Iceland was a long due trip that I wanted to do since 4 years but did not have either the time or the means then to make it true.
I did not expect anything except seeing the northern lights, that was one of my dreams to see them. I must say that it was a very pleasant trip. The people are very friendly, the city Reykjavík got some character, everything is at walking distance in town, the streets are clean and for the millennials, there is free wifi everywhere!
If that's the first time you go to Iceland, I can assure you that you wont regret it.
Lets start by some quick facts
Population: 330,142 in 2016
Currency: kròna (1 krona = 0.11 Euros or 0.12 US dollars)
Leif Erikson was an Icelandic explorer considered by some as the first European to land in North America before Christopher Colombus.
It is the youngest country in the world geologically as it keeps on expanding by 2 cm every year due to the tectonic movements of the two plates northern american and Asian drifting away from one another.
Everyone in Iceland does not have a surname. They still use the old Viking patronymics instead of family surnames. i.e. being identified as the son or daughter of their father.
Things to do in Reykjavik
Visit the cathedral hallgrímskirkja
This church features an impressive mechanical action organ. You can also enjoy a panoramic view of the city from the top.
Visit the Golden circle
This is one of the most popular tourist route in Iceland, covering about 300km looping from Reykjavík into central Iceland and back. You will be able to find the most travel related activities there. You can find out more in this article.
See the Harpa
This is a concert hall and conference centre in Reykjavík. this is an impressive piece of architecture and a great photo spot. If you visit it by night, the glass panels lit up in different colors.
Taste their hot dogs
Baejarins Beztu Pylsu meaning "the best hot dog in town" is the most popular hot dog stand in Reykjavík. Located near the harbor it is definitely a must do. I am usually not a big fan of hot dogs but I must say that their popularity is well deserved, they are really good! It has become popular following the visit of the former US president Bill Clinton in 2004.
See the sun voyager
A steel sculpture representing a dream boat and ode to the sun facing the Mount Esja. An amazing view spot.
Chase the northern lights
A dream that finally came true. Such an amazing light show. After 48h of bad weather conditions, I was finally able to see them. Just amazing! Find out more here.
Bath in geothermal hot springs
Due to the geothermal activity, there are many hot springs and geyser around the country. Although some might be boiling hot, other hot springs have the perfect temperature to bathe in. So don't forget your swimsuit!
Try the Skyr
One of Iceland's national dishes. This white milk product is similar to yogurt, only thicker and full of protein. It is a very healthy and energizing snack that can be eaten at any time during the day.
Try the coffee shops
Their cinnamon bun or snúður which are usually topped off with caramel icing are delicious!
Shop on the main street of Laugavegur
and visit the Christmas shop opened all year long.
What to eat and drink?
Eat Icelandic lamb
Eat rye bread baked for 24h in a natural geothermal oven
Try the reindeer soup from loaf of bread
What a better way to end out in the cold than by eating a great hot soup, but not any kind of soup, a reindeer soup in a bread! I was not able to finish the whole bread, but it was very tasty. Try it out if you visit Reykjaviík and stop by Svarta Kaffid! ;)
Try the nightlife
The city centre is full of bars with live music playing most of the time. They are usually opened until early in the morning.
Where to stay?
Despite being an expensive travel destination, Iceland has loads of accommodation options for every purse. You can find hostels, guest houses, apartments and hotels. I went for the apartment option as it was the most convenient option for my stay. I staid at one of the Apartment K's studios right in the heart of Reykjavik on the main shopping street Laugavegur. It was cheaper than Airbnb and as comfortable.
How to get there?
There are many airlines offering flights to Iceland, like Icelandair, SAS, Easyjet, Norwegian or even the new company low cost WOW air. If you are departing from Dublin, Ireland, the latter company now offers a direct 2h flight from Dublin to Keflavik. You can find more information here.
Overall, Iceland had a great first impression on me. I really enjoyed every moment of my stay. The people are very friendly, the landscapes are breathtaking, the food is delicious. I only regret that I did not have more time and that the weather condition was not optimum. But I will definitely go back, next time while summer to experience the midnight sun and explore more areas of this beautiful country.