Iceland: Part One

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I’m so excited to share our Icelandic adventure with you guys! Brian and I recently got back from a week-long trip around the entire country for our honeymoon, and it was incredible. Iceland is a beautiful country and we are so glad we got to see everything the country has to offer during the summer months. The amazing thing about Iceland in the summer is that there is only about 4 hours of darkness each day, and in some parts of the country, the sun doesn’t even set! Because of this, we were able to fill our days with as much as we could, and see A LOT. Planning our trip took months of research, so I wanted to pass along our detailed itinerary for those of you that might be traveling there soon, or just want to know a little bit more about our trip.

Day 1
We arrived in Iceland around 11am local time. We walked through the airport and picked up our rental car so we could get started on our journey. Driving in Iceland can be tricky at times, but if you really want to experience the country, I would definitely recommend driving instead of taking tour buses. Our first stop was The Blue Lagoon, which was a quick 10 minute drive from the Airport.

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This was the perfect place to go after a 6.5 hour, overnight flight. In true Icelandic fashion, it was raining when we arrived, but the lagoon rarely closes due to weather, so we were able to enjoy the hot springs as the rain came and went. The water was the perfect temperature and the amenities were endless. Our package included flip flops, robes, towels, a drink from the swim-up bar, and two face masks. We enjoyed the water, steam bath and saunas for about an hour and a half, before we got ready for our dinner reservation at Lava.

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Dinner was delicious, and I think we got the best seat in the house (we might have played the honeymoon card). Brian got fish soup and catfish, and I had the lamb shoulder. Both were great, but I honestly think my favorite part of the meal was the bread. It was so soft and fresh, and it came with some of the best butter that I’ve ever had, sprinkled with a little bit of sea salt and pepper. The whole Blue Lagoon experience was honestly the perfect start to our honeymoon!

Travel Tip: Book your tickets ahead of time for the Blue Lagoon. I would recommend booking the premium package so you can get the most out of your experience without needing to book spa treatments. 

As we left the lagoon, we wandered through the gift shop and were told to go to a lighthouse near by. We decided to venture there before checking into our Airbnb since it was so highly recommended. We got a little lost on the way, but it was worth it! The views of the coast were stunning and we were fairly secluded. We fell in love with Iceland right then and there.

The rest of our evening consisted on checking into our Airbnb and stopping at Iceland Street Food to share some lamb soup and happy marriage cake before heading in for the night. It was a fairly lively night in Reykjavik since Iceland tied their first football match in the World Cup. After some great people watching, we went back to our house and got some well deserved sleep.

Day 2
The next morning, we ventured out to breakfast at Cafe Babalu. This was a quaint cafe in the city center that had such a charming atmosphere. We walked in to find freshly baked banana chocolate chip muffins, just calling our names. We grabbed a few and enjoyed a cappuccino before our day began.

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Before we started our drive to the Southern Coast, we stopped at Bonus, an Icelandic grocery store, to get snacks for the ride. Our first site seeing stop was Stroker Geyser. This was a pretty tourist heavy area, but it was a great stop to see some pretty views of the country. We even ran into so friendly Icelandic horses along the way!

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From there we saw a number of waterfalls; Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Gljúfrafoss.  Our favorite, by far, out of these three was Gljúfrafoss (it’s right next to Seljalandsfoss). To get to it, you have to walk through a cave, it was a little harder to get to than most waterfalls, and very wet, but totally worth it. We did get some footage of this waterfall on our GoPro, but no photos (it was really wet, guys!)

Our last waterfall of the day was Skógafoss. This waterfall was really cool, because we were able to climbed up to the top of it and take in the amazing views.

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It started to rain at the end of our tour of waterfalls, but we really wanted to stop at Black Sand Beach before heading to our hotel for the night. By the time we got to the beach, it was pouring and super windy. We were probably two of the five tourists actually there, but it was stunning. We stuck around for about 10 minutes and then ran to our car to get warm.

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After our bodies thawed, we decided to stop in Vík from dinner since we were so close. We ate at a charming local spot, Halldorskaffi. The food was good, the best part of our meal was the warm caramel topped apple pie. Well deserved after our freezing beach experience. We made it back to our hotel in one piece, and mapped out our drive for the next day.

Day 3
I got up early to walk around the hotel and take in the scenery. The grounds were so beautiful and our log cabin hotel rested at the base of a volcano. After breakfast, we headed to Dyrhólaey. We tried driving to it the night before, but it was closed because it’s a puffin nesting ground during the summer. We got there right when the road re-opened, and made our way to the coast. This was the first test of our little Toyota Yaris, since we didn’t realize that we needed to drive up a very steep, gravel road (with many potholes) to get to this view… but we made it! Slow and steady.

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After taking in the views, we decided we had a little time to quick stop at Black Sand Beach again. By our luck, the weather was nice, and I really wanted to see it without the wind and freezing rain. And, like every other stop we made thus far, it was totally worth it.

From there, we had quite a drive through the southern coast towards Egilsstaðir. Driving along the coast was beautiful. The terrain would change from fields of lupine, to moss covered rocks, to mountains and black dirt fields.

We drove through the winding coastline to visit Systrafoss, then traveled to Skaftafell National Park where we saw Svartifoss and Svínafellsjökull Glacier. Svínafellsjökull was one our favorite things we saw (and not just because Game of Thrones filmed a scene there). We had never seen a glacier before! It was stunning and so much bigger than we could even take in. Very few people were around, it was so peaceful and still; a rarity at tourist attractions.

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Our last stop of the day was to Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon and Diamond Beach. Both became more beautiful the longer you looked at them. Even with the crash of the waves on the beach, the air still seemed calm. There were much more people around than at the glacier, but it still seemed quiet. Maybe we were too busy taking it all in to notice the running kids around, or the other families taking pictures. It was just too mesmerizing to notice anything else.

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Once our sight seeing was over, we had a fews hours left in our drive towards the east coast. On this drive, we pretty much experienced every element… extreme winds, clouds, sunny, rain. Driving along the coast was beautiful, but scary at times. When it came our time to finally drive north, the gravel road came… We ended up driving up and through the mountains, on an unpaved road, in the rain, in our little Toyota. I’m pretty sure Brian was just as terrified as I was, but he handled driving like a champ! After several hours of travel, we finally got to our Airbnb and settled in for the night.

Want more Iceland? Check out Part Two of our trip!

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