Iceland, a country that is so often described as simply ‘indescribable’. A land that brings ‘natural beauty’ to an entirely different level due to its stunning environmental contradictions. Seriously, though. In Iceland, volcano and lava meet ice and frozen tundra. How is that even possible? I don’t know the science behind it, but I do know it’s worth seeing.
Even though the island has a population size that’s less than that of a small city, whose country’s extent is comparative to the state of Virginia, there’s still no question as to why people from all over the world are continually drawn to visiting it; pure, unexplainable, majestic beauty.
Our trip to Iceland was incredible. It was both captivating and surreal at the same time. While my words simply can’t give an accurate description of the wonder of this small country, I’ll do my best at recounting our incredible trip.
Here’s a list of our top 5 favorite spots we visited in Iceland and why we think they are a MUST see:
- Fjaðrárgljúfu: Good luck trying to pronounce the name, but my goodness is it breathtaking. A deep canyon located in the south-east region of Iceland with a river flowing through it. Think Lord of the Rings meets something more beautiful than you can imagine. We were simply mesmerized.
- Jökulsárlón: A glacial lake that actually continues to grow. An Icelandic natural wonder and must see on your trip.
- Skógafoss: THE most incredible waterfall I’ve ever seen, and a boundary between the coastal lowlands and the highlands of Iceland. If you want to feel humbled, in a good way, visit this spectacular sight.
- Blue Lagoon: I know, cliché. But, although it is one of the most visited spots in Iceland, there is a reason for that. It’s located near a lava field…. wait what? Yes. Although the lagoon itself is manmade, the water comes from the ground that is heated by actual lava. Totally mind blowing.
- Top of HALLGRÍMSKIRKJA CHURCH: A Lutheran church in Reykjavik and one of the tallest buildings in the country of Iceland. That being said, obviously the view from the top is just incredible.
So, the sites are great, but so is the local food and drink. What’s traveling to Iceland if you can’t experience authentic Icelandic culture? So, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite coffee shops and restaurants:
- KEX: KEX is actually a super cool hostel, but the gastro pub at the heart of said hostel is surprisingly awesome! A friendly and inviting atmosphere coupled with unexpectedly delicious food and coffee, KEX should absolutely be a stop on your Iceland itinerary.
- Braud & Co: With all the hiking, driving, and moving around you’ll be doing on your trip to Iceland, you need to be fully energized and carbed-up. Braud & Co has THE best rolls I’ve EVER had (do yourself a favor and get a whole bag of them for the road ☺).
- Katti Krus (stop on the way to Skogafoss): This is a local spot that serves an excellent lunch. Experience a mix of tourists and locals while enjoying a delicious meal.
- Reykjavik Roasters: Excellent cup of coffee. We were frequent visitors here on our 4-day stay. They have a welcome and lively atmosphere and you experience a mix of both tourists and locals. If you’re like me and need a good cup of coffee (or, maybe multiple cups ☺) to start your day, then stop at Reykjavik Roasters. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
We started our 4-day Iceland trip with a visit to the Blue Lagoon. I bought our entrance tickets a few weeks before our trip because pre-booking is actually required and ticket availability is pretty limited. I booked the 7am visit, and, if you are somewhat of an early bird, I would highly suggest this time.
Because of its popularity, the Blue Lagoon is always insanely crowded, but, apparently not in the early morning. We were actually the first ones in the water and it was awesome! It felt like we had the whole lagoon to ourselves and it was much easier to get the perfect picture.
After the Blue Lagoon, we then hit the road and drove to Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. The sights were amazing, but so was the drive there. We made stops along the way to take pictures of the insane wild flowers and adorable animals. We also grabbed lunch at Katti Krus; a cute little yellow house that serves delicious food and has such a welcoming atmosphere. Overall, it really was a perfect day.
we spent exploring Reykjavik. And, of course, we were not disappointed. I think our favorite part of the day was going to the top of HALLGRÍMSKIRKJA CHURCH. This is definitely a must see ☺. We stopped at KEX for a bite to eat. KEX is actually a hostel, but there is also a gastro pub inside. If the hostel is anything like the restaurant, then it would be an awesome place to stay. We booked our Airbnb before knowing about KEX, but we definitely recommend looking into the hostel if you are planning on staying in Reykjavik. We spent the rest of our evening with a bit more exploring. Another lovely day in Iceland.
we planned on leaving by 4am, but instead, snoozed until about 6:30am. Hey, what’s a vacation if you can’t hit the snooze button a few times, right? We drove to the farthest stop on the Island and then slowly worked our way back to Reykjavik, it was amazing. We came across a church that overlooks the town of Vik and the black sand coast, it was seriously SO picturesque. Behind the church, there were these large, lush green hills and wild flowers for days. Running through fields of Icelandic wild flowers….is this real life? Yep. It is.
We continued on, and in what seemed like the shortest four and a half hours of my life (probably because I was so enthralled with the surrounding scenery during our drive that I simply forgot about time) we arrived at the Jökulsárlón - Glacier Lagoon (781 Höfn í Hornafirði, Iceland). What a way to end a perfect day.
So, in my naivety, I figured there was no way of topping the sites of the previous day, but, to my surprise, I was wrong. On day four, we went to my favorite site of them all, Fjaðrárgljúfur. I can’t stress enough that you CANNOT miss this place on your trip. The deep canyon, the crystal river, the vivid greens, my goodness! It truly felt like we were in a different world. I know they say “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but I’m not even sure if that would be enough to really describe the beauty of this place. You MUST go and see it for yourself. It requires driving down a pretty bumpy dirt road, but you get to see thousands of sheep and rolling hills along the way. Once we parked, we started walking up the path to our destination. We also might’ve snuck past the boundaries to get some incredible photos on the edge of the cliffs (we figured… yolo).
As the sun was getting lower in the sky, (remember, June in Iceland means 22 hours of daylight) we hurried back to our car and drove to the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach in Reynishverfisvegur. The perfect end to yet another perfect day.
We ended our trip with the “Golden Circle” it takes about four hours to do the Circle in its entirety. While the drive was breathtaking, if you are short on time, you may want to skip this one ☺.
Last stop was a trip to a light house that was down the street from the airport.
It was such a wonderful trip and an incredible experience, to say the least. We went to Iceland not really knowing what to expect, and we were quickly enthralled by the unique and magnificent landscape and culture of this place.
Þakka þér fyrir Og bless, Ísland!