Visiting Iceland is a prevalent feature on many people’s bucket list, including myself, and my desire to visit Iceland was fulfilled on the 26th of January 2018, when i visited with my partner. Iceland is known to be one of the windiest inhabited places in the world, yet surprisingly the only thing I was blown away by was its breathtaking beauty.
This volcanic island is filled with so much natural beauty that you could spend your life exploring it and yet still be craving more, it is postcard picturesque.
This blog covers my experience of Iceland, the places I visited on my short trip and some tips for those who might be planning on visiting in the future.
So the adventure begins…..
Your flight experience should not define your whole holiday experience, however having a really enjoyable flight definitely puts you on a good footing for the rest of your trip. My experience of Icelandair was second to none. From the moment we set foot on the plane I felt calm and relaxed, the interior is soothing and the whole atmosphere is uplifting, it is not manic or rushed in the slightest. The hostesses were amazing, approachable and attentive – A*. Being a tad on the short side , as far as height goes, I opted for standard seats for the flight, however, when we were seated we actually thought that we were in the wrong seats as they were amazing and so spacious it was like having extra leg room, compared to previous flights we have been on. On the back of every seat there is tablets which have a good selection of movies, TV shows and games etc to keep both adults and kids entertained, so pack a set of headphones but don’t worry if you don’t have headphones or have forgotten them as you can purchase these on the flight. They have a wide selection of food, snacks and drinks on board and please note that their non-alcoholic drinks like soft drinks, juices, tea and coffee are all free, no matter what ticket you purchase, which is amazing! Note that Icelandair is a cashless airline but they do accept all debit and credit cards 🙂
I am super organised so I pre-booked my transfers before we went, but you can also book a transfer when you land as there are lots of transfer providers situated at the airport, also if you are flying with Icelandair you can even book them on your flight another perk of Icelandair. Our transfer was a shuttle transfer provide by Grayline. It was good value for money, the service was frequent (every hour), the buses were clean and they took you to the door of your hotel. Transfers times do vary depending on where your hotel is situated and please note that you may have to get off the main bus onto a mini bus to complete your journey. There is always the option of private transfers if the shuttle transfer doesn’t appeal or meet your needs but they will be a lot more expensive. Car hire is also available.
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura
Our Hotel was situated about 40 minutes from Keflavik airport and a 25 minute walk/ 5 minute drive from Reykjavik city centre. The reception was warm and welcoming and the hotel itself had a funky vibrant feel to it. There was cool seating area equipped with books/ computers and lots of quirky decor. There is free tea/coffee available 24/7 and a small convenience section selling snacks, drinks and sandwiches (which were fabulous). We chose to walk to the centre we wanted to take in the scenery, the architecture and the atmosphere around us but the hotel does offer free bus passes to guests. The hotel operates a buffet style restaurant at about 4900 krona per person. We ate here on our first night and I would recommend it as the food was of such a high standard. There was a wide variety of starters, mains and desserts, along with teas and coffees. There is also a full bar service available serving alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks. It was worth the money. Our room was facing the city centre, so despite being situated next to a local airport there was no noise whatsoever. The beds were comfy and the room was clinically clean and well equipped with everything you would realistically need iron, hairdryer , tea coffee , TV , fridge , safe etc.
We visited the blue lagoon on our 2nd day, and now fully understand why it is Iceland’s top visited attraction. Yes it looks just like it does in the pictures… and yes the water is that blue.
There are so many reasons why you should visit but here are my top ones –
- It is invigorating and relaxing at the same time and it’s really warm. The water temperature averages at about 37 degrees Celsius. The water is full of minerals, algae and silica so it is really good for your skin.
- There are packages to suit everyone, whether you want to simply enjoy the lagoon and its natural surroundings or whether you want to go for the full on spa experience. We were able to experience the premium package which provided us with bathrobes, slippers and a reservation and one free drink at the amazing lava restaurant( ideal if peak season because it can be fully booked…details to follow) However, you can bring your own bathrobes etc or purchase these as extras.
- There is a drinks bar and a mud mask bar situated in the lagoon itself, everyone gets free silica mud masks! So you don’t even need to step foot out of the water to hydrate your body or your skin. Your locker tag acts as your credit account and you scan this when making a purchase and then simply pay on your way out.
Who else can say that they have eaten a meal in the side of a lava cliff?
You could if you visit and that is exactly what we done, and we are glad that we did. There is no dress code, so you can visit in your dressing gown if you want to go back into the lagoon, or, as we did because we had to leave after our dinner, you can get changed. There is a varied menu available to suit all tastes from vegetarian to the full Icelandic food experience. Don’t be put off by the price because when you experience this place and taste the food you will not be disappointed. The food is out of this world and I tasted foods that I have never eaten before, so don’t be afraid to try new things. The staff couldn’t have been more attentive.
- My only complaint would be that my hair was quite brittle for a couple days after visiting, however I had made the rookie mistake of not conditioning my hair before I went in. There is loads of conditioner etc provided in the shower areas, apply plenty before you go in. Or if you want you can put your hair in a bun or avoid getting it wet.
- If you want to capture your lagoon experience then you are able to take your devices in. If you don’t want to break your beloved phone/camera I would advise putting it in a waterproof case, which you can bring with you. Or if you have a phone, phone cases are available for purchase at the blue lagoon, which we bought for approximately £20.
Aurora Borealis aka The Northern Lights
I once read that the search for the Northern Lights is likened to a ‘hunt’, which I do agree with, because there is no guarantee that you will see them, even if there are perfect conditions i.e. a clear sky. I was chatting to a gentleman on my travels who told me he had travelled 2 days, all in, just to see the Northern Lights, so it is definitely an addictive hunt to say the least. Our tour was operated by Grayline and the girl who took it was pretty cool, she was chatty and told us lots of quirky stories about Iceland on our drive to get to where we needed to be. The tour lasted for about 5 and a half hours all in, yawn I super tired but I did get a glimpse Yay! Did you know that the lights are actually really hard to see with our naked eye, what appears to look like a cloud might actually be some activity in the sky, so take a snap and then look at your camera and you might be pleasantly surprised, that’s what I done! For me, being able to see the lights was the cherry on top of the cake, so get hunting.
The Classic Golden Circle Tour
We done this tour on our last day, even though we had 4 hours sleep from getting in from the Northern Lights, and it didn’t fail to amaze us. What better way to witness Iceland’s most pristine natural beauty that this tour! Just make sure to wear sensible clothes/shoes and take care when walking. We also took some snacks/drinks with us as it can get expensive buying things at each of the stops. Always have coins for toilets as some of them charge.
We were taken on a journey through spouting hot springs, known as geysers, the most reliable of which is called the strokkur (see picture right) which went off every 4 to 5 minutes. Did you know that the name Geysir is the name of one of the most famous hot springs , which every other hot spring in Iceland is named after, hence the name “geysers”. The geysir very rarely goes off, its currently dormant and is usually only active after a volcano…you learn lots on these tours as well as seeing lots.
You get to see the amazing Gulfoss waterfall, usually in better weather you can walk all the way down a path and get right up close, we didn’t get to as the path was too dangerous to walk down but that did not take away from the experience, as you can see from the picture! We stopped for some lunch here and we had some traditional Icelandic soup, which was amazing and wasn’t too expensive either. You get a discount when travelling with certain tour operators, bonus!
We visited one of Iceland’s famous national parks, Pingvellir national park. This is home to Iceland’s largest natural lake and more amazingly is the place where the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia split and drift apart. This is one of the few opportunities you could have to physically walk between the tectonic plates of the earth! There are different walks you are able to go, on different paths (weather dependant) be careful as there are steep climbs and the paths can be tricky.
No amount of words or pictures can do justice to this beautiful country. I can definitely say that I would come back in the future as it is too incredible to not want to see more! I am blessed to have seen nature at its finest in Iceland and the experience has taught me lots. I hope reading this has given you an insight into just how beautiful the land of fire and ice really is! I hope you visit soon and experience what I have.