When I went there: April 2017
I booked Iceland thinking this might be cheap as I can fly direct from Aberdeen – after booking I realised, this is not cheap at all. I met my friend there from America that I worked with at Walt Disney World.
I flew from Aberdeen direct to Reykjavik on the Monday morning and landed late afternoon. I met my friend at our hotel that we carefully chose due to its location. Most hotels are all on the outskirts then require transport into the city centre. The hotel was basic but provided us with a private bathroom and breakfast. Our first afternoon we walked around the city and took a few pictures, we were both tired and cold. We walked down to the river and saw the Sun Voyager, a viking boat with a pretty mountain back drop and then we walked across to the concert hall/conference centre, a very fancy glass building that is meant to resemble the Northern Lights at night.
We discovered that the food in Iceland is extortionate. I downloaded the XE app onto my phone that works offline to convert food prices. Pizzas were coming in over £25 and burgers £30. We spent our first night wondering the streets looking for a place to eat checking hotel menus outside. We found a burger bar called ‘Chuck Norris’ that did free Wifi so we settled on this. The burger we had cost £12 which is similar to back home, and it was actually a very nice burger. We only drank tap water the whole time we were away. The tap water was so fresh and pure, it tasted just like bottled water.
The following day I pulled on the thermals and headed for breakfast. We got the same food each breakfast but it was filling. It the usual European mix of bread, cheese, yogurt and eggs. We booked onto a free 2 hour walking tour of Reykjavik so headed downtown for that. The sun was shining and we felt a positive vibe for the day. The tour was excellent and gave us an insight on the city and country. I love that Icelanders are so proud of their heritage and that they are so trusting. Iceland doesn’t have an army or any security anywhere. Afterwards we went for lunch at a hot dog stand and walked more around the city. We decided that night to sign up for a Northern Lights tour as the sky seemed clear.
We were picked up at 9pm and driven out to the middle of no where. We sat for an hour and a half driving listening to a mono tone tour guide before arriving at our destination. We sat for 2 hours on a cold bus waiting for the lights to appear. The moon was far to bright so I had a feeling they were not to show. A girl stood outside singing for ages and a guy kept running back and forth holding a tripod. They were out there the whole 2 hours so i’m surprised they didn’t freeze to death. We were promised hot chocolate and Icelandic donuts to be then told there were no cups so someone from Reykjavik was going to bring them. Once the cups arrived they had not even brought enough! We left at 1am to go back to the city, I was in a foul mood from not seeing the lights, being tired and knowing we had to be up at 0730 the next day for our South Coast tour.
Our tour the next day was ten hours and felt a long day. We were picked up at almost 9am by GeoIceland and headed out along the South Coast. Our first stop was Skogafoss. I was very excited for this as I had seen pictures and the waterfall looked huge at 60 meters. We got a few photos and walked the many stairs that ran alongside it to get pictures from the top. The weather then decided to take a turn and pour down. We left the waterfall to drop off some people who wanted to snow mobile then headed to a town called Vik that is located beside a volcano. We stopped and had lunch that we brought with us from the supermarket and had a look at a wool/tourist shop. After lunch we went to the black beach. On the way we were advised people had died here by being dragged into the waves. The beach wasn’t pretty, the sand was black and the air was wet and freezing cold. We walked down and took a few photos to then get battered by rain and wind on the walk back to the bus. Our second last stop was at a glacier. We got to experience a walk up to the glacier but we both declined due to the weather. I had done glacier walking in New Zealand on a sunny day so I didn’t worry to much about missing out. Our final stop was Selijalandsfoss waterfall, a waterfall that you can walk behind. I dragged myself off the bus to get some photos and got completely soaked. The bus drive home was not fun. We were both so tired we decided to just have hot dogs for dinner and hit bed.
We had a second tour booked for the following day of the Golden Circle which was less than South Coast at 8 hours. Our first stop was a smaller waterfall called Faxi. This waterfall was pretty and I got some really nice photos. For lunch we again had food from a supermarket due to the food prices and we stopped at a geyser. I had never seen a geyser and it was really cool to see. We waited 10 to 15 minutes and water shot up into the air. We also saw some hot springs. We then got to see the second biggest waterfall in Iceland, Gullfoss. This waterfall was pretty with many layers, we walked along the coast next to it and took some photos. We again got soaked as the weather decided to change. Our last stop was where we got see two ti tonic plates meet in a National Park. That night we went for dinner at an Italian. We managed to both have flat breads that were an experiment on the menu so we got them for cheap, with the flatbreads and garlic bread we paid £15.
The following day we tried to sleep in and spent the afternoon wondering the city. We had heard of free swimming pools that we were going to visit but the weather turned and it started to rain. We went up the famous church in the centre of Reykjavik and took some photos. We decided to have 1 expensive meal out and decided on a seafood buffet that served a little of everything. We paid £50 for the buffet and it wasn’t good. It mostly served cold fish, I tried herring and it was grey and slimey. They also served fermented shark and cured whale which was black. I tried the famous Icelandic lamb which was quite nice.
On our last day we went to the famous Blue Lagoon. We went for the basic package where we got entry and a free silica mud mask. We had to buy the transfer separately. We arrived and the changing rooms were busy. We washed and covered our hair in conditioner then we entered the lagoon. It was just like a large jacuzzi to be completely honest. It was amazing to be outside in this hot spring but I wouldn’t say I was blown away by it. The lagoon is large so doesn’t feel overcrowded and when the wind blows the mist is very thick you can barely see anyone around you. We got our silica mud masks and caked them on. We left them for 10 minutes then tried to wash them off. Some people covered them selves in the stuff when i’m sure its only for your face. My friend disappeared for a half an hour massage that cost her £90 while i stayed in the water and people watched. Some people get very dressed up for the blue lagoon, fancy swimsuits and full faces of make up. Two girls were strutting around with false eye lashes and pouting like it was a photo shoot while I sat there with no make up and my hair on top of my head like a pineapple. We left after 2 hours as we got bored, I don’t like staying in a bath for to long and this was the same for me at the lagoon. I’d say don’t bother getting the fancy packages with a towel and robe as you barely use them. The robe goes missing as soon as you get in the lagoon and the towel and slippers you can just bring your own. We raced back to Reykjavik to attend a flea market hoping we could pick up some cheap souvenirs but found it was more a car boot sale selling junk.
That night we met one of work colleagues for a drink as she was in Iceland the same weekend we were there. On happy hour a beer was £5 and a cocktail was over £10, the happy hour prices are over the standard UK prices. We decided to have soup for dinner at this pub we passed a few times where they served the soup in bread bowls.
Verdict: I was really excited about Iceland and I heard it was very pretty but the cost of everything once there has put me off for life. I felt I could not enjoy Iceland to its full potential with how much the simplest things cost. I found myself looking at the local cuisine that I wanted to try and thinking ‘no I’ll have a burger because it’s far to expensive.’ I think if you are going to visit Iceland go for a long weekend as anything longer will bankrupt you. The weather is cold up till April but after April there is a lower chance to see the Northern lights. It seems every season offers something different and you cannot get everything that Iceland has to offer in one season Go back? No