There are trips that inspire stories, those that you get home- from endless hours between airplanes and transfers- and make yourself a cup of tea, to sip without even realizing it, for the rush to throw all your thoughts on a white sheet.
Other trips- well, you just want to hide them, like secrets to keep in the deepest part of your soul.
Iceland is one of these.
So I will tell you my story, althought a part of me is almost reluctant, to show you how much is worth walking for hours in the Iceland lands and feel your feet sometimes icy and a heavy heart that explodes in the eyes.
Rent a car. At Reykjavik airport there are many car rental companies. Before leaving I was reading about the type of car to rent and despite everybody suggested a 4×4, a modest car is more than enough. Our Peugeot 308 was great!
Because of the highly variable weather, Icelandic roads can become dangerous. On this site you can check the road conditions minute by minute: http://www.road.is.
Buy the Reykjavík City Card. The Reykjavík City Card gives you free admission to almost all the city’s museums, galleries and thermal pools, it assures you discounts at various shops and tours and endless trips on public transport. In addition, you can use the free ferry to Viðey island. Prices vary according to the number of days: 3500 ISK (19 £) for 24 hours, 4700 ISK (26 £) for 48 hours 5500 ISK (30 £) for 72 hours.
Stay in hostels. As you probably know Iceland is quite expensive. Fortunately for us there is a solution and that is to stay in hostels! To probe a little ground, we stayed in two different hostels: the Loft Hostel and the Kex Hostel. Usually me and my beardy boy are reluctant to stay in hostels, but I must admit that Icelanders hostels are really top and both have impressed us!
The Loft Hostel has a very central location (Reykjavik’s main street!) and is built on 4 floors. On the top floor there is the common space, a huge loft that offers a spectacular view above the roofs of the city. The bar of the loft has heated benches and the best beer of the capital! The staff is always kind and full of initiative, in fact every weekend they organize various events such as concerts, tournaments or clothing exchanges.
The Kex Hostel is centrally located and offers a stunning sea view. The hostel was built inside an old biscuit factory (from which it takes its name: “Kex” in Icelandic means cookie!) and inside the style has been preserved with neon signs, like advertising billboards, which indicate the room numbers and walls covered in signs and colors. The common room features a truly superb bar and restaurant where me and my barbons ate amazing 5 stars dishes!
The first day on holiday we are always relaxed and we take it slowly. Breakfast after 11 !! On the other side of the street from the Loft Hostel you will find a small café with explosive croissants! It’s called Kaffitar and is our n. 1 suggestion for breakfast in Rey.
A friend recommended me a hike for fly very quickly in the Icelandic atmosphere, so me and my barbons start to discover Reykjadalur.
The Reykjadalur valley is located 45 minutes drive from Reykjavik and is one of the most beautiful areas for hiking in Iceland. It is extremely popular in summer, very desolate in winter but beautiful to explore with its hot springs that break the white snow here and there with their hot steam. The hiking trail follows the river bed and the view is truly remarkable. The visit can be completed in about 3 hours, 1.30 h to go, at least 1 hour to return. The difficulty is medium / low but the climbs are steep, take it easy and I assure you that it’s worth it, with these landscapes both mind and body are regenerated!
After a long hike there’s nothing better than a nice hot bath in one of the famous open pools in Reykjavik and for the occasion we choose the most famous is the city: Laugardalslaug.
We have dinner at Svarta kaffi, a really cute place very famous for its soup in bread!
A visit to Reykjavik is certainly a must! If you followed my suggestions and you bought the Reykjavik City Card, this is the right time to use it!
We start from the Lutheran church Hallgrímskirkja that rises to infinity and with its 72 meters high is the sixth tallest building in Iceland. The church is located in the city center, if you fancy a walk you can lose yourself in the narrow streets of the centre, they hide little secrets.
A quick visit to the pond and straight to the National Museum of Iceland which tells the story of the Iceland population from 600 a.c.
A must is the National Gallery of Iceland where, in addition to the many depressed paintings by Icelandic painters, you will find Jacqueline Picasso’s painting, donated to the gallery by the famous painter’s wife just a few days before taking his own life.
If you have a passion for the sea you can not miss the Reykjavik Maritime Museum that narrates the evolution of the Icelandic population of fisherman from the construction of the ships to the different types of fishing and how to conserve the catch.
As I foretold you, with the Reykjavík City Card you can take the ferry to Viðey Island, a small wild green lung which is located 5 minutes by sea in front of Rey.
The island is a small natural treasure and houses the monument for peace designed by Yoko Ono in memory of his partner John Lennon. The monument is a white marble tower with 24 inscriptions, all in different languages, of the phrase “Imagine Peace”, from Lennon’s beautiful song. Every year for two months, between the date of birth and death of the famous musician, the tower projects a beam of blue light in the sky in his memory.
After a long day walking in this cold, we need a hearty dinner. I recommend this little place that makes fabulous and cheap hamburgers: Dirty burgers and Ribs!
We starts happy after a lovely breakfast with chocolate waffles in a really romantic spot: Tiu Drapar. Going to Iceland and not seeing the Golden Circle would be like going to Rome and forget about the Coliseum!
The Golden Circle is the most popular tourist route of South Iceland and covers about 300 kilometers, in a circle route to and from Reykjavik.
There are three main stops along the way. The first stop is the Thingvellir national park where you can see the earth’s plague and you can even walk inside it!
The second stop is the geothermal valley of Haukadalur, which houses the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. Although Geysir has been inactive for a long time, Strokkur however, continues to erupt with intervals of 5-10 minutes.
The last stop is the giant Gullfoss waterfall (meaning “golden waterfall”). The winter landscape is truly spectacular.
Back in Reykjavick for dinner I recommend the small seaside kiosk Sea Baron, which has become famous for its lobster soup that many call the most delicious in the world! Me and my beardy boy had it along with two beautiful fish kebab (make sure you get some advice from the owners!).
If you have time, in the south area of Iceland there is another small treasure: a seaside village called Vík í Mýrdal, located 300 km from Reykjavik. Vik is located at the foot of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which covers the top of the volcano Katla, which exposes it to the risk of flooding in the event of a resumption of the eruptive activity of the volcano. The town, with less than 500 inhabitants, is famous for its black sand beach. Unfortunately, due to a snowstorm that would have stop us to return to Reykjavik, me and my boyfriend were unable to get to Vik but if you plan to go there I would recommend staying at the Vik Hostel.
On the way to Vik, before returning to Rey, we visited the beautiful Skofgafoss waterfall. Skógafoss is one of the largest waterfalls in the country with a width of 25 meters and a height of 60 m. Because of the amount of vapor that the waterfall consistently produces, a single or double rainbow is normally visible in the summer period.
To the left of the main waterfall there is a small path that leads to a second waterfall. The secondary cascade is very little known but rest assured it is a treat not to be missed!
Dine at the Kex Hostel, my beardy boy licked his mustache with the delicious farro fish soup! In the weekend you can also enjoy the numerous live concerts!
To round off an unforgettable vacation there is no better place than the Blue Lagoon, one of the 25 wonders of the world. With around 30 £ you can spend an unforgettable day in one of the most beautiful spas of our planet and enjoy a cocktail with breathtaking views in a natural pool of 37 degrees.
If you love photography I recommend you to take a look at the area around the Blue Lagoon, me and my boyfriend went right at sunset and the play of light between the ice and the snow is absolutely wonderful!
For dinner I recommend the Icelandic fish and chips in Reykjavik where you will find fresh fish everyday with great service and cheap price.
I’m sure many of you are hoping to see the Northern Lights! On this site you can control the visibility in the Iceland area hour by hour: http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/. To have the best of visibility head to the most possibly dark places (Rey ideal areas are those of the lighthouse and the Perlan). Me and my beardy boy were very lucky and I assure you that it is a breathtaking experience!
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