When I’m planning a trip, I usually like to consult as many resources as I can. I ask anyone who’s been, check out reviews online, blogs, etc. I came across several blogs where these seemingly perfectly styled instagram models are posed in downtown Reykjavik or venturing out onto glaciers. Well, let me tell you about my experience. I get cold. Like really cold. So I came prepared to bundle and I’m so thankful I did. I watched as other girls, in their cute flimsy jackets attempt to primp their perfectly curled voluminous hair shiver with each gust of wind. While I, warm and toasty, resembled Ralphie’s little brother from A Christmas Story. So the photos you see in this itinerary are not posed. In most, I’m wearing three pairs of pants and my hair is windblown beyond repair. But that being said, I had the best time and it just reiterates that the beauty surrounding us doesn’t need to be overshadowed by our perfect outfits captured on our iPhones solely for instagram. So, today I’m sharing my very real, very fun itinerary from our trip to beautiful Iceland.
Where To Stay
We made the decision to stay in an AirBnb since we had a pretty organized itinerary. We stayed slightly outside of the city center for a few re If you’re planning on doing day trips & excursions, I recommend staying a little bit outside the city center near one of the city’s bus stops. We were just feet away from bus stop #9 which was great because each day we met our guide there prior to heading out of Reykjavik.
What To Do
Iceland is an awesome country with many, many excursions. During our trip, the weather was very cold & wintery so you’re going to want to make sure you’re bundled up. I wasn’t kidding when I said I wore several pairs of pants. On a few days, I wore two pairs of thermal leggings and then snow pants on top to break the Icelandic wind.
watching the sunrise at the Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon – A hotspot outside Reykjavik, this geothermal spa should not be missed. While I will fully admit what while this is a very touristy experience, it’s worth seeing. I’d recommend doing what we did, and go first thing in the morning. Our flight touched down around 7am at KEF and we went directly to the Blue Lagoon; we were one of the first people in the water and got to watch the sun rise there.
Blue Lagoon Tips:
Buy your tickets in advance
Go first thing in the morning
Because this is located approximately 30 minutes outside of Reykjavik, I’d recommend going when you are coming or going from the airport.
If you plan on getting your hair wet, use the conditioner prior to entering the water!
The water will not ruin your suit
Your Day Tours South Coast Full Day Tour – Because we only did a long weekend, we figured it’d be easier to schedule tours to ensure we’d see as much of this beautiful country as possible. We were so happy we did. Our guide, Bjorn, was amazing and beyond knowledgable. On this tour we stopped at four major attractions. We started with a glacier hike to Sólheimajökull. The tour provided crampons to strap onto your boots to help with the snow & ice.
After the glacier hike, we headed toward Skógafoss, which is a beautiful waterfall. If you’ve seen a pictures of a waterfall in Iceland, it’s likely Skógafoss.
We headed to Reynisfjara, the black sand beach for lunch. We walked along the beach but beware of the treacherous waves. We grabbed lunch at the small cafe there – highly recommend their Turnip soup and Skyr cake. On our way back we stopped at Seljalandsfoss, another stunning waterfall and a small cave where Iceland’s parliament used to meet. This was a great way to gain a lot of knowledge in a day about Iceland. I can’t recommend enough.
South Coast Tour Tips:
When visiting the waterfalls, if you want to get close I’d recommend wearing waterproof jackets/ snow pants. You will get wet.
snorkeling between two of the earth’s tectonic plates
Troll Expeditions Golden Circle & Snorkeling at Silfra – Many friends told us to drive the Golden Circle but since we had a shorter trip we opted for this tour. We scheduled this tour last minute as our original snowmobiling trip was canceled due to inclement weather near the glaciers. Although we were disappointed, this excursion was fantastic! This tour picked us up right outside our Airbnb and took us to the Silfra Fissure to snorkel in frigid waters between two tectonic plates. I was very worried about freezing in the 33°F water however with the dry suit, I was perfectly comfortable. The water is chilly on your face and hands but absolutely worth it for this one in a lifetime experience. After we warmed up with some hot chocolate, we headed to the Geysir geothermal area.
my friend, Joe, the Icelandic Horse
Our tour guide, Ronan, was incredible and was able to squeeze in a few other stops along the way, including my friend Joe above. We ended the day at Gullfoss waterfall which was so much mightier and vast than any photo could depict.
Where To Eat
Icelandic Street Food – this place has a limited menu but literally everything is made by Grandma. There are delicious soups in bread bowls and the restaurant has sweet treats around for you to sample.
Fiskmarkadurinn – this was the more upscale we dined at while in Reykjavik. Cool atmosphere and they offer a prix fixe menu as well.
Messinn – this was by far my favorite meal. The restaurant is warm, homey and the fish was delicious. I highly recommend the Arctic Char or the
Hofnin – right on the water. They boast “mama’s recipes” in a traditional Icelandic style.
Emilie & The Cool Kids – a great stop for coffee, hot chocolate, bagels, pastries, etc.
Where To Drink
I highly recommend browsing through the app Appy Hour because Iceland has extended happy hours every night & weekend! We found so many happy hours from 9-11. A few bars have live music at night, we really enjoyed B5 which is apparently a club but had live music and a more relaxed vibe when we were there. Kaldi also has Icelandic beer on tap. And if you’re a Big Lebowski fan, check out the Lebowski Bar.
Overall Iceland Tips:
- If you’re a picky eater, I’d throw a few snacks in your carry-on. Iceland has some delicious foods but also some odd combinations. Just in case- throw a Kind bar in your bag.
- If you’re planning to stay in a hotel, make sure it includes breakfast. Food is very expensive in Iceland so it’s best to choose one of the many hotels that offer it in the morning. If you decide to stay in an AirBnb like us, run into a grocery for some Isey Skyr for the mornings.
- Weather changes very quickly in Iceland so don’t be surprised if you schedule an excursion and it gets canceled. Don’t panic – this happened to us and we were able to find a new excursion in another area.
- Northern Lights – we unfortunately did not see them the entire time we were in Iceland. We had one of our tour guides tell us that in the winter, there are 15-20 good days in the winter where Iceland sees true, bright northern lights. There are tours that take you out of the city in the evening and you can return night after night if you don’t see them which is a great option if you’re really eager. Just cross your fingers!
- Most establishments have wifi and most tour busses do as well!
I definitely recommend adding this beautiful country to your bucketlist! Have you been to Iceland? What did we miss?