Let’s start with a simple fact: Iceland is amazing!
On my way to the UK I decided to make a quick pit stop in Reykjavík, Iceland. Though I wanted to explore the whole country, with my limited time, I stuck with the capital Reykjavík. The beautiful thing about Reykjavík is it is small enough you can get a lot done in a short amount of time! Here are some suggestions to see and do whilst in Reykjavík!
The geothermal man made wonder is spectacular! When you get the first glimpse of the blue water as you drive up its hard to contain the anticipation!
Here are some Do’s when visiting the Blue Lagoon
- Book as far in advance as you can! You do not want to miss the opportunity to enjoy the Lagoon. Though you can walk in, the site is extremely popular. I watched as multiple families were turned away because they had completely sold out for the entire day.
- Go early! The best time to go is the first wave. I went the 8:00am wave giving me first picks of the day from luggage storage & locker space to a smaller initial crowd when entering the water.
- Buy the waterproof case. I am not kidding! This bad boy was expensive, but it truly works. Not only did I get some pictures while in the lagoon the case saved my phone as it dropped into the lagoon. (Let me tell you about a heart attack!! All I could think was I am completely alone in another country and that was my only form of communication. Needless to say after minutes of panic and going under I found my phone still fully functional!)
- Use the conditioner! The water is known to make your hair stiff and hard to manage because of the silica. The Blue Lagoon provides their own conditioner for your hair to save it from the harsh water. I only noticed my hair slightly more difficult to manager afterwards because of the conditioner.
- Take advantage of the silica mud masks! They have a swim up hut with buckets of their own mud masks that you can slather all over your face and body. After 5-10 minutes your face will be feeling amazing!
- Use the swim up bar! Let me tell you there was something about sipping on a fresh strawberry smoothie whilst floating around in 100°F water that is just pure refreshing!
- Buy the bus package. This made my life so easy!! I paid for the airport pick up to the Lagoon and ride to the city. Take the initial stress of arriving in a new country trying to figure out transport with this addition. My flight landed at 6:45am I was on the bus to the lagoon by 7:30am and arrived by 8:00am to get my day started. When I was ready to leave I waiting for an arrival time, told the driver my stop and got comfy! I felt so relaxed and at ease that whole morning.
A stop at one of the tallest and most iconic churches in Iceland. It’s worth a little meander around! Only finished in 1986 the Lutheran church can be spotted from most places in Reykjavik. In front of the cathedral stands the statue of explorer Leif Erikson which was a gift from the US in honor of the Althing Millenial Festival on their 1,000th celebration in 1930. #alittleUShistorytoo
Harpa Concert Hall
Just a quick walk down by the water is the large concert hall one of Reykjavik’s most modern marvels! With a mix of metal and glass architecture this building is a sight for sore eyes!
City Park Klambratún
Have a wander around the City Park Klambratún area. Just around the corner there is Hateigskirkja Church and a dirt mound that gives you a great 360° view of the city! This is good if you are up for just walking around and exploring for a while!
Downtown: Shop & Eat
Downtown Reykjavik is stocked up with loads of restaurants and shops. From local tourist shops for picking up a quick postcard to loads of apparel shops. Guaranteed there will be something that will capture your attention.
- Downtown: Have fun taking in the spunky colorful buildings that line the streets. Also the graffiti is a huge part of the character of the city. Almost every turn there is some art or quote that is fun to look out for!
- Snaps Bistro Bar: I had no idea I ended up stopping at what turned out to be one of Reykjaviks most popular spots. I walked past and was wooed in by the quiet and bright feel! As my meal went on the restaurant filled up and was popping by the end. I was able to meet quiet a few different people and had an evening filled with conversation from Icelandic locals to other travelers from New Zealand and South Africa. Beware, though the food was good it was a pretty penny for the sandwich!
Hljómskálagarður: This park and lake area has some gorgeous views and more quaint churches to take in!
Don’t skimp out on the chance to see the northern lights! I went with the Time Tours and could not have been more pleased.
- They pick you up. When buying your ticket you select a location for them to come pick you up at. Taking the stress of transportation off your list of worries.
- The guide takes care of everything. He takes you out to where the best chance to see the lights are. I couldn’t have been more happy with the guide I had. Even though the chances weren’t the best when we headed out he did everything he could to make sure we could see the lights if they decided to come out. He also explained the phenomena that is the aurora borealis.
- Dress Warm!!! You are going to spend a lot of time outside in the cold waiting for the lights to appear so make sure you are covered from gloves to wool socks!
- Be Considerate. You are taking the tour with other people. Your attitude can affect others. We went out knowing conditions weren’t the best. By the end a good portion of others on the tour were being rude and in a sour mood. It made it hard to enjoy the rest of the trip.
- Man can’t control nature. Keep in mind the guide is doing what he can, but ultimately he can not make the lights appear. Go in knowing there is a good chance you won’t get to experience the lights.
- Bring a wide lens and a tripod. You don’t have to be a photographer to take a photo! Research and youtube northern lights tutorials before you go and practice ahead of time. Being able to say you capture a pictures of the light on your own is definitely worth it.
- Expect to be out late! I was picked up at 8:30pm and didn’t arrive back to my Airbnb until 2:00am. Drink some coffee before hand you don’t want to miss out on the experience.
- Have Fun!
Reykjavik has no limit of coffee shops to try out. I managed to hit two whilst there.
- Cafe Babalú: The cafe is a two minute walk from Hallgrímskirkja. The atmosphere is quirky with yellows and blues mixed matched all over the cafe. However, if you are a coffee snob, like myself, you probably won’t be too overly impressed with the actual coffee. But hey I just needed caffeine at that point!
- Reykjavik Roasters: The next stop did not disappoint! I was recommended by a local saying it was some of the best coffee in town. This place is where you start to get into that real smooth locally roasted coffee! Word to the wise this stop is popular! Don’t be surprised if you don’t find a spot to sit, or if you do more than likely another party will join your table.
- Appollo Lakkrís: Icelandic licorice. I’ll just let you try it! I asked one of the girls working the shop if there was anything sweet I had to try that was iconically Icelandic she said that Appollo Lakkrís would be the treat to try. She named off an ingredient that was specific to it, and the first time she said it I thought for sure she said it was soured milk. Took me a couple times of her pronouncing it to know she was not saying soured milk to which I decided it would be ok to try then!
I found the cutest apartment to stay at via Airbnb. The location was a four minute walk from Hallgrímskirkja, and a walk away from downtown. Loads of shops near by but yet still outside the main downtown district enough that the area was quiet.
I had heard Iceland would be more pricey, however, I was slightly taken aback by just how expensive it was. I wouldn’t let this detour you from going to Iceland, but be prepared with expenses ahead of time! Overall, I LOVED Iceland. There was a raw beauty and a modern calm to the city! Hands down would recommend Reykjavík!
Until the next adventure,