I recently surprised my boyfriend with a trip to Iceland. He had absolutely no idea until I told him one night after he arrived back from football. Truth be told, it was one of the best decisions I made in 2017, the whole trip was incredible. We headed to Reykjavik from London Luton in early September which I think was the ideal time to go. It wasn’t too cold and some days, we got to swan around in light jackets but we took thick coats just in case any snow did happen. Reykjavik seems to have become a tourist hot spot in the last couple of years so since the flights were dirt cheap one night when checking on Skyscanner.
After an early morning coach ride from the airport to the centre of Reykjavik that took around 40 minutes, we landed at the bus stop just outside of the centre. With suitcases in hand, we headed towards the centre. By this point, we were pretty hungry for some grub as we’d been on a plane for a couple hours, so we roamed the streets for a while when this place, Laundromat Cafe caught our eye. The Dirty Brunch sounded like a great idea: a fry up, combined greek yogurt, granola, berries, pancakes, fruit and chocolate butter. This breakfast cost us around £13 each. We found out quite early that Iceland is incredibly expensive.
Thomsen Residence Suites
Once our bellies were full, we headed off to find our Airbnb which we rented out for a few days. We used Thomsen Residence Suites which had really good reviews, and we were located just a few minutes walk from the high street. The place was spotlessly clean, airy, light and even had a sofa that we snuggled on the first night. As you will already know, food and drink are the most expensive part of a trip to Iceland, and a pizza and garlic bread cost us around £25. Near to our apartment on the high street was a little supermarket, so we stocked up on bread, cereal, yoghurt and a bit of ham for breakfast. Our shop for 4 days cost around £30.
The city is crammed with bars, cafes, restaurants, cute shops full of winter coats, snow boots and books. It’s the most perfect place to escape to, breathe in the fresh air and take some time stroll through the streets. The first thing that we saw once leaving the apartment were these two enormous trolls that stand on the high street next. The intricate detail of these pieces of art are incredible, and left right and centre, tourists are stopping in their tracks to take photos of them. They do kinda remind me of myself and Josh though…
The Sun Voyager
Before heading to Iceland, we watched Rick Stein’s trip to Reykjavik which gave us a few tips on what to see and do whilst here. The Sun Voyager is one of the most iconic pieces of art. It’s a sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason, located next to the Sæbraut road. Ultimately, the Sun Voyager is described as a dreamboat, or an ode to the sun. Research states Jón intended it to convey the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom. If you are in Iceland and are thinking of visiting the Sun Voyager, as we learned it’s quite hard to get a picture with no one in the background, so I suggest either visiting early morning or late at night for the best photographs. It truly is a sight to behold.
Walking a bit further down from The Sun Voyager, we came across a beautiful area for some scenic images. It was only when walking further towards the visitor centre that we noticed that loads of stones were balanced on the rocks. Whether this was art, or visitors started this as a tradition, I’ll never know. Walking around is very easy to do, the most iconic places like the docks, the Perlan museum, visitor centre and such as relatively close by. Alternatively, there is also a bus you can catch around to each of the places and hop on and off whenever you like. Of course, we did it our way and walked everywhere. By doing this, we got to see more sights that we probably wouldn’t have seen if catching the bus.
During our walk one day, we came across a little fish and chip van. At this point we were really hungry so we bit the bullet and ordered two portions with drinks. This alone came to around £20 which is considerably more than what we would pay here in the UK, but since we were on holiday we decided nothing was not worth experiencing. Needless to say, the fish was possibly caught that day as it was so fresh.
As we explored down the different streets and side paths, we noticed a lot of graffiti art on the buildings. Despite being the world’s northern most capital, Reykjavík is actually home to a thriving street art scene. From urban graffiti, to roof tags, there’s something to be seen around every corner. We made sure to take as many photos as possible to capture how beautiful it really is…
Hallgrímskirkja Parish Church
Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran parish church which stands at around 74 metres high. Known as one of the tallest structures in Iceland, the church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson. A different design to most churches, I really love the jagged effect which makes it one of the most popular and iconic landmarks in the whole of Reykjavik. Can I also tell you how hard it is to take a picture of this place without a horde of tourists standing in the way? It must’ve took me a few days at least…
Golden Circle Tour
We booked onto the Golden Circle & Secret Lagoon Tour for around £91 which consisted of the Secret Lagoon, Þingvellir – National park, Geysir – a hot spring area and the Gullfoss waterfall. The whole tour lasted around 8 hours, so most of the day was spent out of Reykjavik and it was freshing to see some other sights. A whole day of sightseeing and relaxation, the best part for me was easily the secret lagoon. Although, looking at the Gullfoss waterfall with a rainbow surrounding it was pretty magical. The best part of seeing the Geysirs is watching people’s reactions when waiting for the water to erupt. For the smaller ones, this can happen every couple of minutes. These top few photos are also where the tectonic plates meet. At Thingvellir, you can put one foot on the North American plate and one foot on the Eurasian plate – it’s pretty bizarre!
A few weeks before visiting Iceland, I was doing some research on the Blue Lagoon. Don’t get me wrong, it looks great and I’m sure it’s worth every penny. But when we came across the secret lagoon on our tour, we were told this one was ideal as it’s less touristy, which ultimately means MORE PHOTOS! The temperature of the lagoon is between 36-40°C/97-104°F and the entrance fee to the lagoon and a towel is included in the tour price. We had a great hour in the secret lagoon (it was really hot in some parts, felt like we were sitting in a boiling kettle) and I made sure to buy a waterproof phone case to take some snaps. I’m dying to go back!
On one of the last days of our trip, we visited the Perlan Museum, one of the largest exhibition projects in Reykjavík. It took us around 30 mins to walk there from the centre. The museum is situated in one of Reykjavík’s most impressive buildings, Perlan with impressive panoramic views across Iceland. Inside also has a world-class Glaciers and Ice Cave. Inside, it illustrates the glaciers, their history and bleak future, and gives visitors the amazing opportunity to experience travelling through a real man-made Ice Cave. It was really cold in there so we were handed thick black jackets to put on our over clothes.
Where we ate in Reykjavik
Although I’ve mentioned the expense of Iceland many times throughout this blog, there’s no doubt we ate well on our adventure. One night we ordered a pizza which cost us around £25 (with added garlic bread). Other days, we ate on the tours, and after the Golden Circle Tour, we visited Svarta Kaffid, a soup and bread place highly recommended by a friend. On our final night, we visited one of the best dining places in Reykjavik – Forréttabarinn. We ate horse, and some of the best food on the whole holiday. I would highly recommend a trip to both of these places, they’re exceptional.
We had a fantastic time exploring Iceland, and if I won the lottery, I’d go back tomorrow. Not forgetting to mention, we also went on a tour to see the Northern Lights. They came out for a little while and I’m so glad to have seen them, if only for a few minutes. Here’s the best picture I could take – it wasn’t great, but do you know how hard it is to take a photo of them! Have you visited Reykjavik before, or are you thinking of going?