It already feels like a lifetime since we flew to Iceland in November. I’ve wanted to go to Iceland for an age and the tickets were booked almost a year before! We ended up heading out for my 28th birthday and spending 4 days exploring.
Did you know that over half of the population in Iceland won’t deny that elves exist? It has even affected plans for building roads! And since going, I can see why; Iceland honestly is magical. The landscape is like nothing I’ve ever seen before and it was just as perfect a trip as I hoped for.
I already can’t wait to go back but here’s how we spent our adventures in Iceland
First Stop: The Blue Lagoon
It might be a tourist trap, but we couldn’t go to Iceland and not visit the blue lagoon. Straight off the plane, we caught a bus to the blue lagoon and were transported to a different world.
You drive through moss covered landscapes until a giant patch of steam rises out of the earth and then tucked amongst the rocks is a path to a modern stone and wood building that opens onto turquoise pools.
Despite the fact that there were a fair few people there, once your in the water, they seem to disappear. The steaming water dulls the sound and shrouds their faces so you feel in a total bubble. It started to snow a little whilst we were floating around in the blue and honestly it was so worth the pricey ticket.
Want some tips? Book ahead for sure, try to go early or late if you can (to avoid the busiest times) and take a LOT of conditioner for your hair.
Second Stop: Hveragerði
Once we were done at the Blue Lagoon, we got on the bus back to Keflavik Airport and picked up our hire car to drive down to our hotel in Hveragerði for the first night.
We knew we wouldn’t have much daylight left but we drove the long way round, along the coast road of the Reykjanes Peninsula.With black volcanic rocks going straight into choppy, icy sea on one side and dark, snow capped hills on the other, it was another glimpse into the surreal landscape.
The region is known for its geothermal activity, so when we arrived in the dark, as the weather was becoming wild and windy, there were all these glowing steam powered greenhouses dotted amongst the hills and houses. Also, all the houses had fairy lights in the windows and candle lit lamps on the doorsteps; so hygge!
We stayed at the Frost and Fire hotel. It has its own steam vents that heat a couple of outdoor hot tubs, a spa room and outdoor swimming pool. They even use one of the vents to cook in; the restaurant was incredible and in the morning you could boil your eggs in the steam vent too!
One of the most magical parts of the trip was waking up early at around 7 the next morning and heading outside into the wind and rain in the dark to sit in the hot pot. It was just the two of us, the river was rushing by next to us and we stayed there in the hot water, talking for an hour or two before anyone else came outside.
Third Stop: The Golden Circle, Gulfoss, Geysir and Pingvellir
On our second day we drove into the Golden Circle. You can do it in day trips from Reykjavik but I am slightly landrover obsessed and the thought of driving ourselves and going at our own pace was a dream for me, so we hired a Defender. Just take a look at that happy grin! It made the whole thing a little bit more special for me.
We only had a day, so we stuck to the main sites. It was the coldest, rainiest and windiest day ever, to the point of us actually bursting into giggles over how like drowned rats we looked. Even in the rain though, it was all pretty awe inspiring.
Neither Gulfoss nor Geysir relate in the photos at all. The steaming, bubbling earth at Geysir was like walking on another planet, whilst the sheer size and noise of Gulfoss was incredible. We got drenched in both spots but heated seats are a saviour!
The air cleared on our way back to Reykjavik, with the sun beginning to shine as we drove through the mountains of Pingvellir national park. We pulled over whenever we saw Icelandic ponies (who wouldn’t) and got slightly overwhelmed by the incredible landscape. I’ve said it over and over but honestly, it is nothing like anywhere else I’ve been. At the moment I’m daydreaming of a summer driving trip where we wild camp and hike…
Final Stop: 2 Nights in Reykjavik
We arrived in Reykjavik after dark, so the first evening we just headed to the harbour for hot lobster soup before heading to bed, ready for a day of exploring the next morning.
After the drama of the Icelandic landscape, Reykjavic felt miniature, in such a cosy and welcoming way. We spent the day exploring; first walking up to the Hallgrimskirkja cathedral (so worth it for the views over the city) before wandering through the Old Town.
We stopped into the Art Galleries, sat in cafes for cake and coffee, had more amazing soup (definitely my number one food recommendation!) walked around the lake, walked up the coast and had a lot of beer. It might just be one of the most chilled out cities I’ve ever visited!
Places I would really recommend? Saegreifinn for incredible fresh fish, Osta Budin for cosy Icelandic lunch, Sandholt Bakery for cakes, KEX Bar and Kaffibarinn for all the beer. But everything is so close by that it is simple to just wander around and pop in and out of places.
Iceland was expensive, cold, rainy and one of the best places I’ve ever been. The atmosphere in the city was warm, welcoming and creative and the landscape is like being in a dream. Here’s to saving up for the next visit…