How to spend 4 days in Reykjavik Iceland
Reykjavik has been on my travel bucket list for years. Its the perfect city break and only a short flight away from the UK. Although it has a reputation for being ridiculously expensive, I finally visited for four days in February earlier this year.
Did it live up to the hype?
Was it as expensive as people claim?
Read on to find out how I got on during my trip.
Getting to Keflavik airport and around Reykjavik
The Manchester to Reykjavik flight time is less than two hours, which is hard to believe when Iceland is such a contrast from home it feels like it’s on another planet. Keep your eye on budget flights and buy from separate airlines as it may be cheaper. We flew out with EasyJet and flew back with Icelandic air (one of the nicest airlines I have ever flown with.)
Once we’d landed in Keflavik, we hired a car and drove to the city centre to find our accommodation. You’ll find plenty of car hire companies in the airport, or you could find one online. We hired a car for three days which cost around £300 with insurance, this is very reasonable as the alternative is getting taxis which charge around £50 for a 30 minute journey!
Where to stay
Reykjavik accommodation can be expensive, so we tried to save money by staying in an Airbnb. To be honest, I usually prefer Airbnb’s to hotels, because they’ve cheaper and you get more space. We stayed in a private apartment about 15 minutes’ drive from Reykjavik centre, complete with a comfy bed, hot tub, and a friendly cat who loves making new friends. However, if you want to opt for a more luxurious experience, there are plenty of hotels in the area, such as Reykjavik Hilton and Radisson Blue.
What to do in
Iceland is the kind of place you could easily spend a month exploring. As we only had four days, we tried to pack in as much as possible and stayed around Reykjavik centre. Here are some of the sights we saw:
Sun voyager sculpture
There are lots of things to look out for while you’re wandering around Reykjavik, such as amazing street art, buildings and sculptures. A popular sight is the Sun Voyager sculpture, which you can find close to the harbour. It was created by Jón Gunnar Árnason and aims to mimic a Viking ‘dreamboat’ in a tribute to the sun.
Iceland is just as famous for its variety of whales as it is for the northern lights. There are around 20 different species of cetacean in Iceland, but the most common are the Minke, Fin, Blue, and Humpback whale. If the weather is clear, you can take a boat tour from the harbour and go whale watching – unfortunately it was too windy for us to do so on our trip. It costs around £80 per person for the boat trip and lasts most of the day.
The famous Reykjavik church is called Hallgrímskirkja. It’s not only the largest church in Iceland, but also one of the tallest structures in the country. You can see it rom most places in the centre, perched on the top of the hill. It’s beautiful and serene inside, but the best part of it is the view from the top of the church. You’ll need to get a ticket and hop in the (very old) lift to the top floor where you can gaze down at Reykjavik from the highest viewing point.
Northern lights centre
If you aren’t lucky enough to see the northern lights during your trip to Reykjavik don’t fear, because you don’t need to miss out. We visited the northern lights centre to learn all about the natural phenomenon and see some beautiful pictures. There’s even a 3D experience so you can pretend you’ve seen them for yourself (a few of our friends thought we actually had from the pictures!).
We also visited the Reykjavik Phallic museum, but the less said about that the better, unless you’d like to learn more about whale genitals in glass jars…
While technically not in Reykjavik town centre, I couldn’t write about my trip to Iceland without featuring the Blue Lagoon! The blue lagoon is a huge natural hot spring, turned spa, located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Despite the wind and rain, we spent all day relaxing in the warm pools outside. I recommend getting an in-water massage and dining at the lava restaurant. Although it wasn’t cheap, it was one of the best meals I’ve had, and the portions were huge. Plus there’s something magical about dining in a volcano!
This post is much longer than I anticipated; so I may write a separate blog about the best restaurants in Reykjavik further down the line because there were some cracking ones.
Did it live up to the hype? Yes, it was fascinating and filled with so much culture. The people were lovely too!
Was it as expensive as they say? YES. Good heavens yes. Take extra money with you – also be mindful that everywhere pays on card so you won’t need to exchange currency.
Have you ever been to Reykjavik? I’d love to know what you thought of it!