How to make the most of your time in the country where the sun doesn’t set.
This past summer I had the opportunity to go on an adventure with one of my friends and spend the longest day of the year in a country where the sun doesn’t set: delightful Iceland.
Arriving in Iceland
TLW Tip: If you plan on going to Europe from North America or the other way around, consider booking with IcelandAir. Th airline provides the option to experience a one to seven day stopover in Iceland at no extra cost.
Arriving at Reykjavik-Keflavik Airport at 6 a.m., we hopped on a Flybus that took us directly to the Blue Lagoon Spa. The Blue Lagoon gets its name from its colour. It is blue because of the way the silica, the element found in the lagoon, reflects visible light when suspended in water.
TLW Tip: Alternatively, if you want to go to where the locals are and save some money, go to one of the local thermal baths. After work these can get very full and you might need to wait in line.
The Blue Lagoon
In my opinion, there’s no better way to start a trip and get over your jet lag than with a Silica mud mask, a glass of prosecco, and catching up with your friend. We splurged for the premium package to get three masks, a drink (choice of alcoholic or non-alcoholic), and a super comfy bathrobe. The Lagoon offers quite a lot of different areas, so we spent the morning relaxing and exploring.
While when we got there at around 9 a.m., the Blue Lagoon was nearly completely empty, by the time we left, shortly after 1 p.m., the area was crowded and it was time to head to Reykjavik and check in to our hotel.
We stayed near Hallgrímskirkja—The Church of Iceland—which was a perfect spot to start exploring on foot. We ended up doing a bit of coffee shop hopping, as the weather started to get rainy and quite chilly.
TLW Tip: Even in the summer Iceland gets hit by the North Atlantic and Arctic winds, so make sure to pack layers and a toque. Even with the sun being up all day and night, it only gets up to 10-15ºC.
After warming up with some shopping in some of the small stores and chatting with the locals, we continued our journey through the city by exploring some of the incredible street art that can be found at nearly every corner.
By the time 7 p.m. rolled around, we had worked up quite the appetite, so we headed out to grab some dinner at Hlemmur Mathöll. It’s essentially a one-storey building with a bunch of different food options in it. From fish and steak to vegetarian and from appies to dessert, if you’re traveling with a variety of food preferences, this is the spot for you. We decided to go for the one with the longest line up: Flatey Pizza.
By the time we finished dinner and playing some card games with some locals we met along the way, it was nearing midnight and it was still light as day out. We still decided to head back to the hotel as it was all uphill on the way back.
TLW Tip: The city is quite hilly, so definitely get ready to get your workout in when wandering through it.
Day two in Iceland
For our second day, we had pre booked a Golden Circle Bus Tour that also included a Viking horseback riding activity.
We got picked up after breakfast a couple minutes from our hotel and got taken to Laxnes Farm. We were a group of about 10-15 people and each got our own Viking horse to ride.
As a person terrified of horses, this was definitely a challenge at first, but I highly recommend it simply to be able to see some of the nature you wouldn’t otherwise get to experience.
From there, we went on to join a bigger bus tour to explore the so-called Golden Circle. The first stop of the tour was Þingvellir National Park, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet.
The second stop is the reason why it is called the Golden Circle —the Gullfoss Waterfall, which essentially translates to “golden waterfall.”
The final stop of the 9-hour tour was the Geyser Geothermal Area. While the original name giver, the Geyser, is mostly dormant now, and hasn’t erupted since the early 2000s, the other hot springs in the geothermal area are quite active. For example, the Strokkur geyser erupts around every 10-15 minutes.
Following the surrounding lava fields brought us back to the city, just in time for a final dinner and some very expensive drinks (treat yourself, wanderers!) with some of our new friends from the tour before we headed back to the airport the next morning.