1 day on a budget in Reykjavik

1 day on a budget in Reykjavik

Reykjavik is a pretty small capital and it has a lot of tourists every year. If you want to visit the countryside, where you will find all the beautiful nature, than you can try to stay on a budget in Reykjavik!


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Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon in South of Iceland

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon in South of Iceland

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is one of the places that are not included in the regular tours in the South of Iceland. The beauty of it and the fact that it is hidden makes it even more interesting to find.

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Why did Iceland grow so much in the past 8 years?

Why did Iceland grow so much in the past 8 years?

Iceland became a very popular location after the economic crisis in 2008, but it became very attractive to be visited after the eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in the spring of 2010. Newborn nature, landscapes from the outer space and aparently a good economical example.

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Buggy Adventure

Everybody comes to Iceland to see beautiful waterfalls, different landscape and the volcanos. Not so many people look into taking an adventure tour to do something more extreme than taking a relaxing roadtrip. One of the options is to take a buggy tour, which is going to cover just few hours and it is very close to Reykjavik City.

BUGGY

I have to say that I was a little bit worried about the experience that I am going to have with the buggy, but in the end I was very, very surprised to see that it was actually very safe and fun! 

You will be picked-up from a bus stop close to the place that you are staying and then they will take you just a little bit out of the city, 30 minutes drive from downtown Reykjavik. Once you are there, you will be given a special costume that is going to protect you from the mud and the water that will most likely come into your car. 

COSTUMES

When it comes to safety, they do pay a lot of attention upon the knowledge you need to have before you go for the ride, so you will be told what you are allowed and what you are not to do. The advice provided it is very important, especially if you have never done it before. 

As soon as the induction is all done, you will start the ride and the first minutes might be a very strange feeling and the adrenaline is going high. I have done this in the month of July, when in Iceland it has been raining for more than two months, so the ride was really interesting. 

During the ride you will have one stop when you have the option to change the seats as the buggy has two seats. The ride to the break spot is around 30 minutes, you will stop for 5-10 minutes and after you will come back to the base camp. In case you do not want to change the seat, it is no problem, but they will be very friendly to help you with setting up you seatbelts and show you again the way you need to drive. 

I would say that you also need to take a look around, do not stick only to the experience with the buggy. The landscape is amazing and no matter how the weather looks like, you will not find tourist-free areas in Iceland in a regular tour. Take a moment to enjoy the nature!

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While I was in this tour, I noticed that they were extremly friendly with everybody and they were paying a lot of attention to everybody's need. On my way back, I chose not to drive very fast, so they stayed with me in the end of the line and they were checking on me to see if everything is ok. If you want to be faster, there is also no problem, as there is one guide in front and one that stays the last. I would go again now, so please look up for them

Vestmannaeyjar Islands

One of the best experiences I have had in Iceland was visiting the volcanic islands in the South-West of Iceland. I took a tour to go there, but you can also go by car as well.  There is a group of 18 islands, some smaller than others, but breath-taking. One more advantage of visiting them, it is because it is less crowded.

 

You can get there by car and then you will take the ferry for about 30 minutes. A round-trip with the ferry is around 4000 isk, which is 40$/person. Once you get to the small harbour they have, you will not see so many people as you do in other places of Iceland. The streets are small, very colorful and quiet. There are only few shops and cafeterias where you can also eat, but the variety is not great. I truly recommend having a food back-up.

 

If you go there with a tour, then a guide will wait for you in the harbour and take you to see the island. You will make few stops and the tour is a full day tour. 

You will go to the Volcano Museum, called Eldheimar or the house of fire where you can find out more information about the eruption that took place there in 1973 and affected the population of the island, when almost 5000 people needed to evacuate. Now, you can still see the signs of the eruption, but the live show they have in Eldheimar will take you directly into that landscape.

 

Sea angling - best experience

Being in a country like Iceland, where the fishing industry is one of the most developed, you need to try to go sea angling. It is more than a nice trip, it is an experience that you will always have in your soul. I have been two times doing this, and I have never been disappointed.

There are two main companies operating the basic tour, but there are some that are doing longer trips and also private ones. My trip was around 4 hours in total. In the begining, the boat will take you away from the shore are usually they have a radar to follow the banks of fish, Then, you will get a short training about techniques and safety during fishing. They will stay for around 2 hours in the sea for you to catch something, and then they will start moving to the shore. On the way back to the harbour, the staff is cleaning the fish and they will make barbeque on board. I think it is the best fish that you can eat and maybe you will never have again the opportunity to eat such a fresh arctic fish. 

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I think it is one of the most interesting activities that you can have in a country like Iceland, especially because you are doing something, enjoy being away from the city in such a pretty enviroment and if you are lucky enough, maybe you see also the puffins. The staff was absolutely nice, they were never very close to you. Basicly, they were watching everybody to make sure that you do not have trouble and give you space to enjoy.

South Shore of Iceland - essentials

One of the most beautiful parts of Iceland is the South. Everybody that comes to Iceland needs to go and see at least a part of it. There are a lot of stops that you can make along the way, but it is probably going to take you few days, maybe a week to cover all the activities that you could do.

Top places Reykjavik - Hofn

  1. Power Plant in Hveragerdi - learn about geothermal energy, its importance for Iceland and find out more about the process of making geothermal energy.

  2. Lava Museum - make a stop here to find out more about volcanos and their story. If you do not want to go to the museum, they still have pretty nice entrance with some nice shows on the walls and also very nice cafeteria.
  3. Seljalandsfoss - it is the first waterfall in the South and you can go behind it and come the other way around. If you have sunny day, you will get to see a lot of rainbows!
  4. Skogafoss - one of the most popular waterfalls of iceland because of its height, accesibility and landscape. You can take the stairs and go all the way up to see the waterfall from abve, or you can enjoy the view of it from the bottom of it.
  5. Sólheimasandur - the crashed airplane - the beach has black sand, but it is a good spot to take pictures including the crashed plane. 
  6. Reynisfjara - the black sand beach where you can also see the bazalt columns. Very dangerous place, but one of the most beautiful place to be seen in Iceland.
  7. Vik - very good stop for lunch or shopping. Also, you can easily go to the black sand beach they have and enjoy the beauty of Iceland. This place is photogenic and it is also the southern place of Iceland. It is very important stop for everybody travelling in the South.
  8. Fjadrargljufur Canion - it became more and more popular after a video of Justin Bieber was made there, but this place is going to take your breath away. You can go there if you get a 4x4 car, or if you are willing to walk few miles.
  9. Kirkubaejarklaustur - the fields of lava and the moss combined with the view to the biggest glacier in the world, Vatnajokull is going to make you feel that you are not on Earth anymore.
  10. Skaftafell National Park - it is one of the biggest national parks of Iceland and very attractive because of the glacier, and the waterfall called Svartifoss that is just 30 minutes walk from the entrance in the park.
  11. Fjallsarlon - smaller lagoon of ice, just 1 km before the famous Glacier Lagoon. This one is more quiet, but the landscape is mostly similar.
  12. Jokulsarlon - one of the most famous and trendy places to go when you get to Iceland. The popularity is caused also by the movies and videos that were made here.
  13. Hofn - if you have extra time and you want to see more quiet places, you need to continue the way to Hofn and just enjoy! Hofn is an important city in South East of Iceland, based on fishing industry.

Glacier Lagoon

Glacier Lagoon, called also Jökulsárlón is one of the most beautiful places Iceland has. It is located in the south-east of Iceland and it is around 370 kilometers far from Reykjavik, just near the Vatnajokull National Park.The lake got bigger and bigger because of the melting of the glacier. It is more than 250 meters deep and it is still increasing since 70s'. 

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How to get there

You can get there on your own if you rent a car. The drive from Reykjavik is very long and if you plan to have a tour during only one day it might not be enough. Also, you can get there with a tour from Reykjavik. Most of the companies that operate tours in Iceland has a tour that can take you to the lagoon.

 

What to do

If you have a car and you are not depending on a tour bus, then you have more time to enjoy it. It is very nice to get there in early morning as the majority of the people will show up around 13:00 due to the driving from the city. You will find it very nice and quiet if you try to be earlier than everybody. 

Once you arrive there, you can just walk around and enjoy the beauty of the lagoon, go further closer to the glacier and enjoy the fresh air. Also, you can visit the diamon beach that is just across the street from the lagoon and you can see how the icebergs go into the ocean. Sometimes, they will stay on the black sand beack and this is the reason for which it is called Diamon Beach. 

There are also some tours that you can take by boat. There is a small boat (Zodiac Boat) and the big one (Amphibian boat). Both of the tours take you on the lagoon and you have the opportunity to see the icebergs and the seals closer. Even though they are really interesting tours and you cannot have this activity anywhere in the world, I would not recommend doing them in the winter time as it can be extremly ice cold and windy and you will not move for almost 40 minutes. 

Near the lagoon you have also a caffeteria and a souvenir shop. If you want to spend more time there, then I recommend having some snacks with you, as the variety there is very small and things are usually more expensive than in Reykjavik.

Animals of Glacier Lagoon

If you are lucky, you can meet the seals. Usually this is happening if it is sunny outside, as they seem to enjoy very well laying in the sun. Also, there are birds that are swimming in cold water.

Where to stay 

In June 2015, one very beautiful 4* hotel opened just 20 kilometers before Glacier Lagoon. It has more than 104 rooms, but it is made to fit in the incredibly beautiful nature in the South of Iceland. It is called Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon and if you do not book your stay there, you should at least pass by for a coffee and enjoy the nice lobby they have there and the fancy restaurant.

Blue Lagoon Experience

Blue Lagoon is one of the highlights of Iceland, being very popular to all the tourists and locals. It is very easy to get there, but not so easy to get in. In the end, it can be one in a life time experience!

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History

Before you go there, you should know that the beautiful lagoon is accidentaly made, by a powerplant that is nearby. The waste water from the poweplant, called Svartsengi formed the lagoon. The lava rocks and the shape of the lagoon are natural, but it was the consequence of the accident. Firstly, it became popular for its good properties of treating skin diseases and then it was improved step by step. Now, the lagoon has been extended and you can also book a night in their brand new hotel that gives you access to the amazing view.

How to get there

  • By bus - there are few companies operating transfers to Blue Lagoon. They have transfers from and to Reykjavik, but also to Keflavik International Airport. Most of the companies have departures every hour and you will be dropped off and picked-up from the front of the office they have there, in a big parking area. Then, you only need to walk less then 5 minutes to get to make your check-in.

  • By car - it is very easy to take a ride to Blue Lagoon and it lasts for 50 minutes. The lagoon is very close by the international airport.

Admission

If there is a tour that needs to be booked in advancee, then it is Blue Lagoon. Usually, they are fully booked and the restriction they have for the number of people that are allowed to be at one time in there are pretty severe. If you do not book it at least one month before, you should expect to have no space or only very late entrance times.

Luggage storage and lockers

When you arrive in front of Blue Lagoon, first you will meet their office for luggage. You can store it there if you are in transfer to or from Keflavik Airport. They do have a fee for this, but at least you do not worry about them anymore. The lockers you have inside Blue Lagoon are opening with the bracelet that you take at check-in and there are aproximately 200 of them.

Towels, robes, swimwear

You can rent all of them there, for an extra cost of course. The towel is around 900 isk/person, but if you buy a more expensive entrance, then you have them included. 

Facts to know before you soak in there

  • You need to shower before - Everywhere in Iceland they are very serious about taking a good bath before going into the geothermal water. And you need to do this without clothes. People usually are very 'not happy' about this, but you have private showers in most of the geothermal pools.
  • Conditioner - Before you enter into the lagoon, you should wet your hair and put a lot of conditioner in it, then try to make a tale. The water contains a lot of sulfur and it will make your hair very frizzy, dry and then you will be in the adventure I cannot brush my hair!
  • The masks - Into the lagoon they have masks for your face and body. They will make your skin very nice and clean and it is going to hydrate it amazingly nice. If you buy the standard package, you can only get the mud mask, which is the most popular one.
  • Drinks - There is one bar inside the lagoon and you can actually buy smoothies, water, beer or wine. The variety is not big, but you will feel the need to have a drink just after few minutes of being in the hot water.
  • It's hot! - There are areas in the lagoon, if you swim further that are more hot that the place you actually go into the water. It is reccommended to go in and out of the lagoon, to be a little bit away from the hot water and the steem that is everywhere.

When to visit

                          Blue Lagoon in February, with no natural light

                        Blue Lagoon in February, with no natural light

I have visited Blue Lagoon both summer and winter, in the light and in the dark. In the summer, if you go when you only have daylight it is very nice because you can actually see more of the lagoon. In the winter (dark), it was very nice also, because I feel that you can stay longer as you are not under so much pressure of the warmth around. It is very nice to be inside the water when it is raining or snowing because it is cooling down a little and it feels very refreshing. 

I have inserted a little vide of my 1st experience in the lagoon. Press play to watch