‘A place where I felt feelings I never knew I had’- that’s how I would describe Iceland. In the lead-up to our afternoon departure, I had planned our days as meticulously as possible, wanting to make sure that we didn’t miss any opportunity. Yet, from the minute we arrived, we were truly in an adventure that I would never have been able to imagine, let alone plan: welcome to Iceland.
Following our stay in Iceland, I thought it would be helpful to give a breakdown of the costs and a few extra bits of information, including my top tips- hope you enjoy!
Top Tips: Budget- based on 2 people for 4 nights
- Flights (booked through EasyJet): £127 return each. Book as early as possible. I booked our flights a year in advance, ready for 30th December 2016. By the start of December the prices had gone over four times as much! Use Skyscanner to find the best airline deals.
- Insurance (booked through the Post Office): £34 overall. We possibly could have got this cheaper if we had shopped around, but we have never had any issues with this travel insurance so we just tend to stick to it.
- Airport Transfers in Iceland (booked through Reykjavik Excursions): £17 each. The journey takes an hour each way. The buses are timed with flights coming into/leaving the airport, meaning you will never be late or waiting around.
- Brattagata Guesthouse: £347 overall. Our accommodation was in the centre of Reykjavik, but it was a quiet road meaning we had completely undisturbed sleep. The guesthouse itself has room for two sets of visitors with a shared kitchen and bathroom. During our stay, however, we had the whole place to ourselves! The rooms were clean and homely, with lots of lovely pictures and books. Ingunn (the owner) is lovely. She was really inviting and set up a lovely breakfast for us each morning with loads of home-cooked delicacies. This breakfast was included in the price, which is also something I’d recommend as food is expensive in Reykjavik! Ingunn also gave us loads of tips on where to go and what to see (eg: going to the square for NYE fireworks, not spending money whale watching as it wasn’t the right season and checking out Harpa Concert Hall). Ingunn had great stories, and I think it’s really great to get a chance to chat with locals in this way as you find out things that you wouldn’t in a normal hotel!
- The Blue Lagoon (with Reykjavik Excursions transfers to and from Reykjavik, all booked through the Blue Lagoon website): £56 each. This price included towels, a set of testers from the spa shop and a drink each. You book your arrival time beforehand, but can catch any of the schedules buses back. We booked this in advance because we wanted to go on New Year’s Day and spaces to fill up quickly! We also booked it for early morning as we wanted to avoid the crowds as much as possible.
- Northern Lights Tour (with Reykjavik Excursions): £50 each. Awesome experience, made even better by the lovely guides. We had also booked a second tour which was cancelled due to poor weather, and we got our money refunded within a week.
- Golden Circle and Snowmobiling (with Reykjavik Excursions): £145 each (worth every penny).
- Food/drink money: £200 each. This was enough for our stay and we didn’t feel like we had to budget while there. We did buy a bottle of alcohol at the airport to avoid the high prices of drinks in Reykjavik! However something to remember is that, in Reykjavik, there’s no need to tip!
- Reykjavik Excursions: As we couldn’t afford car rental, we used this tour company for all our excursions and our airport transfers. The guides were kind and helpful, always going the extra mile to make sure that you have a great time. You definitely get what you pay for. The coaches are also really comfortable for the long drives.
Top Tips: Other Sights in Reykjavik
- The Old Harbour. We set aside a day to walk around Reykjavik and this beautiful harbour was where we started. It is really peaceful and full of photo ops with icy waters, fishermen, snow-covered paths and mountains views.
- Harpa Concert Hall. An architect’s and a photographer’s dream. Every part of the building is beautifully designed, and it was all influenced by the dramatic nature of Iceland! On top of this, it’s free to get in, although you can also buy tickets for the events/shows. There are also excellent views from upstairs (still free).
- Hallgrimskirkja Church. Stunning in general. You can also pay about £6 to take the lift to the top floor of the church which gives 360˚ views of Reykjavik.
- Tjornin Lake. A pond/lake in Reykjavik with hundreds of swans and ducks. In winter, it freezes over so you can walk across it as well!
- City Hall. Lots of information about Iceland and Reykjavik, including a 3D sculpture of the country.
- Walk around Reykjavik. This is another free one! There is so much to see, this city is stunning. You won’t regret it!
Top Tips: Food in Reykjavik
- Islenki Barinn. It was actually a local on one of the other tours that told us about this place, saying that they serve some of the best fish in Reykjavik. The bar has a comfortable atmosphere when you walk in. We were happy to find reasonably priced food and real ales, and ordered a taster selection board of these kindly picked out by the friendly waitress. It is also a great place to try out some local delicacies. We were brave and sampled Hárkarl- fermented shark cubes, usually washed down with a shot of Brennevin- an alcohol which translates as Black Death. We also tried smoked, dried fish with butter, reindeer burgers and burgers with cheese and bacon pancakes on top!
- The Laundromat Café. A lovely café in Reykjavik serving great, affordable, home-style food in a cosy, friendly atmosphere. We sat near the window, feeling really snug while it snowed outside. They also have loads of newspapers, magazines and books to read and a range of board games and cards. It is a great place to socialise with edgy décor and welcoming staff.
- Eldur & Is: A lovely little café in Reykjavik serving crepes. The sweet snacks are made right in front of you with all the toppings you could dream of!
- Tapas Barinn. My top tips for travel in Reykjavik wouldn’t be complete without Tapas Barinn! This is a great restaurant in Reykjavik where you can order taster menus to try loads of Icelandic delicacies. They offer a 7-course taster at an affordable price, which we shared between the two of us. We had eaten so much that day, and actually one of these between the two of us was more than enough! You also get all-you-can-eat olive spread and bread which was amazing. The waiter and chef were also kind enough to write down the recipe for us!
I would love to go back to Reykjavik and try even more! Have you also been to an excellent restaurant/bar/sight in Reykjavik, or would you love to visit? Do you have any top tips to leave? Please leave a comment below!