This was a holiday for me like no other. I’m not exactly one for lounging around on beaches, but it seems like with the exception of a cold but crisp November trip to NYC, my excursions have always been to destinations on the warm side, full of sunshine.
When my friend suggested we head to Reykjavik because she’d found a good deal, I jumped at the chance. Heading to a land covered in snow and ice and so entwined with the elements and nature was too good an opportunity to miss. Iceland feels like one of those places that everyone has to go, at least once.
We were there for 3 nights only, but made the most of it.
Welcome to Part 1 of my Reykjavik travel diary series – because it was so big I couldn’t face putting it all in one post – all about how I got there, and the touristy/sightseeing stuff we did!
The admin stuff – flights, accommodation, transfers
Now we booked this trip a fair while ago, so I had to traipse back through my bank statement to figure out how much we initially paid for it, but I think I tracked it down.
It was the first time I’d flown with Easyjet and, despite a bit of a horrific 3.5 hour delay on our way home due to technical and weather issues (to be expected in Iceland, I guess), I would recommend the airline and fly with them again.
Our hotel was great too – it’s about a 40 minute walk and a 10 minute bus journey from Reykjavik city centre, so might not be ideal if getting stuck into the city itself is what you’re after, but did the job for us and it is easy to get into the centre if you want to. The staff were SO helpful and friendly, we were able to get picked up from there for both our sightseeing tours and airport transfers, and our room was basic but super comfortable. Plus, we had cooking facilities which came in really handy, more on that later in this series, and even though there was only two of us, there was two bunk beds as well as twin beds, meaning it could have slept 4. So, if there’s a bigger group of you going, splitting the cost of the room between 4 is going to mean great value and low cost.
I didn’t have the nous to take a picture of the room unfortunately – bad blogger, Sophie – but if you visit this page on the Arctic Comfort Hotel’s website, you can get the idea. Our room was very similar to this, but had a bunk bed opposite the double.
Other important things to note about the hotel – it provided breakfast which you had to book the day before (but I can’t vouch for how good it was, as we didn’t end up having it), there was free WiFi (always good), and the beds are dead comfy. Overall, I’d recommend it, and I’d stay there again.
The day before we left, we booked our airport transfers using Flybus. We booked to go between Keflavik airport and the BSI bus terminal near Reykjavik city centre, and when we arrived in Iceland that worked fine, because we had a nice walk into the city centre to get a feel for things, got some food and then walked to our hotel.
On the way home, I was feeling like I didn’t want to lug my case on a 50 minute walk through the snow at 8am in the morning, so asked at our hotel reception about a bus to the BSI terminal. As it turned out, they were able to get us picked up and transferred to the terminal directly from our hotel, for no extra charge – winning! So that worked much better, and made for a much easier journey home.
To give you an idea of price, both transfers for two people came to a total of 8000 ISK, or £59. So, it’s a fairly substantial cost, but a lifesaver on the day, especially if you can get picked up from your hotel.
Seeing the sights
What makes Iceland such a key destination, I think anyway, to visit in your lifetime, is the amount of natural wonders and sights there are to see. We didn’t have much time in Reykjavik, but managed to squeeze in two of the best…
This was what I was MOST excited about. I love swimming, water; just being around it makes me feel happy and relaxed, and taking a dip in the geothermal water and the naturally heated pool of the Blue Lagoon set against the backdrop of snowy mountains is absolutely dreamy.
We booked our excursion here on the Blue Lagoon website, and we went for the Comfort option, which I think was about £85 each including our hotel transfer – there’s a few depending on how swish you want to go with it. You can also book transfers from your hotel here, which I’d advise as it’s quite a way out of the city. On the drive out you go past a harbour and get further and further into a completely white snowy landscape, making it feel all the more magical.
Important stuff to know about going to the Blue Lagoon:
- The buses there and back only run once every hour. If, like us, you need to be back at your hotel for a specific time, make sure you leave yourself enough time getting out of the pool to get changed and back on the bus, or you will be waiting a while!
- My friend Hayley read that it’s best for your skin to not spend longer than 2 hours in the pool itself, so you probably won’t want to be lounging around all day in there anyway. However, you’re absolutely able to if that’s what you fancy – you can stay in there as long as you like, just make sure you arrive within your allotted hour.
- They tell you this there, but condition your hair and leave it in before you get in, they advise to keep your hair out the water, and give it a good wash and condition when you get out. The natural water can dry it out! Although ours was fine.
- We got a free face mask with our package, but this made my skin feel like it was burning with pain when I had it on and I haven’t really seen a difference. If you have highly sensitive skin, may be one to avoid.
- There’s a swim up bar, whey! With apple Somersby’s, yum. You’re only allowed 3 drinks while you’re in there, and you pay using your wristband and then settle your tab once you get out.
- They have plastic bags there to put your wet swimsuit in – genius.
- Ma peeps with glasses and contact lenses – they do advise you not to wear these. I however ignored this and took them in, as well as a glasses case, and proceeded to carry the glasses case around out of the water looking like a doosh because they were so steamy, there was no point in wearing them anyway. Leave the specs in the locker and embrace the blurriness, folks!
Overall, it’s kinda magical and I’d highly recommend going there. We had a great time floating around but it looked especially cute and romantic for couples. It’s definitely something that I’m glad I got to experience!
*We did take a GoPro in the lagoon itself and got a few snaps, but I look like a whale in all of them so not putting them up here. Sorry and that! You’ll have to use your imagination…*
Northern Lights Mystery Tour
Ah, what everyone goes to Iceland to see. Well, I imagine so anyway.
We’re indulged with so many Instagram pictures and TV shows, giving us a glimpse of the Northern Lights, and making it feel so easy and possible for you to see them too if you can just get somewhere dark enough.
Our Northern Lights tour was with Gray Line and was included in our hotel and flight package – I think it’s around 5,000 ISK if you book it separately – and ended up being cancelled on the night we were supposed to go due to bad weather, so we rebooked onto it the following night.
I’ll go ahead and give you the spoiler alert now – we didn’t see them. Those pesky beautiful natural wonders evaded us, and let us stand around in the pitch black until we thought our feet may fall off.
Despite this, I really enjoyed the tour itself. We got to drive out into the mountains, and our tour guide was great – she told stories of Iceland, the folklore and the energy of the city, and had genius comic timing considering she was speaking her second language.
We visited a few locations, and there was a service station stop for food and a loo break, but unfortunately the snow and clouds were working against us, and there were no lights to be seen.
However, as consolation, the tickets for the tour are valid for a further 2 WHOLE YEARS, meaning if you want to go back and try again, you can at no extra cost.
Seeing them would have topped off the trip ever so perfectly, but it was not to be!
Hope you found that helpful guys! Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Reykjavik travel diary series, all about eating and drinking, which will be live shortly.
Are you planning a trip to Iceland? Let me know!