Reasons To Go: It is really cool. Unlike the rest of Europe (sorry guys), Iceland is genuinely unique and has a weird sort of vibe that seems to pervade the people and places. You can sate the adrenaline junkie in you or indulge in a hot spring for hours uninterrupted. Geysers, strange rock formations, black-sand beaches, epic waterfalls, glaciers, and tons of other geological anomalies are spread out within a 2-3 hour radius of the city.
How Long to Go For: Depends. If you have a car, 5 days. If not, 3 days.
1) OH MY GOD IT IS EXPENSIVE. Something is up with the Icelandic currency because holy hell, things are about double what you would expect them to be. A burger and coke is about $20…. Luckily! The best things to do are free (thanks, nature)!
2) Rent a car. All the cool stuff in Iceland is spread out around the Golden Circle.
3) Try to avoid the winter. Three hours of daylight and horrific weather are not enough to justify the chance that you would get to see the northern lights (unless that’s like your dream, come true or something… in which case, have fun). Also in the summer, you get to see puffins!
The Basics: I always recommend going to Hostelworld and looking for your ideal location and price range. And of course, Google flights for finding your way there. As per an agreement with the Icelandic tourism board, a lot of airline companies are boosting trips to Reykjavik (as it's such a popular layover destination to or from Europe). Wow! Airlines will let you stopover in the city for 4 extra nights, free of charge, before you continue on to your original destination. Icelandair and Norwegian Air also run great deal on trips to Iceland.
What to Do:
Walking tours are the perfect way to get to know the city you’re about to be thrown into. You get ushered around to all the really important bits while learning history and other fun tidbits. Free walking tour guides tend to be a bit more fun and charismatic, as they work for their tips (like in most other European cities). City Walk offers a free tour of Reykjavik daily. For typically touristy things to do inside the city, check out the National Gallery of Iceland, Reykjavík Art Museum, the Solfar (Sun Voyager) Sculpture, Perlan observation deck, Harpa Music Hall and Hallgrímskirkja Church.
Once outside the city, head for the Golden Circle where you will find Þingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss waterfall. If you are there in the winter, try a Northern Lights tour (because chances are you cannot see them from your window at home) and if you are there in the summer months, try a puffin tour!
Everyone wants to go to the Blue Lagoon, but it will set you back at least £50 (UK). Personally, I cannot recommend it or disparage it either way, because I never went. I saved money and went to two alternative hot springs instead: Laugarvatn Fontana and Gamla Laugin (both incredible). In the city, they also have awesome swimming pools, so if you are stuck at your hostel on a cold night, I'd highly recommend looking up the nearest pool to you.
What to Eat: Iceland is one of those places that I wouldn't recommend eating out more than once or twice, because everything is exorbitantly expensive - even going to the grocery store will set you back significantly. I would recommend going out to eat only to try the local (slightly off-putting) delicacies such as Hákarl (fermented shark) or Brennivín (the national liquor known as 'Black Death'). If you do really want to splurge, however, I had a three-course fondue meal (oil, cheese, and chocolate) at 'Le Bistro' in the city centre and it was wildly indulgent!
Edited by Evangeline Stanford