Iceland has been the ultimate hot spot the last few years with tourism up by 40% from 2015 to 2016. I’ve dreamt about visiting a destination where I might have the opportunity of catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights for as long as I can remember. Literally on a whim, I found myself booking a trip to Reykjavik for the beginning of February 2017. What lead me to taking the plunge was finding a really awesome deal with WOW Airlines. Here’s a glimpse at where we stayed, what we did and some of my recommendations for while visiting.
While I love hotels because of the amenities, there’s nothing like a rental property when away – especially now that I travel with my toddler. I found the perfect rental in Reykjavik via VRBO.com and booked instantly. This apt had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 separate living room areas, washer/dryer, full kitchen + dining room and had enough space for us (a group of 5 adults/1 child) and for Victor to run around after a long day out in the city. The location was also perfect and that is KEY!
Click HERE to view our rental.
Since we were visiting in the heart of the winter season, I decided to book tours vs. rent a car and go on our own. While I have heard great things about exploring on your own, I was little nervous about Iceland’s frequently changing weather while traveling with a 16 month old. We booked all of our tours and transfers through BusTravel Iceland. Click HERE to check out some of their top tours! They were so helpful in assisting me book everything as well as super accommodating that we were traveling with a child and even offered a car seat for each tour.
Blue Lagoon + Northern Lights Tour
A lot of people will go on and on about how the Blue Lagoon is “touristy” and you know what – it is, but in the BEST way possible. While there are a ton of natural lagoons all over Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is a must when visiting. I could have spent hours here! It was so beautiful, relaxing and exactly what we needed after that overnight flight and time change.
Chasing the Northern Lights will always be a hit or miss but I was still super excited to do so. I’m so happy to say that we totally lucked out and were able to see them during our tour even though the activity wasn’t super strong.
For Day 2, we went with the Afternoon Golden Circle Tour. This worked out perfectly because it allowed us to get a good nights rest since we weren’t picked up until about 10am. With this tour we were able to visit and explore the Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss waterfall, Þingvellir National Park and Kerið volcanic crater. All of these locations were simply breathtaking! It started to snow these huge flakes while we were at Kerið for about 5 minutes and then a beautiful rainbow came out and it was sunny. This was the perfect example of the Icelandic saying “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes.”
This was our last full day in Iceland and we spent it exploring Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Skógafoss Waterfall, Sólheimajökull Glacier and Black Sand Beach. The Southern part of Iceland was amazing and I feel like it is a must see when visiting. I look forward to spending more time there when I return.
Our flight home the following day wasn’t until the late afternoon so we spent the morning walking around Reykjavik and checking out a few landmarks. We came across some really awesome shops, cafes, street art and hot dog carts (which are super popular in Iceland!)
A few tips I would give anyone planning a visit to Iceland would be the following:
–Book early! Because of the booming tourism, hotels + apartment rentals sell out quickly.
–Plan ahead! Regardless if you plan to explore on your own or book tours, there’s nothing like being prepared before arriving and having a list of what you want to do and see. This is key if you have a short visit.
–It’s all about the layers! Seriously, I was so surprised how not cold Iceland was. OK… I take that back. The night we chased the Northern Lights it was FREEZING but during the day, I was actually hot in my down coat. The weather is unpredictable so make sure to check the weather forecast before heading out there and remember to pack layers (long sleeves, leggings, snow pants etc.) These items will be easy to put on + take off depending on how the weather turns out.
–Budget wisely! I always try to save a little more than what I originally budget for spending money while away because… well, you just never know. Iceland is expensive!! I’m talking like $20 for a burger and $15 for a mixed drink expensive. And gas…. it’s $7.50 a gallon!
To say that I am in love with Iceland would be an understatement. Visually – it is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to. The people were so friendly and helpful and I felt safe the entire time. Waterfalls are everywhere and the scenery will leave you breathless. I plan to visit again…. and hopefully soon.
If you have any questions about Iceland – don’t hesitate to reach out!