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“Another ticked off the bucket list, Iceland”
Why did I do this? Why Iceland? It was one for the bucket list, of course.
It was a country I’d heard so much about and wondered if it truly was as magical and amazing as people had claimed. They all talked about the Golden Circle Tour, Black Sands beach, Diamond beach, and so much more but I knew I wanted to go for one reason - the Northern Lights. And I was lucky enough to experience this natural phenomenon on my four-night trip to Iceland.
Before journeying over, I’d heard about how expensive the country could be and as I was travelling, I figured, “Why not a hostel?” For anyone who knows me, I love meeting new people and a hostel was the perfect opportunity to make new friends from all over the world and hear their stories. A hostel by the name of ‘Kex Hostel’ meaning ‘Biscuit’ in Icelandic caught my eye, and so the first part of my bucket list adventure was booked!
I settled on visiting during the last few months of the winter season as my aim was to see the Northern Lights. If you were to visit in the summer, you reduce your chances of catching the aureus borealis, as the days are considerably longer. The Summer Solstice in Iceland means they are in daylight for 24 hours.
My other reason for visiting? I wanted to see the place covered in snow; I imagined it being a wonderful experience seeing the Icelandic scenery covered in a blanket of sheer white snow. My only solid plan for this trip was to book the Northern Lights and then everything else could follow.
On the first day I experienced the Golden Circle Tour, followed by the Northern Lights on the second night. This was in case I failed to see it, I would still have time to get another chance. If you are unable to see the Northern Lights on one of your tours, they will allow you to go on for free the following night. Day 2, it had to be Game of Thrones Tour and a second attempt on the Northern Lights. Finally on the last day I visited the infamous Blue Lagoon and explored the magnificent Reykjavik.
Top Tip: Check which airport you’re landing in. I thought I booked a flight to Reykjavík Airport, which would have been a 15 minute walk from my hostel. Turns out on the day of my flight I realised I was heading to Keflavik airport - a good two-day walk from my hostel. Fortunately, Iceland’s main source of income is through tourism therefore getting a transfer to Reykjavik was no issue at all. I booked it 2 hours before I was expected to land and it cost me £21 – I couldn’t complain.
To find out more about my time in Iceland keep your eyes peeled for the next blog instalment, but for now let’s discuss…
This is something that I feel everyone talks about but has no real answer for. So, here is a quick summary of what I did in regards to food and day-to-day eating.
I ate out every night and it wasn’t bad at all in terms of price. We decided on a vegan restaurant as per one of my fellow traveller’s dietary preferences. I was introduced to a cool website called ‘HappyCow’ which shows you nearby vegan places in the city. This is really handy if you’re concerned about whether or not you will be able to eat in a country outside of your own. As mentioned before, Iceland’s main source of income is tourism, therefore they truly cater to what is going on in the world. The heart of Reykjavik is surrounded with souvenir shops, cafés, pubs, bars, and plenty of restaurants catering to a variety of tastes.
I must also add that I was in a self-catering hostel with the option to have breakfast added on at an additional cost. As such I brought my own breakfast and lunch but it wasn’t anything fancy - just pasta, sauce, and oats – that’s all I took for food. Supermarkets are cheap too if you don’t have hold luggage to put food in.
Drinks are reasonably priced, a pint would equal to £3-4 here; the true British conversion rate. Also, when it comes to drinking water you can drink straight from the tap because it’s all glacier water. Overall, when it comes to food and drink if you’re smart with it then you’re all good.
This is a country you have to visit at least once in your life. There’s no other country I have experienced quite like it. One moment you’re in the arctic, and then the next you’re in the city’s blazing sunshine. Going from the hills of the UK to the mountain ranges of Iceland is incredible, seeing the Northern Lights was magical, and being surrounded by nature’s beauty is breathtaking - you certainly won’t regret it.
Iceland has many moments and mesmerising landscapes to treasure and share. I did the key parts in four nights but if you want to explore further then I would recommend going for a week. This way you can discover Diamond beach, black sands beach, and glacier walks. The list of things Iceland has to offer is endless. I would advise to go in winter; it’s Iceland after all and I’m glad I saw the country covered in snow. The tour guides did say that Iceland in the summer is also beautiful too with temperatures reaching 20 degrees. Whichever season you decide to go, Iceland is guaranteed to capture your heart and leave you in awe.