My girlfriends and I like to travel. If you’ve been here long enough you probably know that since we were just in Cabo earlier in the year and we will take random trips around the country like Charleston, LA, and Nashville, but Iceland was our first “adventure” trip together. Usually, our trips revolve around drinking and shopping and then more drinking and then a nice meal out. This trip was more like athleisure wear and waterfalls and then drinking until we did it all over again! Below is the itinerary we followed and some overall tips for navigating Iceland.
Let’s start with some tips. I did a LOT of research before I went here and I feel like some of it was valid and some were a little off. So here are my two cents:
- Everyone complains about the food being so expensive, but I didn’t find it to be that pricey. We went out for meals every night in Reykjavik and we usually spent around $50-$60 each time for a nice meal and wine. If I went out to a nice dinner here in Chicago it would cost me way more than that. I think the issue is that normally inexpensive items are expensive like say a salad or a hot dog are double what they normally would be and that’s why people complain about the price. If you are going thinking you are going to spend what you normally would in a big city like NYC or Chicago then you should be fine!
- Alcohol IS expensive. Most of it is shipped in so wine is expensive. We bought a bunch of wine at Duty-Free when we landed to help us with pre-dinner drinks and that helped a lot. It’s much cheaper at the airport than in town.
- We went back and forth on having a car or not, but we ultimately went no car. We didn’t want to have to pack up our bags multiple times and travel around so we just did day trips. It actually was probably cheaper for us too to do it this way because gas is actually VERY expensive so while the car itself is cheap, everything else is not.
DAY ONE: Exploring Reykjavik
We got into Reykjavik early, so we decided to take the first day relatively easy. We took naps, got ready and went out for lunch at Snaps Bistro. The food was fine, but I wouldn’t go out of your way to dine here.
Next up was a puffin tour with Special Tours. My friend who had just visited told me about it and it didn’t disappoint. It is about a two hr. tour that leaves from the port and it goes out to this tiny little island with all the puffins. You learn alllll the facts about puffins and wildlife in the area.
After our tour, we decided to do what we do best and that is participating in happy hour! Happy hour is a time-honored tradition in Reykjavik because booze is expensive so everything is usually half off during these hours and some bars end pretty late so you can go from bar to bar just chasing deals, which is what we did. Here is our little tour that started from the port and ended on a rooftop!
- Slippbarinn – They have really good cocktails!
- Lebowski Bar – If you area fan of the movie then you will love this place. We aren’t super fans so we walked in and walked out basically, but worth it to stop by at least!
- Kaffibrennslan – This was a cute outdoor bar across the street from Lebowski. If it’s nice out, I recommend it but otherwise, these places are a dime a dozen.
- Petersen Svitan – Now this was a winner. This rooftop was gorgeous and the drink and food deals were good. Def hit this spot up!
We ended our day with dinner at Mat Bar which I cannot recommend enough. The food was FANTASTIC especially the bay scallops which they had hand caught that very day. After dinner, we walked home and got the most amazing sunset. I would highly recommend going to the water to watch it. Our set around 11pm and we were nice and drunk at that point so it was the perfect end to the day!
DAY TWO: Golden Circle Tour
Day two we started the day very early with a tour of the Golden Circle from Get Your Guide. We did one that involved an hour of snowmobiling on Langjökull Glacier. I could not recommend this tour enough.
We basically had a private tour with a very nice minibus. It was us and a couple on their honeymoon with our tour guide who was local to the area and knew so much about everything. Since it was a small group we really could pick and choose what we wanted to see and explore more of whereas with a big group you’re really on their time table. We saw so many beautiful things this day including the Geysir, Þingvellir National Park, and Gullfoss Waterfall, but of course, our favorite part of the day was the snowmobiling.
Getting up to the glacier is a bit of a pill since it’s rough terrain you’re in a super jeep, but once you get there it is so worth it. They suit you up so you don’t need to bring any gear, but I recommend long socks because you’re wearing your own shoes. Sneakers are completely fine but you do slide around a bit so just be careful on the ice. Being a plus woman, I was nervous they wouldn’t have the gear to fit me but they had suits up to like a 4X since men in Iceland are pretty big and hearty!
Also of note, this tour is about 8-10 hours. You leave early in the morning and get back around 6pm. Since it’s day time until 11pm this didn’t bother us, but this is why a lot of people like to have their own car so they can do things on their own time table.
When we got back to Reykjavik, we got ready to go out and had dinner at Forettabarinn which is right by the port and Slippbarinn where we had had drinks the day before. This restaurant is cute and casual and good for a quieter meal. I like the location because it’s not in the main busy square. My favorite thing we ate was the lemon quesadillas because after a day out on the road eating lamb, I was ready for some American comfort food!
This night we were SET on finding some fun bars because we had struck out the night before and we were very successful when we found a karaoke bar in the basement of Saeta Svinid. Saeta a burger bar in the main square over by Pablo Discobar (which we tried many times to go to, but it was NEVER full of people), and the karaoke bar in the basement was one of our fave spots we hit up. Afterward, we went to a bar our waiter had recommended – Kaffibarinn – which was full of tourists and right up our alley. This bar closes pretty early though so I would start at Kaffibarinn and end at Saeta.
DAY THREE: South Coast Tour
We did a tour of the slightly-more-out-the-way South Coast on day three. The tour was also about 10 hours because you’re covering more ground. This one was also through Get Your Guide but much cheaper because we were on a giant bus with about 60 other people. We didn’t like this tour as much because it was so rigid and it was way less luxurious and we didn’t get special attention like we had the day before.
However, we still loved that we got to see Skogafoss Waterfall, the black sand beaches that were in Game of Thrones, and Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. So many waterfalls! All so gorgeous! You must come to see this part of Iceland, but if you have your own car I would say that’s the way to do it.
Back home we got ready and went to dinner at Rok Restaurant. We got there right before it closed, so we felt a bit rushed and didn’t love our meal but I feel like maybe it was just because they were about to close and didn’t have everything normally on the menu. We ended our night at Bravo for drinks where we ended up meeting some amazing locals. It was hilarious and fun night…and we stayed up way too late.
Day FOUR: Blue Lagoon & Home
We saved Blue Lagoon for our last day and I am so glad we did because we were dead as doornails after partying the night before at Bravo.
Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa and the water is blue and gorgeous and hot AF. This was definitely the most relaxing thing we did the entire time we were there and I say it’s a must. Each reservation gets you four hours of time at the lagoon. We bought the premium experience which got us each a drink of our choice (smoothie, champagne, beer, etc.), a robe, and a reservation at the spa’s restaurant. The spa’s restaurant lets you wear your robe to lunch and it’s glorious. I had the most amazing lamb dish I have ever had here and then afterward we went right back in the hot springs.
The lagoon has its own shuttle back to the airport that costs about $15 (I believe), that you can book prior to getting on-site and we did that. If you have your luggage with you, you will have to check it at the front gate so make sure to leave time to pick it up on your way out.
And that, my friends, is how to spend the perfect four days in Iceland!