Travel in Style

Tips & Tricks: How to Get the Most out of Iceland

How to Get the Most out of Iceland
by McCall Letterle
iceland

While planning our Trip to Iceland – I followed so many different blogs that had amazing recommendations and step by step suggestions..plans and guides for how to make our trip amazing. I wanted to share the details of our trip, and have no desire to start a blog – so I figured this would be the best way to share what I could about our trip! I plan to update this throughout the week in different parts, as we did so much and there is so much to share. Glen Letterle and I had an amazing time – and we hope this helps you plan your trip!
Let me start by saying – people had been mentioning Iceland to me for several years. Yes I thought the idea was cool – A land of ice? fun. What I didn’t realize is the land of “fire and ice” is actually the most amazing place I’ve ever been to – and so far mostly untouched by the typical tourism you will find across Europe and the US. This to me is a vacation that should not be on your “bucket list” it should be in your “two year plan” list. You must go. Before tourism takes over.
Let me explain.
So IcelandAir has begun this new ad campaign called #mystopover. You can fly Iceland Air from the US (Seattle, Orlando, Newark, JFK, Toledo, D.C., and a few others) to anywhere in Europe using Iceland as your “layover”. This “layover” can be scheduled anywhere from 1 day to 7 days. Meaning it costs you nothing to build a trip to Iceland into your next trip to Europe. How amazing is that!? The tickets on IcelandAir are also quite cheap, and the quality of the planes are awesome with amazing entertainment options! Roundtrip I went from Newark to Iceland for roughly $850. My flight time from Newark to Iceland was also only 5 hours and 30 minutes. They have some Ads on the plane that say “Shorter than a trip from Boston to LA” – so it’s pretty close! I did build in a trip to Spain to visit my cousin, but that was done through some reward miles I had on United.
So what time of the year should you go to Iceland? Our trip coincided with Glen’s spring break from his MBA program, so choosing Spring wasn’t intentional. We were able to talk to some of the guides about the best times of year. Winter time is obviously extremely cold, and tends to be quite dark since they are located far north, their winter days are short. This is great if your main goal is to see The Northern Lights. They have some amazing trips where you can actually camp out on a Glacier overnight and watch The Northern Lights. There are also some amazing hotels where you can actually stay in a Glass “igloo” like bubble in the far North of the country to try and catch a glimpse! This was a bit expensive so we opted not to, but it will be on our list of things to do next time around! The Summer Time is when most of the “tourism” happens. The weather is better, the sun is up for nearly 15 hours a day, but apparently prices for everything skyrocket. By traveling in late April, we avoided the high prices, had fairly decent weather (super windy and cold, but the sun was shinning!) and because there was less people all of our tour and experiences felt like we were having a private tour of the country. So awesome!
{2017 Update: We went for our second trip in September of 2017 and WOW was the weather different than our 2016 trip in April… but the great weather came at the compromise of a LOT more tourism than before. So just make the best choice for you!}
If you’re adventurous… the fun thing about Iceland is you can camp anywhere. Literally… side of the road, up a mountain, wherever you want. We saw a LOT of people backpacking, hitch hiking and “tenting” it across Iceland. I can image you would need to be pretty experienced for this considering the climate and conditions.. but to each their own! I intentionally did not tell Glen about this unique camping law in Iceland… as I was not about to debate camping in the middle of nowhere. If you know me… you know I prefer geothermal heated tile floors .
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You fly into Kevlavik (prounounced Kev-La-Vik) airport, which is approximately 50 minutes from the center of the city. We used the recommendation from www.myblondeabroad.com to travel using FlyBus, which picks you up in coordination with your flight and brings you either to the center station in Reykjavik, or brings you directly to your hotel if it’s located within the city limits. This cost us approximately $15/person from the airport to the city. We also used it to get back from city, and scheduled in a trip to the Blue Lagoon (See more on that in another note). They recommend you book this ahead of time online, which definitely saves you from standing in line for a ticket, but isn’t necessary if you feel like “playing it by ear”. There is also a pretty awesome bus system that is really easy to use. If you bring cash, you and jump on and off the bus for 449 isk per person (About $2).
So where should you stay in Reykjavik? You have a few options. Hotels obviously are your most expensive. Iceland also has an insane amount of Hostels and Guesthouses. The Hostels in Iceland are actually pretty cool. Glen and I researched them as a viable option for awhile, until I realized that I’m the lightest sleeper in the world and sharing a room with other people was not going to work. Their Hostels are very hipster, and according to trip advisor very clean. You can stay in a room of 20 people (with bunks), 10 people, 5 people, or you can pay a bit more for a private room. We stopped at one next to our car rental location called Bus Hostel, which actually looked pretty awesome. So check it out if you’re considering this. The best Guesthouses can be found on Trip Advisor and booked through Booking.com. We met some people who stayed in Guesthouses and loved their experiences. A family hosts you, but they have different people in each of their rooms. The people we met said that the host cooked a HUGE meal for them each night with traditional Icelandic food, where they were able to meet the other people staying at the house. They loved it and highly recommended using a Guesthouse. Glen and I chose to do Airbnb (who would have guest right?..click link to see our place). We had the best experience. Our airbnb was $78/night which was a bargain, for an entire place including a kitchen, living room, sitting room, super comfortable bed and bedroom, laundry room (highly recommended), and bathroom which had geothermal heated tile floors! Our hosts were so unbelievably kind and helpful and even invited us upstairs for drinks one night, where we got to talk Politics and Culture.
{2017 Update: For our second tip we stayed in a nice hotel downtown. Would HIGHLY recommend if you have the budget for it! REYKJAVÍK RESIDENCE HOTEL: an apartment style upscale hotel, so if you want a full kitchen with the luxury of a hotel this is an awesome spot. Also great for families as they have two bedroom suites! }
What to should you pack? My tip for you on this is…. whatever you think is warm enough, multiply it by two. Here are a few of my suggestions
Thick winter gloves, thick thick socks, hiking boots (better if they’re water proof), warm winter jacket, a million layers to put on below your jacket. At least 2 scarfs. The wind is blowing a lot — so you’ll want that to protect your face. Warm hat that covers your ears (again for the wind), if you’re doing adventure stuff it will be important to pack some snow pants, leggings, and a bathing suit (crazy right). I brought tennis shoes – but never ended up wearing them because no matter what you’re doing — boots are the best options. Also lots of camera options, and chargers. Don’t forget your chargers — like Glen and I did. You really want to make sure to overpack – because buying something you forgot our would like is SUPER expensive (More on this later).
I’ll get to more on this in my next post – but alcohol and food are insanely expensive in Iceland. I knew that ahead of time thanks to http://www.nomadicmatt.com/ blog – so I planned ahead. I packed a bag of granola, and lots of granola bars for our excursions. I also packed a box of wine (Classy right? – but a box won’t break in your luggage) so that we could enjoy ourselves at our Airbnb without breaking the banks. I highly recommend doing both of these…. I’ll explain more on pricing in tomorrows post….
Can’t wait to share more fun things we did and tips for your next trip to Iceland…
Tomorrow (Or maybe tonight if I get to it)… traveling The Golden Circle!….
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So after 1 day of jet lag and recovery, we started the first of four days of Adventure! This day was dedicated to what they call the “Golden Circle”. This is different than “Ring Road”. The Golden Circle, if driven straight through takes roughly 3.5 hours and begins and ends in Reykjavik. Ring Road, also begins and ends in Reykjavik but covers the outer perimeter of the country and takes roughly 7+ days to complete. Obviously – we set out on the shorter treck, and hope to accomplish Ring Road on another trip.

For the Golden Circle, I used nearly 3 blogs to put together our trip and decide where to go. There are so many options. (THATS WHY PACKED PERFECTLY WAS INVENTED – A ONE STOP SHOP WITH EVERYTHING!)
While a straight through drive takes 3.5 hours, there is no point in doing this straight through — you’d miss everything! Our journey took us 10 hours, and could not have been more fun!
You can do the Golden Circle with a tour company, or you can drive it yourself. We opted to drive ourselves – and would have to say we think it’s the best option. TheBlondeAbroad.com recommended a company call SAD Cars for rental (Terrible name right?) Well, we took her up on it and boy did it live up to it’s unfortunate name!
Car rental in Iceland is expensive. Especially if you go through Hertz or Enterprise. It’s also double the price if you want Automatic – so someone better learn stick before taking this trip. Glen learned quickly….. To give you an idea on price, Hertz wanted $140/day for stick, and nearly $200/day for automatic. Our precious little beauty right here…. yup that’s right, the bumper is held on by a Zip Tie, and we were missing a hub cap.. This baby right here cost us $62 for 2 days! Yes… I am the type of person who gets really proud to “beat the system”. You’ll want a cheap car rental because gas is nearly $7/gallon there! Yikes. Our Toyota Yaris, Circa 2005 did just fine on the open road and made for a hilarious story when we went a bit “off roading”.
{2017 Update: This time we had a little bit better budget and went with CARS Iceland. This was still more affordable than renting with one of the big guys, and our car was terrific quality BUT it was the most disorganized pick up and drop off process I’ve ever seen. Took us nearly 2 hours to get our car (Just standing in a short line at the counter) and nearly 1.25 hours to drop the car off.}
So next is to decide which way to take the circle. I recommend take the upper half first. I believe most of the tour buses take the lower road first, so it was great for us to be traveling against the tours! Plus all the fun stuff is on the upper half, and the relaxing views on the lower half. Much better way to bring about your day.
We started out and jumped off the road several times to take pictures of the scenery. It was incredible.
Bring lots of snacks — cause there are a few long stretches with no food! It didn’t help that we ate through half of our snacks by the first stop! Our first stop was Oxarafoss Waterfalls. This is located in Pingvellir national park, and is really worth the 1400km walk. The walk begins between two large rock walls that is part of the continental plate divide.
Once you walk up a little hill behind all these rocks, this beautiful water fall emerges. You can get quite close to it. What we didn’t realize, and what maybe Apple hasn’t realized either yet, is that if your cell phone gets below a certain temperature… let’s just say… general Icelandic temperatures, your battery goes from 100% to 0% in a matter of 4 minutes. No joke. So this is one of the only pictures Glen and I got by the waterfall. It was gorgeous, and some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen. As you can see, Glen and I appear to be wearing moderately warm clothing….well we were freezing. We under prepared for this journey. Don’t be like us. Dress warmer. That’s not blush I’m wearing.. it’s wind burn. Not a new color by Kylie Jenner.
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After the waterfall we continued on. It was recommended on one of our blogs to stop at Laugarvatn Fontana, a natural hot spring spa, but we decided it was too early to break out the bathing suites and passed it. At this point, I was starting to get a bit hungry and knew that I really wanted to find this special restaurant that I had heard about on two separate blogs. We were coming up to an area where we had to turn off to find it – but the problem was our GPS, nor Google Maps could locate the address on the website. All we had was a blurry picture from a blog screen shotted, a map, and a car with 3 hub caps. But I was determined to venture and find this amazing restaurant – and luckily my husband gladly obliged the journey (he’s a trooper…especially since there was no meat).
The restaurant I was hunting for is called Friðheimar (pronunciation still unknown). It’s a fully self-sustained tomato restaurant where you eat in the greenhouse where the tomatoes are grown. Every dish is based off tomatoes, and anything they use for cooking is grown there. It’s like a vegetarians heaven!! Or anyone who enjoys a good Bloody Mary. Here’s the tricky part about this restaurant. It’s only open from 12pm-4pm daily. Meaning you have a small window to catch it. You can either catch it right on the beginning of your journey, or risk missing it towards the later part. I wasn’t willing to risk it. This is where Glen’s “land nav” skills came in handy from the military because it was NEARLY impossible to find. A detour that should have taken 15-18 minutes became a 45+ minute off roading journey to find the vegetarian mecca. I accidentally almost ate in 3 families personal greenhouses in an attempt to locate this sucker. I’m still not quite sure how we got there – but the trick is…. go to downtown Reykholt, and look for a small, old sign that has what looks to be an Apple on it..but it’s actually meant to be a tomato. We passed it twice.
We had arrived!!!!!! The sign had promised us a “unique lunch experience” and we get one!

The best part about this place? It was really reasonably priced compared to everywhere else in the city! The chef greeted you at the door, and welcomed you to your lunch experience. Where endless tomato soup and three loaves of different types of tomato bread awaited. Grape vines grew from the ceiling, and during the middle of our lunch the waitress climbed up on the table and cut a fresh cluster of grapes from the ceiling and walked around offering a taste to each table. At another point during the lunch fresh baby tomatoes were picked and offered up to us for tasting as well. Really a cool experience. At first I was really distracted by the several bumble bees that fluttered around our table. Then I realized it was from the bee hives in the corner of the greenhouse which produced the honey used in our food. So cool. Highly, highly, highly recommend. It made our day.
{2017 Update: We went back there — and in April of 2016 when there were nearly no tourists it was the hidden gem we loved — in September of 2017 — it was SLAMMED with people. We arrived and they asked us “Do you have reservations?”.. What!?… I pushed really hard on the hostess and she finally seated us without reservations.. but my recommendation is that if you are going during heavy tourist season CALL AHEAD!}
After we were full – we went back the way we came (I said we went off the beaten path..) and returned to the Golden Circle. Next journey was the Geysir! This is located almost at the top peak of the Golden Circle. At first it just looked like a hole in the ground with steaming water, until out of nowhere the water erupts. Nearly scared the crap out of Glen and I.. as we had seen a baby eruption just minutes before and thought that was it. The big one went nearly 35 feet in the air. Soooo cool.
At this point in the afternoon – we had figured out the mysterious Apple Phone Freezing issue. When your phone is freezing, the battery dies instantly, but the second it is warmed back up, it returns to normal battery life. So by keeping my phone in my bra – it stayed warm. I could pull it out for 2 minutes to take a picture and had to immediately return it to it’s “holster”. That made it difficult to catch the eruption… but as Marilynn Zupon used to say.. don’t live your life behind a camera lens.
The furthest point on the circle is Gullfoss. And it is way cool. A quick walk down stairs and you arrive at the largest waterfalls I’ve ever seen and they flowed between these insane cliffs. No picture can do it justice of what it feels like standing so close to this amazing view.
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At this point in the trip is when you turn to take the bottoms half of the Golden Circle back to Reykjavik. There are several ways you can take, but I had heard about this “secret lagoon” and I was determined to find it. Again, we were navigating without much direction and a crappy blog photo of the general location. At this point in the day, we had been pretty cold running out of the car to all these sights, so the thought of a natural hot spring and some wine was sounding amazing. Some tough navigating, and a few wrong turns, then some u-turns and we found the secret lagoon! It’s located in the city of Fludir and can only be found by a small wooden sign on the side of the road of what looks to be taken in 1920 with the ‘Sepia’ filter, of 8 women bobbing in water. I shouted to glen “PEOPLE IN WATER!” and he hung a hard left to successfully find the secret lagoon.

Not so secret if there is an admissions charge right? Oh well – $15/person and we had the whole thing to ourselves for quite some time. A small active geysir next to the lagoon provided the geothermal heat. The water is completely untreated by chemicals, and is naturally filtered through the rocks for purification. It was awesome – and exactly what we needed at the end of a long cold journey. The water was hot – like hot tub hot. It was the perfect place to unwind and process all of the unbelievable experiences from the day. To look around the mountains and realize you had just driven off an unpaved dirt road, next to glaciers and have found yourself in a natural hot spring. That is pretty cool.

From the secret lagoon it’s about an 1.25 hour drive back to Reykjavik, which is relaxing and beautiful, especially since you’ve warmed up with a swim.
{2017 Update: We added an additional stop this time on our trip that we missed in April of 2016 out of being just too damn cold to make it there. This is Kerid, a crater that was created by a volcano that caved in. When I saw it online in 2016, I thought it was not cool enough to drive to…. in 2017… I realized that was an oversight. It’s way cool! The drive is on your way back at the bottom of the Golden Circle… it’s about 45 minutes from the Secret Lagoon and 45 minutes from there back to Reykjavik. So it’s perfect! There is a small admissions fee, so bring cash!}
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Day 3! At this point we’re rested, coming off of an awesome day driving around the Golden Circle and ready for this awesome adventure.
So let’s talk excursion pricing, and companies. It’s Iceland, nothings cheap. When I was booking our excursion each and every time it took me nearly a week to get up the mental courage to press “BOOK” because the price is pretty daunting. TheBlondeAbroad.com recommended two tours (we did them both) through Arctic Adventure. I scoped out a few other tour companies and agreed with her blog that this one looked to be the best quality at an “icelandic-reasonable” price. There was another company called Extreme Iceland that looked good, and Reykjavik Excursions that looked okay too. Extreme Iceland always seemed to be just a touch more expensive, so in the end I decided that I was going to keep following TheBlondeAbroad.com’s advice.
This one looked fun! This tour was called Blue Ice. I have to say, when I booked this trip – for what I think was around $225/person (with transportation) I was sick to my stomach on the price. When we finished the tour – we didn’t think they charged enough! That’s the sign of a great tour company.
They told us it was about a 1.25 hour drive from Reykjavik to the Glacier. We found that not to entirely be the case. Took just shy of 2 hours from pickup to arrival. You have to pack your own food so come prepared! Just like yesterday Glen and I ate most of our food on the bus ride out. We met some great people on the bus ride over and our two guides were young – fun- and ready to party-so that made the trip a lot easier. They were blasting Reggae music as we drove through a blizzard – the dichotomy of this was hilarious.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect. When we arrived we were told it was the 4th largest Glacier in Iceland. I mean – honestly my idea of a Glacier is whatever is in the movie ‘Ice Age’. Let me just say – being on it, in it and around it in person is unlike anything I’ve experienced. There is just something to be said for standing on something that is 700+ years old, and blue because the water is so clear you can see so deep into it. Iceland is also the land of “fire”, because in the same area you will have both an active Volcano and a Glacier. So there is a lot of lava rock mixed into the base of the Glacier that gives it this really cool black and blue look.
First was the hiking/climbing lesson. You put on something called a “Crampon” which is basically metal spike for your shoes to allow you to grip into the Glacier. Glen told me I was contributing to global warming with each and every step that I chipped away at the ice. Next you get a flash helmet, waterproof pants, and an ice pick to help you hike! Snazzy right? We also obviously wore the harness for when we started climbing!
You have the option to rent anything you need including hiking boots, pants, and a jacket. you must bring your own gloves. I rented their pants (obviously) and their hiking shoes since mine were old and falling apart. So don’t feel like you need to pack EVERYTHING. Its worth it to rent in my opinion. The first area on our hike is this awesome area where the glacier has started to melt and you could really see the smooth blue interior. Really cool little caves everywhere! Notice the black lava rock below, mixed with the blue ice? Really awesome in person.
These caves were everywhere! Seriously… no iphone picture will do it justice. The walk up the glacier was a little more physically challenging simply because the wind mixed with strange equipment and walking on sheets of ice makes for an interesting day. I would say you don’t have to be any sort of “extreme” hiker for this tour!
Finally after about 45min-1 hour of hiking mixed with lots of stops to learn about the area we were in -we arrived at our ice climbing location (pictured above and below). Strapped in, got a quick lesson… and we were on our way!
The thing I really loved about this tour company was they had a professional photographer on our hike with us. The whole day I was thinking… my gosh I wonder how much they are going to want for these pictures at the end of this tour. When the tour ended and we got on the bus — the photographer hands us a sheet of paper and says “give me your email and I’ll send you a link to my dropbox for all the pictures”. WHAT!? For Free!? Yes. That is awesome. Really appreciated not being “nickled and dimed” for anything with this company.
Glen was first and obviously climbed and repelled as if he had military training. And luckily for me — I wasn’t too bad either. Go Letterles!
Glen said I looked like a skittle….
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This side of the glacier was the hardest climb they offered. They had another guide with other people on a glacier wall that was much less steep. So If you’re nervous about your ability to pull this off — don’t be. This tour is meant for everyone!
After one time up the wall – we were both exhausted. We made our way back down the Glacier and said goodbye to this beautiful area. Seriously one of the coolest experiences we’ve ever had. It’s worth the cost of the tour and so much more. Something we will never forget.
While we were traveling to the Glacier we noticed a beautiful waterfall – which our guides obliged the group in a quick stop for pictures!
We could not recommend this tour company enough. Tipping is culturally not required in Iceland – mostly because they have fair wages for all workers. We even heard of some peoples tour guides refusing to take a tip offered. We didn’t plan on tipping until they agreed to drop us off directly at our Airbnb (which was 5 miles outside of the city) – so we tipped a small amount and they were unbelievably grateful for it. All and All the tour took about 8 hours round trip and we adored every minute of it. End of day 3 and we just hiked and climbed on the 4th largest Glacier in Iceland. Badass.
So I promised myself I would finish all of my “Notes” from Iceland so I didn’t forget any details as Glen and I get further away from the memories of our trip to Iceland. So, nearly 5 weeks later – I’m finally adding my second to last note!
Let me just start by saying – This was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. If you’re not a certified diver – you should absolutely do it – because this was some bucket list stuff.
So a quick background. Silfra Fissure, in Thingvellir National Park is rank in the top 10 dive sites in the world. This dive has the clearest water on earth. Seriously. It’s insane. The Silfra Fissure is a crack between the North American and Eurasian continental plates, and it’s an active site. Meaning each year it drifts something like 2-4 CM further apart.
As anyone who is certified knows – being certified means nothing unless the person you travel with most is certified as well. So against his wishes, Glen got certified before our honeymoon in 2014. What I wasn’t really aware of is that this dive is not just “the best” according to dive lists – it’s from a technical standpoint – one of the most difficult – meaning for Glen’s second dive, he did one of the hardest! (You Go Glen Coco).
The water at Silfra is 35-37 degrees year round, as it runs off of a Glacier. Meaning that you must dive in what they call a “dry suit”. What I failed to understand was just how technical a dive is when you’re not only operating your buoyancy on your BCD, but also your Dry Suit.
After the drysuit you also put on insanely heavy gear in which you will walk nearly 400 yards to get to the entrance of the the dive. Glen was feeling pretty claustrophobic at this point. I was feeling like an Army Ranger with a ruck sack!
Our dive master drew out the dive for us and none of it made any sense until you actually got into the water – then it was very clear. Basically our dive would consist of two dives that were exactly the same. We would go through the first dive, get out – take a break and do the exact same dive again. When he explained this at first I thought it was silly – then I got exactly what he meant. The technical aspect of this dive, having to manage your dry suit buoyancy basically takes all the fun out of the first dive. You barely get to look around and absorb your surroundings because you’re all over the place with buoyancy. It’s not until the second dive you figure out how to make yourself stay at one depth, and then you can really take in the beautiful dive.
The overall dive is quite shallow, although glen still struggled with equalizing his ears which was a huge bummer for him. You enter in the main pool, and then drift through these incredibly tight spaces. At one point my tank even got stuck between the two continents. I was annoyed for a second until I realized how cool it was that I was stuck between two continental plates. Bad ass.
As you progress through “the toilet” and “the hall” you think… “this is awesome.” It’s not until you enter what they appropriately call “The Cathedral” that you realize you will never see something like this ever again. You turn the corner of the dive, and the water is so clear that the sun beats down into this water as if it’s light shining through stained glass windows. It absolutely takes your breathe away.
There is so much of this excursion that I could rave about for hours. But hopefully that gives a bit of an idea. If you’re planning on going to Iceland you are able to snorkel this dive – and I’m sure that would still be amazing – but I highly recommend if you’re open water certified that you make this a MUST. It’s a bit pricey, but once you’re there – you suddenly feel like you’ve gotten the deal of the century.
A huge huge huge thank you to Glen for going on this dive with me. While he’s certified – he doesn’t love diving – mainly because his ears don’t easily equalize. He was a huge trooper for spending the entire day in body-numbing temperatures so I can have this awesome experience.

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My final Iceland note! (Thank god right?.. Whatever I had a blast writing them) The end of our trip culminated in what was deemed a “touristy” stop but seems to be a must-do. We were tourists after all. Let me start by saying what is considered “touristy” in Iceland is considered luxurious and private in the US. Iceland does not have a lot of tourism compared to the US or Europe, so what is considered touristy to them is not quite what I envision “touristy” to be.
The Blue Lagoon is a stop that nearly anyone visiting Iceland makes. It’s proximity to the airport makes this a trip that most people do either as they arrive, or as they leave. We chose to do this as we left, as a final “spa day” to our very adventurous journey. Our friends Jim Abbott , his wife and friends chose to do it at the beginning of their trip. Hopefully he’ll post his insight below! 🙂 Our flight came in from Barcelona into Reykjavik around 6:00am (After the Iceland air traffic controller strike was over) – so rushing to a spa was definitely not the first thing on our wish list. A bed and sleep… that was priority #1.
We used Flybus to transport ourselves from downtown Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon then from Blue lagoon to the airport. This is all purchased in one ticket and includes both legs of the drive and your Blue Lagoon ticket. We recommend booking this early, because time slot to get into the Blue Lagoon fill up quickly, and you could end up arriving around 9:00 but not being allowed to access the facility until 11:00 or later. It’s a bit frustrating but we appreciated them not just packing people in like sardines. Book ahead and you won’t have this issue!
There are several packages for entrance. When we first purchased our tickets we bought the inexpensive “standard” package. I’m not sure if it was our bodies being worn down from adventurous travel, or the haze of vacation still being upon us but as soon as we arrived we upgraded to the Premium package which offered a plush robe, sandals and reservations at the Lava restaurant. In my opinion the robe is necessary. You spend most of the time walking around the cold outside in your bathing suite – without it – I can’t imagine how cold and exposed you would feel.
You must check your luggage (for a small fee) before entering the Blue Lagoon – so you’ll want to pack a small bag with all the things you’ll need to shower and change for your trip to the airport. We thought ahead and brought our own towels since they do charge for use of theirs. Your credit card is tied to your wrist band – which is fabulous because obviously there would be no safe place to carry a wallet in the water. It also restricts your alcohol intake. There are bar stations in the water where you could get wine and beer, but your wrist band cut you off after 2 drinks since the heat of the water makes for pretty unsafe drinking conditions. We stayed for quite a long time, so we would have hoped for a third drink – but found their smoothies and other drinks to be just fine 🙂
The Blue Lagoon is pretty cool. The water is opaque, and they recommend tying your hair up because it’s incredibly stringent. Meaning if you dip your hair into the water it will become really dry and hard for a few days. They say some silly thing about the Blue Lagoon having “healing properties”. Nothing about it was healing except how incredibly relaxed and blissful you feel. Below is Glen.. being healed.
You’ll notice the white line on the rocks at the waterline. They use this, and what they scrape off the bottom of the lagoon each night to create a mud mask. You receive two free mud masks with your entrance ticket. The stringent quality actually felt really cool on your face. They have staff walking around in the water applying these masks to everyone.
Your ticket allows you to stay the entire day if you wish. I know Jim Abbott said he was over it after an hour – but Glen and I were there 4-5 hours and felt we could have stayed another 2 at least. When you stop for a lunch break – you definitely want to go back in afterwards – and unfortunately we did not allot for this in our schedule :(.
Since we upgraded to premium, which came with a glass of champagne and lunch reservations – we headed to their premium restaurant Lava. You’ll remember from Iceland Part I note that I mentioned how insanely expensive food was in Iceland – well, now add the premium of being in a “touristy” facility and you’ll have an idea of how expensive Lava was. Again, shaded by the bliss of our geothermal healing, we didn’t care. We were happy and hungry.
The entire meal put us back about $100 (without drinks) but we have to say it was one of the best meals we had in Iceland. Glen about died with each bite of his steak, and my harvest roasted vegetables were insanely good. We deemed it totally worth the money.
All and all we had an amazing day at Blue Lagoon. The perfect end to a perfect trip. I can’t stress this enough – Iceland is one of the best kept secrets on this planet. You feel like you’re on the moon. The entire trip you spend in awe that a place like this exists on earth, and that you’re only now just getting there.
This is not a “bucket list” trip. This is a.. “get there in 1-2 years” trip. Enjoy!

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