The iconic blue lagoon, the meeting of plate tectonics and the first known Geyser make Iceland a unique long weekend getaway for East Coasters. Iceland’s location and the sub 6 hour flight makes it an easy layover for a further European destination or quick getaway. The locals are friendly, kind, helpful, and most are fluent in English. The well oiled tourism industry has fine tuned all aspects of travel for a very straight forward trip. We found a very inexpensive, $340, roundtrip flight leaving Thursday night and arrived early on Friday morning and returning Monday. You can always find these deals through Norwegian Air.
Please note: at the end of your trip you can declare your tax payments and at the airport kiosk they will reimburse your credit card for any taxes on purchases made during your trip.
Day 1: City Tour and Puffins
We started our trip with breakfast at the eccentric, Grai Kotturinn (“Grey Cat”, Hverfisgata 16a, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland) across from the National theatre. It was down stairs a half flight.
After breakfast we got a free two hour city tour, which starts at 11:00AM daily. Similar to other “free” tours the guides work on tips, which often gives you a far more animated and interesting guide. The tour starts at Austurvöllur (Parliament Building) and ends at City Hall. It is great to understand some of the Icelandic history and get a better understanding of the lay of the land.
After your tour taking in the views from the iconic Lutheran church, Hallgrimskirkja (opening hours 12:00pm-3:00pm). It’s a 15 minutes walk from City Hall. While expensive, I would recommend splurging on the elevator ride for 360 degree views of the city.
From the church make your way back down to the waterfront. Grab a hotdog from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog stand (Tryggvagata 1, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland). The stand has been around since the 1930’s and even boasts President Clinton as one of it’s previous patrons! Add crunchy onions to make it a treat. A block away is the Kolaportið (Tryggvagötu 19 , Old Harbour Grófin Reykjavik Kvosin, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland), the local flea market. While this is a true flea market, in which you can find a few good items but the majority is junk. I recommend spending an hour looking around and interacting with the locals.
Make your way to the harbor for a puffin tour, which runs every hour and half. This would be a great late afternoon tour to do. Due to the extended daylight in spring, do not be discouraged with a 5:00pm tour. Please note timing based on the time of year you are in Iceland, given that we went in late Spring, we had daylight until very late in the night.
For those who like seafood, check out Sægreifinn (Geirsgata 8, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland), a no frills seafood joint down by the harbor. I highly recommend the lobster bisque!
Day 2 : Golden Circle Tour
The Golden Circle Tour normally encompasses the first geyser, their double waterfall, and the rift valley between North American and Eurasian continents (the only plates that meet above water). Tickets are at the visitor center. The Tour bus starts and drops off at the visitor center. Tours generally run around 8 hours. The bus drives through the countryside with magnificent views of the ocean and unique landscape of basalt volcanic rocks that makes up most of Iceland. Expect strong winds between the plate tectonics.
End your day with a leisurely meal at a cozy French restaurant, Le Bistro (Laugavegur 12, Reykjavik 101 Iceland). The scallops were amazing. I tried shark and whale here to mediocre reviews (would recommend it only for the adventure and note for the flavor.)
Day 3: Blue lagoon EN ROUTE to the airport.
We had breakfast at a wonderful French bakery, Bakari Sandholt (Laugavegur 36, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland) before getting picked up for the blue lagoon. The bus picked us up just beyond there on the corner. For our drive to the Blue Lagoon.
While I generally enjoy sleeping in, I highly recommend trying to get to the Blue Lagoon when it opens. We did this because we had a late afternoon flight. When we arrived, we had the place to ourselves. Then every half hour or so, a new wave of people came in with their timed entrance. Tip: the Blue Lagoon sells out, so get your tickets in advance, Cheapest tickets can be found at the Visitor Center. Your belongings can be safely locked up, then you wear the key on a wristband. It was a very clean place and since we were the first group of people, everything was dry, etc. Don’t forget to take all jewelry off.
Cheers to an easy weekend getaway in Reykjavik!