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Iceland– the land of Björk, Sigur Rós, volcanoes and the adorable Icelandic horse (pony is really a better description). I was lucky enough to spend a weekend in Iceland one summer. Let me fill you in on where I stayed, what I did and why I fell in love with this sparsely populated island.
My Guide to A Weekend in Iceland
How to Get to Iceland
Iceland has become incredibly accessible in recent years. For my long weekend in Iceland I flew from Bristol to Reykjavik with Easyjet for £100 return. From Dublin you can also fly with WOW air or Icelandair. These are direct flights. From Dublin the flight is around 2.5-3hrs, so perfect for a weekend break.
From London there are plenty of options too with direct flights being offered by WIZZ Air, EasyJet, WOW Air, Icelandair and British Airways. The flight time is 3.5hrs.
Once you arrive in Keflavik Airport (the main airport in Iceland), it’s easy enough to get to the capital of Reykjavik by bus. There are three main bus companies; Flybus, Airport Express bus and Grayline.
You can buy tickets online or upon arrival at the ticket desk in arrivals. The Flybus usually departs 30-45 minutes after flight arrival in Keflavik. The drive takes around 50 mins.
But be warned, it is expensive, like everything in Iceland, hahaha. The Flybus costs €40 for a return ticket to/from the central bus station. It’s around €50 if you want to be dropped directly to/from your hotel/hostel. Airport Express and Grayline cost around the same.
Of course, if you want to see as much of the island as possible you might be renting a car, in which case you can drive yourself from Keflavik to your hotel in Reykjavik in around 45/50 mins.
Where to Stay on Your Weekend Break to Iceland
Hostels are a great way to save money during your weekend trip to Iceland. Things can add up quite quickly so if you can save on accommodation that’s always a good thing.
This modern hostel is right on the main street in the centre of Reykjavik. We stayed in a surprisingly spacious 8 bed dorm room. Don’t worry, for those of you that prefer your own space they do offer private rooms.
Loft has a lovely rooftop bar. They even provide you with an array of colourful blankets to keep warm. It is one of the few rooftop bars in the city, so it attracts quite a local crowd which is a refreshing change from most hostel bars Every night we stayed there was something going on in the bar, from experimental techno gigs to international food markets.
The hostel serves a breakfast which I can safely say is the best breakfast I have ever had in a hostel. It was amazing – freshly prepared granola yoghurt pots, bagels, an assortment of pastries and much more .
Rooms from – AROUND € 70/ night (mixed dorm) but they can skyrocket depending on the time of year.
I never stayed in Kex but I did check it out (had a drink in the bar). It’s a trendy hipster-paradise hostel with a great vibe. They have a cool outdoor deck area and a wonderful bar and lounge areas. The host live music nights and the bar also serves Icelandic-style pub grub. The breakfast also gets rave reviews and the location is not bad either (just a bit back from the main shopping street).
Kex is actually expanding to foreign shores and will be opening a second branch in PORTLAND, Oregon in the USA, which I’m very excited about. If you know anything about Portland you’ll know that this Icelandic-hipster hostel will fit right in there.
Rooms in Kex start from – € 40/night for a 10 bed dorm, but can go up to €300.00 for a “double room plus”.
Airbnb is a great idea for a weekend trip to Iceland as you’ll get to meet more locals and live more like a local too. Plus they can save you money as there are usually self-catering facilities and eating out in Iceland is PRICEY. Airbnbs start from around €100/night at a minimum.
Just make sure you check the location and read the reviews. Always book directly through the Airbnb website. If you see a listing asking you to call or email them to book outside Airbnb, DO NOT DO IT.
When it comes to hotels you’ll be lucky to get anything for less than €100 a night, but that works out cheaper than some of the hostels if you’re travelling with a partner and plan on sharing a room. Here are some hotels I recommend;
You can browse the full range of hotels available in Reykjavik here.
What to do on Your Iceland Weekend Break
The first thing we did when we got off the plane was catch a Reykjavik Excursions bus straight to the famed Blue Lagoon. Upon our approach it sort of looked like a factory in the middle of a deserted black volcanic landscape. I wasn’t impressed.
However, once we got closer I could see the otherworldly blue waters and my jaw may have dropped a bit . Once we arrived we had to decide what package we wanted to go with. We opted for the comfort package which was around £55 per person.
In hindsight the basic package is probably the better option as long as you have your own towel. You don’t need the robe or extra face mask that come with the comfort. There are free face masks already dotted around the lagoon to be used by anyone regardless of the package they paid for.
The one thing I will say is that you will have to shower completely naked with a bunch of other ladies. There are cubicles so this allows for a slight bit of modesty but getting to and from these cubicles leaves nothing to the imagination. Be brave and remember that the odds of you seeing anyone you know in Iceland are pretty low.
Despite the indecent exposure, the Blue Lagoon is completely worth the money. It has got to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Not to mention the fact that the face masks made my skin feel incredible.
I also had the amazing opportunity to go on a Horse Trek with Eld hestar. I love horse-riding. I’ve been doing it since I was a child. I was so far beyond excited about the prospect of riding an Icelandic horse that I actually expressed my enthusiasm outwardly, which is unusual for me.
Back to the specifics, I went on the intermediate Hot Springs Tour. My lovely little pony was called Pegasus. I got lucky, he was a dream. Not a single thing spooked him, not even when another horse threw their rider and came stampeding towards us.
We stopped at a natural hot spring in the mountain mid-ride and it was fantastic. I did burn my feet on the hot rocks around the spring but it was completely worth it. Would use again, would recommend to friend.
Our final trip was a full day trip with Reykjavik Excursions which was supposed to start at 7.30am. However, for unknown reasons, we missed our pick-up. Luckily Reykjavik Excursions were kind enough to let us choose a different tour with a later pick up and we hopped on that. This ended up suiting us much better.
Massive plus for Reykjavik Excursions is that all of their tour buses have wifi, as long as you check in on FB. The tour we took was the South Shore adventure which included glaciers, Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Skógafoss waterfall and the Skógar Folk Museum.
Seljalandsfoss waterfall was the one I was most excited about. You can walk behind it and out the other side. When we arrived at the waterfall there was a beautiful double rainbow in the mist. It was the most breath-taking part of the trip without a doubt.
More things to do on a Weekend Break to Iceland
- Find the abandoned Sólheimasandur plane. You can’t drive directly to it. You can to a certain point, but then you have to walk about 4km to get to it. You can read more about it here.
- Take a tour of the Golden Circle, hitting all the main sights – Pingvellir National Park, The Great Geysir, Gulfoss, Kerid Crater and more.
- Dive in the crystal clear waters between two continents at Silfra in Thingvellir National Park. You can choose the best tour for you here.
- Explore one of the many stunning ice caves on the island. They can be as adventurous or as chilled (pun very much intended) as you’d like. Have a look at the various options here.
- Visit a natural hot pool. They’re not clean, in fact they’re most super muddy. So if you’re a clean freak, probably avoid. I LOVED the one I visited on my horse riding trip, but I know some people didn’t.
- See the Northern Lights. There are no guarantees, but it’s worth a shot if it’s on your bucket list. There are plenty of tours to choose from.
- Go whale watching. You could see Minke whales, Humpback whales, orcas and more. It’s a breath-taking experience. Here are some of the tours available.
How Much Does an Iceland Weekend Trip Cost?
Well, I think we all know Iceland is expensive. During my 3 day trip to Iceland I spent around €200 (excluding accommodation, transfers and tours). The majority of my money went on alcohol, food and a few souvenirs.
I’d say, including tours and accommodation you’re looking at €500 minimum for a 3 day trip to Iceland, maybe €650 including flights. Obviously you could go wild and spend SO much more. But you can be relatively budget-friendly if you skip restaurants and cook in your hostel or apartment.
If you’ve done it for less, let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your tips.
My Tips For 3 Days in Iceland
- Wrap up. The wind chill is intense, even in Summer. You WILL need gloves, hat, scarf and a good jacket.
- Bring plenty of money!
- Buy alcohol in the airport. The prices there are about 50% cheaper than they are in Reykjavik. A few pre-drinks from your duty-free alcohol will save you in the long run. Though I suggest staying away from the traditional schnapps, I cannot describe how terrible they taste, apart from the rhubarb one which is an exception.
- Download Tinder. The Icelandic people are absolutely gorgeous. You are welcome. Could be a fun weekend in Iceland.
- Icelandic nights out start earlier than you expect, despite what the internet says. Some bars close around 11pm, which is pretty early by my standards.
- There is an outdoor clothing store beside Loft hostel. Go in. They have a slide connecting the upstairs and downstairs. BEST. THING. EVER.
- If you do opt to drive, make sure that you’re confident driving in snowy conditions. The weather can change quickly in Iceland and you need to be prepared.
Itinerary Suggestion For 3 Days in Iceland
DAY 1 – Land in Keflavik. Go straight to Blue Lagoon (they have luggage lockers). Check in at hotel/hostel/apartment in Reykjavik. Have lunch at one of the many street food spots in Reykjavik (Fish & Co, Lamb Street Food, Icelandic Street Food). Spend the afternoon exploring Reykjavik. Check out the Hallgrímskirkja church, local artisan shops, the Icelandic Phallological Museum (yep, that’s a penis museum) and just enjoy the sights. Go food shopping if you’re self-catering. Have dinner in Reykjavik Kitchen (or any of the other wonderful restaurants in town). Go for drinks in Skuli Craft Bar or Icelandic Craft Bar. Get an early night to be ready for a tour tomorrow.
DAY 2 – Wake up early. Have breakfast in your hotel/hostel/apartment. Join whichever day tour stands out to you most. Whether it’s horse-riding for a day or The Golden Circle, today is your day to see more of the island outside of Reykjavik. There will be a lunch stop or lunch included on your trip. Return to Reykjavik in time for dinner. I recommend Saeta Svinid Gastropub for a nice relaxed meal with a decent happy hour too!
DAY 3 – Treat yourself to pastries from Braud & Co for breakfast, or if you already have breakfast included just pick up some pastries to snack on later. Trust me, you don’t want to miss Braud & Co. Depending on what time your flight home is then you have options. You could take a half-day tour such as one of the fantastic whale-watching tours. If you have time for lunch stop by Svarta Kaffid for delicious soup in a round loaf of bread, great on a cold day! Then hop on the bus and head back to Keflavik airport to catch your flight home.
My Final Thoughts About Iceland
Well, since I visited in Summer it was pretty much 24hr daylight during my weekend in Iceland, which took some adjusting. Personally I liked it. It made me feel like I always had time. However, I would imagine that it could encourage one to burn themselves out due to excessive partying/ activities.
Also, since there are only about 300, 000 people in Iceland, that tends to make the gene pool somewhat small. So, for the locals, on a night out the girl you’re wooing could potentially be your second cousin if you’re not careful. Therefore, an app was invented to help Icelandic youths discover whether or not they are related to their prospective partner. How handy.
Iceland is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to! Make sure you take the time to really enjoy a weekend break in Iceland at least once in your life.
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