Today was my ultimate day for hitting the tourist spots.
First was the renowned Blue Lagoon! It’s a geothermal spa and its silica content is supposed to be great for your skin. This is not a natural phenomenon though, it was actually a man-made accident when the nearby geothermal plant had a leak. It’s well-known for its cloudy blue color and is a great spot for an instagram post! It’s also an incredibly relaxing place that you’ll never want to leave.
After writing this I realized I could have totally made the Blue Lagoon its own post.
Tip: Book in advance people! Don’t wait till you get to Iceland because it will be full. Reserve your spot at least a week in advance.
I woke up very very early at 6 am as the pickup for the Blue Lagoon was supposed to start at 6:30. Did you know that in early February the sun doesn’t rise until 10 am in Iceland? No, neither did I.
On the drive to the Blue Lagoon it was cold, wet, dark, and windy outside. It looked absolutely miserable and I was half asleep and cranky. Now if you arrive in the pitch black with a killer wind like I did, the first building that everybody runs to is where you store your luggage. It’s not the actual lobby! I stood in line thinking I was about to check into the Blue Lagoon, but once I got to the front I was a little confused as it’s just for luggage. Reception is a different building you go to and you have to follow this path towards it. In the dark there wasn’t clear signage.
Now there are a few different types of packages for the Blue Lagoon. I purchased the Comfort Package, which was about $20 more expensive than the cheapest and most basic one. For this one you’ll be able to receive a towel, a silica mud mask, a second algae mask, and the first drink of your choice would be free. The most basic package only contains the silica mud mask. I thought my package was the perfect one as you’re treating yourself a little more, but not going to far out.
Once you’ve actually checked into the correct place and received your wristband, that will be your locker key and credit for the bar, you change and then have to shower before entering the lagoon.
Tip: The waters might be good for your skin, but they’ll make your hair stiff and greasy feeling for awhile afterwards. To combat this load your hair up with conditioner (like a lot of it) and leave it in before entering the lagoon!
There are two ways to enter the lagoon: there’s a small indoor section that’s closed off to the outside except for a door in the water or you can exit out the doors in your bathing suit and enter the waters outside.
When I was leaving the showers I saw a bunch of people hanging out in the indoor section and I scoffed at them thinking they were missing out. I thought I could do better and stepped outside with my towel and bathing suit on to a world of chaos. Towels were flying off hooks and flip flops were being blown across the ground. My already wet body from the shower was being whipped by the brutal wind and I quickly ran back inside to hang with the people I’d scoffed at.
I was grumpy from lack of sleep and cold and unsure about being there. I’d heard the Blue Lagoon was just a tourist trap and not worth it so I was hesitant booking it in the first place. I hung up my towel though and stepped into the indoor waters. It feels like a hot bath at first but it’s not an uncomfortable temperature. I hung out in the inside section for a time watching the other people with their friends and family (I was one of the few there solo, not a bad experience but different all the same).
Tip: Get a waterproof phone case so you can take photos. I bought this one and it was the best purchase I made prior to the trip. It’ll look dorky with the strap, but it was awesome not worrying about losing my phone or getting it wet. There were many other people with the same phone case and it enabled me to take my many pictures. It didn’t hinder the camera quality either!
After finally warming up and getting comfortable, I noticed the door that was in the water and led outside. I was ready to attempt to brave the cold again. Once you’re already in the water, the outside is not bad.
It was still really dark out though and there was still over an hour before the sunrise.
I took a ton of photos so here’s just a slideshow of some of them.
While miserable getting up so early, the sunrise made it all worth it. I enjoyed my free cider watching it and it was incredibly peaceful and gorgeous. You see the whole lagoon transform as it goes from night to day and you’ll get some amazing photos.
Yeah this is one of the most touristy things to do in Iceland, but the lagoon is large enough where it doesn’t feel super crowded. It’s also one of the more expensive excursions as you have to pay for transportation there, but once you’re there you never want to leave. You can stay however long you want too! There are buses at pretty much every hour so you just catch whatever one you want.
After relaxing for a few hours and being calmed from my stressful morning, I knew it was time to head back to Reykjavik. You have to shower again upon leaving the lagoon and you should lather your hair up with conditioner again. Multiple times. Then do it again. I thought I put in too much, but my hair was still stiff and gross feeling once it dried.
Also if you don’t want to shower at your hostel like I did, you have a free shower here!
Upon being dropped back off at my hostel, I left my wet bathing suit to dry and set off into the city again.
On the weekends there’s a flea market that you can hit up called Kolaportid and it was my next stop!
Kolaportid Flea Market is a great place to find some more inexpensive souvenirs, including the infamous wool sweaters that you’ll see everywhere. They’re really expensive though and even at the market you will still end up spending a couple hundred dollars. I’d suggest going for a pair of wool socks or gloves to save some money and still get that souvenir.
If you really want a wool sweater I would also suggest checking out the Handknitting Association of Iceland. Everything is made locally here and if you’re a knitter yourself you can buy some wool yarn which is much less expensive than buying something already made.
After the flea market, you’re a quick walk away from the Harpa Concert Hall, home to the national opera and symphony. It’s a beautiful and unique building to check out even if you’re not seeing a performance. It’s free to walk around the building and you can see how the glass windows reflect light into different colors. It’s also a great place to sit down for a rest and use their clean bathrooms. Go up to the top floors for views (free)!
Once you’ve checked out Harpa and its gift shop (I wouldn’t suggest buying anything here though because it’ll be priced higher), you can walk alongside the water and make your way towards the Sun Voyager Sculpture.
The biggest difference between Reykjavik and Amsterdam was that even though the Sun Voyager is one of the most popular tourist spots, I was there in the middle of the day and there were like 6 other people there. In Amsterdam the tourist spots had at least a couple hundred people. Yet I was at the Sun Voyager at prime time and there was barely anybody else there. Thus, I got a great solo picture.
The Sun Voyager is a lot bigger than I’d expected. Before I’d only seen pictures without a person in it for scale, but it’s actually huge!
It’s not a Viking ship as I and many others assume. It’s called a dreamboat, an ode to the sun. It also supposedly is a dream of hope, progress, and freedom. You truly feel a sense of freedom with it jutting out into the sea and a rainbow in the background.
I had intended to go to City Hall this day as well, but I realized that I would have to backtrack a lot to make it there. I’d heard they have a 3D map of the city and it’s free to walk around and learn about the history of Iceland. It would’ve made more geographical sense to have done it before Kolaportid actually, but I was getting tired so I decided to head back to my hostel for a little rest before dinner.
I decided to try something else on Laugavegur that night and went to Nepalese Restaurant. It was delicious and I licked my plate clean, but I was only able to order an appetizer. My chicken appetizer was $16 already and all the entrees were at least $30. Again Iceland is EXPENSIVE, especially the food. All the food that I did have was great, but it’ll cost you a good amount.
After my great but pricey appetizer/dinner, I wanted to treat myself to ice cream and walk around at night a little. I believe I went to Eldur and Is, which was located on a street off of Laugavegur.
I did some great people watching and nearly got hit with some flying food on my walk back. Some girl threw a hamburger or hotdog at her friend and it just barely missed me. It certainly woke me up from my Iceland dazing!
Finally I got back to my hostel for another early night. I really did not want to have to pay for drinks in a bar or spend money going out, especially since I was there alone. However, the bars did look really fun for a night out.
I was supposed to go on my rescheduled Northern Lights tour this night, but it got cancelled again! Weather is unpredictable in Iceland so it’s best to give yourself a few nights to try and see them. Unfortunately I just didn’t have the time and the two chances that I had did not succeed.