ICELAND: Travel Diary

Ahhhh Iceland! I’ve wanted to go here since I was a teenager and boy was it worth the wait. It had to be one of our favorite places to visit so far. The island is beyond beautiful. Of course I had to share some tips for traveling to this gorgeous place and all the areas we visited (and what I wore!).

We flew into the main airport Keflavík International Airport in Reykjavík and spent the first day in the capital. Reykjavík is a quaint little city and definitely worth seeing but you honestly don’t need to spend more then 1 or 2 days here. Most flights we could find to Iceland were overnight and depending on where you are traveling from you have to account for the time difference of course. We actually flew out of Boston after visiting my family and did a red eye flight. We landing bright and early at 7am. In the winter the sun is only out about 5 hours of the day so it rises around 10:30-11am and sets at about 3-3:30pm. It took some getting used to but by the 2nd day we learned to go with it. There are streetlights everywhere in the city and you just need to plan your adventures accordingly so you can do everything during the daylight.

When we landed we headed straight to the car rental. I highly recommend renting a car in Iceland. It’s the best way to see the city. You can stay in Reykjavík the whole time and just arrange tours but we liked the idea of staying outside the city. Especially if you are trying to see the Northern lights. Having a car gave us the freedom to make our own schedule and stay as long at each place as we liked. All the major tourist places have an area for you to park and the roads are paved and street signs are very visible so it’s easy to get around.

We rented from Fox Rental which is a cheaper option but after all the fees it ended up being the priciest part of our trip. It’s worth it to get the insurance in Iceland though because they don’t cover everything. With the unpredictable weather there it’s better to be safe than sorry. They seemed like sticklers so we didn’t want to risk it.

I had my mind set on visiting Iceland in the winter because I just wanted it to be cold and snowy. It’s actually interesting because people think Iceland is way colder than what it is. Their winters are not any colder than NY or Boston. The thing that gets you though is the wind. Boy is it windy!

Once we got the car we headed to our hotel. In the city we stayed at Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel right in Reykjavík. It was a good area located near shopping centers. It’s really affordable and a very cute boutique hotel. I loved the decor in the lobby and the room was a nice size and could fit all our luggage and bags comfortably especially compared to all the other places I looked up where the reviews mentioned the rooms were tiny. We actually stayed here the first night and last night of our trip.

Even though it wasn’t colder then temperatures I grew up in I didn’t feel like walking in the cold so we opted to drive around the city instead of walking. The first place we visited was Hallgrímskirkja which is a beautiful landmark and church in Iceland. I had seen this beautiful structure in photos and just had to visit. It’s really breathtaking in person. We then headed down the streets nearby and popped into the different shops. It was nice to see all the holiday decorations. The city is very clean and quaint. We didn’t catch the name of this lake and mountain we saw in the background but it’s so large you cant miss it if you’re in the city. It was such a beautiful backdrop.

After our first night in Reykjavík, we planned the next day for some adventures. The first stop was Strokkur Geysir but on the way we saw people in the distance and pulled over. Turns out it was the Kerid Crater which wasn’t even on my radar to visit but ended up being so cool!! It was so beautifully blue with the snowy mountains in the background. You can hike down to it but it was so windy we didn’t want to risk it. Definitely worth adding to your itinerary though!

We headed back on the road to the geysir and on the way found some horses fenced by the side of the road and of course had to say hi. I always wondered how everyone got a picture with the horse in Iceland and realized it’s really easy because some farmers have them fenced off closer to the road so you can easily stop and say hi. You can tell they are used to humans even though one did try to bite me multiple times but I think it thought I had food on me. Icelandic horses definitely look different than “normal” horses, they almost look like dwarf horses but they are really beautiful and exotic.

We finally made it to the geysir. It erupts every 6-12 minutes and got to see it go off 2 times. It’s not very big but it’s the most reliable geysir on the island so if you want to see one, this is the place.

Next we headed to Gulfoss Falls. I was so excited to see this waterfall because it looked so epic in photos. When we arrived I literally couldn’t believe how windy it was. I’ve never experienced wind like this in my life. I thought I was going to be knocked down, I could barely walk. It was a little scary because the waterfall was right below us. They closed off the area where you can get close to it rightfully so because the wind was really dangerous. We still got to see it though and it was beautiful but I couldn’t enjoy it like I wanted because I was so scared the wind was going to have me fly away. 

Our last stop that day was to the Secret Lagoon. We already planned to visit the Blue Lagoon so I wasn’t so sure how necessary the Secret Lagoon was but I’m so glad we went. The Secret Lagoon is a very affordable alternative if you want to swim in the hot springs created by the geysers in Iceland. Make sure to make a reservation before because you don’t want to show up and have it be full. They have showers, lockers, and towels (towels are an extra charge) so you’re pretty set when you arrive. Parts of the water are boiling hot but overall it was amazing! Just be careful to not go close to the edge cause I banged my knee on a rock. I always wanted to be in cold weather and swim in the hot springs. It’s crazy how you can’t tell how cold it is outside once your body’s in the water.

After the Secret Lagoon, we checked into out next hotel. Hotel Ranga is a luxury resort in Hella, Iceland. It’s about 1 hour 4o minutes from the capital. This hotel was so beautiful. It felt like a cozy luxury cabin and every detail is accounted for in the decor. They gave us a beautiful room with a lake view and I was so in love with the large copper bathtub in the bathroom.

She The Collection dress

They have a game room and an outdoor hot tub. I have to say, the customer service here was exceptional. The staff makes you feel very welcomed. We happened to be there for a traditional Icelandic Christmas dinner which was really nice to experience. We tried reindeer but ended up not being a fan but I liked that we got to try a traditional Icelandic dish. The coolest part about this hotel is that they have a Northern Lights wake up call. You just push a button on your room phone and you’re added to the list. If the staff sees the Northern Lights in the middle of the night, they will call your room to wake you to see. Unfortunately, it was cloudy the whole time we were in Iceland so we didn’t get to see them. They are very hit or miss and unpredictable so you just have to hope for clear skies when you visit. I would stay at this hotel again if we were to come back to Iceland. It was so cozy and charming and we loved that it was outside of the city.

On our next day we decided to head further south and explore that part of the island. First stop was Skogafoss Waterfall I heard that this waterfall is so large it often creates a double rainbow but of course the clouds just kept killing my vibe. Nevertheless its pretty epic in person and an easy drive from our hotel so it was nice to visit.

After Skogafoss we headed to Reynisfjara Beach. This was one of the top places I wanted to visit because of the uniquely carved stone and the black sand beach. This place is truly magical in person. I’m so glad we made the trek. Staying at our hotel made it much easier to see other parts of the island because we were already much closer. From Reykjavík the beach is about 2.5 hour but because we stayed in Hella, it was a little less then 1.5 hours. This beach is a must visit! I have never seen waves that epic in my life! Everything about it was fascinating. 

On our way back we passed the famous bra fence which is a random tradition started where people leave their bras along a fence. I opted to keep mine on. At first I was like, “Why on Earth are there so many bras on the wall?!” then I googled it. So if you feel like leaving your mark on Iceland bring an extra bra handy.

We headed back to Hotel Ranga and enjoyed some time in hot tub. I didn’t realize how much time in the water I would be spending in such a cold location, but I was quickly in love with the contrast of the hot water against the frigid temperatures. The views around the hotel were so dreamy, I could have stayed in there all day.

The next day we checked out and headed to the Blue Lagoon. This is a MUST visit if you are headed to Iceland. A staple tourist stop but completely necessary. The Blue Lagoon is just as beautiful as every photo you’ve seen online. The water really is that blue and the mountain and steam dropped background is just as spectacular as you could imagine. We decided to do the highest package which is the spa. If you have the extra dollars, I highly recommend it. You still get access to the main lagoon but then you have the private spa lagoon to yourself which is much quieter. With all the tourist, the main lagoon can get a little rowdy and the spa side is so much quieter and peaceful. Not only that, but you get your own private dressing room with shower, robes, towels and slippers. There is also a steam room and sauna and spa restaurant where you can enjoy lunch in your robes. You also get to do the ritual and exfoliate with black and white sea salt, volcanic mud body and face mask followed by an Algae mask. Our skin was so soft after I just kept touching it in awe. It was the perfect way to end the trip and completely worth the money. I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

After the spa we headed back to Reykjavík to Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel. We were already familiar with the hotel so it kind of felt like home. We had a very relaxing night and woke up the next day and headed back to LA.

This trip was perfect and 5 days was just enough time. If you’re thinking of going to Iceland or even if you weren’t GO! I want to try to go again one day in the summer. The light is opposite it’s light almost 24 hours out of the day! Until next time Iceland!

 

1 Comment

  1. 18th December 2018 / 2:00 am

    Beautiful pictures! These make me want to revisit Iceland now. I hope to get back early 2019.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.