So last month I went to Iceland and a lot of people asked me how I packed everything in to my trip, especially when Iceland is known for being notoriously expensive. I only went there for 3 nights and had 3 whole days to play with thanks to decent flight times. While there is an unlimited amount of beauty and things to see and be in awe of, a short trip can still pack a lot of activities in if you’re really committed to doing as much as you can (and willing to sacrifice some sleep).
So here is my itinerary of what I did while I was there:
Day 1 – Get your bearings Day
11.00am – landed at Keflavik International Airport. Be warned, the airport is a 45 minute drive to Reykjavik so you will need to factor this into your travel time and pre-book your transfers.
12.30pm – arrived at our hotel which was approx. 20 minutes outside of Reykjavik city in Hafnarfjordur (see my next post for the pros and cons of this)
1.00pm – settled into our room and gather hotel information. Collect as many maps and local information from the reception/hotel staff as possible, they are so approachable and more than happy to help and give you advice to make the most of your stay.
2.00pm – walked out into the local area to get our bearings. This is not only useful but a great way to see and feel more of the local life and surroundings – more than just the stereotypical tourist routes. Use this opportunity to find the nearest supermarket and bus stop.
5.00pm – ate dinner, this was included for the first night in our hotel package.
6.00pm – We were collected from the hotel by our excursion company – Reykjavik Excursions., for the Northern Lights Tour. This is a long tour and although we were fortunate enough to see the lights, they are not predictable and people are often disappointed, return to the hotel is between 12.00 – 1.00am.
Day 2 – Scenic landmarks Day
7.00am – up early for breakfast before being collected again for the Golden Circle Tour excursion. After only 5 hours sleep and the exhausting cold of the previous night, this tour is 8-9 hours long – prepare to be very tired! The itinerary for this trip varies due to the tour operator and the weather but there are 3 main stops – the Geysirs, Gullfloss Waterfall and Pfellingvir National Park where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. Of course the scenery throughout the whole trip is breathtaking.
5.00pm – returned to the hotel. Went out to a local bar to try the Icelandic beer (check out my next post for getting the most out of food and drinks prices).
9.00pm – an early night to recover from our manic two days and to prepare for another early start!
Day 3 – Reykjavik Day
7.00am – up early again for breakfast, make sure you try the Icelandic porridge, I don’t know what they do to it but it is beautiful and fills you up for a good day, especially because on this day there was a snow storm in the morning and the warmth was needed!
8.00am – got the local bus from outside the hotel to Reykjavik city centre. It took about 40 minutes – 20 minutes more than the direct route because it covers the local residential roads. I love taking local bus services rather than tourist transport or taxis because you see more of the un-touristy parts of the country, away from the main drag.
9.00am – we walked along the main shopping street area (Laugavegur) with the beautiful original buildings and icelandic shops. Then we walked out on the frozen lake in front of the Town Hall. Walk around and see the places you want earlier in the day before it gets too busy.
10.00am – we hopped on a City Sightseeing tour (having preplanned our route the night before). Although these are considered very touristy, for only around £20 a ticket, you can get around the entire city as many times as you like in 24 hours, and see the main sights with a very informative cultural and historical commentary. We used this as our primary means to get around the city for the whole day and to get to the main things we wanted to, including – Harpa, Hallgrimskirkja, the Harbour, the Reykjavik Museum and our lunch stops.
3.00pm – we stopped for our last meal in Reykjavik where we decided to splash out and go to a seafood tapas restaurant in the harbour area called Casa Grande, which was very expensive but I can 100% recommend with its beautiful views over the sea and mountains and tasty, well-presented food.
5.00pm – got the City Sightseeing bus to the bus station where we got on our last excursion for an evening trip to the Blue Lagoon hot water springs.
6.00pm – arrived at the beautiful Blue Lagoon which looks just as spectacular in its well-lit, steamy network of pools as it does during the daytime. Complimentary drinks at the in-water bar and towels/entry/mud mask/anti-silica shampoo/goodie bag are included in the ticket.
9.00pm – the brilliant Reykjavik excursions picked us up and returned us to directly to our hotel and we were lucky enough to see the Northern Lights on the journey back.
Day 4 – Leaving Day
8.00am – breakfast and pick up from our hotel for transfers back to the airport and our flight at 11am.
[all pictures my own]