When you come across $300 plane tickets to Iceland, you don’t pass them up.
End of story.
This was our excuse for our latest adventure at least.
Trekking through one 2017’s destination hot spots, and the country voted the safest travel destination (for the 6th year in a row): Iceland.
*Rent a car: All of the best sights are far, and cab fare is expensive. The roads are easy to navigate, and having a car allows you to explore at your own pace. Plus there are plenty of hidden gems along the side of the roads requiring pit stops.
*Food is expenisve: Like $30 for a pepperoni pizza, and $14 for a foot long Subway sandwich expensive. Bring as much non perishable food as you can to help cut costs. We lived off of granola and Cliff Bars. If you can stay at a hotel with a kitchenette, do it. Purchasing groceries from the local market will also help save $$$
*Pack for all types of weather: Snow, rain, sleet, hail, sun. And repeat. That was a typical day during our stay in Iceland. Not to mention the blistering windstorms we encountered. Iceland didn’t recieve a reputation for having bipolar weather for nothing.
How We Got There
We booked a round trip flight on WOW Air (wow air.us) for $310. No that is not a typo, it’s just the insanely cheap rates of the new Icelandic airline aiming to increase tourism in their country. The cheapest flight to Iceland we could find during these dates with the leading competitors was $945….
If you’re an aspiring wanderluster on a budget then this airline is a game came changer.
We’re flying WOW Air roundtrip to Europe in June for $400. Just saying. But that’s a story for a different day.
We were graced by the presence of a special guest during our flight, the fickle fickle Aurora Borealis.What We Did
The Golden Circle
One of Iceland’s most iconic tourist attractions, and it definitely did not disappoint. Scenic highlights include: Pingvellir National Park, Haukadalur Geysir, Gullfoss, and my personal favorite: the Icelandic ponies. But there are plenty of hidden gems along the way just waiting to be discovered.
It took us a little over three hours to drive the entire Golden Circle by car. The beautiful thing about this country is that no five miles of its terrain is alike, so you’re constantly awestruck by the sights outside of your window.Pingvellir National Park
Haukadalur GeysirGullfossAnd last but certainly not least… the Icelandic ponies.
We saw hundreds of waterfalls as we drove along the coast of Southern Iceland from Reykjavik to Vik, but our favorite was Seljalandfoss.
A popular tourist spot due to the fact that it’s the only waterfall in Iceland with a clear-cut path allowing you to stand directly behind the falls. The beauty of Iceland is that it offers so many incredible sights to see, so crowds really aren’t a thing over there.
WORD OF ADVICE. Bring a poncho, or at least bring a change of clothes with you, because the spray from the waterfall is intense. If there is even the slightest gust of wind, then consider it game over. It seems like everyone had received this memo but us. Ourselves and our best Hollister furs learned that lesson the hard way.
Another famous waterfall that’s in between the country’s capital and the tiny sea town of Vik. We liked that this was one of the few waterfalls that we were able to gain direct access to and get as up close and personal as we pleased. Unlike Seljalandfoss, the falls of Skogafoss are massive. Nothing like standing next to such an unbelievably powerful force and feeling so small to put things into perspective for you. The unique feature of this waterfall is the 250 step stair case built next to it that offers a stunning view from atop the falls. And same rule applies here. Ponchos. Ponchos. Ponchos.
A picturesque seaside village located 2.5 hours outside of Reykjavik. We stayed in Vik for a night to break up our drive from Reykjavik to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. If you have the time, this tiny town is worth the visit. Our personal highlight of our stay here was the red roof church nestled in the hills above this storybook village. It looks like something straight out of a fairytale. The view from the church provides the perfect overlook of Vik and the surrounding scenery.
Vik is also home of the famous Black Sand Beach and Black Sand Beach Bistro. Both offer killer views and are worth a visit. Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
There we were, day two of our trek from Reykjavik to Juokulsarlon, and eagerly awaiting our first glacier spotting. We had just driven through five miles of what looked like a scene out of Lord of the Rings, when we came around a bend and BAM. There was one lodged between two mountains.
Obligatory celebratory photos obviously followed. There were no road signs that specifically guided us to the Glacier Lagoon. A few times we were worried our navigation had betrayed us and considered turning back. It’s a straight shot from Reykjavik, and you’ll know you’re there when you come across a steel rod bridge. The giant chunks of ice floating in the water in the distance are a pretty good indicator that you’re in the right spot too. This was probably the highlight of our trip.
On one side of the road you can walk along the beach where you can get up close and personal with shards of glaciers that washed ashore. It looks like giant diamonds have been strewn across the beach. If you can wait to visit at sunset you won’t be disappointed. The other side of the road offered an overlook where you could view the gentle giants as they slowly floated in from sea. Both sides are worth a stop. Apparently Iceland is the “it” destination for wedding and engagement photos?Let us remind you it’s a crisp 3 degrees celcius in this picture. Talk about dedication….
The country’s capital is a great place to mesh with the locals and absorb Iceland’s rich culture. Downtown Reykjavik is adorable and offers a wide array of ecclectic shops and local dining.
Not to mention a great bar scene. Seeing that it is located in the center of a college town.
As the barista tol
d us at our favorite icelandic coffee shop, “Reyjkavic knows how to party.”
Unfortunately we didn’t get to party like it was 1979 Iceland style this time around, but it’s on our to do list for our trip this summer.
The famous church towers over the city of Reykjavik, and offers stunning views both inside and out. You can purchase a ticket that grants you access to top of the church’s tower for $9 USD. From the tower you have 360 degree views of Reykjavik from the sky. Definitely worth it.
Please excuse our blurry photos here. The hurricane level wind had absolutely no chill.
Although five days isn’t nearly enough time to explore this storybook country, it definitely gave us a solid preview and left us wanting more. You truly can’t go wrong when planning a trip here with so many incredible sights to see.
We’re already planning our return trip this June. But for now…. 10 more sleeps until India!