Tag Archives: #Reykjavik

Iceland – Finishing up our tour in Reykjavik

Wow, what a trip. After traveling 45 countries, Iceland is definitely in the top 5.

After a restful night in Northern Iceland, we awoke to a beautiful sunrise.

Our last stop before Reykjavik was the Hraunfossar & Barnafoss Waterfalls in West Iceland, believed to have formed in about 800 AD just before settlers arrived in Iceland. The falls are formed by surface water and melting glaciers that run between lava layers, giving the water a silky light blue hue.

Making it to Reykjavik, we headed straight to the most visited geothermal baths in Iceland, the famed Blue Lagoon.

Just prior to Lesly taking this picture, Danny photo-bombed us hard:

Imagine soaking your bones in heated volcanic water and bellying up to the water bar when you feel like a cocktail. You can even get a mud mask if you want a little extra face relaxation.

We had 2 days in Reykjavik so we took advantage of this time with a walking city tour then continued on by exploring the city on our own. The largest church in Iceland is located here, a Lutheran church named Hallgrímskirkja. It took 41 years to construct the church and it was designed to to resemble the trap rocks, mountains and glaciers of Iceland’s landscape.

The inside of the church is equally impressive with a huge organ.

Next to the church is Einnars Jonnsonar Museum, open year round and free. There are over 20 sculptures with thought provoking poses like this one, a man drinking milk from a cow udder. Strange.

There were interesting murals around town. I recently found a website with pictures of lots more murals in Reykjavik, see it here.

I love the varying architecture around town, it’s a mix of styles.

In terms of food, one of the most iconic street vendors is Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, serving up Icelandic hot dogs, one of the staples of the local diet. It was not my cup of tea but I had to try it.

The best place we ate in Reykjavik was Caruso, an Italian restaurant in the center of town. If you are staying overnight here, I highly recommend it.

In terms of breakfast, you must try to the cinnamon buns at Brauð & Co — they melt in your mouth. We liked them so much, we visited twice.

If you have extra time in Reykjavik, visit the Flyover Iceland attraction that utilizes state-of-the-art technology to give you the feeling of flight as you virtually soar of sweeping glaciers, stunning fjords and the most iconic Icelandic landscapes — many of which we personally visited in our 11 days.

You hang suspended, feet dangling, before a huge spherical screen while the film takes you on an exhilarating journey across Iceland. Special effects, including wind, mist and scents, combine with the ride’s motion to create an unforgettable experience.

We also visited the Magic Ice Bar, this is a fun way to experience a cocktail.

We wound down at sunset in the Sky Bar overlooking the Reykjavik Bay.

As fate would have it, we experienced the Northern Lights for a 4th and final time in Reykjavik. Not as spectacular as we had previously seen while out in the countryside but impressive just the same.

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Iceland Days 1/2 – Reykjavik and the Golden Circle

Our first international trip post-COVID was Iceland — a picturesque country located in the Arctic. For years, we’ve dreamed of seeing the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and hoped visiting Iceland in October would give us a good chance. So where exactly is Iceland? It’s north of North America, just east of Greenland and is about the size of Pennsylvania:

Globe Drifters arranged the 11 day tour and we traveled with 7 others from Florida, Boston and the West Coast. Our guide was a charismatic, funny, and knowledgeable Icelander with Viking heritage and our travel mates were fun, energetic and well-traveled.

Iceland is so beautiful, it can’t be summed up in a single blog so you will see a number of blogs flowing over the next few weeks where I try to encapsulate our amazing journey. All pictures where taken with my iPhone 13 Pro — I’m not sure my Nikon camera would have done any better.

Day 1 – The Snæfellsnes Peninsula

We arrived in Reykjavik a day early to let our bodies adjust to the new time zone and took advantage of the first free day to tour a section of the island not covered by our tour (the peninsula directly north of Reykjavik called Snæfellsnes).

Leaving Reykjavik, we noticed towering snow capped mountains and steaming geothermal waterways. Reykjavik means “bay of smoke” and was named by Ingolfur Arnason and his wife — the first Norse settlers of Iceland.

Driving north towards the peninsula, you notice coastal mountainous countryside with tall flowing waterfalls, yet void of trees. Initially Iceland had lots of trees but the Viking settlers took them down to build homes and to clear the land for sheep, cattle and horses to graze.

We took a quick stop at a beach and made our way to an Icelandic farm for a home-cooked meal of lamb, fresh fish and vegetables.

The farmer had Icelandic horses, sheep and a few crops. Icelandic horses were brought over by the Vikings and are not mixed with other breeds. They have thick hair, flowing manes and a unique gait that prevents bounciness to the rider. We stopped and petted some of the horses, they were tame and curious.

From here, we stopped by a quaint black church and saw graves dating back to the early 1800s.

Next stop was Arnarstapi, a village on the southern side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, once a fishing hub and now a place for travelers to enjoy a hike along the Icelandic coastline.

After a short hike, we drove to our first black sand beach at Djupalonssandur surrounded by lava rocks and dune lakes.

We ended our day in Gjaldskylda at a couple of waterfalls where a few scenes of Game of Thrones were filmed.

Day 2 – The Golden Circle

The next day, we met our Viking tour guide Stefano and our 7 travel mates, then hit the road for the Golden Circle. Stefano was dressed in combat fatigues with an imposing look and menacing laugh. In just a few days, his kind charismatic demeanor, stories of Icelandic life and history had the entire group captivated and by the end of the trip most of the women and some of the men were swooning over him.

Starting in Reykjavik, we drove along this route of the Golden Circle:

The Golden Circle is the most famous of all scenic routes and for many is the only section of Iceland they will see. The Globe Drifters tour had the Golden Circle as the starting point but we saw the entire island and experienced stunning landmarks and historically significant places.

Our first stop was Þingvellir National Park, where 2 continents adjoin. You can walk along the tectonic plates. This is also where Vikings established the world’s first democratic parliament more than 1,000 years ago, you can learn more about it from a museum located here.

Daring travelers can snorkel between the tectonic plates. The picture below is courtesy of Blue Car Rental.

Heading further east, we stopped by a geothermal valley called Haukadalur. If you’ve visited Yellowstone National Park in the USA, you will not be impressed as it is not quite “old faithful” but beautiful still.

I was not able to catch a good picture of the most active geyser, the picture below is from the Guide to Iceland website.

Our next stop was at the impressive Gullfoss waterfall.

We capped off day 2 at the Secret Lagoon, a geothermal bath with relaxing and healing hot water.

I’ll leave you with one final picture of the picturesque black church — keep an eye out for upcoming blogs that go deeper into our Iceland trip.

Interested in Seeing More?

See more of our Iceland blogs here.

Want to Connect?

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You can subscribe to this blog by placing your email in the top right area of the page.