I took a WOW Airlines flight from San Francisco to Copenhagen that had a 20 hour layover in Iceland. I only had time to visit the Blue Lagoon and walk around other parts of Reykjavik for a bit. Even though my time here was short, this was a great place to start off my trip to Europe. The Blue Lagoon was very relaxing and a much needed break after the long journey and a busy few weeks of work, moving out and prepping for my trip.
I took a bus transfer from Keflavik airport to the Blue Lagoon which took about 30 minutes. Here’s a quick video I made of my trip to the Blue Lagoon (It’s the first video I’ve ever edited and it was a fun experience. I have to say I have a lot more respect for people who make amazing travel videos now. It takes a lot of patience!)
During July there’s almost 21 hours of sunlight in Iceland. It really throws you off when it is 10 PM and it is still bright outside.
Sights I saw:
I made my booking to Blue Lagoon only a couple of weeks before my trip. I went here directly from the airport and spent about 3 hours here. The Blue Lagoon is a geo-thermal spa that is rich in minerals like Silica which apparently has many healing properties. They even provide you a generous dollop of silica paste that you can apply as a face mask while you are in the water.
I took a the bus from Blue Lagoon to Harpa Concert Hall and walked around inside for a bit. The architecture and design inside the building was quite impressive.
The other landmark that I saw was the Hallgrimskirkja church. There’s an option to pay about $10 to go up to the top. It was nice to see the city from that vantage point but I didn’t think it was worth the price.
Food & Drinks
I didn’t really research where to eat so I just grabbed food at the first place I saw. The fisherman’s favorite was delicious but I didn’t love the Kleinur – it tasted like a donut without any of the sweetness that you would expect.
Language & Culture:
It was very easy to communicate as everyone spoke English. I did not get to interact with too many locals but all my interactions were pleasant. A couple of locals even went out of their way to help a girl I met on my flight retrieve her cell phone. She had left it behind at a charging station at the Information Center but because it was so bright outside, we did not for a moment think that it was night. A server at our restaurant made multiple phone calls until he was able to get a hold of someone who could open up the Information Center and help her get her phone. The guy who actually opened up the place had already gone home for the day and had to drive some distance to come back yet he did not complain once about the inconvenience! I think small acts like these really form a lasting impression of a country and it’s people – sometimes even more than the sights you see.
Phrases & Words I learnt:
Takk: Thank you
I actually never had to withdraw any cash during my layover. My credit card & Samsung Pay was accepted everywhere.
There was American music playing everywhere. I discovered an REM song on my bus to Blue Lagoon.
Tips for Travelers:
- Free Wi-Fi everywhere
This map only contains the places I went to in Reykjavik. Obviously, there is a lot more to do there.
Iceland is pretty expensive. WOW Airlines always has great offers for traveling to Europe but if you don’t do your research you could end up spending just as much as you would on another airline on your 20 hour layover. Expect to pay at least 15-20 dollars per meal. Transportation is very expensive as well. Renting a car is probably the most economical option.
I didn’t really get to experience the culture or learn about Iceland’s history due to the short layover. I’m hoping to go back some day to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. A couple of my friends have visited Iceland and they went to the waterfalls and geysers nearby which I hope to do on my next trip to Iceland!