Wow what an incredible country. Reykjavik is honestly one of my favourite places I’ve ever visited which is a big statement to make as if you know me well, you’d know that I absolutely love anywhere that’s hot, has a beach and I can soak up the sun. But Iceland, you’ve completely stolen my heart despite your unpredictable ever-changing weather.
From the surreal landscapes and breathtaking views to the exploding geysirs, gushing waterfalls and volcanic mountains at every stop. Iceland is truly mesmerising and nothing you see, hear or read will prepare you for what this beautiful country has to offer. As someone who’s been lucky enough to travel to some exotic places, I’m still in awe at what I’ve experienced and seen on this adventure, and that’s something which I’ve never experienced after returning from a holiday.
“It was the most magical setting ever; the bright blue waters and beautiful lava cliffs that surrounded the hot springs were simply breathtaking.”
There’s so much to take in, see and do both inside and outside of Reykjavik. I’d jump at the chance to visit this city again as 4 days definitely wasn’t enough. However, the 4 days my boyfriend and I did spend in Reykjavik had a perfect mix of relaxing and exploring. We stayed at the wonderful Fosshotel and if you’re thinking about visiting Reykjavik anytime soon, I’d highly recommend this place; quiet, great location, spacious rooms and friendly staff – what more could you want? So here’s my guide to visiting the magical land of fire and ice:
3 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING REYKJAVIK
When I say very expensive, I mean it costs about £40 (5,550 ISK) for a coffee and cake for two. Needless to say, eating and drinking out in this city certainly comes at a cost so if you’re hoping to visit Iceland on a budget, you might want to stock up on food and drink beforehand; it’ll save you a fortune. Similarly, the tours and activities such as The Blue Lagoon, Northern Lights Tour and the Golden Circle can quickly rack up a bill. So, just a quick tip, hire a car and explore yourself as it gave us the freedom to do the things we want to do, and it was so much fun driving around Iceland on our own.
- Reykjavik is probably the quietest city you’ll ever visit:
The first thing my boyfriend said to me when we walked through the city was “Where is everyone?” It felt quite quite eery at first as it genuinely seemed like it was just us but, lo and behold, it wasn’t and we managed to find some other people. However Reykjavik is such a small city, home to only 120,000 people compared to London with a population of 8.5 million to put it into perspective. I loved this about Reykjavik though, I felt safe and comfortable and it was so easy to explore by foot (aka for free); it really was the perfect size, but if you prefer the hustle and bustle of city life then you might be a bit disappointed.
- Prepare yourself for some exotic foods in Reykjavik’s restaurants:
So I like to think of myself as someone who’s quite open to trying new things, especially when I’m visiting a different country. My boyfriend’s the same as when we visited Barcelona, we embraced the sangria (despite hating red wine), tapas and sea food and we loved it! However, even for us, some of Reykjavik’s choice of food was different to say the least. I’m talking shark, whale meat, puffin and a number of exotic fish dishes. Iceland’s certainly home to some unusual food so we both opted to stick to the burgers, hot dogs and pasta dishes – there’s always next time…
3 THINGS TO DO IN ICELAND
There’s SO much to do in Iceland and that’s no exaggeration, our days were packed full of doing things, seeing things and planning even more things! It’s been so hard to whittle it down to just three but if I had to pick, it would be these things:
Golden Circle: Gullfoss Waterfall
The Blue Lagoon
Northern Lights. Source: Pixabay.com
I think it’s safe to say visiting the Blue Lagoon is on just about everyone’s bucket list. We wanted to experience the best of both world’s so booked the Blue Lagoon at 4pm to see it in the day, and then stayed long enough to see it under the stars. It was the most magical setting ever; the bright blue waters and beautiful lava cliffs that surrounded the hot springs were simply breathtaking. We had so much fun just relaxing and enjoying being on holiday together; it certainly was the highlight of our trip.
To make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience we opted to book the Premium Package which included entrance to the blue lagoon, face masks, a reservation at the Lava restaurant and cocktails. As the sunset over the blue lagoon we headed out of the water and into the Lava restaurant. Wow it was simply stunning. The lava rock walls and huge windows overlooking the lagoon made for an unforgettable dining experience. Everything was just perfect; the food, decor, views and service. It was the best ending to the most amazing day.
Driving Iceland’s Golden Circle is another incredible experience, especially as traffic is pretty much non-existent outside of Reykjavik so it’s a relatively stress free journey! As Jonny offered to drive, my eyes were pretty much glued out the window the whole time. It was snowing, we got lost and Jonny must’ve taken a little detour off the beaten path about 5 times, but that’s how we discovered some of Iceland’s hidden gems. We even found some Icelandic horses!
The lakes, waterfalls, geysirs, natural formations, volcanoes and historic buildings were all mesmerising. Apparently the Golden Circle can be enjoyed in about 3 hours, but because we were so fascinated and made about a million stops to enjoy every site (and got lost), it took us just over 7 hours. The highlight of the day was definitely snorkelling between two continental plates at the Silfra Fissure – it’s the only place in the world where you can do it!
So when Jonny surprised me with a holiday to Iceland, the one thing I couldn’t wait to experience was seeing the northern lights. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to see. On our last evening in Iceland, it seemed like the weather was finally on our side as the sky was clear and WE SAW THEM! They finally made an appearance. They were so bright and active, it was literally in-cred-ible.
If you’re ever in Iceland and want the best opportunity to see the northern lights, I’d recommend going to a place called Borgarnes which is a quaint little town just outside of Reykjavik. Seeing the northern lights was such a surreal experience, even when I think about it now I’m still overwhelmed by it all.
So there you have it, my guide to the perfect Iceland holiday. Unfortunately it all just feels like a dream now as I’m currently sat at home with a mountain of uni work to get through. I’ve made a short video of our time in Iceland which I’d love you to watch, and let me know what you think either in the comments below or tweet @sophiejourno. Also, make sure you click on settings first and put the quality to ‘720p HD’.