Another solo trip! This flight was a Christmas present from my sister and her boyfriend and I could not be more grateful as Iceland quickly became a favorite for me.
Little story about planning my trip: I was originally staying in an airbnb outside the centre of the city, similar to how I did my accommodation in Amsterdam. I’d booked it because the host had great reviews and she was supposed to be right near public transportation that’d take you right into the centre. Well, about a week later I was booking my tickets for Blue Lagoon, which you need transportation to. I was doing the 8:00 am time and would have to be picked up by 7. Except they didn’t pick up anywhere near my airbnb and the confusing public transportation didn’t start early enough for me to get to the bus station in time. A taxi would cost enormously and so I was stressing about how I’d get there. Eventually I decided to cancel my airbnb and book a hostel in the centre.
Reykjavik is EXPENSIVE so not only did I save money with doing a hostel instead, I also probably saved a lot from not needing public transportation. Seriously you will spend a lot in Iceland and so you’ll want to save where you can. I was able to walk everywhere from my hostel and I am so happy I made that switch.
I had an 11 am flight to Keflavik Airport, Iceland’s international airport and I was excited to head out on my next adventure. I arrived about 1:30 pm and eagerly looking out my plane’s window to check out the new landscape. The airport was pretty deserted apart from the other passengers on my flight. It was proof to me that Iceland was one of the more remote destinations.
Upon landing, I saw in my inbox that my Northern Lights tour for that night had been cancelled. The weather forecast was bad and highly unlikely that we’d see them. I was disappointed, but they allow you to rebook for free and I was able to reschedule for the next night. They’re supposed to take you in a bus outside of the city lights so you can see the Northern Lights and it was one of the big things I wanted to do in Iceland.
The airport is nearly an hour away from actual Reykjavik and if you don’t rent a car, I believe flybus is the next easiest way to get to the city. It will even drop you off at the more popular hotels and hostels in Reykjavik. I stayed at the hostel Hlemmur Square and flybus dropped me off right at them.
I checked in easily enough and headed up to check out my very first hostel. I decided to stay in an all-female dorm, something I’m personally more comfortable with but the mixed dorms are cheaper. Hlemmur Square is actually having a sale right now so it’s pretty inexpensive and was everything I needed. I highly suggest it.
The location could not have been more convenient. It’s on Laugavegur one of the main streets in Reykjavik, but towards the end of it so it’s a little quieter. After being exhausted walking it was easy enough to return and rest for a bit before setting back out. You will also save a lot from not using public transportation. I was in a twelve person dorm but there were only ever like four other people in it. I enjoyed the fact that it meant it was quieter and my fellow travelers were all nice. I was even offered a free cider!
My only complaint was that the bathrooms were a little gross. The toilets smelled like urine, but if you won’t be spending much time hanging out in your hostel it shouldn’t be an issue. It was only for two nights, so I didn’t mind too much. You have to rent a towel from the hostel too but again I was only there for a few days so I didn’t shower there. Yes I showered guys, but I did so at the Blue Lagoon because you had to shower there anyways and it was cleaner.
I’d arrived and I was ready to start seeing the city! I was hungry from not really having lunch and so I decided to head to a coffeeshop to grab a snack and try some of their coffee. There’s a large coffee culture in Reykjavik where they are the fourth largest coffee consumers in the world. For a small island that’s crazy!
I walked to Reykjavik Roasters, a popular spot I had heard about and I was able to window shop as I went. Reykjavik Roasters had a fantastic and cozy atmosphere where the baristas were nice (spoke English thankfully) and you got to do some good people watching. I ordered a latte and a scone, which cost my $11. I cringed but it was my first purchase there and so I hadn’t become stingy just yet. They gave me slices of cheese with my scone, which I’d never gotten before, but it was really good cheese actually. I liked it better than the scone, which was also good but the cheese stood out to me more. I sat for awhile here and noticed the warm but hipster-looking clothes the other customers wore. Large wool sweaters were big here.
I hadn’t planned much else for my arrival day as by now it was about 5 pm, but not too far away from me I could see the Hallgrímskirkja Church peeping up behind some other buildings. It was easy to make my way towards it and was a quick walk. I got a quick photo op, a must, and started checking out the area.
You can go to the top for 900 króna (their currency), but it closes at 5 so I’d just missed it. This is the largest church in Iceland and it does hold services! It’s beautiful inside and the doors are quite viking-looking.
Also nearby is the Einar Jónsson Museum. He designed a lot of the sculptures around Reykjavik and I’d heard that this museum was free. It’s not. I forget how much the price is because I decided not to do it, but if you go up the steps into the building you have to pay. Now I heard something about a sculpture garden being behind it? I read about it too late though and so I couldn’t verify if that’s the free museum people were talking about. Unless you’re a really big fan of his, I suggest saving your money for other things.
I walked around for awhile afterwards just checking out the souvenir stores and looking at some really cool building art.
That evening I had Noodle Station for dinner. It’s right on Laugavegur and is supposed to be one of the least expensive places to have a meal. Nevertheless, I still ended up spending $13. It was good food though and you receive a good-sized portion for your money.
I had to wake up at 6 am the next day for the Blue Lagoon so I decided to head to bed early to try and get a good night’s sleep (I didn’t by the way but A for effort, right?).