Iceland has been on the bucket list for a long time now. A lot of it is honestly the amount of buzz and press this island nation has gotten these past couple of years. Not like it needs much advertising because the landscape speaks for itself. Having spent 8 days myself, I can now say that everything that everyone says about Iceland is true. The mystique, the other worldliness, the raw beauty, and the unharnessed power is unparalleled.
So what did we do while we were there? For a small island, we had quite the big adventure.
8 days to the west and the south. 1627 kilometres of driving. Many rainy days. At least 10 rainbows. Almost everything unpronounceable. One surprise.
Day 1: Black and Blue
The Iceland adventures started from Toronto in the evening previous day via WOW Air and we got in bright and early before the crack of dawn. To say we were tired was an understatement but nevertheless we were excited to get the trip underway.
We made our car rental booking with Cars Iceland and we had instructions to cross short term parking over to their office. Picking up our trusty 4×4 Dacia Duster was relatively painless except for a small hiccup. It seemed that they were in the process of pumping through cars being returned through their wash process so we had to wait a bit for them to pull ours up. When we got into our Dacia, I started to set up all of our USB charging devices and realized that one of the plugs didn’t work. Luckily they were nice enough to locate another car for us. The nice surprise of this car though was that it came with its own GPS. I had gone through the trouble of getting my Garmin set up with Iceland maps but didn’t need it in the end!
By the time we hit the road, it was 6:15AM and the sun was already starting to peek out. We made our way into Reykjavik and our hotel for the night, the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica. I knew this was a long shot but I had a bit of hope that we’d be able to do a super early check-in and to my surprise we were able to pull it off. It couldn’t have worked out any better because we were able to settle into our room, clean up, and even sneak into the executive lounge for a bit of breakfast.
At 9AM we made it down to the lobby for our pick up by Arctic Adventures for our Black and Blue excursion. We planned it this way because this was our only full day in Reykjavik so we wanted to take advantage. This one came recommended to us by a friend and we were really excited about this one. This trip is unique because it combines the the black of climbing through a lava tube cave and the crystal blue of snorkelling the Silfra fissure where the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia meet.
What a way to start our trip right? We started the trip by making our way inside Thingvellir National Park and off a seemingly unmarked side access road, we went right overtop a hole in the ground as part of the cave system called Gjábakkahellir. The caving part was pretty unique especially as we dropped right into the subway tube, you could clearly see how the lava cut through the earth and left behind. Difficulty wise, it wasn’t too hard to traverse but you definitely needed good grippy hiking shoes and gloves to keep your balance amidst the sharp rocks that have fallen from the ceiling during the lava field’s cooling phase. There was also one point where we shut off our headlamps (provided) and took in the full darkness of the cave while our guide told us an old folk legend.
After a brief pitstop at the Thingvellir cafe/souvenir shop, we drove only a few minutes down to the diving staging area. This was an entire parking lot dedicated to snorkellers and divers going into Silfra. This was a pretty huge ordeal as there was an entire team onsite dedicated to gearing us up. After squeezing into our multi-layer lobster ninja suits, we walked down the marked path to the entrance of Silfra. The snorkel was more of a slow-moving floating experience as the light current carried us from the entrance to the small bay which would be our exit. There isn’t exactly any aquatic life to see but what’s unique here is that the water here is so clear that you get 100 meters of visibility which is unheard of. Silfra being the only place in the world where you can snorkel in the crack between two continental plates that are drifting apart 2cm per year, what you do see is collapsed rocks that line the fissure and spaghetti-like algae that is a fluorescent neon green that looks alien-like.
It was FREAKING cold down there though. While the suit fully covers you from head to toe, it doesn’t prevent the 2 degree C water temperature from getting to your hand, toes and especially your face where there is naturally a small gap between the suit and your mask. That’s why I barely did any arm paddling down there. I just kept my hands close to my body and did soft fin kicks like you would in diving.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed Black and Blue although I have to say that because we were only recently spoiled with Canmore Cave Tours so the lava tubes weren’t as thrilling but Silfra certainly made up for it for an experience that you really can’t get anywhere else in the world.
To end off the evening, while the rain was drumming heavily outside, I found out that a good classmate friend of mine was just wrapping up his Iceland hiking trip. That’s how we ended up at the spunky Indian restaurant, Hradlestin, which had surprisingly good masala and kurma.
Day 2: Exploring Reykjavik and Staying in a Bubble
For our second day, we originally had grand plans of possibly doing a helicopter tour of the city but unfortunately timing didn’t work out and in the end laziness prevailed and we slept in. Since our only goal was to make it to the Bubble Hotel by around 8PM, we more or less had a full day in Reykjavik.
The main shopping, primary artery and partial pedestrian street in the capital city is Laugavegur and we spent most of the early afternoon strolling through, checking out the cute boutiques, souvenir stores and staring in fascination at the graffiti that lined the streets.
Reykjavik is such a hip and artsy little city.
We also took the opportunity to venture off up to Hallgrímskirkja Church which was honestly only a 5 minute walk from the main drag. This imposing concrete structure is hard to miss and when you lay your eyes upon it, it gives off a strong-willed, intense, and just so Viking. We took a bunch of photos of the church and took a quick peek inside but didn’t pay the 500 ISK to go up the tower.
We then made our way to the square by the Parliament buildings for our 2PM free city walking tour with CityWalk. It was incredibly well run, very education and filled with hilarious punch-lines. Kudos to our guide, Eiríkur, whose humour above all else made the tour so good. His English was excellent and could project his voice well in a large crowd. The tour itself took us on a 2km trip all around the city and pointed out a lot of different places we wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. As with all free walking tours, it’s pay as you please. We paid $20 CAD between the two of us.
2 hours later, we were back on our own and so we made sure we visited the famous Baejarins Beztu Pylsur hotdog stand for their simply yet delicious take on hotdogs with lamb and crispy onions.
I wanted to make sure that we saw was the Sun Voyager sculpture by the water so we made a short walk over.
Before hitting the road, we drove to the nearby Bonus to pick up supplies for the official start of our road trip. We were pretty loaded with energy bars from home so all we were looking for was fruit, sandwiches, cookies, and juice to last us a couple of days before we’d be swinging back down to Reykjavik.
As we made our way to the secret Bubble location, we stopped by the restaurant Tryggvaskali Restaurant in Selfoss for delicious scallops and fish.
By the time we got up to the Reykholt area, we were totally past the 8PM check-in I had asked for but luckily the farm-owner was available to help us get situated and guide us to our UFO-looking sphere.
We were about to get settled in but we realized that we had enough time to squeeze in the Secret Lagoon which was only 15 minutes away in Fludir. So we quickly ran back to our car and made our way over. With the Secret Lagoon closing at 10PM, we had roughly an hour to soak our tired feet in the natural hot springs. Floating around with our duty-free beers was just what we needed.
I will say that the name is a bit of a misnomer because it has been commercialized and has full change room and shower facilities and costs 2,800 ISK to get in. That being said, if I look forward in time and compare it to Blue Lagoon, I much preferred this one as it is in a way more natural setting.
I had been tracking cloud cover all week and up until the day of, I had no idea whether things would clear or not. By some miracle though, a white patch of our part of the island was where it needed to be on the tracker indicating clear skies above us and we got to witness the most amazing northern lights show. From 11:30PM to 2:30AM, I was up to watch what ended up being the one and only day that dancing lights could be seen on the island.
Day 3: Golden Circle
The one thing that is on every Iceland itinerary is the Golden Circle. You know you have to see it but you also know you’re going to have to deal with insane bus tour crowds. Sure, some will call it a tourist trap but I’d still recommend seeing it because the pure beauty of these natural wonders make it worth dealing with the hoards.
I ended up waking up pretty early in our bubble to catch the sunrise. The truth is, I was pretty cold for most of the night despite the heater running on full blast so I was quite happy to get up and moving.
Another added benefit of our bubble hotel was that it is situated right along the Golden Circle route so we could jump right in without the long drive from Reykjavik.
The Golden Circle route is quite well documented so I’ll spare the details. The road was very well marked and easy to follow as we more or less hit all the sights in sequence by going in counterclockwise.
Geysir was a fun one to go see with it’s unpredictable with Strokkur’s seemingly random and sometimes frequent eruptions that would cause a collective gasp, exhale, and rapid clicking of shutters. There’s a brand-new visitor centre across the street which is great for picking up that morning cup of joe and bladder relief.
Gullfoss was downright impressive. There are various levels that you can see the awe-inspiring power of this V-shaped waterfall.
Thingvellir National Park was our second go at things so for us it was about going to see all the spots that we our Black and Blue guide pointed out as we drove by. We made a walk through to one of the filming spots of Game of Thrones, the location of the first parliament in Iceland, and Öxarárfoss.
After completing the circle at 5:30PM, we hightailed it the Snaefellsnes peninsula. The 3 hour drive took us back through Reykjavik and up the west coast which was a pretty sight to see. We only made a few stops along the way but if we had the time, I totally would’ve taken more photos.
It was dark by the time we arrived in the Budir area. We quickly checked into our farm-turned-guesthouse and had an amazing dinner at Hotel Budir which is pretty much your only option in this area without venturing another 30 minutes.
Day 4: Snaefellsnes Surprise
September 14 will forever be a special day for me as it was the day I proposed to my girlfriend on a day where Iceland decided to throw everything it had at us. Here’s a little side story of how it all happened. I apologize in advance for this tangent but it puts in perspective how this part of Snaefellsnes played out.
Prior to leaving Iceland, plans were underway for my surprise proposal. It all started when I started browsing wedding and engagement photos and I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity to capture the moment and the dramatic setting that we would be in. I first got hooked up with Wedding.is and Pall who was very excited to help set things up for me. That eventually led to coordination with photographer Kristín Jónsdóttir.
Thing is, I didn’t lock down on a time or location until the very last minute. Every night in Iceland, I would go on my laptop to exchange emails in secret. Remember, there was a night at the bubble hotel where I didn’t have wifi and so it wasn’t until the night at Öxl in Budir where I got connected again. By the time we got to the guesthouse, it was already pretty late so made sure to write a very thorough email to confirm the final time and destination – 11AM along the Arnastapi walk and by the natural rock bridge. I checked the weather and it wasn’t looking good either but one could hope right?
We have to prepare for REAL Icelandic weather tomorrow 🙂 – Kristín Jon
So the story goes that the morning started pretty miserable. I took the opportunity to teach my girlfriend how to drive stick in the parking lot of Hotel Budir. From there we started to make our drive to Arnastapi but as is with most things in Iceland, we unexpectedly see a beautiful gorge to the right with the sign Rauðfeldsgjá. We end spending more time than I was hoping to but couldn’t speed things up too much without raising alarm. Things were looking promising weather wise though as there was break in the rain.
By the time we get to the start of the Arnastapi trail, it’s already noon, a full hour late. At this point, the weather takes a turn for the worse as the rain starts coming down and the coastal winds blow at hurricane-like force. Things weren’t looking good but there wasn’t much I could do except go through with my plans. I’ll spare you all the sappy details but while the weather wasn’t quite the picture perfect setting I was hoping for, the proposal was most definitely a surprise and one to remember.
Oh and she said yes!
So what about the Arnastapi coastal walk itself? To be honest, I can’t remember much of it as I was just a little pre-occupied. If the weather wasn’t so crazy, I’d say the basalt columns that line the cliffs and jut up from the roaring ocean are an impressive sight. The natural rock arch and the second arch (Gatklettur) are also highlights of the trail.
Post-proposal, we had to get out of the rain so we made our way a few minutes over to an abandoned house for an engagement shoot and also eventually braved the rain right by the mossy rocks just past the entrance to the Snaefellsjokull National Park.
We wrapped up around 2:30 in the afternoon and from there we continued along the main road, quickly taking peeks at Lóndrangar, Djupalonssandur Beach, and Saxholl Crater. Remember, it was still pouring hard so there was incentive to quickly go through each spot and take fewer photos.
Things got a little more interesting when we passed by the town of Hellisandur to gas up. As I was about to pay for our prepaid N1 card (more on paying for gas in the Driving in Iceland section), 3 kids approached me, asked where I was going, and asked if they could hitch a ride. I said sure and and all of a sudden our 2 person car turned into a full 5.
These kids were all university students that thought it’d be a brilliant idea to hitchhike through Iceland. Drenched at one point, they were having trouble finding people to drive them and were drying off at the gas station.
The only condition of the driving was that we were going to be making stops along the way. That stop ended up being Kirkjufell which some may recognize from the Secret Life of Walter Smitty. We end up staying here for quite a bit of time as I was trying out a bunch of different long exposure shots. I think the first reaction when we got there was that I couldn’t see how this would look like Kirkjufell of photos I had seen and that the waterfalls looked a lot smaller than what I had imagined but as we made our way around to the other side, it all became clear.
We eventually made our way to Stykkishólmur, our stop for the evening, which coincidently was our hitchhiker friends’ pitstop as well. We said our goodbyes and head to our hostel.
Stykkishólmur is where you’d take the ferry to get up to Westfjords and as such there’s a small harbour with lighthouse up on a hill. With the rain stopped, we took advantage of what light was remaining to take some photos there.
Our dinner restaurant, Sjavarpakkhusio, was through a recommendation from a friend in Toronto. He had recommended that we try the lamb there but turns out that they only serve it in the winter. Regardless, their fish stew and seafood pasta were phenomenal and a cute little spot by the pier at that.
Make sure to read the itinerary and all of the secrets to plan your perfect trip.
Day 5: Foss and Truly Secret Pool
It was only time until we finally got a clear sunny day and so we started our fifth day exploring the colourful streets of Stykkishólmur. This quaint fishing village is what I imagine Newfoundland would be like.
We eventually hit the road just before noon and started that long drive (3.5 hours) down to the southern part of Iceland. The scenery of course was breathtaking all the way through and what struck me the most was just how wildly different it was going from the scale and size of the lush green mountains of Snaefellsnes down to the urban city of Reykjavik and then down to the flat plains of the south which eventually developed into a waterfall wonderland.
I remember first driving through the initial part of southern Iceland and playing Punch Buggy except with waterfalls (or foss in Icelandic). With all the rain they were getting, waterfalls were raging almost everywhere.
Both Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss were impressive. With one, you were able to hike all the way around and behind the waterfall, and the other, you could feel and hear the thunderous water that rumbled like Niagara Falls but was but a mere fraction in width.
One thing you will find in the south is the reappearance of tour busses and that’s when we started missing Snaefellsnes. We were back along the main tourist track but it didn’t bug us too much as it was still quite manageable. I can only imagine how it is in the summer months.
To wrap up the day, we figured that there was enough time to try to find the secret pool known as Seljavallalaug Pool (try saying that fast 3 times). We hadn’t planned on it and so it was a bit of a last minute decision. Boy was it an adventure to find. We had pinned the spot on Google Maps using the offline feature but this ended up leading us through a nearby farm community. The car’s GPS was also completely useless because it wasn’t marked as a landmark and there certainly wasn’t an address for it.
We were just about to give up when we saw an RV make its way to the ring road from a dirt road that was perpendicular to ours. We turned in and backtracked the RV’s path. This eventually led to a few houses and then opened up into parking lot. We knew we were in the right place because there were a ton of cars still left. We quickly grabbed our swimming gear and started the journey into the deep of the valley. The trail itself is completely unmarked and we had to rely on following the track left behind by others and occasionally also bumping into people making their way back to the car. It took 20 minutes to get there but the valley scenery was gorgeous all the way throughout. Waterfalls lined the sides of the valley that seemed to converge to an end point near the pool.
There were a good 10 people left at the pool and we quickly changed in the concrete building in the back. The dip in was refreshing and there wasn’t a strong sulphur smell either. Temperature wise, it wasn’t as hot as you’d expect a hot spring to be but it was definitely warmer than the outside air. Designed as a pool, one end is shallow while the other end is deep. We swam around for a bit but we were quickly losing light.
Walking back to the car was much more challenging with it being harder to track the path but we eventually figured our way. Thankfully we had headlamps!
Famished, we didn’t have any dinner plans and there wasn’t exactly much in the area so we head back to Skogafoss, remembering that there were a number of hotels and restaurants there. In the end we really only had one choice in the area and that was Bar Bistro. It wasn’t mind blowing food there but it was nice to have a basic burger that didn’t cost $40 per person.
For the night, we stayed at an Airbnb property which turned out to be some sort of community center/school. We showed up quite late but luckily we had wifi earlier in the day to let them know. The owner drove over to let us in and we had a retrofitted room inside one of the classrooms. It sounds strange but it turned out to be a great stay because they had really clean bathrooms and showers downstairs and the room itself was spacious, had tons of electrical outlets and pipe heaters to dry our hand-washed clothes. What more do you need right?
Day 6: Beauty of the South
Iceland continued to be moody on our sixth day but we made the best of what it threw at us which was an alternating wave of perfect sunshine and hard downpour of rain.
After eating our cute little mini-breakfast left by our Airbnb host which consisted of Skyr (gosh so good) and chocolate milk, we hit the road. By the time we reached Droholaey, the rain had crescendoed and so all we could do was don our waterproof gear and take quick peeks at the barely visible Black Sand beach that stretches all the way to Reynisdrangar on the other side. We also caught a foggy glimpse of massive arch eroded from the the headland which the area is named after.
What caught us by surprise was that around the corner is a large lighthouse that stands tall at the top of the cliff which provides great views of the ocean and the black sands that seem to go on forever towards the west. From here, the area opens up to quite a large slanted plain with the mountains and glaciers playing backdrop. We spent more time than I had anticipated taking photos, doing an impromptu photoshoot of us with the tripod and hiking out further inland along this table top. It helped that the rain subsided at this point.
We finally get to Reynisdrangar and the black sand beach of Reynisdrangar. Luckily for us, the rain was kept at bay for now which allowed us to have fun with photos of columns and columns of obsidian-coloured basalt columns. The large pebbled black sand beach was also a great spot for photos especially with the spectacularly shaped basalt sea spires.
Rain started to roll in again at around 3 and so we hopped back into our car to continue our journey. While we wanted to drop by the town of Vik which is right next door, we opted to keep driving in order to gain some ground.
Our last main sight of the day would be Fjadrargljufur Canyon. The road to the canyon was a bit of a journey to get to with its pothole littered all throughout the dirt path but entirely worth it. What we loved about this canyon was how quiet it was compared to the previous two spots which were crowded with tour buses. While sure it was spitting again, we only encountered 3 couples as we snaked along the top of the canyon from view point to view point. The sheer walls of the canyon, mossy green foliage, converging streams, low running river below made this easily one of the most beautiful canyons in the world – both picturesque and surreal.
You could tell that this area was only recently “domesticated” with plastic tiles placed along the main trail to make it easier to hike and prevent erosion, and roped off cliff edges. Before all this, the daring visitors would be able to walk right up to the narrow paths that take you to the edge jutting out of the canyon. It’s a sign of things to come in Iceland which is why I encourage everyone to come out here soon.
Short on time, there was a glimmer of hope that we’d be able to see Svartifoss but as we pulled into Skaftafell National Park, the visitor centre just closed and we discovered that the waterfall was a good 20-30 minute hike away. Abandoning the idea, we stopped at the only restaurant we could find along the way, which turned out to be a highway pitstop cafeteria, before checking into Hof 1 Hotel.
Day 7: Glacier Climbing
Have you seen Interstellar? Remember the ice planet where they finally find Matt Damon? Now take that image and put yourself on that planet. That’s the view of the ice fall we had climbing Falljökull Glacier.
Glacier Xtreme was hands down the best experience of the trip.
Starting in the early morning we had to do a bit of backtracking from Hof 1 and back to Skaftafell National Park. Right by the park’s information centre are a bunch of wooden shacks run by the various glacier operators with Glacier Guides being one of them. They helped us with our boots which they provided and also the picked up of our crampons, and ice axe. At 10:30 we boarded their bus and we were whisked away to the nearby Falljökull Glacier.
At the glacier’s entrance, the ground is bare, uneven and filled with fractured stone and dirt. As we crossed the glacier’s melt and started to make our way up, that quickly turned into ice and in the distance you could see the jagged dark edges of the icefall – our goal for the day.
Along the way up, our guide Denny gave us information about the region, the formation, and the receding of the glacier. We even learned about something called glacial mice which the New York Times had written a story about.
The hiking was one thing but the ice climbing was unforgettable. The first climb was a warm up where we had two chances to climb up a natural ice wall. It took a little bit of getting used to with all the sequence of moves but each one of us in the group eventually got the hang of it.
The second climb was even more of an exhilarating rush as we hiked up even closer to the icefall. Denny told us that we’d be attempting what’s called a moulin. This is essentially a vertical tube that’s formed from melt water and rain runoff. Just imagine yourself being dropped down several meters in what feels like and endless pit surrounded by ice, with the sound of running water to one side and in front of you a sheer ice wall that you have to climb yourself out of.
We saw, we hiked, we climbed, and we conquered.
And of course, all this is happening while surrounded by the most alien landscape of slow moving mass of ice. The magnitude and the magnificence of it all is put on display out here. You realize just how powerful this glacier is and how in fact small we are.
We wrapped up the excursion and were back at the Skaftafell National Park car park by 5:10PM. With the sun starting to come down, we knew we had to make a dash for it to Jokusarlon so we hit the road almost right away.
From one breathtaking scenery to another, this glacier lagoon was just as impressive. With chunks of ice breaking off from the massive ice field that forms the backdrop, they collect in this area. Big and small, they float about at different speeds, creating this symphony of ice.
I spent the majority of our time here taking photos from almost every angle as the sun set. We started at the viewpoint before the bridge, then crossed the bridge into the main car park to take photos right at water’s edge, up on a hill, and even further around inland. What made for even more interesting shots was the small chunks of ice that break off from the icebergs and make it to shore. Clear blue ice makes for awesome subjects.
We wrapped up at 7:50PM because there wasn’t much light left and I was terribly cold and carried on driving all the way up to the town of Höfn.
Pakkhus was highly recommended and we were blown away again by just how good (and expensive) the food is in Iceland. My only regret is that we didn’t have the langoustine.
Day 8: Rewind
For our last full day, while the driving was going to be long, we made sure we took advantage of the south road and all the things we missed along the way.
Heading out of Höfn at 7:30AM, we were able to hit the trails towards Svartifoss in Skaftafell National Park by 9:10AM and that included a little quick peek at Jokusarlon. The trail up to the famed waterfalls surrounded by dark lava columns, there was a bit of uphill and the sky was misting but it wasn’t terribly difficult at all since it’s a very well travelled route. Hey, if a group of elder Japanese people can do it, you should too!
The total one way trip was roughly 30 minutes that featured a second waterfall on the way up, views of the ocean to the south, and lush greenery. As you get closer, the thunder of the falls became clearer and we also passed by a bridge that acts as a good viewpoint of it from afar.
My first reaction to Svartifoss was just how small it was. The photos really exaggerate how large it is in person though that’s not to say it wasn’t impressive. The overcast and intermittent showers wasn’t so great but I was able to grab a few photos. If you want to get an unobstructed view of the falls with the surrounding basalt columns, you’ll have to hop over the barrier to get a little closer.
Back down to the car park by 9:45AM, we hit the road again. This leg was another 2 hour drive. I vowed this time to stop by Vik to take photos of the famous pointy red-tipped church up on the hill.
From there, we weren’t too far off from the Sólheimasandur plane wreck. What was once a bit of a secret spot to get to is now a bit of a circus. Okay it’s not that bad but still, you literally drive along Highway 1 and you’ll see a pile of cars parked off to both sides of the road. For the uninitiated, this will seem bizarre but of course this is where you have to leave your car and start that 50 minute trek on what looks like a flattened moon rock surface to nowhere.
The disheartening thing about the entire walk to the plane is that you literally can’t see it until the very last possible moment since it’s nestled in a bit of downhill. Just follow the well marked road and all the other people.
That being said, I quite enjoyed the wreck. It’s not just the plane that makes it special but the combination of that, the volcanic sand it sits on, the nearby ocean, and the mountainous backdrop that creates that haunting post-apocalyptic setting. Stripped of its wing, tail and the insides of the plane down to the bare metal, it’s hard to explain the allure of being able to walk around and take photos of it from all angles and then also walk inside through the belly and up to the cockpit.
The last long leg of driving was perhaps the toughest as I was pretty tired at this point. We couldn’t take any stops along the way either because we needed to get to our reserved 6PM slot at Blue Lagoon.
The final stretch to find Blue Lagoon was interesting as it seemed like we were being directed to some sort of energy plant with steaming smoke stacks. At first it didn’t seem right but as I kept going along, I eventually saw signs for the spa and the big parking lot it eventually leads into. Despite making it just in the nick of time, we immediately knew we were back in a tourist-haven with the parking lot slammed full, tour buses queued up, and a snaking line that we had to go through for 20 minutes even though we bought advanced tickets.
Once we got to the front desk, the sign in process was pretty quick. They explained to us how the RFID watches worked for the lockers and purchases and gave us our towels as well. After that we split up into our change rooms which in itself was an adventure. It was a zoo in there with the number of people in the change room. Once I was changed, I quickly showered and made sure to put conditioner in my hair before going outside. They recommend it because the high concentration of silica will make your hair very stiff.
I met Chantelle on the other side and jumped in. We spent the next hour and a half staying warm, watching the sunset, grabbing our free drink of choice (smoothie and beer), and tried the various steam rooms and saunas.
So here’s the lowdown of Blue Lagoon. Yes it’s true that it’s totally a tourist trap. Just look at how many people are in there and even that is a fraction of what it’d be like during the day when all the buses descend. The blue part of the lagoon is also not natural. The heated water is a direct result of the geothermal plant found right next door. Don’t let that scare you though as it doesn’t mean it’s bad. The water is rich in minerals such as silica and sulphur so it still has all those good properties you expect from a hot spring. All that said, it’s still a fun place to relax and have fun if you’re okay with the crowds. The landscape and surroundings are beautiful and the facilities top notch.
We were famished at this point and it was already pretty late so we found a cute little Indian restaurant called Saffran in what looked like the suburbs of Reykjavik.
Are you headed to Iceland soon? The full details of this trip and everything I learned can be found in the 8 day itinerary.