Iceland: Heaven on Earth

When my sister suggested we visit Iceland, I initially wondered what we would do there. Our sister trips traditionally involved beaches, cocktails, and dressing up. However, after booking our tickets and planning our itinerary, I was pleasantly surprised by what Iceland had to offer. The country is about the size of Ohio, making it easy to navigate (they even drive on the right side of the road!). With several itineraries reviewed on TripAdvisor, we planned a 5-6 day summer trip, which is doable. Since it was nearly 24 hours of daylight, we didn’t see the Northern Lights, so my itinerary doesn’t include tips for that, but I found this post helpful for those interested.

Most itineraries recommend 70% of the same attractions, and here’s the list I chose from. Many suggest staying in Reykjavik and taking day trips, as most attractions are within 2-3 hours of the city. This approach allows you to experience the country without too much redundancy.

1. The Blue Lagoon
Iceland’s #1 tourist attraction, the Blue Lagoon, is a must-see. The architecture, connection with nature, and origins of the geothermal seawater create a unique experience. Day passes start at $90+, so budget 3-4 hours for a visit. If possible, stay a night at the Silica Hotel on the property. You’ll have access to both the Blue Lagoon and private lagoons. The contemporary hotel, nestled among volcanic rock formations, offers amazing rooms. See more photos and reviews here.

2. South Coast Tour
Tourism is Iceland’s greatest economic driver, resulting in excellent tour packages. Our South Coast Tour included a comfortable bus with Wi-Fi, well-timed stops, and a variety of sights. Highlights included breathtaking waterfalls, the black sand beach, and a glacier visit. Tour guides are well-versed in history and folklore, making the journey interesting and fun.

3. Downtown Reykjavik
While many food tours are available, I’d skip them unless you’re a foodie. Downtown Reykjavik is small and easily walkable by American standards. Popular stops include Rainbow Street, Hallgrimskirkja (the largest church in the country), Harpa Concert Hall, and more. The food scene is surprisingly progressive, with vegan/vegetarian options at every restaurant. One must-visit spot is The Bookstore, a bar that doubles as a bookstore with a great house band performing 3-hour sets from 8-11 PM.

4. Glacier Tours
There are various glacier tours available—by boat, foot, super jeep, or snowmobile. The weather in Iceland can change quickly, so our initial glacier and ice cave walk was canceled. We rescheduled for a snowmobile tour, which offered fun and amazing views.

5. Friðheimar Tomato Farm
A popular tourist stop, Friðheimar Tomato Farm, is easy to visit if you’ve rented a car. This unique restaurant is housed in a greenhouse that grows tomatoes year-round. The food is delicious; they even offer tomato beer and ice cream! It’s a short stop but worth it.

After much research, we stayed at the Reykjavik Edition Hotel. With water on one side and the city on the other, it’s centrally located for downtown sites. The rooms are spacious, the on-site restaurant is excellent, and the overall experience is luxurious (it is so nice we stayed here for multiple nights). We also spent a night at the ION Adventure Hotel, which was designed to view the Northern Lights. Located in a remote area, it’s ideal for adventure-based tours like glacier hikes and biking. We stayed at the Silica Hotel (pictures below) on our last night and ate dinner at the famous LAVA Restaurant located on the Blue Lagoon property (the best meal I ate in Iceland). The Silica hotel is just simply magical, 10/10 recommend.

There were several activities we didn’t get to do, such as snorkeling between tectonic plates and boating among glaciers. However, I plan to return someday to see the Northern Lights anyway.

All in all, Iceland is an easy-to-visit country rich in culture and beautiful landscapes. I was truly surprised by how much I loved our trip (we were there during an active volcano eruption, just wow!). I hope this post was helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at [email protected].

See some of my other travel posts here.

Your Chick,