Although there are only a few areas with ice in the county, Iceland has to be one place in the world that people seem to overlook or only go to for a weekend at the blue lagoon and not bother explore what this absolutely gorgeous county has to offer. Iceland has quickly become one of my favourite countries ever. The freezing temperatures were not enough to scare me off. From the stunning black sand beaches to gigantic floating icebergs, I want to reveal some of Iceland’s hidden gems that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
I visited Iceland in December 2017 with my travel buddy Sophie. We hired a car to make our way around the island. This was the only option as the only public transport available are in the larger cities. We spent the first couple of nights in Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik. The city is rather unusual, not like a city at all really. To be honest, Reykjavik doesn’t portray Iceland’s natural beauty that starts only at 20-minute drive away. The people are very friendly and speak very good English, which made moving about the city very easy. The city has plenty of hostels or hotels so there is bound to be one that will take your fancy. One of the main attractions within Reykjavik is the Viking longboat called Sólfar (The Sun Voyager). This landmark sits on the waterfront and is constructed from stainless steel and stands on a granite circle. Also found within the city is Hallgrímskirkja church. This enormous concrete building is one of the most popular sites within the city, and due to it being one of the tallest buildings in Iceland, it can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Inside this church is unbelievable. The massive interior is beautifully designed with a gorgeous big organ as you walk in the door.
During our time in Iceland these places have to be my all-time favourite and should definitely be on everyone’s list:
- Reynisfjara was my favourite place. The gorgeous black sand beach with amazing basalt columns overlooking. The beach looks out onto the Reynisdrangur sea stacks. The locals tell tales of how these sea stacks came to be, many believe they were once trolls that got caught trying to steal and the sun had turned them to stone.
- Jöskulsárlón is one of Iceland’s most magical experiences. This glacier lagoon is full with astonishing, sparkly, light blue icebergs. We were even lucky enough to see seals bobbing their heads out of the water a few times.
- Goðafoss is a stunning waterfall that is also known as the waterfall of the Gods. And when you visit it, you’ll soon understand why. This waterfall thunders down through a massive lava field. Even though it is not Iceland biggest waterfall, it is definitely the most breath-taking.
- Búðakirkja is a tiny old, black timber church. Sitting high on a hill, with an amazing view, this cute little church has certainly got some character. It is located on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in West-Iceland and dates back to the 1700s.
- Just offshore in North-West Iceland, stands the magnificent Hvítserkur sea-stack. Shaped like a dragon drinking, this large volcanic plug is all that’s left of what was once a large volcano.
- On the Snæfellsnes Peninsula stands the protector of the peninsula, Bárður Snæfellsás. This massive stone structure at Arnarstapi comes with a tale. Bárður is half troll, half man who came to Iceland in the 9th. His father was the King of giants and his mother was a human. He gave the peninsula it’s name. The story of how he became a well known Icelandic tale is long so I won’t dwell on it. Just behind the structure there is a platform that looks out over the sea and Gatklettue, which is an arched rock. Gatklettue is beautiful basalt columns which has formed into a cave on another one of Iceland’s beautiful black sand beaches.
The highlight of the trip was most definitely sitting in a hot tub, in our hostel in Hvolsvöllur watching the northern lights. It was a surreal experience, but unfortunately my camera skills were not up to scratch and it looked like a green worm squirming across my screen.
Driving in Iceland is fairly easy. The only time we really had bother was when we got stuck in a snow blizzard, moving not even 10km/h for a good few hours. It was pretty scary and not like anything we had ever experienced before, but let’s just say we were both glad of the 4WD we had hired. Because of this snow storm, we ended up getting stuck an extra night in Höfn and ended up having to turn and go back the however many km we had just endured. But I suppose that’s what you get when you decided to go in the middle of winter to a place notorious for snow and ice.
There are many, many more places I would highly recommend visiting whilst in Iceland, but I would be here forever if I was to tell you about them. So, you’re just going to have to visit this magnificent country and let it show you just how gorgeous it really is.
Thanks for reading,
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