Northern High Lights -10 fun things to do in Reykjavík

Iceland is becoming one of the best places to visit for a city break for many travellers. Despite the population of the city being smaller than Blackpool, it does not feel like a small English town. This is the capital city of Iceland, it is full of entertainment, history, and culture. So, what fun things are there to do in this northern capital city?

By Phil Taylor

  1. Borgarholt

If you are one of those people who enjoy free things and enjoy spectacular views, then Borgarholt hill is exactly the type of thing for you to enjoy. Located in Karsens part of the city and away from the hum drum of the city centre, this hill offers you perfect views of the city but also right onto the horizon of the sea.

At the top of the hill is also the Kópavogskirkja. The Kópavogskirkja is a church is a large white building built in the 1960s and is one of the most interesting looking buildings in Iceland.

  1. Hafnarfjörður Museum

The Hafnarfjörður Museum will tell you all things Iceland. The museum consists of five different buildings and shows Iceland all the way through the ages. The main part of the museum has three floors of exhibits showing life in this area over the past century. Whereas the other buildings are specific to a certain era from Iceland these include a shop from the early 20th Century and the home a fishing family.

The museum certainly helps you understand what life has been like in Iceland and how people have lived in the country for centuries.

  1. Experience local cuisine

Reykjavik has plenty of restaurants and more than many are world class. Iceland has excellent cuisine and there are some Icelandic foods that you just must try. As you may have guessed you cannot go wrong with ordering fish from the island because in most restaurants it is a fresh as you can get. Lamb is also used in many meals as well.

Although it might not sound appealing but Matur og Drykkur, which is cods head cooked in chicken stock, is the ideal Icelandic meal. Some might be struggling to understand how this is nice, but you will not regret this salty treat.

Hot pool Reykjavik

  1. Hot Springs and Swimming Pools

The hot springs and natural geysers are the standout images of Reykjavik. When people mention the Icelandic capital they often picture people chilling in the hot springs or relaxing by the pools such as Laugardalslaug which are thermal public swimming baths.

Alongside Laugardalslaug is the Blue Lagoon. It is home to 25 natural wonders of the world and is a place where the powers of geothermal seawater create transformational spa journeys. Although Reykjavik is not a stressful capital city it is certainly a great place to relax and enjoy the natural wonders.

  1. Golden Circle Bus Tour

If you are taken by the idea of the hot springs, then you must take the Golden Circle Bus tour. You will experience 300km of natural wonders as you go around Reykjavik and down the southern side of Iceland.

The wonders include the geysers that can shoot up to 40m in the air and Gulfoss the unbelievable waterfall is just so photogenic that you will not want to put your camera down and stop taking photos of it. This is the real Iceland on this tour, and it shows how fantastic a city break to Reykjavik can be as you get both nature and city life.

  1. Northern Lights

Easily the most well-known thing about Iceland and you can experience the Northern Lights from the capital city. It is possible to see the lights from the streets in the city which is quite amazing. However, you might experience some glare from the streetlights so the best place to see the natural phenomenon is just slightly out of the city down is by the seaside at Seltjarnarnes. Here you will get a clear image of the amazing sky and you can fully immerse yourself in the magical feeling above you.

Reykjavik skyline

  1. Game of Thrones Tour

Winter is coming. In fact, it is always here in Reykjavik with lots of filming from the famous HBO TV show filmed in the country. Fans from all over the world visit the city to spot their favourite scenes from the TV show and what better way to do it then taking the Game of Thrones licensed tour where you can visit all the locations including the White Wall.

With the tour you will be given all the information you need to satisfy your own Game of Thrones needs.

  1. Hallgrimskirkja Church

There is something about Iceland and building impressive churches because alongside Kópavogskirkja, there is Hallgrimskirkja which offers possibly the best panoramic views of the city and the sea surrounding the island. At 74.5m tall it stands out with its height, but it also stands out because of the modern impressionist style, grand doors at the entrance of the church and the history that surrounds this church.

Entry to the top is 900 ISK (about £5) for adults but 100 ISK for children aged 7-14. However, you will get every penny worth of it with 360 views of the capital city.

  1. Experience the nightlife

The nightlife in Rekjavik is something else. The nightlife goes on until the early hours in the morning with people drinking and enjoying the clubs in the city. Although venues close at 1am Sunday to Thursday, on Friday and Saturday night bars and clubs usually close at 5am!

Some of the clubs offer live music such as jazz bars which always draw a crowd, but you can also experience comedy sets, drag acts and maybe even a film festival depending on the time of year you go.

  1. Harpa Concert Hall and Old Harbor

This impressive building is something of an illusion when you first lay your eyes on It. It is worth it just to go and take pictures of the architecture. However, if you visit at night you will see the building lit up with LEDs and the view is spectacular.

In the actual building you can have many a cultural festival or you might be able to catch the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra.

Winning the Lottery- Why would anyone go public?

From death threats to letters from distant family begging for money – there are many reasons why lottery winners would choose to conceal their good fortune. Yet many are equally happy to be shown on national TV with giant cheques and champagne.  Given the risks winners face, why would anyone go public?

By Phil Taylor

The lottery is many people’s dream to win as it is incredibly life changing with millions of pounds on offer for the lucky winner. It can come with many complications and one being the quick fame with many people’s stories picked up by the newspapers and media outlets. However, can people stay out of the limelight and avoid the unwanted publicity of winning such large amounts?

The lottery has engaged the public of many countries across the world for years; there is a national lottery in each continent. People buy into the lottery because of the chance to change their life. Figures do vary each week but there can be monumental amounts of money available. The biggest win ever was $1.54 billion and there were three winners of this jackpot in the USA! They kept themselves anonymous and were advised to delete all of their social media accounts before claiming the money.

So is it the right thing to come out about winning sums this large? Especially given that this money could nearly buy you Manchester United football club. It is a mixed bag with the amount of people who want to keep their identity to themselves but many do want to be in the papers or the news to talk about their winnings. But why?

One of the reasons people are encouraged to do it is publicity for the national lottery game. If people can see the average Joe winning millions upon millions of pounds then they might wonder, if it can happen to them it could happen to me. This thought has even spurred on the tagline from the lottery “It might be you” to make people wonder and dream.

However, some people do not want the burden of being known as the people who won the lottery. They feel they are exposed to the world and are putting themselves in a greater risk situation with people knowing that they have won a huge amount of money. This is specifically the case in America where there are constant battles between lottery winners and state laws which means they cannot stay anonymous without a lot of legal trouble.

“Jackpot winners get a big old target painted on their backs,” said Andrew Stoltmann, an Illinois attorney who has represented winners.

“When their names are released “they get harassed and harangued into some horrifically bad investments.”

“Forcing people to reveal their names, is like throwing meat into a shark-infested ocean”.

In America, states are rethinking how people can stay out of the limelight. States such as Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina already allow winners to remain anonymous. But more and more states including Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, will allow a trustee, usually an attorney, to collect without disclosing the name of the ticket holder.

The support offered in the United Kingdom and Ireland is much better. In the UK, Camelot offer full support in how to deal with the media if you choose to go public. The same applies in Ireland as the national lottery offer support for winners over €2 million to deal with the shock of life changing money and that support is in place even if you choose not to go public.

Camelot spoke after a massive €105 million win on the EuroMillions by English couple Steve and Lenka Thomson, stating that it is often easier to come out rather than hiding away because that causes complications. The spokesperson said, “The decision is solely down to the individual and no pressure is put on them to step into the spotlight.”

“But previous winners have spoken about the difficulty of remaining anonymous, arguing it can put a bigger strain on the win than accepting the 15 minutes of fame.”

This sentiment was echoed by Colin and Christine Weir who bagged £161 million in 2011, “We would have preferred to stay anonymous, but we recognised it wasn’t a possibility,”

“We wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the experience if we had constructed lies to tell our nearest and dearest.”

Camelot also cited that many people are left worrying about the day a knock at the door will come if they have not gone public. The fear can lead to paranoia and people wondering if someone will find out about the vast amount of money they have won because the National Lottery are obligated to state that somebody has won the jackpot or large sums of money.

The publicity, despite the support, can lead to many difficult situations even with the nearest and dearest that the Weirs stated here. It could lead to awkward issues of lending money to friends and family or making investments in something you are not too keen about.

As stated before, in the UK it is solely up to the winners themselves if they decide to make themselves known to the public because the attention can be too much for some people. In 2002, Mickey Carroll aged just 19, won £9 million and he rose to fame as the self-proclaimed “King of the Chavs”. Coming into so much money and being so much in the public eye, led to Carroll making poor decisions with his money. After much drama including time spent in prison, attacks on his mansion and a documentary made about him, Carroll was broke and applied for his old job as a bin man in 2010.

This shows that it can be difficult not to live the lavish lifestyle without the attention of the press. However, if you make smart decisions with the money then you can still live your normal life without the unwanted attention.

If you take the full support from the national lottery and go public with it, it can help you get your head around the win and deal with the change.

So from what might have sounded like a strange decision, it might be the best thing to come out into the public eye and accept your win. The main thing to remember is to be smart with your winnings.


Photo credit – Camelot UK Lotteries Ltd

Visiting London on the cheap – is it possible?

London is renowned as an expensive city to travel. From pricey pints to costly cabs, a visit to the capital can be an ongoing assault on your wallet. But it does not have to be this way. Visiting London on the cheap – it is possible!

By Sam Roberts

I love London – not because it is my home city – because it is one of the world’s truly great megacities.

And I’ve been lucky enough to visit many of the world’s greatest cities. These include Tokyo, New York City, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, and Dubai – London is comfortably on that list, and many argue London tops the list.

Best cities voted London the world’s greatest cities for the sixth year running in 2020. London is a vast concoction of cosmopolitan energy, a world-leading financial centre, and the world’s thirds most visited city in 2019.

But there is one problem – London is expensive. There is no way around that. If you’re visiting from overseas, the Great British Pound is going to hurt your wallet. Is it possible to explore London on the cheap?

As a proud Londoner, I’m going to say yes, and better still, I’m going to show you how!

Visting London on the cheapVisit Primrose Hill

I have always said that the best way to understand a city is to get high-up. London is one of the world’s flattest cities, and there aren’t many incredible viewpoints. You could go up The Shard – the views are spectacular, but the price isn’t always budget-friendly.

However, Primrose Hill is the ultimate London view, and it is entirely free. British rock band Blur famously sang, “Let’s take a drive to Primrose Hill, It’s windy there, and the view’s so nice.” It is one of my favourite songs, and the lyrics ring true.

That was in 1993 before the London skyline developed, and in 2021, the view is better than nice; it is stunning. You can see all of London’s top landmarks, including the London Eye, The Shard and St. Pauls Cathedral. Moreover, you see views of the Canary Wharf skyline.

A view worth seeing, without a doubt. (The Sky Garden is also free, but it requires pre-booking.)

Visting London on the cheapThe British Museum 

The British Museum is one of the world’s most comprehensive museums. Visitors get to see 2 million years worth of history – and you won’t pay a penny, cent, or euro. That is why the museum attracts over 5.9 million visitors yearly.

It remains the world’s oldest national public museum, dating back to 1753, 23 years before the founding fathers created the United States of America. During the past 250 years, the museum has housed global exhibits from every world corner.

And the museum was the film set for various famous movies, including The Wakefield Cause and the Day of the Jackal. Although London called it the “British Museum,” it may as well be the global museum.

A must-do if you’re visiting London on the cheap. 

Visit London’s fantastic park’s

London doesn’t have the beaches and outdoor lifestyle of Sydney or Los Angeles, but it does have the world’s most fantastic parks. Every park is entirely free to visit, and during the summer months, it is one of the best aspects of London.

Hyde Park is one of the world’s most famous parks, and it is home to various summer events, the serpentine, and an excellent Central London location. Alternatively, you should check out Regents Park. The park is beautiful and next to the epic Primrose Hill views and the quirkiness of Camden.

Moreover, if you want to escape the London hustle, check out Richmond Park. Situated deep into Southwest London, you’ll find a stunning park that feels more like the British Countryside than London (you will even see a few wild deers.)

Exploring London’s green space is free, fun, and a must-do. 

Wander around the Thames

The River Thames is perhaps the world’s most famous river. When you walk around the Thames, you see centuries of global history, various world-famous landmarks, and London’s very best scenery.

Popular places to see along the River Thames include Westminster Palace, the Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben. If you walk towards the east, you’ll get excellent views of St. Pauls Cathedral, The Tower of London, and Tower Bridge.

And better still, you won’t pay a penny. It is entirely free to cycle, walk, or even run. 

Visting London on the cheapSo why is London so expensive?

London is expensive because of accommodation and transport prices. Although you can save money with an Oyster Card, using the world-class London Underground is costly. If you travel outside of rush hours, you will save money on the tube. A single journey between zone 1 & 2 is £2.40, but that will add up through the day.

If you don’t mind getting some exercise, you could hire a “Boris Bike,” as Londoners affectionately coin them. Santander Bikes are affordable and will save you bundles of money. You can catch a taxi, but they aren’t overly cheap. Uber or a London Black Cab are the best options.

Plus, hotels are expensive in zone one and two. You will be lucky to find a hotel for less than £50 per night. If you stay in zones 3 or 4 – you can find some good deals, but you will be commuting into Central London. Three are some cheap hostels in London, and good deals are possible. You will have to shop around on sites like Booking.com

Some of my favourite – and affordable – London areas for accommodation are Shepherd’s Bush, Camden, and West Hampstead. You can find good deals in all of these areas, and they’re all in zone two, with tonnes of cool stuff to do.

Also, you could find affordable accommodation in East London, but it is away from the tourist areas and a more raw version of London. However, East London has gone through gentrification since the 20th century.

Final thoughts 

London is never going to be a cheap city. If you research, explore wisely and stay disciplined, you don’t have to break the bank. London is a tremendous global hub and one of the greatest cities in history.

Just don’t expect to budget yourself in London easily. It is not comparable to other European cities like Lisbon, Berlin, or Prague, but it is worth every penny spent!