It's coming up to a year since we took a 4 day trip to Iceland and quite frankly I wish we could go back already! Iceland had been on my bucket list for a while, and for my 30th, Paul surprised me at 5am in Gatwick airport (funny story). I was beyond excited, but nothing could have prepared me for the absolute beauty of this place.
Grab yourself a cuppa, this might be a long one!
We visited Iceland in mid November which meant the days were very short, the sun rises around 10am and sets around 4pm and it goes without saying that snow covers most of the island and looks downright magical. The first thing I noticed when we got off the plane was the air, which is so clean and fresh. It immediately makes you feel refreshed and a million miles from the thick smog of London.
First things first, where we stayed. We decided on a small town called Hella, at this family run hotel. It was perfectly located for all the things on our hit list, the hotel itself was a little old fashioned in decor (reminded me of an old Hitchcock film!) but the rooms had recently been redecorated so felt cosy and clean. Each morning we had a decent continental breakfast there, and if we didn't fancy going out for dinner, they did really good pizza for supper. Would totally recommend this hotel.
Two of the best things we experienced while in Iceland were the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa and the abandoned plane crash. The Blue Lagoon is obviously a hot tourist spot (excuse the pun), but worth every penny and here's why. The Lagoon itself is big, so although there's lots of people, it doesn't feel overcrowded. The water naturally emerges from 2,000 meters below surface and is around 37°C, so it feels like a comforting hot bath - and as if that wasn't enough, the water is self-cleansing – it renews itself every 40 hours. We booked the 3pm time slot, which we felt was perfect, means you get to see the vastness of the Lagoon, but also enjoy the sun setting at around 4pm. It also gave Paul a chance to capture some incredible drone shots beforehand!
The abandoned plane crash. This is much less of a tourist spot, and is trickier to find but it's not one to be missed if you can take time to find it. The crash happened in 1973 but no one was killed, luckily, but the remains of the plane were left standing. The whole experience of seeing it was both strange and amazing, like nothing you would have seen before and unlikely to ever see again. Tip : take a bottle of water/snacks for the walk up to it, no cars are allowed near it so it's around a 1 hour walk there and back, worth it though.
We also visited Reykjavík, of course. It was as we expected - pretty but heavily touristy. The main attraction was the church, which you can get the most wonderful views from. While we were there, we booked a table at the Fiskmarkaðurinn for dinner and it didn't disappoint, would highly suggest it for delicious fresh fish in cosy romantic surroundings. Also, for lunch in Reykjavik you must try the 'soup in a roll', which can be found in a couple of cafes along the main high street - perfect for warming the cockles!
I get asked lots about what I took to wear, and to be honest I didn't go crazy. I picked up some thermal vests and thick socks from Primark as well as a couple of cosy hats and gloves, my coat was this one from Espirit and kept me *very* toasty. My boots were similar to these and saved me from slipping all over the place. I wore no make up most of the time, just skincare and plenty of lip balm! Although it was cold (-4°C to be exact) the sun was shining, and we didn't notice the cold most of the time, as long as you're wrapped up and cosy, you can just get on with enjoying it without thinking "I'm freezing" the whole time!
Here's a few other unmissable sights we did while in Iceland (waterfalls mostly!) -
- Skógafoss waterfall
- Selfoss waterfall
- Gullfoss waterfall
One of my main highlights of Iceland was simply driving around exploring, getting lost and not caring, the whole island holds just over 300,500 occupancy, so it feels extremely quiet and peaceful. The beauty is so undisturbed, every morning we were dying to get out and explore, take 82967574 photos and breathe in the pure air.
One last thing! We took our drone to capture Iceland from above and my gosh, Paul deserves an Oscar for this, its 3 minutes of pure awesomeness. Check it out here.
Oh Iceland! What a wonder you were.
Til next time, Sophy x