Reykjavik is a city you wouldn’t first think to visit, but after visiting you'd want to go back!
However, it has some beautiful buildings and colorful houses that are quite memorable. It is a nice city to make a hub while you tour around Iceland. Aside from being an easy city to navigate, it also offers a lot of fun activities for all seasons!
I went in October of 2019 with a friend of mine, and we stayed for 5 days touring around Iceland. Our trip was beautifully planned by a tour company. Here was our itinerary:
Day 1: The tour company picked us up from the airport and dropped us off at the hotel. We walked around the city to get acquainted and later that night we went to the Blue Lagoon. Yes, that one - where Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West went to visit. The lagoon bar was absolutely fabulous, you pay with a wrist band that they provide for you when you initially enter the spa! Therefore, it made it quick and easy to grab a drink and relax. I must say for an outdoor lagoon they kept the temperature very comfortable. The middle of October in Iceland you’d think would be unbearable but it really wasn’t anything I wasn’t used to coming from the Northeast of the United States. There was even a gust of hail coming down at one point, and I was in a bathing suit in the middle of this lagoon, yet still comfortable. After our laps around the pool and spa the bus took us back to the hotel.
Day 2: Today we went around the ‘Golden Circle’. You’ll see Þingvellir National Park where there is a beautiful view from atop a mountain and you are able to hike along a trail passing beautiful waterfalls. It is the site where the tectonic plates of Europe and America meet. Next, we were driven to Haukadalur, a geysir that you can watch again and again and always be amused. It erupts around every 5-10 minutes so you will have plenty of time to take pictures, walk around, and enjoy watching it a few more times. The next stop was at Gullfoss, a waterfall that is two-tiered and is just beautiful to watch. It is set in between large rocks that you can climb near and watch the water rush off the top. It is also parallel to a hiking trail that goes from the top all the way to the bottom down by the river. The last stop of the day, and my absolute favorite, was snowmobiling on the second largest glacier in Iceland! You board ‘Super Jeep’ which is the name of a gigantic motor vehicle that takes you to the snowmobiling site. Then the guides help you dress in riding gear and give you a lesson on how to drive the vehicle. They really are pros at getting people in gear and on the snowmobiles, thus maximising the riding time. They take you all around and stop where the ground and the horizon meet making it look like a white backdrop, perfect for the obligatory photoshoot. You ride in pairs and are able to take turns driving. After about an hour they take you to a nice warm cabin to regroup. Later that night we were scheduled for the northern lights tour but the forecast wasn’t great so the tour was canceled. The guides were very professional and kept us updated when the next prediction would be for the lights.
Day 3: We started our day with a local guide who was funny and very knowledgeable. When you wake up everyday at 7am for these tours, a great tour guide makes all the difference! We drove to our first destination: Seljalandsfoss waterfall. It was a waterfall you are not only able to walk up to, but also walk behind where you are between the water and the mountain. Next we went to Eyjafjallajökull glacier volcano that started stirring in 2010. Our guide told us personal stories about what his dad saw and noted, and it made the site so much more interesting. A little up the road was Mýrdalsjökull glacier, the most beautiful site I’ve seen in awhile. The temperature was nice, the clouds were clearing up and there was an iceberg placed in the center of the lake below. There was another group getting ready to hike up the glacier with their bright outfits and ice axes. Next we went to Reynisfjara beach, a very dangerous beach where tides can pull you and in a second you’re out at sea. The guides even warned us: ‘the waves at the beach are notoriously unpredictable and can easily come high upon land and sweep full grown men and women out to sea. Stay a safe distance away from the surf, never turn your back on the water, and never leave children unattended.’ Needless to say after all the warnings from guides, all the warning signs posted at the beach, and the lack of footprints anywhere near the surf, we inched our way to a rock cave. Along the beach are black pebbles/sand and a large cave where most people were standing inside to avoid the wind. The view from the rock cave is looking directly out at another rock formation closer to the beach. It is a beautiful sight to see when the sun sets!
Day 4: This was the Snæfellsnes Peninsula tour. It was another day of waterfalls, black pebble beaches, and lots of hot chocolate. It was a great day to wind down and see more of the countryside. We just heard more stories about Iceland and their culture. Also, that night we got a call from the tour company asking if we’d like to join a hunt for the northern lights. The next morning we had a flight to leave so my friend and I said ‘why not’ and hopped on the next bus out from the hotel. I really underestimated the ‘hunt’ but because of the precise location of the lights at any given time, you really have to search for them. Our truck was in communication with three other trucks that drove around a certain area where the lights were predicted to show. We met people that had done extensive research on the lights and were explaining everything along the way. Unfortunately, we didn’t see the lights in full effect, but we did get a small glimpse and that’s more than most can say! We also made two friends during that adventure and we still talk months later about our great Iceland adventures.
If you’re an outdoors kind of person who is looking for some nice views then Iceland is the place to be! This trip is for everyone: kids, young adults, adults, and retirees. The locals are so friendly and willing to help that it makes traveling so enjoyable. Having our plans printed and ready at the hotel when we arrived was so nice. The tour company provided all our transportation making more time to enjoy and less time worrying about directions.
The words I learned in Icelandic were 'Tak Tak ’ which is ‘Thank You’ and ‘Heitt Kókó’ which is ‘Hot Chocolate’.
If you want to relax and just be driven around - I would book the trip with an agency because it really saved time.
When planning this trip, I’d plan it with at least two weeks before leaving. There are some pretty good last minute deals but due to the organization of tours or sights you want to see, you’re going to need time to map it out.