People would ask me “Where are you going for your honeymoon?” and I knew what they were envisioning: warm beaches, swimsuits, and umbrella drinks. Then I’d answer them: “Iceland!”
We went to Iceland in mid-October for our honeymoon. Yes, it’s cold there, but not crazy-cold. Temps in mid-October were around 40F, so we were quite comfortable in jeans and jackets. We flew IcelandAir nonstop from Boston to Reykjavik (the capital), which took only about five hours, and arrived at 7:00am, while it was still dark. At that time of year, the sun comes up around 9:00, so it’s perfect for sleeping late! The Hilton Nordica let us check in very early, and we got a nice long nap before starting our day of sightseeing.
The downtown area was quaint, with lots of shops selling sweaters and scarves, and some decent food. It was easy to find parking, and the whole area was very walkable. We also drove to Perlan (The Pearl) to enjoy the sweeping views. Admission for the views is free, and they also have a snack bar and gift shop. There’s a highly-rated restaurant on the top floor for dinner, where reservations are recommended.
The town, shops and the architecture were not the main reasons we chose Iceland as our destination. We wanted to enjoy the natural scenery, and hopefully see the Northern Lights. We booked a tour with Discover Iceland to go out “light hunting” on our very first night.
Our guide picked us up at our hotel in an all-terrain Pathfinder, with the license plate that said “FUN”, and we knew we were in for a good time! We drove out past the city lights and straight up a mountainside, so we could get a look at the city in the nighttime. What a cool view!
Then we went driving around in the darkest countryside, in search of the Northern Lights. Alas, it was a very cloudy night, and they were hard to find. We DID see them, but the pictures didn’t turn out as good as they were in person. Our guide did a great job, though, and then he got us back to our hotel around 1:00am for some much-needed rest.
Our next day’s adventure was driving the “Golden Circle”. There are tours that will take you, but it’s totally do-able on your own as well, if you have rented a car. This route takes you through some of the most interesting landscapes you could imagine!
Some places look like a moonscape:
And in some places, the shifting tectonic plates have pushed the rocks straight up through the ground, forming gullies and waterfalls:
There are places where the volcanic activity is so close to the surface, steam pours out of the ground:
And even shoots geysers far into the air!
And then there’s the Gulfoss Waterfall, which is enormous and amazing. Look on the far left, and you’ll see the six-foot-wide trail that leads you to the falls.
On our final full day, we opted to do another tour with Discover Iceland and go visit one of Iceland’s glaciers. Our guide picked us up in the FUN-machine again, and we were on our way:
We stopped to pet Icelandic horses, which are very friendly and Oh So Fluffy, on our way:
We also saw several more amazing waterfalls, and learned that most of the energy for Iceland is generated either by hydroelectric or geothermal. It’s a great place to learn more about sustainable energy!
You can’t reach the Eyjafjallajokull glacier (which sits atop the volcano that erupted and caused many cancelled flights in Europe in 2010) without an all-terrain vehicle. Our guide took us through many creek crossings, around huge boulders, and across dry beds of volcanic ash left from the eruption. We walked the last half-mile or so, and then we got to touch a glacier!
We ended our trip with a nighttime swim at the Blue Lagoon, which is a beautiful geothermal heated pool, and a fantastic experience!
Iceland is a wonderful place to experience. It’s an easy flight from the US, and the people speak English in addition to Icelandic. You could spend a week and not run out of fantastic things to see and do! If you’d like to plan your adventure to Iceland, or somewhere closer to home, please contact me for all your travel planning needs!