Check-in and check-out Reykjavik
Book your stay at the Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel located in the heart of downtown Reykjavik, within walking distance of all the city’s top attractions including the Harpa Concert Hall, Sun Voyager and the iconic Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral, the largest country church that and its towers over the center of Reykjavik. Its 240-foot-high tower offers a magnificent 360° view of the city. Visitors can climb the stairs to the top or pay a small fee to use the elevator.
Our spacious room at the Reykjavik Konsulat included a walk-in shower, a king-size bed with ultra-luxury linens, and a sitting area. The hotel offers a free happy hour daily as well as a delicious breakfast buffet featuring a variety of local specialties, including smoked salmon. The hotel also offers a nice fitness center as well as public baths with a sauna and whirlpool. Don’t get too excited, public baths mean something completely different in Iceland than in the United States.
Going to Iceland in winter is an adventure. It’s definitely not a relaxing trip; more like a journey to the most extraordinary ends of the earth you will ever discover. With that in mind, book a private full-day South Coast tour with Friend In Iceland. Our wonderful guide Gunnar picked us up from our hotel in a Mercedes mini bus and off we went to explore a part of the country I hadn’t been to on my previous visit.
Seljalandsfoss, Iceland in 4K (Ultra HD)
The nearly 9 hour tour took us to Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls where we had the opportunity to stand at the base and feel the power of these natural wonders. Then we traveled to the top of a cliff which offered views of the ocean as well as a rock formation jutting out into the sea which connects to the black sand beach of Reynisfjara. Words cannot describe how beautiful that moment was. I’m almost in tears again just thinking about it. The waves crashing on the beach, combined with clear skies and a mesmerizing sunrise, make for an absolutely majestic sight.
Gunnar then took us to a nice restaurant where we had lunch, which consisted of pizza and a sandwich, not typical Icelandic food, but it was delicious none the less.
Reykjavik is home to a gay bar, called Kiki. Although it was closed on this visit due to COVID-19 restrictions, we met the owner who invited us to come back home this summer for their Pride celebration. 2022 marks the 23rdrd the annual Reykjavik Pride, which takes place in early August. The festival draws over 100,000 people to the city for a week-long celebration that includes a festival, parade, and lots of parties.
Wake up early the next morning and get ready for your next Golden Circle Icelandic adventure. Although this area is easily accessible by car from Reykjavik in the summer, I wouldn’t recommend venturing out on your own during the winter months as many roads are icy and the weather can be quite spontaneous. One moment it will be sunny, then 30 minutes later you can find yourself in a winter storm with wind gusts of 40 miles per hour.
Begin your Golden Circle tour with a trip to Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO heritage site and home to Gullfoss, also known as ‘Golden Waterfall’, one of the most beautiful and powerful water bodies in Iceland. I recommend descending the stairs to the lower viewing area to truly understand the size and extent of this natural treasure. Not too far away is Geysir, Iceland’s version of Old Faithful. The geyser erupts about every 7 minutes, so keep your camera ready.
Finally, end your tour with a snowmobile ride on Langjökull Glacier. It’s also something I didn’t experience on my first visit, and I can honestly say it was one of the (literally) coolest experiences of my life. We had to hop out of our luxurious tour bus and board a bloated monster truck looking bus that transports you to the glacier where a team is ready to fit you in protective gear and teach you how to use snowmobiles. The one hour tour of the glacier will make you feel like you are on another planet. There are points where the sky and the glacier meet, and you cannot tell them apart. I was fooled by some optical illusions a few times.
Iceland can be inexpensive to get to, but very expensive while you’re there, so plan accordingly. Food and alcohol can add up very quickly, so take your time when visiting bars. One of my favorite restaurants we visited in Reykjavik was Noodle Station. Customers can order the soup three ways: with chicken, beef or just vegetables. It’s the perfect way to end a long day of playing in the ice and snow and completely affordable. Do your research before visiting to find some of the city’s hidden gems and inexpensive eateries.
Icelandair offers direct flights to Reykjavik at relatively low prices from Boston, New York, Chicago, Raleigh-Durham and a few other US cities, so check their website regularly for bargains.
Enjoy the trip!