Planning to hop the pond over to Iceland? Our Travel Consultant Sue Harriman recently travelled there and shares with us her top 10 things to do while visiting this beautiful country.
Iceland has stunning scenery, interesting delicacies and the friendliest people I have ever met, and yet I still think it’s under-appreciated. There are so many amazing things to see and do in such a small country! Here are just ten of my favourites.
1) Soak in the Thermal Pools
This is the best way to unwind after the overnight flight. There are pools all over the island, but the ones we went to were located right by our hotel and the entrance fee was only $5.00. The temperature of the pools is about 30 degrees so you can just lay back and relax. I was there for 2 hours and got to experience rain, snow hail and sunshine. It is an amazing feeling to lay back in 30 degree weather with snow coming down around you!
2) Take a Walking tour of Reykjavik
There’s no better way to get a feel for the city then to spend the afternoon with a local guide who can guide you through the history and culture of Iceland. Make sure you layer up as the weather changes all the time! Bring a rain jacket and maybe some thermals depending on the time of year!
The groups are really small, they were only 5 of us so they will follow your lead on how long you want to stay in each place or if there are places you want to see they will take you there. The tour we took ended in a small cafe called Cafe Loki where they have Icelandic delicacies that you can sample or just unwind with a coffee and chocolate cake. Delicious!
3) Try a Hot Dog from the Baejarins Beztu Pylsur
You cannot visit Iceland without visiting this hot dog stand. This is where Bill Clinton dined when visiting Iceland, and you must have the With Everything Hotdog. The fried onions are what make this hotdog unlike others! Trust me it is worth the 250 kronas!
4) Take the Golden Circle Tour
The thing that I loved most about Iceland is that their tours all start mid-day so no early mornings! In my opinion, this is the best tour offered in Iceland. The scenery on the drive is stunning so make sure your camera is charged up! Again make sure you layer up on the clothing as you can walk right up to the waterfall where you will get a little wet. Also be careful not to stand right in front of the geyser or you will get soaked!
5) Relax in the Blue Lagoon
You cannot leave Iceland without vising the blue lagoon. It is the most peaceful and relaxing place I have been. Even when the pool is full it is so large that you can always find a quiet spot. Make sure to take advantage of the mud that you can lather on your face and have a mini facial, and you can even book appointments for massages in the pool! It is a great way to unwind before you head home.
6) Take a Whale Watching Tour
If you are in Icealnd between April and October you must book a whale watching tour. They run 2 to 3 times a day and usually cost around 45 euros per person. Make a reservation in order to avoid disappointment. The whale watching tours start from the Reykjavik Old Harbor and they sail past the puffin islands where you get to see the local bird which can also be a local delicacy! I would recommend the Whale Watching Express as The Rose is quite a fast cruiser, and takes less time to reach the whales.
7) See the Northern Lights
Photo by Moyan Brenn
The best months for the northern lights are September to April. Although they do not guarantee the sighting as it is natural phenomena, you may also get to see the Elves that the Icelanders truly believe in!
8) Dine at The Geysir Bistro
There are many restaurants to choose from in Reykjavik but this is one of my favourites. Located downtown Reykjavik, the Geysir bistro is in a shopping complex on the second level above the Tourism centre. I had the lamb which was delicious or you can be a little braver and try the whale burger! The fish is fresh and the prices are similar to what you pay at a nice restaurant here.
9) Talk to the People!
The thing I enjoyed most about Iceland is the people. They are not shy. When sitting in a pub they will walk over to your table and ask where you are from. They will then sit down with you and have a drink. I love getting to know the locals and finding out their recommendations for places to go. All you have to do is ask a question and they are more than happy to help!
10) Party at The Dubliner
The nightlife in Reykjavik was so different to what we are used to here. The places do not start getting busy until 1 or 2 am and keep going until 6am. The Dubliner is a small quaint pub but after midnight you can go upstairs and enjoy a local band. The local beer Gill is a good choice and not overly expensive. If you’re brave enough, try the Opal, but to me it tasted like fisherman’s friends!
My overall impression of Iceland is that they have spectacular scenery, unusual but tasty food, and the local charm is unforgettable! I recommend everyone visit Iceland whether it is a long weekend or a week. You will not be disappointed!