This time last year I took a rather impromptu trip to Reykjavik, Iceland with my youngest son. I booked a four night stay at the Grand Hotel, a 20 minute walk from the centre of Reykjavik.
It’s definitely a place I would recommend visiting and four nights was sufficient time to see everything we wanted to see. The weather was perfect with temperatures hovering around freezing (I kind of wanted that when I was in Iceland) and plenty of blue skies. It can be quite grey and rainy, so be prepared for that.
Iceland is expensive. I think you need to know that before you go so you can come to terms with that or it could spoil your holiday. I found it best not to convert the Krona’s into Pounds!
We booked our trip with Tui (this isn’t sponsored!) and packed our three full days with pre-booked excursions (two of these excursions were included in the price of the holiday).
Day 1 – Golden Circle Tour
This seems to be the classic ‘must do’ excursion for your stay in Iceland. If you prefer to go off the beaten track and lose the crowds, then this perhaps isn’t for you. Although it wasn’t particularly crowded when we were there, I can imagine at peak times it could get busy. For this trip, I was quite happy to hop on and off a bus and not have to do any thinking. This is a full day tour taking in the Thingvellir National Park where you get to see Geysir – one of Iceland’s exploding hot springs, stand between European and North American tectonic plates and visit the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall. A great excursion for visiting some of the most famous sights in Iceland.
Included in the holiday price is a trip to see (or try to!) the Northern Lights. We were picked up from our hotel on the first evening at around 9pm and taken to a spot (with no light pollution) in the hope of spotting the illusive Aurora Borealis. This only takes place if the weather conditions are favourable and it’s not guaranteed that you’ll see them. Sadly we didn’t on this occasion, but I did enjoy the experience of being out during the night in the hope of spotting them.
Day 2 – South Shore Tour
Another full day tour and probably one I’d pass on. There’s a lot of time spent on the coach. It does, however, take you past volcanoes (including the infamous Eyjafjallajökull which caused travel chaos in 2010) to the black sands on the south coast of Iceland. It was pleasant enough, but once you’ve seen the sights of the Golden Circle tour, you’ve been spoilt.
There was too much cloud cover for another trip to see the Northern Lights that evening, so we headed into town for our evening meal.
Day 3 – The Secret Lagoon
I don’t think you can visit Iceland without a trip to a lagoon – be it the Blue Lagoon or the Secret Lagoon. We opted for the Secret Lagoon in the hope that it would be more ‘secret’ and were impressed. It was very natural looking and not crowded at all (we went at the beginning of November). I can’t compare it to the Blue Lagoon, but looking at pictures, I am very happy we chose the Secret Lagoon. The weather couldn’t have been better; blue skies and a chilly -1 degree. I really wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this; I couldn’t imagine being outside in a swimsuit in sub zero temperatures. However, somehow, it was okay! The lagoon itself was like being in a very warm bath. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
We set off on another night trip in search of the Northern Lights, although conditions weren’t great and had to end the trip without being able to tick that off my bucket list.
All in all a fabulous trip. In summary, if you go, be prepared to part with some cash and also measure expectations of seeing the Northern Lights. Also worth bearing in mind the limited daylight hours in winter!