iceland, part one: reykjavík, day one.
It’s been a dream of mine to visit Iceland for a number of years now and I finally got the chance to travel to the land of ice and fire last month to cap off my undergraduate studies. Because Iceland is a bit out of the way from the rest of Europe, I never got the opportunity to make a trip out there during my exchange or during my solo trip to Europe. So, when my dad proposed a trip there after I finished university, I was all for it. What better way to celebrate the end of my undergrad than by travelling to Iceland?
While you can sign up for tours that will take you around different areas of Iceland, we opted to do a self-drive tour of Iceland for 12 days. I highly recommend seeing Iceland this way because you can go at your own pace each day and you can choose which sights to see or skip. Simply put, the self-drive tour is very customizable. The tour company provides you with an itinerary that suggests what you can do each day, also noting which highways to drive on, and it organizes all of your hotels/guesthouses and your car rental too. For those of you who are thinking of renting a car in Iceland, it’s best to rent a 4x4 or else you won’t be able to drive on some of the gravel roads and paths around the country.
More on all this in a later post, let’s get to the good stuff!
We hopped on a direct flight to Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport with Icelandair, and after we landed, we got a tiny taste of the Icelandic landscape on our car ride into Reykjavík. It was about 6AM when we got to our hotel and our room wasn’t ready (obviously), so we walked down the street to the Bakari Sandholt for breakfast. As meals weren’t included on our flight, we were pretty famished and gobbled down the sandwiches we ordered. Once we were back at our hotel, we put our bags in our room and then hit up some of Reykjavík’s most popular tourist attractions.
Our first stop was the gorgeous Harpa Concert Hall, which sits majestically along the shoreline of the Reykjavík harbour. The facade of the building itself is so interesting in terms of its design that is rather reminiscent of honeycombs. And the great thing is that the inside is also as well-designed and interested as the facade. I honestly could have spent hours upon hours in the concert hall because there was so much to discover.
Next up was a quick pit stop at the Jón Gunnar Árnason’s Sólfar (Sun Voyager) sculpture before heading to the Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland and a definite must-visit. The inside of the church is gorgeous, with its high ceilings and fabulous pipe organ, but what most go to see is the bell tower. There’s a small fee to enter the tower, but it’s worth it thanks to the fantastic views of Reykjavík.
Lunch was had a cute restaurant called Lækjarbrekka and we definitely ate well there. We started our meals off with a pea soup that had a bit of a curried flavour to it and then shared three other dishes: leg of lamb, mussels, and plokkfiskur (traditional Icelandic fish stew). The jet lag was really started to hit us during this meal and we were pretty much in #foodcoma mode, so we went back to our hotel to nap.
And after a bit of rest, we were out and about again. We ventured down the city centre’s streets and came across a small café, ice cream shop, and crêperie (yes, it was all those things). While I was a bit hesitant, we went in and it turns out that they served vegan crêpes! I went with the traditional Nutella and banana crêpe, which was super delicious, and I can now finally say that I’ve eaten a crêpe, albeit vegan but a crêpe nonetheless. It was a great way to cap off our first day in Iceland and even better was the fact that it was late but the sun had yet to set.
Next up: more fun times in Reykjavík! x