Winter in Reykjavik

Published on 24 April 2024 at 10:23

Why Reykjavik? ... 

Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is a city brimming with charm and unique experiences. Surrounded by stunning mountains and the North Atlantic Ocean, the city offers a perfect balance between modern amenities and pristine wilderness. Reykjavik is famous for its geothermal hot springs and spas, offering a unique opportunity to relax and rejuvenate in naturally heated pools.  Reykjavik offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and modern comforts, making it a captivating destination for travellers seeking unforgettable experiences.


The airport and  flight... 

On this trip we decided to fly cheaply which meant traveling from Luton (LUT) to Reykjavik (KEF). Our flight was scheduled to leave around 6.30am which meant staying over the night before at Travelodge Luton and getting to the airport for 4am... wow, this was brutal! The Travelodge near was in a convenient location just 5 minutes walk to the terminal. We knew this was a budget no frills stay to meet out early morning departure requirements and it was entirely adequate for this purpose. BUT...the early start felt like we had jet lag before we even arrived in Iceland.

It was such an early start that the airport lounge we had earmarked wasn't even open yet. When No1 Lounge was open at 4am we found ourself a place to relax and wait. There was a good selection  hot breakfast food dishes, snacks and sweet treats, all served buffet style. with a coffee machine offering all the usual option. The well stocked and tended bar was a little quiet at 4am but there were a couple of young lads ordering vodka and orange for breakfast. I like a drink, but this was a little early for me! Nice to know it was there if you want it.

We were flying with Wizz Air with carry-on luggage only. (Read my blog on packing for carry on only) Our first time with this carrier who we had head very little about prior to flying. The online reviews on TripAdvisor that I had read were poor, so my expectations were low. We were however pleasantly surprised... both the outward and return flights were both on time, online check-in went smoothly, the aircrafts looked fairly new and were clean, the crew were pleasant and efficient. All in all, the price we paid for the flights was very reasonable compared to alternatives. 

Getting around...


We booked the Flybus which is the cheapest option in advance. This is an airport transfer that operates between Keflavík Airport and the BSÍ Bus Terminal in downtown Reykjavík. The journey takes about 45 minutes and departure times are coordinated with the flight times, so these buses usually have a good connection. From the terminal the town is walkable, but we decided to take the mini shuttle to get closer to the hotel with our luggage. Apart from a local bus this transfer option is the lowest cost and very organised.... we booked a return journey, and they ran perfectly to schedule. The cost of a taxi will obviously vary from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik city centre, but I have read reviews where people were charge 250 euro plus?!?! 

The establishment...

The hotel 

The Iceland Parliament Hotel was our home for a few days. As Hilton Honours members we will often choose a Hilton branded hotel if the price and location is good. In Reykjavik decent quality accommodation was reasonable price so we decided to stay at the Iceland Parliament Hotel. There are several Hilton options in the city, and I think I would have been happy with any of them...I just had to pick one. 

Wow! What a beautiful, new, modern hotel. Huge spacious lobby, Friendly staff, Clean and spacious rooms. A great location in the heart of the city Centre. Couldn’t have asked for a better location. On arrival at the hotel check in was quick and easy with extremely helpful staff. Despite arriving early our room was ready and we were able to drop our bags and head out and start exploring.  

As mentioned, the hotel itself has an open lobby area which also accommodates a lounge area and bar with floor to ceiling windows looking out onto Austurvöllur park. There is a spa with a pool on the lower floor and a dining room off the lobby area. As with most places in Iceland the prices in the bar and restaurant were high...but this is Iceland! Breakfast was available in the restaurant, but we decided to venture out and find local eateries...more about that later! 

The room... 

We chose a King room which was modern, light an airy. The rooms are not large, but are well-appointed, with comfortable beds, great blackout curtains, a very nice bathroom with good lighting, nice toiletries and robes and slippers. The in-room iron and ironing board was useful along with the USB ports and a safe for our passports etc... The view out the window was limited but we were only sleeping here. The room was incredibly quiet and peaceful tucked away at the end of a corridor.  

The 'Big Sights'...


We like to walk and explore. This way we see all the big hitters but discover unexpected gems along the way. I would recommend doing a bit of research before you leave and putting together a walking tour. I find making your own ‘walking tour’ on google maps particularly useful. You can then send this to your phone and follow it set by step, so you do not get lost...I always leave room for a detour as we invariably see something we want to explore down a side street.  

On our first day (arriving late morning) we were pretty tired so decided to just wander and pick up anything we’ve missed the next day. As it happened, I had gotten a rough sense of where we were an where we wanted to go so managed to cover many of the landmarks during our adventure.

From our hotel we ventured out into Lake Tjörnin and wandered around the lake where many water birds seemed happy to see us and hoped we had food to give them. At the lake you can also view the town hall which is an interesting building. 

From here we walked down to The Harpa, an exceptionally large concert hall and convention centre located on the harbour. Its modern construction is a contract to many of the traditional buildings in town. The harbour area is home to many sculpures and art there is a relaxing coastal walk where you will encounter furthur examples of Icelandic works of art 


After a brief stop for lunch which I will cover later, we walked up the colourful Laugavegur. It is is the main shopping street in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland. Laugavegur is known for the coloured and painted houses that really give the shopping street its own character. I managed to find Litla Jólabúðin or 'The Little Christmas Shop' ... even though Christmas was so far away, I to talked my husband into shopping here. But, just so you know...its open all year round. 

At the top of the hill sits Hallgrimskirka, the Reykjavik landmark. This Reykjavík Church is the tallest church building in Iceland and was built between 1945 and 1986. If you have time, you can climb the tower in the church for a view over the city. It is a unique church with a variety of construction methods which make the internal and external architecture interesting. The interior of the church is very modest, but the eye-catching organ with 5275 pipes is the star of the show. 


So today we go up early to catch our excursion bus to visit the Golden Circle. This is an iconic route covering three beautiful attractions in southern Iceland. A 300 kilometres loop from Reykjavík into the southern uplands of Iceland and back. We boarded our minibus and started out to pick up the other passenger. Our first stop... volcanic crater Kerið. We walked around the rim of the crater before venturing down into the centre to visit the lake which has formed. A very enjoyable experience giving us a real insight into the sheer size of the volcano. 

Next was Gullfoss waterfall, this was a popular stop. The icy pathways were made harder to navigate by the sheer number of other visitors...and it was not even peak season. The 'Golden Waterfall' has an unusual, cascading shape and is extremely photogenic from every angle...I would love to come back and see how it differs in the summer. 

Next, the mesmerizing embrace of the Geysir geothermal field was probably my favourite. However, this site is included in every tour from Reykjavik so it was busy with many buses, vans and private cars...this meant the cafe and restaurant areas were also busy. The landscape is captivating and Geysir is truly fascinating. There are few places in the world that allow one to witness the power of a Geysir so this stop is definitely worthwhile. Iceland is definitely a Geology textbook in real time. 

Lastly, we visited the Thingvellir National Park, Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site it is a unique place only found in Iceland. Here, we walked Almannagjá Gorge, a dramatic rift that cleaves through the Thinvellir National Park from the top area down to the river. Walking between the huge columns between the American & Eurasian tectonic plates is quite something. 

Eats and Slurps...

Food and Drink 

The national dish of Iceland is Hákarl (Fermented Shark) however, we didn't see it on the menus where we ate. The more authentic restaurant were a little ‘out there’ for us on this occasion. Easier to digest was Skyr, a traditional Icelandic yogurt served with breakfast. My husband also took a liking to Einstök White Ale...although not for breakfast!! 

On the first day we ate at Íslenski barinn This was a relaxed friendly bar-cafe which attracted locals at lunchtime. The menu served up authentic Icelandic home cooking with a modern twist. They seemed to specialise in Icelandic beers, liqueurs, and spirits which was great to see...and try! As with everywhere in Iceland the staff spoke perfect English with an American accent. The chicken and mango tacos and the beef carpaccio were just what we needed. A light, tasty lunch to set up for the rest of the day. 

By far our favourite place to eat and drink was Baka Baka. By day it is a great little coffee shop with gourmet baked goods and by night a restaurant and trendy bar...defiantly the place to be! On our final day we popped in here for some lovely breakfast pastries and I would have to say one of the tastiest coffees I have ever had. Yes, I know ‘tasty’ is an unusual word to describe coffee, but it is the best word to describe it. We tried a variety of pastries, all delicious and high quality. Not cheap, but worth it. On the same day we were returning to our hotel. When passing Baka Baka we were lured in by the amazing atmosphere of this quaint little shed of an evening. We found ourselves sat drinking and talking with the staff as they closed up. The guy in the photo gave us an insiders view of Icelands history and culture! They even gave us (for free) left over pastries from that day for us to have the following morning on our early start back home.

A real gem of a find! 

Follow us on our socials