Student Reflections

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Weekend in Iceland

Rachel Mann
May 5, 2023

If you know me personally, you’d know that I absolutely love to travel and would go everywhere and anywhere. There’s no place not on my bucket list. Additionally, there’s no way I could rank the places I’ve travelled to this semester. However, if I had to pick a standout, I’d have to crown my weekend in Iceland as my favorite. 

It’s hard to compare different cities in Europe, as they each are so special in their own ways. But in my experience, Iceland was so different than where I’d visited within the EU — and where I’d visited within my lifetime. Before coming into the semester, I didn’t expect it to include such a trip, so the unanticipated nature of it all made it even more majestic. 

The first thing I noticed when I landed in Iceland was the air quality. When I stepped outside of the airport, I instantly felt revitalized. I was visiting the country in March, so the temperature hovered in the 30s. The crisp air was pleasant and felt as though I was feeding my lungs with pure oxygen. 

Next, while I took the bus from the airport to Reykjavik, I was awe-struck by the unique landscape. The blue water was juxtaposed by the lava terrain, and there were a myriad of sheep (that apparently during the summer, they let freely roam the country!). It seemed so idyllic compared to the always-moving city of London. On top of the volcanos, lagoons, and Northern lights, Iceland really is a unique place –– you can’t compare it to anywhere else in the world. 

Once I arrived in Reykjavik, I was instantly enamored by the rainbow houses and the walkability of the city. Within a day, we believed we could navigate the capital without any help from Google Maps. Additionally, the population of the capital is just over 120,000, so the restaurants and shops are all top-notch. I learned that if the food somewhere isn’t good, the word will spread ASAP, and it’ll be booted within a couple of weeks. Every restaurant, café, and pub we ate at was a 10/10, and most places had quaint decor as well (which, as an interior design enthusiast, I always appreciate!).

Speaking of food, everything I ate was simply incredible (and Instagram-able). On our first night, we ventured to the central food hall Posthus and had outstanding sushi and fish and chips. There was Italian, Indian, Chinese, and other cuisines available as well. Another culinary highlight was our meal at the restaurant Apotek, which specializes in mind-blowing seafood and award-winning cocktails. We also stopped by the world-famous hotdog stand in Reykjavik, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, numerous times throughout our weekend, because the hotdogs were just too good not to! If you end up going, I beg you to get your hotdog with the crispy onions (even if you’re not a fan of onions, like I usually am). 

An architectural stand-out in Reykjavik is its famous Lutheran church, Hallgrimskirkja. It’s the largest church in Iceland and holds a bell tower that you can take a lift update to see all of the capital. You’ll see the blue water and all of the colorful houses that trademark the city. It’s a must-see if/when you visit. 

And, of course, a trip highlight was the Blue Lagoon, which is totally worth the hype. When Belinda Carlisle sang, “Heaven is a place on Earth,” she was, in fact, speaking about the Blue Lagoon. Spend a morning (or a full day!) wading in the perfectly warm and turquoise water –– while sporting numerous face masks and, perhaps, drinking slushies like I did. Many people chose to take their plastic bag-wrapped phones into the water, but I’d suggest leaving your phone behind and just being present when you’re there. You can easily snap some photos from the steps that lead into the lagoon (Also, a must-listen-to tip for all of my fellow long-haired friends: Condition your hair and put it in a high, tight bun before entering the Lagoon, as the sulfur in the water could seriously dry and damage your hair).

I could write for hours about how perfect this weekend in Iceland was, but it can’t showcase how once-in-a-lifetime the trip was. If you ever have the opportunity to visit, you have to go (I’m BEGGING you!) Flights from Boston’s Logan Airport take only around 5 hours! I hope that I’ll be able to return and do everything I did again— as well as explore some more of the Nordic country!