Iceland has always been a country on my secret bucket list but yet when it came about planning a much needed holiday, there have always been destinations that won the pitch. Getting away from Europe’s cold weather and dreaming about tropical cocktails appeared to be of much higher value. So the little volcanic island at the edge of Europe remained undiscovered – until that day in September…
I’m not much of a birthday guy (anymore), so when it comes to the annually necessity I’m always planning my escape. I don’t know if the Icelandic football team left such an impression on my mind or why I had the need to check holiday options on that little island but it didn’t leave my mind. So we found us booking a flight to Reykjavik in the middle of November – yes, November.
One might say it’s the Grinch of all months and there is probably no worse time staying in Europe at all. Not to mention taking a trip to the Arctic ocean where the sun doesn’t show up before 10am. But who needs light anyway. The idea of seeing northern lights made up for it by far (best time to visit Iceland for the aurora is from October to April). So, November it was.
But before starting our trip we had to do some shopping. I don’t know about you but my wardrobe is definitely not made for climbing a volcano or discovering a glacier. Not really knowing what we would possibly need we went for some basics and much needed essentials.
We received a first sign that we made the right choice at Frankfurt airport where we had half of the airplane for ourselves. Nice!
After almost 4 hours up in the air we were excited when we looked down and saw snow covered landscapes, white mountains (or glaciers?), unstructured rivers and a simply wild nature.
As soon as we left the little airport and found us standing in the cold and windy bus stop we felt adventure coming through us.
We picked up our rental car (we chose this one) which went really quick as there haven’t been much visitors. You definitely need a rental car as you really don’t want to depend on a bus plan and there are just so many options and beautiful stops on the way you don’t want to miss. If you plan to go in autumn or winter like we did, make sure to book a 4×4. Trust me, you’ll need it – and there are plenty of options available.
Although I’d rather preferred a Landrover or one of the bigger jeeps, we chose the Suzuki to save some budget because let’s face it – Iceland isn’t really a bargain. Even though being on a tiny island keeps away much trouble it also goes hand in hand with surrender. Most things need to be imported and come with some travel cost.
We would have loved to get one of these though.
And if you want to go around the island you definitely want to have all miles included. It so much more relaxing if you don’t have to use your calculator every time you see a hint for a waterfall or a hidden volcano.
At the car rental we were asked if we wanted to book the windscreen insurance – trust me you want to. We did book it – even though we doubted to have to use it, but were happy we had at the end. This island is just so rocky and windy I couldn’t imagine a better place to buy such an insurance.
We were also asked if we needed a volcanic dust insurance. Although we knew Iceland is a volcanic island we were sure it would be exaggerated but if you are planning to stay in the south near Vík, it’s not that absurd. We went through a volcanic storm and felt like lost in space but were lucky to pass without any stains – but it could easily have looked different.
Anyway after we freed our new car for the upcoming days from frost and snow we started rolling towards Reykjavík.
It already got dark when we drove across Reykjanes peninsula. At around 6pm we arrived in Reykjavík and checked in our hotel Storm Hotels by Keahotels. The staff was really nice and the hotel was perfectly located. So we went for a walk in the city right after we dropped our luggage. With the main shopping street Laugavegur only a few minutes away we found ourselves confronted with the choice of a restaurant. We decided to go for some burgers and beer and chose Matsedill, a cosy pub in the city centre. We weren’t disappointed. If you ever go there try the Snoop dog burger and of course a Viking beer.
Be prepared to pay around 10€ per beer. We left it at one pint and went for a stroll to the little harbour with the modern Harpa cocert hall built in cooperation with artist Olafur Eliasson. With its huge glass front and is height it is really impressive and worth a visit.
Although it was freezing cold we went on wandering through the city passing by the Solfar sculpture until we found ourselves infront of the famous Hallgrimskirkja which is really impressive und a must-see in Reykjavik.
After congratulting us on our wardrobe choice we went back to our hotel looking forward to a nice cup of tea and a rather short nights as we planned to leave Reykjavík as early as possible.