Exploring Iceland: 3 nights in Reykjavik

Reykjavik

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.

Houses of Reykjavik

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.

Gulfoss waterfall in IcelandIcelandStrokkur geyser in IcelandIceland

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.

Street art in ReykjavikStreet art in Reykjavik

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)
  • Swimwear

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?

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28 Comments

  1. 17th April 2017 / 8:33 pm

    What a trip! You did so much in just 4 days! Iceland seems like a beautiful place, however, like you I navigate towards warmer climates. I would like to visit a cold climate at least once in my life though. Just to appreciate the beauty of it. Great pics by the way!

    • arcasela
      18th April 2017 / 3:00 pm

      Thanks Marlena. Yes Iceland/Reykjavik is such a beautiful place. I can’t wait to visit again!

  2. 17th April 2017 / 9:13 pm

    I can’t wait to get to Iceland, I have heard the northern lights look different through the camera lens, versus the naked eye. Did you see it?

    • arcasela
      18th April 2017 / 2:59 pm

      Hi Meg, yes you’re correct there! I actually didn’t get to see the lights (despite making two trips on different nights). Unfortunately the lights were very elusive those nights. But speaking to the tour guide she did say that in real life the colours aren’t as vivid as you see in some of the photos online. I’m definitely going to try and head over again to see if I can see them this time around.

  3. 17th April 2017 / 10:36 pm

    I am happy to have seen this post. One of my friends wants to plan a trip to Iceland for next year. These are some really great tips! Not sure what part of Iceland it would be but its always good knowing the main places of attraction. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    http://www.travelbeautyblog.com

    • arcasela
      18th April 2017 / 2:58 pm

      Thanks Shevy! Hope you and your friend will find the tips useful. Do let me know if you end up visiting Reykjavik 🙂

  4. 17th April 2017 / 11:22 pm

    Wow, this post is so detailed, thanks! I’m hoping to visit Iceland some time in the next ‘northern lights’ season for sure. Thanks for sharing!

    • arcasela
      18th April 2017 / 2:43 pm

      Thanks Amy! Iceland is definitely worth it, I’m already planning my next visit 🙂

  5. 18th April 2017 / 12:10 am

    Thanks for these tips! Iceland is one of the top countries to visit on my travel list 🙂 I hear it’s absolutely beautiful!

    • arcasela
      18th April 2017 / 12:20 pm

      Hi Kristen, it really is such a beautiful city. I’m actually planning a second trip because there is still so much I didn’t get a chance to do! I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time when you gt to visit.

  6. 18th April 2017 / 12:32 am

    The street art is amazing. I didn’t even think there was that much to Iceland.

    • arcasela
      18th April 2017 / 12:18 pm

      There was so much street art around! It’s such a colourful city, I can’t wait to go back 🙂

  7. 18th April 2017 / 7:49 pm

    Wow Iceland has been on my list for ages and your post and pictures are stunning!! Need to get there soon! Thanks for sharing!

    • arcasela
      18th April 2017 / 9:16 pm

      Thanks Mel. I highly recommend it! I am already planning a follow up trip. Hope you enjoy when you go over!

  8. 18th April 2017 / 7:55 pm

    I’ve heard so many people talk about Reykjavik. I would love to go. Your photos make it look so colorful!

    • arcasela
      18th April 2017 / 9:16 pm

      Thanks Danielle. I actually have so many more pictures of the street art and the landscape. It’s such a beautiful place, the pictures don’t do it justice!

  9. 18th April 2017 / 8:03 pm

    Your post brought back so many memories from what will always be one of our most memorable vacations! To add to your useful tip about taking pictures of the Northern Lights, we visited the Northern Lights museum in Reykjavik (Aurora) and they have a super helpful panel with all recommended camera settings! Worth stopping by since it is right by the Harbor

    • arcasela
      18th April 2017 / 9:15 pm

      Ah yes a friend recommended the same thing, I just didn’t get a chance to visit. Will definitely add it to the list for next time.

      Thanks!

  10. Alex
    18th April 2017 / 8:06 pm

    Iceland is definitely on my bucket list to travel to! The pictures you took are breath taking!

    • arcasela
      18th April 2017 / 9:14 pm

      Thanks Alex, I really appreciate it. I highly recommend Iceland I can’t wait to go back!

  11. 18th April 2017 / 8:47 pm

    Thank you for your recommendations. Iceland has long been on my (long) list of places to travel. I am making travel plans for next year and hope to include Iceland. I’m bookmarking this. I love how your recommendations are varied. I like to get into a little bit of everything when I visit a place.

    I also love street art. Great pics! Can’t wait to go.

    • arcasela
      18th April 2017 / 9:13 pm

      Thanks for your comment Alicia. I do hope you find my tips useful! I’m sure you’ll have so much fun there. I’m already planning my next trip back!

  12. 2nd May 2017 / 7:54 pm

    Literally so stunning, you got some amazing shots! You have the lovliest little blog here by the way, well done on all your hard work with it pretty lady! x

    adelelydia.blogspot.com

    • arcasela
      2nd May 2017 / 8:42 pm

      Thanks so much Adele that means a lot! Love your blog and style posts 🙂

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