Adventure / Iceland / Short travel

Exploring Iceland: The Land of Fire and Ice

Preparing for a Trip to Iceland in March

When I visited Iceland in March 2015 it was cold but not very cold, remember I am Canadian but have been surviving British winters since 2008.  The key is layers as it is for any day in England.  I packed many layers so that I could adjust accordingly.

On the Water - Reykjavík, Iceland

In my preparations I went to a Cotswold shop to get long underwear.  Of course they tried to sell me everything – an under layer, base layer and new top later of travel gear to stay warm.  I declined and unless you have no warm clothes it is a bit of a rip off.  Also, unless you plan to sleep outside or maybe go glacier hiking this is NOT needed.  You just need to be reasonable about having warm clothing.  You want to be comfortable and warm.

Melissa in Iceland - Dyrhólaey, Iceland

The one item I purchased that was invaluable was a good pair of hiking boots.  They were water proof, had fantastic grip and were light weight.  Guernsey Jen wore regular knee high boots and that was comfortable for her and kept her warm.  No matter the footwear ensure you have a pair that are comfy and warm and water proof.

My packing list consisted of a few vest tops, t-shirts, jumpers and a heavy scarf, mittens, leggings, jeans, and two pair of shoes.  I brought hiking boots and runners.  I used both as there was no snow on the ground when we weren’t out on the road so it made most sense to wear comfortable trainers rather than heavy duty boots.

Town Centre - Reykjavik Iceland.jpg

There are also many ways to transfer from the airport.  They run buses to the city, first stopping at a bus station and these are timed with flights so you aren’t waiting too long.  Or you can cab, but it depends on how much you want to really want to spend.  Iceland is expensive but honestly living in London prepares you for this so it is not that crazy expensive.

While we didn’t feel limited I probably would have gone out for a nice traditional meal which can break the bank a little.  We did have fish and a few other traditional dishes in the form of a takeaway but other than that we did curb our food choices a little bit to stay on budget.

Accommodation

We used Air B&B and found the perfect flat.  It was on the main drag where the church lives and was well stocked.  It was warm, airy and so cute.  Keep in mind that the heating is generated by  geothermal power so where ever you stay will be lovely and warm inside.

Streets of Reykjavík - Iceland

The water smells like sulphur, it’s hard to get used to smelling ass in the air when you just took a shower but there is no way around it.  Despite the smell the water is super clean so drink it.  We did but the smell did put me off at times.

Things to Do and See

I stumbled upon a blog that was a massive help in our planning called I Heart Reykjavik. The author is Icelandic, does walking tours and promotes her love for her country.

Street Art - Reykjavik Iceland.jpg

We did her walking tour which was a nice way to learn about the city, the history, and orient ourselves to our surroundings.  If you aren’t a walking tour type of person that’s okay, I still recommend using her blog to help you plan.

As our adventure was only a few days we didn’t do tons but still saw a fair amount:

Walking Tour

The I Heart Reykjavik walking tour.  Audur loves her city and she wants you to as well.  Chances are you kind of love it already but she also shows you street art, and gives you lots of great tips and food options.

Many of the street artists in the city are women which I thought was interesting as usually they are mostly men elsewhere.  Loved this piece below as it reminded us of Dr Seuss. The knowledge gained on the tour is worth more than the cost so it is a win win situation.

Reykavik, Iceland

Hallgrímskirkja

Say that 3 times fast!  It’s the massive church that most tourists are familiar with.  However many don’t know that you can pay to go up to the top and you will get this stunning view of the city.

The View from Hallgrímskirkja - Rekjavik Iceland

From high up Reykjavik looks like a tiny toy town and it really does feel that way.  It doesn’t feel like many European cities.  It kind of felt like a ski resort town that you visit with school friends.  I loved it though and can’t wait to return for a longer stay.  I’d like to see the golden circle and just drive around more of the country.

Self Drive Tour of South Iceland – Reykjavik to Vik

We decided on this at the very last minute because of weather conditions and cost.  Both ended up being okay but you should always take the advice of those who know better.  Always make sure to check road conditions, I can’t stress this enough.  Some roads may be closed completely.

On the Road to Vik - Reykjavik Iceland

While it wasn’t snowing during our trip to get to Vik we had to drive through the mountains.  As times the conditions weren’t amazing but Guernsey Jen held it down with her Canadian winter driving skills.

I left my license at home and I wish I hadn’t as I found out later that Iceland drives on the right side as in Canada and I could have split driving duties with Jen.  We reserved a car the night before and picked it up the following morning.

Selfie Game Strong - Reykjavik to Vik, Iceland

There are many stunning views on the ride most notably the waterfall Skógafoss and the black sand beaches.  These were essentially the reasons that I wanted to take this route over the very popular Golden Circle.

Black Sand Beach - Reykjavik to Vik - Iceland

Shop!

We found lovely quirky Scandi things in the shops and even though it isn’t the cheapest destination because we saved money on food and used Air B&B we had some cash to splash.

Shopping District - Reykjavik, Iceland

Also it won’t break the bank to get little gifts if you are looking for something a bit different.  We also bough traditional icelandic jumpers from charity shops and they were beautiful.

Don’t Forget the Icelandic Horses!

They are bred for their beauty and diversity apparently.  I loved them, Guernsey Jen didn’t care for them at all.  Also, we didn’t make it to the blue lagoon.  I have a voucher for it from a previous trip that I had to cancel.  I didn’t feel like I missed out though so, if you want to swim in a pool find a natural one on your road trip or one in the city.

Icelandic Horses - Reykjavik to Vik - Iceland

The blue lagoon is man-made and I hear a bit of a tourist trap now but by all means if it is on your list then go!  I will probably go next time I visit if my voucher is still valid.

Icelandic Horse Vol 2 - Reyjkavik to Vik - Iceland

This post is actually taken from an email I sent to a friend who went to Iceland this March.  My love for Iceland stems for my love for Bjork.

Guernsey Jen & Melissa - Reykjvik to Vik - Iceland

She is an artist who embodies her home land and it was amazing to see stunning landscapes where you can imagine faeries would roam.  I’m still surprised I made it to Iceland because it was a huge travel goal for me.  Now to return and drive north.

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11 thoughts on “Exploring Iceland: The Land of Fire and Ice

  1. I love the ponies! Just running by to wrap up the holidays…
    Waiting for sunset on Christmas Eve is like standing toes-over-the-edge on a high diving board.
    Every year we’d cruise casually by the window to keep an eye on the sun’s progress until it was officially evening.
    Then the shout “Christmas Eve Gift!” would ring out.
    You see, the traditions says that the first person to voice that phrase on Christmas Eve to another would be graced with good fortune and joy all the next year.
    (And of course, whomever was first won. Everything was a contest…)
    It’s more difficult to be first now with caller ID.
    As all those who have become my friends in blogland are spread widely across time zones, I’d like to wish you all “Christmas Eve Gift” now.
    And as I already feel so fortunate to have such wonderful readers and writers in this neighborhood, I wish to share any phrase acquired good fortune and joy with you in thanks.
    No matter where you are or what you are guided by, hope you have a very merry Christmas and a new year full of adventure and joy.
    Peace on earth and goodwill towards all creatures great and small.

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