My Home Away from Home: Iceland

Updated: Aug 13


Iceland holds the distinction as the favorite place that I've traveled thus far. My first trip only lasted for a weekend so it was only fitting that my second trip was longer.


Here's what I did with a week in Iceland:


View from Observation Deck at Thingvellir National Park


A great place to start on any trip to Iceland is the Golden Circle. Heading east from Reykjavik, the first stop is Thingvellir National Park. Thingvellir was the home of the Icelandic parliament from 930 to 1798 before its move to Reykjavik. The UNESCO World Heritage site is home to Oxararfoss, Silfra Snorkeling, and Almannagja.



Oxararfoss

The following stop on the Golden Circle is Geysir. After experiencing one of the fascinations of mother nature, stop at the Geysir shops to purchase food, treats, and souvenirs. Gullfoss, one of the larger waterfalls in Iceland is a short drive away.


The next location is not normally a part of most tours but it's a great farm-to-table restaurant experience. Fridheimar is a tomato farm that uses its products in its restaurant. The restaurant offers tomato-infused dishes, such as; water, soup, and beer. There is also a horse stable nearby that has some of the most beautiful Icelandic horses that I’ve ever seen.



Fridheimar

A short drive away is Gamla Laugin, which is also known as the Secret Lagoon. The cost is less than the Blue Lagoon but gives a similar geothermal experience without the crowd. If you're without a towel and swimsuit, they are available to rent as well.


Kerid Crater was my last stop on the Golden Circle. It’s a volcanic crater lake in the south of Iceland. It’s a great way to unwind and just enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds it.



Champagne with a view

The day ended at the Ion Adventure hotel. This has long been on my bucket list. The hotel experience was amazing! From the complimentary glass champagne upon check-in to the Icelandic themed decorations throughout the hotel. There is an outdoor geothermal pool that makes for an exceptional place to view the northern lights. The hotel is secluded with no surrounding shops. All meals were served at the Silfra Restaurant at the hotel.


The next day, a hearty breakfast was needed as I attempted one of the many hiking trails on Mount Hengill. While on the trail, I used it as a great opportunity to test my new DJI drone. I more than anyone appreciates a good hike, my legs, however, aren’t always my biggest fans afterward.



Blue Lagoon


It is suggested to visit the Blue Lagoon on their first or last day in Iceland. I, however, left it until day three. It was pure genius. What better way to recover from a hike than to soak in a geothermal pool for the rest of the day. There is a list of packages but the premium package is the most convenient. It includes two mud masks, a free beverage, robe, and sandals. Afterward, I had dinner at Lava, the Blue Lagoons restaurant.


A day in Reykjavik would never disappoint. It’s an easily walkable city, and if you're short on time, rent a Wowcitybike. Broad and Co. is a great choice for breakfast. The licorice danish and coffee is a great choice. Less than two minutes away is Hallgrimskirkja. For ISK 1000 ($8.25), you can see an unparalleled 360-degree view of Reykjavik. The Harpa Concert hall offers a great view of Reykjavik harbor. If you’re lucky enough to catch a show here, it won’t disappoint. The settlement museum and the Reykjavik Maritime museum are also great choices.



Hallgrimskirkja


After working up an appetite, I stopped at Baejarins Beztu, home of Iceland’s most famous hotdog. At ISK 300 or $2.50 per hotdog, it's not a bad choice for lunch and probably one of the more cheaper options in Reykjavik. Spend time seeing the many street arts as Iceland has a lot of it to offer. Vinyl is a great place to recharge and have a coffee while in Reykjavik. Also, it's a great place to try some vegan food.


Partake in an Icelandic pastime and feed the birds at Tjornin Pond. For dinner, my pick in the city is Icelandic Street food. You can’t go wrong with either the Shellfish or Lamb soup. Did I mention there were free refills? Considering I ate nine soups, that might not be for too long.



Lamb Soup

Check out more to do in Reykjavik here.


Icelandic Street food also has a bar a few doors down that is a great place to have a few cold beers. In the basement of the bar, there are live comedy shows. It does not matter how you spend your nights, hotels are never too far away. I stayed at the Centric guesthouse, which is centrally located in Reykjavik.


The next day all roads pointed to the south. Head south on route 1 and the first stop is Sejalandsfoss. Sejalandsfoss is a waterfall. If you feel like exploring, you can hike behind the falls for an even better view. At the entrance of the falls, there is a shop that sells coffee, sandwiches and Lamb soup. The next stop is Skogafoss. A larger waterfall with a hiking trail to the left of it to stand above the waterfall. Solheimasandur is close by. (DC 3 plane wreck) Just have reliable walking shoes as its about 45 minutes from the parking lot to the site.



Solheimasandur

I want to take this time to thank an amazing individual whom I've never met but greatly appreciate. I left my camera on the roof of the car and the person found it and left me the note below. If you ever see this, know that I’m eternally gratefully. (Thanks a bunch!)



Forever grateful

After Solheimasandur, I dove to Dyrholaey. Here you can see scenic views of the south shore of Iceland. It’s a great place to see Reynisfjara and Reynisdrangar from above before heading to Black Sand beach. (Reynisfjara) At the beach, have a bite to eat at the restaurant and take in the amazing view. A trick that locals advise, is to stay at a nearby hotel rather than driving back and forth from your accommodation to attractions.


I got an early start the next day and visited the Skaftafell National park. This is another great nature park. Depending on the time of year as well, you can also do glacier hiking and ice climbing. Another attraction close by is Jokulsarlon. A glacier pool and is truly a sight for the ages. I would have loved to continue, but I had to head back to the city and be prepared for my departure the next day. Driving from Jokulsarlon to Reykjavik is roughly 6 hours (have road trip music cued).


Jokulsarlon

The next day I left Iceland but I’m pretty sure not for the last time as I still want to venture out to Snafellness and Akurli. Maybe A summer trip is in order where I can see the midnight sun. Either way, I look forward to my next trip and I hope you plan yours soon.


Want to see how my trip looks in realtime? Enjoy the video below.




Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any parties mentioned. None of the entities mentioned has reviewed, approved or endorsed the content listed in this post.

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