Today We bring you to … Reykjavík
Iceland or Ísland in Icelandic
The land of Fire and Ice, the home of the Vikings and known for it’s beautiful landscapes of volcanoes and hot springs!
A land of glaciers, geysers, craters and no forests.
One of the most eco-friendly countries in the world, running on geothermal power and a country which also enjoys a very low crime rate.
A population of less than half a million (most of whom live in Reykjavik), with low unemployment and people who I found to be very friendly (despite some things you may read online).
Is it worth a visit there – absolutely yes!
I traveled to Iceland with WOW air (now sadly gone bust) but you can still get there with Icelandair, the journey takes about two and a half hours direct from Dublin. Iceland was not what I expected. When one looks it up online you’re hit with image after image of the most amazing scenery and sights it would appear to be some otherworldly place. Not that these sights don’t exist – they do – and are definitely worth seeing – be prepared though for a bit of a trek getting to them! For example – there can be a lot of this!
Kilometre after kilometre of moss covered lava rock. Interesting for a bit, but after a few hours on a bus with little else to distract you, it can make for a long journey to your destination! Make sure to bring a book.
The capital is Reykjavík. A small city, it’s easy to navigate and has some interesting sights to see, pretty in places, although to my mind, could definitely do with a cash injection and some sprucing up!
It also has some rather interesting museums and stores too! No prudes please:)
Peculiar : Icelandic Phallological Museum
Founded in 1997 by since-then retired teacher Sigurður Hjartarson and now run by his son Hjörtur Gísli Sigurðsson.
The museum claims that its collection includes the penises of elves and trolls, though, as Icelandic folklore portrays such creatures as being invisible, they cannot be seen.
For the more traditional experience see The Saga Museum (Iceland’s history), Perlan (wild Icelandic nature), Reykjavik Maritime Museum, Culture House (paintings & sculptures), The Icelandic Punk Museum (let’s not forget their iconic Björk ) and many more.
I was only there for three nights but still managed to find some really great food! From high end to budget – it has it all and it’s really very good! My absolute favourite was Matwerk, where they served up some seriously delicious food and I enjoyed my first ever taste of Char (quite like wild salmon!) there.
Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) is a cold-water fish in the Salmonidae family , native to alpine lakes and arctic and subarctic coastal waters. It spawns in fresh water where they return from the ocean to their fresh water birth rivers.
Be warned – it wasn’t cheap! For more budget fare, I enjoyed a thoroughly tasty large bowl of noodle soup at one of the local Chinese eateries for € 10.
As is well known, Iceland’s landscapes are a marvel, here are some of them:
There are so many natural wild and wonderful sights to see in Iceland. The easiest way might perhaps to be to hire a car and a GPS and off you go – take your time (depending on how much of it you have of course). For me, I booked a tour bus which took all the hassle out of it and booked one of the Golden Circle Tours – they’re pretty all encompassing and I felt well worth it.
Driving out of Reykjavik and given the persistent grey and cloud cover, I sometimes felt like I hadn’t left Ireland at all! But that was soon to change.
The Kerid Crater was not just fascinating, but beautiful. The colours (the photos doing them no justice) were amazing. This is a 3000 year old volcanic crater lake. You can easily hike around the rim of it if the mood takes you and there are steps down to the water. Please note though that you cannot swim in it!
Next up were the steamy lands of the Geysers! A fascinating sight to behold! (not to mention the ‘interesting’ smell of sulphur that surrounds them! Little pools and some very large pools, of bubbling hot water – you wouldn’t want to stand too close, as you never know when one will just erupt in front of you! At 80 to 100 degrees Celsius (even hotter below the surface) you could be in for a nasty burn.
Pingvellir National Park was the last stop of the day. The park sits in a rift valley caused by the separation of two tectonic plates, with rocky cliffs and fissures like the huge Almannagjá fault. It’s an enjoyable hike around and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Another day’s adventure took me to the Blue Lagoon! In my opinion, Iceland is worth visiting for this alone!!! It is most definitely up there in one of the most sumptuous, alternative experiences of my life. I cannot describe properly how it feels to step into this hot milky blue pool of water. Make sure to avail of all the mud freely available – my skin was positively radiant after it (as it costs an arm and a leg if you’re to purchase it to take home – so make the most of it!!!). Again, this place is not cheap! But oh! So worth it 🙂
I went to Iceland to see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis – sadly I did not. Unfortunately the weather just wasn’t playing ball. I believe the best time to go to see the phenomenon is September through to March and not during a full moon.
Where to stay?
As in all cities there are plenty of options to choose from ranging from top end to budget accommodation, but again, nothing is cheap in Iceland – nothing!!
I’ve never, ever stayed in a hostel (and never have since), but given the tight budget I was on at the time (and sure it was only a short stay) I decided I’d give it a go!
It looked quite like a warehouse from the outside, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the Galaxy Hostel. Inside was very modern, very well laid out, quite funky and really had everything one could need. The kitchen was clean and compact (you can even drink the water directly from the tap) and the bathrooms were even better! The showers had lovely modern cubicles with excellent water pressure – and all the privacy you could possibly want.
There were various sleeping arrangements to choose from but I chose to go for a Pod.
Yes it was a little on the tight side, but it had a light, mirror, electrical sockets and best of all – no-one watching me sleeping! You might still want to bring earplugs with you though.
- Book a return fare to and from the airport with Flybus. It’s very efficient, stops at plenty of hotels (including the
- Galaxy Hostel) and will save you a small fortune in taxi fares.
- Book early – hotels can book up to six months in advance.
- Book your spot at The Blue Lagoon as soon as you’ve booked your flights! (Perhaps even check it’s available before booking your flights!)
- Budget – the bills can rack up to a considerable amount if you spend willy nilly. Plan what you want to see, how you’re going to see it and the cost of doing so.
- Tours are expensive, but if you’re short on time they’re a great way to pack it all in and make sure you don’t miss the hotspots. If you have time on your hands (more than three nights), rent a car and move around.
Njóttu og öruggra ferðalaga!
Thanks to Fiona who sent us all the information and pics about her holiday.
See you for the next city, bring your luggage …