Well, the trip I've been waiting for for the last six months has come and gone and let's just say I'm not happy that it's over. It was a lot of planning but boy was it worth it! If you've been following me on Instagram, you've probably seen a photo or two.
Since I've been back, I've had a lot of people asking me to share what I liked and what we did so they could prepare for an Icelandic trip of their own. So, this was our journey -- pros, cons and all.
First things first: There are some things you should know before planning a trip to Iceland.
1. It's expensive
2. I definitely recommend renting a car and building your own trip
3. Everyone speaks English
Day 1: Reykjavik, Blue Lagoon
Our flight landed in Reykjavik around 6:30 a.m. Iceland time and we couldn't check into our Air BnB until 2 p.m. so we had plenty of time to kill around the city while we waited. We picked up our rental car (a trusty Volvo wagon that was a dream for our adventure) and drove 45 minutes to the city.
Reykjavik is filled with adorable cafes, delicious coffee shops and cute little stores to explore. It's not very big so I recommend just parking in a lot and trekking around on foot. One of my favorite stops was Stofan, a quaint and beautifully decorated little coffee shop and cafe.
From there, we simply walked around and enjoyed the city, visiting the gorgeous Harpa concert hall, stopping in various shops and getting a taste of the local culture -- literally, at Iceland Fish & Chips. (Note: all fish in Iceland is incredible)
Then, it was time to check in to the Air BnB, an adorable little apartment in the heart of downtown. We showered (some of us napped) and got ready for a trip to Lebowski Bar, a Big Lebowski-themed bar with live music, White Russians and burgers for the most part -- not the best menu for this vegetarian but the drinks and atmosphere were worth it.
From the bar we then drove 45 minutes over to the Blue Lagoon - we would have liked to have gone earlier but the earliest reservation we could make the week before our trip was for 8 p.m. (Reserve early if you're planning a trip here because the times book up quick!) We got a silica mud mask and a drink with our admission and spent the night drinking wine in the wonderfully warm water. It was definitely the perfect relaxing end to a long day.
Day 2: Golden Circle, Seljavallalaug, Horseback Riding
This day was our biggest and most jam-packed day of the trip. We began at sunrise by heading to Thingvellir, a gorgeous national park where you can walk between tectonic plates and learn a ton about Iceland's history. We didn't have a ton of time to stay here so we moved on to the Golden Circle's geysir, a brutally cold but worthwhile excursion. The geysir went off several times during our short visit. From there, we went over to Gullfoss, a stunning waterfall with heartstopping views. We ate lunch at the little cafe at the waterfall and then headed down to one of the most gorgeous sites of the whole trip- Skogafoss. Yes, it was another waterfall and maybe it was the beautiful weather and rainbow that made it so lovely, but it was definitely one of the must-see stops in our day.
After the waterfalls, we headed just a short drive over to Skogar and hiked into the mountains for one of my personal favorites- Seljavallalaug. A small geothermal pool nestled in the mountains. While, this was definitely not the cleanliest pool we'd been to, and the water not quite as hot as we'd hoped, the views were unmatched and the experience most definitely worth it.
We finished up at the pool and headed 15 minutes south for a horseback riding glacier tour. Here, we rode Icelandic horses up a mountain and glacier for a three-hour trip. As much as I'd like to say this was a highlight of our trip, it was surprisingly dangerous and a little too rough on the bums for such an intense travel day.
We ended the night in at the Volcano Hotel in Vik - a quaint and gorgeous hotel with stunning views. It was here that we managed to catch our first and only glimpse of the northern lights, which we unapologetically spent all night watching.
Day 3: Black Sand Beaches, Glacier Lagoon, Ice Cave Tour
This was another big day on our trip, mostly because it began with one of my favorite moments - you know, the one where Dave proposed. But also because it began in one of my favorite spots on the trip so far: The black sand beaches. We had breakfast at our hotel and drove 20 minutes down to the beaches for a gorgeous, sunny morning view.
After enjoying the sites at the beaches (and me soaking up the moment), we drove 2.5 hours up the coast for an ice cave tour. The tour began at glacier lagoon, but unfortunately the cave we had planned on going to was flooded and we were forced to change plans and head to a new location.
The new cave was still quite pretty, but some of the excitement was dampened by the melting ice. It was still cool to be walking around on crampons in these beautiful natural wonders. We then followed up by visiting another black sand beach covered in icicles.
We ended the evening at the most adorable little cottage at Guesthouse Skalafell. The hospitality here was amazing and the food was definitely a highlight of our evening.
Day 4: Myvatn, Nature Baths
What an amazing day this was. After plenty of adventures and sightseeing, this was a day to simply drive and stop where we pleased with no deadlines to make. We paused several times on the 6-hour trip to pet some of the beautiful horses and look at some gorgeous scenery along the way.
We ended the drive at the Myvatn Nature Baths, hands down one of the biggest highlights of this trip for me. If I had to choose between the nature baths and the Blue Lagoon, I'd pick these any day. (Note: in many of the geothermal pools here you have to get passed the smell of sulfur and also shower naked before putting your suit on)
We ended our evening with dinner at a bistro near the nature baths and on to our incredible hotel the Dimmuborgir Guesthouse.
If I could pick a place to spend more time it would be Myvatn.
Day 5: Godafoss, Akureyri, Hvammstangi
This was another day of driving and stopping. We left our beloved cottage in Dimmuborgir for the Godafoss waterfall, stopping briefly to check out an ancient cave that was featured in Game of Thrones. This was a stunning sight to see and definitely a must-visit if you're planning a trip. At one point during my explorations I fell down a small hill and ended up at the bottom of the waterfall where the views were even more jaw-dropping.
We moved on to Akureyri, the second-biggest city in Iceland next to Reykjavik, though it's still quite small. We stopped here for lunch at Bryggjan, where the decor is just as amazing as its food. This was definitely a place we decided to splurge at.
While we would have loved to explore the city a bit more, we decided to drive on to our cottage in Hvammstangi, about 2.5 hours away.
These quaint and cozy little cottages offered a great view of the sunset.
Day 6: Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Back to Reykjavik
On our final day of driving, we decided to take the long way home, driving through the Snaefellsnes Peninsula as we headed back to Reykjavik for one last night. The weather on this day was rainy, windy and even snowy at times, which made for some difficult driving conditions but thankfully we powered through it (and by we I mean Dave).
We drove down to see Kirkjufell, which could be seen from a gorgeous waterfall.
We then moved on to have lunch in Hellnar. There was an adorable cafe that offered coffee and soups and light meals here. Then, we moved on to Gatklettur in Arnarstapi, a stunning arch rock that is a great place to stop for photos.
We returned to Reykjavik for the night, staying at this adorable Air BnB with a wonderful woman who gave us the most delicious lobster tails to try. We then we out for small bites and drinks nearby and ended our night northern lights hunting, though we were unsuccessful.
Day 7: Reykjavik, Back to the Airport
We got up early for our final morning in Iceland and visited a geothermal pool in Reykjavik, walked around to a few more shops and headed back to the airport to finish our journey home.