An Icelandic adventure…
Stay at SandHotel
The recently opened Sandhotel is a hidden treasure in Reykjavik.
Tucked away just off the main high street, Laugavegur, the white-washed building is easy to miss when wandering by. But step inside and you’ll be swooned by the sleek surroundings. Every inch of the hotel has been finished to the most sophisticated of standards.
The king bed was without doubt my comfiest sleep to date; there were complimentary robes and tasteful toiletries in the en-suite shower, a coffee machine and even a private balcony complete with floral hanging baskets. It’s truly luxurious.
I landed in Iceland mid-afternoon on Friday. I took a flight from Manchester to Keflavík International Airport with Icelandair. The flight time is 2hrs 30 minutes and cost £125 return (price as of October 2017).
If you’re only in Iceland for a short break, make the most of every minute.
I booked my first excursion for the Friday evening… the Northern Lights Mystery Tour with Gray Line. A bus collected us from ‘Stop no.7’ at 7.30pm – just a couple of minutes walk from Sandhotel and cost £35pp.
The tour takes you out to the remote countryside, a couple of hours drive from Reykjavik, where we were lucky enough to see the lights almost as soon as we arrived. They are not always as strong as pictured, it’s very weather dependant, but if you miss them, Gray Line do offer a free return trip the following night.
Saturday morning, I went for breakfast at Le Bistro on Laugavegur. The quaint bistro is open from breakfast to dinner. I warmed-up with a coffee and omelette.
The food is expensive in Iceland so always check the price before you order. Breakfast for two cost on average 5,500 Iceland Kroner (£40).
After breakfast, I walked to Hallgrímskirkja.
The Lutheran parish church, standing at 74.5 metres high, is the largest church and one of the tallest structures in Iceland.
For £5pp, you can take the tower lift to the top of the church to enjoy panoramic views of the city.
Hard Rock Reykjavik
If you’re a music fan, walk ten minutes to the famous Lækjargata; where you’ll find the three-storey Hard Rock Cafe.
Indulge in a burger, an ice-cream brownie sharer bigger than your head and check out the memorabilia from the likes of Britney Spears and Michael Jackson.
Expect to pay £50-60 for two people.
This was the attraction I was most looking forward to visiting and it did not disappoint.
Blue Lagoon is located in a sprawling 800 year old lava field; a remote location an hour from Reykjavik.
Regarded as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the unique properties of the Blue Lagoon waters provide not only an enchanting experience, but the active ingredients in the water (silica, algae, and minerals) will leave your skin glowing.
Relax in the warm lagoon with a cold beer or prosecco from the swim-up bar. I’d recommend an evening visit in winter, when the lagoon is in darkness under the stars.
Book your transfer via Gray Line. Prices from £74.
On Sunday, I took The Golden Circle Tour to explore Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and Geysir geothermal – taking in some of the most breathtaking views.
The excursion with Gray Line takes around 8 hours and cost £47pp.
Þingvellir National Park is a home to Iceland‘s largest natural lake and the place where the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia split and drift apart.
At Gullfoss waterfall you can take a short walk down a pathway and get up close to feel the mist of glacial water on your face as it cascades down into the narrow Hvítárgljúfur Canyon.
The Great Geysir hot spring, is an impressive collage of bubbling mud pools, hissing steam vents, and colourful algae deposits. It also features one of the world’s most reliable fountain geyser, Strokkur hot spring, that blasts out a column of super heated water up to 20 metres into the air every 5 minutes.
On Sunday night, it’s jazz night at Bryggjuna Brugghus – an independent brewery, restaurant and bar at the harbour in Reykjavík.
What better way to finish the weekend?
A trip of a lifetime: find an excuse to go!