Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Visiting Reykjavik, Iceland In 5 Days

Travel & Tourism - Reykjavik, Iceland in 5 days.


The Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik Iceland

Reykjavik is the most idyllic place I have visited ever. In the sense that it’s so sparsely populated (only 300,000 people live there). I really needed the space away from the hustle and bustle of London. I needed to reflect on life, and it was the perfect place to do it. We went in May so the weather wasn’t as cold as it is usually, it was about 6 degrees which wasn’t so bad, especially as we expected much worse!

The beautiful buildings, the incredible landscape and the fresh food were all mouth watering.

This blog post is for all those people, who once didn’t consider Iceland as a holiday destination but now are intrigued and would like some further information. Such as where to stay, how much things cost, how much spending money you will need, which trips you should go on etc. It’s all in here! :-)


WHAT TO WEAR...?

As I said we went in May, their ‘summer’, but we still had to pack well, as you would for any winter vacay. I wore mainly leggings or joggers on most days, thick pair of socks, two jumpers, with a long sleeve top underneath, a hat, an insulated jacket and a pair of Timberlands that I could not have done without. And I was still cold. I should have packed gloves in hindsight.

  • You really do need to have some good shoes for this, preferably maybe tough boots that will grip ice and snow and keep your feet warm.
  • You definitely need thick gloves. Not the cotton type either, the thicker type of gloves (ski gloves preferably).
  • A hat is also a must. I almost went out without a hat and had to go all the way back! You just need to keep all of the heat inside as much as possible.
  • I would highly recommend a ski jacket and if not a ski jacket definitely a jacket that is insulated, as that will keep you warm!
* I know its much colder in the winter hence have considered that in the above. The only addition I would make to this list are ski trousers and a scarf! Those are a must!



WHERE WE STAYED

We stayed in Hilton Rekjavik Nordica, which was a very nice 4/5* hotel. We chose the Hilton for the following reasons;

It had all the amenities that you could ask for plus more.
The fact that the tours that leave from Reykjavik stop by the Hilton to pick up and drop off was great! Easy peasy!
We also chose Hilton because the wifi was inclusive in all areas around the hotel.
Most importantly it had a very well equipped gym. I am trying to stay healthy whilst I am away from home, hence didn’t want to slip up!
Although the hotel is about 30/40 minutes walk away from the city centre, the Hilton offers free bus tickets to the city centre if you wanted to take transport. But if you want to be near the hustle and bustle of town I wouldn’t pick the Hilton, I would recommend Hotel Borg or Radisson Blu. But I needed the quiet hence why we chose a hotel a bit further out.


 WHAT TO DO IN REYKJAVIK

Initially when we had booked the holiday for five days it was simply because I had wanted to get away for longer than a weekend. I really needed a change of scenery. But in reality you only really need two or three days to see everything in Reykjavik itself, unless you really love to shop or want to see what the South Coast has to offer as well. But for me, there were a few highlights and activities that will abundantly fill your time.


The first one is the Golden Circle Tour. We used Grayline as a tour operator and I would highly recommend them, as they are largest tour operator out there and always have availability.  They pick you up from your hotel, take you to the bus terminal where you will join others who will go on the same tour as you, then you all embark on the tour via a larger coach. On this tour you will see the following; Pingvellir National Park, arguably the most important site in Iceland, Gulfoss Waterfalls, where you can get up close to the waterfall and then the Geysir area, where you will see the hot springs. It cost us £52 per person but we used a code that will give you 10% off .


We had wanted to go on the Northern Lights Tour but as you can only see the northern lights between September and February every year, we were unable to do this. Something  to take into consideration if this is what you really want to see on your visit.

But the main reason I wanted to come to Iceland was because of the Blue Lagoon! And I could tell from the comments on the picture I posted and the video I uploaded on snapchat that people were amazed by it! It was the most serene and breathtaking experience ever. Again we used Grayline, £51 per person, which included hotel pick up and admission to the geothermal seawater. This also came with a free mud mask, which made my day! The best time in my opinion to go to the blue lagoon is first thing in the morning, as it will be empty and you can enjoy the surroundings to the fullest. We went on the 8am trip.



WHERE TO EAT

The good thing is that there are loads of places to eat in Reykjavik so you won’t get stuck on what to eat. The not so good thing is the fact that food there seems to be very expensive. I am from London so I am used to high prices but I would say price for food here is double the amount it would be in London, I think this is mainly due to import costs.

Also it’s worth noting that it is almost as if the lower priced food options do not exist, and therefore all of the restaurants are at the same, higher price points. So for example I had a Chicken Schwarma and that was 1800 Krona which is the equivalent of £10. In London that would have cost £4/5. So beware.


You’re looking at around £15/20 minimum for any main meal. Sandwiches, tea, sweets and other treats, are also expensive. I would say that you probably need about £250/300 per person for 4 full days of food (based on you having breakfast, lunch and dinner).

Here are five restaurants that we visited, that I would recommend if you’re looking for somewhere to try (sorry for the lack of pictures here – I ate before I had the chance to take pictures lol):

  • Ruby Tuesday – We tried here on the first night as we were familiar with it having eaten there previously in the states.  Apart from the water which smelled and tasted vaguely like sulphur (you will find this in a lot of places), the food and atmosphere here was good! I had burger and chips.
  • Fresco – We had been searching for a healthier option nearby and came across this. They do the best salads :-)
  • Rossopomodoro – Again a familiar place I had eaten at before. They have such great Italian food :-) Definitely one to try if you need carbs (especially post a workout)!
  • Solon Bistro –  If you are looking for more traditional Icelandic dishes this restaurant will do the job! The food was so tasty and the menu was very varied.
  • Nings – we fancied Chinese and ended up eating here twice – great food and it was at the cheaper end of the scale!



WHAT ARE THE COSTS?

The currency in Iceland is Icelandic Krona. As I mentioned we stayed there for 5 days and flew with British Airways and stayed in the Hilton (booked it as a package six months prior).

The total cost of the trip was £495 for the both of us, which was a bargain! But it is worth noting that Reykjavik is one of the most expensive cities I have ever been to in terms of food.

So do you think you'll be giving Iceland a go after reading my post? Let me know in the comments below. 

Linda 
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