Reykjavik, Iceland

f5432001Reykjavik holds quite a special place for me, It was the first place I travelled to solo and is also the place that made me fall in love with travelling. Iceland is like an untouched land, volcanoes, mountains, geysers, waterfalls, glaciers, beaches and meteorological phenomena’s its an adventurers dreamland, And Reykjavik is the perfect base to explore the country from. The country is expensive but seeing as I thought I was just going away for 2 weeks and had no idea Reykjavik would steal me away from England forever I didn’t keep a tab on how much it all cost. Just know that however much money you spend here, It will all be worth it. I hate huge coaches and tours guides that litter most capitals and throw out hordes of people and there cameras but I cant drive and as far as I know its pretty damn difficult to get around Iceland any other way so most of the stuff I did was with tour guides.

Must Visit

These are the absolute must visits I recommend if you want to get the best experience.

  • Northern Lights – Cost – 6000ISK – £30

Ever since I was a kid growing up I wanted to do 2 things, see the northern lights and snorkel in the great barrier reef. Seeing as we were too poor to go abroad and our holidays consisted on going to Rhyl, I knew I had no chance of seeing either and had to make it happen myself. Staying up in the early hours of the morning since I was a kid to see meteor showers and even at 21 I would run into my mums room at 4am to show her the stars. There are 2 options to see the northern lights in Reykjavik, Boat or by Coach and the coach was definitely the better option for me. After a 40 minute bus journey you are taken to a field where I had the chance to escape from all the other people and find my own spot, Id waited so long to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) that i’m not ashamed to say I nearly cried (I was ashamed it took me a while to include this sentence) Trying to describe the Northern Lights is pretty much pointless and not even photos or videos can do it justice (And my camera cant capture them), If you get a really good showing the lights can turn from the usual green to purple and shimmer all over the sky as if the whole sky is being shook in front of you and I was lucky to be able to see this.

  • Golden Circle Tour – Cost – 9000ISK = £46

The Golden Circle tour is the most popular tour in Iceland and for good reason, Combining 3 incredible sights into 1 tour was one hell of a day. Gullfoss waterfall, Strokkur Geyser and Thingvellir National Park are all must sees in Iceland, Gullfoss is the most famous waterfall in Iceland, Strokkur is a Geyser that shoots boiling hot water nearly 100ft up into the air and Thingvellir National Park is where the 2 tectonic plates of Europe and america get further and further away each year. When I visited it was snowing which made it all the more better.

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Thingvelir National Park... with snow!!

Thingvellir National Park… with snow!!

Dat snow doe

Dat snow doe

Gulfoss

Gulfoss

Gulfoss Selfie

Gulfoss Selfie

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  • Snorkelling in Lake Silfra – Cost – 17000ISK = £87

You cannot come to Iceland and not dive in between the 2 tectonic plates of Europe and America, No other place in the world can you do this. Some of the clearest water you will ever swim in, coldest and the coolest. your lips will pretty much instantly swell up and after around 40 minutes your hands will start to hurt even with the 2 different suits you have on, And at the end we were aloud to jump off the rocks into the lake (I’m scared of heights but didn’t wanna seem like a pussy, i’d already nearly cried at the northern lights I had no more man cards left and had to jump). This was an amazing and unforgettable day.

Turn down for what!

Looking like Pete Burns

So the sound from my video was not there, so I chose a YouTube song that was the best of the bunch but somehow sounds like the background music for a German porno, But when life gives you lemons….

 

  • Glacier Trek – Cost – 20000ISK = £102

Unless you’re travelling to Argentina or Chile that have incredibly impressive Glaciers too then this is a must do, parts of the ice are still black from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption and the glacier is eroding more and more every year so best to do this before its no longer here. just be careful as It really is slippy even with crampons as the woman who hit the ice with her face demonstrated in front of me. There are many Glaciers in Iceland but whichever you pick won’t disappoint.

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Black volcanic ash still covers glaciers from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption

Black volcanic ash still covers glaciers from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption

  • Blue Lagoon – Cost – 9000ISK = £46

You will undoubtedly be doing a lot of adventure activities in Iceland, Its pretty much the only reason to come hear, so the Blue Lagoon is the perfect place to relax at the end of your trip. And because Iceland is always awesome, of course when they have spa’s they are located in lava fields and are geothermally powered with water that is rich in silica and sulphur which is apparently really good for the skin.

It may be good for the skin, but I feel like ive been involved in an adult film... and not a good one

It may be good for the skin, but I feel like ive been involved in an adult film… and not a good one

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  • Baejarins Beztu Pylsur – Cost – 380ISK = £1.95

Not only does Iceland have amazing nature but its food is incredible too, Best hot dog I have ever had. Made famous by Bill Clinton eating here I suspect, this really is the best fast food in Reykjavik. Located by the tour guide car park in the city centre you will never be too far away for one of these bad boys. I don’t like onions but the cronions (crispy onions) they provide are like sex for the taste buds. You will see copies of this hot dog stand all around town but this is the best and original.

  • Hallgrimskirkja Church – Cost – 600ISK = £3

The best view of Reykjavik is from the top of Hallgrimskirkja Church and looks a little like a rocket from certain angles. The inside is just as beautiful, free to enter but for a small fee you can take the elevator to the top and get the best view of the city

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  • Get Lost – Cost = Free

Reykjavik has a lot of street art, I have seen street art in a lot of places now (Greece for example has some amazing street art) and I’m a big fan. The government have demolished a lot of the art now which is why you will need to go out and explore but its definitely worth it. Its a very safe place too so don’t be afraid to go down alleyways or dodgy looking streets as these are often where you will find the best art.

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Recommended

It was actually difficult to separate the must do’s from the recommended as I felt most of the things on this post are must do’s so I still highly recommend all of the below.

  • Imagine Peace Tower – Cost = Free

One of the reasons I visited Reykjavik in October was so I could be there on 9th October, This is when Yoko Ono visits Videy Island and Reykjavik powers (using a geothermal energy grid unique to Iceland of course) the well that fires 15 searchlights into the sky in honour of John Lennon and his quest for world peace. Around the tower are the words IMAGINE PEACE written in 24 different languages. I was embarrassingly racist during my visit taking a photo of who I figured was Yoko Ono posing next to the well when in fact it was just a normal Asian person visiting the island, I was so excited I said “ooh Yoko Ono” only for a woman next to me to give me the weirdest look imaginable (That was the moment I knew it wasn’t Yoko)

  • Whale Watching – Cost – 8500ISK = £43

I knew coming to Iceland in October that I wouldn’t have a great chance of seeing whales as its usually too cold, but the tour company Elding (I do recommend using) offered the cheapest price and also if you don’t spot any whales or dolphins you can basically keep going back on the tour for free until you do spot them. On my first trip we didn’t spot any and trust me its not nice sitting on a cold ass boat rocking around for hours, you do get given massive overalls to keep you warm but it still ain’t fun. luckily the 2nd time around I did see 2 whales and a number of dolphins who continued to go under the boat and perform tricks for us, They really do interact with the boat. And im glad I went on the tour in the end but just beware if you do go in the colder months of Iceland then it will be difficult to spot any whales.

  • Exploring Cave Leidarendi – Cost – 10000ISK = £50

Cave exploring was an interesting day, I was essentially adopted by 3 hilarious Asian woman and goated into doing an incredible amount of photos with them (which I secretly enjoyed). I also became part hero helping the older generation navigate the caves. There isn’t anything amazing here but this is a pretty cool day especially seeing the dead sheep carcass at the end that got lost in the cave. Note there is a lot of ass to face time here and also if you’re claustrophobic it may not be for you.

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  • Tommi’s Burger Joint

Cool little place to get a cheap burger, cheap for Reykjavik anyway. Located just near the docks its incredibly easy to miss and actually looks like a public toilet or maybe an underground passing but the vibe inside is really cool. The burger itself is pretty decent (supposedly the best in Iceland but I cant vouch for that) so if you’re in need of a burger i’d definitely stop here.

  • Hlöllabátar

Boats (Subs, Sandwiches) are right up there with the hotdogs of Iceland for me and Hlolla battar and Nonnabiti are the 2 most famous places to go. Hlolabattar has now become a little too mainstream for me, reminds me of a major fast food chain but it still does an awesome lamb boat.

  • Nonnabiti

Nonnabiti is a little less known than hlollabatar and is my favourite place to get a lamb boat, makes my mouth water just thinking about it. I would actually eat here over any other place in Reykjavik if I had the choice.

  • Harpa Concert Hall – Cost = Free

Harpa concert hall is another example of Scandinavian architecture, made pretty much from all glass its really cool to explore the inside. At night the concert hall is lit up and looks really cool.

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  • The Perlan – Cost = Free

The Pearl or the perlan is a glass rotating dome on top of 6 hot water storage tanks, at the top is a nice restaurant that rotates 360 degrees in 2 hours and a viewing deck where you can get a pretty nice view of Reykjavik.

  • Sun Voyager – Cost = Free

A cool sculpture near the Harpa concert hall that is definitely worth a visit for some nice photos with Mount Esja in the background.

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  • Tjornin Lake – Cost = Free

If you have time to spare and fancy a relaxing walk Tjornin lake is nice, lots of ducks and swans to feed and sculptures around to see.

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  • Experience the nightlife – Cost = Free

We all pre drink at home because its a lot cheaper than buying drinks in clubs and bars but if there was ever a place to pre drink its here, as with most Nordic countries alcohol is very expensive. Up until 1989 most alcohol was illegal in Iceland and now its legal everybody is making up for it, As with England make sure you only go out after 12 or you will never see the real nightlife of Iceland

Useful Information

  • Currency

£1 = 195.12 Icelandic Krona

  • Visa Information

No Visa requirements for citizens of the UK

  • Language

Icelandic is obviously spoken throughout the country, But a lot of people speak english and had no troubles getting by.

  • Cash Machine’s

Cash machines are very easy to find in Iceland and are dotted around everywhere, you are never more than a 5-10 minute walk away from one.

  • Getting to/from the Airport

Pretty much the only option from Keflavik airport is to get the flybus, you can book in advance online or just show up and pay at the ticket office (Im sure its a little more expensive on the day) don’t pay any more than £25 for a return ticket. If you would like to save as much money as possible you can get the flybus to the BSI terminal which is a little cheaper but you then have to walk about 15-20 minutes to the center

  • Free Wifi

Wifi hotspots in Reykjavik was pretty similar to Norway and if you desperately need to find Wifi it shouldn’t be too difficult to find, But I would always recommend downloading important information at your hostel

  • Jabs/Vaccinations

No jabs needed for UK Citizens

Likely Purchase’s

  • Hot Dog – 380ISK = £1.95
  • Beer – 900-1000ISK = £4.50-5
  • Bread – 250ISK = £1.30
  • Water – 150-200ISK = £0.70-£1

Summary

Safety Rating – 10/10 – Nordic countries have a reputation for being safe and Iceland is no different.
Type of trip – Adventure, Nature, Food Lover
Price Bracket – Expensive

Recommended Length of Stay – 7-10 Days is a reasonable amount of time to comfortably fit in everything I think.

Hitchhiking Rating – N/A – I have not hitchhiked here but Nordic countries tend to be pretty good when it comes to hitchhiking, the only downside in Iceland is that you may not see cars for a while in between rides but when you do 1 road seems to link up with the rest so 1 ride might be all you need.

Couchsurfing Rating – N/A – Not Couchsurfed in Reykjavik but I did meet a friend here who hosts and surfs often and there is quite an active community here.

Overall Rating – 9/10 – Iceland was the place that started it all for me, It really is an incredible land and not many places like it in the world, It made me fall in love with travelling. The only reason I give it a 9 instead of a 10 is because to get the most out of Iceland it will become expensive compared to other places, But if you have planned it properly you can guarantee it will become one of your favourite destinations.

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