Iceland– the land of Björk, Sigur Rós, volcanoes and the adorable Icelandic horse (pony is really a better description). I was lucky enough to spend a weekend in Iceland in 2014. Let me fill you on where I stayed, what I did and why I fell in love with this sparsely populated island.
How did I get there?
Flights were only £100 return from Bristol airport with Easyjet. BARGAIN. I do love cheap flights. You can also fly with WOW air or Norwegian.
Where did I stay?
Loft hostel. This modern hostel is right on the main street in the centre of Reykjavik. We stayed in a surprisingly spacious 8 bed dorm room. Don’t worry, for those of you that prefer your own space they do offer private rooms. Loft has a lovely rooftop bar. They even provide you with an array of colourful blankets to keep warm. It is one of only two rooftop bars in the city, so it attracts quite a local crowd which is a refreshing change from most hostel bars. Every night we stayed there was something going on in the bar, from experimental techno gigs to international food markets.
The hostel serves a breakfast which I can safely say is the best breakfast I have ever had in a hostel. It was amazing – freshly prepared granola yoghurt pots, bagels, an assortment of pastries and much more . The staff were wonderful. At one point we missed the pick up for our tour (don’t ask) and they helped us get in contact with the company to organise another trip.
What did I do?
The first thing we did when we got off the plane was catch a Reykjavik Excursions bus straight to the famed Blue Lagoon. Upon our approach it sort of looked like a factory in the middle of a deserted black volcanic landscape. I wasn’t impressed. However, once we got closer I could see the otherworldly blue waters and my jaw may have dropped a bit . Once we arrived we had to decide what package we wanted to go with. We opted for the comfort package which was around £55 per person. In hindsight the basic package is probably the better option as long as you have your own towel.
You don’t need the robe or extra face mask that come with the comfort. There are free face masks already dotted around the lagoon to be used by anyone regardless of the package they paid for. The one thing I will say is that you will have to shower completely naked with a bunch of other ladies. There are cubicles so this allows for a slight bit of modesty but getting to and from these cubicles leaves nothing to the imagination. Be brave and remember that the odds of you seeing anyone you know in Iceland are pretty low. Despite the indecent exposure, the Blue Lagoon is completely worth the money. It has got to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Not to mention the fact that the face masks made my skin feel incredible.
If you want to read more about about the blue lagoon and other hot springs in Iceland check out this comparison between the Blue Lagoon and Laugarvatn Fontana.
I also had the amazing opportunity to go on a Horse Trek with Eld hestar. I love horse-riding. I’ve been doing it since I was a child – yep, typical Irish pikey roots showing here . I was so far beyond excited about the prospect of riding an Icelandic horse that I actually expressed my enthusiasm outwardly, which is unusual for me. Back to the specifics, I went on the intermediate Hot Springs Tour. My lovely little pony was called Pegasus. I got lucky, he was a dream. Not a single thing spooked him, not even when another horse threw their rider and came stampeding towards us. We stopped at a natural hot spring in the mountain mid-ride and it was fantastic. I did burn my feet on the hot rocks around the spring but it was completely worth it. Would use again, would recommend to friend.
Our final trip was a full day trip with Reykjavik Excursions which was supposed to start at 7.30am. However, for unknown reasons, we missed our pick-up. Luckily Reykjavik Excursions were kind enough to let us choose a different tour with a later pick up and hop on that. This ended up suiting us much better. Massive plus for Reykjavik Excursions is that all of their tour buses have wifi, as long as you check in on FB, which is genius really. The tour we took was the South Shore adventure which included glaciers, Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Skógafoss waterfall and the Skógar Folk Museum. Seljalandsfoss waterfall was the one I was most excited about. You can walk behind it and out the other side. When we arrived at the waterfall there was a beautiful double rainbow in the mist. It was the most breath-taking part of the trip without a doubt.
What did I spend?
However, we worked it out that we spent around £200 each over the three days. Around £55 of that was entry into the blue lagoon. The rest was alcohol, food and a few souvenirs. Alcohol was probably the main expenditure. However, a Somersby cider was 600isk, which is about £3.00, so I stuck to that for the entirety of the trip. I could SEE the syrup in it.
- Wrap up. The wind chill is intense despite it being Summer. You WILL need gloves, hat, scarf and a good jacket.
- Buy alcohol in the airport. The prices there are about 50% cheaper than they are in Reykjavik. A few pre-drinks from your duty-free alcohol will save you in the long run. Though I suggest staying away from the traditional schnapps, I cannot describe how terrible they taste, apart from the rhubarb one which is an exception.
- Walk behind the waterfall. It is amazing. Bring a rain coat, you’re guaranteed to get a bit wet.
- Download Tinder. The Icelandic people are absolutely gorgeous. You are welcome. Could be a fun weekend in Iceland.
- Icelandic nights start earlier than you expect, despite what the internet says. Some bars close around 11pm, which is pretty early by my standards. We found an amazing little hostel bar called Kex. It was quite hard to find but when we did it was lovely, unfortunately we got there late and it was just closing. My advice is go there early, and tell me about it so I can live vicariously through you.
- If you like beards, you will be in Heaven. Reykjavik is a hipster hub full of beautiful, stylish young people.
- Eat in the Laundromat restaurant. The food is divine, the portions are insane and there is actually a functioning laundromat downstairs.
- There is an outdoor clothing store beside Loft hostel. Go in. They have a slide connecting the upstairs and downstairs. BEST. THING. EVER.
Anything Else of Interest?
Well, it was pretty much 24hr daylight during my weekend in Iceland, which took some adjusting. Personally I liked it. It made me feel like I always had time. However, I would imagine that it could encourage one to burn themselves out due to excessive partying/ activities.
Also, since there are only about 300, 000 people in Iceland, that tends to make the gene pool somewhat small. So on a night out the girl you’re wooing could potentially be your second cousin if you’re not careful. Therefore, an app was invented to help Icelandic youths discover whether or not they are related to their prospective partner. How handy.
Iceland is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to! Make sure you make the time to spend a weekend in Iceland at least once in your life.