It only has a population of 334,000 but it’s the country everyone wants to visit…Iceland.
With only 4 days in Iceland, we were definitely pressed for time. We had an ever-growing wish list but finally agreed that we would stick to the south west of Iceland.
From getting inspiration off fellow bloggers, I decided that Jökulsárlón lagoon trumped all. The downside… it was the furthest away. We knew if we went here, we wouldn’t have time to see the Geysir and Gulfoss Waterfall on the Golden Circle. Was I missing out on much? I’m not sure.
The route we took allowed for many spontaneous excursions and I think because of this, Iceland is now in my top 3 places to visit.
When to go? Northern Lights or the Midnight Sun?
Generally when planning a trip, climate is something you might take into consideration. Well how about daylight hours?
Below I have listed the sunrise and sunset times from the 1st of every month in 2017. To give you an idea how extreme the contrast is, December has around 5 hours of daylight, whereas if you went during July, you could have around 21 hours.
January 11:19 15:44
February 10:07 17:19
March 08:34 18:46
April 06:45 20:19
May 04:49 21:52
June 03:22 23:30
July 03:06 23:55
August 04:35 22:30
September 06:10 20:42
October 07:37 18:56
November 09:11 17:10
December 10:46 15:46
September – April
The attraction during winter is to see the Northern Lights. With darkness on your side you have a higher chance of seeing them but that’s still no guarantee. We went during March and had crystal clear skies but they still didn’t come out to play 🙁
Darkness is not the only thing you require to see the Northern Lights, mother nature has to be kind. Clouds can be your worst enemy for seeing the Northern Lights, so I suggest keeping an eye on this aurora borealis website. This website is great for showing cloud movement and aurora borealis activity.
May and August
If you’re not bothered about seeing the Northern Lights, maybe the natural phenomenon of the midnight sun could be intriguing. During the summer months, there are times the sun can be visible for a full 24 hours. With an abundance of light, there is no need to race the clock before nightfall…the bane of every travellers life.
B U D G E T
The pressing question that everyone seemed to ask me was, “is it expensive?” To be honest, it’s a hard question to answer…
Yes = food and alcohol
No = all the priceless breaktaking landscapes
T R A N S P O R T
When we first thought ‘hell yeah let’s go to Iceland’, we looked at the option of doing a tour but quickly scrapped that idea. Iceland is full of so many unique wonders so I highly recommend hiring a car so you have the flexibility to change your itinerary if need be.
I think the best place to start is by comparing prices between RentalCars.com and AutoEurope.com.
We wanted to stick with a rental company that we were familiar with, so we went with Budget. We had a great experience with them, so two thumbs up!
For £36 a day we were given a 4-door VW Polo but if we wanted to upgrade to a 4×4 it was going to double the price. In hindsight, we probably should’ve as the roads were ice ice baby. From a speed limit of 90, we had to drop down to 30-50 kph which meant adding an extra hour onto our journey some days. My boyfriend is a great driver but there were definitely some hairy moments. If you aren’t familiar with driving in icy conditions, then without a doubt you should opt for a 4×4.
Over the 4 days I think we counted five 2WD vehicles either stuck or being pulled out of the side of the road.
After approximately 900km of driving we spent about £150 (206,000 ISK) on fuel.
A C C O M M O D A T I O N
To help with the budget and experience, I highly recommend staying in a guesthouse. Booking.com offers great guesthouses with inclusive breakfast options. We stayed at the Lindartún Guesthouse, which I cannot rave enough about. We made our own waffles for breakfast with delicious fresh fruit! It’s located only 20 minutes from the Seljalandsfoss waterfall and it’s the perfect place stay on your first night if you are doing a similar route to us.
S E E K
As soon as we landed we drove into Reykjavik, instantly spotting Hallgrímskirkja towering over the city centre. The church was designed by the state architect Guðjón Samúelsson (1887-1950) and consecrated in 1986. You are able to enter the church for free but if you would like to see a view of Reykjavik, then you can pay 900 ISK (£6.50) to get to the observation deck.
Reykjavik Flea Market
If you’re around Reykjavik during the weekend, I would suggest popping into the flea market between 11am – 5pm. There is everything from vintage clothes to dried fish.
Harpa Concert Hall
The Harpa Concert Hall is another great example of beautiful architecture in Iceland. We briefly wandered through the foyer area observing the beehive like patterns being reflected on the floor.
Here are my rankings starting with ‘fuck this blew my mind’ to ‘blew my mind’.
Jökulsárlón did not disappoint my expectations, it exceeded them. With the Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier as a backdrop, we watched icebergs float down the channel into the Atlantic Ocean, only then to be washed up onto the black sand beach. I just loved taking photographs here. From the colours to the shapes of the icebergs, it was truly captivating.
This was one of our spontaneous moments where we thought..”how close do you think we can get to that glacier?”. Holy moly this place was incredible. I stood there holding my breath, only to hear the distance sound of ice cracking. The peace and serenity of standing above Svínafellsjökull Glacier was surreal.
The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is like the older sibling that gets all the attention and poor Gljúfrafoss is shunned to the side. If you come prepared with full waterproof clothing and boots, you can actually walk through a narrow canyon to stand right underneath Gljúfrafoss. If you want to capture the moment, have your waterproof phone or GoPro on hand. There is no chance that you will come out dry!
DC-3 Plane Wreck
When you are battling the harsh snowfall that feels like razor blades to the eyes, it feels like a lifetime to get to the DC-3 plane wreck. It takes approx. 45 minutes to walk to Solheimasadur Beach from the car park. With no signage to indicate where the turn off is, I recommend saving these GPS coordinates to ensure you get there.GPS Coordinates to DC-3 Plane Wreck Car Park: 63.4912391,-19.3632810
We trudged through the snow covered black sand to reach the naturally formed basalt mountain side. There were quite a few tourists hanging around so we continued around the corner only to find an icicle cave. I was a little apprehensive of staying too long as every now and again a sharp icicle would snap off and fall a couple of feet in front of me. I had read that amongst the mountain top you might be able to see a puffin but we only spotted a large amount of seagulls.
You may have seen photographs of this perfectly picturesque waterfall before but at a slightly different angle. There is a path that leads behind the 60ft waterfall where you can take some truly unique photographs. Unfortunately when we arrived it was slippery as fuck and we were weary of the few tourists that attempted to do a balancing act to get behind the waterfall.
Our plan was to visit Dyrhólaey Arch on our second day but due to the treacherous snowfall we had to return the next day. Our little VW Polo didn’t stand a chance getting up the hill, so we decided to do a bit of snow hiking to get there. With snow up to our knees we powered up the hill feeling the burn in our legs. Oh man was the reward worth it! Even before we reached Dyrhólaey Arch, we took a break to soak in the views looking back at Reynisdrangar. I think this impressed me more than the arch itself, so if you want to tone those legs, ditch the car at the bottom of the hill.
The Blue Lagoon
After spending my childhood holidays soaking in the natural hot pools at Hanmer Springs in New Zealand, the Blue Lagoon is nothing to write home about.Blue Lagoon Info and Tips
Standard entry £40 (5,400 ISK)
Entry, Locker and Silica Mud MaskComfort entry £54 (7,400 ISK)
Entry, Locker, Silica Mud Mask, Algae Mask, Towel and drinkOn arrival at The Blue Lagoon you will receive a wristband which will work as your locker key and money. No need to carry cash with you, just swim up to the pool bar and charge it to your wristband. Cost of a beer £6.80 (940 ISK).BOOK IN ADVANCE! We decided to hit the Blue Lagoon the night before we flew out.
It is compulsory to shower prior to entering the Blue Lagoon and after reading a lot of blogs, the topic of showering naked is repeatedly brought up. Not sure why everyone was stressing as there was shower cubicles with doors?!
Ladies, I suggest keeping your hair up. The silica content in the water is very high and can dry out your hair making it feel very brittle. The Blue Lagoon has complimentary conditioner in the showers.
E A T
After battling all seasons in one day, I just felt like taking off my snow covered boots and having a glass of wine. Cue biggest regret….not getting duty free at Luton Airport. Our bus was delayed getting to the airport so we had no time to stop and pick-up any booze
The supermarket was our best friend on this trip. We didn’t really have time to eat out because we wanted to make the most every daylight hour.
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur – Hotdogs
If you’re on a budget then I suggest living off hotdogs for only £3.20 (450ISK). If you stop off at a petrol station, there is a high chance that they will be selling hot dogs inside. Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is a small hotdog stand located in Reyjavik famous for serving people such as Bill Clinton.
Whether you’re at the flea market or supermarket in Reykjavik, there is no doubt you will stumble upon harðfiskur. This might not be everyones cup of tea but it’s definitely worth a try.