Iceland is so close to Ireland ( an hour away by plane ) so one weekend few months ago while looking for cheap fares to basically anywhere inthe world on www.skyscanner.ie I booked a spontaneous weekend trip to the volcano island being tempted by the 40 euro return plane tickets. I didn't know much ahead of what i really want to see and do , i just thought it would be crazy not to take advantage of the cheap flights to there . Little did i know then that Iceland is a bit pricey to explore in general :). I start thinking of what can I fit best in my schedule for such a short time. The only place i knew i really wanted to visit was the blue lagoon. From doing some quick research online i found out it is best to visit it straight after arriving or on the way back to the airport as it is quite close to it and you really kind of need to book a ticket in advance to get an early entry time .Once you are in you can stay all day until they close. Unfortunately for me the only times they had left were at night but at least I got to book it on a sale of only 50 euro for an entry at 9 p/m ( they were closing at 11 p/m). Ideally you would want to pay a bit more , get an early hour and stay longer . They have different package deals where you can get a nice rope , slippers ,facial masks and drinks. The atmosphere to the place is one a kind and i write more about it and include photos below.
In Ireland we drive on the opposite side of the road than Iceland so i decided it will be better not to hire a car and drive because i wasn't feeling fully confident in doing so . I chose to get around by buses as figured out taxis are way too expensive. Before i left i also searched for a possible company which provides day tours that go to the most of the main attractions . I found a good one on www.getyourguide.com and by the way they had great offers on it to many other various places there.
i wanted to stay close the airport in Reykjavik as it was a short visit. I'm not really a hostel person ( i love my privacy) but the prices of the 4 star hotels shocked me. They started at around the 200-300 euro mark for a night. I didn't see any 5 star hotels i have heard there is only one place called Black Pearl apartments that has that capacity. You can probably get good airbnb rates if you plan in advance but at the time i was going there the good location properties were priced at around 150 euro per night. I ended up staying in a hotel that had no stars ( 4th floor hotel ) but was situated in the perfect location for me right in the centre of the city. It costed 126 euro per night , the room was basically a box and but i didn't really care as i had only planned to sleep there.
I think the best option if you are spending more days in Iceland and you are comfortable with driving is to rent a car. As i mentioned above i wasn't going to drive so opted for bus services starting from the airport to Reykjavik, which were quite frequent and averagely priced for Europe. I used FlyBus shuffle which costed around 24 euro ( 3000ISK) one way. The transfer to the city took around 50 mins.
Places to see
Without a doubt you will need more than a weekend to see everything and experience Iceland fully but i will list below what i managed to see and do while i was there.
On the first day i just walked around Reykjavik . I was in total owe of the Hallgrímskirkja , which is the largest church in Iceland. Its design was so impressive and beautiful , quite different and modern than your typical catholic or orthodox churches . I could see that most of the people were taking photos of it from the front but if you walk around , its back side makes up for lovely photos too . I didn't know that when i was there but if you purchase a ticket( 1000 ISK) you can go to the top of the church where you can see amazing panoramic views of the city.
Another interesting attraction while strolling along the shoreline was the The Sun Voyager - a steel boat sculpture looking at the sea and the mountains in the distance . It is just as lovely at night , I was lucky that they weren't many tourists around when i was there and i even got to go on top of it :).
The night life was buzzing , i went to a lovely pub kind of a place for my dinner . I don't remember the name of it but i did spent around 50 eu for a vegetarian meal and a drink which comparing to all other places I have been so far was quite pricey.
The next morning my tour guide/ driver from the company i had chosen collected me on time from my hotel in a small minibus. I had booked a tour made for only around 7-8 people , with Icelandic Tour Guides. They had various itinerary options with some of them made to suit a small group of people which were respectively more expensive. At the time they had some great deals going on starting from 50 euro and my tour costed 78 eu on sale from 119 eu. There were only 3 couples on the bus with me and we all had such a great time together. Our guide was so informative and friendly really tried his best for us to enjoy our 8 hour trip around . What was interesting was it was lashing the heaviest rain i have ever seen for the whole day but it stopped everytime ( apart from Seljalandloss ) we did stop for sightseeings. I was totally blown away by the nature and landscape of Iceland . It was like being on Mars ! Can't compare to anywhere else I have ever been.
As we were driving around the south coast we saw some amazing volcanoes , watersfalls , glaziers and black sand beaches. The places we stopped were Skogarfoss , Seljalandloss , Hraunfossar , Touch Solheimajokull Glacier , the beaches at Reynisfjara, the volcano that erupted in 2010-Eyjafjallajökull and we also took lunch in a cute little town called Vik where we had time to visit another black sand beach. Our driver allowed us plenty of time at each attraction to take photos and explore without rushing. I was absolutely soaked at the end of the trip but extremely happy and uplifted i managed to see so many things in a day.
The minibus dropped me back to my hotel where i had time for some dinner before my transfer to the Blue Lagoon they had arranged for me in the morning arrived. The journey to there took more than an hour however i think we were a little bit delayed because some of the passengers were late arriving at their pick up time. The Blue Lagoon itself was unreal!! I wish i had more time to stay there but they were closing in 2 hours.Everyone was so happy and to be there , the whole atmosphere in the place was lit . I met a group of some lovely Bulgarian people which was a pleasant surprise and they invited me to stay with them there.
Last but not least at the airport on the way back i met a lovely girl from Turkey called Landy so we pass the time till our flight back to Ireland having some lovely chats . Overall apart from its out of this world unique and diverse nature meeting some awesome new friends along the way in Iceland is another way of how i will remember my trip to there.