A colourful patchwork of tin roof buildings, Reykjavik has been described by many as a large village with the nightlife and culture of a city twice the size. The benefit of the smaller size of Reykjavik as a city break destination means that if you are an avid walker it’s easy to see all the sights in a few days.
London Gatwick to Keflavik Airport: 3 hours Non-stop
Cheapest Return Flights Last Month (February 2016): £89
Three airlines fly direct from London Gatwick: Wow Air, Easyjet and Icelandair
Cheapest month to visit: May
Most expensive month to visit: March
Reykjavik means ‘Smokey Bay’ named after the natural geysers and geothermal springs!
Morning Arrival – Float in the Blue Lagoon
On arrival relax away the stresses of travelling with a trip to the magical Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.
Jump on a bus from the airport to Reykajvik city via the Blue Lagoon, where you can spend a couple of hours floating in the 37-40°C pools. This magical lagoon is anything but natural being formed from the waste water of the nearby geothermal power plant. Renowned for its silica mud, the Blue Lagoon is excellent for improving skin, not to mention your mood.
Airport transfers via Blue Lagoon: €25 per adult
Entry into Blue Lagoon: from €40 per adult
Transfer from Blue Lagoon to Reykjavik: 45 minutes
Evening – (September to April) Check out the Northern Lights
It’s best to get in on this action on your first night as many of the tour operators offer the second night free if you didn’t see the Aurora Borealis on the first!
Our experience tells us that you’ll want to wrap up warm as there’s nothing quite as bracing as being ejected from a bus in the middle of nowhere, in the pitch-black, in Iceland, only to stand around for hours waiting for the lights to show. Bearing in mind that it’s one of the most spectacular events in nature, it’s worth the wait, but just make sure you get your thermals on in preparation!
Cost: From €44 per adult
Duration: 3-5 hours
Morning – Have a whale of a time
The whale watching in Iceland is fantastic. Some of the species you might see are Minke, humpback whales, killer whales, white-beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises and other marine wildlife. There really is nothing like seeing these huge and majestic animals in their own environment.
Cost: from €70
Duration: 3 hours
Leaves from: The Old Harbour
Afternoon – Get your stomp on
After you’ve seen some whales it’s time to walk into Reykjavik and get a feel for this village-like city. Walking from the Old Harbour to the oddly modern and largest church in Iceland, Hallgrímskirkja, takes about 20 minutes on foot travelling South-East. Climbing the church’s exposed tower will give you the only high view of the oddly sky-scraper-free city.
Then grab some lunch at the world’s most successful hotdog stand, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, which reached global fame in 2004 when Bill Clinton stopped for a hot dog. As of March 2016, a hot dog costs €2.75 – bargain!
Evening – Eat & drink ‘til you drop
Head out on the town for dinner and drinks – our top tip is to make us of the Appy Hour app listing all the happy hours of the local bars. This can help a lot when it comes to the slightly pricey Icelandic beers and wines on offer and gets you to fun and quirky pubs and bars that you might not normally find.
The hidden gem, Ostabudin (located at Skolavordustigur 8 in the heart of the city) is rated number 3 on Trip Advisor with a great reputation for quality local food and a friendly atmosphere.
If you like your beers, head over to the Mirco Bar (Austurstræti 6) which has beers from small brewers around Iceland and beyond.
All Day – Go full circle
On your final day in Reykjavik it’s time to go and admire some of that famous Icelandic scenery which has attracted people from around the world. One of the most famous tours is the Golden Circle Tour which takes in Geysers, Glaciers and the golden waterfall. This tour will take a day and is the easiest way to make sure you don’t miss out on the Icelandic landscape when you only have time for a short break.
Duration: 8 hours
Cost: from €75 per adult
Evening – Oh, snap!
Finish off the day with a chilled out meal and drinks at Snaps (Þórsgata 1).
Fly home to the UK, and maybe even extend your holiday if you have a late flight back with an overnight stay at a luxurious airport hotel in the UK.