Thursday, 30 March 2017

Iceland Day 3: Tips for visiting Iceland

On our last day of Iceland, we decided to explore the rest of Reykjavik, because we couldn't afford to go on any more trips. We would have loved to have visited some of the glaciers and waterfalls around Iceland - but I guess it just means that it's an excuse to go back again in the future!

The first thing we did was go for lunch at Svarta Kaffid, a cafe that sells soup in bowls made out of bread. I was recommended it as a place to eat at, and we were really pleased that we went. There were two different types of soup (leak and potato and Italian meat soup), but these change each day, and they are served in a huge hollowed-out loaf of bread. We paid around 1,800 krona for the meal (£13) and were very full afterwards (although I did manage another doughnut at Dunkin' Donuts about an hour later...).

We looked around the shops and then went inside Hallsgrimskirkja church, which as I mentioned in my first post, is actually really plain inside. There isn't much to see, but it is definitely worth a quick look around.

We found yet another Christmas shop! These seem to be very popular in Reykjavik.

Our final stop was at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, a hot dog stand situated down near the old harbour. It is famous for selling the best hot dogs in Iceland, and for selling one to Bill Clinton back in 2007. They were only 450 krona (around £3.50), and did taste really good. The sauce was delicious and it was served with dried fried onion pieces, which made the texture crunchy. There was quite a long queue and it moved quickly - plus I guess that means that you know the food is likely to be good!

In the evening we went out for a northern lights tour with Reykjavik Excursions, which cost us each around £40. The tour was cancelled the first two nights because of the weather, but the good thing about it was that we could book on to the next night for free, until we saw the lights or our holiday ended. Unfortunately we didn't get to see the northern lights because it was so cloudy, but the bus driver was really friendly and told us a lot of interesting information about them and about Iceland in general, and they took us to a huge field which would have had a good view if it wasn't cloudy. The lights are best seen during winter, from November to March, but are completely weather dependent.

I thought I would give you a few general tips for if you visit Iceland, which would have been useful for us to know beforehand!
1) Rent an apartment with a kitchen
Iceland is very expensive, especially food and drink, so it is worth renting an apartment that you can cook food in, and prepare sandwiches for lunch time. We found an apartment through Airbnb which was actually cheaper than a hotel room as there were 5 of us - we each paid around £60 for 3 nights' accommodation. Bonus seemed to be the cheapest supermarket, so we bought some food from there to prepare for breakfast, lunch and one evening meal.

2) Hire a car
This is the big tip that I wish I had known before I visited Iceland. The bus tours are all quite expensive, so I think we could have done more outside of Reykjavik if we had hired a car as we could have driven ourselves to the waterfalls or glaciers. One bus tour to the golden circle we were looking at was over £100 each. Someone I know visited Iceland for a week and paid around £300 for a hire car, and they drove to see all of the places that they were interested in. Obviously you would have to factor petrol in, but you would also have more freedom with timings and places to visit.

3) Buy alcohol at the airport in the UK
As I've mentioned, alcohol is really expensive in Iceland (a glass of wine will set you back about 1,200 krona, or £9). We bought a bottle in duty free in Manchester airport for around £10, which saved us a lot of money.

4) Take lots of layers
Whilst we were in Iceland the temperature changed quite quickly as we were in and out of cafes and shops. In the day it wasn't actually too cold, but it got really freezing at night. I found myself layering a couple of tops, a sweater and a coat, so that I could remove layers if I became too hot, or add more on when I was cold. Scarves, hats and gloves are also a godsend.

5) Visit the Blue Lagoon
If you don't do anything else, visit the Blue Lagoon. It was my favourite day of the whole trip and we had such a lot of fun - I definitely felt like we got the most out of our money.

6) Make sure you have a camera
If you forget everything else, just make sure you have a camera, your passport and a warm coat. There is so much to see in Iceland, even just in Reykjavik, and I found that my camera was my most treasured possession whilst I was there.
Life is too short not to make the best and the most of everything that comes your way every day.

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