Iceland: the land of majestic horses, grandiose waterfalls, incredible views and perhaps the most expensive food on the planet. ???? Oh, how I loved you. And oh, how I am glad we just kind of tacked you onto the tail end of our month long Europe trip.
Sooo Iceland for a few reasons.
#1: Many of my ancestors came from Iceland… like not too long ago. My great great grandfather sailed to the US from Iceland and his family ended up in American Fork, Utah. I have always had this fascination so off we went!
#2: We decided to fly with WOW air because the flights to Europe were so much cheaper. Every flight with WOW connects in Reykjavik, their hub, so it only made sense to just get off the plane and spend a few days!
Okay… real quick. There are so many bad reviews out there about WOW air. So thought I would add my GOOD one to the mix. It is definitely not your run of the mill airline. They do things a little differently and if you are willing to sacrifice a few things, you could save some money and still get from A to B.
A few tips when flying with WOW.
- Buy and plan for your luggage at the time of booking. This will save you money and you wont have to pay for your bag at the gate.
- Weigh your bag beforehand and make sure you don’t go over. They have crazy fees so just be careful and pack smart!
- Expect to pay for food and water on the flight. They have a menu that is pretty pricey… but you saved on your ticket sooo We spent about $40 on food for the three of us on the flight. I’d also recommend bringing an empty reusable water bottle and just filling it up in the airport. This will also come in handy in Iceland.
Our South Coast Itinerary:
We rented a car from AVIS and wanted to make sure we had something “off road” ready. There are many roads in Iceland that are dirt roads that lead to waterfalls, viewpoints, hikes etc. but are only accessible with an off road vehicle. On a typical map, these are the “F” roads.
^ A downtown apartment complex in Reykjavik.
Our WOW air flight landed super late at around midnight. So we booked a little hostel called START about 10 minutes from the airport. It was very cheap for Iceland standard and was decent… they also served breakfast in the morning. It was also pretty close to The Blue Lagoon.
Depending on where you stay, (if you have a kitchen), I would recommend stopping at a full grocery store before leaving Reykjavik. They are hard to come by in the more rural areas and will be pricer. We stocked up on food for the 5 days we were there and by the end were literally eating beans and rice because I couldn’t spend another $25 on a sandwich!
We had 5 days in Iceland and took it kind of easy. After a month of travel, (and me being 25 weeks pregnant), we were pretty exhausted… But I still feel like we saw a lot! We stayed on the south coast… Vík was our “homebase” of sorts.
There are a couple of great view points to take photos of the little downtown city of Reykjavik. The first is Hallgrímskirkja (where the photo below was taken from). It is the church at the very head of the downtown area. You cannot miss it. The second place we stopped for views a little outside of town was Perlan. This is a landmark building in Reykjavik and it is free to see the town from the viewing deck!
We didn’t spent a lot of time in Reykjavik because the day we got there was a national holiday and everything was closed. But the downtown streets are adorable… so many colors, the restaurants looked yummy and shops super cute. If we ever go back, I’d spend more time here.
^ View from Hallgrímskirkja
^ View from viewing deck in Perlan
This was such a fun experience and Ezra loved it. It is more of a “spa experience” than adventure…
Book your tickets in advance online because times sell out. Here you are able to relax, have (a very expensive) lunch/snacks and give yourself a mud mask facial. We stayed for a couple of hours just swimming around, honestly, it felt so good to feel weightless after walking around Europe for a month!
They provide floaties for the kiddos and require that they wear them at all times. They also provide a free silica mud mask and offer others for sale. There are showers and lockers available, towels and robes for purchase.
If you are in Reykjavik, this is a must.
Vík + Surrounding
We chose to go the southern Iceland route because we didn’t have much time and there is a lot to see in that area. Vík became our home base and was about 30 minute from where we stayed.
Our Airbnb: This place was big… too big for us, but would be great for a larger party (accommodates 10). We waited until the last minute to book our place and literally EVERYTHING was booked. EVERYTHING. I would definitely recommend booking far in advance if you can. But that being said, this house was in a great location, just minutes from Skogafoss and about 30 minutes from Vik. It was also walkable to the ocean.
^ The view from Reykjavik driving to Vik at midnight.
This beach with its beautiful basalt columns, side cliff cave openings and black sand was stunning. There is a little restaurant there on the beach where you can grab some sandwiches and soup. Ezra LOVED climbing on the columns and sitting inside the caves.
Glacier Beach was absolutely stunning with its black sand beach and giant glaciers inching their way out of the lagoon into the ocean. It was an incredible sight. Just FYI: This place depends highly on the weather. If it is too warm, there could be little to see on the beach. But worth the gamble. There is also a lagoon on the other side of the beach where you can see the giant glaciers and take boat tours around them in the lagoon. We didn’t do this because it was a really cold day and Ezzy wouldn’t have been too happy… but it looks amazing.
Although we were freezing our buns off this day, Fjaorargljufur was one of my favorite spots in Iceland. The views are insane. It is a huge beautiful canyon carved out by the river at the bottom. There are trails to walk along the top of the canyon with (some) guardrails. But my goodness, keep your kiddos close here! Maybe take a leash! So scary. BUT this is a must. You cannot beat the views. Absolutely breathtaking.
The outdoor swimming pool built in 1928 is another landmark that most people hike to see. This is the ONE thing we didn’t do that I regret not seeing. It was so close to the house we were staying but we just ran out of time… the days seemed to fly by.
^ Photo Credit: islandia24
There are sooo many other amazing waterfalls and sites to see, we stopped at several but didn’t take photos of all of them. Here are a few more on the South Coast with links to the map locations. My favorites are Seljalandfoss, Skogafoss (linked above), and Kvernufoss. (If you haven’t noticed… anything ending in “foss” is a waterfall. ????????
Seljalandfoss – Waterfall
Kvernufoss – Waterfall
Dyrhólaey – This is the lighthouse and view of the rock arch in the ocean and the black sand beach coast from the top. It is in our video, but no photos.
Just a few more tips: We traveled at the beginning of June and were FREEZING. Weather fluctuates a lot, especially in the spring and summer months, we happened to be there when it was pretty cold and windy. Bring lots of layers and warm socks. 🙂
A lot have asked about northern lights. Those appear September through April… those months with the longest dark nights. While we were there it was never fully dark. The “sunset” photo above was taken at midnight… that’s about as dark as it got.
We traveled to and saw so many amazing sights in Iceland but honestly, my favorite times were exploring on our own. The place is pure magic… doesn’t even feel like the same planet in some places. The moss covered rock fields, the vast volcanic rock, the giant glaciers and farm after farm after farm (with the cutest baby lambs everyyyyywhere.) It was just all so different, just taking it all in was treat enough.
Big thanks to my bro in law Nate, for linking all the locations for me! It made the trip so much easier!
Hope this was helpful! Would love to know if you have anything else to add! Happy and safe travels!