Back in July I went on a two week European adventure through six countries, only one of which I had been to before. Aside from the perfect summer vacay, the main purpose of my trip was to attend the wedding of one of my best friends, Sabah, in Bulgaria. I was more than honored to be her Maid of Honor, if you didn’t see my post on 5 Tips on Throwing an Unforgettable Bachelorette Party, you can check it out here!
Seeing that I’m a teacher, & having the summer off to recuperate from the school year, I wanted to take full advantage of being able to travel through Europe. I did just that, and planned quite the trip over the course of two days. I had been watching flight prices for months…yes, literally months, and I had finally found prices I was thrilled with, so I bought one, then just kept going!
I’ll be featuring a new country per post, for the next few Tuesdays. I’m a huge planner, whether it’s in the travel, teaching, or party realm. If you’re looking for additional tips on how to up your planning skills, in any area, feel free to email me & we can chat! I can always be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org!
The first leg of my European adventure landed me in Reykjavik, Iceland, a nice little departure from the hot humid weather in Washington D.C. The first question everyone asked me was, oh that’s so cool and all but, why Iceland?!. Well, as I mentioned in my Reykjavik food post, which you can read here, Iceland is def having a moment! I’ve seen countless bloggers visiting Reykjavik, the country has seriously upped their tourism reach out, and since it also has a connection with Game of Thrones, I feel like people are just flocking to visit the unique Nordic country. Aside from the fact that so many people are visiting Iceland, I could not beat the one-way ticket I found, departing from Newark Liberty International in Jersey. I was able to snag an evening flight, that landed me in Reyjavik at 5am, for $250.
|View from the tower in Hallegrimskirkja. The hotel I stayed in, Hotel Leifur Eiriksson, is the large white building in the front of the picture!|
PS: Yes, I live in the D.C. are but I was going home to visit my family first, so it made perfect sense to leave from NJ!
Hotel Choice: Hotel Leifur Eiriksson
I wanted to balance having a great vacation with, ya know, not going broke. So, I traded out my usual higher end hotel choices for a middle of the road, family run hotel, right in downtown Reykjavik called Hotel Leifur Eiriksson. I was in Iceland for two days, and I knew I would be out of the room for the majority of the time, so I wasn’t really bothered by the hotel not having much amenities. I had a single room, and the room was very small, one towel, one pillow- which is really no big deal to me, but I know can be a big deal to others. It was a no frills environment, but it was clean, which is always my first concern. Iceland is expensive, so the rate for this hotel did seem a little too much given that it was mid-range, but it was the least expensive mid-range I found. & I quickly realized that with the location, the price was well worth it.
The staff did provide breakfast each morning, & it’s included with the room rate…it was a decent spread, with assorted hot items, waffles, cereal, meats & cheeses. The owner is such a nice man, and let me know that if I had an early morning excursion before breakfast officially started, they would make me a breakfast to take with me. The check-in, check-out process was easy, which is always helpful, and there were no hidden fees or anything like that when I arrived.
Overall, if you’re okay with a middle of the road hotel that’s not too updated, I highly advise Hotel Leifur Eiriksson. As I mention below, the location is amazing, and since Iceland is already expensive in every way possible, if you can help the budget by staying at a 3-star hotel, do it, the customer service at Leifur Eiriksson makes up for it not being a Ritz!
What To Do in Reykjavik, Iceland
Use Reykjavik Excursions for Transportation
I used the company, Reykjavik Excursions for my transport to and from the airport, and to and from the Blue Lagoon. I had the best experience with them, and highly, highly, recommend this company over others in Iceland. It was so easy to book the reservations online, I was able to leave within 10m of exiting the terminal at the airport, which was awesome. Also, all buses have Wi-fi which is great. The bus trip to and from Blue Lagoon was also perfect, and I could choose whenever I wanted to leave, there was a bus every 30 minutes. They had great customer service, and the buses were all super super clean and well maintained.
Visit the Tower of Hallgrimskirkja Church
The location of Hotel Leifur Eiriksson cannot be beat, it is walking distance to everything, and is right in front of the Hallgrimskirkja, an Icelandic church and national sanctuary.
I highly advise buying a ticket to go up to the top of Hallgrimskirkja, the view, as seen below, is so gorgeous. It’s a $9 donation to visit the top of the tower, and I suggest getting there nice and early in the AM when nobody is there. I was able to go right when it opened, seeing that I was staying across the street…when I walked back to my hotel later in the afternoon it was packed, and the line for the tower was out the door.
Walk Down Skolavoerdustigur Street & Laugavegur Street
My hotel was on Skolavoerdustigur Street so on my first day I walked all the way down stopping at all different types of shops, it’s a busy street with tourists, but not too crazy. The very end of it is Laugavegur Street where you can walk toward the main square area where there are tons of restaurants, and of course many more shops.
Check out my Reykjavik, Iceland Nomz post for all food related pics and info, especially the amazing restaurant I had dinner at, Sjavargrillid Seafood Grill, which is located on Skolavoerdustigur.
Stroll Through & Have a Drink in Ingolfur Square
Perfect for people watching, a glass of wine and/or a hot dog, and live music. I noticed a lot of the super touristy restaurants are around here, so you might want to go into a more quiet area for dinner instead, but there are so many bars for nightlife or just happy hour that seemed awesome. I had drinks and an appetizer at Uno Bistro while they live streamed the Iceland Women’s EURO game on a big screen TV. It was an awesome mix of locals and tourists.
Walk Around the Harbor Area
Great restaurants and some museums too! Some of the old boats were fun to look at as well!
What I Wish I Could Have Done
I only had two days in Reykjavik, so I couldn’t do all that I wanted to do. If I had had more time I def would’ve used Reykjavik Excursions for a full day Golden Circle Tour & Lava Tunnel in southern Iceland. This tour takes you to Iceland’s beautiful hot springs and national park. There’s also Fontana Wellness Geothermal Baths, which would be an interesting option too if you had more than just a few days in Iceland.
I also highly suggest going whale & puffin watching if you have the time, I really regret not carving out time to do this, but I guess it gives me a reason to go back!
Feel free to tweet or email me any questions you have about traveling Iceland, it was an awesome experience! & remember to come back next week for my tips on the Blue Lagoon!
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