Sunday, 11 November 2018

48 Hours in Iceland - A Travellers Guide

Hi Readers!

We have finally been off on our travels again, after what feels like an age. First world problems, I know. It's actually only been five a months since our last big trip and I've honestly got nothing to moan about. This year we've been to the Dominican, Florida, Vegas and done some UK breaks too.

I'm fortunate that my job has a great leave policy so I'm a big fan of disappearing off as soon as the dates go in the calendar.

Our Iceland trip came about by chance. We had booked flights to Canada on a flight promo with airline that's now bust. The Airbnb was booked and paid for, so pulling out wasn't an option. Cue making the best of the situation, taking the call to re-book with Icelandair and throwing in a forty eight hour stopover in Iceland to our trip.

Here's why it's brilliant folks, it costs you no more to stopover, than it would with a regular short layover. Well played Icelandair. You had us hooked on that alone.
Arriving in Iceland! 
The whole thing was super efficient, from leaving Glasgow airport with an quick boarding process, being away on time and being through at the other side in 15 minutes. Half an hour after landing we were in our rental car, headed for our apartment.

We chose to stay at the superb Blue Mountain Apartments, 20 mins from Reykjavik. Granted, you'd probably need a hire car to stay there, but it was a great base for us. For around £100 a night we had a good sized studio apartment, with kitchen, shower, big bed and a corner couch. It meant we had space to chill, which was nicer than a hotel room, and cheaper.

We were in and out, headed to Reykjavik in "Pît the Polo" - so named after our old car, Pete, who was deported to England last year.

We managed to get into town for around 5pm, when it was still light, found free parking no problem near City Hall and headed to pick up our City Cards, kindly provided by Visit Reykjavik. We were given forty eight hour cards, which usually cost £34 per person and provide free entry to numerous attractions, free bus travel around the city and free entry to a number of the thermal pools around the city too. You could even take a free ferry trip, however, we struggled to find the time to do this.

city card reykjavik

We picked these up from the City Hall, which is really easy to get to.

These were a brilliant resource to help us plan, the map was super useful with the attractions all marked up so we could easily see what was nearby.

First 12 Hours

We walked around the city, went to see the Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral, which is a work of art. We made it to Braud and Co for a cookie. I have lusted over these guys on Instagram for so long and the cookies were good!

braud & co reykjavik

The Sun Voyager sculpture and the waterfront was next. It was getting dark, so we went back to the city centre, walked around some of the boutique stores and stopped off for an obligatory hot dog at the Hot Dog Stand.

the sun voyager reykjavik

Hours 12-24

We left the apartment at 7am (early for us as we are night owls!) and jumped in the car for the 2 hour drive to Skógafoss. Thankfully, we got there before the crowds and could take some amazing photos of the falls. We hiked up the 527 steps to the top, for the view around and were so lucky to have a beautiful clear day.

Back in the car, off we went to The Black Beach. It's beautiful, unspoiled and rugged and I would definitely suggest it makes it onto your to do list.

black beach iceland what claire did

black beach iceland what claire did

We then drove another 2 hours to go to The Geysir in Haukadalur Valley.. a word of warning, it's a big tourist spot, so prepare for hoards of people. We were probably there for less than half an hour, so think carefully before you decide to drive to it. It is amazing to watch it go off though... for the 11 secs of footage you'll see on my Instagram.

What was almost better than this, was the 1h 40 mins drive back to Reykjavik through the national park. Beautiful, autumnal and driving through the valley with the snow peaked mountains around us was spectacular.

Not ones to mess around, we were back to the city and using those handy city cards for a trip to the Maritime Museum, which was really interesting and also interactive. From there, it was a trip to the Museum of Photography which might not seem an obvious choice, but the exhibition was beautiful. It's also located on the top floor of the library, in case you struggle to find it... Our city cards gave us free entry to both of these.

maritime museum reykjavik

Hours 24-48

By now, we were growing tired and hungry, the wind was biting and we decided to call it a night, heading to the warmth of Reykjavik Fish at the harbour for a delicious fish and chip dinner.

Our apartment provided a cosy haven after a day in the outdoors and we enjoyed some local beers, and Gin&Grape catching up with a day's worth of editing.

After our second night it was up and away for a trip to The Blue Lagoon. Now, it is expensive and was our "splurge" during our stay. Heck, it's also really touristy. But all that aside, was it worth it? Absolutely.

the blue lagoon iceland

We chose the "comfort" package, which included a towel, free drink and mud mask. We spent just over 2 hours in the Lagoon, which felt enough. Even though we went on a Saturday, it didn't feel packed. We were able to find several spots around the Lagoon to chill out. Don't forget to try out the face masks and cover your hair in conditioner before you get in, to keep it super soft.

The drink included was a welcome treat and as it was a morning trip, I went for a smoothie made with berries and Skyr.

We did have a quick look at lunch in the restaurant but felt at £42 for two courses, it was a bit steep. Instead, we jumped back in the car and headed back to the airport to return our rental car and check in for our flight to Canada. Our airport lunch was less glamorous, but at half the price, it did the job pre-flight.

It was a flying visit to Iceland, but we managed to cram in so much. I'm planning an "Iceland on a budget" feature soon, so keep an eye out for that!

Disclaimer: our city passes were provided complimentary by Visit Reykjavik.

1 comment:

  1. Such beautiful pictures. I’d love to visit.