I’ve been to Iceland twice – both times in the middle of winter. It’s one of the few places I’ve been where I have no desire to leave and can see myself settling down even if the weather rarely ever goes above 20C. Iceland is a country filled with natural beauty, mouth watering seafood, and the some of the kindest people I’ve met.
Here is my suggested itinerary for the land of gnomes, volcanoes, and the aurora borealis:
Day One – Land in Reykjavik & Explore the City
If you’re coming from the UK, the majority of flights leave for Reykjavik early in the morning, getting you there around lunch time. Get yourself into town and check into the hotel. Then put on some comfortable walking shoes to head out and explore the town.
The things to see in Reykjavik:
- Hallgrimskirkja (Church)
- Solfario (Sun Dial)
- Radhus Reykjavikur (Town Hall)
- Harpa (Concert Hall)
- Laugavegur (one of the main streets)
You can see a good portion of the city in a few hours of walking. More time is required if you decide to go to the top of the church, inside the Harpa, or pass by the Icelandic Phallological Museum for some laughs.
Day 2 & 3 – Tour the Golden Circle and South Coast
Both times that I’ve been to Iceland, I’ve decided to book tours with Extreme Iceland. The guides are knowledgeable and do their best to show you the best Iceland has to offer. I would highly recommend using them in the winter time as renting a car may not be the best option (unless you’re an expert in driving in snow and ice).
I’ve done both the Golden Circle in a Super Jeep (plus snowmobiling) and the Sensational Iceland tours. Highly recommend both if you’re in Iceland for a short amount of time and want to make the most of it.
Things to See:
- Thingvellir National Park
- Gulfoss Waterfall
- Langjokull Glacier
- Black Sand Beach & Vik
- Reynisdrangar Ocean Cliffs
My favorite experiences in Iceland have been going glacier hiking, snowmobiling, and riding in a super jeep out to an ice cave. If you consider yourself moderately healthy and fit, you are fine to do any of them. Word of warning – If you have back problems, don’t do snowmobiling. It can be quite rough on your back.
Day 4 – Enjoy the Blue Lagoon & Head Home
The Blue Lagoon is halfway between the airport and Reykjavik. Conveniently, most bus tour companies offer an option to stop at the Blue Lagoon either on you’re way into Reykjavik or on your way home. If you have a short flight to Europe, I’d opt for on the way home as you can shower at the Lagoon before heading to the airport. If you have a long flight home or you land hours before your check in at the hotel in Reykjavik, I’d stop there on the way to Reykjavik.
The Blue Lagoon itself is becoming more and more commercial, so expect to pay more for entry and food. That said, the experience is a lot of fun and if you aren’t renting a car, it’s the easiest hot spring to get to.
Places to Stay
Hotel Skuggi – Very central & comfortable beds. Great breakfast & happy hour!
Hotel Odinsve – In the snow and Christmas decorations, the hotel is straight out of a fairy tale. Quiet, comfortable beds and great breakfast buffet.
Fosshotel Baron – Okay for a one night stop over. Breakfast was lacking in comparison to the other two hotels listed above.
Pro Tip – If you’re in Iceland for a long weekend, use Reykjavik as the hub and go out for day trips.
Places to Eat
Quick Bite to Eat – Lamb Hot Dogs at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
- Old Iceland – By far my favorite restaurant in Reykjavik! We waited for half an hour before being seated. Well worth the wait! The fish dishes and dessert were absolutely phenomenal. If I had travelled alone, I would have come here every night for dinner.
- Matwerk – Also a great option for traditional Icelandic food! The food and service was quality. Book in advance if you’re a larger group.
Pro Tip – Food in Iceland is expensive. Pack snacks to bring with you from home and choose a hotel with breakfast.