Iceland – a winter wonderland bucket list trip

I spent 5 days in Iceland with my sister in February 2022 and it was an actual dream come true! It’s a destination that I’ve been keen to visit for a few years now and despite the scaremongering about the cost (all true though), it’s absolutely worth it!

We flew in with British Airways from Heathrow and returned with Icelandair due the times of flights that worked for us.

Once we got through Icelandic borders, we took a bus transfer to Reykjavik, the capital city. Tickets can be bought directly on the bus as they wait around after flights land for customers..the bigger bus took us to the central bus terminal and then we had to board a minibus closer to our hotel.

We stayed at City Center Hotel which was perfect walking distant to so many restaurants, bars, supermarkets, main sights in Reykjavik and close to the bus stops the tours picked you up from. We were upgraded to the top floor so had an incredible view from our balcony of the city.

View from our hotel balcony

Reykjavik

I recommend spending a day or 2 exploring the city..this is perfect for downtime in between the tours. The main places we visited during our walks were:



Hallgrímskirkja church, located in the Neighbourhood of Gods (!)- it looks like a cathedral due to its impressive size but it actually a church! Free entry to visit inside and an additional cost for the viewing tower.

Rainbow Street – down the road from the church, it started as an annual art display for Pride but became permanent a few years ago. This colourful street is surrounded by many shops, bars, cafes and street art to enjoy in the centre.

The sun voyager – a steel statue “dream boat” which is supposed to be an ode to the Sun. It’s located by the sea, in the centre of Reykjavik .

Harpa – a concert hall, home to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Icelandic Opera and Reykjavík Big Band. It looks impressive from outside, especially at night but there are also guided tours if you don’t fancy a full on show.

Reykjavik also have many museums and galleries which you can check out – ideal for the colder months!

Eat and drink

101 bistro – a mixture of typical dishes and other food – I had Icelandic fish and Chips and a lamb plate another time (it was opposite our hotel, so convenient).

Magic Ice bar – similar to others around the world with ice sculptures and your drink in ice..it was quiet when we went on Sunday night and it being underneath a shop had a different vibe to the other ones attached to bars.

Cafe Loki – we had the Loki plate which had lamb and a variety of fish, including fermented shark!! The taste was so weird! We also had pancakes with skyr (local dairy product – tasted like a cross between Greek yoghurt and cream cheese).

Prikid – the oldest bar in Reykjavik – we had brunch here but sadly missed the nights here which I hear are good.

Duck and Rose – bit more upscale, lots of sharing plates which are big enough for two.

We were told the key to maximising your nights out here is starting with happy hour in the bars. We missed them due to our tours and also bad weather meaning we literally couldn’t go out at night for 2 nights!

Outside of Reykjavik – this is where you get to see the true beauty of iceland:

Blue lagoon Spa – is 100% worth the hype and money! We went in the evening so we got to see it when daylight was fading and at sunset – so magical. Your ticket will include a face mask and drink from the bar within the lagoon, plus unlimited time in there.

Golden Circle tour – the most popular tour here I’m sure, it’s a great introduction to the country. We were taken to Thingvellir National Park to walk along the tectonic plates, Strokkur geyser, Guilfoss waterfall which looked incredible frozen over and the secret lagoon, the oldest pool in Iceland (this isn’t usually included in the standard Golden Circle tours).

South coast, Black Beach and Waterfalls tour – now this was my favourite tour of the trip. The views were incredible and we had the most perfect sunny day to enjoy it. We visited Reynisfjara black beach (which looked even more striking with the white snow on it), Skogafoss waterfall which we were able to climb up to see the top of, Seljalandsfoss waterfall and on the drive around, saw volcanoes and other incredible landscapes.

Sadly we didn’t get to see the Northern lights (we planned to sort out a tour when we got here but the only available nights were the stormy ones)!

Cost

Is Iceland really that expensive? In short, yes! Here’s a breakdown of our costs (per person):

Flights – BA there and icelandair return (with checked in luggage) £334.17

Airport transfers Iceland – 42.69

Hotel – 237.67

Golden Circle and South Coast Tours – £110

Blue lagoon – entrance + transfers to and from Reykjavik –  £100.23

All food and drink (including eating out, supermarket snacks, snacks bought on our tours and edible souvenirs from the airport) – £283.88

Total cost – £1108.64

We plan to go back one summer time for a different experience and since we’ve done the main touristy tours, we’ll be able to spend in a different way…I can’t wait!

Let me know if you have any further questions in the comments!

J xo

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