Iceland has been somewhere I’ve wanted to come for years, ever since my Geography days in school. It’s certainly a trip we will both never forget and a place that I think everyone needs to see once. For those asking, we booked everything separately, we didn’t go through a travel agent. I’m going to break it up into sections so it’s easier to read, then I’ll write my TOP TIPS and lastly a list of MUST HAVE things to bring for the trip. I think that will have you covered for your Icelandic trip.
FLIGHTS & ACCOMMODATION
We booked our flights directly with Iceland Air directly and our accommodation using Booking.com. We stayed in the Skuggi hotel in the centre of Reykjavík. We had actually booked the Fossatun Camping Pod’s initially back in October but in the end we decided to stay in the hotel in Reykjavik incase of bad weather etc. The pods we actually drove by on the second day heading to the glacier and as great as they would be to see the northern lights, they really were in the middle of nowhere. The hotel we stayed in was nice, very basic but we weren’t really ever there so it was fine. They had complimentary continental breakfast which was great and they had free garage parking for your car which was handy especially for the cold icy mornings you didn’t have to get the ice off your windscreen. Personally next time I would rent an apartment and I’d recommend that to anyone going also. This will save you a fortune on the cost of food and drink. I’m all for the luxury life but the food and drink was extortionate in Iceland which you can read more about below.
Cost of Flights
€530 for two people
Cost of Accommodation
€627 for two people for four nights
RENTING A CAR/DRIVING IN ICELAND
We rented a car with Sixt car rental so when we landed at the airport we just got a short 5min shuttle ride to the car rental centre. They explained everything to us in regards to roads, weather etc. Timmy who were dealing with was super quick, really efficient, just a simple chat and we were away. You do need a credit card for booking the car and on arrival to the car rental centre. Make sure to get the car full cover for damages just incase too. Better safe than sorry I say. Just so you know your phone will work over there like normal as it’s within the EU so no extra charges & you don’t have to rent a sat nav with the car. If you use your cable in the car, google maps will come up on the car. I personally think it’s better to rent a car as we got to make our own itinerary. It’s not a must but we saved money on airport transfers, taxi’s and bus tours. If we went back to Iceland again I’d rent a car again.
The driving was actually fine for us. The roads weren’t that bad. The only day it was bad was morning going to the airport on the last day. There was a few sketchy patches up at Husafell the more into the centre of Iceland we got but other than this, it was fine. I know it can be touch and go depending on the time of year you go.
Cost of Car Rental
€308 which included full tank of petrol & extra cover
It’s always good to have a plan but expect to change it depending on weather etc especially in somewhere like Iceland. Here’s what our itinerary was:
We drove straight from the airport to the
Blue Lagoon (only 20mins drive from the airport)
Into The Glacier & Snowmobile Tour
Lunch – Tomatoe Greenhouse
Perlan – Planetarium Show
Dinner in 360 Revolving Restaurant
THE BLUE LAGOON
We decided to go straight to the Blue Lagoon like a lot of people do as it’s just a short 20mins to the Blue Lagoon. As it was my birthday we decided to go all out and book the Retreat Spa package. The package consisted of the following:
- Use of the Retreat Spa
- Use of the Retreat Lagoon
- Private Changing Room
- The Blue Lagoon Ritual
- Skin Care Amenities
- A Drink of Your Choice
We had booked the 4 hour slot from 5-9pm, they did say if we wanted to could stay until 10pm as it was quiet which was nice. I didn’t really know what to expect at all, I’d read so much about it that I just wanted to get there and see it for myself. First thing we noticed as we drove up from the entrance was the water really is that crazy light blue colour and so beautiful. The Retreat part has a separate entrance as it’s connected to the hotel at the Blue Lagoon. The whole experience in a nutshell was magical. It really is such a luxurious experience and it would want to be for €280per person. Sean asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said this so he was happy. I love getting experiences for Christmas and my birthday. I just think it’s so better. We packed a small bag with our swimwear, clothes hat/gloves for afterwards and toiletries but we didn’t need anything else as it was all provided.
They talked us through the experience in detail and then showed us our private changing room. We had our own robes, slippers, toiletries, shower, hairdryer, straightener etc, everything we needed for after. We got into our swimwear and enjoyed 4 hours of pure relaxation. A fire room, 4 step Blue Lagoon masks for face/body, swimming in both the Retreat Lagoon & main lagoon, it really was heaven. Now did I think it was worth the money we paid? Yes and no. Like it was a special day & I would definitely do it for something like that but if just a regular trip, I’d keep your money for the Into the Glacier snowmobile tour instead. If you watched my stories, you’ll see me mention about the egg smell at the Blue Lagoon, nobody really tells you about this but it’s the sulphur in the water that gives it that rotten smell. Don’t get me wrong it’s a fabulous experience and most definitely a thing you have to do when in Iceland but just be prepared that is all 😉
Cost of Blue Lagoon
€280 Retreat Spa per person
You can get the regular package from only €50 per person. BOOK HERE
INTO THE GLACIER
After only 6 hours sleep, our alarms went off at 6.30am ready to head deep into the centre of Iceland for our tour into the glacier. We drove there ourselves and it took just under two hours. We made sure to leave extra time just incase of roads etc. The roads were fine the whole way up until we got closer to Husafell. The drive is so weird. The land is so barren and there really is very little on the drive up to it.
When we got there we went to the activity Center & got into our waterproof suits they provide you with along with your gloves, helmet and goggles. Something to NOTE that it can get up to -20 up at the glacier so you need to wear the right clothing. Thermal leggings and top, ski pants over the leggings, a second top over the thermal top and a jumper. I also recommend two pairs of socks also and good snow boots. The drive up to the glacier takes about 45 mins and the tour totals 3-4hrs all in. When you get there you’ve time to take in the scenery and it’s out of this world, cold but out of this world. Then they take you inside the glacier for an hour and show you around. It’s all man made inside which is impressive.
Afterwards you come out and go on the snowmobiles. Most of them had two people on them. This takes about an hour. The views as we drove on top of the glacier were just on another level. It was honestly a surreal moment and something I’ll never ever forget. A bucket list tick for sure but just a day I’ll put down in the books. I personally think that everyone needs to do this when they come to Iceland. We both had such a brilliant day and just arrived back to Husafell on such a high.
Cost of Into The Glacier & Snowmobile Tour
€219 per person
The tour we did was SNOWMOBILE AND INTO THE GLACIER COMBO TOUR.
I planned this day in such a way that we weren’t going round the world for a short cut. Our first stop was the furthest which was the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. This was about a 1hr 45 drive from Reykjavík. As we approached it, we could see it clearly. It was HUGE! The power of that water must be absolutely insane. What a sight. I’d never seen a more beautiful waterfall in my life. I’m obsessed with snow and ice so it was so cool to see. In the summer months, you can go behind it and apparently it is so amazing to see.
Our next stop was back an hour in the opposite direction to the Keriõ Crater. This was on my list also as I was dying to see it. I didn’t realise it would be actually totally frozen over. It was some sight and I have honestly never been as cold as I was up at the top of the crater. It was on another level of cold. We were up there for all of about 5 mins, saw it and came down.
From there we drove up to the Tomatoe Greenhouse which was only 20minutes away. You can read below my thoughts on this.
The Geysir was a further 20 minutes north and our last stop of the day. I actually didn’t know if we would see it but we did. It was so cool to see. It was baltic so we didn’t stay for long here either, literally 15minutes to see it come out of the ground and back in the car. So cool to see though.
Afterwards we drove home through Thingvellir National Park which was just WOW! I’m delighted we went home this way as we were driving for ages with nothing in sight. Barron land full of snow capped mountains and frozen lakes. It is well worth taking this route back to Reykjavík. We came across the most beautiful blue lake in the middle of the mountains and it was just such an insane sight to see.
Cost of the day
Waterfall – FREE
Keriõ Crater – €6 each
Lunch – €40 per person
Geysir – FREE
FOOD & DRINK
If you watched my stories or read my posts during my time there, you’ll know I kept going on about the price of food and drink. A starter was working out at €20 and a main minimum of €30 upwards. We went into a pub and a pint for Sean was €7.50. I obviously wasn’t drinking so it actually wasn’t too bad. Breakfast was included in our hotel stay so that was great and definitely saved us a bit. On the first day we had dinner in the Blue Lagoon which was really lovely but expensive.
The only restaurant I can whole heartedly recommend for dinner in Reykjavík is a small family fun business called, Resto. It was absolutely gorgeous and worth every cent we paid for it. That night we just got a main course as we were full from lunch. For two main courses, a glass of wine and a Coke Zero, it came to €82. It was so good that I wish we went back a second time now.
The other recommendation is to squeeze in lunch at the Friðheimar which is the tomatoe greenhouse. This was such a cool experience and while doing your Golden Circle day on your holiday, try squeeze it in. It’s a tomatoe greenhouse and you eat inside it. Everything is tomatoe based from Bloody Mary’s to Tomatoe Soup, Tomatoe Gin to Mussels in tomatoe sauce. For any tomatoe lover, it’s heaven and everything is so so fresh.
We went to the Perlan Revolving 360 restaurant on Valentine’s Day and it was such a beautiful setting but not worth the money we paid. I wouldn’t be an overly fussy eater but didn’t like the starter or the dessert. Sean loved him main but mine was only ok. We had a set menu for this and I did see that it was cheaper on a normal day however I still wouldn’t recommend it as I didn’t like the food.
Also the ‘World’s best hotdog’ Baejarins Beztu Pylsur isn’t really the worlds best hot dog at all, even though Business Insider and many more claim online. We both absolutely love hotdogs so I was intrigued but then disappointed as I’ve definitely tasted better. Don’t waste your money. As we both said, we didn’t come to Iceland for the cuisine, we came for the experience of the country.
Layers Mc Duff is what Sean called me. I had so many layers so to give you an idea. The necessities are:
- A lined hat
- A good pair of gloves
- A warm jacket. Long jackets would be much better especially for keeping you extra warm.
- Don’t bother with runners or normal boots, snow boots or trekking boots is what 99% of people wore, men included.
- You’ll need thick warm socks too. I wore two pairs of socks the whole time with my moon boots.
- Thermal leggings for under your jeans. I got mine in Penneys and they were great.
- If do the Snowmobile Tour, be prepared for the cold and I’m talking the coldest you’ll ever be. Wear thermal leggings under your trousers and a thermal long sleeve top under your normal top. I wore another top over this and a jumper on top of this and my suit they gave me.
Everyone is very casual including at night time in Reykjavík. A nice cosy knit, jeans and your snow boots are perfect. It’s very like a snow holiday, apres ski kind of vibe.
AOIBHE & SEAN’S TOP TIPS
He made sure I put his name too as he kept saying, now make sure you tell them I’m giving some tips too 🙂
- Rent an apartment over staying in a hotel
- Bring a waterproof pouch for your phone to the Blue Lagoon
- Rent a car with spikes on the tyres for grip on the road & make sure it has heated seats. You’ll thank me later.
- Have loads of petrol in the motor at all times
- Bring a power bank & cables in the car with you
- Keep your phone warm in your inner layers as it will just turn off in the cold if it gets too cold.
- Bring snacks from home like nuts, crisps, jellies.
- Get this coupon book below that gives you money off & two for one in certain bars/restaurants. This can be found in the lobby of your hotel.
I will add more to this post this week with FAQ’s that people have asked about the trip and Iceland.
I hope you find it helpful for anyone heading to Iceland and do let me know over on Instagram if you go to the places I’ve recommended. Love hearing feedback.
Love Aoibhe xxx