Years and years ago, I came across the most beautiful video about the most magical looking place I had never visited and knew very little about. Here are the things I did know: my favorite band, Sigur Ros, was from there as well as Bjork, and it was small. But after I saw the crazy, alien landscapes and geography, I became a bit obsessed. I would say I travel more often than anyone in my family and really love seeing new places. Nevertheless, it took me years to make this trip happen. I realized sometimes you just have to buy the ticket and it forces you to plan the rest.
I was lucky to have my boyfriend Erik join me on this adventure. Before the trip, I decided to drop a lot more money and invest in a new camera kit. I have previously shot with Canon, which I love, but decided to switch over to Nikon as this is what Erik uses and it would be possible for us to share more expensive lenses moving forward. I'm glad I made the purchase because the camera helped me grab some pretty amazing shots. There were hundreds to go through when we returned, but I've selected some of my favorites below.
DAY 1: We started the trip in Reykjavik, of course. This is the capital and where the majority of Iceland's population resides. It is not a huge city by any means, but much larger than any other town we visited. The first day was spent acclimating to the time difference and exploring the city itself, despite high winds, occassional snow and colder temps. We stayed in the Reykjavik Lights hotel, which was our favorite out of the trip. It had a cool interior design and a really awesome breakfast that was included. Within the city, we saw the Hallgrimskirkja church, a major tourist destination, and we walked around to various shops with pit stops to snack on crepes and hot dogs. My favorite thing about the city were the murals we saw as well as the architecture. I love colorful buildings, and there were plenty.
DAY 2: This was our first day outside of the city, and we decided to head North to Kirkjufell, a beautiful mountain on the coast. Due to the unpredictable weather, we had to adjust our schedule day by day. So, we decided to try to drive the Golden Circle road later on that day as opposed to the following day. My favorite thing was stopping a couple times to pet Icelandic horses. They were so friendly and pretty. We got a bit lost on our way to Gullfoss along the Golden Circle, our last stop of the day, but were fortunate enough to spot some reindeer, which we stopped to gaze at.
DAY 3: It rained a lot today. I'm glad we pushed to do more the day before. Today we focused on driving from Reykjavik to Vik, which was only about a 2.5 hour drive. We stopped at a couple waterfalls along the way including Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, but we did not stay long at either due to the weather conditions. We also tried to go see some plane wreckage, but it was a 2 mile hike beyond the road, and again, weather! My friend told us to hike up Skogafoss and beyond, which we attempted to do for a bit but were driven away by the rain. We agreed to return on our way back later that week.
DAY 4: The weather was intermittent rain and sunshine. Our time at Black beach was a bit brief due to this. I'm sad we couldn't stay longer and explore, but glad I got to see it. This place was on my list of things to see, and I highly recommend it. The cliffs are beautiful! Perhaps the best stop of the day was at the Fjaðrárgljúfur gorge. This was a breathtaking hike along a beautiful river gorge with towering cliffs. It was a bit wet due to the melting snow, but so worthwhile. The sun was out the entire time we hiked, which was nice. It started to rain as soon as we made it back to the car.
We tried to stop at Skaftafell, a park on the way to our destination of Hali, but storm clouds were rolling in, and we decided to continue on and try back the next day. We outran the storm and made a pit stop at the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, which is a large glacier close to the Ring road. You really can't miss it. We took pictures of the huge ice chunks on the beach before checking in to our hotel in Hali. We spent the rest of the afternoon in a small fishing village called Hofn a bit further east. This town was adorable and had a ton of brightly painted boats. That night, Erik wanted to try to snap some pictures of the stars, so we bundled up and tried our luck back at the lagoon, which was miserably windy before heading back to the hotel for some good rest.
DAY 5: Today we backtracked just a bit and stopped at a different, unplanned glacier on our way back to Skaftafell. Once we arrived at the park, we hiked to see Svartifoss waterfall, which has incredible cliffs similar to Black beach. Afterwards, we took a quick hike over to another glacier before heading back to the hotel to rest a bit. We planned to go out that evening and watch the sunset at the glacial lagoon. This was very beautiful, and although we never got to see any Northern Lights during our trip, the sunsets were very pretty. I captured a nice timelapse video that I still need to edit and will post once I'm finished.
DAY 6: Our last full day of exploration on the island. Today was tight in terms of timing. We decided to head back and make our main stop at Skogafoss before venturing to Blue Lagoon for some nice relaxation. The day was bright and lovely, and we were rewarded with a double rainbow at the waterfall. It was a great hike along the river with nice views of the water and more falls further upstream. We made it to the Blue Lagoon later on that day for a nice, expensive soak. It was well worth it despite being so touristy. I would love to try to explore some of the natural springs on a future visit.
DAY 7: Our final day was spent packing and exploring a bit more of the city while returning to some of our favorite spots, including the hot dog stand. I was so sad to go home. But I'm so excited for the next adventure and to return someday.