Iceland has been pretty much the top of the bucket list forever. With so much natural beauty to see and only short amount of time I’m going to apologise in advance for the extra long, picture heavy post as I share the highlights. It’s worth it though I promise!
Arriving some time around midnight in the pouring rain we arrive at our Hotel, the Centerhotel Thingholt to a friendly welcome despite the late hour, the check in is efficient and we were marvelling at the junior suite we’ve booked in no time, quickly passing out.
The morning arrives, brining a very tasty buffet breakfast with it, lots of local delicacies to try. Fed and coffee’d we wrap up and head out to explore Reykjavik. The rain has eased of from the night before and though cold it is warmer than expected, although that might have just been some very efficient thermals.
Having no real idea where to go or what to do we opt for heading up the hill towards the Hallgrimskirkja, guided by the locals.
Being the tallest building in the country and beautiful with its flowing stark concrete lines, you cannot miss it.
Without the protection of the shops and houses and being higher up the cold wind bites into any exposed skin and so we decided not to loiter too much and continue our “getting to know you” city walk down Frakkastigur towards the sea. I always love walking everywhere in a new city to try to get a good feel for the place.
The sea looked deceptively calm but its steel coloured blue-gray surface and the huge volcanic boulders on the coast suggested a cold ferociousness, which kind of put you off going in for a dip.
That and the driving rain, which descended as we walked along the coast path. Stopping long enough to appreciate the many sculptures.
And of course seeing the sun voyager sculpture, which is based on a viking ship is an ode to the sun.
Diving into the stunning glass and steel form of Harpa, the concert hall and conference centre we marvelled at the intricate structure of the building and the pleasantness of being both warm and dry.
Feeling the pull of hunger and with the rain starting to ease we set out in search of Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur a small Hot dog stand with a big reputation. I can definitely say it’s justified and we rather greedily had two each.
With renewed vigor instilled by multiple hot dogs and the rain clouds starting to disappear our voyage of exploration continued finding new and interesting sights around each corner and on almost every wall.
One of the main reasons for heading to Iceland, I’m sure you’d all agree is seeing the Aurora Borealis. We booked a tour using Gray Line Iceland but unfortunately due to the bad weather was postponed.
A top tip would always be to book the tour for as early on in your trip as possible, as the company was fantastic at rearranging for another day, guess it happens a lot with the unreliable weather.
Opting instead for an incredibly tasty meal in the hotel restaurant we set off down to the harbour in an effort to see, if by some miracle we could see the Aurora Borealis for ourselves. We didn’t catch it but did see Harpa lit up and enjoyed mooching about with the friendly Icelanders out for a nights fun.
Another early start led to one of the most incredible days I have experienced.
Up into the snow covered mountains passing the vast geothermal power station, which provides the city with power and hot water.
And down into the town of greenhouses, Hveragerði, where the geothermal power and countless greenhouses provide ideal growing conditions for all manner of fresh vegetables and flowers.
There is so much to see as we rumble along Icelands main ring road towards our first proper stop of the day Skogafoss.
With a tight schedule to keep and many miles to cover we had about half an hour to take photos and take in the beauty of this vast waterfall.
The landscape is other worldly giving way from mountains to vast moss covered fields of lava.
Looking at the ruggedness of the land it is hard to believe how much it is changing, with the glaciers retreating and the floods this causes. It fills you full of awe and sadness knowing the amazing things you are seeing may not be there for much longer it we continue to act so destructively.
Lunch at possibly one of the most picturesque truck stops in the world.
Then on to the main reason for our trip Jokulsarlon, the Iceberg Lagoon. An amphibious boat takes you out amongst these stunning floating slabs of Ice. Words can not accurately describe how incredibly beautiful this was to witness, so see for yourself.
Feeling calm and refreshed, reluctant to leave this amazing place we got back in the coach for the journey back. Taking in the Seljalandsfoss at night which was quite a sight lit up by flood lights it provided a wonderful end to a brilliant tour.
Hot springs are in plentiful supply in Iceland, it’s taken pretty seriously here and the best known is of course the Blue Lagoon. After reading mixed reviews about how touristy it was, we decided to see for ourselves as my principle is that if it’s popular there’s normally a good reason why.
We opted for a ticket that included transfers from the hotel, which is handy if you haven’t rented a car. Lava lined and trimmed by bright white the blue water was welcoming, not least because it’s really cold outside of the pools. Mist hangs over the lagoon pools offering a most surreal experience.
Our ticket also included a natural mineral rich mud mask and drink from the pool side bar, totally worth it to feel indulgent. The hours flew passed as the sun set the night taking over and giving the lagoon another edge of misty mystery. They were working on a hotel on site when we visited and we look forward to visiting again when its done so we don’t have to rush off and catch the last coach back to the hotel 🙂
Although the blue lagoon was busy, it wasn’t crowded and you could still find areas that were completely secluded. I would not be put off by other reviews complaining, but would go later in the day and skip the gift shop as it ridiculously over priced. If you want to get some products as a memento, wait until the air port where they also have a shop but with duty-free prices.
So go, relax and enjoy, after busy days hiking and sight seeing it is a treat.