It's been almost a month since I returned from my long weekend trip to Iceland and I still can't get over the pictures I have from this trip! O.M.G. Iceland was freaking gorgeous! One minute you're driving past snow-covered mountains and the next you feel like you're on the set of Lord of The Rings. Absolutely incredible!
Depending on what time of year you are going to Iceland, your trip will be very different. The winters are known for their unpredictable and often times harsh weather, while the summer is full of greenery and long hours of sunlight.
I personally think I went at the best time during the shoulder season as winter transitioned to spring. I got the experience the winter wonders the country has to offer but had gorgeous warm-ish weather the whole time (that being said, I realize I completely lucked out). The roads were completely clear, and driving was easy which was a huge relief. Aside from maybe getting more time in the country, I don't think I would have done anything differently. That being said, I did walk away with some lessons from my trip.
1. Rent A Car
Guys- you can't NOT rent a car in Iceland. There's really no way around it. If you want any kind of freedom whatsoever you need to rent a car. Despite what numerous articles/blogs say, driving in Iceland really isn't the crisis people make it out to be. The major roads (Route 1) are paved, and there are enough people on the road to help if you need it. That being said, I did go in March when the weather was getting nicer and there were more daylight hours. Regardless - rent a car.
2. See The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon has a reputation of being super touristy, but it's touristy for a reason. It's a pretty epic place. The silica masks make your skin feel fantastic, the geothermal water feels incredible, and it's just a fun experience you can't have elsewhere. The Blue Lagoon is incredibly close to the airport, so it's recommended to do this either when you first arrive, or on your way back to the airport. Make sure to book as far in advance as possible as there are only so many time slots per day and they fill up fast.
3. Go On A Glacier Hike/Ice Cave Tour
This excursion may have been the highlight of my trip. Putting on crampons and feeling like a complete bad ass and climbing over frozen moving ice was amazing!! The scenery and views from atop the glacier were just incredible. The inside of the ice cave was something out of a movie, and no amount of words I try to string together will do it justice. The purity of the water, the blueness of the glacier - all of it was just amazing!
4. Spend A Few Bucks And Pack The Correct Clothing
I can't tell you how many people I saw in just sneakers, jeans, and what I would classify as a "normal" jacket. In winter, there is snow on the ground. Iceland's weather changes hourly. In the span of a 3-hour drive, it went from gorgeous sunny skies to snow, to light rain, followed by hurricane-force winds that were blowing my car across the road (no exaggeration). If you are traveling in the winter please do yourself a favor and bring warm clothes. Buy legit boots. Buy a wind-resistant and waterproof down jacket. Buy fleece lined leggings and snow pants. Anything with wool is your friend. I spent more than I liked on these items, but it was well worth it. I wasn't cold once the entire trip, which is saying something as someone who is perpetually cold. I have been colder and shivering more in Philly than I ever was during my time in Iceland and it's all because of the clothes.
5. Travel With Someone
As someone who has traveled solo for both work and for pleasure, and who absolutely loves it, I was initially planning on going to Iceland by myself. However, a few weeks before, I met a few girls through the Girls Love Travel Facebook group and made plans to share the expenses of the rental car and a hotel in Vik with a girl from the group.
Iceland is incredibly safe, and the people are friendly. But Iceland is also incredibly spread out. There are hours in between towns, and the towns are incredibly small (we're talking one restaurant, one gas station, and one hotel). Even Reykjavik, the capital of the country, can barely be called a "city" it is so small.
Unlike Europe, there are not a ton of places to meet people in Iceland outside of Reykjavik. Which, if you are looking for a complete disconnect-from-everything type of trip, this is perfect. But, if you want to socialize even a little bit, I recommend going to Iceland with a friend or with someone. It can make the three-hour car rides more beareable, give you some company at dinner, and just take your mind off the sanity that can be the complete stillness of the open road.
Overall, Iceland was incredible and I can't wait to visit in the summer to get the full experience.