Welcome to Travel Fridays! With Friday being my favorite day of the week and travel being one of my biggest passions, I’ll be featuring a new destination every Friday with reviews and tips. Of course, these are based on my experiences with specific hotels, attractions, museums, and the like.
Next up is a trip that my wife and I took as a 5-day babymoon before the birth of our first child: Iceland.
Most people think traveling to Iceland is a haul, but it’s actually a quick 5 hour flight from the NYC metro area airports. You land at Keflavik International Airport, which is about 45 minutes to an hour outside of Reykjavik, the country’s capital and where we were based out of for the duration of our trip.
We coordinated transportation to and from the airport and our hotel via Grey Line Tours, which I had researched at length prior to the trip. We also used them for all of our excursions as well.
We stayed at CenterHotel Thingholt, which is very centrally located within walking distance of restaurants, shops, bars, a great gelato place, the Hallgrimskirkja (must go to the top for the view! – see picture above). If you decide to stay here make sure to ask for a room on the highest floor possible and facing the back of the hotel. There is a nightclub down the street a bit and Icelanders will party until 5 or 6am and it’s loud. Of course, if you want to party with them, then the room location doesn’t really matter.
Blue Lagoon: This is near the airport so a lot of people either go here before a flight or right after they land. We opted to make a morning out of it from the hotel since we didn’t want to have all of our baggage with us. Apparently there are public showers, which kind of made us uncomfortable so we splurged for the private package with our own shower etc. We booked directly on their website. It’s a little touristy but overall a nice half-day activity. We used Grey Line Tours to get to/from the Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon, Iceland.
Day trips: We used Grey Line Tours for our day trips as well. Their website has a lot of options. We did the South Coast Waterfall Tour & Glacier Hike and Whale Watching tours. If we had gone during the Fall or Winter month, we would have gone on The Golden Circle tour since you most likely will be able to see the northern lights during that time of year. However, with 20-21 hours of daylight during July, we opted against that tour.
Beer & Food
Viking and Einstock are the local brews. I was partial to an Arctic Blueberry beer that was recommended by one of the servers. Needless to say, the seafood in Iceland is incredible. I had a piece of fish during one of our last dinners that was probably the freshest tasting fish I’ve ever had. It tasted like they had just caught it right after I ordered it.
We opted to purchase travel insurance since my wife was pregnant at the time and you can never be too prepared for an emergency of any kind. We use Insure My Trip whenever we purchase travel insurance. It gives you multiple options and levels of coverage for you to choose.
Iceland is a fairly expensive place to visit. Flights were about $600/person. Hotel was approximately $250/night. Excursions + meals started to add up. However, we don’t shy away from these types of places just because they’re expensive. We’ve always viewed travel as a way to unwind and not be concerned (too much) with how much we’re spending. My wife and I spend our normal daily lives being as frugal as possible so we can really enjoy ourselves on our trips and not worry about splurging on a dinner etc. It’s very worth it to us.
Iceland is one of those places that most people don’t think to visit. I’m so happy my wife and I did. Coming from the hustle and bustle of New York City and the surrounding areas, it was somewhat of a major culture shock to be in a place that is so serene, natural, and inviting. This was the perfect long-weekend trip.