November 21, 2016

Things You HAVE To Do In Iceland!

I mentioned in this post how Iceland is totally having a moment right now, and I am all for it! *insert raised hand emjoi*. After my recent adventure to the land of the vikings, I've put together a top list of things you absolutely have to do while you're in Iceland... You haven't done it right if you haven't checked out these things...

First up is the Blue Lagoon. There are not enough words to describe my awe of this place, and the magical-ness of it all. In my opinion, you simply cannot visit Iceland and not take a trip to The Blue Lagoon. I advise getting "Premium" tickets, which allows speedy entry, complimentary bath robe, towel, slippers, a free drink in the Lagoon bar and an additional face mask. A little pricey but totally worth it, and the complimentary robe means you can take a while in the lounge area over-looking the Lagoon and not get frozen alive. Bonus.

Since The Blue Lagoon is so close to the airport, (around 15/20 minute drive) I recommend hitting this place up on your way to Reykjavik, instead of on your way home like most other travel blogs recommend. My reason being that when we arrived in Iceland mid-day, we could head straight to the Lagoon and spend as much time there as we wanted because we were not rushing for a flight, but also afterwards we were both very hungry, wet and cold, (Despite the free hairdryers, I didn't have much energy..), so the thought of heading back to our hotel instead of a cold and busy airport was much more appealing.

We dedicated our first full day in Iceland to The Golden Circle Tour. This we done by ourselves by hiring a rental car, although tour bus guides are also available if you prefer that option. Check out here to catch why you need a car in Iceland.

For the Golden Circle Tour we headed on road number 36 out of Reykjavik using our Maps App on our phones. Once you start on the route 36, every tourist attraction is well sign posted and extremely easy to find, and the Maps App gives a step-by-step guide to your destination.

First stop on the Golden Circle was Thingvellir National Park. We didn't stop in the National Park, but the route drives you straight through it, opening up the breath taking views of the surrounding landscape. Along the road there are a lot of photo opportunities, so be prepared to stop a couple of times in lay=bys for photo shoots and mesmerising "ohhhs" and "ahhhhs". On the far side of the park we stopped near the surroundings of a mountain which suffered a landslide, we took time to take in the view and collect volcanic rocks from the bottom of the slide. This experience, although it doesn't sound like much, was a highlight of the trip, experiencing the soft and sinking earth around the volcanic mountain and studying the structure of what was once lava.

Straight ahead is the Geysers. These natural phenomenons aren't hard to miss due to the sign posts and large volumes of water shooting into the sky infront of you. With more than a handful of geysers to see, take your time to stroll around each of them and marvel at their beauty. But don't turn your back for even a second, there's no warning for when they're about to explode. Set your camera on video mode or take a time lapse to capture the beauty of the geysers, and don't just watch it the once, stay for a while to see the geysers from a few angles and stand near the edge to catch the warm water spray down after the explosion.

Last but certainly not least was Gullfoss, one of, if not the most "I can't believe I'm actually standing here" moments I have ever experienced. Photos and videos cannot even capture the essence of Gullfoss, so sit back and take it all in. To get to Gullfoss, drive a further 20 minutes straight from the geyser's, a car park and visitor centre will open up on the right hand side of the road... but don't be fooled, the 32m drop is just behind that cliff, you won't see it from the roadside. Pack waterproofs for this one, even though it could be sunny, the spray from the fall's creates a winter rain shower over the walkway.

Gullfoss is definitely up there with the best of my travel moments so far. An unforgettable experience that will make your head spin.

Day three was confided to Southern Iceland, more waterfalls and the famous black sand beaches of Vik. Road number One is the ring road around the island heading towards the South from Reykjavik. Using the Maps App head straight through a small, local town called "Selfoss", from here we drove straight to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall.

Seljalands isn't the only beauty to see here, once you have explored the waterfall head further down the less travelled path to the left of the fall (viewing from the carpark). Here we found the most amazing beauty.. A waterfall inside a cave. Standing underneath this waterfall I had a genuine lump in my throat and goosebumps at the wonder I was seeing. Getting into this waterfall is no mean feet, you will have to climb your way into the cave across stepping stones in the river, some slightly below the surface of the water, meaning waterproof hiking/snow boots are an absolute necessity. Just like Gullfoss, the spray from both of these waterfalls is enough to shower in, so make sure and wrap up with layers and top up with waterproof coats and trousers. Being around such open spaces and water makes the temperature drop dramatically, so always have gloves and a hat close by.

Further along route one, Skogafoss sheds it's beauty. This was the closest I think I will ever come to a real life Disney waterfall. Rushing tonnes of water over a square and straight cliff made me feel like I was in a dreamland. Piercing out from the cliffs, Skogafoss cannot be missed on the drive by, but signposts will direct you along the route. Climb the mighty flights of steps up the face of the cliff to the viewing point at the top of the fall. Luckily Skogafoss hosts great views from the top and bottom of the waterfall so get your walking shoes on to catch the sights.

To finish off our Southern Iceland Tour we tied up in the Black Sand Beaches of Vik. The view from these beaches will stop you in your tracks. The waves are meters high, the sand is composed of the smoothest, roundest pebbles I have ever seen, and giant basalt column caves hide in the mountains surrounding the coast. Dress warm and take a stroll to the furthest end of the beach to marvel at the eroded cliffs and stunning scenery of the island, chase the waves out of the water and collect stones to bring home. (Mainly because here you can get them for free, but in the airport they sell them as souvenirs for £20 a stone...) The drive to Vik is slightly nerving on a windy day, but brings breath taking views of the Southern Coast and Iceland's Glacier. (Unbelievable!)

Before catching our flight on Saturday morning we took a quick drive to snap a few photos of the Sun Voyager and the Harpa Hall, Iceland's famous concert hall. Unfortunately we didn't have quiet enough time to explore Reykjavik in all it's glory, but of course this is an excuse for another trip to go back..

This trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I cannot recommend that you visit this amazing island if you are ever lucky enough to have the chance. The natural beauty will astonish you and leave you left for words, it is a truly magical experience.

If you visit Iceland and check out any of the things we did then please let me know in the comments! Check out these posts for all things Iceland:





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