iceland

Winter in Iceland Travel Diary

{wheels up / yyz ✈️ kef}

Earlier this month, I crossed another major item off of my travel bucket list: winter in Iceland. To sum up the experience in one quick sentence: it did NOT disappoint. Iceland is like no place I have ever been or seen in my entire life; it truly looks like the moon or some far off planet. The whole trip we just kept saying, “This cannot be planet Earth.” I had also always heard that it was “The Land of Fire and Ice” and it turned out to be a very fitting nickname (I’ll let the photos speak for themselves). So, today I wanted to share a little bit about our trip and give you all of my top recommendations. I hope you enjoy! Without further ado, here is my Winter in Iceland Travel Diary…

{360º view of reykjavík from the top of hallgrímskirkja church}

{kaffi vinyl}

{reykjavík roasters}

For the majority of our trip we stayed right in the city of Reykjavík which is the capital city of Iceland, and the only city in the entire country — everything else is considered a town or village. It is a very pretty and safe city, and we loved being in the center of it all. We found a great vegan restaurant that we loved so much we ended up eating there three days in a row… I can’t figure out if that’s just sad or flattering, lol. It’s called Kaffi Vinyl and it has an entirely vegan menu accompanied by a great vibe complete with a record player for music, of course. We also stumbled upon an amazing little coffee shop, Reykjavík Roasters, which we fell in love with immediately upon walking in. It’s a cozy little place that was perfect for warming up with an oat milk latte in.

{the blue lagoon}

If you’ve heard anything — and I mean anything — about Iceland, you’ve most definitely heard about The Blue Lagoon. It is truly as amazing as it sounds, and we wished we had more time on the trip to go back a second time. It’s right near the airport, so we went there right after we landed and got our rental car. It was such a nice way to start off the trip and relax after the journey there.

We paid for one of the packages that includes a few extra perks, and definitely recommend doing so! I unfortunately didn’t get too many photos while we were there so bear with me as I explain all of the details! Although this was at the top of my to-do list for our trip, I admittedly didn’t know too much about The Blue Lagoon other than it was a big natural pool of hot geothermal water. Without even knowing anything else about it, I was sold! I didn’t realize how much more there was to it, including a swim-up bar (we got green juices that were some of the best we’ve ever had!), a swim-up clay/mud face mask bar (there is one complimentary for all guests, and an additional one if you buy a higher package with your ticket), and a sauna and steam room. It was incredible and we spent hours just relaxing in the warm water.

Three major things that I want to point out if you plan on going: 1. Buy tickets ahead of time. They sell out fast so plan ahead! 2. Purchase an early morning ticket time. We got there early in the morning since it worked out best with our flight times, and we were so happy with the way it panned out.  It seemed to just get more and more crowded as the day went on, and — for obvious reasons — the less people there were, the more enjoyable it was. 3. Be mindful about your hair! Something in the water can make your hair stiff and unmanageable, but if you’re careful then you will have no problem. You’re supposed to rinse off in showers before you go into the water, so when I did that, I took a bunch of the conditioner provided and put it all over my hair. Then, I left it in my hair without rinsing it out and went in to the water just like that. Afterwards, I went over my hair a few more times with the same conditioner, and my hair felt just as nice and soft as it did when I arrived 🙂

{skógafoss waterfall}

{mýrdalsjökull glacier}

{gullfoss waterfall}

{vík}

{vík’s black sand beach at sunset}

{the great geyser}

{diamond beach}

{jökulsárlón lagoon}

{vatnajokull glacier + ice cave}

{the friendly wild horses}

One of my favorite parts of the trip was seeing the beautiful wild horses all over along Ring Road. They were so incredibly friendly — it was so different than coming across wild animals anywhere else I’ve been. Every time we got the chance, we would pull over and get out of the car, and every time we started to get out, they would all come walking right over and come right up to us. We would just stand there and talk to them and pet them for so long… They would never leave until we did. We had heard before that it’s important to be gentle and talk quietly because some of them have never come into contact with humans before so you don’t want to scare them. Too cute — I loved them.

{fire + ice}

{random sights}

I’m not sure if the photos do it justice, but as I mentioned before, Iceland really looked like a completely different planet. It is such an amazing mix of mountains, volcanoes, streams, lagoons, and fields — unlike anything I’ve ever seen! I can 100% understand why so many movies are filmed here. We spent a lot of time just driving along Ring Road (Route 1) both north and south, and had such a good time doing that. It reminded me a lot of driving along the Icefields Parkway in Banff if you’ve ever been there. We could just drive aimlessly for hours pulling off and taking it all in every chance we got. We came across so many cute towns with friendly locals, amazing geography, animals (including reindeer. Yes, really!), and even a handful of turf houses.

Another interesting part of the trip comes with traveling there in the winter: short, short, short days! It was so interesting to experience! Iceland has only a few short hours of daylight in the winter, and almost 24 hours of sunlight in the summer (something I would also really like to experience!). The sun didn’t come up until 10 or 11 am while we were there, and it would start to set around 3:30 pm (but didn’t actually get completely dark until 5 or so). One thing I actually really enjoyed about this was that almost every hour was golden hour — a photographer’s dream! It cast such a beautiful light orange and pink light all day long, which made everything look even more beautiful.

Another perk of traveling there in the winter is the northern lights; it is the best time of year to see them there! Sadly, we got very unlucky and didn’t get to see them, though we were very close on two nights! However, it’s just another reason to go plan another trip back to Scandinavia, right? 🙂 We did get to witness the biggest meteor shower of the year while looking for them one night though, so that certainly was a silver lining.

I hope you enjoyed my Iceland Travel Diary! Have you ever been The Land of Fire and Ice? What are your favorite hidden gems on the island?

 

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