Updated: Mar 11
I don't know about you, but we're in isolation. A very mild state-mandated quarantine thanks to the novel Coronavirus: Covid-19. The boyfriend and I have been isolated for what feels like forever. So, imagine my FOMO when Timehop reminded me that about this time last year, we were in Iceland.
We flew to Iceland the day WOW Airlines collapsed into a heaping pile of lawsuits and stranded passengers, their website stating a simple apology of "We Tried." Wow, right? Luckily, we had flown with Iceland Air. Apparently, WOW Airlines has made a comeback and I will go ahead and say you should definitely fly with Iceland Air.
We were warned that Iceland is an incredibly expensive place to visit. Getting there is cheap, staying there will cost you. So to start, we rented an Airbnb, which was a cheaper option than a hotel. It also afforded us a kitchen that we literally never used (though our intention was to cook at home). We stayed right in the heart of Reykjavik, which was perfect, because, we quickly learned, Reykjavik is not a very big city. You can walk most of it.
PRO TIP - drink the cold water, don't buy it. The hot water is geothermal. It's very sulfuric and will give you tummy troubles guaranteed to ruin your trip. The cold water is glacier water that they bottle and sell. They run through two separate pipes. And bottled water is expensive. Take an empty water bottle and refill it from the COLD tap. We were told to drink the water, but weren't told that the cold and hot waters were different. So when I smelled the sulfuric water, I assumed our pipes were bad and we spent $5 per bottle on waters.
Our first stop in the city was Iceland's first coffee shop, Mokka. It was very quaint, and much-needed as we had jumped on our flight in NYC at 8 PM and landed at 6 AM (1 AM our time). 5 hours of sleep on a plane and a whole day of sight-seeing ahead of us!
Free Stuff to Do
We walked past Hallgrimskirkja, a beautiful church in the center of the city.
You can enter the church for free, but remember to be respectful - it's still a church.
Best Museum (but certainly not the cheapest)
We walked to the Perlan. I'll save you the trouble and tell you that there's a free bus from the Bus Terminal Reykjavik to the Perlan. Walking was a mistake - especially in our already-exhausted state. The Perlan, though, is a must.
It's THE museum in Iceland and boasts of a man-made ice cave. There's also ice cream and coffee on the top floor (very important information if you're sugar addicts like us). We sat up there and ate ice cream and drank coffee while waiting for 2 PM when we could check in to our Airbnb. The break was SO needed.
Best Food Option
We found this place for dinner and I couldn't recommend it more. Icelandic Street Food sells bread bowls full of soups for about $15 (145 ISK). And get this - the soups are bottomless. We visited them several times during our trip. In addition to soups, they often had little cakes and chocolates out on platters for you to grab and munch on! (Remember how we are sugar addicts-this is how they hooked us).
By far my favorite outing was our ATV Tour to the plane wreck (you know the one that Justin Bieber skateboarded down that one time). We booked this tour that included a trip to a waterfall but you can book directly through Arcanum Adventure Tours.
Speaking from personal experience, I don't recommend you climb on the plane as our travel companions did. It's not sturdy but it's full of sharp edges and you're in the middle of nowhere where no one can help you.
...Other Best Excursion
Go into the ice caves. The real ones. Our tour guide was amazing and it was such a fun experience (even for someone with extreme claustrophobia like me). Our guide even sang to us at one point.
Really though - you can't go wrong in Iceland. While I recommend planning ahead, book some excursions prior to your trip, if you don't, there's plenty to see and do.
Seeing the Icelandic horses was on the top of my list but we actually didn't have time to squeeze it in our already packed schedule. So imagine my absolute DELIGHT when our tour guide says gets on the bus mic and says, "Hey guys, we actually have some extra time-we're ahead of schedule. I have a friend who owns some horses up here, would you like to stop and say hello to them?" Luckily, I was not alone in my enthusiasm!