What a beautiful city! Absolutely stunning. There’s so much to see and do, as well as everyone being so friendly. Before visiting Iceland, the majority of people told me that it is super expensive but pleaseeee do not let this put you off going. Honestly, if you’re in the right places then it’s really not that expensive at all and it’s nothing like London prices in comparison for example. I will let you in on a few helpful things and tips later on in this post. The picturesque scenery of Iceland has also been the backdrop for many films and TV series such as Game of Thrones and Netflix’s Sense8 as well as music videos like Major Lazer – Cold Water feat. Justin Bieber & MØ.
We started with a lovely leisurely walk along Reykjavík’s sea front. There really is no need for filters here! Everything was so blue and white – the views are truly spectacular especially with a snowy Mount Esja in the background.`
After strolling for a little while we came across the City pond/lake – Tjörnin.
It’s gorgeous. If I lived in Iceland I could definitely see myself sitting on a nearby bench daydreaming. Most of the city seems to be developed around the lake and you may be able to see some iconic landmarks in this photo. I felt sorry for all the little duckies and swans as their feet must have been so cold!
Inside the church, at 15m tall and with over 5000 pipes is probably the biggest organ I have seen and extremely high ceilings. I can only imagine the acoustics of inside the church.
There are a lot of things about the City of Reykjavik that I really loved and I just couldn’t ignore. Whilst out exploring it was literally like having lots of bright and vibrant pleasant little surprises around every corner. I have to admit, I love art and I got a little bit obsessed with trying to find all of the art that I could!
Here are just a few things that I had noticed:
1) There are no McDonalds! I’m not sure what the reason is behind this and it sounds weird perhaps saying it but I really love the fact that it doesn’t have any anywhere! …Although, there are lots of KFC’s.
2) You can walk down the streets and not feel like you are in a “city”. Everything is just so chill and quirky. The people are very friendly and welcoming. I would compare it quite closely as the Northern Quarter in Manchester.
3) There is so much history and culture to be learnt. There are so many museums and exhibitions to visit.
4) Everything is so colourful! The buildings, the walls, the doors… There are so many wall murals, paintings and graffiti everywhere – I personally love to see this kind of creative freedom!
5) There are no typical branded high street shops or shopping centres like what we are used to seeing in England. Everything I saw were quite minimalist and subtle boutiques, which I actually prefer to seeing huge brand names everywhere all lit up and flashy.
6) Yes – food and drink can be very expensive. But like I briefly said earlier, it really does depend on where you are and want you want. We didn’t spend thaaaaat much money in all honesty. Approximately £400 between 2 people. Some of you may find this totally expensive or inexpensive, it completely depends on your budget of course. For me this was a lot less than what I anticipated we might end up spending and the prices are not extortionate in comparison to most major UK cities. There will be some money saving tips for you included further down in this post.
How cool are the wall paintings?! I would love to have a go at doing something like this myself! Seeing them constantly reminded me that I must get creative when I get home and I felt so energised and inspired after seeing a lot of them.
So, the food in the City is quite varied. There is a lot of choice between steakhouses, Italian, American, Greek, traditional Icelandic cuisine… the list goes on. A personal favourite that I really enjoyed was the traditional Icelandic meat soup. It’s basically a flavoursome lamb broth but was absolutely fantastic in the baltic weather conditions that we experienced. It’s also super cheap and it is perfect if you’re out and about but don’t want a full stomach.
Everything you need in the City is all within very close walking distance. Laugavegur street is the main street and you will find everything you need either on this street itself or just off it. This includes bars, restaurants, hotels, shopping!
I’m personally not a big shopper but I am a self confessed foodie (and my boyfriend even more so). The whole time I was there, all I really wanted was traditional Icelandic cuisine or seafood, however this turns out the be the most expensive and a lot of these places were all fine dining – very small portions but with a large bill! I did see a few places with sheep heads, whale and puffin on the menu… Thankfully, polar bear isn’t on the menu!
There is a really handy app which you can download called “Crave”, this app is basically the Tindr of restaurants! You simply select your budget and which cuisine you are interested in and then with a shake of your phone or a swipe to either side you can express your interest. You can then explore your interest by viewing the menus, the typical cost of bill for 2 people sharing with drinks as well as book in or find them with maps. If you are really on a budget there are a lot of little cafes, bakeries, supermarkets and soup places. If you collect as many visitor guides/maps you will find that they contain a lot of discount vouchers for restaurants and tourist attractions as well.
There is another app which will come in useful “Appy Hour” – this allows you to browse the City for Happy Hour and this can be applied to both food and drink depending on the place. Now, Happy Hour is not just one hour… which is great! For example, we were staying at Skuggi Hotel and every night between 4-7pm it was 50% off drinks, making a pint of Viking equivalent to approximately £3.50. There are sooo many places that do this and it’s all at different times too, I did see somewhere that had Happy Hour for 8 hours a day! I would definitely recommend just seeing what is about in your area in terms of places to eat, it really just depends on what you can get for your money and how flexible you can or want to be with being able to get lots of deals and discounts.
Another tip – drink the water! It’s up there with the best tap water you can ever drink. In a lot of places it actually comes straight from the source, so don’t waste your money buying any bottled mineral water as it is exactly the same thing! You will find in some areas or when having a shower that there is a stench of rotten eggs… This is completely normal and natural because of the sulphur and the geothermal origins of the hot water. Near enough the whole country is completely run off geothermal energy. At first, I will admit it was a bit “euughh” but you just get used to it and to be honest I think it’s pretty awesome to power a whole country from geothermal resources!
Another thing to mention would be to not let the restaurant service put you off. I have personally been in the hospitality industry for a long time (too long) and let’s just say that my idea of good service is not theirs. At a lot of places your servers will seems just so chill and not very attentive, sometimes I actually thought how are these places even running when everything seemed so disorganised i.e. food taken to wrong tables, incorrect orders, not knowing table numbers. My only assumption is that perhaps these places do not operate with a tip system and so the service then becomes very lax. Obviously, this won’t be everywhere but is just what I experienced on many occasions.