Travel Diary: Iceland

I've been dreaming about going to Iceland for a long time and thanks to the dropping airfares lately, I decided to go this winter. I was there for four days and got to see most of the natural attractions I wanted to see. Unfortunately, the weather blocked most of Northern Iceland, but there was still a lot to do in Southern Iceland. 

Day 1: 
On the first day in Iceland, we landed at 7:00 AM in the KEF airport and picked up our rental car from Sixt. I recommend getting a heavy duty four wheel drive that is approved for highland conditions because the roads were incredibly icy and we experienced several hail/storm/wind/rain storms that rocked our already-very-heavy car. From the airport, we went straight to the Golden Circle. There is only 4 hours of daylight during the winter, so we had to get there while the sun was still out.... or when the sun came out and left. It was roughly a two hour drive to the airport and we made it to our first destination: Laugarvatn Fontana. 

Laugartvn Fontana Outside View

This place is a thermal bath house, but we just came to admire the view.

Next, we went to the Geysir, which is the second destination in the Golden Circle

Geysir pre-erruption

The Geysir destination has a cute restaurant, parking lot, and a short hike to see all the little geysirs + the big one. This was a great place to stop for lunch, take that much needed restroom break, and enjoy the short walk. The water holes were so beautiful in person and I highly recommend visiting this stop. Warning: it smells like sulfur here! So does all of Iceland's water... 

Afterwards, we drove to the Gullfoss waterfall in the pouring rain. 

Gullfosss Waterfall from Middle Viewpoint

This double layered waterfall was incredible in person, but it requires a hike to the different viewpoints. This is a MUST see and don't forget to layer up because it's very very cold here. There are also hikes around the waterfall, but due to the rain and lack of sun, we decided skipped it.

After seeing the three main Golden Circle attractions, we drove to our cabin in Hella, Iceland. Many of these towns have one restaurant with overpriced food, so I recommend buying groceries and cooking.  

Day 2: 

We left our cabin around 7:00 AM and drove along the coast of Iceland to Skaftafell (5 hours drive). Along the way, we stopped by two gorgeous waterfalls in the dark: Selfjalandfoss and Skogafoss. They were ten minutes away from each other. We went back to both of these waterfalls in the daylight as well, but I thought going at night was more miraculous because you are by yourself with just the waterfall. For Selfjalandfoss, there is a trail that can lead you behind the waterfall. 

Selfjalandfoss at night

Skogafoss at night

After the waterfalls, we reached the glacier and went on a Glacier Hike Tour of Skaftafell. This hike consisted of wearing crampons to walk on the ice, see a mini-version of Glacier Lagoon, and we got the opportunity to explore ice caves in the glacier. 

Mid-glacier hike on Skaftafell

After a long hike, we drove two hours back to Vik, which is a town located in the middle of Southern Iceland. I recommend looking for $ restaurants because $$ restaurants had >$50 meals. Not worth it, in my opinion. We had some yummy lamb galoush and called it a night in our Airbnb.

Day 3:
The next morning, we adventured around Vik and went to the famous black sand beach. This beach had the SOFTEST black sand I have ever felt and the rock formations were absolutely incredible. I HIGHLY recommend this place even though we got hailed on on the beach

Black Sand Beach at 10:00 AM 

After attempting to take pictures in the hail, we ventured off back to Reykjavik. On the way, we saw many Icelandic horses and took pictures with them. We also stopped at all the waterfalls mentioned earlier to experience them in the day.

Unfortunately, there were many tour buses there already and the experience was not the same. In Reykajvik, we walked around and explored the town. Our original plan was to see the Northern Lights, but unfortunately it was too cloudy that night and we could not see anything. 

Selfjalandfoss in the day

Driving back to Reykjavik

Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik

Day 4:

Today was supposed to be our relaxed day at the Blue Lagoon, but we forgot to book tickets! You MUST book tickets in advance because the tickets sell out months ahead. We were lucky and took two spaces that opened last minute. While waiting for our time slot, we stopped by the Viking World Musuem in Keflavik. It was closed for the winter, but we were able to wander around the viking hut replicas. This was a great place to learn about Icelandic history. The Blue Lagoon was an amazing experience despite the strong gusts of wind. I recommend getting the comfort package because it includes a drink and two face masks + a towel which is definitely needed. We spent a few hours just floating around and it was so relaxing. The perfect way to end the trip despite not being able to see the Northern Lights!   

Viking World in Keflavik

Blue Lagoon at 4pm

The next morning, we took off to London. The trip was amazing and I definitely want to come back in the summer. I hope you all enjoyed reading and please let me know if you need any more recommendations if you are also planning a trip there! I'd be happy to respond to emails, DMs, or write another blog post :)

Love,
Alice

All the amazing photos are taken by Jordan Jozwiak

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