Both Zach and Sami have been interested in visiting Iceland for as far back as I can remember, not sure what motivated them to want to visit, but it all came to fruition last October as I was driving Sami back from her friends when she enquired about where we would go for this year’s March school holidays.
She is persuasive to say the least although not that I needed much convincing, and so when we got home I went online and began planning.
Fast forward five months and here we are in Reykjavik enjoying a week of exploring and adventures in this interesting little island country. You have to hand it to the Icelandic people and their tenacity and stick-to-it-ive-ness, as they have pulled together like no other nation since their insolvency during the economic debacle of 2008 to become the poster child for unified tourism.
They have collectively cracked the secret code wherein every aspect of the economy is solely focused on winning the tourist dollar and what a success they’ve been. The government provides incentives for both airlines and tourists to stop over in Iceland on their way to Europe in the form of cheaper fares and affordable hotels.
I last visited briefly in 2009 and for the most part the center of Reykjavik was completely boarded up, with only a handful of people anywhere to be seen – a depressed and despondent nation at the time…
As part of their ever burgeoning tourist industry they have been very creative in terms of developing unique Icelandic adventures. For example, yesterday, Zach, Sami and I hiked inside the Langjökull Glacier on a two-hour adventure – which was fantastic. Not often you’ll get the opportunity to go deep underground and explore inside one of the world’s largest glaciers.
Prior to getting on the plane last Friday night, I had booked a handful of activities for our week away. Firstly, we had the Glacier hike (awesome!), next up is the Blue Lagoon which although a well-known tourist attraction is pretty cool to experience to be immersed in naturally hot water (37C – 40C) with a mix of Silica, Algae and minerals from deep within the earth, then a day visit to the Strokkur Geyser and Gulfoss falls, and finally a night cruise to see the Northern Lights.
Four big activities in six days with the remainder of the time meant for unwinding intentionally planned both for them and me…we’ve all earned a good break from our routine but also some down time to accompany our adventure.
Yeah, this morning we went for Brunch after they got up at 11:30 am, and although I was up around 8:00-ish it gave me plenty of time to work on curating my photos. It’ll be a while as I have almost 1000 from the three days so far – I know, crazy, right?!
Indelible Tip #1: For this visit a three-bedroom apartment with large lounge, kitchen and bathroom in the center of Reykjavik – Theatre Row Apartments. This has been a fabulous choice and would highly recommend it given its proximity to the center of the city (2 blocks and the relative price it’s been a great deal). Each bedroom has twin beds so realistically it could sleep up to six people very comfortably.
It’s a mere two blocks walk to pretty much anywhere in the city – the waterfront, the city center and with abundant street parking is the perfect location for any visit.
Indelible Tip #2: For your visit to Reykjavik definitely rent a car, as the airport is some 50 km south west of the capital. This will serve you in good stead given that many of the attractions are quite distant from the city and it’s great to have your own transportation so that you can visit when you want vs. waiting for a tour bus etc. Its great to leisurely take your time on your road trips, stopping when ever you want for a photo opportunity (there were a few!) or just exploring.
Iceland is simple to navigate, but would definitely recommend either renting a GPS or using your phones (check your phone provider data plan first though…) as there are no signs in english. Just sayin…
To experience the real Iceland you have to get out of the city as the vast majority of the sights are some distance from the city center, so having a car is really the way to go.
Indelible Tip #3: Although we tried a host of breakfast places the best we found was Bergsson Mathús (Templarasund 3) with its eclectic and delicious menu all of which were super healthy, note that the menu is vegan and vegetarian friendly and I have it on very good authority that the vegetarian lasagne is to die for!
Trust me to find a great Italian place in Reykjavik – the Rossopomodoro (Laugavegur 40a) situated centrally on the main walking street in the city is just such an establishment. This Neapolitan style restaurant is fabulous and as in Naples has abundant seafood dishes plus your more traditional pastas and thin crust pizzas. It was delicious!
A couple of things to take into consideration, firstly, depending on the time of year some attractions, excursions and tours get filled up well in advance, so best to consider booking on line before your visit – highly recommended.
Iceland is not a cheap vacation, it’ll set you back a pretty penny but in the grand scheme of things experiencing life is all that matters… So is it time to splurge on visiting this wonderful little island hideaway or perhaps consider stopping over on your next visit to Europe? There are deals to be had!
You’ll be glad you did – Iceland is amazing, stunning, gorgeous, awesome, sensational!!!