Flight Time From UK: 3hrs
Best Time to Visit: Spring when the weather is slightly warmer and there are less tourists
If you haven’t been to Iceland then you really must add it to your bucket list. Even for a hardcore sun worshipper like myself, it’s one of the most magical places you’ll ever visit and there is something for everyone here.
The locals are so welcoming, helpful and lovely, which makes the language barrier much easier to manage. I’m so used to travelling in Europe where you can pretty much figure out what the locals are saying, or the majority of people speak English so I felt awful realising I didn’t actually know any Icelandic.
Landing in Iceland was amazing! The views from the plane, the cold crisp air – I was super excited! We got a coach to the centre of Reykjavik and then needed to get another bus to our hotel and at this point I realised that I’d actually lost our money belt with all of our cash in… I felt awful to say the least! There was a significant amount of money in there so it was a bit of a nightmare, especially being the first hour or so of the trip!
Luckily we were able to withdraw some more money and continue on. When we got to the hotel we ended up calling the airport and reporting the missing money and just before we came home we were advised that a very kind person had actually handed our money in and the airport police had it! I couldn’t believe it as it was just a pouch full of cash so anyone could have taken it – we were extremely lucky. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get it back during our stay but we just had to pay for signed and tracked delivery and it was waiting for us when we got home – a miracle!
Back to the trip! As soon as we made it to the hotel we had a little chill and then were picked up and taken to the Blue Lagoon. Even just driving through Iceland is surreal, beautiful and incredibly different to anywhere I’ve been before. The Blue Lagoon was amazing and I highly recommend you go when visiting Iceland. The only thing I would say is it’s really touristy and there were a lot of people there, but even still, it didn’t stop it being an amazing experience and the lagoon is so big you can have a private swim and relax by yourself. When we were there they were doing some construction around the lagoon which I was advised was a new spa/hotel so it might be even more touristy and built up now, but at the time we went it was surrounded by stunning views and uninterrupted scenery.
The following day we went on what is often referred to as the ‘Golden Circle’ tour around Reykjavik. This is a pretty easy trip to sign up for as most tour providers and independent companies offer this tour which is good because you can choose a smaller company or ask your hotel for advice on who to go with and you can end up with a small group which makes the whole trip so much nicer.
We explored the Mid-Atlantic Ridge tectonic plate boundary, which is the boundary which separates the Eurasian and the North American plates. It was absolutely freezing to say the least, but we walked along the ridge and learned about the plates and how Iceland was formed. This is really interesting and slightly scary!
The trip took us to the most amazing parts of Iceland, including Gullfoss Waterfall which is an absolute must for anyone visiting, Geysir Geothermal Area where you can see live Geysirs sending plumes of hot water up into the sky and Thingvellir National Park which is vast and stunning.
We opted for an extended tour which included a visit to another geothermal spa called Fontana Geothermal Baths. This was such a great choice and I’m really pleased we did this as it made such a nice break in the day and gave us time to relax and chill during our holiday. It was far smaller than the Blue Lagoon but a lot less busy too. To be honest, most of the people there (in which there can’t have been more than 10 or so), were locals.
It’s also by natural water so it’s like looking out to sea whilst being in bubbly warm water. It was really beautiful and one of the best things we did. It was completely relaxing and I felt quite immersed in Icelandic culture. I think it’s because there were a lot of locals there and after our swim and float we went to the cafe and there were locals serving a cake that is made in a pan and flipped over onto a board to serve – it looked incredible and I believe it was a ginger cake.
Another tour we tried was a tour of the south of the island. The tour of South Iceland took us to some pretty different places to the Golden Circle tour so I highly recommend doing both. This trip was a bit longer and was the entire day, leaving very early and getting home very late as you do go a great distance across Iceland.
We saw more incredible waterfalls including Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which is like nothing I’ve ever seen and is quite overwhelmingly beautiful. We also visited Skógafoss which is actually one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland. I can’t stress enough how vast and epic the waterfall is and how much you should visit!
We also visited the Eyjafjallajökull glacier and walked around for quite a long time which was slightly scary but also very fun and exciting. For me, I’ve never been skiing or mountain climbing so it was a completely new experience for me.
The black sand beaches are amazing because they’re like nothing you’ve ever seen. It sounds really morbid but they’re beautiful. A very interesting fact too; when you look out to see at the black sand beaches at Reynisfjara there’s no land until Africa, so the waves are huge and extremely dangerous! We actually saw someone get pulled into the water from the beach due to the waves and luckily he was ok, but we were told that there are a lot of deaths and to be very careful! There’s also a basalt rock formation, Reynisdrangar which is very cool!
Right by the black sand beach there is a small town called Vik. There is a beautiful church and cute little buildings here, along with a tourist centre/restaurant that we stopped at to refuel. Vik is very lovely and I’m glad we went to more of a town outside of the city as it’s nice to see what Iceland is really like. When we drove to the various locations, we drove for hours between any buildings and at points we were told that a couple of buildings were literally a whole village. One building for example was the local shop, doctor, library etc – crazy!
We also spent a day sightseeing around the city of Reykjavik itself. It was such an interesting place to visit, it kind of feels like you’re in a little lego village with all the cute wooden houses and the different colours. The centre is very cool and the architecture is amazing. It’s such a surreal place to be as it feels like a movie set with the water, mountains and snow surrounding you and the quirky, Scandinavian buildings and sculptures.
Random side note, but a very cool one (or not so cool haha), is that Iceland is heated from the natural hot springs. All the heating and warmth inside the buildings and even the public buildings and landmarks are heated using the natural water. The only slight downside of this very cool fact is that it does smell pretty eggy! You know that eggy sulphur smell you get? That’s what everything smells like in Iceland, even our hotel bathroom as this is what makes the hot water in the shower and sink. At first I felt sick from the smell but you quickly get used to it and it’s really not as bad as you’d think.
One of my favourite parts of being in Reykjavik was looking out from our balcony onto the morning rush hour traffic and watching all the car and city lights in the darkness as the sun came up. It was so peaceful and also quite comforting seeing the traffic and people as in general, Iceland is a very quiet place! Even in the city centre there aren’t hoards of crowds like I’m used to and mostly there isn’t much hustle and bustle.
I went to Iceland during March which I personally think was the perfect time as I’ve heard that this is relatively quiet in terms of tourism and I definitely found that it was busy enough while still being very spacious and chilled on the tours and excursions. I think any earlier in the year it would be far too cold and it was absolutely freezing and even being wrapped up in about 50 layers, there were still parts that were just too cold after being outside for a certain period of time. At one point my eyeballs were cold haha!
Please go to Iceland, whether you think it’s for you or not I just know that you’ll love it!
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