The country of waterfalls, volcanoes and glacier lagoons
My first out of the states trip for 2017 was a trip to this wonderland- Iceland. First of all, I want to say it was an amazing journey. Mostly, because we got to see the white face of Iceland during winter.
Cascading waterfalls enveloped by a haunting mist. Stunning glaciers and glacier lagoons that reflect the most beautiful cyan. Breathtaking volcanoes surrounded by an icy tundra, and impressive mountains that could be gazed upon forever. This was just to mention a few of the wonders of Iceland. It was so easy to get lost in this country’s seemingly endless reserve of natural wonders.
Things to keep in mind:
- Rental Car– getting a rental car is definitely the best way to get around Iceland. However, it can be a slightly stressful experience, especially if you are traveling on a budget that you have pre-calculated before. There are few things that you need to be careful about. First, if you are going there in the winter time, always rent a 4×4. We drove a Jeep Renegade and it handled even the harshest conditions perfectly, we paid about $480 for a week with. Number two, prices online are amazing! BUT, be careful of huge deposit amount posted on your credit card, or prepare to buy insurance (recommended, like we did, because windshield chips are very common) which costs about $280 and with that, the deposit is not required and it is a piece of mind.
- Drive within the speed limits! Trust me on this one.. I got a speeding ticket portrait shot 3 months after. Set me back about $200
- Drive with extra caution in the winter time. Side winds can be extremely strong.
- Eating out in Iceland can be pricey. As an example, we went to a seafood restaurant in a very small town. We ate a dish each (3 people) and it was very small and we paid about $145.
- Pre-order a portable Wi-fi device and pick up at a local gas station. Its very inexpensive but can be very helpful.
During my visit, I stayed in a few small boutique hotels. Some of them hidden from the human eye and situated away from the main roads are striving to preserve the nature around. This way they can give us the “wow” effect.
All Icelanders were very friendly. The food there was pretty good as well, although I’m not sure if I should have ever eaten the fermented shark…
While we were exploring the Wonders of Iceland, most of which were located on what the locals call the Golden Circle, we stayed at some pretty neat places.
Maybe one of the terrific places we stayed at is called Farmhouse Lodge. The lodge has beautiful and very cozy single, double and triple rooms with shared bathrooms. Likewise, they had some with private as well. It is conveniently located across the main from where you can access the famous Black Sand Beach – Reynisfjara.
Great option for staying at a local’s home is AIRBNB. Check out my guide to booking the best stay on the platform.
Just a 10-minute drive from The Farmhouse Lodge took us to a beautiful and very delicious local restaurant in the town of Vik. It’s called Restaurant Berg and their lobster bisque is to die for!
Furthermore, we drove further south to reach one of my bucket list photography goals. The Vestrahorn mountain. We stayed in the town of Höfn at the Milk Factory. Stunning, little, boutique hotel on the entrance of the city surrounded by tranquility.
Oh, and mountains, can’t forget that! Extremely clean and basic. But don’t get me wrong because I mean basic in a good Scandinavian context. Similarly, breakfast was on point too and there was free wifi, TV and bathrooms were awesome. Even more, I have never slept so peacefully before. Besides the fact that we had to leave, everything was perfect. So, this was just another one of the Wonders of Iceland, even though it was man-made.
The list of my top 9 places to visit (in no particular order):
1. The Snæfellsnes peninsula: It is about 295 miles, though I did not explore the entirety of it, because of very harsh weather, the mountains, stunning sunset views, crashing waves and black pebble beaches were well worth the venture.
2. Svartifoss, one of the most popular sights in Vatnajökull, and for good reason! The marvel is surrounded by tall, black basalt columns that contrast the cascade perfectly.
3. Skogafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland, with a drop of 198 feet. The only word to describe its majesty in my experience was ‘overwhelming’.
4. Godafoss: “Waterfall of the Gods” runs through a lava field, about 7,000 years old. I think seeing it in the winter makes it particularly beautiful because their remain icicles which bedeck its sides, making it a sight to remember.
5. Reynisfjara: the black sand beaches are one of the most calming and grounding natural wonders. The waves that crash upon it look white in comparison and is unparalleled to anything I’ve ever seen.
6. Vestrahorn: This mountain has an almost threatening yet serene appearance, but when covered by an opaque layer of snow and ice, it adds to the unparalleled dynamism.
7. The Blue Lagoon, the geothermal spa is another one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. Definitely a touristy place, but if you’re lucky, you might see the northern lights.
8. Kerio Crater Lake: In the winter, the lake loses a lot of its unusual green and red colors but is definitely a sight worth seeing.
9. Reykjavik: Lastly, I wanted to recommend not a natural wonder, but a great city surrounded by many craft shops, coffee shops, and restaurants.
Finally, all of these are just a few examples of the amazing world we live in and how easy it is to become immersed in it.
Sun Voyager installation in Downtown Reykjavik
Mountains across the sound in Reykjavic
Black Sand beach Reynisfjara
Skaftafell Ice Cave
I don’t remember the name, it was a hidden place just off the road.
Make sure you travel comfortably and you are not missing any essentials. I have put together a list of the best travel gadgets that you might need to make your trip run smoothly.
Grab the Guide to Iceland that I used during my trip!
Guide to Iceland
The pictures are taken on: