Iceland, known as the "Land of Fire and Ice," is a captivating destination that offers breathtaking landscapes and awe-inspiring natural wonders. From cascading waterfalls to towering glaciers, black sand beaches to geothermal springs, Iceland offers a unique blend of adventure and tranquility. In this blog post, I will take you on a virtual journey through our week in Iceland, highlighting some of the country's most iconic attractions and hidden gems.
Day 1: The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is a popular driving route that encompasses some of Iceland's most remarkable natural attractions. Our first stop was Þingvellir National Park, where you can walk between two tectonic plates. The park's unique geology comes from its location between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, which create the rift valley that runs through Iceland. The tectonic plates move apart at approximately 2.5 cm a year and have done so for millenniums. The effects of this movement are very clear within the park. Lava fields fill the valley and the whole area is littered with ravines. Also in this park is the beautiful Öxarárfoss waterfall, pictured below. For Game of Thrones fans, this may look familiar as several scenes were filmed in this location. (Click on images to enlarge).
Next on the map, we strolled through the geothermal area of Geysir which is known to burst up to 230 feet into the air. About 3.2 feet down Geysir's feeder channel, the water can be as hot as 125 ºC. There are several geysers scattered across the country, which blew us away!
We then visited the majestic Gullfoss waterfall, one of the most spectacular falls on Iceland.
On our way home, we stopped at Kerid Crater; a volcanic crater 6500 years old (this was a short walk from the parking lot and worth checking out).
Day 2: Snæfellsnes Peninsula - A Hidden Gem
We headed to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, a hidden gem of Iceland and explored the dramatic landscapes including the Gerduberg Cliffs, Raudfeldsgja Gorge and Arnarstsapi.
Also located here is the iconic Snæfellsjökull volcano, often referred to as the "gateway to the center of the Earth." The drive had many stops including charming fishing villages and unique rock formations. Kirkjufell waterfall was another shooting location utilized for Game of Thrones and only a short walk from the car so don't skip this! Djupalonssandur beach, a black sand beach, was our last stop. This beach is not one for wading, but enjoying from a safe distance as the ocean's powerful suction can easily carry you out to sea.
Day 3: Blue Lagoon and Fargradalsfjall Volcano
We hiked to the lookout point of Fargradalsfjall volcano, which awoke 6000 years ago and again when it erupted in 2021 and again in 2022. It is currently not active but there are so many lava formations to look at. We also stopped at the Seltun Geothermal area which was another mesmerizing area with geysirs. We spent the evening relaxing in the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa surrounded by stunning volcanic landscapes.
Day 4: Waterfalls!
We saw over 20 beautiful waterfalls on this day. We visited the awe-inspiring Seljalandsfoss waterfall, where you can walk behind the falls, how amazing! We then went to Skogafoss waterfall and walked the steps to the top and continued on for the 3.5km hike each way where several more gorgeous falls (pictured below) can be viewed. The water is so clean in Iceland, we could fill up our water bottles anywhere directly from the falls without any type of purification (naturally filtered through ancient lava rock). We stopped at Dyrholaey which offers views of a natural arch as well then went to Reynisfjara Beach another black sand beach used in Game of Thrones. We ended the day exploring the Yoda Cave on our way back to our countryside Airbnb. Across from where we stayed were thousands of sheep roaming. It was so picturesque.
Day 5: Fjaorargljufur Canyon and Glacier
Fjaorargljufur Canyon was just a short hike to see this spectacular canyon and waterfall and well worth the stop. We then drove to Svartifoss waterfall (if you are tight for time and have seen several other waterfalls already, you could skip this). Hiking trail to the falls (1.5km each way) was quite busy. The cliffs surrounding the falls were unique but there are definitely other falls I would rate as better if you are tight for time.
Jökulsárlón Glacier, also known as Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, is located at the southeastern edge of Vatnajökull Glacier. It is a large glacial lagoon formed by the melting ice from Breiðamerkurjökull, an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull. The lagoon is connected to the Atlantic Ocean, allowing icebergs to float from the lagoon into the sea.
Jökulsárlón Glacier, is a MUST SEE. Icebergs of various shapes and sizes break away from the glacier and slowly make their way towards the sea, creating a captivating spectacle. This spot is definitely a photographers paradise, the vibrant blue hues of the icebergs provide endless opportunities for capturing breathtaking shots. We were greeted by curious seals, and even watched an iceberg tip over. Diamond Beach is where the glistening icebergs wash ashore on the adjacent black sand beach. It took our breath away! I also thoroughly enjoyed observing the Icelandic horses and sheep scattered across the fields (I stopped and took way too many photos of them!)
Day 6: Westman Islands - Pinch me!
Off the southwestern coast of Iceland, lies a cluster of captivating islands known as the Westman Islands. This hidden gem offers untouched beaches, sea caves and sea cliffs that provide nesting grounds for puffins and other seabirds. The Westman Islands are renowned for their vibrant puffin colonies, offering a rare opportunity to get up close and personal, which we did! Witnessing these creatures in their natural habitat is an experience that will forever be etched in our memory. Packing a picnic and relaxing on the island was so lovely. We didn’t have the chance to hike to the top of Eldfell volcano (offering panoramic views) due to it being so foggy, but it sure looked incredible. Can you see the elephant in the rock? (photo six).
Day 7: Sky Lagoon and Reykjavik
On our last day, we decided to wind down and relax at Sky Lagoon. The main highlight of Sky Lagoon is its large infinity-edge geothermal pool, overlooking the ocean. The lagoon also features a swim-up bar, tranquil relaxation areas, and various geothermal pools of different temperatures to cater to individual preferences. We then explored Reykjavik, the country's vibrant capital city and tried several popular traditional foods. The city's colorful streets, iconic Hallgrimskirkja Church and street food stalls are not to be missed. The last photo shows the beautiful sky at 11pm in June. It is light 24/7 there, which is how we did so much exploring throughout our days.
Iceland is undeniably a remarkable destination that deserves a top spot on anyone's bucket list.