During my first trip to Iceland, I realized that it truly is a land of ice and fire.
When I went in the summertime, theres a midnight sun that refuses to set completely. The darkest it ever became resembled twilight. It was just before 8pm when I arrived at my hostel in Reykjavik, but since it was June, I was able to enjoy the city until midnight because of the sun. I wasn’t the only tourist taking advantage of the evening’s light.
Since I was jet-lagged I only lasted the few hours, but I saw Hallgrimskirkja, Reykajavik’s iconic church with it’s prominent statue of Lief Erikson, and the Prime Minister’s Building. I walked the popular shopping street, Laugauegur, and also sat at Faxa Bay to soak in the views of the gorgeous volcanic mountain range of Esja.
On my only whole day in Iceland, I went on the Golden Circle Tour with Gateway to Iceland, which is a popular tour to do from Reykjavik. I found that the tour guide, Gauti, was upbeat and incredibly knowledgable.
- Þingvellir National Park – the landscape here was full of Purple Alaskan Flowers and the peaks of the mountains were speckled with snow. It’s not only home to the largest lake in Iceland, but also the Great Atlantic Ridge, where the Eurasian Plate straddles the North American Plate. Walking through the park, you can spot the fissure within the earth.
- Gullfoss waterfall – a site I found comparable to Niagara falls, but with views of mountains and glaciers in the far distance.
- Haukadalur geothermal area – this is an interesting stop with diverse geysers, but most notable are Strokkur and Geysir.
- Secret Lagoon hot spring nature bath – unlike the Blue Lagoon, this is a natural hot spring. Although the facilities were small, it had an intimate and relaxed vibe. The water smoked against the cool afternoon air and the hot spring’s walls were (unexpectedly) lined with thick multi-colored algae.
On my last day with only a few hours remaining to explore, I visited Reykajavik’s Opera House, Harpa, which resembled the interesting architecture of the opera houses in Oslo and Amsterdam. I wandered more of the street Laugauegur, the downtown area, and purchased Rúgbrauð (dense rye bread that has been cooked in the earth beside a geothermal spring).
In the late afternoon, I was on my way back to the airport via the shuttle.
While I only had about 48 hours to explore Iceland, I really enjoyed myself and plan to return.
Here are some additional suggestions for the Reykajavik area:
- Blue Lagoon
- Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- South Coast and Jökulsárlón Glacier
- Puffins and/or Whale Watching Boat Tour