It was cold. That was my first thought as I stepped out of Keflavik airport and into the fresh Icelandic air. After being uncomfortably hot for the duration of the flight, my body now understood why I had wrapped it in so many layers. During a 45 minute coach journey, from the airport to the country’s capital, it was clear to see why the island is regarded as a photographic dream. It has it all. Freezing glaciers, Boiling Volcanoes, waterfalls, mountains and the northern most capital in the world. Reykjavik. On first impressions the city seems distinctively Scandinavian. Houses lining the streets providing vibrant red, yellow and blue colors. First point of call was to get some food, it was around 5pm and beginning to get dark, so we headed out to see what the local cuisine had to offer. There was whale meat, spotted monk fish and even puffin meat to choose from but in true English fashion we settled for….. a beef burger. With fries. A real highlight of the stay in Reykjavik was having dinner in the Sky bar. This is a restaurant on the 8th floor and offers panoramic views over the harbor.
One of the main reasons people head to Iceland is in pursue of the northern lights. We were informed that to see them you needed 3 key conditions. luck. luck. and luck. But in all seriousness you needed, a perfectly clear sky, to be in an area of near complete darkness and for the sun to have released solar energy. On the first day in Reykjavik the skies were completely clear. condition 1 of 3, ticked. So we booked onto a tour bus which would take us 45 minutes away from the city lights and halfway up a mountain to near complete darkness. Condition 2 of 3, ticked. During this 45 minute journey we were informed by the tour guide that NASA’s latest solar information identified that there had been a lot of recent solar energy released by the sun. Condition 3 of 3, ticked. We fancied our chances here. As the bus pulled into a small lay by on the side of a desolate mountain road the skies above began to light up a luminous green. They had arrived. The northern lights. We spent the next 2 hours standing in absolute awe as the lights danced and shimmered above.
Along with the northern lights tour we had a couple of other excursions booked up as well. The golden circle tour and a trip to the blue lagoon. Both are completely worthwhile and offer the chance to see completely unique scenes and experiences. The Golden Circle tour takes you to Pingvellir national park, Gulfoss waterfall and the Geysir area. The blue lagoon to takes you to well.. the blue lagoon. A chance to bathe in a natural geothermal pool.
The island has managed to get itself quite a reputation for being expensive, however we found this is not the case. Although paying 2500 units of currency for a meal did take some getting used to, with a conversion rate from pounds of about 180:1, this only equated to about 15 pounds. Iceland truly is as breathtaking as it looks in pictures and a country I will definitely be returning to.
I would recommend booking excursions before you go as you will not need to travel with as much money that way. We used Grayline for all our trips and the service was prompt, informative and comfortable.