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Iceland: 5 Highlights to Repeat

November 2016, Lance and I ventured on a ten-day journey to the northern-most capital in the world, Reykjavik, Iceland. We packed our days with exploring every step of this walkable city and made sure to take day trips to surrounding areas to soak in Iceland’s iconic landscape. It was our first international adventure as a couple, and every bit of it has reminded magical. 

Highlight video from our 2016 adventure to Iceland.

Over five years later and we still talk about Iceland regularly, this enchanting place continues to call us to return. Looking back on our initial trip in 2016, I am always reminded of all the moments that I would love to recreate and enjoy again. But in the same breath, there is still so much to explore in Iceland, and my wish list seems to keep growing and growing. Here is my list of five things I would have to do again, they were just too perfect not to repeat. And also, five things I would love to add to our next adventure to this northern gem.  

Icelandic horses
Lance meeting the local Icelandic horses.

5 Icelandic Highlights to Repeat 

1. Plunge in Blue Lagoon

There was nothing better than soaking your body in 100-degree waters straight from the airport. In 2016, we were fresh off a red-eye flight, both sporting bedhead as we checked into Blue Lagoon. In November the lagoon opens before sunrise, which immersed us in misty darkness as our eyes started waking up in the warm waters. Blue Lagoon’s famous powder blue waters are lined by massive lava rocks, creating a contrasting scene to soak in for hours. Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice, and a dip in the fiery hot waters of a chilly morning at Blue Lagoon was a perfect welcome to the country. I highly recommend booking the shuttle from the airport to Blue Lagoon, we took the very first bus that left at 7:30am. And we made sure to schedule a spot on the shuttle from the lagoon to downtown Reykjavik. Blue Lagoon is a very popular destination, so pre-booking is a must as tickets do sell out! In fact, after our first visit, we tried to squeeze in another dip before our flight home, but they were completely booked out for weeks.  

Blue Lagoon in the early morning fog.
Blue Lagoon in the early morning fog.

2. Get behind the wheel and self-drive

We couldn’t pronounce a single Icelandic word, but we could read their traffic signs. Navigating this beautiful country by car was surprisingly stress-free and so very freeing. To best see the country and feel immersed in the emerald countryside I highly recommend renting a car and driving it yourself. And yes, if you’re wondering, they drive on the same side of the road as the states. The only regret Lance and I had was wishing we would have rented the car for the entire trip and explored even more of the country behind the wheel.

Dining inside the Friðheimar Tomato Farm greenhouses.
Dining inside the Friðheimar Tomato Farm greenhouses.

3. Greenhouse to table

Five years later and I am still drooling over the delicious tomato soup we devoured at Friðheimar Tomato Farm. Hands down it was the freshest most flavorful tomato soup we both have ever eaten. This true farm-to-table destination literally has guests seated inside their glowing greenhouses. During our lunch, the meal was set as a soup bar with an artisan bread table that you could serve yourself from. Read: all you can eat tomato soup and bread! I recommend ordering one of their freshly made bloody Mary’s, promised to outshine any packed mixer you’ve ever sipped before.  To boot Friðheimar Tomato Farm has been designed sustainably with environmentally friendly practices. They source renewable energy using geothermal heating, and organic pest controls to produce the best tomatoes I have ever eaten myself.

4. Hay locals

Having a photoshoot with famous Icelandic horses seems to be a must for every journey to Iceland. This stocky bred is synonymous with the island, and you will likely see dozens and dozens grazing the countryside. Just remember to be respectful, only touch the horses at that interested in interacting. And do not feed them any treats. Instead, smile and say haaayy!

Reykjadalur Hot Springs.
Reykjadalur Hot Springs.

5. Hike to natural hot springs

Blue Lagoon is amazing, but at the end of the day, it’s a human-made hot spring. For a more natural experience pack some good walking shoes and trek the trail to find yourself a natural hot spring. We enjoyed relaxing in Reykjadalur Hot Springs. On the scenic hike, we lost track of the number of waterfalls we saw! Once we made it to the warm waters, we were lucky enough to find a spot with a grand view of the valley as the fog rolled over its peaks. For next time, I will definitely bring a blanket. Towels are great for drying off, but when you get out of the warm water and the air starts to bite at your freezing skin, a big blanket would have been ideal. Goosebumps aside the natural hot springs were still an absolute highlight.

Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park.

5 Icelandic Highlights to Add

A return trip to Iceland is inevitable. In addition to these five highlights, I plan on adding these additions to make my time in the country even more extraordinary! 

More hot springs: Soaking in both the Blue Lagoon and Reykjadalur Hot Springs was incredible. But I would love to add even more natural hot spring stops to our itinerary. 

Black and white feathered locals: Visiting Iceland in November was certainly less crowded, but it meant that seeing wild puffins was impossible since they migrate south from the island during the winter months. I’d prefer to coordinate our plans around the puffins when they are plentiful, during the peak of the summer season.

View of Reykjavik from the tallest building, Hallgrímskirkja.
View of Reykjavik from the tallest building, Hallgrímskirkja.

See glaciers before its too late: A drive to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon would be a must. Seeing these icy masterpieces would be surreal, especially since their presence is striking each year.

Beluga whale sanctuary: Since our 2016 visit, Iceland became home to the world’s first and only Beluga Whale Sanctuary. This sanctuary is the bright new future for dolphins and whales in captivity and is already home to two beluga whales rescued from a marine park in China. Now, these two beluga whales are able to swim, explore, and deep dive in a massive bay habitat. I’d love the chance to support this cause and have the opportunity to visit the bay and view the whales from a distance.

Have bed will travel: Since we enjoyed driving the countryside ourselves so much, this time I would rent a camper van and drive the entire Ring Road that hugs the Icelandic coastline. Hitting the road and stopping where ever in no particular rush would be the trip of a lifetime.

Lance enjoying the open road.
Lance enjoying the open road.
Icelandic sheep.
Icelandic sheep.

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