our trip to Iceland

Earlier this year I asked my husband what he wanted to do for his big 40th Birthday in August. I expected he’d say… let’s go to Vail for the weekend or maybe New York… but he answered “we should go to Iceland!”

We had just gotten vaccinated and were hopeful travel would be ‘normal’ by August so we booked a trip and figured out childcare.

I’ll admit… Iceland wasn’t really on my ‘wish list’ and I didn’t have any expectations at all for the trip. Turns out it was actually a trip of a lifetime. Absolutely unbelievable.

Here’s a video of the highlights:

*All footage was taken with my iPhone 11 Pro and the Go Pro Hero 8.

Our Iceland Itinerary

We booked our trip through Guide to Iceland. After choosing the route/section of the country we wanted to see (we chose the south/west as you can see on the map below), they handled booking the rental car/hotels/excursions. There are various options that will impact the overall price (you can opt to stay in hostels or premium hotels for example) and they provide choices of various excursions to create your itinerary. We loved that we got to explore ‘on our own’ versus in a tour bus, but didn’t have to spend hours + hours researching and booking everything. Would highly recommend using Guide to Iceland!

Here’s what we did:

Day 1: Reykjavik.

We went straight to the Blue Lagoon after we landed (we got there at 9am). We did the Premium package which meant we were given face masks, a beverage, free flip flops, and access to their bath robes.

After Blue Lagoon, we spent the rest of the day exploring Reykjavik. We saw Hallgrimskrikja church and rented some scooters (they’re everywhere) to see more of the town.

Day 2: Snæfellsjökull.

We drove north to the peninsula and visited Grundarfjörður. We did a 2 hour Kayaking Tour under Mt. Kirkjufell. It was unbelievably beautiful.

That night we stayed at the most lovely inn- Hotel Budir. The view out our window took my breath away and the dinner (on-site) was DELICIOUS. We walked around the hotel and found a path that took us to the beach. I only wished we could have stayed here more than one night.

Day 3: Golden Circle.

We drove a few hours to Thingvellir National Park where we did a Snorkeling Tour between the North American and Eurasian Tectonic Plates in Silfra. I’ll admit I don’t like snorkeling (or being up close to fish) but THIS was really cool. No fish (the water is COLD) and the colors are amazing.

After snorkeling we stopped at Gulfoss waterfall during our drive to Geysir. We took a peek at “The Great Geysir” since it was right across the street from our hotel.

Day 4: South Coast of Iceland.

We drove down south for a 2 Hour Snowmobiling Tour on Myrdalsjokull Glacier. Neither of us had been on a snowmobile before so we had fun, but visibility was pretty low so there wasn’t much to see.

After the snowmobile, we visited Skogafoss waterfall. Multiple people messaged me on Instagram to say if you take the path/stairs up to the top, there’s a great hiking trail at the top that goes to multiple waterfalls (several miles long). We felt we didn’t have enough time to do that, but maybe we’ll have to go back!

We also stopped at Reynisfjara- a black pebble beach near Vik. There are basalt columns that are really unique. And puffins flying overhead!

Day 5: Vatnajökull National Park.

We continued past Vik to Skaftafell where we did a 3 hour Hiking Tour on Vatnajokull Glacier. When they handed us a helmet, harness, crampons and ice ax…. well, let’s just say I thought we’d made a big mistake. The hiking was easy though and it was a great way to get up close (on top!) of the glacier.

After hiking, we went to Diamond Beach. This was one of my FAVORITE places in Iceland. The beach is near the Glacier Lagoon where icebergs float out to sea and then are pushed back on to the beach. It was absolutely beautiful to see.

Day 6: Glacier Lagoon.

For our final excursion, we did a 1 hour Zodiac Boat Tour of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. This was my personal favorite activity. The lagoon is full of icebergs (only 10% of which are visible from the surface!) and the zodiac boat takes you up close to them. We saw many seals (up close!) and the bright blue water was beautiful.

After the boat, we began our drive back to Reykjavik. On the way we stopped at Seljalandsfoss- one of the most iconic waterfalls of Iceland. You can walk behind it (wear a rain coat for sure!) and it made for some really beautiful photo opportunities. Definitely continue on the path a little further past Seljalandfoss- there’s another waterfall in a cave that is really fun to check out (named Gljufrabui).

Day 7: Time to go home!

Initially we had hoped to visit the volcano on our final day, but we found out that a negative covid test was required to return to the US. So instead, we had to make an appointment and get that done in Reykjavik on our last day and there wasn’t enough time for the drive/hike at the volcano. It’s ok… we’ll just have to come back to Iceland again some day!

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