I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Iceland twice now, and I have to say it’s magic never gets tiring. Despite Iceland being an island with a small population and unforgiving weather conditions, it’s becoming a more and more popular travel location, and it isn’t hard to see why!
(P.S. this is a very photo-heavy post!)
In my opinion, the best way to experience Iceland is to see as much as you can in the time you have. Although the north of the island has some beautiful locations, on both of my trips I’ve stuck to the south coast. The majority of Iceland is accessible via a huge ring road that circles the edge of the island – there are little to no roads through the centre, due to it being filled with volcanos and glaciers, so it’s not easy to see the whole country on a short trip. South Iceland is where you’ll find the capital, Reykjavík, some of the well known tourist spots such as Blue Lagoon in Keflavík, alongside the natural wonders like glaciers, waterfalls and volcanic beaches.
On my first trip to Iceland, I didn’t get the chance to see a glacier, so I was so excited to visit Sólheimajökull on this trip! I didn’t go onto the glacier itself (you need proper equipment to do this and an expert to guide you as it’s such treacherous ground) but standing beside the glacier was an amazing experience, as well as the walk to it through the out of this world landscape that Iceland is famous for.
Our next stop was Vík, and more importantly to me, Reynisfjara beach. The beach is well known for the basalt stacks that line the cliffs, and is a huge must see for photographers. Needless to say, it’s been on my bucket list for years and years. After taking the winding road down just before the exit to Vík and finally coming across the beach, I couldn’t believe I was finally laying my eyes upon a place I’d wanted to visit for such a long time!
We also took a trip to Seljalandsfoss, one of the well known waterfalls on the southern ring road. Having been here on my first trip to Iceland, I knew that a ten minute walk down the path away from Seljalandsfoss would take me to a much lesser known waterfall – Gljufrabui. This is by far my favourite Icelandic waterfall (and yeah, that’s definitely a thing). It can either be seen by climbing up the side of a steep hill and viewed from above, or by wading through a shallow stream, through a crevice in the rocks, and seen from it’s hidden location between the hillside. It’s very hard to get a good photo of it due to the lack of light, but if you can’t tell from the photo I did manage to get, it’s an absolutely amazing sight!
Another must-see on Iceland’s southern coast is the national park Þingvellir (pronounced Thingvellir). Not only is Þingvellir home to some more gorgeous waterfalls and generally amazing landscapes, it’s also where you’ll find the site where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet.
We also took a quick trip to Geysir and Gulfoss waterfall – these are probably some of the most touristy sites in south Iceland, however, having visited them twice I have to say that they’re not my favourite spots – although the anticipation of waiting for Geysir to blow never gets old (especially when the water ends up all over you).
Our final main stop was Reykjavík. The weather wasn’t on our side this day, so we spent the majority of our time running down the maze of roads through the capital and ducking into shops and cafes. We stumbled upon the cutest second hand bookstore – it mostly sold Icelandic and German books, but we had a great time browsing the stacked high shelves and chatting with the shopkeeper (who gave us some free postcards and bookmarks with one of the books we bought).
I’m sure anyone who’s visited Iceland can attest to the ancient, magical sense that you can feel running through the volcanic landscape. I can’t wait to take my third trip there at some point in my life, and I have no doubt that I’ll discover so many new things I didn’t see on my previous trips, even if I visit the same places!
lots of love,