If you’ve been following this blog for a while, then you know already: I freaking love Iceland. “Magical,” which is often the word I use to describe this country, barely even begins to describe how stunning it is. Iceland is an absolute dream so when people ask me for advice on where to go, I let them know there truly is no wrong place to go. There is no town to visit, no road you can turn down, no random stop by the side of the road, and no hike up to a viewpoint that is anything short of breathtaking.
It seems that more and more people are heading off to this amazing country, and I know that saying, “Go anywhere, you’ll love it!” isn’t exactly the most helpful advice. This summer I revisited Iceland and here were five of my favorite places that absolutely made the trip.
Northern Iceland really captured my heart during my first trip, and this visit was no different. There’s a lot to do in the area, from exploring the Dimmuborgir lava fields to Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall. The adorable little city of Akureyri also has a charming downtown area filled with enticing restaurants and bars.
I honestly can’t imagine a trip to Iceland without going to the Mývatn Nature Baths, so it was a big deciding factor in the itinerary. My dream was soaking there under the midnight sun, and I came about as close as you can get (they technically close the pool off to people 15 minutes before midnight). Nothing compares to shivering your way over to the entrance ramp and slowly submerging your body in the toasty aquamarine waters of the lagoon.
Images of Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon had littered my Pinterest feed for over a year before my trip, but it still didn’t take away from seeing it in person. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful. Although it’s a little removed from Reykjavik, the spot is otherwise pretty easy to reach (in the summer, at least) and too damn pretty. Take your time here to explore every nook and cranny, and if the weather isn’t too chilly you can even sit down and enjoy a picnic like I did. Fjaðrárgljúfur is halfway between the black sand beaches of Vik and the glacial lake called Jökulsárlón, making for a pretty rad south Iceland itinerary.
And while I don’t often go too deep into my personal life, I can attest that this is a pretty unbeatable location to get engaged (yes, really 🙂 ). So if you want yo’ girl to say yes, take her here.
For whatever reason, when I first looked up the Westfjords online I was less than intrigued, but I’m so glad I gave it a chance. The Westfjords are only visited by 14% of the tourists that go to Iceland, and understandably so—it’s rather remote and the roads in the winter, while drivable, are certainly not for the faint of heart.
For some serious untouched-by-man type of nature, this is the place to go. Driving around here will take far longer than you expect, both because the roads curve in and around the fjords and because you’ll want to stop every few hundred feet to take photos. Because I had limited time my trip involved flying into Ísafjörður rather than driving many days to it, but I know people who have spent a week or more dedicated to traveling by campervan through this beautiful region of Iceland.
Heydalur is pretty much the most non-resort resort you’ll ever find. The beauty of the Westfjords is right outside your doorstep, the food in their restaurant is crazy good (tasty veggie options, too), they offer activities like kayaking and horseback riding (of which I did both), and they have a natural hot pot. Pretty much it was heaven on earth and I never wanted to leave.
I spent about three days here and it was an absolute wonderland. Iceland is not known for being the most affordable destination, but Heydalur was actually the least expensive option I found among this section of the Westfjords and everything—from the scenery to the service—blew me away. They also offer camping options rather than rooms for those looking to save some money on lodging. So if you’re lucky enough to make it to the Westfjords, book yourself a couple of nights for some serious R&R.
Purple Lupine Fields in South Iceland
Driving around Iceland in the winter was so different than my most recent experience in the summer. Most of the landscape in winter is snow snow snow, so you can imagine my delight when looking out the car window to see flowers flowers flowers. Purple lupines for days! Seriously, these lovely flowers are everywhere, although I saw the most of them when driving around the southern part of the country (on the way from Reykjavik to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, to be exact). They were too tempting to not frolic in.
Which place would you most want to visit in Iceland?