Hi, hello, how are you?
I am just about over the exhaustion that set in on returning from our weeklong trip to Iceland. Walking for the majority of the day, not getting to sleep until the wee hours (VERY rare for me, I’m normally fast asleep by 11pm) and waking up at 8am to repeat the process again… But, alas I am back on form and SO excited to get chatting all things Iceland!
Adam (the boyf) has been banging on about wanting to visit Iceland for pretty much the entire time I’ve known him so this trip has been in the works for some time now. We’ve been saving lots as it is bloody expensive, both on the run up AND while you’re there, but I think we pretty much nailed it with regards to filling our days with fantastic views, yummy food and generally awesome times!
Iceland is hands down one of the most magical places I’ve ever been, but do be warned; Iceland is bloody COLD at this time of year. Well duh the clue is in the name – said EVERYONE I’ve told since I’ve been back. I mean, their summers peak at 10 degrees so you can only imagine the minus’ we were going through. The pictures of snow and ice are a good indication as well … layer up guys and be prepared for some bitingly cold winds! … I got some very poorly cheeks when I was there 😔.
This post is our guide, everything we got up to and the photography attempts we made on an iPhone 6s, a Nikon D3100 and an Instax mini Polaroid (some of which were disasters as you will soon see). Honestly, everything within this post is truly worth a visit if you’re heading over there soon.
Grab a cuppa, it’s another long ‘un – enjoy!
WHERE TO STAY/ FOSS HOTEL LIND
The place we stayed was lovely and only minutes from the main shops, eateries and drinkeries as well as a short walk to the coast and two of the most notorious Icelandic pieces of art. The rooms were gorgeous, the staff were incredibly helpful and friendly and for breakfast they had a waffle maker so I was sold! The one thing I have to warn you about though are the showers, it’ll be the same situation more or less everywhere you go in Iceland. Basically, all their warm water comes straight from the ground and passes through geothermal power plants; this results in the water smelling slightly of sulphur (eggy) it’s not the best… but it’s definitely super pure so just imagine how good it is for your skin!
WHAT TO DO/ NORTHERN LIGHTS
Mentioning our trip to people on the run up resulted in a lot of Northern Lights talk, and of course attempting to see them was a MUST for us. On our first night we booked on to a bus tour with an Icelandic lady who was so full of energy and determined to find us at least a glimpse of the lights.
…Turns out seeing the them is quite a difficult feat. There are a lot of factors to consider when looking for them. The sky has to be clear, certain areas get better views and the fact that it’s purely nature means even on a perfect night they might not show up.
With all this in mind, we set off searching at 8pm, it was fairly dark and fairly cold. Four hours, three different locations later and several degrees colder, we found ourselves looking up at the smallest smudge of green etched into the sky. (Prior to this we got ridiculously over excited about a large expanse of reddish light that turned out to be light pollution…good thing we had the Icelandic lady🙈😂). I must admit it was fairly disappointing compared to the epic pictures you see online…
We got back on the bus and started heading back down the hill when our excited Icelandic lady squealed for the bus driver to pull over, we all piled out and there it was. BEAUTIFUL. The pictures I tried to take, as you can see, really don’t do justice to what we saw. I think the Northern Lights are something everyone has to see with their own eyes at some point in their lives – there really is nothing else like it.
WHAT TO DO/ PERLAN & BLUE LAGOON
Perlan is a sweet little museum/lookout point that was our ice cave compromise. Aka I was far too terrified to go into an actual ice cave where I’d have to ice pick myself over ravines and more than likely slip and fall to my doom (I’m not exactly good on my feet – Bambi is better on ice than me.) Adam was still determined we had to see one and Perlan is home to Iceland’s very own fake ice cave. Made of real ice, it is freezing cold and safe for me. Perfect. It was really cool (excuse the pun) as we ducked and shimmied around it, we got to take some awesome pictures too.
Moving on to the top floor we got to go outside on a 360 balcony and look down at the entire city of Rykjavik. It’s like no city I’ve visited before, the houses are so quaint, nothing like the skyscraper filled concrete jungles I’m used to.
To get warm again and before our next stop we hit up Perlan’s little café, I had a yummy chai latte and Adam tried Iceland’s popular orange soda Applesin.
On our final day we decided to spa it out at the Blue Lagoon; another must from everyone back home. And yes, it was very much well worth the visit. Especially after all the walking we’d done earlier in the week! On entering we were given towels, robes and headed to lather our hair up with the leave in conditioner provided (the sulphur in the water and steam in the air dries out hair hella bad). Then we met back in the cold air, shed our robes and scurried into the MASSIVE and lusciously warm expanse of water.
Included in our pack was one free drink from the bar (try the Skyr smoothies for the ultimate health kick… orrrrr maybe a glass of bubbly is more your speed 😉) you can swim directly up to it and can have more drinks and pay at the end if you so wish. Also in the pack is a Silica Mud Mask that judging from the breakout I had after, worked wonders on bringing out dirt! We both agreed we could have stayed in here a lot longer than we did – it was so so chill.
WHAT TO DO/ GOLDEN CIRCLE TOUR
A truly amazing must go on tour!
Each guide seems to be slightly different as our guy kept saying he wanted to take us to extra places not on the planned route – little add ons that truly made the day a dream. We saw several stunning waterfalls, including the breath-taking famous Gullfoss, the rock face that was used as the wall in Game of Thrones, Kerio, the famous volcanic crater lake and the amazing Geysir, to name just a few.
Add ons included stopping off at a cute little dairy farm to see the baby cows, play with the resident dogs and eat the tastiest, freshest Amaretto flavoured ice cream. A little further on we stopped at a group of horses who you could feed from little treat tub hidden in a nearby cupboard. Ultimately heart-warming and these guys knew EXACTLY who to go to for treats before you’d even got a handful!
WHAT TO DO/ SHOPPING, SUN VOYAGER & IMAGINE PEACE TOWER
My biggest love here shopping wise was the vintage shops, particularly the kilo one right round the corner of our hotel, Fatamarkadurinn. Here in the UK vintage is such a big thing that a lot of big cities are really milking the prices. In Iceland however the prices are AMAZING they’re so affordable! I got myself half a kilo (gotta watch the baggage weight an’all) which consisted of two super soft silky shirts and a varsity style t-shirt. I paid 3,500 Krona (yeah the prices freak me out too) but that equates to just £22. I mean, what a bargain?!
A little further down the main road was another one, Spuutnik. The coloured zip up leather jackets really caught my eye in there, as did the check stuff… and who am I kidding much much more. This one was a little more on the pricey side but definitely worth looking in as the quality is AMAZING and there really are some stunning one of a kind pieces.
Another couple of things that are worth a peek are the two beautiful artworks you’ll find when walking along the coast. The first is a well known classic Icelandic monument, the Sun Voyager. A large metal boat-shaped sculpture built in 1990 by Jon Gunnar Arnason that is often described as a dreamboat or an ode to the sun. Arnason intended it to convey the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom💕.
The second is the Imagine Peace Tower by Yoko Ono in honour of her late husband John Lennon. It can only be seen at night from mainland Iceland as it is an epic beam of light that shines straight up to the sky. If you visit the Vioey Island in Kollafjordur Bay (unfortunately we didn’t have time) you can see that the white stone monument base has ‘Imagine Peace’ carved in 24 different languages as well as a message from Ono, ‘I dedicate this light tower to John Lennon; my love for you is forever; Yoko Ono; October 9th 2007’.
And did you know (I certainly didn’t) that buried beneath this base are over 1 million written wishes Ono gathered from another project. The tower is lit every year from October 9th (Lennon’s birthday) to December 8th (the day he was shot).
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK / BRASS KITCHEN & BAR
The first night we had to grab food quick before heading to the Northern Lights so we thought play it safe, why not get an English (and turns out Icelandic favourite too), fish and chips. Sorry England but WOW were these the BEST fish and chips I have ever had! The vinegar was in a spray bottle (genius!) and the mushy peas were so nice and smooth even a mushy pea hater (like me..) was ALL for it! The lager they have on tap was great too! – so refreshing although they don’t serve beer in pints… instead it’s a glass of 40cl which sucks for how much they are but this is similar near enough everywhere – I guess its just how they do.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK/ LE BISTRO
Omg! So anyone who knows me knows that I am IN LOVE with cheese and this place had a cheese fondue on offer. God knows why but I have never had a cheese fondue before this point … now I am an official fondue convert! I truly stuffed myself silly but it was worth it. With never ending bread and potatoes to dip in the cheese (they would bring out more for free if you really wanted it) and the biggest, tastiest salad to go on the side – it was so so scrumptious. My final accompaniment was my all time favourite cocktail… an espresso martini. Boy was it delish!
WHERE TO EAT/ SVARTA KAFFIO
If you haven’t already guessed by any pre knowledge you may have (or my repetition in this post) it was FREEZING over in Iceland and we were seeing soup everywhere. One that particularly caught our eye was this one. With a sign out front claiming to sell the best soup in the city and a mouth-watering image of soup encased in a bowl of bread, we were sold and headed on in. I have never had soup in a bowl of bread before but I now really want to make my own. We could dip the lid and the innards before tearing more off the further we got done the level of soup. This place only ever has two things on the menu – some type of meat soup and some type of veg (which was A-MAZING btw) so it might not be for everyone but we definitely loved it and it had such a laid back atmosphere, so warm and cosy compared to what we were facing outside – it was perfect.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK/ HLEMMUR MATHOLL
How we only discovered this place on our second to last day I do not know but it was amazing! Similar to what we found earlier this year in Berlin it was like the coolest Insta worthy market selling all sorts of things to eat and drink, for lunch or dinner – so we had both! (Not on the same day we came back a day later.) First I had a cat dog (a vegan hot dog … I don’t know how I feel about the name either…) for lunch which was so yummy. Then we came back in an evening when I had some FAB cocktails (a fruit punch and a moscow mule) with a pho bowl that was never-ending! I definitely got my moneys worth on that one. There’s also shops that sell coffee, baked goods, tacos, burgers, soups, open sandwiches, full lamb dinners, the list goes on! This market is a must, whether you go once or enough times to try every place. At night it has such an amazing vibe, packed with people (so come early to get a spot!) all chatting and buzzing around, it’s definitely a place to see how the locals live.
And there we have it! Our stunning little autumnal trip to Reykjavik, Iceland. Five days, a heck load of walking and even more eating – heavenly! Everything mentioned in this post I would urge you to add to your list of things to do whilst in this beautiful place, we adored each and every one of them.
We had the most incredible trip and whilst we won’t be heading to Iceland for a while now. We’ve both agreed it is somewhere we do want to go back, possibly in summer and explore some more. If you’ve always wanted to visit it’s a place I definitely recommend, it is so pretty and for sure one of the most memorable places to holiday.
If you’ve already been and think there are more places you can recommend for both myself and other readers feel free to share in the comments below and do let me know what you think to this little guide, I truly hope you found it useful!
(This keyring is from the CUTEST Icelandic cartoon – Tulipop.)
And finally… some slight polaroid fails to the right 🙈😂.