A Weekend of Incredible Views and Hot Chocolate
After seeing so many amazing pictures and videos of this very underrated country, we instantly decided Iceland would be our next short trip.
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.
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!
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
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!)
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.
- 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)
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: