Why I Love Reykjavik 

  

Words can not begin to explain how greater time I had while I was in Icelands capital city! 

I have always wanted to travel to Iceland but found every time I looked it was more expensive that I expected! However for this trip I did my research and found great deals online on websites such as Expedia & Icelandair whom offer cheaper deals from London.

Our trip through Expedia was 4 nights in the new skuggi hotel with return flights from London Luton, came to less than £300 a person… Bargain! Although unlike Icelandair who offer excursions as part of the package we had to book these separately. I booked my transfers, blue lagoon, northern lights and golden circle trips directly through their website, personally I do think they monopolise the tours in the area leaving very little scope for smaller firms however when putting a search together this will be the operator you will come across constantly, if you prefer something a little more personal (rather than 80 seater coaches) there are a few companies I would highly recommend as alternatives…

  • Icelandaurora.com – if you are looking to get print worthy shoots from your trip I would highly recommend this company, the guides are also photographers and can help you take the perfect shot. Travelling on a smaller group ensures more time at each sight and the ability to have a little say in the evenings plans.

(Possibly the most expensive of the tours on offer, however if like my travel partner your aim is the perfect shot it is definitely worth paying the extra)

  • Car hire – there is no real benefit to having the guides on the tours, having your own car gives you the opportunity to visit the surrounding ‘golden circle’ route at your own pace, with free parking at most of the sights and at the blue lagoon if you are comfortable driving in a new country I don’t think you could regret doing it alone… Our hotel staff were more than happy to suggest driving and parking spots where we might catch the best views of the lights within 15 ,ins of the city centre, which would still be visible on the same nights the tours go ahead!
  •  Floating tours.com – this one I might suggest for those looking for something extra special, maybe celebrating a birthday or spoiling yourself to something romantic this company take you to a secret lagoon in small groups for you to chill under the stars, have a massage and enjoy the more rustic surroundings than that of the more popular blue lagoon, and being a evening tur during those dark winter months your even have the chance of spotting those elusive northern lights

I don’t think there’s a single person I can think of whom I wouldn’t recommend this to, any one with young children (maybe avoiding the winter) to a hen do I think would enjoy the trip alike…I don’t think I’ve ever fell in love so quickly with a city other than my second home in Sydney! Everything feels very quaint and precious, the small town surroundings make it very easy to be come comfortable and settled quickly… And less likely to be come lost 😉

The options of things to do is endless, from picturesque city strolling to day trips into the majestic unknown, Spas and hot springs and endless eateries where else could you end the day watching the auroras borealis? 

Everyone I’ve know to visit Iceland has always said how much they have loved the country, and after my great experience I think I’m overdue a 2 week stint with a road map and a hire car and see this beautiful country for more than just Reykjavik.

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Skuggi Hotel, Reykjavik. A Hotel Review

I’m not sure I even know where to start talking about at this fantastic hotel!

The location of the hotel is approximately 45 minutes away from the airport, a street behind the busy commercial Street with the Fjords behind you and a 24 convenience store next door!

The hotel is only a few months old, so everything looks very fresh and there has been a lot of attention paid to the details of this modern boutique hotel.

We had a twin/double room on the third floor, which is slightly on the small side but still has floor space around the bed, a desk & chair, clothes rail & shelves.

Personally though for me the best parts of the room are the lush bathroom with rainfall shower (with constant hot water) and the rooms balcony, which one night we sat out and watched the northern lights dance over the city.

The breakfast at the hotel is plentiful with scrambled eggs, bacon & porridge for hot choices. Then you have your cold cuts & cheese, cereal, Skyr, and pastries. They even have mcvities caramel digestives! 😉

The hotel staff were fantastic and always happy to help, and are a true representive of the Icelandic people as a whole.

They offer free car parking in an underground site & offer free WiFi throughout the hotel. They also have one of the highest rated bar areas in the city with an array of beverage choices.

Personally I don’t think you could find a better choice of hotel to stay!

Catching The Northen Lights

After my recent visit to Reykjavik I’ve constantly been asked how I was lucky enough to see the northern lights not once but twice, but unfortunately that’s all it is… Luck! We met a lovely couple whom have visited Iceland six times for their chance to see the lights and haven’t still. They are elusive and a natural wonder so are never guaranteed, However I will share all the hints I know that could help you on your way!

The aurora borealis or more commonly known as the northern lights are an incredible light show seen around the magnetic poles of the North and southern hemispheres. They are created as a result of collisions of electrically charged particals heated by the sun with gasses in the earth’s atmosphere. The colours which are created are a result of these particals colliding with different gasses, green when with oxygen (when located about 60 miles above earth) Purple when with nitrogen & red when with oxygen at higher altitudes of 200 miles above earth.

* The best months of the year for viewing in Iceland are between September and April, although locals say November has the highest chances as there are longer nights, and the weather is dry.

* Avoid travelling during a full moon, the amount of light created is enough to outshine the lights. Check the dates before you book online at http://www.timeanddate.com/moon/phases/iceland/reykjavik

* Use a reputable company, I did lots of research into my trip & can highly recommend Reykjavik Excursions afterrrading customer reviews and speaking to to the hotel staff it seemed they are the most knowledge company, and withprices from approx. £35 per person it is a great budget option, although do expect to be part of a large group of about 80+ people.

* Invest in a decent camera if you are expecting pictures. I ended up taking a photography course before my trip to not miss the perfect shot. Infinity lenses will be required along with a tripod for the best chances. There is a great tour operator called Arctic Shots who I would personally recommend for those wanting a little more help, these small group trips are inclusive of a photographer guide who is there there to helping withal camera related questions & help you get those print worthy snaps. With prices from $129 per person I think this is a decent price for what you get!

* Download the apps and check onto the websites for the predictions for the clearest nights to have a higher chance to catching the show. My personal favourites are http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/cloudcover or for those within iPhone/android can purchase the Aurora forecast app which shows you real time solar activity for you to follow and allows for notification alerts when it reaches higher levels.

* The longer you can stay the better. I stayed for 5 nights on my trip and I’ve been told the recommended length is 7 nights. Personally I wish I had stayed longer, even after seeing the northern lights on our second day we had already fallen in love with the country, and kept discovering all these wonderful places we’d like to visit and attractions we’d like to see.

* Hire a car and get out of the city. The best advise I’ve heard. Having your own vehicle gives you chance to get away from the city life of Reykjavik and a chance to explore! Being able to hop into the car for a 5 minute drive to get you away from the city liggts can make a massive difference in your viewing experience! We headed over to the Fjord Hvalfjörđur (Whale-fjord) about a 30 minute drive from the city.

* Viewing is optimal between 10-2 am so get yourself wrapped up in the thermals and get way from the city lights.

* You may be lucky enough like myself to actually spot the lights over the city of Reykjavik itself! My opinion is to make sure you have a hotel with a balcony to get the best viewing spot in the city… So long as you have tea/coffee making facilities 😉