“Vid do these tiny streams of water flowing along the winding road with those glaciers at the back remind you of a certain place we have been to before?”
I tried hard not to be distracted by the natural beauty that surrounded us on our recent road trip to Ladakh when answering Savi’s question. Yes, we had seen such dramatic panoramas once before. In Iceland. It’s been a few years since we drove in Iceland, but Ladakh reminded us so much of Iceland that we started reminiscing our trip to the land of fire and ice. We often do that, Savi and I, especially when driving. Before we knew, we were going over the itinerary we followed in Iceland to come up with our favourite experiences of that trip. It was hard. A few hours and a couple of arguments later we finally narrowed down our favourite experiences in Iceland to the 10 experiences below:
Search for things to do in Iceland on the internet and in all probability the first result that you’ll see is the Golden Circle. When we left the airport to begin our road trip in Iceland, we decided to check out the much talked about Gulfoss waterfall. We were expecting hoards of tourists fighting for space to get that perfect shot of the massive falls. Err, not quite. It was just past 5 in the evening and there was not a single soul in sight – only handsome cliffs, gushing water, and beautiful rainbows forming in the spray of water.
Glacier Hike: Sólheimajökull
Well, take our word for it. A glacier hike is as exciting in person as it sounds on paper. The weather was not in our favour when we made our way to Sólheimajökull glacier, often referred to as the “incredible shrinking glacier”. Heavy rains added to the dramatic scene – blue ice covered with volcanic ash, miles upon miles of the colour white, and in our case, drenched bodies 🙂 Just bring a sense of adventure and warm waterproof clothes and you’re sure to have the time of your life!
Floating Icebergs at Jökulsárlón
Although we made our way through glacial rivers, rugged landscapes, and craggy mountains when driving from Vik to Egilsstadir, the highlight of this long day of driving was Jokulsarlon ice berg lagoon. This place is truly spellbinding – it’s amazing to see the forces of nature at play here. Chunks of ice breaking from the neighbouring glacier and flowing into the ocean, seagulls parked on icebergs as they float, and sea lions surfacing from under the water – it’s a scene straight out of a National Geographic documentary.
Random Picnic Spots
Ok, so this is not a specific site. But trust us, you’ll be doing a lot of this when you drive around Iceland. One minute you’ll see barren landscape and the next you’ll chance upon swaying daffodils next to the ocean. Believe us when we say, you WILL stop every 10 minutes to take in the natural beauty of Iceland. Expect scenes like this (and add a couple of hours of driving time to what Google maps suggests ;-))
One recommended place you’ll definitely notice in all guide books is the Blue Lagoon, not far rom Reykjavik and Keflavik airport. Most tourists who visit Iceland use the day of their arrival or departure to relax in this pool of natural goodness. We were tempted, for sure, and would have visited this tourist attraction too if the friendly agent at our car rental pickup location hadn’t told us about Grjótagjá. Tucked away in a hidden cave off the ring road lies this lava cave with naturally heated spring water, and most importantly, no tourists around. The water can be quite hot so be careful when going in for a dip. Other than that, jump in, and enjoy the healing and relaxing qualities of this hidden gem.
I must admit it – this particular spot was really high on my wish-list before we visited Iceland simply because of the hundreds of photographs I had seen online of a towering mountain with 3 tiny waterfalls on the side – I couldn’t take the scene out of my mind and HAD to go visit. Both Savi and I were glad we did. Not far from the town of Grundarfjörður in Snæfellsnes peninsula, Kirkjufell is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic while watching the waterfalls cascade down a hill. The scene is straight out of a painting and spending a couple of hours here is pure bliss!
Most people who venture into Northern part of Iceland set up base at Akureyri. We decided to go a bit deeper into the countryside and drove 20 kms further north to stay at a place called Ytri Vik. We don’t exaggerate when we say it’s the most beautiful setting that we have ever stayed at. Picture this – a rustic cabin in the middle of a field full of flowers, a calm ocean on one side, and snow capped mountains on the other – a scene straight out of a fairytale. We had planned so many activities in and Akureyri but after discovering this idyllic location. Unfortunately, those had to take a backseat for we were busy doing nothing in our little wonderland 🙂
So many of our readers have stayed at this EXACT cabin at Ytri Vik after we first wrote about it – including some of their photos below:
Savi was surprised I chose this as one of my top experiences in Iceland. And to think we didn’t even have it on our original itinerary. We need to thank our delayed flight out of Iceland for this put. We got a few extra hours before we had to make our way to the airport. Instead of staying put in our hotel, we decided to make our last morning in Iceland an adventure too 🙂
Lake Kerid is yet another volcanic lake. Go prepared to be amazed by the the neon greenery that surrounds the lake, the vibrant blue-green colour of the lake, and flaming red lava rocks strewn all over the place.
Kirkjufell is not the only sight from Snæfellsnes peninsula that made the cut for our favourite experiences from Iceland. Now, Saxholl Crater makes it to our list for a rather funny and unusual reason – we were pretty much blown away from the top of this volcanic crater by the strong winds – no kidding! That said, the climb to the top is easy and the view on a clear day is magnificent so it ended up being the perfect experience – a little bit of adventure, lots of fun, and out-of-this-world views. Go prepared for the strong winds and you’ll have an amazing time.
Well, it was difficult to decide the tenth experience. We had a long debate whether to go for the hike to Hellnar’s Arch in the ancient fishing villagr of Hellnar or our Whale watching expedition from Reykjavik but in the end we chose the latter for it was a unique experience. We loved dressing in those onesies – it made us feel like we were off an important mission 😉
Although the waters were choppy the day we sailed, we still had a great time spotting whales and dolphins – it was a first for us and we really enjoyed getting up close with nature.
That’s it! our favourite experiences from Iceland 🙂 Have you been to Iceland? What’s your favourite part about this amazing island?