I am so excited to share my trip to Iceland with you all! Over the last few years visitors to Iceland have doubled hitting 2 million visitors a year…. and the population is only 330,000 people! It has definitely become a hot spot for travel and I’ve captured all of my favorites to share with you. You will fall in love with Iceland’s nature, beautiful waterfalls, friendly people, and if you are like me, tasty vodka! I traveled with two new great friends, Kailey (IG) and Kelsey (IG). The three of us have never gone on a trip together, and were mere acquaintances. It made for such an epic experience and I am so thankful they ended up being some of the coolest girlfriends I’ve ever met! Now for the countdown!
10 Reasons to Visit ICELAND
10. Jokulsarlon Lagoon and Diamond Beach
The Jokulsarlon Lagoon and Diamond Beach are located two hours past Vik in East Iceland yet worth the drive! It is a crystal looking body of water with beautiful large iceberg chunks that resemble diamonds. It was very relaxing to get out of the car and just sit there watching sea lions swimming and playing on the glaciers. There was a comforting silence at this location as everyone seemed awestruck by the beauty and surroundings of gorgeous layers of blue. Walk under the road bridge to the Diamond Beach to see where the icebergs get washed up and look like diamonds on the black sand.
9. The Donut Hamburger at Roadhouse
This place is located a few blocks from downtown Reykjavik. You must try the Donut. It’s a donut bun, a burger, smoked pork and an egg. Healthy? No. Fun and delicious? YES. Also… the fries are double fried, haha. We all ordered this and cleaned our plates. The waiters are fun to joke with and we even taught them some American dance moves. They also informed us that they do not eat the Donut Burger because it’s a diabetes in a meal hahaha whatever. Worth it!
This is a must-do if you are a first timer to Iceland. It takes about 3 hours to drive it straight through. At our pace with the stops, lunch, and some hiking it took us about 8 hrs. This was the only day we saw a lot of tourists which put a bit of a damper on the exploring yet not too bad. Definitely glad we did this drive and it is worth it. Highly recommend you rent a car to go at your own pace. In fact, we had a car our entire trip and it was a great decision.
- The stops we made
- Thingvellir National Park – Walk (or snorkel!) between the tectonics plates of two continents; Eurasian and North American. It was also the birthplace of Old Iceland’s Commonwealth. Iceland leaders would meet in this area and decide on legislation.
- Gullfoss– unbelievable waterfall that cannot be missed!
- Geysir – The big geyser erupts every 5 minutes or so. Very cool to see the hot water boil up and blow.
- Bruarfoss Waterfall – Very pretty waterfall that requires a 3ish mile hike.
- Kerid Crater – 3,500 year old crater. You can walk around the rim of the crater, warning- it may be very windy!
7. Vik – a small town with a population of less than 300 people in Southern Iceland. There are several incredible stops including waterfalls, hikes, and hot springs on the way to Vik and right past it
Make sure to hit Seljalandsfoss, Black Sand Beach, Skogafoss, and Dyrhólaey (the arch with the hole) and Fjaðrárgljúfur (green canyon). Here is an great map that one of the girls I traveled with put together with all of the stops and directions. Google Map – South Iceland Drive with Stops .We ate a delicious dinner at Sudur.
6. Blue Lagoon
Book this ahead of time to be sure you get the time slot you want. It is located about 15 minutes from the airport so it is a good option to book right when you get to Iceland or before you catch your flight. We landed at 6 am so we decided to book the earliest time slot at 8 am. It was nice to cross one of our must-do’s off the list right away and it was very relaxing to enjoy the warm water after a long flight. We enjoyed champagne early around 10 am at the swim up bar. It was a goal of ours to take our time and enjoy ourselves as long as we wanted. It was the perfect way to start our trip and set the tone for our love of finding any and every hot springs in Iceland!
5. Cinnamon rolls at Braud & Co
Words cannot describe how good this bakery is and it crosses my mind almost daily! I will book another trip to Iceland purely to eat one of these again. Stop by Reykjavik Roaster next door for a coffee. I loved the décor and funky building covered in colors. It was 25 degrees and snowing one morning and the bakery gave out free cinnamon roll bites the entire time you had to wait outside in the line. Literally amazing.
4. Icelandic Horses! They are everywhere. So majestic, sweet, and sometimes a little hungry (see below haha). We loved taking breaks on our many roadtrips to pull over and give horses pets. The horses seem happy and content with acres and acres to explore.
3. Seljavallalaug – oldest pool in Iceland.
I saw a few pictures of this pool on instagram prior to booking Iceland and I knew I had to get there asap! I was in love. This pool is just lukewarm and maintained by volunteers. To get there slow down before you reach Skogafoss and turn left to go towards ‘Seljavellir” on a dirt road. It is about 25 minutes away from Vik. Pack a few beers or mini bottles of wine and towels in your backpacks to enjoy. You will need to hike about a mile through rocks and streams yet it is well worth it. The side closest to the pipe (furthest from the changing room) is the warmest. Kailey swam, dove, and did canyon balls on repeat. It started to snow when we were up there which made it freezing and so epic. We stayed in an airbnb on a farm that was only 2 miles away from this pool. Here is the link to our airbnb – the host was very sweet and he cooked us breakfast each morning. We were able to play with the dogs and horses plus it is a great spot to see the Northern Lights!
A greenhouse that specializes in tomatoes and supplies 70% of Iceland’s tomatoes. Truly amazing lunch with a whole menu featuring tomatoes. To me, the standout was the Bloody Mary! And Icelandic vodka is ridiculous smooth. Pretty sure we tried everything on the menu from soup, pizza, pasta, tomato apple pie, and plenty of drinks! We made this our lunch stop while driving the golden circle.
1. Reykjadalur Hike and Hot Springs.
45 min away from capital in the town of Hveragerdi. You will hike 3-4 miles up a mountain to a hot springs river. The water is about 90-100 degrees. Our experience: We started this hike around 6:30 pm, a bit late yet the sun doesn’t set until 10 or 10:30 pm in April. It was 30 degrees outside. When we arrived, we saw a few cars but no people and started thinking this mystical hot springs hike might be made up. It was so cold yet we decided to awkwardly put on our swimsuits in the porter potty at the bottom of the mountain then we started to climb. There were no signs, as this is local spot and few tourists even know about it. Luckily, we see a few people along the way and became more comfortable trekking along. After an hour or so we saw a lot of steam, the river opening up and a few, maybe five, very brave souls in the water with swimsuits on. After exchanging some friendly words we decided to go for it and stripped down bare to our bikinis and jumped in. And WOW! Talk about one of the most incredibly experiences of my life… honestly it was up there with skydiving in Switzerland, cliff jumping in Hawaii, and playing a big XII soccer game in complete snow in Colorado. The perfect mix of extreme, epic and CRAZY! We packed a 6 pack of beer and 4 mini bottles of wine. Then swam, drank, and giggled for hours. The sun was setting so we worked up our liquid courage to jump out and run around naked trying to put on our clothes. We hiked the 3-4 miles down the mountain as the sun was setting, with frozen hair, and smiling ear to ear.
Need even more reasons to go? Fineeeeeee 🙂
Additional Food Options:
- Kaloportid Flea Market – right next door to Iceland’s big flea market
- Hradlestin – a little bit of Bollywood in Iceland. Just off main shopping street. Famed Harpa Opera House, Inda themed décor
- Slippbarrin at the Marina Hotel- inside the Marina Hotel right next to Reykjavik’s busy shipping harbor -some of the city’s best cocktails
- COFFEE!! Reykjavik Roasters – we stopped by this place almost every morning. Serves some of the best coffee in Iceland. It is right to Reykjavik’s iconic church Hallgrímskirkja.
- Kex- a redone biscuit factory overlooking Reykjavik’s Harbor. Now a hip and industrial hostel with a gastropub vibe. Locals and young, trendy visitors fill this restaurant up everyday. All of the beer on tap is local with Icelandic ingredients such as angelica and arctic thyme. The food menu is full os Icelandic favorites. It was very cold and windy the day we went so we filled up on soup, burgers, and beer. There are large, wooden communal tables with made it easy for us to chat with locals and learn a lot about our surroundings. We were happy we checked this place out night 1.
- Saegreifinn – in the capital. Famous seafood spot
- Sandholt – sandwiches to go
- Baejarins Beztu Pylsur- Near Marina. Famous hot dog stand. (Bill Clinton loves it here.. insert jokes). Get the lamb hotdog with everything. LOVE THIS TOO. Foodie, can ya tell?
- Bergsson Mathus – good spot for brunch
- “Harbor” is a good place to be for food and sightseeing in the capital.
- Free Reykjavik Walking Tour – good idea to do this day one so your get oriented to the city and learn about the history of Iceland.
- Laugarvatn Fontana – A natural hot springs, bath, geothermal pool, wellness center.
- Reykjavik Bar Crawl — this company also has a good food tour!
- Snaefellsnes Peninsula. This is a 2 hr drive from Reykjadular. We drove there and back in one day. It was a lot of driving yet very pretty with many landscape changes. this post and this post helped us a lot with planning!
- ATVs Tour- We picked this one 2 hr ATVs and it was about $165-$210 per person. We loved it although the weather was snowing and hailing the entire time! Thankful the company provided a lot of warm gear for us to wear.
- Snorkeling and scuba diving
- Hallgrimskirkya Church – if you are in the capital then you will definitely see this church! Worth going inside and seeing the views from the top.
- Harpa – beautiful concert hall in the capital. They have weekly events and plays. Stop in and see the dimensional glass walls even if it’s just to get out of the cold for a minute!
- Helicopter Tour
- Sun Voyager-cool sculpture near the harpa concert hall. Head to Kex after this for some food!
I hope this post encourages you to take on Iceland! I promise you will be happy you did. Thanks for adventuring, Iceland! On to the next.