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  • Weekend Getaway Idea: Reykjavík, Iceland

    We know what you’re thinking…a WEEKEND getaway to Iceland? You’ve got to be kidding. But nope, it has been done — by yours truly — and I can honestly say it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken, having been there a total of 3x {and definitely had me jonesing for more visits to come back and catch the Northern Lights}. In all seriousness though, if you’re looking for the ultimate adventure weekend far from Hoboken that doesn’t take too long to get to {yes, it CAN be done in just 3-4 days}, you’ve come to the right place. It’s no secret that Iceland is the new European hotspot, and there are tons of travel of deals all over the web, so we’re laying it all out for you. Here’s how to escape Hoboken for the weekend [notice we didn’t say escape the cold?!] and plan a getaway in Iceland.

    reykjavik-iceland-weekend-getaway-from-new-jersey

    ^The adorable [and very walkable] city of Reykjavik, Iceland

    Plane Flights

    Iceland Air leaves out of JFK, and there are various ways to get there (trains, subways, car services, shuttle bus, and any combination of methods). As far as travel departure times, your best option for a 4-day Iceland getaway is to leave on a Wednesday night. You will fly overnight and be in the Iceland first thing Thursday morning.

    The flight time is approximately five to five and a half hours, so you can rest up {usually it’s a red-eye and you arrive early in the AM}. If you’re too excited to sleep, Iceland Air has a solid collection of television shows and movies to pass the time. Flights aren’t cheap in the summer {that’s their touristy season because it’s a whopping 50 degrees}, but in the winter you can score some seriously amazing deals {Travelzoo has been known to boast a $700 roundtrip airfare with hotels included for 3 nights}. We went in May and spent roughly $700 per airline ticket.

    Hotel Picks

    Alda Hotel Reykjavik {Editor’s Choice}

    alda-hotel-reyjavik-iceland

    This trendy hotel has a perfect location on Reykjavik’s main shopping street, Laugavegur, within walking distance of restaurants, cafes, boutiques, etc. They offer free breakfast and have a bar {and barber shop!} on the premises — and the bartender can definitely mix a good Aperol Spritz or Moscow Mule. However, what makes this our favorite spot is the unique “room” phone offered to guests. Each room comes with a cell phone with an unlimited data plan as well as local call capability. This is optimal {and almost essential} for exploring the city and navigating your way around. Editor’s note: This is where we stayed thanks to our fantastic travel agent, Carli of The Honeymoon Concierge who coordinated our trip {and no, this isn’t sponsored — but Carli is AMAZING and local in Hoboken}.

    Canopy By Hilton {A Luxurious Taste of America in Iceland}

    A hotel that is getting rave reviews as of late, the Canopy by Hilton is an Icelandic take on the famous lifestyle brand of Hilton Worldwide. You know you can’t go wrong with a Hilton, especially in a foreign country, but something definitely lacks from the “uniqueness” POV. It’s a safe {and luxurious} bet, nonetheless.

    Kvosin Downtown {That B&B Feel}

    This a refurbished historic building with only 24 rooms, but it has more a “homey” vibe than your typical hotel. All rooms have spacious living areas and cooking facilities. They also have a top-notch concierge staff to make sure your stay in Iceland is optimal. The location can’t be beat, as it is in the center of downtown Reykjavik.

    Icelandair – Reykjavik Marina Hotel {Downtown Modern Spot}

    Icelandair hotels pride themselves on having unique character and offering an authentic Icelandic experience, which is definitely what you get down by the marina in Reyjavik. This hotel in particular is quite the stylish lodgings, located in the historic {and bustling!} old harbor, where you can watch the ships come in with their daily catches. On the outside it doesn’t appear too fancy, but it definitely makes up for it with its interior.

    Sightseeing MUSTS

    1. The Blue Lagoon

    the-blue-lagoon-iceland

    Head straight to the Blue Lagoon {noted as one of the most visited attractions in Iceland — and we’re sure soon to be the world} upon arrival in Reykjavik. It’s close to the airport and there are plenty of shuttle services that will take you there and then directly to your hotel when you’re done {Greyline is a popular shuttle and tour service}.

    The blue lagoon is a world famous geothermal pool known to traveler around the world and one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions. No matter the temperature outside, the mineral-rich water is naturally superheated. The spa offers a ton of indulgences, including facial mud, massages, and even a swim up bar. All of your expenses are logged on an electronic waterproof wristband, and this same wristband acts your locker key as well.  Spend as much time as you like, and rejuvenate yourself from the hardships of travel. Once you’ve finished up, grab a shuttle to your hotel. It’s about a 50 minute drive to downtown Reykjavik.

    Don’t worry about your luggage — the Blue Lagoon is a well-run operation that will store your bags and give you access to a locker room and showers post “swim.”

    HG Tip: The Blue Lagoon Spa requires reservations, and they often sell out several days in advance. Plan accordingly and book it pre-trip. Carli of The Honeymoon Concierge actually set up this entire trip for us {she does regular trips in addition to honeymoons!}— and that was one of the first things she reserved. Definitely give her a call if you’re nervous {and like I said before, this is not sponsored…just too amazing of a trip not to share}.

    2. The Golden Circle

    golden-circle-iceland

    This half-day tour will demonstrate why they call it the land of fire and ice. You’ll see gorgeous waterfalls, geysers {fun fact: the term “geysers” originated in Iceland}, and enough breathtaking landscapes to fill up your Instagram feed and make your friends jealous. It also includes Thingvellir National Park, situated about an hour outside of Reykjavik.

    3. Jökulsárlón South Iceland Glacial Lagoon

    Jökulsárlón South Iceland Glacial Lagoon

    This tour treks a bit farther than the Golden Circle, but is nonetheless worth the distance and the money {on a tour bus it’s about a 12- to 14-hour tour which will obviously take up most of your day}. On this tour, you’ll see more waterfalls, black sand beaches, and glaciers at every turn. Pay the extra money to venture to the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon {try spelling that with all its accents 5x fast}. You may never see a more beautiful and peaceful place.

    Jökulsárlón-glacial-lagoon-iceland

    HG Tip: At certain times of the year, you can actually take a boat in the lagoon — which creates even more amazing photo ops.

    4. {Extra/Bonus Day}: Chase the Aurora Borealis {aka The Northern Lights!}

    If you are visiting during the winter months, don’t miss a chance to see the Northern Lights. Since they are a natural and unpredictable occurrence, they are most likely to occur during the peak of winter. Many tours offer a free second night if you don’t see them on your first trip. Because of this, it may be wise to book this tour on your first night — just in case you don’t get to see them the first evening.

    5. Hallgrimskirkja {Church}

    Hallgrimskirkja-reykjavik-iceland-church

    Reykjavik’s most famous church, Hallgrimskirkja, is a Lutheran church located at the top of a hill in the city. It is known as the tallest church in Iceland and the country’s sixth-tallest building overall. But photos from the outside aren’t the only impressive aspect. Take a quick elevator ride to the top {for $5-$10 USD aka a bazillion Icelandic dollars} and you’ll get the ultimate panoramic views of the city — which are pretty breathtaking and very much worth the money.

    view-of-reykjavik-iceland

    ^The view from the top

    Restaurants

    Iceland is known for its meats and seafood — specifically lamb, dairy, and fish. Popular foods in Iceland include skyr {an Icelandic twist on Greek yogurt — so yum!}, hangikjöt {smoked lamb}, kleinur {fried pastry}, laufabrauð {leaf bread}, and bollur {and Icelandic take on cream puffs}. Here are just a few recos, but know that there are a ton of places to eat and drink throughout the city that are great.

    Prikið {Breakfast/Lunch Food}

    Prikið-reykjavik-iceland

    We stumbled upon Prikið, and were excited to find out it had been open for 60 years, making it the oldest coffee house in Iceland. The pub/cafe is located at the start of Iceland main shopping street, Laugavegur, so you can take a quick break from your shopping excursion {or fuel up!}. You can order breakfast or lunch, it comes quickly, and they even have milkshakes! A perfect spot to eat if you’ve just returned from the Blue Lagoon and want to do some shopping and grab a quick bite before changing for dinner.

    The Public House Gastropub {Lunch/Happy Hour/Dinner}

    The PHG is a delicious food spot that boasts a great happy hour as well as a cozy atmosphere. They have an extensive Icelandic beer list, which is fun to order and taste test while you’re noshing on their beef sliders and curly fries.

    The Old Iceland Restaurant

    the-old-iceland-restaurant

    This spot will give you a taste of authentic Scandinavian seafood — which includes but is not limited to whale, cured salmon, cod head, and other delicacies. It’s also got an “old tavern” feel, complete with glass goblets that say “Viking” on them.

    Places to Go Out/Have Cocktails

    reykjavik-iceland

    Micro Bar

    Known for having the city’s best selection of beer, Micro Bar will definitely blow you away with its ambiance — filled with original murals as well as cartoons by local artists. The beer lineup includes local brews as well as foam that will remind you of home.

    Loftid

    For those looking to dress up for your draaaanks, Loftid is a sophisticated choice. The cocktails are pricey and the bartenders are busy serving, but they’re open til 4AM so you really can’t complain.

    Slippbarrin

    Downtown by the marina, this restaurant/bar houses a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights, so you can definitely get your dance on post-dinner.

    What to Pack

    If you are diligent with packing, you can fit everything you need you in a carry-on {just wear your coat on the plane and opt for a backpack instead of a handbag [or an over-the-shoulder small satchel/bag — I brought my mini Marc Jacobs one and it was perfect to throw into my 2nd carry-on}. When people are traveling to Iceland, they ask “What should I bring to wear?” and my best answer is usually, “Pretend you’re packing for a ski trip.” Boots, warm jacket, warm socks, and casual, comfy clothes are ideal. You may even want to bring waterproof pants when going to some of the excursions. In the city, people wear jeans and are overall pretty casual — it’s a laidback vibe {and you’re going to love it!}.

    HG Insider Tips:

    reykjavik-iceland

    • If you’re renting a car, make sure that you get the *exact* location and spelling correct if navigating — the Icelandic language is very unique in that letter can be interchanged by one minor accent or swap out and can indicate an entirely different town or location.
    • If you’re able to, do the Blue Lagoon the first day you arrive {right after you fly into the airport — grab a shuttle and head right there}. It’s your best bet — and don’t forget your reservations!
    • If you are visiting during the winter months, don’t miss a chance to see the Northern Lights. If you can — opt to go the first night you’re here, so that if they don’t show up, you can try your luck on night #2.
    • Don’t come here expecting to try out your new vegan diet. The food is heavy, and it relies heavily on fish + meats. You can manage if you don’t eat meat, but don’t expect to be finding honeygrow-level salads on the reg.
    • Most Icelandic people speak English and are very friendly/open to it, but if you’re trying to immerse yourself a bit, try to learn a few words to get around. A good starter phrase is “Takk fyrir” which means “Thank you very much,” and “Má ég?” meaning “May I?”
    • Another necessary word that is a little more complicated to say is “Vinsamlegast,” or “please.”
    • The shopping street you need to know is Laugavegur — tons of fun stores to window shop and peek into.
    • Icelandic dollars make you feel like a baller. $1 USD = roughly 113.50 Icelandic Krona. But it won’t get you far. It’s an expensive city. Doable, but expensive.
    • If you go to Iceland in the summer, you’ll see daylight for almost 24 hours, as the midnight sun never sets.
    • It’s really the trip of a lifetime, and you need to 100000% put it on your bucket list — you won’t regret it, even for a moment.

    So there you have it. Just a *few* tips for your quick weekend getaway in Iceland. What are you waiting for? GET PLANNING!

    See More: How to Plan a 3-Day Getaway in Charleston, South Carolina

     


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