Want a cool new IG post or profile pic? Go to Iceland.
Want a cool new IG post or profile pic? Go to Iceland. I can now confirm say that those Iceland promo videos that keep popping on my facebook news feed are legit- no CGI required; the country has endless beauty anywhere you look… and yes there is plenty to look at. These same videos usually have attached comments such as "Amazing!! when we going?? *insert name*", "OMG OMG love love love, i've always wanted to go" or "♥ unreal, its on my bookitlist ♥♥♥".
Because while so many people want to go, it very often gets left off the travel plans. I strongly urge you to move it to the top of your list, Iceland tourism is booming, theres no better time to go then now to avoid ever growing crowds!
We spent 6 days in Iceland in early November, bringing with us the warmest jackets we could find, a fully charged GoPro and high hopes to see the northern lights. The week before we had got there we were told that the northern lights were incredibly bright, unfortunately we did not have such a show.
I did not realise but a lot has to go right for the lights to be seen; cloud cover, moon brightness, solar pulses, light pollution… and for us these did not align. It would have been great to see them, but this wasn’t our sole purpose of the trip. Remember to have an open mind regarding the lights otherwise you could end up easily disappointed!
Our first day was spent in Reykjavik. We had heard about the high prices for food and drink in Iceland so we made sure we bought some alcohol in duty free (alcohol tax in Iceland is big!). We also did a food shop for the next few days. Make sure you shop at the yellow Bonus supermarkets for the cheapest food. Reykjavik is quite small and doesn't take that long to walk around, Im glad we did not spend much more than two days here for the trip.
Next day we were on the road by sunrise (~9am at that time of year) to start a 4 day road trip through the golden circle and along the south coast. Highlights included:
Waterfalls - So many waterfalls
They were everywhere, so don’t worry if you miss seeing one or two here or there. Noteable ones worth a look are Gullfoss, Háifoss (highly recommend this one! Our favourite) and Skógafoss. There is quite a good walk that goes on from Skógafoss too, we only managed a few hours but you could walk a whole day here.
- Geysir: An active geyser.
One of three left in the world, very close to Gullfoss.
Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool
Another one that can easily be bundled up as it is close to Skógafoss. It is simply a pool surrounded by snow capped mountains fed by thermal springs. Don’t be fooled however, temperature of the pool was "refreshing". Not the steaming hot pool we were hoping for but still worth a visit and dip.
The largest ice mass in Europe. It has many outlets that have there own names. We visited Svínafellsjökull; get here early morning to have it nearly to yourselves! Then did a walk from Skaftafellsstofa information centre to see svartifoss and Skatafell from Sjónarnípa lookout.
Near Vik, this is the black sand beach. A good place to finish a day with beer in hand.
Put this on the "Absoloutely must do" list especially if, like us, you want to give the touristy blue lagoon a miss. Also known as steam valley, a 4km walk takes you to a river that is fed from thermal springs. The further up the river you go the hotter it is, and this one was nice and hot. Getting out into what was about 0 degree air plus wind chill however was not hot, but very worth the while.
If you go outside of summer, don’t get a small 3 door 0.5Ltr lawn mower to get around in. Icelands weather is the real deal and going outside of Reykjavik for multiple days means the weather could do anything. Not only that, there are a whole heap of detours you can take to escape the crowds and see some cool stuff, some can only be done in a 4wd drive- it gives you freedom.
Eat lots of yoghurt (try Skyr), chocolate, licorice and beer are said to be good as well.
Double check your accomodation has cooking facilities. A couple of times we thought there was going to be but it turned out to be a kettle and a toaster at best. You don’t want to get caught having to by food from the guesthouse/homestay, its often quie expensive and youll be in the middle of nowhere so no local kfc to fix the problem.
The farm/homestays were a nice change from a hostel. A bit more of a homely feel, and they amost all have a hot tub under the stars (even better if the northern lights are out).
It was tough having to turn the car around and return to Reykavik, there is so much more of the island that we didn’t see. Do not be worried about having too much time here, It is a constant battle between wanting to get to the next big feature and wanting to go down a detour to road to discover whats at the end of it. I hope Iceland has now moved up a few pegs on your travel list, enjoy!
My Trip Details
Day 4 - Vík HI Hostel - Booking.com
Day 5 - Loft Hi Hostel - Hostelworld