The earth has its music for those who will listenGeorge santanaya
This was the first time that I had ever travelled completely on my own and the first time I had travelled with a company on my gap year so needless to say I was a little nervous! I went with Topdeck Travel, who organised all of the itinerary on the trip and provided the food and accommodation which was all inclusive within the cost. All you had to do was get to Iceland and join the group! As this was the first time travelling as a young solo female traveller, I opted for this trip because I could see that the company was a very trusted one and it was also only a 4 day trip so I felt that this was a good start to my year out. There is no time difference between Iceland and England so this was perfect for me and made me feel closer to home. I flew from London City Airport to Reykjavik which only took me roughly 3 hours, and it’s important to note that this was not included in the trip price. I paid around £950 for the trip which may seem pricey but Reykjavik is so expensive that Topdeck is actually giving you a good deal with this! The hotel they organised was called Hotel Baron and was very comfortable and I really enjoyed my stay here, it was a very well organised trip and I have absolutely no complaints about Topdeck Travel so I would definitely recommend looking into them if you want to travel in a group. You meet your fellow travellers on the first night too which is great to get to know each other as most people come on their own anyway- something that I was relieved to find out!
I went out beer tasting in Reykjavik with the group, all for free as this is included in the trip price and it was quite an experience! Iceland has some really interesting beers to try and you can also have a shark shot which is quite literally a piece of shark meet followed by a shot! Apparently this is traditional to Iceland so may be worth a try if you’re brave enough- I wasn’t! We also went out for a meal as a group which was also already paid for and was 3 courses. The Icelandic food was absolutely delicious and even when I wasn’t entirely sure what I was eating I was still a huge fan of it!
After a really nice breakfast at the hotel, we set off for our visit to the Blue Lagoon and I think that if I had to choose one thing that was a standout moment on this trip for me it would be this. It was absolutely stunning. Given that it is freezing cold when you’re walking to get into it, I am amazed at how lovely and warm it is when you’re actually in the water! You can get facials and order drinks at the bar all whilst in the water and I would definitely recommend doing this as my skin felt incredible after! It was so relaxing and was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. This is definitely a must see, I can’t recommend it enough!
The Northern Lights
It is never a guarantee that you will see the Northern Lights and I certainly did not see them as clearly as some others have done, but if you are looking to try and catch a glimpse, it’s best to go from September to March as this is when Iceland has the most hours of darkness. We waited for hours to catch a glimpse of the lights in the freezing cold, I think it was around -4 degrees with a very strong wind too! The lights actually showed up a lot clearer on my camera than what you could see with the naked eye- which was not a lot if I’m completely honest, but it was a great experience nonetheless and I’m glad we did at least get to see something!
The Golden Circle tour is a fantastic way to see some of Iceland’s most iconic sights and landscapes. Our first stop was Thingvellir National Park which had some more amazing views and was also great for hiking too, offering trails all around the park. Next on the Golden Circle Tour was a visit to the famous geothermal geysers which was another fantastic sight to see and so different to anything I have at home. One of the geysers goes off every 10 minutes or so, shooting water into the air which is so exciting, especially as you don’t really know when it is going to happen! The final stop on this tour was Gullfoss Waterfall which is only around 10 minutes away from the geysers and it is truly breathtaking so I would definitely recommend going on this tour to get the most out of your visit and see the crucial sights in Iceland.
On my last day before returning home, I wanted to walk round the city of Reykjavik to make sure I could experience everything it had to offer. The city itself is so pretty with so many colourful houses and it was so peaceful and friendly so did not really feel like a city at all. The usual hustle and bustle of London that I am used to just wasn’t here and this was something that I really loved about Reykjavik. I took a visit to the famous hot dog stand which Bill Clinton allegedly claimed had the best hot dogs in the world! I have to say that they were very good and I enjoyed them a lot although definitely be prepared for a queue at literally any time of day! You can also see the famous sight of the sun Voyager here in Reykjavik which is meant to represent progress and freedom and be a dream of hope.
For something a little more different and let’s say unusual, Iceland is home to the world’s only ‘phallological’ museum- yes it is what you think. A museum entirely dedicated to penises was something that I went to with my friends on this trip for a laugh and it was one of the strangest experiences of my life! All around you are various penises from different animals in strange jars looking like pickles and to top it all off there is even a human donation at the end- though they are looking for more!
Overall Top 10 Tips
Save up before visiting- Reykjavik is truly an expensive city with everything costing a lot more than it would for me personally at home in the UK so definitely save up your spending money on this trip, as it may end up being more than you anticipated.
Bring Warm Clothing- No matter how many layers you think will be enough- it won’t be! If you are travelling to Iceland in the winter it is freezing cold and if you are laying outside waiting for the Northern Lights to appear then you will be even colder! Bringing thermals with you is a good idea so you can wear them under all of the other layers you already have on!
Book activities in advance- Trips like the Golden Circle tour can be extremely popular so booking these in advance is always a good idea so you know you will have a friendly and informative tour guide to show you round!
Try the local food- The traditional dishes are great to try but beware if you are a fussy eater that they may not be quite to your liking. Even the non fussy eaters may find some a little strange but one of my favourite things about visiting a new place is to be able to try some of the local cuisine so it is definitely worth giving it a go.
Don’t worry too much about exchanging cash- Pretty much everywhere accepts cards so you won’t need to exchange too much cash before going on your trip, this saves carrying around a lot of money as well.
Tie your hair up in the Blue Lagoon- The minerals in the water can be damaging to your hair so tying it up is your best bet to avoid any damage to it and also it’s important to avoid wearing make up or perfumes in the Blue Lagoon as it is a natural spring of water and needs to be preserved and protected from any chemicals.
Be prepared for the water to smell different- The showers in Iceland smell very different to home as the water is taken from the natural geothermal springs so the small can be a little strange at first, but don’t worry it is still clean!
Shower before entering hot springs- No chemicals are used in these as they are all natural, so maintaining the hygiene is really down to the people using them which is why you should always shower before going in.
Choose when to go carefully- If you specifically want to see the Northern Lights then do not visit in summer because daylight hours can last all the time in the summer months. The best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is from September to March.
Don’t go just for the Northern Lights- Seeing the Northern Lights is really hit and miss, whatever time you visit Iceland and there are so many other fantastic sights to see here as well so don’t get too caught up in trying to see them, you will have a great time regardless!
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lastsRachel Carson
Thanks for reading about my trip to Iceland, I was completely blown away by the beauty of this place and the friendliness of the people so I would definitely recommend visiting. Stay tuned for more adventures to come! XOX