Happy New Year! Hard to believe that it’s 2019 already – where does the time go?? It’s almost been THREE months since my trip to Iceland and I still can’t stop thinking about it. I just have one more post about that amazing little island that captured my heart in 2018, and I’ll be highlighting what we did in Reykjavik as well as talking about my experience at the Blue Lagoon.
Reykjavik is not a huge city – about 130,000 people live there and it’s very easy to get around. We booked an Airbnb just down the street from Hallgrimskirkja (the main church downtown) and pretty much walked everywhere. Parking is not free during the day if you park on the street, but it’s very affordable. However you can park at the church for free and it’s safe to leave your car overnight. It’s just kind of hard to find a spot there since it’s the heart of the main tourist area, so I would try early morning or late evening if you’re looking for a spot there.
Also make sure you check out the church at night – the clock chimes on the hour and it looks beautiful lit up at night.
DO go up in the church tower! It gives you a really amazing view of the town and the little colorful houses that dot the shoreline. It was very inexpensive – I think about $6 US dollars per person – and you can stay at the top as long as you’d like.
There are several main shopping streets right around the church and they’re full of upscale gift stores, restaurants, thrift shops and bookstores. If you’re in search of an Icelandic sweater but don’t want to pay full price (they can run anywhere from $200 -$300), seek out the thrift shops! I bought one from Gyllti Kötturinn, aka The Golden Cat, for $69 US dollars. They had a wide selection and the best prices in my opinion. And as a bonus, you may see Baktus the famous tuxedo cat that roams Reykjavik. I had no idea he was famous until I got home!
After you are done visiting Baktus and sweater shopping, be sure to check out the amazing Pakistani restaurant right down the street. We had a delicious meal at Shalimar Pakistani Cuisne – I’m not even sure exactly what it was called, but it was a stuffed bread with seasonings and a bomb dipping sauce. Possibly the equivalent of Pakistani pizza?
If you are vegan or vegetarian, there are lots of options for you in Reykjavik – my brother-in-law is vegetarian and we easily found places he could eat. It was harder when you got out of town in the more rural areas but there ARE options, so don’t let that keep you away from visiting Iceland.
Also within walking distance of our Airbnb was the Sun Voyager. One of Reykjavik’s most photographed spots, this sculpture has been in its current location since 1990 and sits right on the water, giving you a lovely view of the coast line. If you visit it at night during the winter, you may notice two bright beams of light coming from an island out in the water. This is the Imagine Peace Tower, named after John Lennon’s “Imagine” and lit by Yoko Ono every fall.
Not too far down the street from the Sun Voyager is Harpa Concert Hall. It’s all glass and really amazing inside – definitely swing by to look at it as its free to go inside and look around. The glass panes light up at night, so if you’re in town for a couple days, it’s worth a trip back down to the waterfront at night to see it all lit up.
Since Reykjavik is such a small city, you probably only need two days to explore. We stayed there for three because we did the Golden Circle one day and used the city as our base for exploring but as far as seeing the sights in the town, I’m not sure you could fill more than three days unless you really enjoy shopping.
Our last day there, the flight home wasn’t until 6 p.m., so that was the day that I decided to go to the Blue Lagoon. It’s near the airport and about a 40 minute drive from Reykjavik, so it seemed like a perfect time to relax before hopping on a long international flight.
Book your tickets online ahead of time – the line to get in was pretty long and they only let a certain number of people in at one time, although your time in the actual lagoon is not limited. I went with a basic ticket and be warned – even that option is expensive. $84 gets you a robe, face mask and locker key.
Once I got through the check in line, I found it somewhat confusing as to where to go and what to do. There are tons of people in the locker area so finding an open one was challenging but I managed. They make you shower before you get in the lagoon and there is no place to store anything in the shower area so keep that in mind if you want to take a phone with you.
The actual lagoon experience is fabulous. I stayed for almost two hours and could have been in there longer but my brother-in-law was sitting in the cold car the entire time because he didn’t want to fork over $84 for it and I felt bad that he was probably out there freezing while I was floating around in a glacier blue geothermal spa, haha.
I’m not sure where 2019 will take me, but wherever I go, it’s going to be hard to top the land of fire and ice. Where are you most excited about traveling to in 2019?