One Day in Iceland
Why only one day in Iceland? Well it was technically a planned long layover. Originally our flights to Switzerland had a 4 hour layover in Iceland. Four hours isn't quite enough to leave the airport and soak in the world famous Blue Lagoon. After talking to a couple people who already been, I looked into one way flights to Iceland and then a flight from Iceland to Switzerland. You can read more about my planning process in my previous post; Planning for Europe 2017. The separate tickets ended up about the same price as buying the ticket to Switzerland with a 4 hour layover in Iceland.
The planned long layover worked out perfect with coordinating the flights for my friends and I. We arrived in Iceland from 3 different time zones in the United States. I Flew from Oregon, Kim flew from Colorado, and my cousin, Elena, flew from Pennsylvania. We were fortunate to find flights arriving 15 minutes apart!
We only had 18 hours to spend in Iceland, so I pre-booked a car rental with Orange Car Rental a couple months before our trip. Orange was a little cheaper than renting from one of the airport car rental agencies, and also had an automatic option. The rental car agency's shuttle driver met us at the airport and drove us to the agency, which was about a 10 minute drive from the airport, not too bad in my opinion. Both the driver and the man who met us at Orange Car Rental were really nice and friendly. They gave us a map with suggestions of where to eat and pointed us to popular scenic routes and views.
We had a couple hours before our scheduled time at the Blue Lagoon, and we were hungry! All of our flights arrived by 6:30 and none of us had checked bags, this made the arrival process quick. The Keflavik airport isn't big, so getting around is pretty easy. It took me about 15-20 to get from the gate, through passport check, and to the exit. With that said, we had a couple hours before our scheduled time at the Blue Lagoon, and we were hungry! The guy at the car rental agency suggested we have breakfast at Viking World. We really had no idea what to expect from Viking World, to our surprise it wasn't a restaurant! It was more of a viking museum, with a breakfast buffet spread. It cost us around $15-$20 each with entrance and food. I don't remember the exact amount with the conversion fees.
Above the cafeteria is a giant viking ship that you can climb inside and explore, or just take a picture, as seen above :)
Next on the agenda was the Blue Lagoon! The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa, one of Iceland's most popular attractions. I will be posting an entire blog just about it, so stay tuned.
We spent about 4 hours inside the Blue Lagoon with showers and getting dressed. Once we were ready to move on, we got into our little rental and went for a scenic drive suggested by the car rental guy, (really wish I was better at remembering people's names!).
One of our stops was Kleifarvatn Lake, which is the largest lake in Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland.
We made a few stops to admire scenery and take pictures as we made our way to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. There is a quicker route from the Keflavik airport to Reykjavik, about 20-30 minutes. And Blue Lagoon is about a 15 minute drive from the airport. We took the longer scenic route suggested by the car rental guy.
By the time we got to Reykjavik we were famished. We wanted traditional Icelandic food with a view of the Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral. So we wasted no time and walked into the first place we saw, which was Cafe Loki.
My meal was something similar to a mashed potato casserole, pictured above, with a salad and buttered rye bread. The casserole (the real name was something Icelandic that I couldn't read or pronounce) had a nice fish surprise mixed into it with cheese on top. The fish mixed in the mashed potato was some sort of white fish, I'm not sure what exactly, but it tasted really good! We quickly learned that there is no meal in Iceland that does not have fish in it.
Reykjavik is a really cute and fun town to walk around and explore. There are lots of boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants.
It did start raining on us so we had to run for cover. We took a break in a hotel lobby and contemplated taking naps on the couches, but quickly came to our senses and took naps in the car. Jet lag is a real struggle! After our nap we stopped at a gas station to fuel up and get some Icelandic snacks for the airport. The rental car guy drove us back to the airport on the same car that we rented. We got to the airport close to 11pm and it still wasn't fully dark out.
Generally speaking visiting Iceland is a very unique experience. The landscape looked like the inside of an erupted volcano, if that makes sense to you. We didn't see any trees during our drive, just lots of moss and rocks. I do think to get the most of your Icelandic experience, its best to spend a week or two exploring the entire island. I also think it would be really cool during the winter and see the Northern Lights.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my Icelandic experience! Stay tuned for part 2, which will be all about the Blue Lagoon.