Iceland is having a moment. From people taking 2 weeks to honeymoon on the spectacular island to friends making the quick trip from NYC for just a weekend, people are interested in Iceland. It is unlike any place I have ever been. A part of Europe, but not European feeling. There is definitely a rugged, laid back feel about it. Also, everyone still looks like Vikings. 10 years ago I would never imagine going to Iceland. I felt that nature should be protected and it was necessary to have it, but I didn’t particularly enjoy hanging out in it. With time my love of the outdoors has flourished and Iceland did not disappoint. Although I think Reykjavik is as charming as can be, if you are looking for a city vacation just go to Paris. That is what Paris is there for (thankfully <3). If you are looking to get a little lost and feel like you are on another planet, go to Iceland.
Although I am not a fan of writing out my play by play itineraries, I will break that rule for Iceland. There is just too much to say about it not to:
Day 1 Blue Lagoon and Reykjavik: The Blue Lagoon, the most famous hot spring in Iceland, is only about 20 km from the airport so it is a great place to knock off the check list right away. Most flights from NYC land so early (5-6am) that even if you can get an early check in you will still be waiting around for a few hours no matter what. We decided to waste the time and hopefully kick some jet lag by hitting up the spring first thing. We had a blast, and it fills up quickly. Touristy, of course, but relaxing. Nothing like being the first people at the bar on your first day of vacation. From there we went by a cute fishing town, Grindavik, where we had the best lobster bisque (all you can eat) and enjoyed the rest of our day in the lovely capital city looking for (and failing) the Northern Lights and eating weird hot dogs (like you know when you eat something and you are like this is sooo good and then 2 hours later you are like wtf did I just eat? Ya that’s how I felt about the hot dogs).
Day 2 Vik, Southern Iceland, and Glacier Climbing: By FAR my favorite part of the trip. When I go back I will make sure to at least stay a night or 2 in Vik to explore even further. After a long night of looking for those damn Northern Lights, we were up early to meet a small tour for all day adventure. Yes, some people are against tours, but I have to say this one is THE BEST tour I have ever been on. Since this was during my amateur trip planning days I don’t remember what tour group we took, but our tour master, Harp, was beyond outstanding. We interacted with horses, hiked a glacier, and frolicked in the Black Sand Beaches. It was amazing. I know you can hike a glacier anywhere, but that surreal experience with my best friends goes on my Top 5 list. DO NOT GO TO ICELAND AND NOT HIKE A GLACIER, PLEASE.
Day 3 Golden Triangle and Osar: The Golden Triangle consists of Thingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss Falls, 3 must see’s of Iceland and the Reykjavik area. Very manageable on your own even for a new traveler (as long as you have a car). All three were nice to see, but if I could just choose to go back to one I would pick Thingvellir National Park. It is where the North American and European tectonic plates separate and just a beautiful place to experience nature. From there we headed about 2.5 hours north to stay the night and witness Iceland’s largest population of seals (because, duh) in Osar. Before you continue reading I need you to look up where Osar is on a map. I will wait. Ok, now that we know that this place is in the middle of nowhere, to answer your question, yes we got incredibly lost. What was supposed to be 2 hours easily took 4 hours, we were reading old school MAPS. PAPER MAPS. That is how lost we were. The GPS didn’t even know where we were going, it was getting dark, and the concept of street lights had not yet made its way to northern Iceland. In the end we got there, all alive (not so much well).
Day 4 Osar and Reykjavik: After a stressful night we got up ready to see these seals. Again, since I was a novice at the time, I didn’t put together that the seals are a summer thing and we were visiting in October. I think my friends were not happy with me, but we made the best of it and just explored. We went where the roads took us. It started to lightly snow and it was all truly beautiful. We stopped to admire the wildlife and found our way to a small church and the most breathtaking waterfall. It was not close to the scale of Gullfoss, but I still preferred this waterfall. The water was clear, there was barely any barriers, and I was one of 4 people there. The other 3 being my sister and friends. I think that is why I loved it so much. Here we were on this earth admiring nature, some of the most beautiful I had ever seen, and no one was around. That is pure bliss. It made me feel like such a small part of the world, in a wonderful way. From there we trucked back to Reykjavik to my comfort zone of delicious dinners, shopping, and too many drinks.
*If you are wondering about the title of this post, to make the Osar drive even worse, I received a speeding ticket. My first ever. I was not actually pulled over, but a beautiful image of my face driving over the speed limit in our clown car Suzuki Swift was sent to me 2 months later. Since I would like to go back to Iceland, I paid the (hefty) fine and am proud to admit I am not an actual fugitive. The funny thing is, this is probably the most serious crime in the country in recent history.
If You Want To Know:
Where I Stayed- Loft Hostel is a great young backpackers hostel. Breakfast and a hoppin bar. That is all I really need when hosteling.
Osar, I am pretty sure, is the only place to stay in the area. I mean, they just named their hostel after the area. Didn't even bother with a name when you have no competition. That being said, it was weird and bare minimum, but all we needed after the stressful night.
Where I Ate- Snaps, yummy Icelandic fusion (if that is a thing) food. Chic and trendy in Reykjavik.
Bryggjan served the most delicious lobster bisque soup. When we went while in Grindavik it was very small and hole in the wall. While doing research for this post it looks like they have expanded space and their menu. Either way, I am sure the lobster bisque is still unreal.
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur famous hot dog place. IDK, I was not into them but I think most people are.
Where i Shopped- Shoe the Bear is a Danish shoe brand with an Icelandic head designer. The brand has that Scandinavian vibe I love so much. I bought a pair that deserves the nickname they conjured up, Frankenstein boots. I still have them and they are one of my all time favorite purchases.
Loft Hostel gets it
Black Sand Beaches in Vik
Thingvellir National Park
Only us in Osar
Can you tell I was into the wildlife?