In early February 2019, my family and I decided to take a 5-day trip to Iceland. Now I have to say this is not your typical holiday where you spend days relaxing and lying on the beach and to be quite honest this trip was physically tiring but I have to say it was 100% worth it. There was quite a bittersweet feeling as there were new things that I learned about nature which is ultimately quite sad and devastating but made me extremely grateful and appreciative to be able to witness such beautiful and extraordinary scenery.
This was quite a short trip so we tried to pack in as much activities as possible to make the most of our time in Iceland. As soon as we landed, we headed for the well-known Blue Lagoon which is about a 20-minute drive from Keflavík International Airport. What really made the geothermal spa experience amazing was the contrast between the icy cold air and the incredible warm bath. Due to the high silica content in the water, I would recommend to not submerge your hair into the water as it takes DAYS to get rid of (trust me, I know!). If I had known how cold the rest of the trip was going to be, I would have probably left the spa to last.
We spent the night near our pick-up point for the 3-day guided tour, so we decided to explore the city of Reykjavík a little bit at night for dinner. Now if you are going to Iceland during the colder season, I would highly recommend this Thai restaurant called Noodle Station. It is cheap, easy, and filling! I have to say the cost of food in Iceland is not the cheapest so this really was a golden find. They only have three items on the menu which made deciding even easier. The hot and steamy bowl of noodle soup was just perfect. But if you are to go for the spicy chilli option, I have to warn you, it burns…
It was an early morning for us since our driver was scheduled to pick us up at around 5-6am to begin our guided tour of the “Golden Circle”. It was a minivan with about 20 of us and a driver named Mr. Ómar.
The “Golden Circle” tour consisted of three destinations where our first stop was Þingvellir National Park. Since we went quite early, we managed to catch the sun rise and it was one of the most breath-taking view that I’ve ever seen.
This was followed up by our second stop which include a few different waterfalls like Gullfoss and Seljalandsfoss. The Gullfoss waterfall also known as the “Golden Waterfall” has an open viewing spot directly in front of the massive waterfall. I can’t quite describe the feeling of being so close to such a huge waterfall but the harsh sounds of the falling water was quite overwhelming and daunting but since it was a bright and clear sunny day, it was an out of the world experience. I had to cover up as much of my face as possible, it was so cold that our phones would shut off within two seconds of being exposed to the freezing air!
The final stop of the “Golden Circle” was the Geysir Geothermal Area where it is known for its amazing eruptions that occurs every 5-minute or so. Unfortunately, I was not lucky enough to see a massive eruption but it was still so cool to see the water bubbling from the ground (check it out in my video at the end of this blog!).
Now one thing that we and the driver kept mentioning was the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights (also known as the Aurora) at night time. To be honest I did not have high expectations causes the though of it just seemed so unreal to me but during our second night of the tour we decided to walk out into the field away from the lights of the village in hopes to witness this phenomenon. It did not take too long till we started to see a glimpse of it hovering against the dark sky. Luckily my sister had a professional camera that was able to absorb the light so we could see it clearer. It’s quite rare to be able to see the lights as bright and vibrant as in the picture, without the camera it looked more like a soft dark hue.
Another great aspect of this inclusive tour was that we got to do a glacier hike at Skaftafell where our instructor told us that the glaciers we were seeing in-front of us used to be twice its size and within the next half a year, it could potentially be gone and melted away… It was not an easy hike as the ground was slippery (even when we had grips on our shoes) and we had to climb up and down the glaciers. Nevertheless, I’m proud of my parents for making it through and it was very interesting to learn about the conservations in Iceland.
Typically, when you go travelling there might be a certain type of food or cuisine that the location is known for and for this trip the lobster rolls and soup is a must-try apparently! To be frank, I was not the biggest fan as I think it was some sort of shellfish but definitely not lobster which is not surprising as the meal would’ve been more expensive if it was. In fact, I found the fish and chips from the next stall to be quite impressive and delicious, almost on par with the ones you get here in the UK!
We wrapped up our “3-day Golden Circle & South Coast” tour at the final destination which was Vík where the Black Sand Beach and Glacial Lagoon is located. I believe Game of Thrones filmed here which makes sense because the scenery of the beach had this dark and gothic vibe to it. It still amazes me to this day that the ice washed up on shore is as clear as crystal and it just doesn’t melt the same way as our usual ice does. I was tempted to see if it would survive the journey home with me but I decided against it. However, I did bring back some stones from the beach which is probably the best souvenir out of all.
It was an amazing experience to be able to see nature in such a different perspective. We were tossing between Iceland and Prague (which I was still able to visit later on the year!) and my dad made the consecutive decision to go to Iceland which I am glad that he did. I’d recommend this trip to those who are looking for an adventure as this might not be the one if you’re looking to have a chilled and laid-back holiday.
I compiled a video of clips I took throughout the guided tour so if you’re interested please give it a watch!
Check out the tour here: https://bit.ly/2AP7RfR
Thank you to Guide to Iceland and our guide/driver Mr. Ómar! 🙂