Iceland possesses some of the most astonishing natural wonders in the world – how incredible it was to experience a small portion of these during our trip in May 2016.
We stayed in Reykjavik city centre, and no, it’s not a myth how damn expensive it is! Of course, it’s worth it if you have an incredible time as my boyfriend Shaun and I did. Reykjavik is a quaint yet beautiful city, where two thirds of the Icelandic population reside! With so many bars and restaurants and amazing sculptures, you’ll never find yourself bored.
Now, what is there to do when travelling Iceland? I was asked this question a fair amount when we first booked – so here are some of my highlights from the trip.
Of course, we had to go and experience the Blue Lagoons. Yes, there are lots of natural hot springs all around Iceland, and it’s probably true that this is a tourist trap, but we had an amazing time there. With the deal we booked, we got picked up from our hostel (and taken back when we were finished), two free drinks, and a free face mask. I have to say, you really can’t complain when you’re spending a weekday morning drinking strawberry sparkling wine relaxing in a natural hot spring in the Icelandic countryside. It wasn’t too busy when we went – we went around opening time on a Friday morning. I was definitely relieved by this as one of my biggest fears of visiting here was being crammed in being unable to move – or swim for that matter. I was totally wrong, and it really was a great experience.
The waters are milky blue, and the scenery around the lagoons is just magical. If I were to go back to Iceland, I would definitely want to experience the other non-touristy natural hot springs, like the Secret Lagoon.
We booked a few tours whilst in Iceland, including horse riding – which I never expected to enjoy at all as I had zero experience, but it was fantastic, and the views were breathtaking!
The Golden Circle Tour is an absolute must when in Iceland. Thingvellir national park was our first stop, where we were able to walk between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates – you can scuba dive down between them, too, but we didn’t do that as part of our tour. We then moved on to Gulfoss – just one of many spectacular waterfalls we got to see on our trip. We also got to see Strokkur Geysir, which was incredible. It erupts every few minutes, and it was quite amusing to see everyone attempting to get a perfectly timed photo of the eruption (I managed a few!) or getting sore arms filming waiting for it to erupt.
We also went on a tour of the South of Iceland, which was one of my favourite parts of the whole trip. During this tour, we explored Reynisfjara’s black sand beaches which are near a tiny village called Vik. These beaches were unlike anything I’ve ever seen. They are eerily stunning and you just have to see them if you visit Iceland. This tour included visiting several waterfalls (even getting to walk right behind one!), and – best of all – a glacier hike. The glacier we walked up is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The contrast between the black ash from the mountains around it and the snowy whites and icy blues of the glacier really makes you feel like your surroundings aren’t real. Our tour guides also showed us how they use their hiking tools to draw water from the glacier, which we got to taste, and of course it was remarkably fresh.
However, I was shocked to discover that the lagoon at the foot of the glacier has only formed over the last ten years, due to global warming. The glacier is visibly shrinking from year to year because of this, too. It made me realise that we should be doing our best to take care of our planet so that we can try to conserve natural beauties like this! But anyway, this was an incredible adventure, and the views from (and of) the glacier were unforgettable.
I would definitely urge everyone to visit Iceland at least once in your lives – the things you’ll see are remarkable, and I cannot describe this country as anything but utterly otherworldly. We didn’t get to see the Northern Lights, as we were there just at the beginning of the Icelandic summer time – but there’s always next time…