My biggest inspiration to visit Iceland has been from my cousin Tom who is an epic landscape photographer. As you can imagine, Iceland is the absolute dream for him!
The landscape changes every 10 minutes, from black sand to mountains and from lava to glaciers!
We absolutely loved visiting this incredible and unusual country. Read on for an outline of our 5 night itinerary in September.
After relaxing in the hot springs and treating ourselves to a face mask, we headed to our apartment in Reykjavik city centre – Swan House Apartments.
Our room was beautiful with a cute little kitchen area too.
After the early start we then had an essential nap before heading out for dinner!
We ate at the Hard Rock Cafe – we have now been to 13 different Hard Rocks across 11 countries!
Full of energy after a nap and a burger, we decided to head out late in search of the Northern Lights, but had no luck!
For our first full day we completed the famous ‘Golden Circle’ loop. Ideally you should allow a whole day for this so you don’t have to rush each of your visits.
Stop 1: THINGVELLIR
Here you can walk between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. If you’re a slight geography nerd like me, you’ll find this to be pretty cool!
Adventure seeker?: You can actually snorkel between the two plates! But with the freezing temperatures and a fear of deep water this wasn’t for me!!
Good to know: there are toilets here, and you have to pay for parking.
Stop 2: Bruarfoss
We were recommended to visit this lesser-known waterfall however the route was closed when we went! It wasn’t clear why, perhaps the time of year, but definitely see if you can get there!
Stop 3: Strokkur Geysir
Strokkur was the first geysir we had visited and it was so cool! It erupts every 6-10 minutes at a height of about 20 metres.
Good to know: parking here is free and there is a visitor centre with a huge shop, toilets and a couple of restaurants.
Stop 4: Gullfoss
One of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls. When we arrived here the weather suddenly turned and was absolutely awful, the hail stones were like needles to your face seriously! We didn’t get the photos we would have liked, but that’s often the case in Iceland unless you’re a professional willing to sit in the cold for hours. Which I’m not…
Good to know: free parking, no toilets
Stop 5: Kerid crater lake
Kerid crater lake is the site of a collapsed volcano. The different coloured rocks make an amazing contrast to the blue of the lake, especially when the sun is shining.
Good to know: 400ISK entry, no toilets
We wanted something casual and cosy for dinner after battling the elements all day so we went to Icelandic Street food and had ‘soup in a bread bowl’. It was £31 for one soup each and a shared carton of apple juice…you definitely need to save up for a trip to Iceland!
Our plan for the morning of Day 3 was to do a whale watching tour. However, the weather wasn’t great and the tours were quite expensive so we decided not to risk it in case we didn’t see a whale. And, in case you didn’t know WE GOT ENGAGED the day before we went to Iceland so we decided to have a chilled morning doing some wedding planning! It was way more exciting and way warmer.
We spent the afternoon exploring Reykjavik:
Hallgrímskirkja church and tower
Harpa concert hall
Sun voyager sculpture
- Coffee and lunch at Kaffi Brennslan
- Tjornin lake
- Laugavegur shopping street
- Dinner at Rosso Pomodoro
We tried again to find the Northern Lights but with no luck. It was just too cloudy and it was a completely full moon which didn’t help either.
It was time to hit the road and head along the South coast. Our first stop was the famous Seljalandsfoss.
Good to know: 700ISK for parking, and there are toilets and a cafe
Next was Skogafoss
Skogafoss was my favourite waterfall in Iceland.
We then made our way up to the Dyrholey viewpoint – be careful as the road is really bad. You should ideally only do it in a 4×4. We did risk it in our Ford Fiesta as the weather was good and we had full insurance on the car. Parking is free and there are spectacular views.
We then visited the world famous Reynisfjara black sand beach. We really enjoyed getting drone footage here. Scroll to the bottom of this post to check out our footage from the trip. I was exhausted after doing lots of takes of running across the beach, it’s bloody hard to run on sand!!
A quick pit-stop at Vik church and lunch at Smidjan Brugghus
We got some awesome footage of Foss a Sidu. We only came across it from the side of the road, it wasn’t on our list but ended up being one of our favourite parts of the trip.
Next we visited the completely unpronouncable Fjadrargljufur Canyon:
And finally we arrived at Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon, a beautiful hotel unlike anywhere else I have stayed! Our bedroom view was like looking out over the moon!
It wasn’t until I finished typing this that I realised how much we managed to fit in in one day!!
Oh and there’s more:
We then took a quick look at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon before dinner (parking is free).
This was without a doubt my favourite part of our trip as it was a completely new experience for me.
Go for the duck salad for dinner back at the hotel, it was so so good!
Another early start and straight back to the glacier lagoon followed by Diamond Beach. We spent most of the morning here, taking in our surroundings and feeling very lucky to be able to travel together to places such as this!
Next was a short hike at Skaftafell to Svartifoss waterfall, another famous one with an unusual backdrop of lava columns. We were told to allow 2 – 2.5 hours but we did it all in 1 hour and didn’t really rush either.
For our final night we stayed in Hotel Icelandair Vik. The room was super comfy and cosy with underfloor heating in the bathroom which was most welcome! The cosy fireplace area was lovely too. We enjoyed a relaxing dinner in the hotel restaurant.
We still hadn’t seen the Northern Lights and were so desperate to, so decided to give it one last try. The skies were clear and it seemed that tonight was our best shot. After finding a good open space with minimal light (despite the annoyingly still full moon) we were in luck! It really was magical and once you have seen them once you just want to again and again. It is easy to see how photographers get obsessed with getting ‘that shot’. Here is the photo I managed with a middle-range camera (not an SLR):
Our plan was to visit the Sólheimasandur plane crash site in the morning, but the weather was truly awful. After such a busy week and a whirlwind of emotions after getting engaged, we treated ourselves to a nice lie in and some more chatting about the wedding! We then made the 3 hour journey back to the Airport and made our way home.
WHAT A TRIP!
Iceland was certainly completely different to anywhere else I have been and we would definitely go back to visit the places we didn’t have time for.
You may also like my other travel itineraries:
And check out our video full of the highlights of our trip to Iceland: