I was lucky to win some flights to Europe in a work raffle this year which meant we could finally tick Iceland off our bucket list.
Known for its picturesque icy landscapes, the northern lights and the location of many Game of Thrones scenes, Iceland seemed like a once in a lifetime trip and it really lived up to expectations.
We flew from London and arrived at Reykjavik at about lunch time where we got the bus to our apartment in central Reykjavik. It was the easiest process ever and after admiring our gorgeous apartment, which was in the perfect location, we headed out to do some exploring.
The town is packed with quirky record shops like 12 Tonar, clothing brands like 66 north, little chocolate shops and for some reason, a phallological museum. The town is dominated by brightly painted buildings and a massive Hallgrimskirkja church. With eye-watering prices, it’s hard to refrain from spontaneous purchases in this cute little town.
After a little mooch, we headed to attempt a food shop in one of the ‘cheaper’ food stores, Bonus. The store isn’t as easy to navigate around as you may think and I even through a wobbly trying to find milk (turns out even though it’s in a milk carton, it is probably yoghurt). We ventured back and settled in for the night, making use of the Netflix in our room and watching as the streets come alive within the snow.
Day 1 – Snowmobiling and Ice Cave tour
After a very early start and a panic as to where our pick up point was, we headed up to the glaciers on fifty-inch tyres. We admired the gorgeous landscapes on our way up to the mountains and after getting stuck halfway up due to the snow being so heavy, we eventually made it to the cabin at the top.
We got changed into our snowmobile gear and after a quick safety brief, started scooting around the glacier towards the ice cave, only falling off once (which by the way, doesn’t hurt at all despite a whole snowmobile being on top of you – thank you soft snow!)
We climbed down the steps to the magnificent ice cave where frozen ice acted as beams holding it together. it was a pretty impressive sight as the contours of the cave left you in awe. Our tour guide gave us some history before letting us explore the small little area further.
We then headed back on the snowmobiles towards the cabin, greeted by hot chocolate and biscuits before heading back to town. We saw a mild flicker of the Northern Lights on the way back down by the National Park and headed back for some food.
Day 2 – Epal Harpa and The Northern Lights
We spent the day wandering around the coast across to the small snow-capped islands of Engey and Videy and exploring the very impressive Epal Harpa concert hall. The Concert Hall is an architectural masterpiece with a distinctive coloured glass facade inspired by the basalt landscape of Iceland. Its full of odd little things to buy and see and a good place to spend an hour or so just taking in the modern design.
We took in the sights of the church then headed for a scrumptious late valentines day lunch at Apotek. The food was incredible with Iceland staples on the menu like Reindeer and Puffin. I went for a lovely piece of lamb followed by a beautiful strawberry mouse in the shape of a rose and it was by far the best lamb I have ever tasted. Dane went for the weirder stuff like the puffin and so on and we both enjoyed a very tasty coffee each before heading back to prep for a chance to see the Northern Lights.
After a little nap, we got ourselves wrapped up and packed our flasks to head to a well-known viewing spot for the Northern Lights, Grotta Lighthouse. Out of the four nights we were in Iceland, there was only one where the sky was clear enough so we got a cab which cost about twenty quid to the spot and waited for what felt like forever. I played down my expectations – there’s never a guarantee that you’ll see anything, and what you do see can vary hugely. Finally, we got to see the auroras flicker and bend by the mountains. I got a few pictures but I really was so engrossed in taking it all in that I didn’t want to miss a thing. You are so busy absorbing them you forget how numb your toes are, or the fact it’s so late at night and when it is over, you feel so lucky to have been one of the few people to experience it.
Day 3 – Golden circle tour and Blue Lagoon
By far the best day of our trip. We filled up our flasks at seven a.m. and after Dane rushing me out the door because apparently, I had no time for any makeup we scurried into our coach and headed off on our Tour.
Our first stop was Thingvellir National Park which was where they filmed many scenes from Game of Thrones. Thirty miles North East of Reykjavik, Thingvellir National Park is where the parliament of Iceland, the Althing, was founded back in 930, making the Althing the oldest parliament in the world, and Thingvellir a site of real historical significance. We loved seeing the little houses beneath the snow and walking through the crisp landscape, and found ourselves standing in awe of the spectacular view.
Our next stop was the Gulfoss waterfall where for the best views, you have to climb up the strong but slippery staircase to get the best viewing point. This was one of the most incredible parts of the trip as the water roars away beneath fiercely in this magnificent landscape.
We quickly stopped off to feed some Icelandic horses on the way to the Geysirs which was a really cute experience. Our tour guide explained that these are often used for horse riding and farming and I was very close to trying to sneak one in the back of the coach.
We then headed off to see the Geysirs where some burst through the ground every eight minutes which was quite fun, minus the stench of the sulphur before stopping off for a bit of lunch at the cafe.
We then headed to the Kerid Volcanic crater. I think the whole coach was pretty tired by this point so taking a few photos, we headed on route to the blue lagoon.
A lot of people say that the blue lagoon is overpriced and a waste of money but we absolutely loved it. We had a free complimentary drink (strawberry prosecco was a winner) and a face mask and splashed around for hours. It is a very incredible and surreal experience as you bob around in the blue, occasionally kicking a rock and staring at the mountains surrounding you. We didn’t opt for any extras, we were very happy unwinding before the long journey back.
Day 4 – Eating at Brauð & Co. and heading home
We spent our last day grabbing some traditional souvenirs and spending what was left of our wages on some wonderful bakery good at Brauð & Co. This was recommended to us in our apartment and we were not disappointed with the mammoth apple crumble flavoured danish and unlimited fresh coffee.
We then begrudgingly got on our bus to the airport waving goodbye to this incredible place that will always remain in our hearts.
Have you guys been to Reykjavik? What did you get up to?