With a hectic summer schedule and a busy end to my semester, I’m just now finding the free time to finish writing about my spring break escape to Iceland. Even though my trip was a couple months ago (crazy that its already been that long!), I still wanted to share my unforgettable experiences with everyone! Below is my final travel diary about my last days in Iceland.
We slept in a bit this morning and left Eyrarbakki around 9 am to head back towards Selfoss for breakfast. We lucked out and found a cute little bakery that was popping with people. We all enjoyed some yummy pastries before heading towards Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik. The drive didn’t take long and we got to the city around 11 am with no problems. Our hostel was located right downtown so we dropped our bags off and then went to park the van in a nearby parking garage.
The first place we decided to visit in Reykjavik was The Sun Voyager, which is a giant viking boat state located right next to the water. I’d seen pictures of the state every time I looked up things to do in Reykjavik, so I was intrigued to see it in person. To my surprise, it wasn’t as large as I thought it’d be, but nonetheless, it was still beautiful. The only down side to seeing The Sun Voyager were the crowds of people, which made taking decent pictures difficult. Luckily, I was able to snap a few shots of the statue before people started climbing on it again!
After enjoying a lovely stroll by the water, we headed towards the heart of the city to see the grand cathedral, Hallgrimskirkja. It was easy enough to get to because the tall tower of the cathedral was like a beacon guiding you towards it. When we arrived at the plaza infront of the cathedral, I was stunned by how it dwarfed all the buildings surrounding it. Though the cathedral itself was rather plain in design, the simple elegance of the structure made the building breathtaking. Inside the building also held the same type of subtle grace that the outside had.
My favorite part of the cathedral was riding the 5 person elevator to the 9th floor of the tower to see the stunning view of the city. It cost about $10 per person to go up, but the views from the top are priceless. The birds-eye view of Reykjavik was gorgeous, with 360 degrees of picture taking opportunities. The only bad thing about the top of the tower is that the windows don’t have any glass, so it can get quite chilly if you stay up there too long!
By the time we left the cathedral it was around 1:30 and we were all feeling pretty hungry, so we set off to find a “cheap” place to grab lunch. The funny thing about Iceland is that nothing is cheap and when hunting for a restaurant to get some food, it’s always best to check around and find the cheapest place to eat. Lucky for us, we ended up finding a wonderful little restaurant off the main road called Svarta Kaffid. When we found this hidden gem, we were lured in with the promise of soup and beer, but to our surprise it was even better! Our large group of six was divided into two groups across the small restaurant from each other. My friend Evan and I sat together in the corner and curiously examined the surroundings. We didn’t even notice the lack of menus until the waiter came over and informed us of the menu: Meat soup and Asparagus soup.
We both ordered the meat soup and a beer, each of us interested to see what this soup would taste like. In no time, we had two bread bowls plopped down in front of us filled to the top with meat soup. To our surprise, the soup was utterly delicious and the bread was to die for. The beer we enjoyed with our soup was also delicious, adding on to the wonderful lunch experience. We stayed at the restaurant for a while, chatting and reminiscing about our adventures so far in Iceland.
After we finished our wonderful soup, the group went back to the hostel to drop off Zane (who was feeling under the weather) before heading back into the city to explore. We ended up walking down a street named Laugavegur for while, mainly just snooping through shops and people watching. For being a capital city, Reykjavik was surprisingly peaceful to roam around and the locals we met were oh-so charming. One of my favorite things about exploring the city was stumbling across beautiful street art on the sides of buildings. Some of the artworks were small while others took up whole walls, but regardless the size, all of them were simply amazing.
As the evening approached a few hours later, we wandered back to our hostel and enjoyed the happy hour at the bar in the lobby. Relaxing and entertaining, the entire group enjoyed various beers and wines while we shared funny stories about our trip. After happy hour ended we decided that for our last night in Iceland, we would hit up the bar scene in Reykjavik. We went back down Laugavegur street and went into the places that seemed interesting. Most of the bars were pretty laid back, while others were popping with music and dancing. We spent most of the night sitting back, chatting, and enjoying the local beers.
Once we started making our way back to the hostel, the boys decided they wanted to stop for a quick bite to eat. We quickly found out that most places close early, but we lucked out and found a restaurant named Aktu Taktu that was still open. To our delight, it was like an Icelandic McDonalds (except for the food wasn’t cheap). Regardless of the price, we enjoyed some nuggets and burgers as we navigated back to the hostel. Upon arriving back to the room, most of the group fell asleep right away for our last nights sleep in Iceland.
We woke up bright and early to pack and check out of the hostel, even though we were all sad to be leaving. Hungry and eager, we all headed towards a brightly colored bakery we spotted the day before when we were on our way to the cathedral. To our surprise, we were not the only ones who decided to stop by because there was a line out the door! Despite the wait, we stood in line for our turn to grab some yummy pastries and milk.
After a quick bite to eat, the group split up and agreed to meet back around 10:30 to head towards the airport. Evan, Josey, and I made our way towards Reykjavik 871+2, a museum about the settlers who originally founded Reykjavik. I’d been wanting to visit this museum to learn a little about the history of the city and I wasn’t disappointed. Not only was the exhibit extremely informative, but it also had an original viking longhouse ruin in the heart of it! Learning about the Viking history was wonderful and I felt like a complete nerd because I find Vikings so interesting.
After we toured the museum and played with some of the old fashioned games they had set up in the children center, we decided to use our last bit of time to look around and enjoy the city. Nearby the settlement exhibit is a giant pond that is overflowing with birds, ducks and swans mainly. Enjoying the people feeding the birds, we people watched for a while before heading towards our pick up point. On our way, we passed some interesting sculptures and fun sidewalk art.
Right at 10:30 Chris, AP, and Zane came and picked us up in our rental van and we started the drive back to the airport. It was bittersweet dropping off the van, because we were all excited about not being cramped in it anymore but we weren’t ready for our spring break fun to be over. After shuttling to the airport and dropping off our luggage, we waited for our WOWAir plane to take us back to the states. Saying I loved Iceland would be such an understatement because I truly enjoyed my 5 days in the country so much. The breath taking views, charming locals, and delicious beers made my experience unforgettable while the unpredictable weather, tiny rental van, and my wonderfully strange travel companions made the trip so memorable.
Cheers to Iceland; the land of ice, fire, and unreliable weather forecasts!