It’s been a long and busy year so far with my jewelry business. You know what all work and no play is? Boring! I decided to kick summer off with vacation and I was adamant about it being a bucket list trip. For the past two years my cousin and I talked about a dream trip to Iceland. So when one of my besties sent a group text about her interest in taking a trip there this year I knew that was a sign. Then when I heard that the Icelandic soccer team would be making their debut in the World Cup while we were there, I knew it was definitely a “meant to be trip.”
Most people don’t really think about a vacation in Iceland, for me all it took was seeing some beautiful pictures of the lush landscapes and I was sold. Not only are Icelandic people some of the most pleasant people on the planet, but their country is out of this world (literally), just pure beauty from the street art in Reykjavik to the amazing waterfalls to the best tasting vodka to wondrous things their water does to your hair (curly hair girls Iceland would be your BEST FRIEND). Enough about how wonderful this country is, I’m just going to jump right into it and give you the details and tips about travels to this beautiful land.
Since we traveled with a group of five of us, we opted for an apartment suite style hotel right in Reykjavik called Reykjavik4you. The hotel had very nice accommodations and was spacious enough for five people with two bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen and living room area. We even had 2 balcony views of the city, which was an added plus. The cost of the hotel was $2,500 for our five-day stay, so we each shelled out $500 a piece. This hotel was the perfect location and walking distance to everything you’ll need during your stay. Definitely book your hotel first and book it early. Iceland is becoming quite a destination spot and hotel accommodations sell out fast. We actually booked our hotel first then booked our flight later.
You can rent a car, but we opted to walk most of the time since our hotel was in a good location. Plus you get a chance to see the beautiful street art on buildings throughout Reykjavik. Taxicabs and buses are also options as well since they’re no Ubers in Iceland.
Dining out is very expensive in Iceland. We did pack snacks in our luggage to bring on excursions and to snack in between meals. So if you decide not to bring snacks, you can find the nearest Icelandic supermarket and get snacks, the prices aren’t so bad there. On an average expect to spend about $85-$150/day in dining out while you’re there. On average we spent about $100/day per person.
Here are some of the highlights of our favorite food spots we ventured to:
My husband and bff went back to this spot twice while we were there. I must say their noodle soup was flavorful and overall just really good. They also have meat and vegetarian options. The price wasn’t too bad either.
Be prepared from fresh and hands down damn good baked goods. The smell alone is enough to eat more than just one. Honestly even the graffiti art on the building makes it hard to just walk by and NOT stop in!
I know what you’re thinking why go to Iceland and eat Mexican food. Well, the truth is the variety of types of restaurants is plentiful in Reykjavik. This spot was great for our group since we had a mix of meat eaters, pescatarians, vegetarians, and vegans.
Okay, we had some really good fish and chips in Reykjavik. This spot has a really delicious seafood soup. They even have various dipping sauces for your fish, each sauce is an extra charge.
We actual watched Iceland’s debut in the World Cup at this popular brunch spot. If you decide to brunch here, definitely make reservations and tasting their variety of beer is a must.
What drew us to this spot was, of course, the Marley decor of the building. When we walked in we realized that it was a coffee shop below and rum bar on the upper level. Still, a very chill spot to grab a drink and relax.
Dillon’s Whiskey Bar
This whiskey bar definitely has a variety of whiskey, plus the locals were really cool. My husband enjoyed the wings here as well. Live music is also available.
Okay now it’s time to get into the good stuff, you know the whole reason we planned the trip and to explore this beautiful country. Now as first timers we opted to book tours with tour groups, but you can rent a car and see all of these places as well for free (except for The Blue Lagoon).
The #1 reason people visit Iceland is to see this beautiful and wondrous man-made lagoon (yes it is man-made). As soon as you embark upon it the sight of lava rocks is enough to “woosah” your mind. Reservations are a must, so be sure to book your tickets before going. There are 3 types of tickets, we opted for the middle one and included our bus transportation. Now the lagoon is not located in Reykjavik it’s actually closer to the airport, so it might be a good idea to visit the lagoon on day one when you arrive in Iceland. Here are some tips for first timers:
- You will need to take a shower prior to entering the lagoon. Don’t worry the showers are private stalls and have dispensers with soap, shampoo, and conditioner.
- If you want to dine at the Lava Restaurant there be sure to purchase the premium ticket.
- They have 2 types of mask that you can try while you relax that are included with the ticket price. One is a silica mask and the other is an algae mask. I did have a little bit of a sensitive reaction to the silica mask, so if you have sensitive skin I would do a sensitivity check on your inner arm prior to applying to your skin.
- The water is nice and warm and makes your skin very soft which brings me to the number 5….
- DO NOT GET YOUR HAIR WET IN THE LAGOON. I’m so serious, while the water is great for the skin it’s terrible for your hair and will dry it out tremendously. I tied mine up into a sloppy bun and I was good to go.
- The products are amazing but pricey. You can try out the lotion which is GREAT and the conditioner as well.
South Coast Tour
This tour gives you a tour of glaciers, volcanoes, and waterfalls. Remember you can rent a car and see the spots for free, but we opted to do a guided tour since we didn’t know what to expect. Also, be sure to bring some kronos, some of these spots have restrooms, but you will need to pay 200-300 kronos (approximately $2-$3) to use the restroom.
This 197 ft. tall waterfall was purely amazing. Climbing 400 steps to the top then standing at the top looking down at that waterfall was just beautiful beyond words.
The famous black sand beach is not only known for its beauty but also its dangerous waves. With caves and basalt columns (trolls), the black pebbles and rocks made wonderful “souvenirs” for my little one.
This glacier was probably the most memorable site for me. Use in a few of Game of Thrones episodes (Beyond The Wall), the road leading to this glacier was actually built and paid for by the Game of Thrones crew. Sitting between two volcanoes this glacier is one of the most rapidly melting ones. For those interested, there are glacier climbing tours available.
One of the most popular waterfalls, this stop is probably best to do last on your day of exploring. Walking behind the waterfall was a bit slippery, but well worth it. Experiencing the water rushing down in front of you gives you such peace.
Golden Circle Tour
This tour allows you to see the beautiful treasures of the island from geysirs to waterfalls to country’s national park.
Iceland’s historical national park, the geology here really rocks!
This water from this waterfall is pretty much fed by one of the biggest glaciers. At 105 feet tall I climbed this waterfall until I damn near kissed it!
The famous hot springs in southwest Iceland. This geothermal area shoots boiling water about 65 feet high ever 4-9 minutes. Just stand and wait for it with your camera handy!
The city of Reykjavik is just a beauty of its own. Not only is it super clean, but the street art on the buildings showcases the pure talent of local artisans. Even the local shops sell products from local entrepreneurs and crafters.
The Halligrimskirkja church building has an amazing structure. I think we stood and just snapped different pictures of it for about 10 minutes.
Word of advice, you will see very trendy and cool Icelandic winter gear, so be sure to bring extra money to take away some of these hot fashions. I fell in love with the winter coats from 66 North. In addition, the hair care and skin care products are the BEST, hands down and you’ll want to walk away with some to take back home. The vodka here is some of the best in the world since it’s naturally filtered like their water so it’s very smooth. If you plan on taking any vodka back home wait until you get to the airport on departure day and purchase it duty-free there.
Things We Didn’t Get To Do:
These are just some things and sites we didn’t get to do that sound pretty cool and interesting.
- The Abandoned DC Plane
- Game of Thrones Tour
- Reykjavik Loves…City Card
- Northern Lights (only visible during the winter months, we went in the summer)
- Secret Lagoon
- On Power Geothermal Exhibition
- Lava Center
Random Tips & Advice:
- The water is the best straight from the faucet, just bring a water bottle and fill up. There’s no need to purchase bottle water.
- The water is good on your skin and hair. So good that I entered Iceland with straight hair and left with my naturally curly hair. All I had was water and conditioner and this was the result of Day 2 of my natural hair.
- My money tips are if you are using your credit/debit card be sure to swipe and choose the option of completing the transaction in ISK. Banks do charge a fee for every transaction, so if you have a credit card that doesn’t charge like Capital One or Chase Sapphire.
- Liquor is quite expensive in lceland.
- Convert to the local currency at the airport.
Hopefully, if you choose to visit Iceland one day that these tips help you. Now I’m off to create some jewelry so that I can enjoy my next travel adventure.