Iceland in 3.5 Days

Monday, December 04, 2017

Earlier this year I traveled to Iceland for a long weekend.  You must be thinking how can you really see Iceland in only a weekend?  Let’s backtrack to when I bought my plane tickets.  I was browsing google flights when I found fares to Iceland via WOW Air for under $300.  That's cheaper than flying domestic!  I learned that WOW Air is an Icelandic low-cost carrier.   Which basically means you get the bare minimum.  We didn’t get to pick our seats or get free checked luggage.  Me and my husband decided to pay and share one luggage since we were not sure if our carry-on would meet size and weight requirements.  We ended up paying a total of $610 for 2 people and one checked luggage ($50).  We booked a rental car for $290 and a 3 night Airbnb stay for $312.  We spent about $500 on food and gas.  Cost of food in Iceland is extremely expensive, so this is actually on the low end because we had snacks, shared meals, and bought groceries.

First I will talk about our initial itinerary and then how the trip actually went.  Since the flights were so cheap, I made it a long weekend trip without using any vacation days from work (I have a flexible work schedule).  I never had much interest in Iceland but we wanted a chance to see the Northern Lights while we are there.  And of course I looked up what there is to do in Iceland to make sure this trip was plausible.  I realized I can see all the major tourist sites in Iceland in about 3 days.  We were going for just a few days in the winter so we were prepared to accept the fact that we may not see the Northern Lights due to weather and we may not see everything we want if unforeseen circumstances come up.

Day 1 – Arrival Day – Golden Circle: Thingvellir National Park, Strokkur (Geyser), Gullfoss Waterfall
Day 2 – Reykjavik Day - Hallgrimskirkja, Sun Voyager, Harpa Concert Hall
Day 3 – Route 1 (Ring Road) - Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Skogafoss Waterfall, Black Sand Beach
Day 4 – Departure Day – Blue Lagoon

So when we arrived there was actually a snowstorm and most of the roads to leave the city closed.  We moved up explore Reykjavik Day and hoped for the best.

Day 1 – Arrival – City Day

Our flight in late February was on a Thursday at 5:35 PM and we arrived in Reykjavik on Friday, 4:40 AM, ready to start our first full day in Iceland.  My initial plan was to start off with a day trip since we arrive so early and cannot check in until later anyway.  With the storm, we had to change our plans.  It is extremely hard to find anything open this early in the morning.  Thankfully during my research I found a restaurant that had opening hours at 7:30am.  We slowly made our way over when it opened.  They served unlimited coffee and breakfast dishes.  After breakfast, we started our day in town.  We visited the famous Hallgrimskirkja church and was able to tour inside.  We walked along the water to see the Sun Voyager and then headed into the Harpa Concert Hall.  The snowstorm was hitting hard with sleet and snow.  After check-in and relaxing a bit we headed back out.  We enjoyed strolling through the quaint streets and just enjoying the atmosphere.  There are also some museums you can visit.

Day 2 – Golden Circle

We woke up to better weather and better roads.  So we decided to test out the roads with the shorter day trip to the Golden Circle.  It did start snowing a bit more towards the end of the day but we made it back safely.

It was a beautiful drive on the snowy roads in the morning.

We made a pit stop when we saw some Iceland horses.

Day 3 – Snowed in

We woke up to a feet of snow outside our door.  While the weather looked beautiful and sunny we had no choice but to stay in town as the roads were mostly closed and unsafe.  It was a bit disappointing as I had wanted to see the sites on Ring Road.  But we made the best of it.  We could not drive anywhere so we walked through the snow.  It was a pretty site to see the town covered in snow and everyone roaming around.

Day 4 – Departure – Blue Lagoon

We booked tickets for Blue Lagoon at 8am when it opened for $45 per person.  The sun was still rising.  Our flight is not until 3:15 PM so we had plenty of time to relax and unwind in the hot spring until its time to go.  This works out great because the Blue Lagoon is very close to the airport.  It’s a great place to either start or end your Iceland trip.

If you look at a map you may wonder why I don’t just stay overnight at one end of the routes and make a full circle back to Reykjavik, which makes complete sense.  I had thought about that, but since our stay is short we thought it would be simpler to just make a continuous Airbnb stay at one location and drive back every night in case plans changed (Thank god we did this!).  

We didn't have much interest in Iceland before but after this trip we have fallen in love with this country.  We definitely would return and hopefully experience a different season and see some sights we missed.  Hope you enjoyed this post.  My next post will be about the food in Iceland.

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