Traveling through Iceland
I traveled to Iceland in April, it was in-between winter and summer. I would recommend either going during the heart of winter or summer. In the summer you will be able to enjoy hikes, and nearly 24 hours of sunlight!! Whereas the winter your chances of experience the Northern lights increase! Now, if seeing the Northern Lights is not on your list, then April is a great time to experience winter without the harsh cold temperatures! We still got to enjoy all the winter activities but with 30+ degree farenheit weather!
We flew non-stop from Denver, CO to Iceland on Iceland Air… it was super easy and VERY affordable. Iceland Air is still growing so they constantly have amazing deals! Plus, they offer a deal to various countries in Europe with a layover in Iceland allowing you to stay a few days and then continue on to Paris or London etc.
***Photos of the trip will be included at the bottom of the post!
- Do: plan ahead, there are multiple ways you can see Iceland, either driving around the entire country or just hitting the most popular spots. We stuck to mainly the South/Western Region of Iceland and hit all the “must-see” spots. By planning we were able to stay at air-bnb’s throughout the way instead of driving back and forth each day.
- Do: Stay in Air Bnb’s – They are significantly cheaper than hotels, plus the locals are very friendly and had great recommendations for places to go and will help you see the Northern Lights if they happen! One of our hosts even made us waffle batter every morning, so we could make waffles before heading out!
- Do: Buy FULL rental car insurance: The wind is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. The wind caught our door and bent it back! Plus, many locals told us crazy stories about the wind catching rocks and shattering car windows. So be on the safe side and get full coverage insurance!
- **Tyler’s Addition: Do Park into the wind: it’s better to have the wind shut your door then bend it backwards!
- Do: Buy a map! Icelandic roads don’t always match the names in Google Maps… we found there weren’t a ton of signs, and while there is a name to every street, sometimes the signs only showed a number. So we ended up finding our locations on a map and going from there.
- Do: Plan to spend a lot: Everything is very expensive in Iceland. Plan accordingly!
- Do: Buy snacks and alcohol before you leave the airport. Stop into the duty-free store, you can buy a shooter of alcohol in the duty-free shop for a $3 but if you wait you will pay nearly $20 for a tiny shooter outside of the airport.
- Don’t: Over book your trip. We allowed plenty of time to just explore without a plan and we found some hidden gems! It really makes a difference, and makes the trip less stressful and more enjoyable.
- Don’t: be afraid to try new things. Some of the foods are a little unusual in comparison to American food, but when in Iceland do as the Icelandic people do! Immerse yourself in the culture to get the full experience.
- Don’t: get a navigation, instead opt for the Wi-Fi option. Sometimes its a little more but we found many landmarks were not in the Navigation and we couldn’t get the navigation to find many addresses. Give yourself peace of mind and go for the Wi-Fi!
- Blue Lagoon: While it is a VERY touristy place, it was so fun. I would splurge and pay for a package that includes an extra face mask and a free drink! I had the best sparkling wine ever! Wish I could find it in America! Depending on how long you like to soak in natural hot springs, you probably only need a few hours! I recommend lathering your hair with condition before getting in, the lagoon will dry out your hair.
- Kerio Crater: It doesn’t take very long to see the volcanic crater but it’s a must see. Some parts of the year the water is deeper than others. You can walk around the entire crater and see if from above and then you can also hike down into the crater.
- Waterfalls: there are tons of falls throughout Iceland and they ar absolutely beautiful
- Seljandfoss: its a huge waterfall you can see it from the front and hike to the back of the falls, you will get a little wet as you stand in between the mountain and the falls but its unlike anything else. Also, if you follow the path to the left of the falls, there is steam that goes into a cave viewing area. We walked along some big rocks in the stream found an entrance to the cave and discovered a surprise waterfall!
- Skoafoss: this fall is taller and there is a museum next to it with displays of Iceland’s history. Definitely recommend it!
- Gullfoss: It was unbelievable, its on all the lists of must-see places and it really is a must-see. I recommend wearing shoes with great tread if you are going during the winter months because the walkways get slick and icy! We also ate here, you can try Icelandic Lamb Stew with bottomless refills and bread, and it was delicious!
- Geysir: It’s similar to the geysers at Yellowstone in America, but there are tons of different Geysers in the area… within 5 minutes you can see several geysers go off and each is a different height and size.
- Black Sand Beach in Vik: The sand is not like most beaches, for starters its black (hence the name) and it doesn’t stick to you like most sand. The town of Vik is also really cute and a great place to stop for Lunch!
- Tomato Farm: Fridheimar: One of Iceland’s largest tomato farms, it also features a restaurant inside one of the greenhouses. The restaurant serves various foods using tomatoes straight from the vines. The food is so fresh, even my boyfriend who hates tomatoes was in love with how fresh and delicious the tomatoes were here. We enjoyed tomato soup, tomato-pesto ravioli, and of course Bloody Mary’s! Make sure you get a reservation!!!! It’s very small and always packed. You will also be able to look at the tomatoes growing and learn about their growing process.
- Into The Glacier: This tour takes you inside the Langjokull Glacier, Iceland’s second glacier. It’s really a once in a life time experience that you can’t pass up! The company has drilled tunnels in the glacier, so you can walk through it, feel the glacier ice and even taste some fresh glacier water!
- Thingvellir National Park: This national park feels like you are walking through parts of the HBO Series, “Game of Thrones.” It’s absolutely beautiful and a wonderful way to walk around and see Iceland. Plus some scenes from Game of Thrones are actually filmed here! **Who needs to pay for the tour when you can do it yourself?** We had a blast exploring and walking around, there is some great history in this national park and I definitely recommend it, we spent at least 2+ hours walking around and exploring.
- Reykjavik: Obviously you can’t skip out on the biggest city/capital. Its fun to walk around and explore, there are some great shops and restaurants. Definitely try an Icelandic Hot Dog Stand, you won’t regret it! If you plan on drinking make sure to do it during happy hours, otherwise it is just too expensive! Drinks during happy hour in Iceland cost the same as any hour in America for drinks… if not plan on paying $20 for a beer!
- Our favorite Bar was the Lebowski Bar (yes it is themed like “The Big Lebowski” movie). They had a wheel where you pay $20 to spin the wheel and you get whatever it lands on which can range from nothing, to 1 beer, to 5 beers to 5 shots! It was a lot of fun! We lucked out and got our moneys worth and get 4 shots, but the 2 people after us landed on nothing! Bummer.
- Go Off The Beaten Path: Some of our favorite memories are when we took a wrong turn, or took a turn off a main road to explore. We found some amazing areas, including a random recliner on a beach and a beautiful cliff overlook that looks over the bluest river I’ve ever seen! So don’t be afraid to take a few detours and explore!
Favorite Places to Stay:
- The Ion Hotel: This hotel is pretty small and on the expensive side but definitely worth it. Its near the Thingvellir National Park, it has its own natural hot springs and the end of the hotel has giant windows to give you the best opportunity to see and enjoy the northern lights. The food was amazing and the drinks were fantastic! Definitely worth splurging! The hotel also has tons of activities you can sign up for and will take you on tours nearby, so definitely check out the adventure accommodations too!
- Bubble Igloo Hotels: These are literally inflated bubble rooms! They fit 1-4 people on average, some are shaped like an igloo with a plastic shell, others are propped above ground in a bubble shape. They each have heaters and heated blankets to keep you warm and the best part is the ceiling and sides are clear so you can see the night sky, giving a perfect view of the Northern Lights! There is a common area that has a kitchen, fridge and 2 bathrooms with showers. But otherwise it is like camping under the northern lights with a really comfy bed!
What I wished I did:
- Snorkeling or Scuba Diving in Silfra: Depending on your skill level you get to dive or snorkel in-between 2 continental plates.
- Horse Back Riding: Icelandic Horses are so adorable and I wish I had gotten the chance to get more up-close to them. It would’ve been a unique way to see Iceland, but it’s probably more enjoyable in the Summer when its less rainy and not freezing!