Iceland’s Golden Circle
It’s probably not too much of a surprise that we decided to make a stop through Iceland
on our way moving back to the States! We couldn’t resist since it was right on the way.
Though we were tired after the past weeks on the road + ready to get home, we stopped
for 4 days to get a taste of Iceland. We are so happy we did. Not only was it beautiful
and relaxing to be out in nature, it helped us have a pause in between the incredible
past few weeks traveling through Germany, Turkey, Greece, and Italy, stopping back
through Amsterdam to pack up in a frenzy, and going home. I am so happy we had a
few days on an island in the middle of nowhere to relax and end our Europe life on the
right note. We spent hours on the road, hiked through beautiful nature, and had time
to decompress a little bit before arriving back to the USA and transitioning to a new
chapter of life! We may have only seen a fraction of this place, but we loved what we saw.
With our few days here, I decided to keep it simple and just stick
to the “Golden Circle” route.
This is probably isn’t quite as adventurous as backpacking or
finding our own route, but with my 28-week pregnant self + after
all of our travels, it was just about perfect for what we wanted.
We covered about 3oo kilometres from Reykjavík into central Iceland and
back. We loved seeing the volcanic landscape, major waterfalls, glaciers,
geysers, lava fields, and more. It is a little bit touristy since it covers many of
the main sights of the country, but we enjoyed all of the stops and since it was
April it wasn’t too crowded yet. We are all about that off-season travel!
We rented from Lagoon Car Rental which was great. They shuttled us from the
airport right to their office a few minutes away, and we had the perfect car for Iceland, it was similar it to something like this 4×4 rental iceland.
There are a lot of rental companies to choose from, but this is a smaller local one we loved.
We hit the open road straight from there and began our journey!
It was late afternoon when we flew in, so we drove straight to our cabin rental
an hour and a half away. The drive was beautiful, and arriving to this cozy
cabin was the best part. This little village is called Minniborgir Cottages
and I wish we had been here with friends or family! The little cabins have
plenty of room + beds, they are cheap, and in a cool remote location.
I was snapping the inside of our cabin and got so many questions
back about where these were, because they feel so idyllic Iceland!
An evening storm rolled in just as we arrived, so we cuddled up and
watched the pretty sky before running over to dinner at the restaurant.
We were only here for one night, otherwise it would have been fun to cook!
The apple pie was the best part! ^^
The next morning we woke up early with the sun and headed on our way again.
The actual loop can be followed in a certain order, but we sort of split it up
depending where we were staying and did some things out of order. We headed
to Kerið volcanic crater lake, then down to see Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Vik’s
black sand beaches, and then looped back up the coast to stay at another great spot.
First stop: Kerið!
This volcanic crater lake is so stunning with the bright blue water
set against the red volcanic rock. You do have to pay a small fee to hike
around the edge, (I think it was about $5 each) but it was a really cool sight!
That red lava rock with moss makes for such a unique combo.
We continued down the coast to see two major waterfalls:
Seljalandsfoss (above), and Skógafoss (below!)
Skógafoss was probably more stunning just with the sheer size,
but at Seljalandsfoss you can hike behind it for some good views.
Both are cool, but our favorite waterfall came the next day!
Hello, rainbow! ^^
We balanced out the long car rides with plenty of little hikes at each stop.
Chase was embarrassed to be wearing sweats, haha but we were coming with
only carry-ons from our time in Italy and Greece so we weren’t the best
prepared with clothes (and his only pants may or may not have ripped… ;)
Me with baby girl (in my belly) at the waterfall! ^^
She was kicking lots here, so I think she liked it ;)
Back on the road with more amazing views coming at every turn ^^
As we continued our drive we made sure to stop for some Icelandic snacks.. Skyr yogurt is my dream come true (thick, amazing Icelandic yogurt, almost
like Greek yogurt but naturally sweeter.) The dried fish, not so much! ;) ^^We drove back along to the best hotel:
Hotel Rangá is an Icelandic dream! I think it’s definitely the nicest hotel
in Southern Iceland, but still feels rugged and remote. It reminded me of
staying at a fun ski lodge, but this time we were in the middle of Iceland!
I loved that right from the reception there was a giant polar bear
(I hate when animals are stuffed but this one had to be put down because
it was too dangerous for people…!) and there was an option during check-in
to sign up for the “northern lights viewing call list.” This means the hotel will
call your room if the northern lights are showing, and you go exploring to see them!
It didn’t happen for us as it’s the end of the viewing season and was just a bit too
cloudy, but I loved thinking we could get a phone call at 4 AM for an adventure one night.
Suits hanging in the hall, ready to be taken outside! ^^
The view of nature for miles out of our room door ^^
The highlight of Ranga was the food ^^ Incredible, fresh Icelandic fare in a gorgeous setting ^^
Don’t miss their famous Icelandic fish & chips ^^There are few things I love more than a steamed milk with honey after dinner!
The next morning brought more driving and adventuring!
Stretching out to get ready for the day! We headed to Geysir, which is just that – a big bubbling underground that
is actually the first geyser described in a printed source and within Europe!
Love that steam + bubbling water ^^
We watched with the crowd until the geyser spouted!
From there it was off to Gullfoss, our favorite of all! It’s a waterfall
running into the canyon of the Hvítá river. It’s so unique + stunning.
After exploring this amazing canyon waterfall (and getting soaked in mist),
we drove some more and ended up at our last Hotel Ork which had a
heated waterslide (Chase was so happy) as well as some fabulous food!We had salmon + steak + Icelandic skyr yogurt for dessert. Top notch everything!
I’m still dreaming of this goodness ^^
More explorations of Reykjavik + The Blue Lagoon coming next!
What a place!