Adam and I went to Iceland for a week at the end of August, and it was absolutely magical. It’s been the number one place on my bucket list for awhile, and I still can’t believe we went. Before our trip, I thought it would be a place we’d only want to visit once, but now I want to go back a few more times! Here’s a little look at my Iceland travel diary. Be sure to watch my Iceland vlog as well to see more fun stuff from our trip!
We hopped off the plane at 4 AM both excited and exhausted. Despite our lack of sleep, we spent the entire day out at the Blue Lagoon and in Reykjavik.
The Blue Lagoon is a man-made lagoon that formed in 1976 during the operation of a geothermal power plant, and it’s known as one of the wonders of the world. Swimming in it is an unreal experience – it feels like you’re in a dream!
We decided to go with standard admission (the cheapest one). Since we went during peak season, it was about $100 CAD a person, and we didn’t think it was worth an extra $20+ a person to get a towel and drink. I totally would have wanted to come here a second time during our trip if admission wasn’t so expensive!
I brought a waterproof phone case I got off Amazon, and it turned out to be so useful. It has a strap so you can wear it around your neck or wrap it around your wrist while you’re swimming. If you lose something in the Blue Lagoon, it’s very unlikely you’ll ever get it back!
We decided to get all the touristy stuff in Reykjavik done on our first day. If you’re driving, you can park for free at the Hallgrimskirkja church. Reykjavik is a very walkable city!
The Hallgrimskirkja church is the tallest church in Iceland, as well as one of the tallest structures in Iceland. Walking around inside was free, but admission to get to the top was 1800 ISK for the both of us (about $20 Canadian). The views were cool from up top, but honestly, it was nothing really special and it wasn’t worth the price.
Harpa Concert Hall
The Harpa Concert Hall is a gorgeous building that was built pretty recently back in 2011. The area around it is under construction right now, but I can’t wait to see what it’ll look like in a few years! P.S. If you need to use a bathroom and don’t want to awkwardly walk into a random family restaurant (there aren’t many public bathrooms), use the bathroom here.
The Sun Voyager
I would’ve loved to have come here during sunrise or sunset, but we never got the chance to. Next time though, for sure! It took a lot of tries to get good photos because kids kept jumping all over the structure, but we managed to get a few.
For our second day, we drove the Golden Circle Tour. Since we’d stayed in an Airbnb in Hveragerdi the night before (PS you can get $45 off your first Airbnb here), we decided to do the Golden Circle backwards. It was nice, because we managed to skip a lot of tourists for the most part!
Kerid Crater Lake
Our first stop was Kerid Crater Lake. You can hike all around it, and get great views both from the top of the crater and at the bottom of it. Fun fact: the water isn’t actually blue or green – it’s just a reflection of the sky and the greenery around it!
Geysir Hot Spring Area
The Geysir Hot Spring Area is really cool, but really smelly. Strokkur is the most active geyser in the area, and it sprouts every few minutes. We managed to see it sprout three times, and it was awesome! You can see it sprout twice in the vlog.
Gulfoss is a massive waterfall, and it is incredible. The best views were from the top! It was the busiest spot we visited during the Golden Circle, but it was definitely the most impressive.
The drive from Gulfoss to Thingvellir was one of the most beautiful and scenic drives during our road trip. We stopped a few times at some lookouts and some pretty spots, including this little area with some Icelandic horses!
Thingvellir National Park
We arrived at Thingvellir National Park pretty late in the afternoon, and it was almost empty. We did one short hike and got some nice photos.
For day three, we paid a visit to Vestmannaeyjar (otherwise known as the Westman Islands). When I was planning our trip and searching up things to do in Iceland, the Westman Islands surprisingly didn’t come up very often! If you’re able to, it’s so worth the visit.
The ferry ride from Landeyjahofn to the Westman Islands took about a half hour, and it was a pretty terrifying boat ride. It was very windy and very rainy on the day we went, and standing on the slippery deck while watching the heavy waves crash against the boat was horrifying (especially for someone who doesn’t know how to swim). However, as we approached the island, we were treated to some pretty awesome views of its stunning rock formations.
We wanted to get as good a view as we could of the island, so we trekked uphill against the wind and rain. This is as high as we could get – the view was worth all the pain!
We wanted to hike up the Eldfell Volcano and visit Storhofdi (the windiest spot in Europe), but the weather was too bad. We spent the rest of the day walking around and exploring the island. We were able to spot puffins from afar at the Elephant Rock, but didn’t manage to get any good photos.
The island might be walkable on a beautiful, sunny day, but it definitely isn’t walkable when it’s pouring rain. We spent the entire day completely soaked, with puddles of water in our shoes!
I believe these were the first cottages to be built on the island. Adam was too afraid to go in at first, so I started exploring by myself. The interior reminded me of old dining halls like in Game of Thrones and Outlander. It was pretty fascinating to explore inside of these, until we heard a loud noise and raced back outside in terror!
Since the weather was so awful, the ferry going back to Landeyjahofn had to divert to a port near Hofn, which took three hours. We then had to take an hour-long shuttle bus from the port to Landeyjahofn, followed by a two-hour drive back to our Airbnb. The hilarious thing was that the port the ferry ended up dropping us off at was 15 minutes away from our Airbnb, so we could have saved almost three hours if we’d brought our car on-board!
The next day was dedicated to seeing various waterfalls and exploring parts of Vik.
Our first stop was Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall you could walk right behind! Beware of using cameras near any waterfalls – my Canon G7x got soaked and almost ruined! My waterproof phone case proved to be very useful and I ended up just using my phone for photos on this day.
We didn’t realize Skogafoss was more than just a waterfall; there was a whole trail behind it! That was the beauty of coming to Iceland – every site we visited had way more to offer than we’d expected. We only explored a bit of Skogafoss before finding out it was a 10-hour hike.
Funny enough, Vik was what I was looking forward to seeing most, but it wasn’t as amazing as I’d anticipated. Seeing the plane wreckage was cool though!
DC-3 Plane Wreckage
The hike was about 45 minutes one-way.
Dyrholaey Lighthouse & Arch
The drive up to the Dyrholaey Lighthouse is not for the faint of heart.
This was our longest driving day, as we were staying near Hella and driving all the way to the southeastern part of the island.
This hike was one of my favourites – the views were stunning!
We took some extra stops along the way throughout the day (hey that rhymed). We found this hidden waterfall that was pretty cool!
I loved seeing the random little houses and villages during our drives.
The hike to Svartifoss was a long one, and compared to the rest of the day, it wasn’t very special. We definitely could’ve skipped this one!
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
The glacier lagoon was by far my most favourite spot in Iceland. We were only able to spend 40 minutes here because the drive back to our Airbnb was 5 hours, but it was still wonderful.
Our last full day in Iceland was dedicated to seeing more of Reykjavik and paying a visit to Glymur. We enjoyed Reykjavik so much more than our first day there because we weren’t exhausted from lack of sleep!
Glymur is Iceland’s second-highest waterfall, but it’s incredibly difficult to get to if you’re not an experienced hiker. There comes a point in the trail where you have to cross over the water using just a rope, and it’s not for the faint of heart. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it, so we just turned back and took some photos in a cave along the trail.
We spent our last morning in Reykjavik to do some shopping and have lunch. We definitely did not spend enough time in the city, and I really want to stay in and explore more of Reykjavik next time I visit Iceland! There are a lot of pretty walls and cool street art everywhere – perfect for photos.
I also made a short vlog with some exclusive highlights from our trip:
So, this was my Iceland travel diary. Iceland is such an amazing country, and I can’t wait to go back. I’ll have a few more posts about travelling to Iceland soon, so be sure to stay tuned for that!
For more fun travel posts, click here.
Photos by Adam G. & Jessica L.
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