Iceland has truly become a top of the charts, bucket list destination. Due to new 48-72 hour layovers for transatlantic travels, this place has exploded as the premier travel destination. Iceland is an incredible, natural spectacle. 90% of it’s population lives in the town of Reykjavik, making most of this island nation desolate and uninhabited. It sounds like an extreme country to visit, and it can be if you’re into back country hiking. But for the most part, everything you’ll want to see is within in walking distance from the sole highway, known as the Ring Road.
For sale on my Etsy store!
Day 1: Reykjavik
I started my morning at the beautiful Harpa Concert Hall near the wharf. This is an architectural beauty, that is popularly photographed and viral among social media.
Sjónarhorn – Points of View Museum
Just a short walk from the Harpa, is a small museum which hosts the cultural changes throughout Iceland’s history.
This is the largest cathedral in Iceland and a major landmark of this nation. The impressive size will attract you in, whether you knew about this place or not. Be sure to purchase a ticket to the top of the bell tower for a panoramic view of the city!
Leif Erikson Monument
This statue is in the front plaza of Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral. Erikson was an amazing explorer who was actually the first known European sailor to land in North America- 500 years before Columbus!
The Icelandic Phallological Museum
This museum has a large collection of penis’ from many species of the animal kingdom. The only one of it’s kind. Might as well, check it out… I mean, how many times will you have the chance to visit? It’s a little more scientific than comical, which I, as a science major, can appreciate.
This was a fun Viking history museum. It includes and audio tour through a wax figure maze of historical figures in Iceland. At the end, you can even dress up like an ancient Viking!
Puffin/Whale Watching Tour
I actually waited until the last day to go on a puffin tour, because I thought I was guaranteed to see at least one through my road trip around the island. I somehow, never spotted one. So, I gave in and purchased a boat tour to see some up close! Looking back, I wish I would have done the whale/puffin combo. I have been whale watching in the Monterey Bay many times, and didn’t even think that there are different species to discover in the Icelandic waters! Nonetheless, either tour will leave you extremely enthralled.
Solfar Sculpture (The Sun Voyager)
Our puffin tour lead us to the water’s edge where this sculpture sits. If you don’t plan on taking a boat tour (sad face), then visiting this after the Harpa is the most convenient when walking around Reykjavik.
Surprisingly, I discovered that Reykjavik had the best priced souvenirs. Also, surprisingly, Iceland is extremely expensive. I spent a lot of time in the stores, but didn’t find myself purchasing too many items. There are so many traditional items for sale throughout the country: wool jackets, wool covered soap on a rope, fur hats, and ram’s horn mugs, etc. While wool can be produced humanely, it’s always best to avoid purchasing other animal products- especially fur! 😥
Day Two: Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park holds all of which you came to Iceland to see: geysers, (ancient) volcano craters, waterfalls, mud pits, and the Silfa Fissure- where the North America tectonic Plate meets the European tectonic plate. Snorkel and diving tours for the Silfa Fissure must be booked in advanced. This park is also called the Golden Circle, because you can find all of the sites right off the road. Unlike the Ring Road, you can make a wrong turn. So, make sure you have a map before entering.
For sale on my Etsy store!
Day Three: South Iceland
On your last day in Iceland, treat yourself to a spa day. This natural geothermal hot spring can reach temperatures over 100 degrees, even in the dead of winter. If you’re really in need of relaxation, book a massage or extra facial treatment during your trip! For more tips, see my post on visiting the Blue Lagoon!
Iceland’s most popular waterfall! This is known as the best because you can take a very beaten path behind the waterfall itself! Don’t forget your rain gear for this one! You will get wet!
Skogafoss is a massive waterfall! You can walk right up to the falls on the gravel path. This is also an easy place to stop for lunch, with two restaurants and a souvenir shop.
There are a few ways to explore this glacier tongue. I skipped the tours and just hiked in and out. However, you can book a glacier hike where you hike on top of the glacier in fancy spiked boots. You can also take an ATV tour up to part of the glacier.
Vik, Black Sand Beach
Possibly, Iceland’s most photographed location. This beautiful black sand beach is one for the books. A few miles before the beach access, is a trail which leads to a downed plane, another popular tourist attraction. This requires a few miles of hiking, however. Since the sun barely sets in the summer, there is plenty of daylight for late night exploring. Just keep in mind that Vik is about 2 1/2 hours from Reykjavik (and 2 hours from the airport), when planning your trip home.
While driving around, you will find turf houses, lupine fields, sheep and horse pastures. I don’t believe there are any specific ones that people visit… but like I said, everything is off the side of the highway, you won’t miss it! If you are interested in taking a full road trip around the Ring Road, check out my 8 day itinerary!
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