Golden Circle Tour - If you only have time to do one tour whilst in Iceland then you should definitely go on a Golden Circle tour. There are many different variations of the tour from 4x4 snow mobiles to bus tours depending on how you’d like to go (and your budget) but they all focus on 3 main attractions. The Strokkur geyser, the Gulfoss waterfall and the Thingvellir National Park. The tour will take you to some of Iceland’s most beautiful and breath-taking spots. The Gulfoss waterfall is widely accepted as being in the top 10 waterfalls in the world and at Strokkur you can watch the natural geyser shoot columns of boiling water 30 metres into the air every 6 minutes or so. I’ve seen some reviews which say the bus tour is impersonal and not particularly informative so this is worth bearing in mind.
Be prepared – The weather in Iceland is constantly changing. In the space of 45 minutes you could have sun, hail, gale force winds and snow and it wouldn’t be considered abnormal. A lot of the tours and activities which you’ll want to do in Iceland involve you being out for a long period of time. If you’re heading out make sure you’re prepared for all weather conditions. Whilst it might be sunny when you leave don’t count on it being the same when you get to your destination. There is no such thing as bad weather in Iceland just bad preparation.
Look for Hostels and AirBnB‘s – It’s no secret that Iceland isn’t a budget location. A pint of beer can cost anything from £8-£15 and dinner out isn’t cheap. A good way to manage your trip is to get an AirBnB. The prices are very reasonable compared with hotels and gives you the flexibility to have dinner in one night or enjoy a bottle of wine after a long day’s excursion in the comfort of your home before heading out for drinks. (At a snippet of the price) An AirBnB also gives you the flexibility to make lunches to take on your day trips.
You don’t need a car – Whilst a car would allow you to explore some of Iceland’s most remote areas at your leisure it’s not a necessity. As Brits we are very sceptical of public transport. UK trains and buses never run on time and you pay a lot for overcrowded dirty transport. However in Iceland the public transport from my experience is superb. All the buses run like clockwork and are clean, roomy and have working Wi-Fi. The city centre of Reykjavik is also small enough that you can comfortably walk everywhere very easily without the need for transport. If you’re visiting in winter it’s not advisable to hire a car unless you are confident and familiar with driving in very windy and snowy conditions. There were times I was glad to be on the bus which I never thought I’d hear myself say.
Spend an afternoon on Laugavegur - Laugavegur is the main shopping street in Reykjavik and its well worth spending a couple of hours wondering up and down. The street is full of boutique shops, cosy bars and coffee houses as well as some great restaurants and is as a good a way to spend an afternoon in Iceland as any other. The street is also the location of the famous Svarta kaffið restaurant where Reindeer soup is served in an edible bread bowl. (There is a vegetarian option for those who don’t fancy Reindeer) A short detour up the hill will take you to the Hallgrímskirkja church where for a small fee you can go to the top of the tower which provides breathtaking 360 views of Reykjavik.
The Blue Lagoon – Whilst the Blue Lagoon gets negative press for being far too touristy and busy it’s absolutely worth the trip. The lagoon is absolutely massive and once you are in the water you won’t have any issues with struggling for space or getting photos. You can also spend as long as you like in the water which is impressive as it would be easy for them to offer timed slots only. The swim up bar is pricey but with most ticket types your first drink is included. The silica and algae face masks as well as the silica heavy water is great for your skin and you won’t regret a dip in what is essentially a lake sized hot tub!
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