My husband and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary with an AMAZING trip to Iceland! We heard it was a great destination – so much to do there and a quick flight from Boston – so decided to go for it! We went mid-September and the weather was nearly picture perfect. It was sunny and still warm, with just one afternoon of rain and wind. Even the locals were telling us how lucky we were for the nice days we had. We booked the trip through Kensington Tours and everything was top-notch. Some people go to Iceland to be rustic adventurers, but we liked balancing the outdoor “adventure” activities with staying in a city hotel and using a guide!
To Stay: We loved the Canopy by Hilton. The room was spacious and modern, a fantastic breakfast buffet was included each day, the employees were all very friendly and helpful, and the building itself is just super cool. They combined multiple buildings into one hotel, so it sprawls and has different elements in different places.
The Blue Lagoon is amaaaaazing. We went immediately after getting off our red-eye flight, and that timing was perfect. We decided to upgrade to The Retreat Spa, which was brand new in 2018. It’s a four-hour entry and you get a private changing room with shower and access to the private lagoon and all the treatments that go with it. Such an amazing experience! It was the ultimate in relaxation – not a detail I didn’t love. And on The Retreat side there will never be a crowd because the changing rooms create a limit to how many people can be there at once. I would go back here in a heartbeat!
We booked a private driver for a full day of sightseeing. We went from Reykjavik to Pingvellir, where the North American and European tectonic plates meet, and home of the oldest Parliament in the world. Next up was Gullfoss, the golden waterfall, which was simply stunning. From there our Super Jeep went up onto the nearby Langjokull glacier, which was incredible! We got out and walked around to take it all in. They call Iceland the land of fire and ice and this was literally a glacier with giant black volcanoes sitting at the bottom of it – incredible to see. We headed off the glacier and onto our final stop, which was all about the geysers. Strokkur is a geyser that erupts every 5-10 minutes, so it was awesome to see. The geysers are set in a cool area that you could hike around and get some awesome views from. Our non-official final stop was at a volcano. Our driver loved his Super Jeep, so he literally drove up the rim of this volcano to get us views from the top. It was not for the faint of heart! I can’t tell you where this was, but I will say we were so grateful to our guide, Luli. He couldn’t have been nicer and went above and beyond our expectations. Iceland is not cheap, but having a guide to tell you SO MUCH about the country and take you to the lesser known sites was worth every penny and then some! We used private drivers all four days we were there and learned a ton from them.
Another day, another tour by a wonderful guide, this time Karolina. (And some of those roads are no joke – hairpin turns with sheer drops off to the side – we were very happy to be passengers instead of drivers!) The southern coast has more amazing waterfalls. We saw Seljalandsfoss, which you can hike behind the falls, Skogafoss, which you can climb stairs up to the top next to it, and Urridafoss, which is not tall like the others, but off the beaten path so there were no other tourists there! We signed up for an ATV tour of the black sand beaches which was SO cool. And pretty legit, I think we hit 45mph cruising on the beach. That is, when we weren’t riding through riverbeds and over rocky paths! We also stopped at the site of the US Naval plane crash on the beach, which was fun to see. Next up was Reynisfjara, where the huge basalt columns rise up along the beach. They’re incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it. Finally, our guide took us to a little sea town to have a dinner of traditional icelandic lobsters. What a day!
Our final day was spent enjoying the city. The must-see was Hallgrimskirkja, the largest church in Iceland, and it’s views from the top. We also walked along the waterfront, where you can find the very modern, very cool Harpa Hall and the viking boat statue. A final trip down Laugavegar with a stop for snacks and tea before heading to the airport.