As a graduation present, my grandparents sent me and Brian on a trip! I wanted to go somewhere totally new and since we had been all over continental Europe recently (we studied abroad in Prague for a semester) we ended up choosing Iceland!
Here are my tips for a great trip to Reykjavik!
1. Where to stay: Stay in an AirBnB!! Hotels are realllly expensive (as is almost everything) so save some money by staying with Airbnb. The place we stayed at was right behind Hallgrimskirkja and a short walk to all the touristy places in downtown. It was a little far to get to the Old Wharf but it was nice because we were also close to the bus station which is a little out of town.
2. How to get there: We are pretty lucky to live in New York because I think it’s one of the few places to get a direct flight to Iceland. Delta’s flights leave around midnight and arrive in Iceland around 9am local time. It’s a short flight (only about 5 hours) so we didn’t really sleep on the plane. We were exhausted when we arrived but I felt no shame in taking a few hour nap. The best way to get to Reykjavik from the airport is the Reykjavik Excursions bus. You can buy tickets in the airport when you arrive.
3. What to eat: Once we had enough energy to actually explore the city, we ventured out for some food! We ended staying pretty close to Hallgrimskirkja but Cafe Babalu was just what we needed. We got some coffee and lunch but it was also our first taste of how expensive Iceland is! It was about $30 for two lattes, a grilled cheese and tomato soup for me, and a sandwich for Brian. We were surprised but honestly, my advice to you is to just go with it. Everywhere is expensive and the nicer places we went had amazing food that was worth splurging over. It is vacation after all! Some other great places we went to were : Fishmarket, Reykjavik Roasters (love the scones!), Baejarins Beztu (Iceland’s best hotdog), Slipbarinn (a hotel restaurant with great cocktails), Valdis (good ice cream), Videyjarstofa (a small restaurant on the island of Videy, get the waffles!), and we had lunch at the Blue Lagoon.
4. What to do: We decided to stay in Reykjavik for our whole trip but if you’re a bit more adventurous (and someone else isn’t paying for your accommodations) then I would definitely explore the whole island and do the ring road drive. We did what we could though and ended up taking three trips with Reykjavik Excursions. The first was the Golden Circle. This is the most basic and tried & true outing trips. This covers Geysir (the original geyser where the word came from!), Gulfoss (The golden waterfall), and Thingvellir National Park ( where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart.) Everything on this trip was perfect. We did the afternoon trip and regretted nothing. First we hit Geysir. We got to see it go off twice and still had time for some lunch at the tourist center across the way. The lamb soup was great. Highly recommended. It was sooo f**king windy. Had to bust out the expletives to explain! Dress warm if you go, you can easily leave your layers in the tour bus but you can’t make them magically appear! Then we reached Gulfoss. It’s truly beautiful and you have to see it for yourself! But my favorite was Thingvellir. It’s gorgeous and you really get the sense of the plates moving away from each other, it’s no wonder Iceland’s first government set up there.
The next trip we did was an ATV trip. This was also a highlight of the trip. It was a beautiful day and it was a small group (4 other people, all from Michigan!) and we got to ride around the lava fields. We got dropped off at the Blue Lagoon afterwards. We ended up buying a nice package that included lunch. The food was great, the Blue Lagoon is absolutely stunning and we got free face masks and drinks with our package so this was definitely one of the best days we had!
Our third trip was to the Snaefellsnes peninsula. We were stoked about this one and it ended up being a little bit of a bummer. There’s a huge volcano there but it was so cloudy we couldn’t see anything. Don’t get me wrong, we still had a good time! We basically just drove around the peninsula and stopped in some cute little cities along the way. My favorite was Dritvik Bay where we saw some old shipwrecks and these awesome rock formations.
Within Reykajavik some other highlights were: going to the top of Hallgrimskirkja (awesome view of colorful Reykjavik), going to Harpa (the concert hall), taking the ferry out to Videy (a nice little park island with a cute restaurant), going on a puffin tour (it was raining and gross but we got to see puffins!) and just wandering, eating, and shopping!
It was a very good trip and I would highly recommend it! The Icelandic people are so nice and it was so cool to learn about the history of this tiny Viking island. I want to go back already!