Chris turned 30 last month so I decided to plan something special to celebrate him getting old (haha). We have both always wanted to go to Iceland so this was the perfect excuse to go - the week before he opened a present to reveal an Iceland guidebook and last Wednesday we made our way to explore this beautiful part of the world.
We booked all of our transfers and excursions through Gray Line and I can't recommend them highly enough. Everything was so well organised and ran super smoothly. When we return, we'll probably hire a car and go exploring a bit more but for a first visit, using Gray Line tours were perfect. We absolutely loved Iceland - it was such a calming, lovely place to visit. Here is what we got up to:
Where we stayed
The Fosshotel Reykjavik hotel. Try the Alda or The Borg Hotel if you want something more fancy, but we really liked the Fosshotel. We were a ten minute walk from the centre, all of the tours did pick-up from it and the breakfast buffet was great. Definitely go for a deal where you get breakfast included as it's one less cost to think about!
What we did
♥ Blue Lagoon. Of course! No trip to Iceland would be complete without a trip to the Blue Lagoon. I'm going to do a seperate post with tips on it, but it was probably my favourite thing that we did. It is absolutely beautiful and is just so relaxing. Usually I get a little impatient in a spa but we stayed in the water for a good three hours.
♥ Golden Circle Express Tour. The sights on the Golden Circle are a must - first stop is Þingvellir national park which is where the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, second is the breathtaking Gulfoss Waterfall and third is to see the active Geysir called Strokkur. It's a long tour with even the express tour taking 6 hours, but is well worth it and I enjoyed some great coach naps between the sights!
♥ Northern Lights Tour. I included this as we were going to be on a Northern Lights Tour but it got cancelled as was too cloudy every night we were there. Boo. A reason to go back!
♥ Exploring Reykjavik. On our last day we mooched around the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. It's a lovely little city with such a chilled vibe. When we first arrived and went out for dinner I could feel how tense and stressed my whole body was - you become so accustomed to the London hustle and bustle, and you need to step out of the bubble to really relax. Iceland is the perfect place for this. We wandered around the harbour and went into the Harpa Concert Hall which is just incredibly beautiful and an amazing piece of architecture.
Where we ate
♥ Le Bistro - this is a really cute French restaurant which is super cosy and looks out to the main street so is great for people watching. Chris had french onion soup to start and I had the salmon for my main, he had a lamb shank. As you'd expect, their seafood is fantastic so definitely give it a try.
♥ Rossopomodoro - this was a nice Italian place - I had a pizza which was delicious and Chris had spaghetti. It was ever so slightly cheaper (more on the prices later!) than the other restaurants too.
♥ Caruso - our favourite restaurant of the three, this was a gorgeous cosy place with live music and set in a traditional looking Icelandic building. Chris had surf and turf which was so good (I don't even like lobster that much but this was amazing) and I had a herb-crusted salmon dish. Delish!
We also had lunch at Barber Bistro (also nice!) and a gorgeous hot chocolate at an Artisan Bakery called Sandholt.
Other things to know
♥ Iceland can be extremely cold. We were actually really lucky and although we went very prepared we didn't need to wear much of the warm clothes we'd brought - I think it was colder in the UK whilst we were there! Our walking boots, and waterproof cosy coats were invaluable though. I'd definitely be as prepared as possible for the cold and bring thermals, thick gloves, a fleece snood, good hats and obviously walking boots and a big warm jumper.
♥ It is mighty expensive! I couldn't believe how expensive Iceland was - it was eye-watering at times and London now feels like an absolute bargain! An average main course is £20 and even for a cheap lunch (such as a soup or sandwich) it will cost you around £10.