If you’re heading to Iceland on a short break with a hope of catching the Northern Lights, the first suggestion would be to travel in late February and March. These are two of the darkest months, which also manage to give a relatively decent amount of daylight (approximately 10 – 12 hours). The temperature will be pretty cold, and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll get beautiful snow.
After speaking to friends beforehand, who had also visited Iceland, one big recommendation was to head to the Blue Lagoon either on route to Reykjavik or on the way to the airport. You can take a bus transfer right from the airport to the blue lagoon – and it must be said, seeing the lagoon in a snowstorm with a glass of prosecco in hand, face mask on, is certainly a once in a lifetime experience.
Airbnb was a go-to for us, booking a small apartment located in the heart of Reykjavik, close to shops, restaurants and bars, and a short walk from Reykjavik Roasters which boasts a top flat white. It’s highly recommended to check out one of the main streets, Laugavegur, where there’ s plenty to see and do, including a visit to the infamous Kaffibarinn – a cosy bar owned by none other than Damon Albarn of Blur & Gorillaz.
Reykjavik itself is a fairly easy city to walk around with plenty to see: the harbour, street art, colourful houses – there’s something to look at on every street corner. The snow came down pretty heavy on our first night, but this did not stop us exploring the next day – walking around the harbour and taking in Harpa, the concert hall. A trip to Reykjavik wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the church tower Hallgrimskirkja. We walked to this in the snow but opted not to climb the tower. Instead, we ventured to Perlan, for a panoramic view of the city and a better perspective of the tower.
As we were only there for a few days we wanted to give ourselves as much opportunity to see the Aurora as possible and so booked onto a trip on our first night. A strong recommendation, as if like us you’re unable to see them on the first night, you can head out again on another day to hopefully catch them for free.
A trip not to be missed on a short stay in Iceland is the Golden Circle Tour. The tour includes a visit to Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir, and the Pingvellir National Park. It’s a full day, and an ideal way to see some of Iceland’s finest natural habitats. We booked this trip via Kexland, at Kex Hostel who even run a Game of Thrones tour!
Kex Hostel is another great place to stay in Reykjavik, as well as a live music venue (and tour booking centre). The enviable interior gives any visitor a place to head to if you’re looking to warm up after a day of exploring or a want to catch their happy hour with a view.
The cost of food and drink is a bit of a shock to the system if unprepared. Our supermarket shop of eggs, bread, milk, cheese, chocolate and crisps cost us over £30. We also ate in the “Pizza With No Name” restaurant on Hverfisgata 12 which cost us around £80 for two pizzas and two cocktails. It’s pricey no doubt, but completely worth it for the experience.
Tapas Barinn was not unreasonable and if you head a little off the beaten track you can find deals. I’d also really recommend “Appy Hour” which gives you all the happy hours in Reykjavik so that you can still drink – but for cheaper!
Iceland definitely left a lasting effect and it’s a country that would be worth exploring all year round. The people are friendly, the culture open and with so much to see it needs to be discovered on multiple trips. A great place to soak up culture, nature, and art.
IcelandAir offer flights to Reykjavik from Manchester Airport starting at £36 one way. For more information head to https://www.icelandair.com/en-gb/flights/reykjavik/