3 Days In Iceland: Photo Diary + Tips
If you follow me on Instagram, you'd know that a) I'm a travel addict and b) I love Iceland. Being my first time visiting Europe and in true Shann rush around style, I decided to pack as many countries as possible into our 4 week trip and alas, we only had 3 full days to see as much as we could of Iceland. Thankfully, it was Summer (May) so the days were conveniently long.
We landed in Reykjavik around midnight, dropped our bags off at our apartment and went out in search of food. This is where we discovered the first thing you should know about Iceland. It is NOT cheap. If you're looking for a cheap getaway, do not go here. We were told this is because the population is so low that there isn't much need for competitive prices and most food/ drink needs to be imported from far and is highly taxed.
TIP 1: CHECK MENU PRICES BEFORE CHOOSING A RESTAURANT
You could get an unexpected punch right where it hurts; the wallet.
We had our first meal at a Chuck Norris themed bar which was hilarious and more affordable than the restaurants before turning in for a good night's sleep... which we did not get.
DAY 1: BLUE LAGOON
Being a group of 4, it was fairly cheap to rent a car for getting around, especially for travelling to the blue lagoon so we weren't limited to a particular time. We left a little early to allow for any stops along the way. Iceland has some unreal landscapes of dry lava that make you feel like you could be on another planet. Naturally we had to get out and feel what it's like so it took us about an hour to get to our destination.
The blue lagoon is a geothermal hot spring (not a natural hot spring although Iceland boasts many of these as well). I have to say it was one of the best days of my life so far. There are 3 different packages you can choose from when visiting: view here. We went with the premium package and I'm not sorry at all. It was a little surreal having to brave the single figure degree air in a bikini but it was so worth it to get into the spring. Relaxing is an understatement.
As per our package, we were given a complimentary beverage at the in-spring bar and treated to 2 masks; one silica and one algae. The friendly staff walk around offering to take photos of people, knowing very well the importance of the gram. After spending a few hours in the spring we 'don our robes and were wined and dined at the LAVA restaurant where the food was beyond divine and our waiter generously granted us a second bottle of complimentary sparkling.
DAY 2: THE SOUTH
Here's where it starts getting a little trickier; I like doing lots of research on a place before I go so I don't miss out on things I didn't know about (it still happens but at least I can organise some priorities) Well, the thing with Iceland is.. after researching there were just sooo many things I wanted to see... Enter GYG.
TIP 3: GET YOUR GUIDE
This is a website/ app that I'd recommend for any trip, really. It came especially handy in Iceland; hooking us up with a local to take us to all the most majestic places in one day.
We went with a tour called Iceland Is Niceland and took the Beautiful South Coast Day Tour and I'd do it again. It was around AU$150 pp but so worth it. Our guide Hugi was friendly, comedic and knowledgable. In this 10 hour tour we were able to see active volcanoes (hard to tell from the ground, they looked like regular mountains to me), Skogafoss waterfall, the Solheimajokull glacier, Reynisfjara the black sand beach, Puffins; Iceland's native bird and walk behind the Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
TIP 4: CHARGE UP YOUR PHONE AND YOUR CAMERA
You never know what you'll end up seeing so make sure you have your camera ready.
We were told that you have to be lucky to actually see any Puffins and that it's definitely not guaranteed but we ended up seeing 2-3 are they were so cute. Our guide told us he had a special treat for everyone on the way home and ended up surprising us with a visit from some Icelandic horses! He called out to them and they all came bounding toward us. It was a truly breathetaking moment.
DAY 4: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
Unfortunately, half the team had to fly out this morning so we all had breakfast at a super cute laundromat cafe in Reykjavik together before bidding our farewells. Flying out in the evening, I wanted to make the most of our remaining time so we booked another tour on GYG and it was another phenomenal experience. We managed to see natural geysirs blow, more amazing waterfalls and the magnificent Þingvellir National Park before making our way to the airport for an evening flight. This tour was 6 hours long with Reykjavik Excursions and cost AU$110 pp.
WHERE WE STAYED:
Being a group of 4, we found pretty affordable accommodation at A Part Of Reykjavik Apartments via Booking.com (enjoy $25 off your next stay if you book via this link). It was a super comfortable place to stay and allowed us to buy from the grocery store and eat at home, rather than restaurants, to save money. It was just under $260 per person for the whole 3 nights, which, compared to the cost of food and drink was very well received.
TIP 5: RENT A CAR
If you have more time, I'd recommend renting a car and hitting these spots on your own schedule. Being part of a tour, there were a lot of people at the places we visited which could sometimes take away from the beauty of it all and of course, the main factor: there were some places I wish I had more time at and others I could've left earlier than we did.
I hope this helps anyone looking to visit Iceland for the first time and if you have anything to recommend either Iceland related or where to visit next, please leave a comment!