“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes,” cried out our ATV tour guide, Christian, as we hopped on our ATV’s in search of the Northern Lights. If you’re thinking of taking a trip to Iceland during the winter, then make sure you’re dressed for the weather; the last thing you want is to miss out on the gorgeous landscape and beautiful sights due to being unprepared.

My friends and I decided to kick off 2018 in Iceland and even though everyone thought we were insane for visiting during the middle of winter, it was actually incredible!

Iceland has been at the top of my bucket list for a while now and when I finally bit the bullet and decided to go, I definitely wanted to make the most of my trip and attempt to tackle every tour/adventure/excursion on my list.

Below was my itinerary:

Day 1 – NYE Dinner and celebration in the city

Day 2 – Explore Reykjavik/recovery day

Day 3 – Golden Circle Tour + Snowmobiles

Day 4 – Helicopter Tour + Walking Tour

Day 5 – Horse back riding + Blue Lagoon + Chase the Northern Lights on ATV’s

Day 6 – South Coast Tour

Day 7 – Shopping + Depart

Day 1 – NYE Dinner and Celebration in Reykjavik

We landed in Iceland on December 31st, exhausted from our travels but excited to explore this foreign country. After a few hours of getting settled into our Airbnb, we walked over to Laekjarbrekka (an easy way to pronounce this is, “like Rebecca”) for our NYE dinner.

The quaint restaurant had fantastic food and impeccable service. I definitely recommend ordering the lobster soup and the slow cooked lamb shank.

After dinner, we decided to walk around the city center and pop into random bars and restaurants to get a feel for Reykjavik and it’s surroundings. Celebrating the new year in a foreign country is always a lot of fun!

Day 2 – Explore Reykjavik + Recovery Day

The following day was spent recovering from our NYE celebration and getting ready for the rest of the week. Honestly, having a recovery day after traveling and celebrating was a smart decision on our part; we all needed that day of rest.

Day 3 – Golden Circle Tour + Snowmobiles

We kicked off our excursions with a tour of The Golden Circle. The Golden Circle consists of three stunning locations in southwest Iceland: Þingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall. These sites are renowned across the world and are all as spectacular as they are unique. None of them is further than a two hour drive from Reykjavik and all three can be visited within a day.

As if the Golden Circle wasn’t excitement enough, I wanted to snowmobile through the Icelandic highlands and glaciers so after our stop to see the Geysir, we jumped into that massive super Jeep below and took a little detour to the top of Langjökull for a snowmobile tour on the snow cap.

Don’t get me wrong, the sights are gorgeous on their own but snowmobiling and being able to see them at high speeds was breathtaking and such a great experience.

After our snowmobile escapade, we made the final stop on the Golden Circle, the stunning Gullfoss waterfall. Gullfoss waterfall was hands down, the coldest stop during our entire trip and breathtaking!

Day 4 – Helicopter Tour + Walking Tour

I have a slight obsession with helicopters and I had to get an aerial view of Iceland so we went over to Norðurflug and jumped into one of their helicopters for the mountain helicopter tour with a summit landing.

We flew over Reykjavik, learned about it’s surroundings, and saw countless craters! Half way through our flight, we took a break and landed on Mt. Esja to take in the views and enjoy a glass of champagne (or two).

After the helicopter tour, we explored the city on foot and took in the views from atop Hallgrimskirkja, walked across the frozen Lake Tjörnin, grabbed a bite at Icelandic Fish & Chips, and had the best White Russian I’ve ever had in my entire life from The Lebowski Bar!

Day 5 – Horse back riding + Blue Lagoon + Chase the Northern Lights on ATV’s

The Icelandic horse is small by comparison and came to Iceland by way of Norway over 1100 years ago! These horses, referred to as “Icelandic,” are known for being sure-footed and able to cross rough terrain.

They also have two gaits in addition to the standard walk, trot, and canter/gallop commonly displayed by other breeds. The first additional gait is a four-beat lateral ambling gait called tölt. Tölt is known for its explosive acceleration and speed; it’s also comfortable and ground-covering.

The second pace is called skeið, or “flying pace”. Skeið is used in pacing races, and is fast and smooth, with some horses able to reach up to 50 km/h (30 mph).

We took the Icelandic horses on an unforgettable ride through Mosfellsdalur and watched the sun rise. The views were spectacular!

The staff at Laxness Farm was extremely hospitable, they provided all necessary gear, and the horses are so sweet and friendly. We even found out that a few of the horses at the farm were used on Game of Thrones!!!

After our morning ride, we hopped over to the Blue Lagoon for some much needed R&R. And let’s be real, a trip to Iceland wouldn’t be complete without making a stop to this iconic destination!

Sure it was 30°F but the water was hot AF. The water in the geothermal pool begins its way up from 2,000 meters below earth’s surface, where freshwater and seawater combine at extremely high temperatures. It boasts itself a warm 100.4°F, making it a comfortable and pleasing dip in 38°F weather. The water is actually white, and its blueish color comes from the way the sunlight reflects upon it, and the steam around it. Hence, you see some different hues in the pictures above.

As if our day wasn’t adventurous enough, we spent the night chasing the Northern Lights on ATV’s! Our guide was awesome and we were able to see a little bit of the lights.

I learned that the Northern Lights are caused by electrically charged particles from the sun smashing into Earth’s magnetic field. This ‘solar wind’ is funneled down to the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres, creating a horseshoe-shape of excited green, red, and blue particles that swivel and shape-shift over the Arctic Circle — and they happen constantly. All you need is darkness and cloud-free skies to see them.

Unfortunately, the moon was extra bright the night that we decided to chase the lights so we had some light pollution affecting the visibility of the Northern Lights but we saw a bit of it none the less!

Day 6 – South Coast Tour

Omg our tour guide this day was fantastic, I can’t remember her name but she had the best stories and told us about different Icelandic folklore; she even sang us a few traditional Christmas songs!The South Coast was one of my favorite parts of this trip. The South Coast is a popular destination; it’s easy to reach from Reykjavik and it also offers many if not most of those iconic Icelandic experiences we all want to enjoy.

During this tour, we stopped to see Seljalandsfoss. The waterfall itself drops about 60 meters, but the most interesting aspect of Seljalandsfoss is the fact that visitors can walk behind it, offering a different perspective and plenty of chances to spot a rainbow.

Further up Route 1 is another popular waterfall, Skógafoss. This is one of the biggest waterfalls in the country, at a width of 82 feet and a drop of 200 feet. The spray from the waterfall is incredible, but it’s thanks to it that rainbows are also easy to see here. Next to Skógafoss is a hiking trail up to the top of the waterfall, offering amazing views down below.

We also stopped at Vik and Reynisfjara. I honestly thought Vik would be larger than it is, but it’s not the first time I’ve been fooled by the size of towns in Iceland. Vik is small, but it’s an important pit stop along Route 1 not because of this not-so-bustling community, but because of the natural landmarks surrounding it. The town is perhaps best known for the black sand beaches found along the shore, remnants of the volcanic history of this fiery country. While the beaches themselves are something extraordinary to see in person, at Reynisfjara you’ll find something a little extra special. Here are located some of the easiest to access and finest examples of basalt columns; hexagonal pillars formed by the cooling of lava.

Day 7 – Shopping + Depart

There is a very good reason why so many movies and TV shows film in Iceland, it feels like it was plucked straight from the pages of a fantasy novel. Iceland best encapsulates this otherworldly beauty, from the soaring verdant green cliffs dotted with sheep to the weird moss-covered boulders that cover hundreds of square miles and even to the volcanic deserts, devoid of life but not personality.

I highly recommend adding this magical destination to your list. These pictures don’t do it justice!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *