reykjavik, iceland, europe, travel

Iceland: A Winter Weekend Trip to the Land of Ice and Fire


In early February this year, me and my boyfriend Josh had a winter weekend trip to Reykjavik, Iceland. He bought the tickets for my birthday (boyfriend points for him) after watching me coo over pictures of Icelandic landscapes online for months.

We flew to Iceland from London Gatwick on the 4th February after spending a few days preparing for the perilous cold temperatures we knew to expect. I bought a fresh new pair of hiking boots, thermal socks, a thermal fleece and even waterproof trousers- I absolutely hate the cold and was determined to be ready to brace the weather at all costs (spoiler- I wasn’t). At the airport, after successfully checking in and getting through security, which was pleasantly surprising considering that both of us are big kids, we decided to go for a drink to celebrate. We relaxed and had a couple of pints, smugly talking between ourselves about how dumb our parents are for always going to the gate early. What’s the point waiting in a queue at the gate when we could spend that time in the pub and get there just on time instead? Flight’s at 4pm, let’s get there for just before 4pm- ha, defeating the system again. We got one last half-pint, thinking it might be risky to go for another full one. Eventually leaving the pub and dawdling to the toilet, Josh nonchalantly points out that ‘oh, look we’ve got ages, the gate is still closed.’ ‘…it says it’s closed?’ ‘Yeah!’ ‘You know what that means?!’ ‘Huh?’ ‘WE GOTTA RUN!’

(Yeah, gate closed means it’s opened, let everyone onto the plane, and then shut again. For good. Everyone knows this except Josh.)

So we sprinted to Gate 32, which of course was one of the furthest gates from the lounge. Josh took the bags and ran ahead whilst I puffed and wheezed on my little legs behind him. Thoughts of us both, head in hands, weeping after missing our flight flashed through my mind. (I also imagined the murderous wrath of my parents after they found out we’d wasted all that money). ‘HEY! GATE 32!’ I heard Josh yell in front of me. The flight attendants had literally just left the desk and were making their way to the airplane. Thank the lord, they stopped and let us on the plane but not without displaying their contempt. ‘Next time you won’t be let on the plane, you know.’ We spent the whole duration of the flight laughing hysterically at how close a call it was.

It was nighttime when we finally arrived in Reykjavik. We got a taxi from the bus station to our apartment and driving through the city, it all seemed so magical. It was snowing, everything was white, fairy lights illuminated the houses- it felt like we’d been thrust into a picture perfect Christmas Day two months too late.

We rented a room in someone’s apartment on Airbnb. It was on the outskirts of the city, about a 20 minutes walk to the centre of town. Although there are so many awesome places to stay in Reykjavik, I wouldn’t have traded our location for world. In the morning, we woke up to the spectacular view outside our window. Sharp, white and grey mountains in the distance behind a stretch of navy blue sea. The coldness of the water was almost visible to the eye, hostile in its depth and darkness. Opening that window and breathing in the cold Icelandic air, listening to the regular hush of the waves and watching the mountains, still and transfixing- nothing could be more peaceful. It seems like a different universe to London altogether…

Read more: To learn more about Iceland, check out Time Travel Bee’s 20 Weird Facts About Iceland. 

reykjavik, iceland, europe, travel

View from the apartment window.

On our first day, we decided to explore the city for a bit. Equipped with maps, cameras and about ten layers of clothing, we set out on our trek to town centre. Having gotten irritated with my hat the day before, I left it in the apartment and this proved the biggest mistake of the day. Despite my insulating layers, I was chilled to the bone and the wind whipping my hair about my face made navigation incredibly difficult. We walked past the Saga museum and even though we’d only been walking for a few minutes, decided to stop at the café for a few minutes to break from the treacherous winds. What had we gotten ourselves in for?

reykjavik, iceland, europe, travel

reykjavik, iceland, europe, travelEmbarking again on our walk to Iceland’s capital, we had plenty to distract us (partially) from the cold. The street art in Reykjavik is spectacular and the Nordic architecture is adorable. After taking pictures of absolutely everything, we came across the Reykjavik City Museum and paid to take a look at The Settlement exhibition. The exhibition was awesome, with artefacts from the Viking Age and in the centre of the large room, the remnants of a hall from the period, including the foundations of the turf walls from the oldest human-made structures found in Iceland. The settlement can be precisely dated from before 871±2 due to the tephra found within glacial ice in Greenland from a volcanic eruption in the area.

reykjavik, iceland, europe, travelreykjavik, iceland, europe, travelAfter a few hours in the museum, we wondered around for a long time looking for a place to eat. This is when we realised just how expensive Iceland was. We’d asked for recommendations for places to eat in Reykjavik from a local at the museum, but the place they suggested was completely full. We found a vegetarian cafe, but the options were limited. Finally, getting fed up we settled for a random place on the high street. The menu was full of strange options and not very clearly marked in terms of ingredients/whether it was vegetarian. I ordered the ‘fake pizza,’ being intrigued as to what would turn up. It ended up being about 5 nachos, covered in some beetroot and goats cheese. Despite being extremely tasty, it really didn’t do much to satisfy my ravenous hunger and was extremely overpriced. Josh’s meal was equally as pathetic and we came away feeling especially ripped off. After some research, we’d probably ended up in one of Reykjavik’s ‘appetiser’ restaurants where they only serve a collection of small starters rather than hearty meals. In the evening we found it hard to be served past 8pm, which for us is normal dinner time so food generally turned out to be a bit of a problem on the trip.reykjavik, iceland, europe, travel

After lunch, we took a walk to the Hallgrímskirkja Church, which looked incredibly beautiful with the sunset behind it. Unfortunately we’d left it too late to climb the tower because it was shut but it was lovely all the same. We walked down to the viewpoint on the Reykjavik coast line, which had similar stunning mountain views to our apartment. In the evening, we found Húrra, an awesome jazz bar. Again, drinks were quite expensive, but the atmosphere was amazing and at the end of the night the band came into the bar, played percussion and everyone danced in a circle. It was amazing, definitely check out this bar if you’re there on a Monday!

More on Iceland, the perfect winter destination in my next post, check it out to hear about our adventures at Blue Lagoon and the town of Hveragerdi, the small Icelandic town where we almost got lost in the snow…

Read more: To find out about more activities in Iceland, read about the Empty Nester’s Hit the Road‘s recent trip to Iceland.

If you liked this post, give it a share or a re-pin to make my day!

Much love <3

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  • Reply
    May 26, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    Dying to visit iceland! Nice post 🙂 x

  • Reply
    May 26, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Wow, Iceland! I hadn’t much interest in visiting, but have heard from my friends who’ve gone that it’s beautiful! Love your photos; perhaps I’ll go one day. 🙂

  • Reply
    May 26, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    Iceland is my number one travel crush right now! I’m obsessed with it! So jealous!
    Had a good laugh with your airport adventures as well… I missed a flight in Greece and always make sure I’m at the gate 30mn before departure now! haha I don’t think your tickets would have been wasted though. We went to the desk and they let us on the next flight for a “reasonable” fee. But yeah, as much as I hate it, parents are right most of the time… 😉

    • Reply
      July 19, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      Ah awesome I didn’t know that airlines could be so reasonable about missed flights! Assumed they would have costed us a bomb to get another!

  • Reply
    May 26, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    This is awesome! What a great post!

  • Reply
    White House Red Door
    May 27, 2016 at 12:20 am

    Iceland is on my list now! Beautiful photos… the view from your apartment is breathtaking!

  • Reply
    May 27, 2016 at 12:32 am

    I’m so excited for the next few posts! Iceland is a definite dream, and the link to this post is DEFINITELY going into my boyfriends inbox!!!! I’m also a travel blogger and will be living in France this summer traveling around. PS London is my dream city! I’m so jealous you are from there!

    • Reply
      July 19, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Ahaha yes one of his best moments for sure getting these tickets, was a happy bunny! Awesome, you must be in France now (I’m super late at replying) where you travelling? I’ve just been back from Le Mans about an hour from Paris it’s lovely!

      • Reply
        July 19, 2016 at 2:12 pm

        That’s awesome!! I was actually just in Reims last week! But I’ve been to Bordeaux, Paris, all over Champagne county, Monbazillac&Bergerac, and now I am near Royan!!!!! It’s been amazing!

  • Reply
    May 27, 2016 at 1:35 am

    Phew! Glad you made your flight. Would love to visit Iceland one day, looks beautiful.

  • Reply
    May 27, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Beautiful pictures! 🙂

  • Reply
    Emma Mann
    May 27, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Major boyfriend points! Great post 🙂

  • Reply
    Solo Travel Diaries
    May 27, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Gave me more hopes to visit iceland ❤️

  • Reply
    May 28, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Looking forward to reading about the Blue Lagoon! 🙂

  • Reply
    Dalo 2013
    May 29, 2016 at 3:16 am

    Stunning shots ~ what an incredible place…

  • Reply
    Keith Haney
    May 29, 2016 at 3:41 am

    This makes me want to visit. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    June 4, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    How beautiful!! Iceland is one of my number one travel dreams, your boyfriend sure knows how to pick a present!

  • Reply
    Marhay na Buhay
    June 15, 2016 at 2:24 am

    Iceland is in our bucketlist too! Cant wait for your next post!

  • Reply
    folan experience
    July 10, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    I’m looking forward to travel to Iceland …

  • Reply
    Kat @Long Distance Relationship Help
    July 19, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Wow! I absolutely LOVE the photo with the camper in front of the graffiti walls.

  • Reply
    July 19, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Oh, Iceland! Almost every traveler I meet would always recommend this beautiful and interesting country. Something to be added on my bucket list!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    The view from your window… I could print it right now!
    I’m surprised you manage to take some pictures outside with this cold.I’d like to go one day but maybe more during the summer. Unfortunately the flights are very expensive from Brussels 🙁 I think it’s cheaper from London.
    Looking forward to your next post 🙂

    • Reply
      July 19, 2016 at 10:51 pm

      Ah thank you so much! Definitely make sure you see Iceland one day it’s exquisite 🙂

  • Reply
    July 20, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    The view from the window! <3 I could just stare at it for an hour. From the tropical part of the world, I would brace myself for the cold weather and I'm ready to endure it to experience Iceland.

  • Reply
    Kat @Long Distance Relationship Help
    July 20, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    Iceland is a dream. There is an ultra I wanna do there

  • Reply
    July 21, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Haha wow what an adventure! Can’t wait to read more! I am dying to go to iceland! I’ve planned my entire intinerary but just need to save some more cash! Xx

  • Reply
    Milana's Travels
    July 21, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    Iceland is on my list, love the pictures!

  • Reply
    July 21, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Iceland is on my European bucket list. I love your pictures of the street art! You don’t see much of that on other travel blogs. Thanks for sharing!!

    Alaina |

  • Reply
    July 22, 2016 at 4:36 am

    What a near miss getting to Reykjavik! Glad it all worked out in the end. Your pictures are amazing. Iceland has been on my list for a long time and your post makes me want to go even more. A bit disappointed to hear about the food. I hope it gets better on your trip. Looking forward to following your adventure.

  • Reply
    Global Locavore
    July 22, 2016 at 5:37 am

    It’s too bad that the food in Iceland is so expensive for what you get. I’ve heard that a few times recently. But it sounds like the sights more than make up for it!

  • Reply
    Janna on a Jaunt (@jannaonajaunt)
    July 22, 2016 at 11:10 am

    ahh im dying to visit iceland! lovely photos u have!

  • Reply
    July 22, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    That looks (and sounds) amazing. I’d love to visit. Guess I’ll need to invest in plenty of thermal layers first though! I look forward to reading more about the country.

    • Reply
      July 22, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      Oh yeah especially in the winter months! I’m sure this time of year it wouldn’t be quite so bad 🙂

  • Reply
    July 22, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Ooh!! I’m planning on visiting Iceland this fall/winter. Are the waterfalls incredible??? 😀 Looking forward to more Iceland posts!

    • Reply
      July 22, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      ooh we went in winter too and sadly our host (a tour guide and hiker of about 30 years) didn’t recommend many spots to hike at that time of the year unless you’re an expert! We did get to see some waterfalls though and they were awesome 🙂

  • Reply
    July 22, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Wow, that’s great that they let you on the plane! I was in Iceland during the summer so I didn’t get to see it with all the snow. Looks wonderful in winter as well.

  • Reply
    Christine M Leger
    July 22, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    Book marking this for sure. We have decided to go next May and now that is all I can think about, even though we have several trips between now and then lol. Even the toddler can’t keep it to himself. Your experience will come in so handy. thank you

  • Reply
    July 23, 2016 at 2:00 am

    I’ve done the airport dash before and oof, it is not fun. SO glad you got on the plane too! Man, it seems like everyone is heading to Iceland these days, it’s making me mad jealous! I’ve been to the airport in Iceland 6 times but never left the airport… one of these days. Really enjoyed this!

  • Reply
    July 31, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    So glad to to hear that you made your flight ok! Iceland looks a beautiful country x

  • Reply
    Unsigned, Emmie (@UnsignedMeBlog)
    August 1, 2016 at 12:48 am

    I love this post! I generally don’t enjoy reading travel posts but I genuinely enjoyed this. I can’t stand the cold so can totally sympathise with your efforts not making much difference! Iceland looks lovely though so I hope it was worth the cold and expensive meals.

    Emmie xo

  • Reply
    .Sarah. (@OoSerzoO)
    August 1, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland! Such a beautiful, unique country. I’m so glad you caught the plane on time, I would have panicked! At least you can laugh about it now 🙂 Hallgrímskirkja Church sounds and looks like a lovely place to visit! xx

    • Reply
      August 2, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      Yes it was spectacular! We didn’t have much time to panic it was just RUN ahaha

  • Reply
    Very Hungry Faterpillar
    August 1, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    Your photos are stunning! I’d love to visit Iceland – we like cold places – stayed in the Ice Hotel in Sweden for our honeymoon! We’ve also had to rush through the airport to get to the gate…with 2 small kids in tow…! The feeling of potentially missing a flight is horrible! I’m pleased you made it.

    • Reply
      August 2, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      Oh god I can imagine the stress with two kids as well! Wow, really want to give Sweden a visit 🙂

  • Reply
    Ana De Jesus
    August 1, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    Your boyfriend is literally the coolest but like you I am not keen on the cold either. Still the Nordic landscape is charming!

    • Reply
      August 2, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Hahah he has his moments… yeah recommend Iceland in the summer if you’re not over on sub-zero temperatures

  • Reply
    Sarahjane Wood
    August 2, 2016 at 9:55 am

    What a dramatic start to your holiday! Glad you were allowed onto the plane though! Your pictures look amazing I had never thought of going to Iceland but now I am rethinking that!

    • Reply
      August 2, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Thank you so much! Definitely recommend a visit- the hiking possibilities are endless in summer too, I’m dying to go back and explore some more

  • Reply
    Rachel Shawcross
    August 2, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Iceland is my number one destination that I definitely want to visit x

  • Reply
    August 2, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Wow Iceland looks absolutely INCREDIBLE!! I really wanna go here now xxx

  • Reply
    Rosana McPhee
    August 6, 2016 at 1:56 am

    Iceland is on my wish list! great post R

  • Reply
    Tonya Denmark (@DOTraveler)
    September 26, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    I hear so many wonderful, cultural things about Iceland. Your museum visit and pictures just add to that!

  • Reply
    Fuelled by Latte
    September 27, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    I totally agree one of the most beautiful places in the world

  • Reply
    Vyjay Rao
    September 28, 2016 at 6:47 am

    Iceland is a white wonderland. It is a dream for us to get there someday and feast our eyes on the this wonderland. In the meantime your post has served the purpose of increasing our determination to get there faster than sooner.

  • Reply
    10 Reasons to Travel to Sweden in Winter -
    October 19, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    […] Another cheap winter destination? Reykjavik, Iceland often has cheap flights on WOW Air, and there are so many excellent wintery things to do in Iceland! […]

  • Reply
    October 26, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    I’m so glad that I stopped by to read the post, and I love the you liked Iceland.
    I have been living here for the last two “summer” seasons, when I come to work and save money for my upcoming trips.. and I truly thing that one day I will settle here!
    Welcome to the land of fire and ice!

  • Reply
    October 26, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    Oh what a lovely post, Natasha! I really enjoyed the pictures. Iceland looks so incredibly beautiful, I’m really jealous now 😀
    But yeah, classic beginner’s mistake leaving the hat at home, haha. You can wear all the insulating layers you want, but you lose most of your body heat through your head 😛 We have an article on how to sightsee in the cold, but I guess that’s coming too late now. Will be looking forward to reading more about your Iceland adventures 🙂


  • Reply
    November 3, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    My goodness- even 10 layers of clothing couldn’t warm you up?! Just how cold was it? I’ve been wanting to go to Iceland for a while now but I definitely won’t be going in February if I get the chance haha

    • Reply
      November 3, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      I am quite the pussy when it comes to cold but my boyfriend is from up North and even he found it unbearable!

  • Reply
    Juliette | Snorkels To Snow
    November 6, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    The view from your apartment is breathtaking! Wow. Airbnb sounds like a great option for Iceland accommodation. I can’t wait to visit Iceland one day – hopefully in 2017, if we can make it happen!

  • Reply
    Sydney Fashion Hunter
    November 7, 2016 at 12:51 am

    Iceland looks stunning and the view from your window is breathtaking! I have missed flights before and trust me it’s not fun (or cheap!) trying to sort it out. I’m not sure I would be heading there in winter as I also hate the cold.

  • Reply
    7 Awesome Winter Holiday Destinations in Europe
    November 7, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    […] READ: Iceland: A Winter Weekend Trip to the Land of Ice and Fire […]

  • Reply
    CreativeTravelGuide (@CTGTravelGuide)
    November 8, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    That is such a great birthday present (note to self: must hint at the other half). Close call with your flight! I use to work at Gatwick Airport and this happened all the time! The boarding time and gate closing time is so close that so many people would stroll up as we were closing 🙂 Looks like you had a great time in Iceland!

  • Reply
    The Full-Time Tourist
    November 9, 2016 at 12:32 am

    My boyfriend and I have actually been considering Iceland for our 2-year anniversary (but we would actually go in February, as he’s just coming back from Australia just before our anniversary and I’m going home for Christmas a couple of weeks after)! Would you say that Iceland in February is a good idea? Also I have definitely had a similar experience running to the gate only to JUST be let on the plane. Although we had missed our first flight and had to get through U.S. customs in 20 minutes to make our flight from Calgary, Canada to Newark, New Jersey! (This was before there was any coffee that morning too!) So glad that your flight attendants were as nice as ours were!

    • Reply
      November 9, 2016 at 1:02 am

      It probably depends on what you want to do during the trip and also your funds! It was absolutely freezing and still completely covered in ice, so hiking without a guide was a no-no and many trails won’t be open at all that time. We’re quite big hikers so that was disappointing but seeing the golden circle is still possible during February! Our airbnb host (a local and tour guide for a million years apparently) recommended going with a guide round the golden circle too but really that was out of our budget, so we found February too limiting for us! If you have the money for tours and guides though, I’m sure it’d be amazing as it was super lovely seeing all the mountains snowy.

      • Reply
        The Full-Time Tourist
        November 9, 2016 at 1:04 am

        How much would you say you spent during your trip? My boyfriend and I try to buy groceries and make food, and try to keep eating out to a minimum because of our food allergies/restrictions (we’re a fun bunch, I swear!). And good to know about the hiking, as well!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Seems like all the travel bloggers are raving about Iceland at the moment ha! How funny you almost missed your flight and what a nice view you had from your Airbnb accommodation! Loving your photos too! It’s a shame the food was a bit of a problem. I’ll make sure to look up some places to eat before I happen to visit this magical country. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Oh your plane story was so funny! I always laugh at those that line up too, though I always just sit around near the gate so I can see when the line has disappeared. I am so glad that you made your flight!
    Reykjavik is a stunning city and that view from your apartment room was beautiful!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    Honestly, I would like to visit Iceland one day but definitely not in the winter! I want to escape the cold not go towards it….lol! Looking for decent food is always complicated when traveling. We do often end up paying more cause we don’t know where to go. :\

  • Reply
    Courtney Jones
    November 9, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    I SO want to go to Iceland! Reykjavik looks so great 🙂

  • Reply
    November 9, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    The pictures of Iceland you have shared are truly breathtaking. I cant have enough of the view. I want to go there already. Just amazing!

  • Reply
    November 11, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Going to Iceland will be a dream comes true for me. I have been dying to go there for ages. The place just looks so magical to me. 🙂

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