At the end of 2017 I had the pleasure of spending a week in Reykjavik. It was my mum’s 60th and she had always wanted to go so we thought it was a lovely surprise for her. So off me, my mum and brother went!
It was December therefore winter with only around 5 hours of daylight, the temperature is typically between -2 and +3 degree C at that time, and frozen but we found it dry.
This is one of the trips I get asked about the most and since the visit I have continuously promised to write my tips. Don’t say I don’t keep you in suspense…
The painful bit
I’m going to start with the thing we all avoid. The price. Iceland is not a cheap trip, I probably spent about £1,000 when I was there (in 4 nights/5 days) but I was covering the cost for myself + 2 others. I had also pre-booked all excursions. The accommodation was 755 euros for the 4 nights, were around another £350 per person flying from Manchester.
We then spent maybe £150 each on the excursions (which we booked in advance)
Overall total cost for 5 days worked out around £1,100 per person. But it was worth it…
Food and drink is expensive when you are there, but most places do happy hour so look out for those for drinks and food, take a water bottle with you as there are lots of refill points and there is WiFi everywhere!
Where we stayed
We booked the Raddison Blue Saga, it was around 30 minutes from the airport and the location was fantastic meaning we could walk to all parts of Reykjavik we wanted to (the main town and the old town). It was also very comfortable and had everything we needed.
We did the following:
- Whale Watching in Faxafloi Bay: We booked this through special tours and they provided all wet suits! However all the whales have migrated in the winter, so we didn’t see any (although my mum saw some lovely dolphins she says). The sea was incredibly rough, so me and my brother actually spent the full 3 hours throwing up on the bottom deck praying for it to end… I guess this one isn’t in my must recommend.
All of the excursions we booked through Grey Line Iceland which were fabulous and I would really recommend:
- Northern Lights Mystery Tour: 8PM English Commentary: This is a very late-night trip (so rap up warm) and I’d advise you to do it as early on in your trip as if it’s not possible to see the lights they will take you out again (and again) to try and give you another chance. We did see a flash of the lights, but sometimes they are hard to see with the naked eye too. I downloaded an app called Northern Lights Photo Taker which I’d strongly recommend you download before you go!
- Golden Circle Tour: 10:30 am: The time of this was perfect, it is in fact incredible and was my favourite part of the whole trip. It’s a 7 hour tour and you to the Thingvellir National Park (climb down into the hills, but make sure you’re steady on your feet and have good grip), Gullfoss (again very icy but AMAZING) and Geysir, we also stopped at a random little church on the way back and had a tour of the catacombs which was one of those experiences that knocked me speechless. They also pick you up and drop you off at your hotel and there are cafes etc on route!
- Blue Lagoon
I’m going into quite a lot of detail here around what you get and costs (in 2017) so skip past if you’re not planning a visit, however it is truly beautiful and despite being a busy tourist destination they don’t over crowd, so you’ll be able to find your own space. A lot of people do this as part of their route back to the airport as I think with some companies you can book to do this and take cases etc too.
- Make sure you book in advance, early admission means you can stay all day if you want to
- In winter head there early for 9am and see the sunrise and then you can stay until sunset too, it’s beautiful
- The facilities are great there, you get complimentary shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, cotton wool, moisturiser, ear bugs, bars for wet swim suits and hair dryers.
- You can rent bath robes for 1400ISK and the same price for flip flops and it’s 700ISK for towel rental
- You’ll be given an electric wrist band to pay for things throughout the day. IT also controls your locker
- Within the admission costs is a complementary clay mud mask, you can also pay for an algae mask which is 450ISK.
- There is a swim up bar, and a restaurant and two cafes on site
- You have to shower naked before you get in the lagoon, there are shared showers and private cubicles if you’d prefer this.
- Arm bands are available for little ones for free
- You don’t have to walk outside to get into the pool (you go through a water walkway inside)
- There is a massage waterfall and saunas/steam rooms to use
- You can book additional spa treatments
- No smoking or vaping
- You can buy water proof phone cases c2100ISK (would recommend buying one on Amazon in advance)
Make sure you take a waterproof (and warm) coat, along with gloves, hat and scarf. You will also need thermal socks (and undies) along with waterproof walking boots (with a good grip!)