My time in Iceland was split into two parts: The Golden Circle and exploring Reykjavik with a stop at the Blue Lagoon. As I mentioned in my post about the Golden Circle, we stayed at an adorable little Airbnb two blocks from the heart of Reykjavik.
This is the capital of Iceland and largest “city” in the country, though Reykjavik resembles more of what I would consider to be a town. One of the things that immediately struck me about Iceland’s capital is how authentic it is. What I mean by that is whenever you visit the capital of any state/country, you are going to find just as many tourists (if not more) in the capital alongside the locals. Because of the popular tourism in a lot of the places I have visited, things become less authentic and more “tourist attraction.” Well I didn’t get that sense from Reykjavik. More than 2/3 of Iceland’s population lives in this tiny city on the water, so even with tourists, you are always where locals will go. And I loved that!
The main strip in Iceland is called Laugavegur. It is full of little Viking shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. It is lively in the evening with the Reykjavik nightlife. They also love American themed bars, one of the most crowded bars every night we were there was The Lebowski Bar. We ended our last night in Iceland watch an England vs Wales rugby match amidst a lively crowd.
I’m not big into cheesy souvenir shops, but I really enjoyed popping in and out of the ones we found here. We all left home with old maps of Iceland and little trinkets to bring back for family and friends. There was definitely a big Viking theme going on in the souvenir shops along with elves and trolls (which a lot of Icelanders believe to be real) and also puffins! We were so sad we didn’t get to see any puffins during our trip, my cousin had found out they already left the island for their migration. Maybe next time! Another fun thing we did was take a ride to the top of the largest building in Iceland, Hallgrimskirkja. This is the Church of Iceland and the top provides the most spectacular views over Reykjavik. It was a cloudy, cool day, but the view was still breath-taking. I love how colorful the town is, reminded me of areas I visited in Ireland too. Definitely brightens up an otherwise gloomy climate!
On our final day we took a short car ride to the beautiful Blue Lagoon–a must do for everyone traveling to Iceland, even if it is only for a few hours layover. The Blue Lagoon is considered to be one of the top 25 wonders of the world. It is only a 25 minute drive from the airport and is a geothermal spa. It is supposed to be a relaxing way to unwind and enjoy the natural hot springs of Iceland. The day we booked our reservation turned out to be during a storm. A real storm. I’m talking high winds, cold temperatures, and rain (and hail). But we went anyways because the Blue Lagoon didn’t close down. Although it wasn’t relaxing–not one bit–it was such a memorable experience.
We felt like we were stranded in the middle of a rough ocean not a calm, soothing hot spring. People were bracing themselves and their drinks hanging on the the edge of the wall for dear life. It was hysterically funny. We found a sheltered spot which happened to also be the hottest part of the spring, so we stayed there for two hours. I have no idea why we stayed in that long, but I guess we wanted to get our money’s worth?
The water was full of minerals and there was natural silica mud and aloe masks to put on our face and bodies. (My mask was washed away within moments by a rogue wave in the lagoon–ha!) We could have complained, or not gone, or thought “just our luck,” but we turned it into an exciting adventure to be remembered. I didn’t laugh so hard that trip as I did in the lagoon. But I do recommend it, try it out and I will pray you get a peaceful day to enjoy it!
Iceland is a treasure. I am already so excited to return again because there were lots of things I didn’t get to do: glacier walk, volcano tour, puffin tour/whale-watching. There is so much to do on this unique island filled with the kindest people. Click here for even more photos of Iceland. Until next time, Reykjavik!