Thinking of an Iceland stopover?

Firstly let me start by saying, I had no interest in visiting Iceland. Having been away from home for almost two years all I wanted to do was go straight to Tyrone and spend as much time as possible with my family. When looking at flights,  Gavin persuaded me to look at an Iceland Stopover. Having agreed on extending the trip, so our time in Iceland wouldn’t take time off my time at home and since flights were pretty cheap, I got on board.

We departed Toronto Aug 27th with Wow Air and landed in Iceland for  three amazing days. Flights for two from Toronto-Iceland-Dublin (return) were about $1,800. So not much more than a direct flight.

car-shotGetting around and accommodation: Prior to our trip we were advised to hire a car. This means your not stuck in Reykjavik and you can really explore the island. Orange Car Rental  was the company we used. They shuttle you to and from the airport, provide a fuel discount card and they are a sound bunch, with lots of tips on getting around. Parking in Reykjavik is pretty expensive, if you happen to book the smallest cars available from the car rental agencies there’s a good chance that it qualifies as a eco-friendly car which will give you free parking in all zones. If your rental car qualifies there should be a sticker in the window that is shaped like a clock and marked by the Reykjavík crest. If you have one of those clocks you can park anywhere for free for up to 90 minutes. After 90 minutes you have to pay though. Luckily we got one such car….nice!

 

AirBnB provided our accommodation,  we were about 15 minutes outside Reykjavik in Kopavogur staying in a cute one bedroom apartment, hosted by a lovely lady Gudrun.

First Stop: The Blue Lagooni52

 

Landing in Iceland at 6am and heading straight to the Blue Lagoon, probably doesn’t seem like the best idea, but suprisinly once we hit the milky blue water we were wide awake.

  • The Blue Lagoon is actually a manmade lagoon;  a nearby power plant, Svartsengi, was drilling to create electricity and hot water for nearby communities and the Blue Lagoon was originally an accidental byproduct of this process.
  • The Blue Lagoon is now a Geothermal Spa and is run like most other day spas you find around the world. There is accommodation, as well as saunas, restaurants & cafes, lockers, showers, etc.
  • The geothermal water features three active ingredients: Silica, Algae & Minerals.
  • While it looks blue, the water is actually white. If you pour it into a transparent cup, it will have a milky white color. The sun simply makes it look blue!
  • The water temperature is 37-40°C (98-104°F), year-round.

How much does it cost? This depends on season, and various packages are available ranging from, €40-€80. The package we choose was the premium €80 which included; Entrance to Blue Lagoon, silica mud mask and algae mask, use of a towel, 1st drink of your choice, use of bathrobe and slippers, as well as a reserved table at LAVA and a sparkling wine at LAVA. On reflection the Comfort package at €65 would have been the better bet unless you plan on visiting the restaurant, which we didn’t. You have free access to as much slica mask as you want, which is located in buckets around the pool. Drinks at the swim up bar aren’t crazy, around €8.50.

Will the Lagoon Ruin my hair?

Prior to visiting the lagoon I had read horror stories of breakage and frizz. I found this widespread concern to not really be an issue at all for me. I wet my hair with the shower water and then lathered on a coating of conditioner before getting in. if you are concerned though many girls had their hair up in buns and swim caps. After washing and drying, my hair did feel slightly “crispy,” and explains my terrible hair in most of the photos!

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Tips for your visit:

  • The Blue Lagoon is about 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik and about 20 minutes away from the airport. We went straight from the airport, to fill the time between landing and our AirBnb becoming available. There are shuttle transfers available to the Lagoon from both locations.
  • The water is not hot hot. It felt more like warm bathwater.
  • The weather in Iceland is highly unpredictable. Don’t let bad weather keep you from going to the Blue Lagoon. It was pretty cold when we were there, but once you hit the water you warm and wake right up
  • If you plan on taking photos inside the Lagoon, use protection. You can purchase a waterproof phone case from the bar for around $20. This was a serious lifesaver in Iceland between the dirt and water we encountered in our adventures.

Next Stop: Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss is one of the best known waterfalls in Iceland, remember Justin Beiber running around in his pants, this is the place! It is 65 meters high and it is breathtakingly beautiful. It is a must visiting Seljalandsfoss when visiting the south-coast, you will not regret it, I know I didn’t since once there Gavin got down on one knee and proposed!!

It is possible to walk behind the waterfall so bring a raincoat (we didn’t) as you will get wet from the drizzle. It is awesome walking behind Seljalandsfoss, especially on a sunny day when you can catch a rainbow. In winter time the path is closed when it gets too slippery and dangerous to walk behind the waterfall.

Seljalandsfoss is not far from Reykjavík, only 120 kilometres, so you can take a day trip South Coast Tour and waterfalls and visit Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss and return back to Reykjavík on the same day. You can spot Seljalandsfoss from the ring-road long before you reach it and it is a beautiful sight watching it getting closer and closer. In winter time it is lit up.

Day Two: Travelling Snæfellsnes (don’t ask me how its pronounced!)

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Snæfellsnes is a peninsula in western Iceland, North of Reykjavik. According to Google Maps the drive from Reykjavík around the peninsula and back is about 475 km and they estimate that you need just over 6 hours for the driving without stops. This day trip could easily take a lot longer with all the things to see and do on the way but if the weather is nice I would say it’s well worth it. Its worth mentioning that you will drive a lot, so take snacks and not to sound like your mum, plan your pee breaks!

After setting out, we stopped in Borgarnes for lunch and stumbled upon the cutest little guest house and cafe Blómasetri∂. Here we had a quick bite and chatted with the owners who provided us a really helpful guide to travelling Snæfellsnes, which ended up being our guide for the day.

This drive was amazing, with every corner the landscape seemed to change. Normally I’m a complete hag, but I made myself climb the hills, and jump the rocks in streams and Im so glad i did! We took in as many attractions as we could including;

  • Saxholl: 3000-4000 year old lava crater
  • Lóndrangar: a pair of sharp basalt cliffs 246ft high. Awesome sight, shaped by force of nature like a viking ship.
  • Helena: an ancient fishing village
  • Songhellir (singing cave): Cave is know for amazing echoes, and ancient home to Bár∂ur Snaefellsás
  • Stykkishólmur: a fishing village and home to lighthouse.

Day Three: Exploring Reykjavik

By this stage we were pretty much exhausted and decided to explore the city. Eating and drinking in the city is pretty expensive, but we did check out the local establishments over the course of the three days and would recommend The Laundromat, The chuck Norris Bar, The Big Lebowski bar, and Bravo.

Reykjavík is a hipsters paradise, You could spend more than one day checking out the city and you will want to check out all the cute wee shops, the graffiti and the bars.

 

Be sure to visit the Hallgrímskirkja (Church of Hallgrímur) which is the most prominent of the Reykjavík landmarks. The tower is 73 meters high (that’s almost 240 feet) and it’s placed on top of a hill (Skólavörðuholt) so it is impossible to miss.It’s possible to take a elevator to the top of the tower and it costs 500 ISK, about $.6 per person. According to locals its a great way to get photos of the city, but due to time constraints we didn’t do it.

Also check out the Viking ship and the Harpa concert hall along the waterfront.

 

Wow that was a long post,  AND I could go on. If you didn’t guess, I LOVED my time in Iceland, and will definetly go back.

I really struggled to decide which photos to use, all of which were taken by Gavin or myself.

Have you been to Iceland? Let me know what you thought?

S xx

 

 

 

 

 

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