Feather & Flint

Adventures in Iceland, Part I: Must-See Photos, Stories & Advice

November 13, 2016 37 Comments 18 Photos

Iceland Photos Stories Travel Advice

Iceland: Photos, Stories & Travel Advice

This post comes to you from the skies over Nuuk, Greenland. I’m returning to America after 4 luxurious days in Iceland.

Þingvellir National Park, Iceland

Þingvellir National Park

I have a lot of feelings about the country I call home. They’ve been building up inside of me from the moment that I touched down at Keflavík late on November 8 and the astonishing election results started rolling in. Watching everything unfold from thousands of miles away has been simultaneously heartbreaking and refreshing. In restaurants across Reykjavík, I’ve watched residents and travelers alike having the same stunned, concerned exchanges that Alex and I have had. Suffice it to say that people around the world are as baffled and apprehensive as we are, albeit from a distance.

In the midst of this existential anxiety, I want to share some of the beauty that has kept me sane over the last week. I’m including all of the advice that I can think of for your future adventure to Iceland—I hope that you get the chance to see this incredible place with your own eyes one day.

Engey, Reykjavík, Iceland

The view of Engey from Reykjavík

Where to Go

We spent one day exploring Reykjavík itself, two days on all-day tours that took us outside of the city, and each night sampling restaurants around the city.

Day 1: Reykjavík

Sights we saw:

  • Hallgrímskirkja: The often-photographed modern church
  • Laugavegur: The Newbury Street of Reykjavík
  • A beautiful view of the mountains on the island Engey from the harbor by Harpa Concert Hall
  • …and I took a million pictures of the Scandinavian architecture I’ve fallen in love with
Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavík, Iceland

Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavík

Laugavegur, Reykjavík, Iceland

Laugavegur in Reykjavík

Laugavegur, Reykjavík, Iceland

Laugavegur in Reykjavík

Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavík, Iceland

Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavík

Day 2: The Golden Circle tour

Sights we saw:

  • Friðheimar: A greenhouse where many of Iceland’s tomatoes are grown, which are then shipped to grocery stores and restaurants to be eaten on the same day
  • Geysir & Strokkur: Two of Iceland’s major geysers, and also the origin of the word “geyser”
  • Gullfoss: One of Iceland’s most stunning waterfalls
  • Þingvellir National Park: My personal favorite spot of those that we visited
Gullfoss, Iceland

Gullfoss

Geysir, Haukadalsvegur, Iceland

Geysir in Haukadalsvegur

Geysir, Haukadalsvegur, Iceland

Geysir in Haukadalsvegur

Friðheimar, Reykholt, Iceland

Friðheimar in Reykholt

Day 3: The South Coast tour

Sights we saw:

  • Skógafoss: Another of Iceland’s renowned waterfalls
  • Vík & Reynisfjara (Black Sand Beach): Now #1 on my list of sites to return to in the summer for a completely different experience
  • Skógar Folk Museum: The culmination of one man’s lifetime spent collecting over 15,000 artifacts from Iceland’s history
  • Seljalandsfoss: Another stunning waterfall, which you can actually walk behind (I hope to do this someday!)
  • Plus, views of the volcanos Eyjafjallajökull & Grímsvötn from the bus, responsible for eruptions that grounded flights throughout Europe in 2010 & 2011
Black Sand Beach, Reynisfjara, Vík, Iceland

Reynisfjara (Black Sand Beach) in Vík

Skógafoss, Iceland

Skógafoss

Skógar Folk Museum, Skógar, Iceland

Skógar Folk Museum in Skógar

Fun Facts & Things to Know

If you happen to be blessed with a day of nice weather, take advantage of it! Visit all of the places at the top of your list and take all of the pictures you can, because the unpredictable weather can change in minutes. When it started to rain on our first day, we cut our exploration short and vowed to return later in the trip… but once the rain began, it didn’t stop!

Smiðjuvegur, Reykjavík, Iceland

Smiðjuvegur in Reykjavík

99.5% of Iceland residents speak English—likely better than some Americans! If you feel anxious or guilty about visiting a country without knowing a single word of the language (like I often do), that’s not a concern here at all.

Vesturgata, Reykjavík, Iceland

Vesturgata in Reykjavík

Go on tours around the country! I was worried that tours would be restrictive or gimmicky… I was wrong. They’re essentially like public transportation that takes you right from your doorstep to all of the sights you could ever want to visit. You’ll hear fascinating stories about the country’s natural and cultural history as you travel between destinations, and you’ll get to see in one day what other people might see in a week for just $100-200 per person (which is more than worth it!). I recommend Reykjavik Excursions, which the locals echoed because it’s the longest-running tour company (and they’re also the same buses that take you to and from the airport).

Njálsgata, Reykjavík, Iceland

Njálsgata in Reykjavík

Visiting Iceland gives you a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience unparalleled geological phenomena. Hot springs and geysers are geothermally-heated water rising up from the center of the Earth. The waterfalls and mountains were formed by the continual collision of the North American and European continental plates, which may eventually divide Iceland in half. All around you, you’ll see the evidence of ongoing changes in the Earth’s crust, and it’s something you simply can’t miss.

Black Sand Beach, Reynisfjara, Vík, Iceland

Reynisfjara (Black Sand Beach) in Vík

A short trip isn’t wasted in Iceland. Reykjavík is a surprisingly tiny city, both in terms of its population and its physical size, and you’ll have seen it all in 1-2 days. In addition, much of the island is largely uninhabited. If you spend two or three days on tours around the country, you’ll leave feeling like you truly experienced so much more than you would in a larger country. If you don’t have time for lengthy vacation, Iceland is the perfect destination. (Also, the flight is under five hours!)

Geysir, Haukadalsvegur, Iceland

Geysir in Haukadalsvegur

It’ll be difficult to return to the United States in a few short hours, but I feel fortunate to have carved out a few days to visit such an incredible place after a stressful whirlwind of a year. It’s hard to not feel rejuvenated after looking at our transient, ever-changing world from far away for a few days—I hope you’ll all get the same chance.

Liked this post? Check out these posts on where to eat, what to pack, and more Iceland travel advice!

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37 Comments

  1. Reply

    Anonymous

    November 16, 2016

    looks and sounds like such an amazing trip! i would love to go someday!

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      Thank you so much!! You have to go!

  2. Reply

    Anna

    November 16, 2016

    This looks amazing! Iceland wasn’t on my bucket list before but now, it totally is!

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      Thank you, Anna 🙂 Definitely add it to your list, it’s seriously stunning!

  3. Reply

    Jamie-Lynn

    November 16, 2016

    Looks beautiful! My first business was as a home-based travel agent (which ultimately, I stopped doing) but I sent some clients there in July and they loved it as much as you seem to have! Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      Thank you!! You must have some great insights into where to go!

  4. Reply

    Rose

    November 16, 2016

    Stunning photos! I’d love to visit someday. Thanks for sharing the details of your trip! You’ve put together a great resource.

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      Thank you so much, that means a lot! Absolutely go, it’s SO worth it, and check back here when you do – I’ll be posting a packing list, restaurant recommendations & more helpful tips!

  5. Reply

    Annette

    November 16, 2016

    I love your post and these pictures! I am definitely going to pin this to my travel board. Iceland is on my bucket list. 🙂

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      Thank you!! DEFINITELY go, it’s so worth it!

  6. Reply

    Justine Smith

    November 16, 2016

    Iceland looks gorgeous! Your blog has definitely convinced me that I need to visit!

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      I’m so happy to hear that – thank you!!

  7. Reply

    Angela J. Ford

    November 16, 2016

    What lovely photos, it’s great to see how different the landscape is from what I’m used to. It looks like a lovely adventure and I look forward to exploring Iceland one day!

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      Thank you, Angela! I loved that too – such a different kind of beauty than we see every day!

  8. Reply

    Katja

    November 16, 2016

    Such beautiful photos. Looks like you guys had an amazing trip. I’m super jealous of your visit to Iceland and even more determined to get there myself, pronto! 😊
    Katja xxx
    http://www.katnapped.com

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      Thank you, Katja!! It truly was an amazing trip, even for just a few days – such a lovely country!

  9. Reply

    Anonymous

    November 16, 2016

    Wow! Gorgeous photos! Vesturgata looks beautiful!

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      Thanks!! It’s definitely one of the most scenic streets in the downtown area!

  10. Reply

    Kitty

    November 17, 2016

    Such a wonderful place 😍

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      It really is! Thank you 🙂

  11. Reply

    Jasmin N

    November 17, 2016

    I definitely need to visit Iceland some day soon! I can’t believe that I haven’t been to there before, even though it’s pretty close from where I live haha 😀 Next summer/fall it is!

    ~ Jasmin N
    Little Things With Jassy
    Bloglovin’

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      Hi! Yup, the flight is only 5 hours from Boston, so it’s just a hop, skip & a jump away from you guys – you have to go!!

  12. Reply

    Karoliina Kazi

    November 17, 2016

    Iceland is of a dream of mine and we have been talking of maybe visiting next year. Your post has so many amazing ideas and tips – I will definitely bookmark it. Beautiful pictures!

    xo Karoliina | http://www.karoliinakazi.com

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      Thank you!! YES you have to go – it’s so scenic, no matter where you turn!

  13. Reply

    Tina

    November 17, 2016

    Wow wow wow! This looks amazing!!! Iceland was never on my wishlist but this looks so good!

    Thanks a lot for sharing this long weekend trip!

    Much Love, Tina

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      Thanks, Tina – you’re so welcome! Hope you get to see it someday 🙂

  14. Reply

    Amy | Toothbrush Travels

    November 17, 2016

    Can’t imagine how you must be feeling with the election results, it shocked us all across the globe. Iceland looks absolutely stunning though and your photos capture it beautifully x

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      Thank you, Amy!! Honestly, it was such a surreal week – being away from the U.S. in the immediate aftermath and seeing it all happen from afar was both stressful and a relief. I was so glad to be in such a beautiful place, though – that helped a lot!

  15. Reply

    Sarah

    November 17, 2016

    Iceland is a beautiful country, am hoping to travel there in 2017 or 2018!

  16. Reply

    Maikel

    November 18, 2016

    This must be such a great place to visit! Iceland is really high on my to go list. I simply love the entire atmosphere

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      Thanks, Maikel! I do, too – it’s very Scandinavian, while looking like nowhere else on earth. I loved it, hope you get to go too!

  17. Reply

    Kait

    November 18, 2016

    Iceland looks amazing. I loved the photo of the houses with grass roofs! So cute!

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      Thank you!! I loved them too 😉 So quaint!

  18. Reply

    Ailie

    November 19, 2016

    Love this. Wow. Iceland is now on my to – travel list. I love your photos

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      November 19, 2016

      Thanks Ailie!! Definitely go if you get the chance, it’s amazing!

  19. Reply

    Sakura

    November 21, 2016

    I’ve wanted to travel there for a while now and this just makes me want to go there even more! Maybe next year.

    • Reply

      robin@featherflint.com

      December 1, 2016

      It had been on my list for awhile too, so when I had a week off in between jobs and saw the deal on airfare, I jumped on the chance! Hope you get to go soon, too!!

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