Usually, people explain how pricey (or otherwise) a destination is by using beer as the comparable. Example: “OMG, Tenerife was so cheap, you can get a pint for £1.50GBP.” Before I spent time in Iceland, however, the comparable I was given was KFC. One of my colleagues at the time had informed me, “Iceland is SO expensive, a KFC will set you back £20 GBP.” This seemed quite ambiguous to me. Did £20GBP cover a 3 piece original recipe meal for one, or a 14 piece bargain bucket to share?? Sadly, I never paid a visit to the Colonel whilst in Iceland, but I can only assume that the 20GBP covered the former – because Iceland certainly was super expensive. You could get eight beers in Tenerife for the price of one in Iceland!
Below I’ve written an itinerary suggesting things to do in Iceland over the course of two days and three nights. In terms of accommodation, I would suggest staying in Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital city. I stayed at Guesthouse Aurora, which was a good base in keeping costs low, as the stay included a breakfast of Icelandic staples (such as rye bread). Reykjavík is a great location as most tours around the country will depart from there. The city also has plenty of things to see and do in itself, as well as offering a plethora of places to eat and drink.
After breakfast, start your adventure with a 7-hour tour of the Golden Circle through the operator Gray Line. Picking you up from Reykjavík, the tour will take you on a 250km round trip to see the remarkable sights of the Golden Circle: Þingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall.
Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park is the only place in the world where the rift between two tectonic plates is above sea-level. The Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are moving apart at a rate of approximately 2.5cm a year, enabling visitors to walk between two continents through the rift valley. Þingvellir is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – however, this is not due to its geology. Althingi, the Icelandic Parliament, was established at Þingvellir in 930, making the area the site of the oldest running Parliament in the World.
Gullfoss waterfall is 32 metres high and is fed by Iceland’s second-largest glacier, Langjökull. There is enough free time during the Gray Line tour to stop for a quick lunch at the Gullfoss restaurant.
The final stop on the tour was my favourite way to spend time in Iceland. The Geysir Geothermal site spans an area of 3 km² and features bubbling mud pits and erupting geysers such as Strokkur, which explodes a 15-20m high fountain of water every 6-8 minutes. Check out my video of Strokkur below!
After a long day of travelling around the country, get ready for a fabulous fish dinner at Messinn (book in advance). I recommend that you order the traditional Icelandic favourite of plokkfiskur – a wonderfully hearty fish stew.
Following a leisurely breakfast, start your day by taking a shuttle bus to one of the most incredible Blue Lagoons in the world. The Blue Lagoon is essentially a spa experience. It is growing to be Iceland’s most famous attraction and is a man-made, by-product of the nearby geothermal power plant. The water is enriched with silica, algae and minerals, resulting in a hot body of water with “healing, rejuvenating and nourishing abilities”.
We opted for the ‘Comfort’ package, which offers entry, a silica mud pack and a drink at the in-water bar. There is nothing more wonderful than relaxing in those heated waters with a late-morning prosecco in hand!
After a quick snack at the Blue Lagoon Café, return on the shuttle bus to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Reykjavík – the world’s northernmost capital city. Ensure that you take the lift to the top of the Hallgrimskirkja, the highest church in Iceland, in order to be rewarded with 360 degree views of the city, as well as checking out the Sun Voyager Sculpture on the waterfront. If you have free time, consider checking out the National Museum of Iceland via the beautiful (and often frozen) Lake Tjornin too.
Fill up for dinner with a fish and chip supper at Reykjavik Fish Restaurant, before embarking upon a Northern Lights Mystery tour for the evening. Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) are a natural phenomenon and so seeing the lights isn’t guaranteed – however, touring around Iceland on a bus trying to catch sight of the lights is quite an experience in itself. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the Northern Lights when I visited Iceland – but I plan on returning for a second attempt!
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve visited Iceland and seen the Northern Lights! Most importantly, however, do comment if you’ve managed to sample some of that pricey Kentucky fried chicken…