What We’d Spend More Time Doing in Iceland

While planning our trip to Iceland, our main objective was to fit as MUCH stuff in as possible, because we wanted to SEE. IT. ALL. Looking back, we don’t have any regrets about what we saw, but we do wish we’d had more time at certain places. We’re going to take a look at five places you need to see on your trip to Iceland and how much time you should spend there.

Because in all honestly, you never know how cool a place is until you see it in person (unless you’re reading this nifty little blog of course). We scheduled short stops to places that ended up being some of our favorite destinations— and it made sticking to our schedule a little tougher!

So while planning your trip to Iceland, allow for some buffer time at each of these stop. Don’t make the same mistake we did first time around, save time for all of these places we wish we’d had more time at! Be sure to let us know what you think below in the comments and if you’re feeling extra awesome shoot this post a like and a share, as always, enjoy!

#1) Reykjavik

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Ideal Time: 2-3 Days

We know what you’re probably thinking— you didn’t save time to explore the capital city? The answer to that is: well, yes and no. We arrived in Iceland at 4am (which really felt like 10pm our time) and planned to spend the first day ridding ourselves of the dreaded jet lag. We couldn’t check into our hostel until 4pm, so we wandered around the city and checked out the Perlan Observatory and Harpa Concert Hall, but mostly just slept in the rental car. Our second day in the city we checked out the Hallagrakirksjama Church, the central shopping district, and the Sun Voyager. Ultimately, we wished we’d had to spend more time to explore the city and check out its famed night life!

#2) Akureyi

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Ideal Time: 1-2 Days

To be honest, we knew that Akureyi was Iceland’s second largest city and “capital of the north” but we weren’t really expecting to see a whole lot when we got there. Although it’s smaller than Reykjavik, it’s still an incredible “little” city! We were only able to spend a morning in the city, and since it was quite dreary out, most of it was spent in a café drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies. We walked away content and warm but dreaming of exploring its endless shops and alleyways!

#3) Skaftafell National Park

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Ideal Time: 4-6 Hours

After sleeping through our alarms (oops) and waking up to find out that the road ahead of us was going to be closed for who-knows-how-long due to 100+ mph winds, we were forced to take a speed tour through this gorgeous national park. Since we were short on time, we hiked right up (and behind) to the famous Svartifoss waterfall before running back to the car to hopefully catch a glimpse of the Glacier Lagoon before the road closed due to the high winds. Which leads us to our next stop…

#4) The Glacier Lagoon

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Ideal Time: 1-2 Hours

Just our luck, the road closed just before we could reach the Glacier Lagoon (conveniently there were little hotels scattered right next to the road closed gate… in what seemed like the middle-of-nowhere, hmm…) We were then forced to make a tough call: do we continue driving on the closed road (we were told if we needed help they wouldn’t come after us until after the wind died down) or wait it out for an unknown amount of time and potentially have to skip destinations on our route for lack of time. We, of course, decided to risk it. We stopped at the Glacier Lagoon, also known as Jökulsárlón, for maybe 5 minutes. Enough time to hop out of the car, take a picture, and get back in before the wind blew us into the water.

#5) Vik’s Black Sand Beach

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Ideal Time: 2-4 Hours

There are a multitude of black sand beaches scattered along Iceland’s coast, but none as popular as the one located in Vik. Another spell of less-than-optimal weather turned our sunset on the beach night, into one of cold weather and strong winds, meaning we were unable to even catch a glimpse of the sunset. Had the weather been calmer, this beach would have been a beautiful place to sit and relax at the end of the day (but don’t swim— the currents are strong and more than one person has lost their life trying to swim at this beach).

Having 12 days of perfect weather in Iceland would be an absolute miracle, it’s practically unheard of. It’s a lot more common to have 12 days of bad weather, especially because we went in May rather than the middle of the summer. We had some absolutely stunning no-clouds-in-the-sky days, as well as some miserably cold wind-blowing-out-of-the-north days too. Overall the weather wasn’t perfect, but it could have been a lot worse, and for that we’re thankful.

We hope this blog helps you to enjoy your next trip to The Land of Fire and Ice and we hope you’ll let us help you plan it (since we’ve spent a bit of time there *wink wink)! If you want to hear more about what to see or do, take a look at our other blogs about Iceland:

To see more of our time in Iceland check out the video below and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Five FREE Things To-Do in Reykjavik

Reykjavik has something for everyone, from amazing restaurants, beautiful museums, to quaint shops. Below is our list of Five Free Things To-Do in Reykjavik.

Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and home to 2/3’s of the country’s population so it truly is the heart of Iceland. For these reasons alone it is worth at least a few days of every traveler’s time. Being in such a large city can be quite expensive so we created a list of our favorite, absolutely free, things to do in Reykjavik. These could all be knocked out in an afternoon and would be a perfect way to get acquainted with the city. After saving all that money the first day you can check out seven can’t miss Icelandic adventures! Be sure to let us know your favorite below in the comments and if you’re feeling extra amazing shoot this post a like and a share, as always, enjoy! Without further ado, we give you our list of Five FREE Things To-Do in Reykjavik:

#1) Explore the Harpa Concert Hall 

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Opened in 2011 the Harpa Concert Hall has won numerous awards for its stunning design and architecture. Geometric steel framework dotted with different colored glass panels lead to surreal color changes within Harpa’s halls. The building also contains a hotel, two restaurants, and numerous shops. Given all this and its proximity to the water and other free attractions it tops our list as the best free thing to-do in Reykavik.

#2) Visit Hallgrimskirkja Church

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A statue of Leif Eiriksson stands guard over the harbor in front of Hallgrimskirkja, Iceland’s most recognizable church. Shaped to look like the hardened magma columns of the waterfalls dotting Iceland’s countryside this church tops out at 244 feet tall. With a minimalistic interior the pipe organ rises to prominence and soft, yellow lighting brings out the simple beauty of the hall. For $7 USD you can book a tour to climb to the top of the tower for a fantastic view of the city.

#3) Walk around Laugavegur Street

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On the old “Wash Road” Reykjavik’s primary shopping street is home to bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and shops of all kinds. Perfect for just walking around or further exploring what each shop has to offer Laugavegur Street is a great way to spend a few hours. If you’re in the mood for delicious chocolates and candies be sure to try out Vínberið!

#4) The Sun Voyager

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The Sun Voyager is often mistaken as an ode to Leif Eriksson and his Viking ships, instead it is intended to represent the sun and symbolize light and hope. Regardless of what people think it looks like, on a clear day this massive steel sculpture is a sight to behold. Looking west out across the bay towards Mt. Esja the glass floors reflect the blue skies and make the sculpture appear to be almost seaworthy (minus the gaping holes in the sides!).

#5) Hike around Perlan Observatory

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Many people recognize Perlan for its phenomenal views of downtown Reykjavik, and rightfully so it’s incredible! However, along Perlan’s hillside there are numerous old WWII bunkers all open to be explored. Remember to pack a flashlight so you can explore the tunnels and a camera to document your adventures. Regardless of how much you explore the tunnels, the views of Reykjavik along the path are all worth the hike!

To see more of our time in Iceland check out the video below and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

What We Wish We’d Done in Iceland

It’s tough to see everything Iceland has to offer, but here are seven things you can’t miss when you go!

Not many people have the opportunity to spend 12 days touring Iceland. In fact, no amount of days seems to be enough to see everything this little country has to offer! That being said, we had to pick and choose sites to see on our epic road trip around Iceland’s ring road.

Some travelers like to pick a location and stay there for the duration of their vacation, but not us. Now don’t get me wrong, a day or two of down time is always appreciated, but we like to get out and explore— because who knows when you’ll be back!

Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of things we wish we’d done while visiting Iceland. Some of the activities on our list didn’t happen due to lack of funds (we’re poor college students after all) while others got crossed off for being too far inland from the ring road. Be sure to let us know what you think below in the comments and if you’re feeling extra awesome shoot this post a like and a share, as always, enjoy!

Make sure to check out our other blogs about Iceland before booking your trip!

#1) Ice Cave Tour

While dreaming about visiting Iceland, we made a list of things we’d like to see and do— but didn’t look at the price until we started planning the actual trip. The ice cave tours looked SO cool but were SO expensive and immediately got crossed off of our list. We set a budget of $1,000 per person and the ice cave tours cost almost that much.

Another downside was that some tours only operate in the winter months and don’t run all the way into May. But if you’re planning your once-in-a-lifetime vacation, or have a little extra dough to cough up for this excursion, we highly recommend taking an ice cave tour. One day we will return to Iceland and we WILL get to experience this awesome sight!

#2) Helicopter Tour

If you haven’t already guessed, this activity got crossed off our list—again—for the price. Iceland is exceptionally unique from the ground, but seeing the vast landscape from the air would be a whole different experience!

#3) Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall in southern Iceland and originally on our itinerary, was actually the waterfall I was most looking forward to. But we were so exhausted that we accidentally drove right by it and didn’t stop— NO!!!! This waterfall is extremely picturesque, is often photographed at sunset, and you can even walk behind it— how cool?!

So whether or not you’re just traveling the Golden Circle (small loop that passes many of southern Iceland’s wonders, close to Reykjavik and the airport) or the Ring Road (Iceland’s only highway that travels the circumference of the country), Seljalandsfoss is a must-stop location! (And did we mention—it’s free!)

#4) Glacier Hike/Highlands

Unfortunately, the glaciers and the highlands were too far off the ring road and too far inland for us to be able to reach in a reasonable amount of time. We saw the large Vatnajökull Glacier, but only in passing by. Being able to hike it would be a-maz-ing.

Even if we had more time to explore the highlands, our car wasn’t 4 wheel drive (again, we chose the cheap route to visiting Iceland) and therefore it couldn’t drive on F-rated roads even if we’d wanted it to.

**F-Roads are Iceland’s most dangerous roads, but they take you to the most incredible places. If you plan on visiting the highlands, you MUST rent a 4×4 vehicle. Two wheel drive vehicles are not allowed, as some roads are impassable without four wheel drive. Another thing to be cognizant about is that F-Roads are not open year-round, so be sure to check your route and avoid any closed roads (or F-Roads if you are without a 4×4 vehicle).

#5) Whale Watching Tour

Although a guided whale watching tour will almost always guarantee an up close and personal experience with some of the world’s largest animals, they can be out of the price range. However, due to the numerous fjords along Iceland’s coast, we were able to spot whales (and seals) on multiple occasions!

#6) Myvatn Nature Baths

Myvatn Nature Baths is the lesser known Blue Lagoon. Located in north eastern Iceland between Akureyri and Egilsstaðir, it offers many of the same amenities as the Blue Lagoon, but is much farther from Reykjavik and the airport and thus there are fewer tourists.

#7) See the Northern Lights

The northern lights are most visible in Iceland between November and April (when there’s the least amount of sunlight per year). Unfortunately for us, we went in mid-May, and were unable to catch a glimpse of the light show dancing in the sky above us!

There are many travel agencies that offer “northern lights tours”; however, they cannot guarantee that you will see the aurora borealis. We suggest seeking out the northern lights on your own. To do so, follow these simple steps:

  1. Get out of the city and into an area that isn’t affected by light pollution (the darker the sky the better the viewing)
  2. Pick a night that isn’t cloudy and doesn’t have a full moon
  3. Check out http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/ for an accurate aurora forecast of Iceland

As you can see Iceland has an adventure for almost everyone, from whale watching to hiking the rims of volcanoes, these are the seven we would have to do when we go back!

To see more of our time in Iceland check out the video below and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Five Things Not-To-Do in Iceland

Tired of wondering what to do in Iceland? How about what not to do in Iceland? Well we have you covered!

After driving over 2,400 miles around Iceland’s Ring Road, we saw a ton of what the country has to offer, both good and bad. If (more like when) we decide to do this again, there are definitely a few places we would skip. So whether you’re gearing up for your first trip around Iceland, or looking for a way to see the most with the shortest amount of time, you’ve come to the right place! Be sure to let us know what you think below in the comments and if you’re feeling extra superb shoot this post a like and a share, as always, enjoy!

Here’s our list of things we wouldn’t go out of our way to see again:

#1) Drive through Northeastern Iceland

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If you plan on driving the Ring Road counterclockwise (like most people do) there’s really not much to see between Höfn on Iceland’s southeast coast and Akureyri, Iceland’s “capital of the north”. The coast is always pretty, but as soon as you start driving inland, there’s nothing to see and no towns for miles. So if you do go, because it was a cool experience either way, make sure to fill up on gas beforehand and pray for no car problems!

#2) Visit the Arctic Henge

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Per #1 on our list, the Arctic Henge is one of the attractions that drove us to northern Iceland in the first place (and it’s WAY north). Located just 20 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the Arctic Henge is in Raufarhöfn, the northernmost city in the entire country. Not only is the attraction not yet completed, but when it is, it will become a main attraction for Paganism in the world, which isn’t exactly something we’re into so…

#3) The DC-3 Plane Crash at Sólheimasandur Beach

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In 1973 a US Navy DC-3 airplane was forced to crash land on this black sand beach in southern Iceland. In order to hide technology, both wings and the tail have long since been removed. Not only is the plane crash difficult to find, but it also includes a two-mile walk each way. You can’t see the plane from where you need to park your car, only short yellow sticks every hundred yards guide you as you walk into complete nothingness. Lots of pictures online show the wreckage at sunset, desolate, capturing the imagination of the viewer. However when we went, in early May, there were lots of people there and no opportunity to get that “perfect shot” with no one in the frame. It was cool to be able to walk inside and on top of the plane, but there are sharp metal pieces and wires jutting out in every direction and it’s only a matter of time before someone gets injured! (Definitely would not recommend for children). We suggest skipping this location all together and spending more time at a different spot!

#4) Eat at The Viking Café (Höfn)

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Though not too far out of our way, the Viking Café (known for their famous waffles) was overpriced… and didn’t have any waffles! You had to pay to park and pay extra if you wanted to walk down by the beach. Although the landscape was picturesque as the mountains rose steeply from the ocean, it’s something we will pass on the next time around.

#5) Hike up to see Hengifoss and Litlanefoss

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In Icelandic, “foss” means waterfall. So whenever you pass a road sign with the word foss on it, it should almost always guarantee a stop! The last on our list is located in northeastern Iceland (Do you see a trend here?) Litlanefoss, like many waterfalls in Iceland, are framed by basalt columns from hardened magma. However, the path that walks uphill (very uphill) to Hengifoss passes right by Litlanefoss— but you can’t see it. Only part of the waterfall is visible unless you (and we don’t suggest that you do) walk up the other side of the waterfall where there’s no path.

Well, there you have it. Five things we wouldn’t do again, but definitely didn’t regret doing the first time around, in Iceland.

To see more of our time in Iceland check out the video below and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

What You NEED to Know Before You Go Skiing in Colorado

We compiled a list of a few things to know before you go, whether you’re a seasoned veteran or it’s your first time on the snow, this is a great place to start before planning your next ski trip out West!

Thrill seekers from all around the world come to Colorado for its skiing and snowboarding. With towering mountains, deep snow, and endless resorts there really is a mountain for everyone. Be sure to let us know your favorite place to ski below in the comments and if you’re feeling extra awesome shoot this post a like and a share, as always, enjoy!

How to get to the Resorts

The resorts on the eastern side of the Rockies are great because you can fly into Denver and have a shuttle take you to almost any resort within 3 hours. Colorado Mountain Express, Peak 1 Express, and Prestige Worldwide Transportation are just a few options that offer online booking prior to your trip.

Once at the resorts, there is way more to do than just ski or snowboard. Resort villages often offer a variety of shops, restaurants, and other outdoor activities (ice skating, tubing, snowmobiling, etc.) for guests to try. The nearby towns also offer plenty of family-friendly, and more affordable options, for food, entertainment, and whatever else may pop up during your stay.

The Best Parts about Skiing in Colorado

The Location

Most resorts are only a few hours from Denver, perfect for a shuttle or rental from the airport! This also allows you to hop from resort to resort with ease, to try all the best Colorado has to offer.

The Scenery

It’s an unbelievable experience to look out and only see white capped peaks in every direction. Colorado is incredible because, no matter which resort you’re going to, you will undoubtedly be blessed with incredible views.

The Snow

Most resorts get between 300-350 inches a year, that’s almost 30 feet of perfect white powder! This ensures a solid base so you won’t ruin your skis on any rocks and a soft top perfect to cushion any falls.

The Weather

Yeah you heard right! Don’t be surprised to see temps in the 30’s even in the coldest months. Colorado’s prime position in the middle of the western US ensures relatively warm temperatures all year. It also helps trap in moisture which is perfect for more snow!

The Worst Parts about Skiing in Colorado

The Crowds

Colorado resorts report around 13 million visits every year, unfortunately this sometimes means long lines and large crowds. To help avoid this shoot for Monday-Thursday if you can fit it in your schedule as most locals are working or are in school.

The Cost

Colorado has some of the best skiing in the world, that also means you have to pay for it. This can be avoided by booking in groups or finding coupons for purchasing tickets online beforehand.

Having to Leave

This may sound like a cop-out, but soon enough you’ll see why everyone keeps coming back! With perfect snow and weather, amazing food and nightlife, and hundreds of shops to explore, its a miracle anyone ever leaves.

What you NEED to Know, Before you Go

Before planning your next trip to Colorado remember to aim for weekdays in the non-holiday season to avoid crowds, try to rally up a group or search online for coupons to cut costs, and drink plenty of water to avoid those annoying headaches. In the end it’s important to remember just a few things: take a camera, wear your helmet, and have fun!

To see more from our ski trip to Winter Park check out the video below and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

 

What No One Tells You About The Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is aimed to be a magical and awe-inspiring experience for all visitors. We left, glad to have visited, but disappointed it wasn’t as advertised.

Oftentimes, you see images of the lagoon capped in snow and almost deserted. It’s looks foreign and inviting, appearing as though you could wander through the steam rising off the vibrant blue waters without running into any other people. In reality, the lagoon is overcrowded and feels as though you can only access the more private pools by purchasing special access. Be sure to let us know what you think of our analysis below in the comments and if you’re feeling extra kind shoot this post a like and a share, as always, enjoy!

In fact, what we will take away from the experience most is that it seems every opportunity to charge you more they will. Prior to arriving we had found a deal online for $28 admission, but when we got there we were told the tickets had to be purchased beforehand so the deal would not apply. Ultimately we spent around $70 per person, keep in mind this didn’t include towels (luckily we had some on hand) or algae masks.

The Four Best Things about The Blue Lagoon

The Location

The lagoon is only 20 minutes from the airport and 45 minutes from Reykjavik, perfect for a quick layover adventure or afternoon day trip. Pairing this with the incredible scenery around the lagoon (with exception of the power plant) the location is perfect.

The Staff

Everyone who worked there was very helpful and made it clear they wanted you to enjoy your stay. Any questions were met with patience and their kindness was truly appreciated.

It’s Camera Friendly

Seriously—you can even take it into the pool itself—just be careful! Being able to take pictures with your family and friends in the lagoon is one of the best parts. Many paid pools in the area don’t allow electronics so it really is special the Blue Lagoon allows cameras.

The Water

The temperature and the color of the are incredible and contribute heavily to the otherworldly experience. The lagoon even has warm and cold areas, with temps ranging from 98° F to 104° F, all of which are perfect to relax in.

The Four Worst Things about The Blue Lagoon

The Cost

While they clearly have a right to charge for their beautiful facilities and a dip in the tranquil waters, the price seems abhorrently high. To help bring these costs down, be sure to book online beforehand.

The Crowds

As Iceland continues to grow in popularity, the lagoon will only get busier. shoot for less busy times between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM or after 6:00 PM to help avoid these crowds and more richly enjoy your experience.

The Chaos

Though not the lagoon’s fault some customers seem to forget basic etiquette and begin sloshing around and hollering across the pool. Again, avoiding peak times will help to alleviate this problem.

It’s Not Family Friendly

Just trust us! Some couples seem to get a little too caught up in the romance of the moment and get a little carried away. If you do take kids along just be sure to stick in more open areas of the pool where more people appear to be on their best behavior.

The Final Verdict

Ultimately, if you have spent the money to get Iceland visit the Blue Lagoon at least once. Be sure to avoid peak times from 10 AM – 2 PM and 4 PM – 6PM, remember to book online as it will save you time and usually money, and remember to pack towels!

To see more of our time in Iceland check out the video below and subscribe to our YouTube channel!