Yup… this was my second time in Iceland. Both trips, I travelled alone. The reason? I loved it so much when I went there the first time. It was in winter then, this one was in the summer. I heard before that it’s a whole different experience if we travel in a different season. Also, the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon was closed then, and I really want to see the icebergs in the lagoon.
Flights to Iceland
My previous trip, I flew with Iceland Air from Copenhagen return. But you might want to try Wow Air, a rather cheaper option (as my research suggested). they do fly from several European cities.
Day One – Check In, Dinner, Volcano Documentary Cinema at Volcano House
Transport from Reykjavik Airport to the City
Arrived at the airport, met this Italian guy who doesn’t know shit about what’s going on. Haha and I thought I was bad enough. He doesn’t know where to stay, how to get to the city from the airport, etc. So we went on the same bus, and he just followed me and stay at the same hostel. We arrived in central Reykjavik then we walked to Loft Hostel (about 1 minute walk from where the bus stops). All buses offer transport to your accommodation, but since it was only 1 minute away, might as well walk.
No need to worry about your bus trip from the airport to the Reykjavik city. Once you arrive at the airport, you will see 2 stands from 2 bus companies that sell tickets. Both are kind of the same, with only about 300 ISK difference. Same shit really. They will take you to your accommodation (including with the listed price).I think the price was 2,200 ISK if I remember it correctly.
There is an ATM machine at the Reykjavik Kevlavik airport, just when you exit the arrival gate. But you won’t need any cash when staying in Iceland. Every shop accepts credit card, even the hot dog stand by the street.
As usual, I booked my accommodation via HostelBookers.com by sorting out the available hostels by ratings (you can never go wrong with this). Last time I was here, I stayed at Reykjavik Downtown Hostel (which ironically is not in downtown area, about 5-10 minute walk – almost nothing). I had a good time there but I just wanted to try another hostel.
I shared the room with a German guy who will be hiking Iceland mountains alone for a week, because he did some hiking with a group and he said the others were slow. So alone is the way to go haha. A Swedish guy who was never in the room, and an Asian (I think Japanese) who did not say anything except hello and goodbye LOL.
I booked my tour for the next day – the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon (about 270 AUD – expensive but worth it!), asked the receptionist where to eat for dinner, she pointed out 3 restaurants at the old harbour if I was looking to eat seafood:
- Icelandic Fish and Chips (been here)
- Sea Baron (been here – famous for the lobster soup)
- Kopar (this one is new)
So I went to Kopar, asked the waiter what the favourite meal is, and ordered the Catfish with lobster infused champagne sauce (whatever it means) after his recommendation. The food is good, pretty expensive though, about 25 AUD-ish.
Just down the road, I accidentally found Volcano House – a café with a mini cinema that features the Icelandic volcano activity documentary, including the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull eruption that shook the world and caused Europe and America the massive air travel restriction. The price was 1,990 ISK, and I basically had the cinema for myself. It was a one hour documentary; I was struggling to stay awake, not because it was boring. But I think I’m just still on Australia time. Plus that random house party in Stockholm didn’t really help with the time adjustment.
Day Two – Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon
I went for this tour with the Grey Line Bus, which was recommended by the hostel lady. Bus departed at 8 AM from central Reykjavik and made several stops (not in this order – apologies, I was sleeping on and off at the bus):
- Some convenient store to buy snacks
- Skogafoss Waterfall
- What they say as “the most beautiful farm in Iceland” – with a waterfall exactly behind it
- Some random lava field to take photographs (the terrain was so unreal)
As expected, some solo travellers formed a group and it became more fun. I met this guy from New York who just quit his job to travel, and he will also visit Indonesia during his “in-between jobs” trip; A Brazilian girl who hasn’t done anything in Iceland apart from partying and after-partying; Also another American guy and a rather shy German girl.
We arrived at the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon at about 2:30 PM. Our boat went at 3 PM. So yes, the price includes a boat trip around the lagoon to see the icebergs closer. I’m not going to tell much stories, just look at the photos below (B.R.E.A.T.H.T.A.K.I.N.G):
Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon Photos
Then the journey back was much faster with only 3 stops:
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall – we can walk behind it (prepare to get wet though)
- A small village called Vyk where we can buy some wool clothing, had dinner and walk around
- A view point to see Eyjafjallajokull
I was mostly asleep on the journey back.
Day Three – Free Walking Tour, Blue Lagoon
Got some free time in the morning and walked around the city. Here are some of the photos:
Hallgrimskirkja Church Iceland
The Viewing Point Reykjavik
OK this was in the afternoon, but I thought I’d put it here.
Free Walking Tour
Like many other cities in Europe, Reykjavik also has a free walking tour. Walk starts by the old harbour, done by a local Icelandic who was born in Reykjavik. I met some Australians and New Zealanders here, who happen to also stay at the same hostel. This Loft Hostel is quite popular I assume.
As we go strolling in the city, the guide talks about the history of Iceland, politics, economy (including the financial crisis) from his point of view (which was fair I think). I’d love to tell you more about these, but I forgot haha sorry. All in all, I’d recommend joining the tour. It’s free, but I wouldn’t be comfortable not giving him anything. As I didn’t have any Icelandic Kroner, I gave him Swedish Kroner which he said it was OK. So yes, visitors do not need cash at all in Iceland. Everything can be paid by cards.
Blue Lagoon Iceland
This was my third time going to Blue Lagoon. So I was not so amazed by it anymore. But don’t worry, if you haven’t been there, YOU NEED TO. It is one of the best highlights of any Iceland trips. OK it is a touristy one but still, your trip to Iceland will not be complete without this.
From Reykjavik City to Blue Lagoon
Ask to your reception about transport to Blue Lagoon. There are several bus / coach / shuttle available, just choose the cheapest one. Most don’t usually include the admission to the Blue Lagoon, but you can buy the admission tickets at the Blue Lagoon reception. I went with a company called Bus Travel, which was the cheapest. Though they made a stop at the bus station first so the journey took a bit longer. It was nothing though.
Blue Lagoon Price
Standard admission (cheapest) is 25 Euros. This will get you in, and a locker is included. Several options are available which can include an exclusive lounge and meals.
I went to Harpa in the evening (somewhat like the Opera House of Reykjavik where they have concerts, comedy shows and theatre productions) and randomly there was some classic cars gathering there. Here are some of the photos:
Then back to the city centre, felt pretty hungry, went to a random crepe / juice / café place where some random intoxicated person entered the shop and asked the waitress:
Guy: Do you sell weed?
Waitress: No we don’t.
Guy: OK, I’ll just buy these 2 apples then.
Waitress: Apples? What for?
Guy: Just to eat.
Okay, that was pretty strange. I spoke a little bit with the waitress who was from Moldova, she said she dreams to go to Australia. I told her, I dream to live in Iceland. Wanna swap life?
Day Four – Horse Riding, Photography Museum, Harpa
Got nothing else to do, so I booked the horse riding tour with the same farm I previously had during my first trip. So there’s not much story there. Except this time, they did not offer any hot drinks nor soup after the ride. Ridiculous! The guide also told me off for trying to go too fast haha.
Back to central Reykjavik, I had lunch at Le Bistro. The waitress recommended the whale steak, so I ordered it. My lucky day perhaps (or lack thereof), they ran out of whales. Salmon instead, then. Good food, but a bit expensive too, about 30 AUD. This seems to be the standard price for a nice meal at a rather good restaurant in Iceland.
Icelandic Hiking Products
After that, I tried to look for a hiking jacket (something like North Face – but Icelandic made). 66 degrees north products are just so overpriced; the cheapest being around 600 AUD. Same with Marmot and Cintamani products. No fucking way. So I went to another store called Ice Wear. Their products were only around 120 AUD. OK, there’s obviously something wrong here. I asked the guy what’s wrong with their products. He said the quality is just not as good as the 66 degrees North. OK then, no buying jacket for me.
The walking tour guide said yesterday, that there was this exhibition at the Photography Museum. So I went there to check out what’s going on. Pretty random, all the photos are featuring the life of a motorcycle gang in the US, their road trips and everyday life.
There was a closed room that was showing a documentary video with loud rock and roll music. I heard some girls shouting and singing from inside. The door was opened and there were 4 Icelandic high school kids inviting me to come in and see the video.
Haha these girls are so funny, they were operating the video, showed me some of the best scenes, and every time there was rock and roll music played, they dance and sing crazily. I told them I am Indonesian and travelled from Australia. They were amazed LOL. Then they said they had to leave. Haha I thought they were working there…
Several people also recommended to try watch a show or music concert at the Harpa. So I went there and look for a show. I had 2 choices, a musical or a stand-up comedy. Bought the comedy show ticket for about 38 AUD – the show is called “How to be Icelandic in 60 minutes”. Show was at 8 PM so I got time for another food. I decided to go to Iceland Fish and Chips. I went there before during my first trip to Iceland. In fact, that was the first thing I ate there. Not sure why, the quality was not as good as I remembered. Not really satisfied with the food. I went with the first option on the “recommended” menus.
Anyway, I went to the Harpa for the show and it was a great comedy. The guy was super funny. He asked what nationalities the audiences are, and I was the only one from non-European / US / Canadian there. He was mostly describing how Icelanders are like, but in a satirical way. This was such a good way to understand their culture.
Transport from Reykjavik City to the Kevlavik Airport
That pretty much concluded my trip. Don’t forget to book your transport from your accommodation to the airport. Again, several companies are available, and I just chose the most convenient one. All of them offer hotel pick up, but I didn’t need one as I chose the Iceland Excursion – 1 minute walk from the hostel. They depart every 30 minutes.