Wednesday, April 8, 2015

9 Things to do in Iceland

Reykjavik Iceland Blue Lagoon Reykjavik Iceland Blue Lagoon 1

Of all the things we did in Iceland, The Blue Lagoon was my favourite. For those of you who don't know, it's a geothermal spa located in a big-ass lava field with a very agreeable temperature of 37 degrees. There's natural face masks at the side of the lagoon for you to enjoy, as well as a bar IN THE ACTUAL POOL so that you can sip on a strawberry wine or a beer as you take in the beauty of it all (fun fact time: it's one of the 25 wonders of the world). It's open as late as 10 at night, and I think we actually ended up staying in for about three and a half hours, splitting our time between the lagoon itself and the saunas. Despite the water being such an enjoyable the temperature, the weather above water was, well, not enjoyable - I think it was around 2 degrees that day and it was windy as hell - so I didn't manage to get many good photos of the pool itself, but you can see better for yourself here.

Tip: if you get your hair wet you're going to end up with Barbie hair for at least a week thanks to all the minerals, so either tie your hair up or invest in a good conditioning treatment.


Hallgrimskirkja is the largest church in Iceland (it stands at a whopping 244ft) and was one of the first places we decided to visit on the Saturday morning as the weather was on our side and we'd heard very good things about the view from the top. Because of it's height it's visible right across the city so was pretty easy to find!
Hallgrímskirkja Reykjavik 4 Hallgrímskirkja Reykjavik 2
Hallgrímskirkja Reykjavik

The building itself is absolutely beautiful inside. It's a really peaceful church so make sure and take the time to wander round and take it all in, from the stained glass window to the MAHOOSIVE pipe organ. However, the view from the top really did steal the show...

Hallgrímskirkja Reykjavik view from top

you can see right the way across Reykjavik and beyond, it's kind of like you're Simba standing on top of Pride Rock looking across all the land. Except, you know, you don't own any of it. You have to pay to go up but it's not much (the equivalent of a couple of pounds) and is well worth it!

reykjavik Iceland golden circle tour

Oh my goodness I could actually write a book about how amazing The Golden Circle Tour was. However, I feel even my Mum wouldn't read that, so instead I'll keep it limited to a section of a blog post. It's Iceland's most popular tour if I'm not mistaken, and you'll soon see why. You start off your day by driving through the most incredible scenery of snowy hills and volcanoes, which wouldn't actually look out of place in The Sound of Music come to think of it. This drive does last about an hour and a half from what I remember so, you know, do that toilet before you leave or prepare to work those bladder muscles like you've never worked them before.

reykjavik Iceland golden circle tour tomato farm (2) reykjavik Iceland golden circle tour tomato farm

First stop, the tomato farm! It's a it of a random little stop where you learn all about the farm and how the tomatoes are grown (it's the kind of place my papa would be in his element), but then you get the opportunity to try some freshly made tomato soup (utterly delicious) and some homemade bread (I couldn't try it because of my very fun gluten allergy but Rob said the cinnamon one was the best roll he's ever had). There's also bloody marys on the go for anyone who's feeling a little delicate!

reykjavik Iceland golden circle tour geyser 1 reykjavik Iceland golden circle tour geyser (2) reykjavik Iceland golden circle tour geyser 3 reykjavik Iceland golden circle tour geyser reykjavik Iceland golden circle tour Geyser 2

The next stop off is at the geysers which was just incredible. As you can hopefully see from the photos, it's like you've stepped back in time to the Ice Age or into Jurassic Park - the landscape's like nothing I've ever seen before. The Strokkur geyser erupts every 5-8 minutes and is such a crazy sight, like an invisible whale's constantly firing off its blowhole. 

Tip: Put your hood up: a particularly big geyser eruption is like standing under mother nature's shower.

reykjavik Iceland golden circle tour gullfoss (3) reykjavik Iceland golden circle tour gullfoss (2) reykjavik Iceland golden circle tour gullfoss

Next up was Gullfoss, which is an incredible big waterfall. The sheer size and power of it is like nothing I've ever seen before - see the people on the bottom right of that last photo there to get an idea of it's scale! Also, fun fact, Gullfoss is the waterfall that appears on the cover of the Echo and the Bunnymen 'Porcupine' album cover.

reykjavik Iceland golden circle tour national park (2) reykjavik Iceland golden circle tour national park

The last stop of the tour is Thingveller National Park, which is another of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen in real life; the whole place looks photoshopped. Nature's version of Ryan Gosling's abs if you like. There's so much history that's taken place there, which you can really feel as you walk through and - fun fact alert strike two - the ha-uge wall used in Game of Thrones is actually located in Thingveller Park.

Reykjavik Iceland Northen Lights Tour
Now, a trip to Iceland wouldn't be a trip to Iceland without a northern lights tour, would it? If you've known me for more than five minutes you'll know that seeing them has been top of my bucketlist for, well, I don't even know how long. We stayed out until three in the morning hunting for them and finally spotted them just as we were leaving to go home, which was absolutely amazing. They were too weak to photograph but I'm perfectly ok with that because it gives me a much-needed excuse to return to Iceland STAT. I think next time we'll either rent a jeep or go on a snowmobile right out into the wilderness.

Tip: Do the toilet before you go on the tour (same as with any Reykjavik Excursion tour) as there are no toilets on the bus. I've never had to test my bladder more than I did on the Golden Circle tour. Painful stuff. Also, you literally cannot wrap up enough for this tour - standing in the dark for hours late at night does not make for a warm body.


We came across Lake Tjornin by accident on our last day in Reykjavik when we were wandering around, and I'm so glad we did. It is, in a word, picture perfect. Ok, two words then. It's surrounded by lovely colourful houses (but where isn't in Reykjavik) and there's swans and geese galore. If you're the kind of keen bean who likes to exercise on holiday then a) I envy you greatly and b) this is the place to go for a jog or a cycle. Apparently you can ice skate on it as well when it freezes over in Winter which sounds like a bit of a dream. Reykjavik City Hall sits right on the edge of the lake so make sure and check that out as well!

reykjavik Iceland lake tjornin (2) reykjavik Iceland lake tjornin 2 reykjavik Iceland lake tjornin 1

reykjavik laugavegur

It'd be pretty impossible to do Reykjavik and not do Laugavegur as it's the main street for shopping as well as for bars and restaurants. It's maintained a nice, historic feel to it and is filled with everything from homeware stores, to clothing stores to old fashioned sweetie shops so makes the perfect place for a stroll. Skolaviordustigur is another great street to walk up for cafes and coffee shops! 

Tip: If you forget a travel adapter (yes, I was that guy. Leave me alone) then Brynja - the hardware shop on Laugavegur - is one of the only, if not the only, place you'll find them.

Reykjavik penis museum Reykjavik penis museum (2)

As soon as I heard such a thing existed it went straight to the top of my list of things to do. We thought it'd be really funny but it actually turned out to be a bit.. weird. There's every kind of penis imaginable in there, even human - I kid you not, as well as a variety of accoutrements, like bowties and lamps to name a few, made of, um, foreskin. It's only around about £5 entry and you do learn a lot like, for example, a killer whale has a massive, massive penis. If you don't believe me just look at the photo above.

Reykjavik Iceland Indoor flea market (2) Reykjavik Iceland Indoor flea market

Kolaportid is Iceland's only flea market and is filled to the brim with treasures. We walked through without buying anything (first time for everything) but spotted everything from records, to clothes, to food, to rows of silver rings. Rumour has it you can even find yourself some fermented shark there. If you're into that sort of thing.

Reykjavik Iceland view

As you've probably guessed from the rest of my posts, Iceland is a visual feast. There's a real strong feeling of history and times gone past been preserved that gives it a really special edge and, no matter where you go or what you do on your trip, there's beauty to take in everywhere you look. So that, my friends, is my biggest tip of all - look up and soak it all in!

Obviously that's not all that's on the go in Iceland (it's FILLED with things to do) but these are just a selection of the things we did during our time there and loved! I hope you're enjoying these posts so far, there's one final one still to come and it's one of my favourites. You guessed it, it's where to eat in Iceland! That'll be live next week so get your peepers (and your stomach) at the ready!


Thank you to WOW air and Airbnb for such a wonderful trip!