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What to Do in Iceland

What to Do in Iceland

I've always been curious about Iceland thanks to Bjork, Sigur Ros, and Emiliana Torrini. And one of my biggest regrets was not catching a flight there when I was a flight attendant. Iceland has become a popular destination after its financial crisis, volcano eruptions, and their soccer team beating England last year. Oh, and social media, like all those Blue Lagoon photos (it really is spectacular). 

My BFFS and I decided to book a cheap flight through WOW for an eight day journey around the country. It's cheap to fly there. Even last minute flights are $400 round trip. Your flight there will probably be a steal but don't expect deals once you get there. Gas is about $7.50 a gallon. A basic burger is about $20. It's more if you want seafood. I guess it makes up for all its gorgeous landscapes. Iceland is essentially one big, giant waterfall and your entire trip is all about chasing after them. That, and northern lights. 

We thought about renting camper vans but with four people, we decided to just split the costs of getting Airbnb and hotels. Before I dive into what we did during our 8 days of driving the ring road, here are some tips and my google map of all the gorgeous sights!


Iceland Tips

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  1. Rental Car — Everything I've read suggests renting a 4WD, especially if you're driving the ring road. Make sure to opt-in for car insurance directly through the rental company so it won't be a hassle if there are any damages. We got a tiny knick on our windshield and it cost $1200. 
     
  2. Gas — is hella expensive. You can begin fueling at the pump then pay either at the pump or inside. They sell prepaid gas cards, too but we just paid each time. 
     
  3. Speed Limit — Pay attention to speed limits and camera signs they look like this). Speed limit around the ring road was around 90kmh, which is about 55mph. 
     
  4. Food / Alcohol — We brought food and snacks from home know how expensive food is. Alcohol is only sold in liquor stores, like at Vinbudin. The beer at 7-11 and other convenient stores are light beers with very little alcohol. 
     
  5. Credit Card — I suggest getting a credit card with zero foreign transaction fees because that's what you'll be using everywhere. We didn't used cash at all during our entire time there. 
     
  6. Phone — I was impressed with their phone signal coverage. I've had better service in their caves than in parts of my home. Check with your mobile company prior to traveling to see if you get free roaming. I have T-Mobile and got free texts and data. It was awesome.
     
  7. Clothing — We went at the end of October to beginning November and it was around 40°F during the day but with the wind and rain, it was colder so pack warm clothes, especially rain boots! 
     
  8. Water — Don't buy any water. Just refill your bottle with tap water. Icelandic tap is some of the finest and purest. 

Day 1 • Reykjavik

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

View from Hallgrímskirkja

View from Hallgrímskirkja

We flew into Keflavik airport at 5am. We got our rental car and drove straight to the Blue Lagoon. We don't mess around! They open at 8am so we napped in their parking lot. Seriously, why don't we have something like this? A huge outdoor hot pool with a bar in the middle. Make sure to book in advance. 

After soaking at the lagoon for four hours, we left for Reykjavik. Lego meets Crayola homes which can be seen at the top of Hallgrímskirkja church. We were told to try lobster soup at Saegreifinn. It was perfect for the cold weather. Their grilled shrimp and fish were my favorites though. Afterwards, we checked into our Airbnb in town and crashed for the night.

Saegreifinn

Saegreifinn


Day 2 • Golden Circle & Vik

Strokkur Geysir

Strokkur Geysir

Kerig Crater Lake

Kerig Crater Lake

Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss Waterfall

We left Reykjavik for the golden circle which is the perfect thing to do for people on a short stay in Iceland. We skipped Þingvellir because it was near our last leg of the trip. From there, we made our way to Vik.

Seljavallalaug

Seljavallalaug

It's a small trek to Seljavallalaug pool but so worth it. It's quite the opposite of the Blue Lagoon. It's free and private. The pool was really cold and the changing rooms were kinda gross because no one's really there to maintain it. But that mountain, though. Too much beauty! After the pool, we dried off and drove to Skogafoss and we barely made it to the famous Sólheimasandur plane crash site before it was pitch black. It's about an hour and a half round trip to walk there. We sang lots of songs from our favorite ladies from the 90's. Haha. Then we spent the night in Vik at Guesthouse Carina.  

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

4D3A4527.jpg Sólheimasandur Plane Crash

Sólheimasandur Plane Crash


Day 3 • Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon & Hofn

Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon

Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon

It was pouring on day 3 but it didn't stop us from making our trek to one of Iceland's gems. The Jökulsárlón iceberg lagoon is a must. There are ice cave tours but we missed it by a week when they start giving tours. Afterwards, we checked into Fosshotel Vatnajökull in Hofn and got a beautiful suite for a night. 


Day 4 • Detifoss & Akureyri 

We decided to power our way through to Detifoss and Akureyri. During our drive, we experienced Iceland's drastic landscapes. You can feel like you're driving through the hills of The Sound of Music to suddenly feeling like you're on the moon. There were some bleak moments. 

Detifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe. It was both fantastic and frightening feeling to be so close to it. Afterwards, we headed to Akureyri.


Day 5 • Akureyri

Akureyri is the second largest city in Iceland after Reykjavik.. We booked a four bedroom home through Airbnb in where we stayed for two nights. I love this kitchen! We backtracked a bit and went to Myvatn pools which is similar to Blue Lagoon but on a way smaller scale. I still think I prefer Blue. 

Near Myvatn is Grjótagjá cave where Jon Snow made love to Ygritte from Game of Thrones. We just had to because GOT4LYFE! 

We also got a guide to hunt down some Northern Lights and we found them! They weren't as bright in person but because of the long exposure it adds a mystical quality to it. 


Day 6 • Grundarfjörður

Kirkjufellsfoss

Kirkjufellsfoss

Another day, another foss. We stayed in Grundarfjörður for a night and had the best meal of our entire trip. 

Bjargar-stein  

Bjargar-stein


Day 7 & 8 • Ion Adventure Hotel

Búðir Church

Búðir Church

This was the last leg of our Iceland trip. After all the driving, we decided to splurge and stayed at the Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel. With luxury in its name, I kind of expected more.  I was a little underwhelmed to be honest. The rooms were small and not that exciting. The hot pool was pretty though, and their roasted potatoes were delicious! We ventured out to Thingvellir National Park snorkel in a ridge between the North American and the Eurasian Tectonic Plates. I was nervous about doing it because I don't really know how to swim but their wet suit made you float like a balloon so it was easy.

And that wraps it up! Iceland is a beautiful country. It's amazing how all the There is so much to see so  I would go back just to soak in the Blue Lagoon again and too see the ice caves. I'll post more fleeting moments from the trip in a separate post.



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