend choosing an earlier time so that you get the daylight in pictures and to explore. We went for a late lunch and got into the lagoon an hour early at 5:45. This allowed us to catch the last of the daylight. The lunch was great and pricey, as most of the food in Iceland. We had our two glasses of complimentary champagne, arctic chard salmon and mussels (pictured right). We decided to purchase the "premium package." It was perfect for us because we had a drink at lunch and a drink in the lagoon. You are given a wristband to charge any drinks you have at the bar in the lagoon, so you do not have to take anything with you in the water.
*They supply conditioner in the showers, use a lot of it! Because of the silica and mineral content in the water, we were advised to leave in the conditioner when we went out into the water. We ended up going into the 100° lagoon with dry hair for pictures and then went back into the showers to leave the conditioner in our hair for the rest of the time.
*Bring a waterproof phone case if you want to take pictures
*Bring moisturizer for when you get out of the lagoon
*Bring sunglasses if it is sunny out
*Beers are around $10 each, 3 drink limit
*Book early to get a good time slot
*Go early to walk around and explore
*Bring your own empty water bottle. There is a water fountain which streams the beautifully delicious, pure Icelandic water. It is located just beside the mini-cafe, just to the right of the locker room stairs on your way out to the Blue Lagoon.
*The bathrooms supply blow dryers, plastic bag for your wet suit and conditioner
* You do not have to shower naked in front of other people. The shower stalls are both open and closed, and you have the choice of how you wish to shower prior to entering the water. In addition, there were private stalls available for you to change in if you did not wish to undress in front of strangers.
Reykjavik, on the coast of Iceland, is the country's capital and largest city. We decided to stay at Reykajvik Lights Keahotels, which was a 7 minute taxi ride to downtown. The hotel was great with free breakfast, however I would choose a closer location to downtown because cabs were $15-$20.
Walking around or the hop on hop off bus is the best way to see the city. Hallgrímskirkja (picture 1) is a Lutheran parish church in Reykjavík. At 73 metres high, it is the largest church in Iceland and among the tallest building in Iceland. We decided to go to the top of the church and catch the views, for $7 we thought it was worth it (picture 2). The harbor is absolutely breathtaking and a quick walk along the waterfront led us to Harpa and the past the Sun Voyager sculpture. Harpa is a beautiful glass building positioned on the waterfront so the glass sparkles to life with reflections from the sun and water (In front of the Harpa- picture 3).
Cafe Babalú is a quirky and cool cafe on Skólavörðustígur. It had so much character and a great cup of coffee to take on the run or small plates to stay and do work (picture 4). The Big Lebowski Bar is exactly what you think it is and they went all in! Based on the movie from the late 90's there’s a real diner style environment with a bowling alley feel.. During the day there is a jukebox with great music, but being there during the evening hours a DJ was playing great music (picture 5). Besides The Big Lebowski Bar, we went to Kaffibarinn and Jocobsebn Loftid; each place had a DJ playing and were alright. However, our favorite place was Austur located right in the middle of Reykjavik. When you walk inside the sleek bar , you will know why this place is popular. These places get busy later and there were lines outside many of the clubs after 12:30am and the drinks are not cheap; think Vegas prices.
We had to try the whale in Iceland. Salon Bistro is located right in the middle of town with great service, atmosphere, and people watching. The seafood soup and the whale dinner was delicious (picture 6)! If you want a truly Nordic dining experience and are willing to splurge one night, Sjavargrillid Seafood Grill (picture 7 and 8) is the place to go. The food was artistic, inventive, and delicious. There were options for multi courses for 2 people; however we chose the fried shrimp appetizer and each had a cod dinner with potatoes; the cod on the menu is wonderful!
GOLDEN CIRCLE TOUR
Guide to Iceland: https://guidetoiceland.is/
This tour began by picking us up at our hotel at 10am on a small 14 person bus; which in the long run is the way to go because we only had to wait for 9 people at each stop! Reasonably priced at about $90 per person and lasting until about 5:30 pm.
The tour began at Thingvellir National Park (picture1-3). On such a clear day we saw the impressive Almannagja Canyon and hiked around this amazing area. Icelandic horses were grazing all day as we drove and stopped to see them. These purebreds were calm and beautiful! The next stop was Gullfoss Waterfall (picture 5). It plummets 104 ft into the river gorge and is the most beautiful and famous waterfalls around. Following this stop was the Geysir geothermal area, with its mud pools and the hot springs, the most famous of which are Geysir and Strokkur. Erupting every 4-8 minutes and reaching on average of 65 feet into the air allowing you to get some great pictures (picture 6). The last destination on Golden Circle Tour was Kerið, which is a volcanic crater lake located in the Grímsnes or south Iceland. Only 500isk (about $4.50 usd) it was amazing to see the views and hike around the area (pictured below).
Overall, traveling to beautiful Iceland was wonderful! I wish we had two more days there for a couple more tours, but we got a lot done during our long weekend. If you are traveling there and need any more recommendations do not hesitate to reach out and ask.