A recent spur of the moment led to me booking 3 nights in Reykjavik! And I can honestly say, it is now one of my favourite destinations – and I’m not even a cold weather person! As you can see from my previous travel posts, I’m more drawn to hotter climates. So I definitely needed to do my research and seek out advice before my trip. I’ve seen a few other great blog posts on travelling to Iceland, so I thought I would share my personal tips and highlights from my own experience.
Where should I stay?
Reykjavik is a top destination for those travelling to Iceland, and as such, has a long list of accommodation options. Ranging from budget hostels, apartments as well as hotels. I opted to stay in an Airbnb, as the price difference from a hostel to that wasn’t that much more.
There are two main options for accommodation location, one is city centre and the other is downtown. Don’t be put off by the term ‘city centre’ as this is not the same as what it means for someone from London. City centre is actually made up of small shops, bars and restaurants. Size-wise I would compare it to a small seaside town like Brighton for example.
Downtown is still relatively close to the main centre. But for some of these hotels/hostels you may still need to take a bus or taxi to take you in closer to the centre.
Our Airbnb was in a great location, literally 2 minutes from the main bus terminal and roughly 8 minutes walk from Hallgrímskirkja. It was ideal as we were in walking distance to the main restaurants, shops and bars.
Where should I visit?
I highly recommend paying to do some of the local tours. We bought ours from Local Iceland Tours. They offer different priced packages and if you book through one operator they will advise the best timings for you to ensure you can fit the tours in your schedule.
Golden circle tour: this is where you can visit the Gullfoss waterfall, the geysers and the tectonic plates and some tours even have the option to go and feed the Icelandic horses.
Northern lights tour: all Northern Lights tours have a guarantee, so book them for your 1st/2nd night so that if you don’t see them* the first night you can rebook for the second for free. The Northern Light season usually runs from September to the end of February. So for the best chance of seeing them, book your visit during these months.
*Tip – If you hope to photograph the lights, be sure to test out your manual functions on your camera and if you have one, bring a tripod.
Blue lagoon: this natural wonder is beyond beautiful and a sight not to miss! If you’re visiting during seasons with shorter days, book your tour for after 11 am so that you have the best lighting*. In terms of the upgrade option, the main difference is that you get slippers and a robe. I opted for the upgrade, but in hindsight I personally don’t think it was worth it.
*Tip – If you don’t have a GoPro or waterproof camera, invest in a waterproof pouch for your mobile phone so that you can take pictures in the lagoon.
What else can you do in Reykjavik?
City walking tour: this is a great, free ( you simply pay tips at the end) walking tour around Reykjavik. I did this after a suggestion from a colleague and it was useful to get an idea of what there was in town and a little bit about the history. There is also a lot of great street art hidden in the city centre, so be sure to get lost in the back streets to find these.
Hallgrímskirkja: this is the tall church that was located near our accomodation. You can pay to go to the top of the church. This offered a stunning 360 degree view of Reykjavik, which was a great photo opportunity.
There are many different tour options, but these are the ones that I could go on myself. I’ve also heard good things about whale shark watching, ATV, and horse riding. And probably would have opted for these if I had the additional time.
What do I pack?
Might seem like an odd question, but it was a genuine concern of mine as I haven’t been on many cold climate vacations. I asked a few friends, checked out a few travel blogs and constantly checked in on the weather forecast. I eventually decided on the below packing list:
- Thermal under layers (such as long sleeve tops, socks, leggings etc. I bought mine from Uniqlo)
- A waterproof hooded jacket (I bought mine from Superdry)
- Snood, hat and gloves
- Walking boots (I didn’t own a pair so bought some cheap ones from Sports Direct and they kept my feet warm and dry as well as being super comfy)
Don’t forget to pack swimwear as you will need it for the Blue Lagoon. Also, there are a couple of outdoor thermal pools that you might want to check out.
All in all, I loved my 3 nights in Reykjavik and recommend a visit to anyone who hasn’t been to Iceland before! I still feel like there’s so much more I have yet to discover and will be planning a follow-up trip very soon!
So that makes my tips, I hope you found it useful. Have you ever been to Reykjavik before, have your own tips to share?