A Weekend of Incredible Views and Hot Chocolate

Reykjavik View, Iceland

A Weekend of Incredible Views and Hot Chocolate

Reykjavik, Iceland

After seeing so many amazing pictures and videos of this very underrated country, we instantly decided Iceland would be our next short trip.

The basics

As recommended by a friend, we booked our long weekend away with Authentic Scandinavia, who were very hands on through the whole thing, making sure the trip was tailored to our exact needs. For an affordable price, the tour included 4 nights stay at a 3 or 4* hotel, The Golden Circle tour and the Northern Lights Tour, adding up to £350. With flights only at £150 and with an added Blue Lagoon trip at £30 we were pretty happy with the cost (and we got bumped up to a premium room for free! – First thing that made us fall in love with Iceland!).

The package we bought included travel too, so we didn’t have to worry about organising transport, which was a definite plus, as there is not much public transport in Reykjavik, getting a taxi would have certainly added up. You’ll find everything you need here.

Reykjavik Iceland

Money, money, money

Regarding carrying money, practically everywhere take debit cards! (even taxis) So there isn’t much point taking out Icelandic Corona, when you might not use it all anyway and then the exchange rate the other way is rubbish!

Eating and drinking out is ridiculously expensive, with two singles vodkas often costing over £15 and two, two course meals over £80, you really need to make sure you have budgeted enough to last you. If you stay at a hotel breakfast is usually included, but if you are staying in an apartment, to save money, shop at a supermarket and have a few meals in!

Reykjavik Iceland

We are definitely showing our ages recently and have started to appreciate buildings and cathedrals… If you are like us, there is the most amazing Cathedral called ‘The Hallgrimskirkja’, which you can to go up to see an amazing view of the city. At only 1000 ISK (£5) its one of the relatively cheaper things to do in Reykjavik! Hallgrímskirkja Church’s Information Page

Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland

The Dreamy Blue Lagoon

This is definitely a must to go to if you are in Iceland, its pretty unique (You MUST pre-book). Also, if you have a go pro, take it! There is the opportunity for some great pictures, if you are lucky enough to avoid getting a bunch of tourists in the background. Book your tickets & transfers here.

Once you get to the Lagoon you queue up to get wristbands, which is basically the key to a locker to put all of your belongings in. Remember to bring a towel! We didn’t and realised we had to pay for a towel each, and then just got a dressing gown each too (but was expensive!). You can buy different packages, which can include spar treatments/products for you to take into the lagoon, free drinks etc. Even if you are not on any package deal, there is a bar you can swim up to and buy drinks from. You don’t need any money as they record your drinks on the wristband given to you at the beginning, you just settle up at the end!

There is no time limit to spend in the pool, so we managed to hold out for two hours in there and we were basically prunes, and it is pretty hot in there (40°c)! (Girls: make sure to tie your hair up as they say the natural chemicals in the lagoon can make your hair turn green!)

Blue Lagoon, Iceland 💭

A photo posted by Mark Shirran ╳ #AroundTheOrbis (@aroundtheorbisdaily) on

The Northern Lights (or not)

Leading up to this trip we surveyed the local weather extensively, but no matter what you do you can’t guarantee a clear sky! The trip isn’t a fixed time as the guides obviously want you all to see the lights, they drive to the best view spots, or the places with the clearest skies. The night we went on had good weather conditions but the light activity just wasn’t there at all. We still had a fun experience though, not that we would have thought we would ever describe standing in an empty car park, in the pitch black, and below 0 degrees, fun!

One thing we did learn there was that, if you want a chance of capturing the lights on your camera, it has to be a good one (not an iPhone). Basically because only a DSLR camera can adjust it’s settings in order to capture the lights at their best. An iPhone or standard digital camera is just not good enough to capture the effects. Also you will find that what you witness with your eye owns wont match up with the quality of a modern DSLR cam, this is because the camera doesn’t have the limitations that we peasant human beings have!

Although we didn’t get to see the Lights, Mark did do research on the ideal settings to get the best possible quality. 

Northern Lights, Iceland
  • Set to Manual 
  • ISO – 1000-1600
  • Aperture – Widest! (e.g. f2.8)
  • Focus – Infinity
  • Shutter Speed – 20 seconds
  • Manual Focus (Try to focus on a star in advance!)
  • Remove all Lens Filters
  • Use a Tripod (Or someone small and steady’s head!)
  • Use a 2-second timer, so pressing button wont vibrate the camera.
  • A wide angle lens (like a 16-35) with a minimum aperture of f4 (f2.8 is better)
  • Shoot in RAW so you can fine tune the exposure post shot, and turn off Image Stabilisation.

The Golden Circle Tour

This tour combined a few beautiful natural wonders into one big coach trip, starting off with the impressive ‘Gullfoss waterfall’. It was SO cold here that our cameras and GoPro actually froze! Luckily we took a picture before it happened. (this picture does not do the enormity of this waterfall justice)

Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland

💭

A photo posted by Emily Holm- Around The Orbis (@em_holm) on

We very much feel as though we have only experienced/seen a fraction of what Iceland has to offer, and will definitely be returning to hire a 4×4, do some deep-sea diving, and explore the untouched northern Iceland!

Check out our Movie gallery or see our YouTube Channel

Here is a video of our trip:

Emily Holm

Emily Holm

28 Comments

  • Jess

    Love this. Thank you! Very helpful. =) Your video is also very cute!

    28th April 2016 at 4:27 pm
    • Mark Shirran

      Hey Jess. Thank You so much! We’re glad you found the blog helpful and also enjoyed the video as much as we enjoyed making it 🙂

      29th April 2016 at 4:48 pm
  • Umesh Singh

    Hi Emily,
    Great post! After looking you guys having fun. I am thinking I should also visit this place.

    I enjoyed reading your post. The way have represented all places is amazing. 🙂

    5th August 2016 at 10:13 am
    • Emily Holm
      Emily Holm

      Hi Umesh! We are glad you like the blogs! Much more to come so keep an eye out 🙂

      6th August 2016 at 12:37 am
  • Adelheid Sudibyo

    Iceland seems beautiful, but so cold at the same time. How many layers were you wearing???
    Seeing your pic swimming in the Blue Lagoon reminded me of my time in Chile, swimming in hot waters but freezing weather.
    I love your picture as well. What camera do you both use?
    Hope to see more of your travels in the future 😀

    16th August 2016 at 3:52 am
    • Emily Holm
      Emily Holm

      Hey!
      It was super cold, we wore thermal vests and then t shirts, hoodies and then a coat on top!
      Chile looks amazing, we are hoping to be there next year at some point.
      I use just my iphone and GoPro 4Black and Mark uses a Canon 750D!

      2nd November 2016 at 1:49 pm
  • Vibeke Johannessen

    Lovely post! I always wanted to visit Iceland, but I havent been there yet, even though I am just from Norway so it is not that far! 😀 Great pics!

    31st October 2016 at 4:24 pm
  • kage2015

    We are headed there this summer and can’t wait to hit the hot water. This is perfect and great tips for us to know before we head out.

    1st November 2016 at 2:59 pm
    • Emily Holm
      Emily Holm

      Wow have an amazing time and take loads of pictures!

      2nd November 2016 at 1:50 pm
  • By Land and Sea

    One of my bucket list places! We just need bite the bullet and go! Many great recommendations in this post – saving it for later!

    1st November 2016 at 4:48 pm
    • Emily Holm
      Emily Holm

      We cant recommend this place enough. We were only there for a short while, but is one of our most favourite countries we’ve been to!

      2nd November 2016 at 1:51 pm
  • asoulwindow

    Off late, I have been reading a lot on Iceland. I am an outdoor enthusiast and I am excited to read that this exotic country has so much to offer. Northern lights attract me too. How I wish you had seen it while you were there. Never mind, there is always a next time. More excuse to be there!

    1st November 2016 at 6:30 pm
  • Johann Kuruvilla

    Lovely little trip. I’ve been seeing the word Reykyavik floating around the internet a lot lately. Beautiful landscape, lots of snow, everything looks frosty after the name of the country itself and the church building looks WOW! Great tips by the way.

    4th November 2016 at 1:08 am
    • Emily Holm
      Emily Holm

      It’s started to get pretty popular as everyones seeing more pictures and realising how beautiful it is!
      The church was amazing and the view at the top over the snow topped houses was so special.

      6th November 2016 at 1:13 pm
  • FairytaleStudios Page

    Reykjavik is so beautiful. The Blue lagoon seems a very different thing to experience in Iceland. I loved the video too. Thanks for the tips for capturing Northern Lights! Lovely photographs too!

    4th November 2016 at 4:25 pm
    • Emily Holm
      Emily Holm

      SO beautiful, we went around christmas time though so there was even more fairy lights around!
      Glad we could help 🙂

      6th November 2016 at 1:11 pm
  • Joanna

    I think you got a really good price for your trip to Iceland, considering how expensive everything is here. I have also heard that the Blue Lagoon is full with people but it’s worth doing it as it is a unique experience. I’d love to experience the Northern Lights myself.

    5th November 2016 at 5:05 pm
    • Emily Holm
      Emily Holm

      Hey!
      yesh we feel like we got a really good deal. The lagoon is very touristy but you just have to try to ignore the people, and enjoy it as much as you can! We are so gutted we didn’t see them, we will just have to go back!

      6th November 2016 at 1:10 pm
  • Jasmin N

    I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland! It’s not so far away from Finland so I’ve got no clue why I haven’t already, but it’s definitely on my bucket list 🙂

    6th November 2016 at 2:31 pm
  • Julie Cao

    I have heard that Iceland is a very expensive place to visit and you guys did a great job in finding a good deal for the tour. When did you guys visited there? The picture looks so nice but also so cold!

    7th November 2016 at 3:04 pm
  • Carola

    I would love to visit Iceland. It’s high on my list. This year we doubted between Poland ir Iceland and choose Poland. Maybr next time Iceland. But then I need to save some money because it’s all very expensive. Love the pictures!

    7th November 2016 at 8:58 pm
    • Emily Holm
      Emily Holm

      Poland does look so cool too! We would love to visit there also. Money is our biggest problem too, forever saving up for that next flight!

      9th November 2016 at 11:34 am
  • Ami Bhat

    ooh, that is some useful information, especially about the camera setting for northern lights. I am going to try those for a few other shots too. Love your pics

    8th November 2016 at 9:08 am
  • Meg Cale

    The photography tips are amazing. Super helpful. I love that you included it right in the article where it’d be useful.

    11th November 2016 at 2:25 pm
  • The Walking Map

    Although I’ve never been to Iceland, so much of what you describe reminds me of Stockholm. Food very expensive, little need for cash, short days in winter, long days in summer. Great GoPro vid!

    12th November 2016 at 8:15 pm
  • luxurybackpacking

    Iceland seems like such a beautiful country not just their natural beauty, but the people too! I cannot wait to visit!

    13th November 2016 at 1:53 pm
    • Emily Holm
      Emily Holm

      The people were so nice, we have always said we could happily live there! Make sure you take loads of pictures when you go!

      14th November 2016 at 5:46 pm
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