Velkomin! (Welcome in Icelandic)
Hopefully this blog will help anyone who is planning a trip to Iceland, I’ll feature some links to the hotels and B&B’s we stayed in, the car rental companies we used and anything else that’s I feel may be helpful!
We have been to Iceland twice now and it is definitely one of our most favourite holidays. Some say it’s not a holiday because its cold and you are always on the go exploring but that’s just how we like it to be even in a warm country we need to be out doing things!
Already keen hillwalkers and outdoorsy people there wasn’t much ‘kit’ that we had to buy before going to Iceland. We got some good thermals, thick warm socks and new winter walking boots but that was about it. I’d recommend you take lots of socks as your feet can get wet multiple times a day even with the best winter boots! Plenty things that you can use to layer up, it always freezing when you start an activity but within 10 minutes your needing to strip down some layers! A few hats and gloves as if they get wet with snow they don’t dry quick so best to have a spare. And sunglasses are a must, the weather in Iceland is constantly changing, you will be in a blizzard one minute then the next the sun is splitting the skies and with all that snow the glare can be quite bad!
It’s only a short flight from Edinburgh to Reykjavik, both times we have been we have hired a car from Kefcar (http://www.kefcar.is). I would recommend this as the best thing to do, coach trips are limited to a certain time at each destination which can be frustrating if you’re wanting to wait on a good photo opportunity. Having the car means you can go at your own pace. You can spend as long as you like and you can also wait on the busses full of tourists to leave allowing you to really appreciate and take in all that Iceland has to offer. It also means you can pull over to see the Icelandic horses, a favourite activity of mine when out on the open roads!
On the two occasions we have been to Iceland we have stayed in Reykjavik for at least one night. Heres a quick list of the ‘must see’ things in the city centre.
1 – Hallgrimskirkja – One of Iceland’s best known landmarks, it has been built to resemble trap rocks, mountains and glaciers of Icelands landscape. This is shown well in these 2 photos.
Jay sitting on the Trap rocks at the black beach.
2 – The Sun Voyager – This is a steel sculpture near the water just a short walk from Harpa (more on this in a second), The Sun Voyager is described as a dream boat, the artist intended it to convey the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom. How nice is that! Top Tip – Its placed on black granite tiles and is very very slippy so take your time walking around!
3 – Harpa – Harpa is a concert hall and conference centre. The front is very distinctive as it is made up of coloured glass. Although not much to do here there is a lovely little shop inside where you can get delicious Icelandic Chocolate, knitwear and of course Icelandic Vodka!
In terms of places to eat in the city centre there are plenty of options however if you like a little bit of fine dining I recommend you visit Grillmarkadurinn, the food is absolutely delicious although quite expensive if your on a budget. However, Iceland in general is quite expensive, if you are looking to do this on a budget I cannot stress enough to research before you head out. There is also a famous hot dog stand called Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, but to me it was just a normal hot dog! It wasn’t anything different and wouldn’t be somewhere I would go back to.
Dinner in Grillmarkadurinn, I can’t remember all the dishes but they were delicious!
Another must see in Iceland is the Golden Circle, this is a popular route covering some of the most ‘must see’ sites in Iceland. I’d recommend you set off early as this route is around 190 miles all round and you might find you want to spend a good few hours at one site. Your first stop on the Golden Circle is Thingvellir National Park, the park lies in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between North America and the Eurasian tectonic plates. Our first trip to Iceland we went snorkelling here which is something I would really recommend, it’s absolutely beautiful in the water and the only part of you getting cold is your face, the rest of your body remains completely dry!
Just to the right of this photo is where you enter the water.
Next up on your Golden Circle Tour is the Geysir. This is always very busy with tourists busses, be careful underfoot, due to the Geysir always periodically sprouting the ground remains wet at all times, during the winter months it becomes an ice rink! We spent a good hour here waiting to get a good photo, we walked around all of the different hot springs as there are a few little ones to view. There is also a nice shop, a small information station and a few cafes, all of which are pretty good.
Photos from 2016 trip, 2017 was a blizzard!
After you’ve been to see the Geysir you will then make your way up to Gullfoss one of Icelands most iconic waterfalls. The views are incredible. Again there is a shop and a cafe, the cakes are great! By the time you get here you will have done a fair bit of walking that cake is well deserved!
A very frozen Gullfoss in 2016
After Gullfoss we took a drive down to Kerid, which is a volcano crater lake. It is one of many in this western area of Iceland. The first year we went to Kerid it was frozen over then covered in snow, you could see footprints along it where people had walked on it – we weren’t that brave (or stupid, you decide!) There is now a fee to climb to the top of Kerid which is 400 ISK, this charge was not in place when we first went to visit.
Jay at the top of the ridge looking over Kerid
Travelling further south in Iceland we stayed in Vik for one night before we went glacier walking on Solheimajokull. This was something we tried to do the following year but due to the severe weather it was cancelled. Our guide was called Selfie and he was fantastic. On a normal tour you only get to walk to the top of the glacier however as we were the last walk of the day Selfie said he would take us inside the glacier. This was really special and was absolutely fascinating. We were treated to a beautiful sunset on the walk back down. This tour is quite long but you really learn lots about how global warming is melting the glacier, they show you how far back it has traveled in just a few short years, it’s quite alarming really. Heres a few photos from this trip, it was one of our favourites!
On our first trip to Iceland we had hoped to go to find Solheimasandur Plane Crash on the black beach however the weather wasn’t great so we decided to leave it. The following year however we had a beautiful clear morning free, we should have been on another glacier but due to the snow forecast for later that day it had been cancelled. Anyone looking to head to the site of the plane please be aware the walk there is approx 40 minutes to 1 hour depending on fitness level and conditions underfoot. For those who don’t know much about the place here’s some info!
The plane was forced to land on 24th November 1973 after severe icing. All crew members survived the crash however the airplanes fuselage was abandoned. Now its a hot spot for tourists but never that busy as no tour guide will take you here and the walk seems to put a good few people off! Its photographers dream location. I would have loved to have went at night to try to see the Aurora Borealis but with bad weather forecast this wasn’t an option!
You can see from this last photograph the black clouds in the distance. We started to make our way back to the car. We made it just in time, back to the B&B and it was announced the snow gates across Iceland were closed over for the rest of the day!
There are so many other things to do, this blog could go on forever so I’ll list the others with photos and you can decide if you’d like to include them on your trip or not.
Skogafoss Waterfall – great place to stop for photos for 30 mins, careful underfoot, with constant water splashes its always icy!
Blue Lagoon – Probably the one reason most people go to Iceland, I won’t go into much detail. It is a lovely morning out and I highly recommend you choose to pay extra to eat in the Lava Restaurant. Take your sunglasses into the Lagoon, enjoy bubbles at the swim up bar and take advantage of the mud masks available at the stations within the Lagoon.
Black Beach – Fantastic and well worth a visit. In 2016 we took photos from a viewpoint but in 2017 we spent a good few hours on the beach, you’ll see why in the photos!
During our trips to Iceland we have stayed in many B&B’s but there is only one that I would make a point in mentioning, actually I would shout from the rooftops about this B&B, it is rated number 1 in Iceland number 10 in Europe and number 18 in the world. Please please please book up months in advance to stay with Andi and Yuki at Guesthouse 1×6, you will not regret it. Guesthouse 1×6 is in Keflavik, not far from the airport so we always make this our last stop, save the best till last!
Link to Andi and Yuki’s website – www.1×6.is
Guesthouse 1×6 has a fantastic pool in the garden, robes and outdoor pool shoes are provided, we sat in there for hours one night. Andi will pop in and out to chat, both Andi and Yuki have got to be two of the most genuine, kind-hearted people we have met on any of our travels. They go over and above and work so so hard to make 1×6 what it is. I’ll add some photos and detail in the description boxes as to what they are.
Breakfast is delicious and all fresh local produce, check it out! I genuinely dont know when Andi and Yuki sleep as they are always baking, cleaning, cooking and entertianing guests!
Andi/Yuki if your reading this it’s giving me all the feels, need to see you guys again soon! You need to meet Erica too!
Not only do you have a lovely warm pool outside, comfortable beds, fantastic hosts, the best breakfast in Iceland you also get lovely little touches that make Guesthouse 1×6 stand out, here’s some photos below. The artwork through the whole B&B is fantastic, i’ll details some photos of that here too!
I could talk about Guesthouse 1×6 all day long, I tell anyone and everyone to stay there if they plan on going to Iceland. it really is the best place we have ever stayed in, there should be more B&B’s like this!
So there you have our top things to see and do in Iceland! Across from 1×6 is a delicious fish restaurant, we have been both years so i’d really recommend it, you get 10% off your bill if you mention your staying at 1×6. Below are some photos of the food!
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.
Everyone needs to visit Iceland at some time in their life! I really hope I havent mssed anything out! If you’d like more into feel free to use the contact me section and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have!
Thanks for reading 🙂