LET’S DO THIS.
Here’s what you need:
Time: 5 days—A holiday weekend would be perfect
Cash: Our trip was $1,700 per person. Yours can be more, or less!
Stuff: Sneakers, a sweater for nighttime on the water and your absolute cutest bathing suit.
When people think of traveling to Iceland, some think they’re headed for The North or a scene from Frozen. And so did I. But the truth is, it’s more like being in a lovely little snow globe. Everything is covered in powered white goodness and it even snows just a little throughout the day. Plus, it’s a lot closer than you think. Only 4½ hours away—closer than LA! Which means it’s totally manageable over a holiday vacation, even with a full-time job. Trust us, it’s totally, completely, 100% worth the trip.
Oh—one last thing—the Icelandic men are really sexy. With badass super hero names like Thor. And badass superhero/lumbersexual bodies with crystal blue eyes and tattoos all over. All. Over.
Ahem, now that that’s out of the way, let’s plan your trip.
DAY 1: THE FLIGHT
Guess how long it takes to get to Iceland. Bet you didn’t guess 4½ hours. Seriously! It’s so much closer than people think, and totally manageable in a long weekend. We recommend maximizing your trip with a red-eye on Iceland Air. They have the best customizable package deals that practically plan your vacation for you. We chose the Blue Lagoon & Northern Lights Package and it only cost us $1,100 per person, including airfare, hotel and a few of our excursions. Plus—little TV’s on every single chair with hundreds of movies and excursion videos to choose from. It doesn’t get any better than this.
DAY 2: HIT THE GROUND RUNNING
Land in Iceland: Once you’ve landed, we recommend a cute breakfast spot right in the Keflavik airport. Joe and the Juice has delicious little breakfast sandwiches and gives you a great place to relax after your flight.
Take an Excursion: A trip to the Blue Lagoon was included in our package, so we caught the bus right from the airport and took off into the countryside. Once we reached the spa, we checked our baggage for a small fee, rubbed in our exfoliating facemasks, grabbed our drinks and dove right in. Thinking about giving this excursion a try? Browse my full review for the inside scoop.
Grab a bite: While we were in the area, we tried out the Blue Lagoon’s LAVA Restaurant. Try the Icelandic Gourmet Menu for the perfect taste of authentic local cuisine. From arctic char to rack of lamb to this amazing Ástarpungar with chocolate mousse, vanilla ice cream and salted caramel. We’d fly back just for that.
Check into your hotel: If you’ve chosen one of the Iceland Air package deals, you’ll be staying in the gorgeous Hilton Reykjavik Nordica right in the center of the city. The hotel includes free WiFi and a first class restaurant (more on that later). Plus, it’s so technologically advanced. The bathroom sink washed and dried my hands, all at the same time! But even more importantly, the service was great. And double importantly, the breakfast buffet was delicious—filled with high quality tea, exotic fruit, local fish and all our favorite staples.
Hit the town: Another great part of staying with the Hilton? Free tickets to buses that are way nicer than the ones in NYC. So get out there and get to know Reykjavik! There are tons of clothing shops, restaurants and bars. Plus, the city is right on the water. So don’t be afraid to take a long walk on the beach and catch a glimpse of Iceland’s snow-covered volcanoes.
Wine & dine: Sink your teeth into the ocean at The Fish Company with some crazy-good seafood. The around-the-world menu puts an Icelandic spin on tons of unique dishes, including a controversial dish called “Ponzu,” which consists of cured whale and fried puffin. Don’t hate us, but it was actually pretty great! Plus, the environment was really interesting, emoting small insight into the city’s unique heritage and vibrant culture.
Bedtime: Head back to the hotel and get your beauty rest for another jam-packed day of exploration.
DAY 3: DO IT ALL AGAIN
Get up & Get ready: After a day like yesterday, you might be a little worn out. Especially if you want to catch an early excursion like ours (8:30AM sharp—yuck!). So now’s the time to pack in the carbs and down a cup of Joe at the hotel’s continental breakfast.
Take an excursion: We decided to take a break from our package excursions and try something new: the Golden Circle and Fontana Wellness Tour ($96/person). On this daylong trip, we got to explore Gulfoss Waterfall, Geysir Geothermal Area and Thingvellir National Park before heading to Fontana’s natural steam baths. Ahhh. It was beautiful and the tour guide was so funny! My favorite quote? “If you get lost in an Icelandic forest, just stand up!” Trees don’t grow much higher than 3 feet in Iceland—Get it?
Wine & Dine: With little time between excursions, we decided to try VOX, the hotel restaurant. And we were hardly disappointed. This authentic Icelandic cuisine with a modern twist has an open kitchen, so we could see our whole seafood menu practically from ocean to table. They even chose wine pairings for us, creating the perfect aphrodisiac-filled atmosphere (for those looking for a romantic getaway—this is the place to be!)
Take another excursion: Our Northern Lights Tour by Boat was cancelled because of a storm. Boo! But we’d still recommend trying it out. Why? Because it looks gorgeous, that’s why! You’ll get some of the best views of the Aurora Borealis with the WiFi to Instagram it right on board. It’s an absolute must-see.
Bedtime: If you do choose the Northern Lights Tour, you should get back to the hotel just after midnight, giving you just enough time to get a good night’s sleep.
DAY 4: LAST DAY OF EXCURSIONS
Get up & Get ready: We woke up early yet again for another out-of-package daytime excursion.
Excursion: The Blue Ice tour was truly memorable. We started by hiking across raw, rugged, ever changing hunk of ancient frozen water—a glacier, with breathtaking views of snowy mountaintops and jagged peaks.
Our tour guide, Thor (seriously, Thor), even compared it to Mordor from the Lord of the Rings. Then, he told us to pretend the glacier is Justin Bieber and stomp to get better traction. Oh, Thor. Anyway, the tour isn’t even quite as strenuous as it sounds, and is totally worth the 2½-hour trip to the glacier. On the way back to the city, you’ll even catch a glimpse of the beautiful waterfall Skógafoss.
Wine & Dine: For a light dinner and drinks, you must try the Icelandic Bar and it’s infamous Not Dogs. Don’t let the name fool you, though. They actually are hotdogs—a whole, delicious platter with 4 different varieties. Delish! From there, we highly recommend trying Kaldi Bar for the local micro brews and atmosphere. See our full review here.
DAY 5: WAVE GOODBYE!
Relax (or don’t!): Sleep in or get up a little early and squeeze in some last minute shopping, dining and exploring. We got brunch at Prikid for a taste of the snoop dog burger and fries. There was a bit of a wait, but, like everything else, it was totally worth it.
Fly home: Grab your flight, slap on your eye masks and enjoy the last few hours of your “little” weekend vacation.