The City of Reykjavik

Before we headed to the airport for our flight back to the states, we did some last minute exploration around the city of Reykjavik. We were so thankful that we reserved a rental car, because it made sightseeing so much easier and overall better.

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We spent so much time in the countryside of Iceland, that we hardly had time to enjoy the capital!

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When Taylor and I were planning our trip to Iceland, we were excited! It was somewhere we’d always wanted to travel to, plus we knew it would be the perfect winter getaway. Although we were excited, we really didn’t expect to fall in love with the country.

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The city of Reykjavik was straight out of a Christmas Hallmark movie! The streets were decked out with Christmas trees and lights everywhere. They have such an abundance of Christmas trees, that they literally hang them off the buildings, and apartment complexes display them in every window.

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While we were walking around in the morning, we stumbled upon a small watch company. When we went inside, there was a wall of famous performers who purchased watches from this very place. The owner of the company told us that a lot of famous people will travel to Iceland because they can walk around freely and not be bothered.

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Iceland is one of the safest places to travel to and we felt very comfortable during our time there. This is one of those places that I would feel completely comfortable traveling to by myself.

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We were also blown away by how fluent the locals were in english. From the city to the countryside, everyone could understand and speak english with us! We’re used to traveling to other countries and not being able to communicate.

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On our first day in Iceland, we ate at a fantastic hotdog place and loved it! On this day, we ate hotdogs at their competitors!

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This place had more of a selection and a variety of toppings to choose from!

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These hotdogs were soooo yummy! We had a very difficult time deciding which one was better!

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On our way to drop off our rental car, we stopped and took some last minute photos of the city and the ocean.

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Once we returned our rental car and headed inside the airport, we found out that our flight with WOW Air was delayed by two hours.

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There’s nothing worse than trying to get home for the holidays and having a delayed flight. We passed time by checking in our luggage, visiting the duty free store, and ordering coffee and food.

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Honestly, Iceland was an incredible country and it has so much to offer. We’d highly recommend traveling here to anyone. Whether you’re well travelled or not, there’s something for everyone. We chose to visit during the winter season, and we were still able to see so much. We can’t wait to return one day, but hopefully during the summer season!

 

Golden Circle & The Blue Lagoon

Our third day in Iceland was just as good as the first two! This may have been our longest day yet, but it was jam packed with adventure and exploration! On this day, we decided to complete the Golden Circle. This is one of the most popular driving courses for anyone visiting Iceland. Iceland is a pretty small Island, but it still takes a lot of time to drive around the entire perimeter. The Golden Circle is much smaller, but still offers incredible views, making it very desirable!

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If you don’t have a car while visiting the country, there are tons of tour groups that will drive you around the circle. If you do have a car, we’d recommend driving yourself because you’ll have more freedom and flexibility. Also, a guided tour will be more expensive.

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We started the Golden Circle at the Þingvellir National Park. This park is very popular because it’s where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet.

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If you’re looking for something really fun and unique to do while in Iceland, they offer scuba diving and snorkeling here! While we were walking around, we noticed a tour group training to jump in. I can’t say that I’d jump into that water during the middle of December, but it sure would be cool to say that you did!

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The water was so calm and peaceful.

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We loaded back into the car and headed towards our next destination, Haukadalur.

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This is a very large geothermal area that houses some of the most popular geysers.

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Not all of them shoot off, but there are a couple that shoot off every ten to fifteen minutes. When visiting, just find the geyser that everyone is standing around, that’s the one most likely to shoot off. 🙂

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They have a fantastic gift shop and café, where you can warm up and shop!

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Our next stop on the Golden Circle was the Gullfoss Waterfall. Before we walked down to see the falls, we grabbed a snack at the visitor’s center.

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Honestly, they didn’t have the best food, but the hot chocolate was yummy!

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Once we were warmed up, we walked a short distance to the falls.

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The Gullfoss falls were massive!

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There are two lookouts that you can choose from. This way, you can see everything from a different angle. If you visit in the wintertime, walk carefully! The pathway and staircases are very icy.

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After spending some time at the Gullfoss falls, we started driving towards Kerio Crater Lake.

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It snowed pretty much the entire time that we were completing the Golden Circle. It seemed to pick up as soon as we got to Kerio Crater Lake. If you stop here, please note that you’ll have to pay a small fee of 400 ISK. This is about 4 dollars per person.

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What’s now a lake, used to be an active volcano! The volcano erupted years ago and then collapsed in on itself. We couldn’t walk down to the water with all the snow. However, if you visit during the summer, you should be fine walking down.

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It was slightly challenging trying to walk around this lake, due to the massive amounts of snow. There’s no pathway to guide you, and there’s also no guard rail. However, it was a very pretty view!

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This was the last stop for our Golden Circle adventure, but we had some time to kill before we headed to the Blue Lagoon.

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As we were driving around, we came across another adorable town. They had their very own ice-cream factory and a shop that sold some! Of course, we had to stop and try some!

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It was super yummy!!

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How adorable is this town?! All of the trees were lit up and they had this beautiful string of lights at the entrance to their park.

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Of course I made Taylor get out of the car and take a picture with me. 🙂

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When we were done roaming around, we drove an hour to the Blue Lagoon.

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The Blue Lagoon is a HUGE tourist destination in Iceland. Almost everyone who comes to Iceland makes a stop here. If you plan on visiting yourself, make sure you make a reservation well in advance. We made our reservation a few days beforehand and were only able to land a spot at 7:30pm.

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Some people will even come to the Blue Lagoon during their layovers for some rest and relaxation. Therefore, they have a luggage drop off area.

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The Blue Lagoon is essentially a giant geothermal spa. Currently, there are four packages that you can choose from. Standard, Comfort, Premium, and Luxury. The standard package allows you access to the lagoon and a silica mud mask. The Comfort package gives you entrance to the lagoon, silica mud mask, use of a towel, one drink of choice, and an algae mask. The Premium package includes everything from the comfort package, plus the use of a bathrobe, slippers, reservations at the restaurant, and sparkling wine at the restaurant. The Luxury package includes everything from the Premium package, but also includes entrance to the exclusive lounge (child free), and spa journey product change.

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There’s a small Café and a nice restaurant if you’re looking for some food. Since this is a tourist destination, the prices of food are outrageous. We’d recommend bringing your own food or eating beforehand.

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Before getting into the lagoon, you’ll need to change and shower off inside the locker rooms. There are rows of lockers that you can place your stuff in, which opens with the wrist band you’re given when checking in. I can’t speak for the men’s locker room, but the women’s locker room was crazy. There wasn’t enough lockers and it was slightly confusing trying to locate an empty one. I wish I would’ve packed flip flops, because the floors were really wet and disgusting.

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When you come out of the locker room, you’ll see the entrance to the lagoon. The water was very turquoise and warm. There’s a small door that leads to the outside. We apologize for the blurriness of the photos, but it was dark and the GoPro didn’t hold up well.

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When you swim outside, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the snow covered rocks. You’ll also see the steam rising from the water, and you’ll feel very warm and toasty. The water was the perfect temperature! It wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t cold either. The first thing we did, was find the mud bar to receive our masks.

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The second thing we did, was find the bar. The wrist band that you receive when checking in, will also tally up your purchases. There is a mini bar that you can swim up to, which includes beer, wine, water, and soft drinks.

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Even though it was dark, it was still so beautiful. I wish our pictures would’ve turned out better!

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The Blue Lagoon is currently adding a hotel, where you will be able to stay for longer periods of time and include different packages. I’m sure it will book up quickly! We’d love to go back one day, but maybe in the daylight.

We didn’t leave the Blue Lagoon until nine thirty, but still had to drive an hour back to Reykjavik. By this point, we were all very hungry and tired. Most restaurants were closing, and quite frankly, we were exhausted. Taylor found a fantastic pizza place close to our apartment, so we picked up dinner.

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It was SO GOOD! They had every type of pizza you could think of, the service was great, and they were very fast. We’d definitely recommend eating pizza at Devitos when in Iceland.

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This was such a fun way to end our last full day in Iceland!

Charming Towns and Seafood

Our third day in Iceland was another long one! After grabbing our donuts and coffee from Dunkin’, we headed northwest for some more exploring.

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We started by driving north of Reykjavik, which took us through the Hvalfjörður Tunnel. This tunnel was completed in 1998, and ended up saving us close to an hour of driving while heading northwest. The tunnel is over 3.5 miles long and roughly 550 feet below the sea. There was one toll to enter, but only cost us a dollar. The time and milage we saved made it worth it.

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Since Iceland is one giant Island, there are tons of different lighthouses to see. As we came out of the tunnel, we drove through a small town where we stopped to look at one! We got there just in time to see the sun rising.

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The lighthouse had these adorably painted rocks all over the place.

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We wanted to go inside, but it was locked. In order to climb to the top, you had to call the number listed. We wanted to go inside, but we didn’t have the time to call nor a phone that would have worked. So, we just roamed around outside and enjoyed all the little rock paintings.

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Once we all loaded back into the car, we drove around the small town and stopped to take some incredible shots of the boats out on the water.

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We spent a ton of time in the car on this day. Most of the places we wanted to see, were farther away from our apartment in the city . However, the views were so stunning that the distance flew by quickly. I made Taylor pull over several times just to take some pictures. These pictures don’t even do it justice!

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About two hours away from Reykjavik, we stopped at another beautiful waterfall called Barnafossar! This one was wider than the one from the previous day, and it had an amazing turquoise color.

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Since this waterfall is a lot further away from the capital than most of the others, not as many tourists get the chance to visit it. However, it’s so different from all the others and it turned out to be one of our favorites!

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There’s a neat bridge that you can use to cross over the river and look down at the water. There used to be a natural bridge in this spot, but it caved long ago.

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All of the water is this pretty blue color because it emerges from a nearby lava field. Most of the surrounding rock is pillow lava from a past eruption.

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This was one of the most beautiful waterfalls we’ve ever seen before. It may take longer to get to, but we highly recommend seeing it if you find yourself in Iceland!

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When we were finished taking in the beauty of the waterfall, we drove to a nearby geothermal heating plant.

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The water bubbling out from under the earth’s surface is about 200 degrees and is collected and piped all around the country. It’s then used for geothermal energy.

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After we were done staring at the bubbling water, we drove an hour to Leif Erickson’s home.

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While we were driving, we saw a group of horses hanging out near the fence. They were eating, so of course we stopped to pet them!

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Horses can be spotted all over Iceland, and they’re super friendly. As soon as they saw us stand by the fence, they came up to say hello!

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We hated to say goodbye, but we were on a mission to see Lief Erickson’s home before the sun went down.

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It was such a nice day outside, which made the next part of our adventure possible.

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When driving to Lief Erickson’s home, you have to go through the mountains. They were covered in fresh white snow, so it was breathtaking!

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but then…

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it started to blizzard while we were halfway up the mountain. This is when I thought we were going to die. We slipped and slid up this mountain road, all while it was snowing heavily. Thank goodness it only lasted for about 20 minutes, because I was not thinking that we were going to make it off that mountain in one piece!

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As Taylor was driving, Grandma and I were in the back begging him to turn around. However, Taylor is a very stubborn person. Thankfully, we made it safely down the mountain. We ended up getting fantastic pictures and a good laugh out of it, so I’ll count that as a win.

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We finally made it to Leif Erickson’s home where he was supposedly born and lived while he was younger, before moving to Greenland and discovering North America.

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I’m so glad we decided to venture all the way to his home, because it was so neat to see it in person!

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Once we were done touring his home, we drove to the town of Stykkishólmur for dinner.

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This was a fishing town, and it was so unique. There was a peaceful harbor area that we enjoyed walking around.

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We hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast, so we were starving! We chose to eat at the most amazing restaurant right on the harbor. It was called Sjávarpakkhúsiö, and they served fresh seafood that the fisherman had caught that day. We selected a table right beside the window so we could watch the boats.

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The restaurant is open all year round, so there is plenty of seating inside and outside.

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The restaurant was so cozy and welcoming. It was the perfect place to end our long and adventurous day.

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I got the fresh seafood soup, which was a creamy soup with white fish and scallops!

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Taylor and Grandma ordered the fish sandwich, which they say tasted incredible.

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Our friend Waite ordered the lamb! He practically licked the plate clean, so you know that was yummy as well!

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The food and service was impeccable. We dream about coming back to this restaurant one day! We didn’t want to leave this charming town, so we walked around after dinner before heading back to Reykjavik.

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It took us about two hours to get back to the city. As soon as we got back to the apartment, we each showered and fell asleep. We were exhausted from the long day!