So I had originally planned on splitting my trip to Iceland up into two posts but after I started writing this second piece, I realized that it would be best to split the trip up into 3 separate posts. It seems fitting, three posts for three days.
Since we flew into Iceland in Keflavik, which is realistically the only place where you would be flying in Internationally, that was the starting point for the beginning of the adventure. One of the main attractions near Keflavik and the airport in the Blue Lagoon. Probably one of the best-advertised excursions throughout Iceland, it is a geothermal pool turned spa. First of all, it is very enticing from all the pictures and there are bus transfers right from the airport and Reykjavik (the capital) every hour which is super convenient. However, it is really expensive to go; like $70 cad just for entrance into the hot pools. So for that reason, the Blue Lagoon did not make the list of things to do in 3 days. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to hang out in a geothermal spa all day but it just wasn’t realistic in terms of price. Also, there are geothermal springs all over Iceland that are way less crowded, in the middle of beautiful forests AND FREE!! The goal was to spend our last day hiking down to one of these free pools but the weather didn’t cooperate. In retrospect, it was probably something that should have been planned for the first day to allow for the unpredictable Icelandic weather. Oh well, I guess it means that I will have to visit Iceland again just to visit the hot springs.
The first full day in Iceland was spent doing the ‘Golden Circle’. I have attached a link below to the Lonely Planet explanation of what exactly that is. Now, the tricky thing about the Golden Circle is that it really does need to be driven in order to see it in a short period of time. I’m sure people have walked/biked it but that would require a lot more time than we had to spare. The issue with this is that realistically, as a student, you aren’t old enough to rent a car but the whole time we drove around the circle there were buses going around with enthusiastic tour guides leading the way. A tour bus with under 15 people per tour would cost around $100 per person which, yes is on the steeper end but totally worth it for all the sites you get to see along the way.
The first stop on the circle was Þingvellir National Park which is where the National Parliment of Iceland was founded in 930AD (the super nerdy history buff inside me was really excited about this). The cover photo of this blog is of Þingvellir, but the park itself is so much bigger than this. There are waterfalls, walking trails, hills, lakes. It was truly so stunning and it was such a peaceful and serene environment that was, for the most part, filled with outdoorsy folk from all over the world.
The next stop on the circle was to Geysir which is an area where there are many geysers, big and small. I didn’t know this until I was doing some extra research for this post but apparently, Geysir (the place) is where geyser (the name) originated. If I am being honest, it was really smelly. All the geothermal water in Iceland is full of sulphur so basically, the entire site reeked like rotten eggs. But once we got past that it was still very entertaining to try and guess when the next ‘eruption’ was going to happen. We really lucked out because it started raining right as we got there so a massive crowd of tourists was clearing out but we brought rain coats so got to enjoy it regardless of the weather. Just a P.S. about Iceland weather, it rains a lot and it can be very warm and very cool on the same day so layering is key and bring rain jackets and pants and you will be fine AND you will get to stay at sites even when it rains like we did.
The third and final stop on the circle was Gullfoss waterfall. This waterfall is nowhere near as big as Niagra Falls but I personally thought that it was so much nicer. You go up and down a long winding path with all the other tourists, right by the side of the waterfall but it never felt as packed as Niagra Falls. The entire area surrounding the waterfall was simply nature, there was only one gift shop which I felt made it such a better experience than the over commercialised experience at Niagara Falls. Yet again it started raining while we were going down to the falls which, combined with the immense spray of the water, made for quite an uncomfortable experience. I mean honestly though my dad and I were both exhausted already and cold so it wasn’t the waterfall that was the problem but the fact that we were super jet lagged and had thrown ourselves into the first day of activities on very little sleep.
The Golden Circle does end back in Rejkyavik area but we ended up travelling down to Vik which I will talk about in my next post. I think that the Golden Circle is an absolute must see and really gives you a great idea of all the sites to see in Iceland.