One can never have enough days to explore Iceland, and soak in the breathtaking beauty!
We had not even arrived Iceland and the views from the flight were already out of the world! The glaciers and snow clad mountains were a reassurance that we are going to get blown away with every sight. Could hardly contain our excitement to experience the magical Northern Lights.
Our group was three awesome single ladies, my husband and I.
Once we landed, we rented a car and drove to Reykjavik city center where we had booked our apartment for the day. Freshened up and heading for a quick bite and drink, discussed our plans for the next five days and began the adventure!
We started the trip with exploring the capital – Reykjavik.
It was rather relaxed day, as we strolled around the Laugavegur -the oldest shopping streets in Iceland which is filled with bakeries and high fashion shopping options, not to forget perfect for souvenier picking. All along the street are very cool and vibrant graffiti which will definitely make you pause and click.
This street in the past was famous as the “wash road” as it used to lead to the geothermal hot springs in Laugardalur where in olden times the women of Reykjavík took their laundry for washing.
No downtown trip can be complete without heading to the Hallgrimskirkja Church. The church is a perfect example of Icelandic architecture and built as a dedication to one of the most celebrated poet named, Hallgrímur Pétursson. A trip to the top is not to be skipped, as it overlooks the beautiful and colorful city of Reykjavik.
In about 15-20 mins we reached the ocean-side and came across the Viking Sun Voyager sculpture. It looks like a boat skeleton, to be honest. In reality, it is a considered as a dream boat/ an ode to the sun. The artist, Jón Gunnar Árnason is believed to have created it as “the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom”.
We ended the day early, with a light dinner, as our much awaited road trip began the next morning.
We four more days in hand, we wanted to conquer all of Iceland!
Yes, very unrealistic goals there, but no harm in dreaming 🙂
Keeping it real, lets start our first ambitious day!
This day is purely dedicated to the bollywood song – Gerua of the famous duo Shahrukh Khan and Kajol. We decided to cover most of the locations shot in the song that came on-route to our next destination.
We began the drive to Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which is about an hour and half drive from Reykjavik. This 60m high waterfall, is part of the Seljalands river, which origins from the volcanic glacier – Eyjafjallajökull. It is definitely the most famous waterfall that people can access from behind. It is an easy walk from the parking lot and there is ample space behind the waterfall to walk, though it is very slippery and the powerful drizzle can soak you up, so it is necessary to be cautious at all times in the area.
After snapping a few selfies, we continued our journey to Vik.
About half an hour into the ride, we stopped at the parking for visiting the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck. Not sure how, but we completely missed calculating the walk time to the (apx. 7km round trip) Wrecked DC-3 Plane site.
Honestly, we did freak out a bit, as we were not prepared to do the distance and we knew we are adding a couple of hours to our day which might affect our other plans. Nonetheless, we were determined to visit the site and began our seemingly never-ending walk. As we could see the plane in sight, it literally started raining and dampening our spirits even more. We were unsure of how to protect ourselves from the pour and the biggest worry became the walk back to the car.
In a couple of minutes, nature, decided to be kind and the rain vanished like a tease! It cleared up quickly and we jumped around the place, inside the plane, on top of the plane and took some cool pictures! In short, we were happy that we came here.
A bit tired with the unexpected walk, we got back to the car and drove to the famous Reynisfjara beach. Saying this on repeat, but the drive was absolutely breathtaking!
It is unique with the black volcanic sands, dramatic basalt rock formations and a relaxing yet intimidating atmosphere. The black color of the sand comes from the interaction between the sea water and hot molten lava. Once in contact, the lava cools down speedily, breaking down into debris and sand immediately.
Halfway through the day, we were now in a rush to reach our next and one of the most awaited destinations.
Our aim was to experience sunset at Jokursarlon. About two and a half hours later we made it to the spot, only to get cloudy skies and no sunshine. Nonetheless, the blue tone on the icebergs was absolutely stunning. Literally, made us want to skip blinking so that we don’t miss even one second of the mesmerizing views. Few icebergs, had washed over to the beach, scattered like sparkling big diamond pieces, hence it is also popularly known as the Diamond beach.
Today our trip was back to Reykjavik via routes exploring the Svartifoss waterfall, Fjadrargljufur Canyon and Dyrholaey.
Svartifoss waterfall is a part of the Vatnajökull Skaftafell National Park. A two hour drive took us from the guesthouse in Vik to the national park. The waterfall is visible from many points through the hike, but to get to the bottom itself, it is about a 1.5 kilometers distance. In full vigor and excitement we started our hike and about halfway through the winds got a bit violent! They were so strong that we were actually slipping and getting pushed in all directions, so much so that one of us had a big save from what could have been a bad accident. With this situation at hand, we decided to stay put at a safer point and see the falls from afar before returning back to the car. With calmer weather, I would totally recommend to head down to the falls and soak in the sights it has to offer up-close.
Moving on from a rather adventurous morning, we drove to the Fjadrargljufur Canyon. A must see sight when in the southern Icelandic region, the canyon is home to the Fjaðrá river which winds around the steep walls of almost 100 meters depth and 2 kilometer length. It was another photo- stop only as the rainy weather made the ground very slippery and unsafe. It surely makes a frame full backdrop 🙂
Even though the rains didn’t leave us for the day, we wanted to visit the Dyrholaey viewpoint before the final drive to Reykjavik. The route to Dyrhólaey has two options, one is to go on top towards the lighthouse and see the expanse of black sand beach on either side along with the arch with a hole. Dyrholaey actually means “the hilly island with the door hole”. It is 120 meters high and if heights don’t daunt you, you can walk on top of the arch as well. The other option, is to head down to the beach and see the “Eagle Rock”! Offcourse, we went up to enjoy the picturesque views.
We ended the day, in Reykjavik, enjoying the nightlife with good food and some dance!
Today, we spent exploring the nearby regions, with the maximum distance to Gullfoss falls about 2 hours away. First, stop being Þingvellir (Thingvellir) national park. It was established in 1930 and has been the site of Iceland’s parliament from the 10th to 18th centuries. It is most famous for being a rift valley that sits on was separated by two tectonic plates of Northern America and Eurasia respectively. In fact, it is the only place on earth where you can swim in the water’s of two continents at the same time.
After this exciting revelation of being able to stand in two continents at the same time, we headed to the offbeat track of the Bruarfoss waterfall. These falls do not show up in the must see places, immediately, but once you dig deep into the region’s hidden gems, this one strikes sharp.
This has to be the most epic discovery of our trip!
Luckily it didn’t rain on us that day, but the previous day had a big pour due to which the hike to the falls was extremely slick, slimy and wet. If we see the first three pictures shared, it shares our sheer amusement seeing each other fall and slip away innumerable times. Our shoes, pants and jackets were literally a mud bath. Though, as we finally managed to reach the fall, the view was absolutely gobsmackingly stunning and it was totally worth falling for.
We spent a good amount of time clicking away and enjoying the sound of the gushing Brúará river.
Once done with the pictures and falling endlessly on the way out as well, we continued on our golden circle tour with the next stop at Geysir Strokkur. It is Iceland’s most active geyser which puts on a periodical spout of hot spring every 4-10 minutes.
After enjoying the smoky surroundings of the geyser, we headed to the Gullfoss waterfall, also known as the “Golden falls”. Truly one of the most iconic waterfalls at display! Also, a perfect backdrop for a show off pictures of the new tattoo 🙂
It is a two step cascade, with the first drop of about 11 meters and the second of about 21 meters.
Another spectacular site that we explored was the Kerid Crater Lake.
Kerid is eccentric among crater lakes in that its caldera didn’t form from a volcanic explosion as most do. The Kerid volcano is speculated to have formed when the magma in the center simply expended itself, and the empty chamber beneath caved in. Regardless of the geological details of the lake’s creation, the tones of red, green and blues are unearthly.
The last but not the least wonder of Iceland that we fit in our itinerary was the Snaefellness peninsula. Snaefellness is considered as Mini Iceland, as it offers all that the country offers in a miniature version. It comprises of mountains, waterfalls, sandy beaches, fishing-town and a volcano. The only downside to the peninsula is its size! With an extreme wind and rain the driving conditions were not so ideal for us to indulge in all it has to offer and we managed to safely see only the falls and some majestic horses posing on the roadsides.
With so much adventure with weather and terrains, our Iceland trip was nothing but EPIC!
Would go back in a blink and yes, for the northern lights which we completely missed. The rains gave us some fresher views, but definitely blocked us from seeing the dancing lights in the sky!
To anyone who wants to go to Iceland… LEAVE.. you are already LATE!