Well, let’s just start off by saying Iceland was our most incredible trip to date.
You see so many photos and stories about Iceland online, but there will always be so much more than that – you have to experience it for yourself to understand what a spectacular country it is.
Where to stay
We stayed right in the heart of Reykjavik in the cutest, modern studio apartment rented through Airbnb, which was directly opposite the famous Hallgrimskirkja church. The views were amazing, and we were in the prime location right at the top of the main high street, Skólavörðustígur. Filled with restaurants, bars, coffee shops and crepe lounges, you have everything you could ever need – we even had a grocery store next door.
Just a short walk down the road, you’ll reach the water with panoramic mountains views, and also find the famous Sun Voyager sculpture, which really makes the spot picture perfect. If you’re anything like us, you’ll also be pleased to know there is a Domino’s pizza place in this area too!
In the other direction, you’ll find the main Reykjavik Bus Terminal (BSI) not too far away, which is about a 10-15 minute walk (uphill walk from the bus stop to the apartment). This is where all the airport transfers go to and from, so our apartment really was in the prime location for everything and would definitely recommend it to anyone.
Iceland Bucket List
All bus transfers mainly depart from the main BSI bus stop, but can also drop you back to/near your apartment on the way back
1. Golden Circle Tour
This was the highlight of our trip, and includes taking a stroll around Þingvellir National Park, witnessing the famous exploding geysirs in the hot springs of Haukadalur Valley and visiting the spectacular Gullfoss waterfall.
✎TIP – Be sure to have your walking boots on, and take snacks and entertainment for the bus journey, as it will be all day!
2. Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is a must, and is perfect for relaxing with a drink and a mud mask whilst soaking the thermal baths. You can buy individual entry tickets, or combined tickets with a shuttle bus included. To make it even better, the drinks bar and the mud mask bar are in the water for you to swim up to!
You can pay for bath robes prior to your visit, or just take a towel which you can hang up by the Lagoon. On arrival, you are given a wristband which is linked to your details, which is then used for the lockers, food and drink – you then pay the total on your account as you depart at the end.
✎TIP – Check the last shuttle departure BEFORE you book your pick up. You only need to book the pick up time initially, it wasn’t until we were already there to check the departure times, and realised we didn’t have as much time as we wanted, as we arrived quite late for sunset.
3. Northern Lights Tour
You can’t miss this. Nothing beats being driven out by bus into the middle of nowhere, with no light or noise pollution, and enjoying the phenomenon we call the Aurora Borealis.
✎TIP – Again, be sure to take some snacks, and make sure you wrap up warm as you’ll be frozen standing out in the cold at night – layers can be taken off, but can’t be added, so really do wrap up!
(We’re embarrassed to say the below photos are ours! This was before our camera was born, and couldn’t get the best photos in the pitch black on a
potato… we mean iPhone!)
4. Hallgrimskirkja Church + Sun Voyager
Climb to the top of the largest church in Iceland, and soak in the panoramic views of Reykjavik. It has the most stunning architecture, and is one of the tallest structures in the country.
Just a short walk North, you will then find the famous Sun Voyager sculpture we mentioned above, with a fantastic mountain and sea view.
5. Elliðaárdalur Valley Hike
The home of the beautiful Elliðaár River, and is definitely a hidden gem. Here you can enjoy a hike through the winding paths amongst the trees, and have lunch by the waterfall. We easily spent the day here, and even came across dozens of rabbits hopping around!
We opted for the 10-mile walk here from our apartment in the heart of Reykjavik as we were feeling wild, but after the long day of hiking, we definitely got a bus straight home!
✎TIP – Check the last bus home so you’re not stranded, and take some rabbit food!
Would we visit again?
Yes, yes and YES!
Words can’t describe our experience, and we cannot wait to book another Icelandic adventure. We urge anyone that hasn’t been before, to add it to their bucket list – you can thank us later! We never thought we would have enjoyed a cold holiday, and to be honest, we had never really considered it, but we were pleasantly suprised and so grateful for our decision.
What would we do differently next time?
During our visit, we discovered there is so much more than meets the eye. Of course The Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon are the hot spots, and are definitely worth a visit, we have a few different things in mind for next time.
- Top of the list is hiring our own truck, and touring on our own! As great as the tours were, there’s nothing like being in the comfort of your own vehicle, and being in charge of your own trip – you can take as much time as you like.
- South coast tour – Skógafoss waterfall, black sand beaches, Seljalandsfoss waterfall and everything in between!
- Ice caves – this is not something we had the budget for the first time around, as it is pretty pricey, but is still on our bucket list as it looks incredible!
- We are definitely up for a second trip around the Golden Circle, but of course doing it on our own terms, in our own vehicle.
- Budget a little more for food. It was a little more expensive than we thought, but discovered a cheap supermarket as we left called Bonus (has a pink pig logo). This of course helps if you are mostly cooking in your apartment, so if you’re eating out just make sure you’re prepared for the prices and do some research.
We hope you have the most amazing Icelandic adventure, and that this post has given you enough things to do in Reykjavik!
Just drop us a message if you have any questions!
Kelly and Luke
One half of ROUND THE WORLD WITH US!