For my 30th birthday Nick decided he wanted to take me on a trip. Someplace I have never been, but has been on my bucket list for a few years now. A lot of people asked me, “Why Iceland?” when they found out we would be traveling there for a long weekend. I simple would respond with, “Why not?”. A beautiful country with just over 300,000 residents, most of it has been untouched and still remains the natural beauty it has always been.
I did a lot of research before our trip to make sure we would get the most out of the time we were going to be there. It paid off, because we were able to see quite a bit in a short amount of time. The one thing we did not get to enjoy though were the Northern Lights. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate giving us very cloudy skies for the duration of our trip. However, we were able to check quite a few other things off our list.
We stayed right in the capital of Iceland as it was the best location for what we wanted to do and see. Our first day we took the time to explore the city and see the picturesque sites. Hallgrímskirkja, The Sun Voyager, and Harpa are a few of the more well known structures. There are also a plethora of cute little shops, restaurants, and pubs all along the streets that could keep you busy for hours.
The Golden Circle
We took a full day to explore a good portion of the Golden Circle. This route takes you through the Southwestern part of the country with lots of different stops along the way.
Þingvellir, Geysir, and Gulfoss are the three major natural wonders we enjoyed that day. We made a few other stops along with way. Dining at a farm to table restaurant right onsite of a working farm and making an impromptu pullover to play with the infamous Icelandic horses.
Þingvellir is a national park in Iceland with beautiful landscape. It is also home to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between the North American and Eurasian Tectonic Plates. There are companies that offer scuba diving tours through the divide that look pretty incredible. We opted out of that on the cold, rainy day.
Geysir is site of the first modern geyser, hence the name. Geysir itself does not erupt often. However it’s brother Strokkur erupted every 5 minutes the day we visited. It was actually quite the site to see. Boiling water being thrown into the air and bubbling over the volcanic rock.
Our last natural stop of the day was Gulfoss, a large waterfall in the canyon of the Hvítá river. I do not believe I have ever seen a water fall during the winter months. It was beautiful to see the snow and ice mixed in with the rushing water.
All throughout our drive we would see the iconic Icelandic horses huddling in the middle of the field. It was a bit windy, so perhaps they were snuggling to keep warm. However, just as the sun was starting to set we came across a herd right on the side of the road! Nick immediately pulled over so that we could get closer. They were very friendly and happy to pose for our photographs.
We rounded out the evening at Fontana, a geothermal spa. It was very relaxing soaking in the hot water with just a few lights to guide your way. Not to mention we practically had the place to ourselves. It was the perfect end to a great day.
The Blue Lagoon
According to National Geographic, the Blue Lagoon is one of the 25 wonders of the world. We spent a good portion of our day soaking in the turquoise water and enjoying the hot water and silica masks. I will have a separate post dedicated entirely to our experience there, so stayed tuned for more details. After leaving the Lagoon though, Nick decided to take what looked like a much more scenic route. I’m glad he did! Not only did we end up at a delicious lunch spot, but we were able to take some really cool photos of the landscape.
I would recommend a trip to Iceland to anyone looking to explore a new place. Just a quick five hour flight from NYC or Boston. The people are extremely friendly, sights are like any other, and there are so many different things you can do. Something for everyones taste. We do hope to go back again someday, next time in the summer to allow us more daylight to explore. So the next time you’re looking for a quick getaway, book a flight and get ready for an adventure!