I’m really excited to share some things about my Iceland trip that I took a few weeks ago.
Even though some time has passed since I went there, I still have this unstoppable urge to make everyone I meet look at my Iceland photos and then persuade them to go there as well.
My expectations for this travel were extremely high. I had done thorough research months before because it would be my first proper solo travel. I didn’t know anyone there, no one I knew had ever been there but I had this wanderlust. Like a tickle, I just knew I had to go.
So after my Uni exams, I did it. Even though it was just a few days, it was probably one of the best trips of my life. I’ll give you a detailed run-through below, plus some of my favourite snaps.
I left behind a sunny London and jumped on an half-empty plane that would take me to Reykjavik airport within three and a half hours. The plane was extremely new, smelled like a new car or rather plane… and I had an entire row for myself which was awesome because I was so cranky after stressing to get to the airport on time.
As the plane neared the tarmac, everyone was huddled together in front of the windows to get a first glance at the island. And it was foggy…
…still I was able to get a couple of peeks of the volcanic landscape.
It was mystical, especially because it was dipped into this foggy but sunny shimmer.
I stayed at a hostel not far from the city centre and about a five minute walk to the water front.
The place was great because it was managed by young travellers who knew exactly how to make you feel at home. It was cozy and homey and housing a couple of other travellers from all over the world who shared their stories and food. Already I had different pools of inspiration babbling around me and I soaked up their knowledge of Iceland as good as I could.
Reykjavik is probably one of my favourite cities ever. It’s small compared to other capitals but that’s what makes it so charming. There was an extremely creative and young vibe with happy, smiley people that was immediately appealing to me.
There was an exhibition of different photographs from all areas of Iceland out on the street. It added another facet to this easy-going and friendly culture that I had already started to experience. Ironically, while it was raining in the UK that day, I had been rewarded with the best day in Iceland with up to 25 degrees Celsius and a sunburn.
Who would have thought?
I spent the day discovering the city, browsing through cute little stores and admiring the art that was sprinkled around town like fairy dust.
Later in the afternoon I took part in one of the free walking tours. An Icelandic man with hilarious humour showed us all around the historic buildings and the famous Hallgrimskirkja -Hallgrims church- which is really young BTW, it was finished in the 1970s if I remember correctly.
After spending the entire day walking around in the sun and filling my stomach with yummy food in one of the cute cafe’s on the high street, I went back to the old harbour.
One of my bucket list items has always been to see a whale. Turned out I had come to the perfect place. I went on a whale watching tour that took me about three hours out to the wild Icelandic sea.
It was AMAZING. Even though it was cold, windy and several times I thought I would freeze and become an ice statue, all that was forgotten when the first humpback whale showed himself. I think it was a boy 😉
In the course of the afternoon our guide would gush non-stop that we were an extremely lucky group of people. The whales kept flipping over and were basically having a little show with the sea as their stage and us little humans as a speechless audience. My fascination with whales increased a tenfold that afternoon and I urgently want to go out and see those peaceful giants again some day.
The Golden Circle Tour is THE most popular tour in Iceland. It has three main sights to and it’s not too far from Reykjavik where I was staying during my short trip.
The little road trip started by driving through the city to pick up every person that was participating in front of their hotel, guesthouse or hostel.
Most tour services or airport shuttles offer this service and especially when you don’t have a car or map, this is extremely useful.
So, with a fully loaded bus (only about 10 people were in one group), we headed off to the first sight.
The Gullfoss waterfall is one of the most famous waterfalls in the world, its name derives from the colours that occur when its water catches the sunlight – GOLDEN. The waterfall is a mighty thing and sits on top of a glacial river. Even though it may not seem so big in the photo, the width and shape of the fall is incredible. It’s massive!
The next stop led us to a hot springs area with one of the most famous geysirs in the world. Watching this incredibly tall water column spout out of the earth is one of the most interesting things ever. By the way, I learnt so much about earth and how it developed, I couldn’t really wrap my head around everything at first. Planet Earth is just amazing and we are little earthlings who are roaming around here.
The last main stop of the tour brought us to probably one of my favourite spots.
The tectonic plates.
Our guide casually pointed out how we were just crossing from the Eurasian plate and that ‘over there is the North-American plate’. I was stunned. It turned out the plates are not, as I had imagined, right next to each other but there is an actual ‘no man’s land’/ valley between them. It’s new land that has been created these last thousands of years and it doesn’t belong to either of the plates.
It only had a really thin crust (3 km, I think). My mind was starting to explode with all these new information and experiences so I just let it all in and snapped hundreds of photos.
In between the main stops, our guide sneaked us into a dairy farm with the best ice cream on Iceland, according to his very biased opinion. It was time to say hi to some Icelandic cows and ponies.
The South Shore Tour went along the shore south of Reykjavik along the base of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano (the one that’s famous for causing chaos among airports a few years ago). The first visit was the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Walking behind the fall was a very wet experience, I felt like I was taking a shower with my clothes on.
Then on to Skogarfoss waterfall which was massive and probably one of my faves because the water was thundering down in a 60 m drop and you could walk along the river that led from the waterfall all the way out to sea.
The next stop brought us to this majestic rock formation and what once was a magma chamber. There is no way to tell you how big these things were. I felt like a little ant when I admired the different structures that the magma had left in these caves. At the same place you can also see the famous, black sand as Iceland is a volcanic island. In the distance were a couple of mountains and glaciers, their peaks covered in a thick layer of snow and ice.
One of these glaciers was our last stop and probably the most impressive one.
The Solheimajokull Glacier. On the glacier was a thin layer of ash that was left there from the volcanic eruption six years ago and which was now acting as a protective layer on the ice, hindering it from melting too quickly. Earth is a miracle, for sure.
My Iceland trip ended with a late night stroll through the city centre enjoying the midnight sun (yep, the sun really is stuck above the horizon during the summer, it’s mind-boggling). So when I left at three o’clock in the morning (it was bright outside), I had the biggest grin ever on my face and whenever I think back to my short stay in Iceland, it returns. I really can’t wait to get back, rent a car and road trip around the entire island to get the full Iceland experience. So if you are thinking about going to Iceland, just do it. It will 100% be worth it. 🙂