Like I mentioned in my last post, Iceland is like another planet filled with incredible stops along the way. This post will be very image heavy because it’s hard to not capture everything you see in this magical country. I’ve listed the stops in the order that we followed, and I hope it helps you book that flight! Did I mention that even though Iceland can be expensive, the roundtrip flights are some of the cheapest I’ve seen? So if you really want to visit Iceland, just set a budget and stick to it while you’re out there. Aside from the Blue Lagoon and restaurants, every single stop I mention below is free of charge.
1. Blue Lagoon
Yes, it’s touristy and expensive, but it’s also picture perfect, relaxing, and worth a visit in my opinion. Just keep in mind, they’re very strict about cleanliness so you’ll need to shower before entering the lagoon. Not a rinse off in your swimsuit kinda shower, you’ll need to strip down completely and they’ll make sure you’re doing it right. They created more “private showers” for shy tourists (me), but the stalls are light and you can still see your shadow while someone stands there making sure you’re following the rules. Kinda weird, I know, but you can’t skip it.
2. Strokkur Geyser
We followed the ring going south, and this geyser was our second stop. It erupts every 8-10 minutes, sometimes as high as 100+ feet, so have your camera ready!
3. Gullfoss Waterfall
I remember thinking, “this has to be the most beautiful waterfall I’ve ever seen!” Little did I know I was barely scratching the surface of amazing waterfalls in this country.
4. Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
This waterfall was especially fun because you can actually go behind it! Luckily for us, we arrived in the evening so this is where we experienced our first Icelandic sunset—behind the waterfall.
5. Seljavallalaug Pool
This is the oldest thermal pool in Iceland, snuggled right in between a snowy mountain. How do these places exist?! The drive to get to it is a little off the road and a very bumpy ride. Seriously, Pinterest makes this stuff look easy. After you park your car, you have to hike for another 15-20 minutes, and it’s just as rocky as the drive. It’s pretty hidden so you’ll find a lot of locals there.
6. Skógafoss Waterfall
You can get up close with this amazing waterfall, which makes for some extraordinary shots.
7. Sólheimasandur Plane Crash
This plane crashed back in 1973, everyone survived, but no one ever removed it. Now, it’s quite a sight to see. You’ll have to walk 2 miles down a gravel road (no cars allowed) to get to the plane, but it’s an easy hike. Try to go early because it’s a popular spot.
8. Reynisfjara (Black) Beach
I love any beach that isn’t traditional. And though it may look calm, these waves can kill you. Honestly, read up on it and be careful out there, don’t get too close to the water. Make sure you stop by the basalt columns, what used to be lava is now a really cool photo spot.
9. Fjaðrárgljúfur Moss Canyon
This stop is STUNNING. I mean they all are, but some just really leave you in awe.
10. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
This was one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been to. We actually had a glacier lagoon boat tour booked, but they canceled it because it was too warm and not safe to go out in the water. Bummed, we decided to check it out anyway (sans boat) and we’re glad we did! We were able to catch another glorious sunset, and even had some ice for dinner.
11. Dettifoss Waterfall
Remember in my last post I wrote about that crazy mountain we took as a shortcut? Well, shortly after that my brother-in-law Manny took over the wheel, and Jorge and I tried to get some sleep. A few hours later I woke up and everything was covered in snow again. I yelled thinking we were on top of another mountain! But it turns out northern Iceland can still be frozen in May.
None of us expected it, but we bundled up at 5 a.m. and started our hike to see the biggest waterfall in Europe.
There’s really no path to follow, just wherever the snow has hardened. I learned this the hard way by stepping out of the path and falling directly into the snow. My leg was caught, and the snow came all the way up to my waist! I kind of just gave up at that point until Jorge noticed and came to pull me out. They do put little flags and signs for you to follow so that was helpful. Jorge was still in pajamas, Jill had two coats and a blanket on, and my phone kept dying because it was so cold. No regrets though, just look at this beautiful place.
12. Námafjall Hverir Geothermal Fields
This stop wasn’t planned, but it was one of my favorites!! I’ve never seen anything like this. This field has a collection of steam fumaroles and mud pots and was definitely otherworldly.
13. Akureyri, Iceland
Finally, a town with more people! We stopped to do a little exploring and a lot of eating. Blaa Kannan Cafe is a cute coffee shop with plenty of pastries and unique coffees to choose from. Akureyri Fish & Chips had the freshest and yummiest fish & chips we’ve ever had, it was a nice surprise. Our last stop was at Brynja, their famous ice cream shop, and I’m still craving more of it till this day! Highly recommend them all.
This is how we felt after day three:
14. Hvítserkur Stone Rock
It’s a stone rock in the shape of an animal, what’s not to like? Plus, if you make it there by sunset you’ll see some pretty incredible colors.
15. Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Snæfellsnes is a lovely corner of Iceland that should definitely be visited, the remainder of the stops I’ll be sharing are actually on the peninsula. When you’re driving along, make sure to pull over when you see lava fields galore. They go on for miles so you shouldn’t miss them.
16. Kirkjufell Mountain in Grundarfjörður
Have you ever seen the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”? Well, this famous mountain is one of the filming locations for that movie, and these pictures are not edited. This is Iceland.
This is still part of the mountain! Unreal!
17. Djúpalónssandur Beach
We didn’t have this stop planned either and actually came here on a search for a different rock. Then without knowing where it was leading, we ended up at this lava wonderland! Jorge ran onto the beach to see if he could spot the specific rock we were looking for, meanwhile, I took pictures of all the crazy rocks already around us. I noticed there were a lot of iron remains on the ground, and it turns out they belonged to a British boat that crashed in 1948. Fourteen men lost their lives there, and now the beach is said to be haunted. Clearly, I didn’t know all of this when I was snuggled up on that rock.
18. Fjöruhúsið Café
You’ll see these picturesque black houses before reaching the cafe.
Then here it is, the Fjöruhúsið Café in the middle of a moss mountain. It has an outdoor patio, and an incredible view to go with it. Their swiss mocha and waffles were our favorite!
When we left the cafe we spotted this super cute restaurant and bar, but they had already closed for the day so I took pictures instead because that’s what I do.
19. Buðir Black Church
Isn’t Iceland so uniquely beautiful? The black church is a must see, and your Instagram will thank you for it.
20. Icelandic Horses!
Icelandic horses are some of the purest in the world. They don’t mix in any horses from other countries, and if an Icelandic horse leaves Iceland it’s not allowed back. They’re beautiful creatures with hair that’ll make you envious. They’re also very friendly and love people. So whenever you get the chance, pull over and say hello!
Iceland is one of those countries that you won’t believe is on the same planet as ours, and for that alone it’s worth a visit. I’m already dreaming of my trip back. I’d love to go during the winter and chase the northern lights. So tell me, is it on your list yet?
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