After nearly a year hiatus, which included countless sleep deprived nights and many cities checked off my bucket list, I am looking back at 2016 feeling extremely fortunate to be a small recipient of this wondrous world. This year I intentionally decided to take some time away from writing as I settled into my new job, which at times has been highly demanding and time consuming, but nonetheless full of life-giving adventure. I cannot think of a better way to kick off my return then writing about the most prime adventure experienced this year; Iceland.
Iceland seems to be on everybody’s bucket list these days, and after visiting I can totally see why. I have had many people reach out to ask about my experience and suggestions for their upcoming trips, and all I can say is, get ready to be completely blown away.
Iceland was by far the most unbelievable place I have been to yet. It is truly a country that leaves you speechless with natural beauty every road you take. What amazed me the most was how you could be in two different climates all within an hours drive, you will experience all four seasons in a day. So incredible! One minute you’re driving through a snow blizzard and the next you’re seeing fields of greenery surrounding you. We picked Iceland particularly because it has been on my bucket list and it was a country I felt we could explore in just a few days, as we did not have a whole lot of time. Although now looking back I could have easily stayed another few days.
I spent a good amount of time researching different blogs and articles of top places to see, and found myself slightly overwhelmed by the long list of “must sees” (which all sound the same by the way.) Without an itinerary lying out which site is near what it can get pretty confusing. So, now hindsight my goal is to do my best in mapping out the best way to get the most out of your 7-8 hours of useful sunlight that you’ll have to explore. With that being said, I think it’s important to remember if your like me, at times we tend to get caught up in trying to plan everything that it can easily cause false expectation and unneeded stress to see and do it all. Truth is whether you take all these suggestions or create all your own, your trip will be a once of a lifetime experience!
Navigating Iceland was extremely easy, as almost all the major sights you can drive right up to. Most car rental companies offer a GPS rental, but we used Google Maps and it served perfectly fine. Depending on the time of year, if weather allows, you will do yourself a major disservice if you don’t rent a car. I tend to enjoy exploring at my own pace rather than paying for excursions with large groups of people. If you do rent a car, make sure you spend the extra dime on a 4-wheel drive, as conditions can be dangerous to drive around. We saw many broken down rental cars due to icy roads and extremely low-visibility at times. I highly recommend NU Rental car. They were the most inexpensive and efficient car rental company, and completely hassle free. Make sure you keep an eye on weather conditions, which you can easily access through the website: http://safetravel.is
Day one: Reykjavik & The Southern Region
Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran Church: We landed bright and early around 5 am. After a long day of travel and failed attempts of sleeping on both flights, we knew we had no time to waste so we started right away going into the city of Reykjavik to the top of the famous historic Lutheran church where you can get an amazing panoramic view of the entire city.
We chose not to spend much time in the city as most of the amazing sights Iceland has to offer are seen purely driving around. Although, we did end some evenings in the city grabbing dinner, and please do yourself a favor and try one of their hotdogs; their famous for them for a reason. Just driving was one of the best experiences we had while touring around the breathtaking country. Iceland is known for their sassy yet sweet Icelandic horses. These beauties were everywhere; it was absolutely surreal looking out the car window seeing countless majestic horses surrounding the fields. We pulled over a few times and they ran right up to us. We were even able to pet them and take some pictures. This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. I still get all the feels thinking about how magical this experience was.
Seljalandfoss: This is one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls and natural wonders, and was quite the way to start off our sightseeing tour for the day. You can even walk right behind the waterfall into a cave.
Skogafoss: Not even a ten-minute drive further you’ll find another of the most famous and largest waterfalls. This was one the most incredible experiences, as I was standing in the middle to catch a picture the sun hit just right and a full rainbow appeared, circling me from one side of the ground to the other. One of those moments where you truly feel how small you are in comparison to God’s great earth. If you can brave it, you can hike all the way to the top!