Iceland has been on my list of places to go for a while. I often found myself hesitating because of the time, the money, or the money and the time.
Recently, one of my peers said that’s it rare to have everything at once, so if I wanted to take my trip, I should just take my trip. So six weeks ago, I booked a flight to Reykjavik and never looked back.
I originally planned to spend three days in Iceland: one in downtown Reykjavik, another touring the Golden Circle, and my last in the Blue Lagoon/Keflavik area.
Although I’ve traveled to Europe many times, I learn something new every time I go. This trip, I learned to schedule as many refundable tours as possible and not to plan anything for the first few hours after your intended arrival.
I say this because my flight to Reykjavik was delayed by six hours. Six. As in we were supposed to leave at 10:30pm and arrive at 8:10am, but we actually left at 4:45am and arrived at 2:30pm! I slept in the airport in a closed restaurant area alongside my fellow travelers. Once I finally got through customs and to my hotel, I was so tired and hungry that it was all I could think about! A lot of Iceland guides say to visit Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s geothermal spas, coming from the airport, but I am so glad I booked it the other way around! I obviously didn’t make it anywhere significant on the first day of my trip.
That being said, downtown Reykjavik is very walkable! It felt amazing to stretch my legs after a long flight. I got a map from my hotel and went sightseeing on foot. For dinner, I stopped by Kaffi Vinyl. They have a lot of great plant-based options! I enjoyed a pear, quinoa, and hemp seed salad.
On my second, yet first full day in Iceland, I went on a Golden Circle tour! Before the tour, I visited Sandholt Bakery! I’d been reading so much about their bread, so I just had to try it! I enjoyed fried eggs and a mixed greens salad. The eggs were cooked perfectly. I was glad to get in some fuel since my tour would last all day!
On my tour, we visited hot springs, waterfalls, the original Geyser, and even enjoyed a traditional Icelandic dish-lamb stew! The landscape was beautiful and it was so interesting to hear about the history of Iceland and all the volcanos!
After my tour, I headed back into Reykjavik for dinner. I visited the Hlemmur Food Hall! They had so many great options, and I struggled to choose. Ultimately, I settled on vegetable soup and grilled portobello mushrooms and veggies from this sandwich! I decided to forgo the bread-although I’m sure it was delicious! It can be hard to find veggies on the road, so I will take a part a sandwich if need be!
My last day in Iceland came far too soon. I woke up early to get to Blue Lagoon close to opening at 8am. Although I had to wake up at 5am, it was nice to enjoy the water for a few hours without the crowds. I went with the comfort (most basic) package and I brought my own flip flops and coverup. My package still came with a complimentary in-water drink and silica mud mask, so I was good to go!
It was rainy and windy while I was there, but the water was so warm that I barely noticed! Only when exiting the pool did I feel entirely frozen! I found a comfy rock to sit on while I sipped on my carrot, orange, and ginger juice. Time flew by quickly because I was in the water for almost three hours before I got hungry and decided to go have a snack! I also chose not to bring my phone with me so that I could focus on the experience. What’s crazy is that I could not remember the last time that I was awake for more than three hours and went without checking my phone! I didn’t even feel like I needed it. Moments like these make time think that I should take phone breaks more often. After all, how urgent is Instagram really?
What I really enjoyed about Blue Lagoon was how seamless the experience was. Everyone is given a wristband upon entering and you use your wristband to pay for drinks and snacks and to lock your locker! How easy (and dangerous) is that? My wrists are on the smaller side so I had trouble keeping my bracelet on, but other than that, buying drinks in the water was simple. I felt like I was living in some futuristic retail universe!
I decided to go big for one of my final meals in Iceland and I ate at the Lava Restaurant at the Blue Lagoon. It was on the pricier side and the food was outstanding! I didn’t buy anything during my stay in Iceland, so I thought that I could devote the money I probably would have spent on a souvenir to a meal. I selected the two course option because I wasn’t interested in having dessert. After explaining all my allergies and intolerances to the very understanding waiter, it became clear that there was no way I would be able to avoid dairy, peanuts, and tree nuts and eat dessert. The appetizer and entree were both excellent. I had smoked arctic char to start and lamb shoulder and fillet with roasted veggies for my main. It was wonderful after spending the morning in the water.
After leaving the Blue Lagoon, I headed to Keflavik for the final evening before my flight. When I got there, the weather was awful. It was rainy and so windy that I couldn’t even use my umbrella. I tried to walk a few blocks to dinner from my hotel and I was showered on by the relentless Iceland skies. I opted to get takeout for dinner and head back to the hotel. Since I had such a big meal at lunch, I was fine with a lighter dinner. I got roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, and spinach from a local sandwich shop! For dessert, I had mango turmeric chia pudding! It was amazing to me how such a small store could have aisles and aisles of chips and still have space for some healthy options!
My trip to Iceland was way too short, and I know I’ll have to return someday. Overall, I would say that I had no trouble finding fruits and veggies in the downtown area and truly enjoyed the cuisine! I’m already researching Icelandic recipes for when it cools down on the east coast in a few months!