Each of us at least once in their life has thought that it would be high time to visit Iceland.
This idea was striking me every summer, as the summer, especially August, is the best time to visit the land of ice. After admiring the Italian scenery and after eating plenty of pizza and pasta on the sunny Amalfi coast in July, I decided not to postpone a trip to the ice island and booked the tickets for August.
Important! It is better for tourists to come here in summer, until the end of August, because from the beginning of September many hotels begin to close for winter, less public transport is available. In addition, the nature is against any freedom of movement. In short, it is not the season.
It is better to book tickets in advance and transfer in one of the Scandinavian capitals. In my case, I chose to transfer in Helsinki, as it had the most attractive prices for the ticket to Reykjavik. The route Moscow – Helsinki – Reykjavik – Helsinki – Moscow costed me 30,000 rubles. Small tip: if you book a separate ticket Moscow – Helsinki – Moscow and Helsinki – Reykjavik – Helsinki, you will save 5,000 rubles, than when you buy the full route from Moscow to Reykjavik. I checked this!
So, the tickets are bought. Now it is time to think about accommodation. Reykjavik is full of various hostels and hotels of different categories. If you make a reservation in advance, you can count on reasonable prices, but in my case these prices were no longer available to me. After checking various booking sites, I realized that I would have to live in a tent, and I almost gave up (I must admit that living in a tent is not for me, because I am a hothouse plant), but good people recommended me to look for options at the popular website www.airbnb.com. So and behold, a beautiful and cosy apartment in the heart of Reykjavik on Laugavegur Street was waiting for me with open arms!
Before arrival, I thoroughly researched the possibility of visiting all of the attractions of Iceland with the quite miraculous help of Reykjavik Excursions website www.re.is, which offers both daily group tours and individual tours (including car rent), and the airport transfer service.
* You do not have to exchange rubles on the Icelandic Krona – credit cards are accepted everywhere, absolutely everywhere in Iceland.
* Free Wi-Fi is almost everywhere. In cafes, parks, gas stations, and bus stops. It is a nice bonus for those who likes to post pictures to Instagram.
* Food in Iceland is very expensive. The average bill for lunch without alcohol is about 3500 ISK (about 1,800 rubles). If you plan a budget-friendly trip, then supermarkets will be helpful.
* Bring warm clothes. Local proverb says: “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will become even worse!”, In August I felt great in thermal underwear which I wore under three layers of ski clothes.
If you plan a week-long trip, you can use my plan. So:
Day 1. Reykjavik + whale watching safari.
Reykjavik is an amazing capital. Local people are smiling, tall and blonde here. Every second person is wearing a perfectly knitted woollen sweater. In order to appreciate the uniqueness of Reykjavík from the other European capitals, you should begin your journey with the promenade from the quay and through the entire centre.
The town is small, so you do not even notice when you will visit all the sights. Cafes and shops are beautifully decorated in Scandinavian minimalism. The whole town is literally saturated with creativity. So, armed with cameras, I started my journey.
If you want to enter the world of amazing nature of Iceland, you should spend the evening watching after whales. Annually thousands of tourists come to the island to admire these amazing creatures. Many species of cetaceans are listed into the Red Book, so whale watching is often promoted as an alternative to whaling.
Whales can be seen almost anywhere along the Icelandic coast. Reykjavík is no exception: the sea pleasure boats depart regularly from the port in the capital of Iceland.
It is better to go for the whale watching from June to August, but sightseeing tours usually begin in April and end in October.
Tours are organized by the company “Reykjavik Whale Watching” in Reykjavik.
Day 2. Golden Circle.
I must say that this is the most popular tour in Iceland, which is offered by many travel agencies. They differ mainly by the set of places to visit. There are combined tours around the Golden Circle and around Reykjavik. There are tours to the Blue Lagoon. There are combined trips around Southern Iceland and the Golden Circle. Some tours last half of a day, but some are the whole day. Tours with different companies differ in the set of places, where you will stop in addition to main attractions of the Golden Circle (Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir and Thingvellir). You can choose any tour and you will be satisfied. So as this tour will give you the opportunity to feel the spirit of Iceland.
The whole neighborhood is called Haukadalur Valley. Probably it is the most famous sight in the Golden Circle and the whole of Iceland. And if you have not heard about the Valley, you should know the name “Geyser” exactly. Geysir, which gave the name to all the others, is situated here.
Geysers as a phenomenon are only found in areas of volcanism and the high seismic activity, where earthquakes and shifts of the earth’s crust are frequent. Geysers are so unique that they can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Iceland is the only country in Europe where there are geysers.
Large and small natural cauldrons filled with bubbling boiling water whose temperature is almost 100 degrees Celsius. The boiling water is spilling over the edge of “pots” forming hot streams, which are gathered in hot rivulets. Such a very active and noisy “pot” is called Litli-geysir which means “little geyser”.
Then the route goes to the National Park Thingvellir. Note that in a bad weather in Thingvellir it is especially beautiful like in the North: grey sky, wet rocks, cold lakes and rivers, and everything is covered with moss.
Thingvellir is located in the South-West of Iceland, about 50 km from Reykjavik. It is almost 40-minute trip by car or tour bus. The parking area for vehicles is indicated by a special sign. There is the upper observation deck near the Park which offers stunning views of nearby and distant surroundings.
The Park is located over the continental rift between the American and European tectonic plates. Plates are drifting apart by 2 centimetres per year, that is why a lot of similar cracks were formed here.
My journey was accompanied by rain and slight fog, so you can see that the photos are quite dark. Though even this cannot distort the beauty of the nature of Iceland.
The third stop is the Gullfoss Waterfall. The name of the Gullfoss Waterfall is translated into English as “Golden Waterfall”. Probably it is so in a good weather, however I was accompanied by strong winds and pouring rain which were then added to by a little fog from the waterfall — everything was colourless, grey and very Nordic. But that is the magic.
The waterfall is very majestic, even mesmerizing. Incredible, where so much water comes from?!
Day 3. The glacial lagoon + boat tour.
Lovely and very “Icelandic” tour! During this tour you will travel along the South coast of Iceland to the unique Glacier Lagoon – Jökulsárlón. I recommend you to take a boat tour, because while cruising on a boat you will be able to appreciate the beauty of the Glacier Lagoon, to see the icebergs, and even to test them.
The beauty of icebergs makes one go crazy!
The icebergs are very unique, They are with different shapes and sizes: from white blocks with streaks of volcanic ash to bright blue with turquoise shimmer of fragments.
Day 4. Tour along the South coast.
A trip along the South coast of Iceland is a real adventure, filled with experiences, scenery and energy of nature. Here is the Skogafoss Waterfall, one of the most beautiful and famous in Iceland.
After admiring the waterfall, you should go further in the direction of Vik. On the way you can make several stops and enjoy beautiful views.
Broad lowlands end and now, on the left side, almost next to the road mountains appear. The concentration of beauty is breathtaking!
A lot of scenic waterfalls are flowing from the mountains, green slopes are covered with lush grass for grazing sheep, horses and fat cows.
Sheep here are really nice, happy to pose for the camera.
One of the most unusual beaches on the planet is located near the village Vik.
The band of the cleanest fine sand of deep black colour is stretching along cold rough sea for 5 kilometres. Certainly, volcanoes did their job – during eruptions lava flowed into the ocean, then cooled, and then water worked for many centuries, breaking it into tiny particles, in which there are not even slight impurities of stones or man-made debris. However, the latter is not surprising: Vik is the most humid place in the country (it rains here 340 days per year), and despite its “southern” location, it is usually cold, damp and deserted at the beach. There are large boulders. Many of them have very fantastic shapes that local legends explain this way: they used to be trolls who inadvertently lingered on the earth’s surface and petrified from the sunlight.
Day 5. Tour along the West coast.
The West is very beautiful and a must visit. The tour began with the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, which was formed by volcanic activity, so the coastline majestically slides into the sea its basalt columns and boulders of solidified lava. Landscapes fascinate…
Black sands of Djupalonssandur and Dritvik, where fishery was actively developing in the great days of old, impress with their mystery. The wreckage of two ships are still scattered along the coast.
It is a wonderful and interesting place to visit. Here you will find unusual rock formations and black pebble.
If you have enough time, you should see the fjords. Unfortunately I did not see them, but I will keep that idea for my next visit to Iceland (which I hope will be very soon).
Day 6. Tour to the Saga and Landmannalaugar Valley.
The Landmannalaugar is the area in the South of Iceland, which is home to strange and beautiful geological formations. Colourful mountains attract many tourists, capturing any traveler.
This place can be included in the list of most unusual places in the world, with unearthly landscapes and unusual wildlife. Must visit!
And this little dot in the middle of the mountains is me 🙂
I saw magnificent waterfalls and lakes during the trip.
Day 7. Blue Lagoon.
Blue Lagoon of Iceland is a unique place. There is no other place like this neither in Iceland or in the whole world. Thermal SPA resort Blue Lagoon (ISL. — Bláa lónið) is located in the South-West of Iceland, on the Reykjanes Peninsula. You can reach the Lagoon by bus in 20-25 minutes from Keflavík International Airport, or in 50 minutes from Reykjavik.
Geothermal water of Blue Lagoon has a unique composition, consisting of three active ingredients: minerals, silica and algae. Blue colour of water is attached by silica, the more precisely it is its reflection of the sunlight. Therefore, in bright sunshine and in cloudy weather, the colour of the water in Lagoon has different shades of blue, sometimes with a slight shade of green. Silica falls in the form of white precipitate and forms a layer of medicinal “clay” at the bottom of Lagoon.
Due to high content of active components, the water of Blue Lagoon benefit to skin and entire human body. Indeed, after swimming in hot water, putting on a face mask of white “clay”, you feel incredible pleasure and relaxation. After this body and face skin starts to “breathe” and feels refreshed and rejuvenated, as after visiting the salon.
Important! Before visiting Blue Lagoon you should remember:
* Staying in thermal water for a long time can lead to dehydration. Do not forget to drink before and during your visit to Lagoon;
* Thermal water does not harm your hair, but can make it dry. To avoid this effect use conditioner available in the shower;
* Remove jewelry as water can damage it;
* Do not swim with glasses as they will fog up;
* On a sunny day it is recommended to use sunglasses, because thermal water reflects the sunlight.
That was my unforgettable trip to the “land of ice”. In conclusion, I would like to add that Iceland is a magical country, it impresses you with its pristine nature, clean air and kind people. While it is possible, I recommend you to relish the opportunity to visit Iceland and see all the wonders of nature with your own eyes. Any photo cannot fully convey real smells, sounds and impressions from seeing this amazing phenomenon. Being there feels like the world is rotating the entire circle. You begin to look at many things differently, stop fussing and begin to appreciate the moment you live in, here and now. It is hard to imagine that it is possible to find a more beautiful place on Earth than Iceland. But I am sure that my acquaintance with the island of Iceland has just begun, and the next time I visit it I will discover new amazing places and will tell you about it.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy watching a beautiful video and plan our trip! 🙂