I had visited Iceland way back in 1993 so thought it was about time I returned, which I did in December 2016 with a good friend of mine.
The flight over was excellent with Icelandair on their new aircraft, customs and immigration is quick and efficient. On arrival at Keflavik airport (50kms from Storm Hotel) airport we caught the feeder bus which transfers you to the relevant bus for your hotel. Quick, easy and efficient as well as good value for money as cabs are extremely expensive!
We checked into the Storm hotel which is situated between Reykjavik’s main business area and the main shopping street Laugavegur. The hotel has 93 rooms which offer stylish and comfortable accommodation, as well as a breakfast area and nice cosy bar. Would recommend the Happy Hour as drinks are very expensive!
That night we decided to explore Reykjavik we walked into the town which was approx. 10 mins, the area felt very safe and friendly. We decided to try the fish as we knew it would be fresh, the Cod was amazing and would thoroughly recommend it, however fish and chips and a glass of wine was £29.00 each. Iceland is very expensive so would suggest a tour that has meals included.
The next day we had booked the Golden Circle tour so was up early as we were being picked up at 8am. The Golden Circle is a popular tourist route in southern Iceland, covering about 300 kilometers (190 mi) looping from Reykjavik, as it was December it didn’t get light until around 10.30am.
Our first stop was the Pingvellier National Park in southwestern Iceland about 40kms from Reykjavik. The park is a site of historical, cultural, and geological significance, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland. The park lies in rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid – Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian. To the south lies Pingvallavatan the largest lake in Iceland. As it was as it was December it didn’t get light until around 10.30am when we arrived we were taken to the museum first where you learn about the history and geologic facts of the area, it was very interesting. Finally as it started to get light we were able to see the enormity of the park and the surrounding areas, it was absolutely breath taking.
Our next stop was Gullfoss on route we visited some of the sites where they film Game of Thrones and in the distance saw the Eyjafjallajokull volcano that caused disruption with the ash cloud in 2010. Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland. The waterfall is amazing and the noise is so loud as the water plunges in two stages the average amount of water is 4,900 cubic feet per second! As we approached the falls it felt like the edge was obscured from view and it feels like the river vanishes into the earth! We spent a couple of hours here walking around, climbing where was safe over the falls and just watching the wonder of it all, it was hard to capture the beauty and splendor of the falls by camera! We had lunch here, however a bowl of soup with bread was £12.00 and hot chocolate £7.00.
Next stop was Haukadalur which is home to some of the most famous sights in Iceland: the geysers and other geothermal features. The biggest geysers of Haukadalur are Strokkur and Geysir itself, which gave us the word 'geyser'. Strokkur erupts every 5 to 10 minutes, whereas the bigger Geysir nowadays erupts very rarely. There are also more hot springs and mud pots nearby. It was amazing to watch Strokkur erupt and the smell of sulfuric acid was heavily is the air! This was a great photo stop opportunity, also nearby are the Icelandic horses which are indigenous to Iceland and more like ponies than horses but they are so beautiful! We got back to the hotel around 6pm so it was a full day, however I would definitely recommend this tour as you get so see so much of Iceland and especially recommended if you are on a short break like we were. Our guide was excellent very knowledgeable and great sense of humor, I would say this tour is excellent value for money approx. £59.00 per person. That night it was another expensive dinner of pizza and a glass of wine cost £25.00 each!
Next day was the Blue Lagoon excursion we had booked for a 10.30 pickup, a lot of people do this trip on the way to or from the Airport as its on route and only 12 miles from Keflavik Airport and if time is limited it’s a great way to do it. The Blue Lagoon Spa is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. The spa is located in a lava field Grindavik. The warm waters are rich in minerals like and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is reputed to help some people suffering from skin diseases.
It was quite surreal walking around in your bathing suits when the air temperature is about 2C however both myself and Jane swim outside so was kind of used to it, having said that the water temperature is about 38C. There’s no need to worry about hygiene as they have a strict policy of showering prior to entering the Lagoon. There is also a bar where you can enjoy your drink whilst relaxing in the hot water. The whole thing is very organized and a definite must to visit the cost is approx £68.00 per person. Do note though children age 8 and under are only allowed entry with the use of arm floaters, provided free of charge, under 2 years are not allowed in, but it's accessible for wheelchair users with a ramp that extends into the water and a shower chair. Seeing as it was our last night we decided to splash out and eat in Matarkjallarinn an amazing fish restaurant we had a main course and glass of wine and it was £55.00 however the fish pie was excellent and well worth the expense as was the service.
Our last day was spent window shopping, before we caught the bus back to the airport and then our British Airways flight to Heathrow.
We had a fantastic trip, and saw so much of the country. The weather was nowhere near as cold as we thought it would be and the lack of daylight did not affect our sightseeing. I would definitely recommend Iceland but be prepared its very expensive. Iceland is a winter and summer destination, however regardless of when you travel I recommend pre booking your tours before you leave.