Thinking back on my 4 day trip to Iceland makes me feel sad that it’s over. I had wanted to go to Iceland for about 2 years, and since it hasn’t become overly touristy yet, I had a hard time finding someone to venture there with. After a night of cocktails with some friends, I had shown them enough photos to convince them to come with me. Massive waterfalls, scenic hikes, glowing blue pools of water- why did I need to convince someone to come with me again?
I am a little crazy when it comes to booking vacations- I do A LOT of research, to ensure I am getting the best deal and have enough time to accomplish everything I want. I found a return flight from Toronto to Reykjavik for $580 and booked it immediately. I had seen the flights at MUCH higher prices, so I wasn’t about to let that baby pass me by (The flight flew into the Keflavik airport- about 30 minutes outside Reykjavik) We left at 9:30pm on the Wednesday night and arrived the next morning at 5:30am Iceland time. It was surprisingly only a 5.5 hour flight- many people were shocked that it is the same length a flight as going to California!
The Icelandic money is a little crazy and I felt rich as hell with my thousands of dollars in my pocket (Which may have added up to like $300 Canadian, but a girl can dream, right?) We took the Flybus to the apartment we rented, since taking a cab would have been pretty pricey. This bus drops you off in Reykjavik and is about $15 each. We stayed at an apartment called “A part of Reykjavik” which I booked on Trivago for the 3 nights and it was perfect for what we needed. It was simple, had wifi, was in a great location and worked out to about $150 per person. We freshened up and hit the streets to find something to eat.
We were travelling mid October so the weather wasn’t bad- it hovered around 5-8 degrees celcius, so a sweater, light jacket and some gloves were sufficient. It is true what they say- the weather changes literally every 5 minutes so you really don’t know to dress- I felt every type of weather while I was there- snow, hail, rain, heat, sun- you name it, we saw it! Bottom line- don't take the weather forecast too seriously and wear layers. I mean, if it says there’s going to be a blizzard and you are driving along the Ring Road (the main highway that circles the entire island) I wouldn’t ignore it- but just be cautious! Lets just say my packing spreadsheet was not as short as I would have liked it to be and I probably brought clothes for 10 days, not 4!
We found a Starbucks equivalent here called Te & Kaffi- where we got a light breakfast and a coffee. It was located along the main road downtown, Laugavegur- that also had a lot of cute shops, places to eat and bars for you to hit da town later on. If you wanted an Icelandic sweater, this is your place- there can be found all over and range from 150-300$ Canadian dollars. A little expensive but I splurged because they are adorable and who am I kidding I love souvenirs! (They can be purchased all over Iceland and I'm sure I paid top dollar purchasing it on the main strip!!) The first day we spent exploring downtown Reykjavik.
If you are into amazing views, you cant miss the top of hallgrimskirkja church. The view from the top is worth the $5 lift ticket. It was even raining a little and it was still worth it. The colorful buildings were so fun and made the town look so happy!
You can walk around downtown Iceland and see most things in one day. There is the opera house, which was along the water and a lot of statues and art scattered throughout the city-some of it being quite random. We just wandered around on foot and discovered so many hidden gems. That evening our dinner consisted of one of Iceland’s famous hot dogs. I may or may not have eaten 5 of these during my trip- they are highly addictive and very affordable compared to a lot of the other food options in Iceland! We ended up going to a grocery store along the main road and picked up snacks and fruit to keep the food cost down.
If you are looking for some evening fun, Iceland is the place for you! We went out on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening at different bars along the main road each night and had a fun and different experience each night. Long story short, Icelanders love to drink and party! The first night brought us to a fun bar called Austur that was lit up pink and played top 40 bangers all night. Don’t show up too late though, lineups form around 11 o’clock year round! We drank, danced and rolled back to the hotel around 2am to get a solid 5 hours of sleep before our next mornings adventures. Note: If you are planning a night out on the town, you may want to indulge in a few pre-party drinks to keep the bar bill down- a mixed drink can run you up to to $18 Canadian.
The next morning I spent about 40 minutes trying to wake up my friends, and after they got their acts together, we piled into our rental car and headed towards Thingviller national park. Note: I would highly recommend renting a car- there is so much to see along the Ring Road- we pulled over like every 10 minutes to get out and take photos.
After numerous photo ops along the road, our first stop was Geysir, which is a must see when in Iceland. There were pools of geothermal water shooting into the sky, other pools of water boiling and steaming- it’s definitely something you don’t see every day. We spent about an hour there wandering around then headed on to Gulfoss waterfall, which was unreal! The two sites were about half an hour apart, and there was parking area at both. From Gulfoss we headed back towards Reykjavik and stopped into Thingviller National Park where we hiked, saw more waterfalls and embraced more of the Icelandic scenery. These 3 sites were a full day so I wouldn't try and cram any more in during daylight hours (Unless you are there in the summer that is, where there is eternal daylight!)
That evening we got dressed up and headed to another bar along the main strip, which I cant, remember the name of, but they played awesome Hip Hop music. We then stopped in for a drink at Lebowski, a fun bowling themed bar and headed back to the hotel for a few hours of sleep
The next morning we headed in the opposite direction along the Ring Road and chased a few waterfalls. Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss where huge and beautiful! It was obviously a little chilly but it didn’t stop us from getting up close and personal. All sites we visited so far were along the Ring Road and visible from the car. (We actually didn't even have a GPS and found everything without any problems) We headed onwards to Vik, an incredible volcanic sand beach that is more stunning than photos can depict. (It is also said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world!) There are a few interesting things on Vik beach- the basalt columns and the Reyinsdrangar rock formations in the water are incredible. It is one of those places you just need to take stare and take in. (AND take tons of photos, obviously)
After we tore ourselves away from this beach, we headed to our glacier tour with Iceland Mountain Guides, back in the direction towards Reykjavik. This probably was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It was $130 Canadian and worth every cent. We learned how to tie on our crampons, got handed an ice pick (which was more for esthetic purposes than functionality) and started our uphill hike. I am actually not sure how there wasn’t a day long tutorial on how to hike a glacier because what we did was a little crazy to me. One false move and you were down an ice hole- luckily our guide was awesome and led us down some cool paths through the glacier. We even got to go into an ice cave that he discovered the week before and since the glacier is always changing, it probably wouldn’t be there for too long. The tour was about 3 hours long, which was a perfect amount of time. We headed back to our hotel, exhausted but still wanted one last night out. We took a quick siesta then headed out to American Bar. It was super busy since it was Saturday night- the entire downtown area was bumpin!
The next day was sadly our last day and we started if off with an incredible visit to the Blue Lagoon. We booked our tickets in advance since we were told it gets very busy. We got there first thing in the morning, which was awesome because we were able to see the lagoon empty without people splashing around. It was just as amazing as you would imagine, but it did get packed as the day went on. We stayed here for about 3 hours- it was a true ‘treat yo’ self’ experience with the complementary facemasks provided while you float around. After we got changed we headed about 25 minutes down the road to the gap between tectonic plates aka the bridge between continents. It is the only place in the world where you can stand in between 2 continents (North America and Europe)
Unfortunately it was time to head to the airport- and it would have been great if someone checked the time of our flight earlier in the day. It was now 3:40pm and glanced at our itinerary to see our flight departed back to Toronto at 5- so lets just saw panic was at an all time high. We gunned it to the airport-luckily it isn’t a busy airport and we strolled right through check in and security. (I think I even saw someone working at security on Instagram!!!) We did our final souvenir shop and boarded our plane. I have already started planning my next trip to Iceland- it was 100% one of the most surreal places I have ever been and there is still so much to see. There is no way to see all of Iceland in 4 days, but we were able to see most of the well-known sites. Looks like I will need another trip to check the rest off my list! Oh well!