48 HOURS IN ICELAND

[Repost from September 28, 2016]

I am not one to willingly venture to a cold location, but this country is definitely an exception to the rule. Iceland exceeded my expectations. I couldn’t put my camera down as every corner we drove was a more beautiful sight.

REYKJANESFÓLKVANGUR

Here is how to do Iceland in 48 hours. Step 1 – rent a car step 2 – drive. It’s that easy! The common tourist route is called the Golden Circle. We did a version of this, but it wouldn’t be a true Schultz trip if we didn’t go off-roading! This picture above is our first detour from the golden circle we drove through Reykjanesfólkvangur state park. This picture is evidence in itself why Iceland is such a beautiful country. And yeah, you can get used to not knowing how to pronounce anything here.

HVERAGERDI

This isnt your average river, this is a hot spring river! As I was sleeping in the car (due to the short 5 hour red eye direct from Minneapolis on Delta) my husband woke me up and said, “we’re here.” “Where are the hot springs?,” I inquired. “Just a 45 minute hike,” he calmly replied. “Is this a joke?” It was not joke at all. We are not major hikers unless it’s something worth seeing or doing. This was one hike I’m glad I partook in. As you can see from the pictures there was plenty to see along the hike. This included a waterfall, small geothermal springs with a clay like substance (great for natural face masks), and sheep in the open air changing rooms. Needless to say it was an adventurous hike!

Kerid Crater Lake

This sight is simply a lake inside a volcanic crater. It is a very convenient stop along the golden circle. The parking lot is just a stones throw away from the crater itself. Please note there is a small fee to get into the national park. It is a small park in itself, only takes about 10 minutes to walk around the whole crater. But how pretty is that water?!

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GULLFLOSS WATERFALL

Although this may be the most touristy of all the sights it was by far my favorite stop. I have never seen such a big waterfall in all of my travels! When making this stop it is good to know there are 2 parking spots. One up top that is a little jaunt down to the waterfall, but is by a restaurant/gift shop. Or there is one right next to the waterfall. Also make sure to bring your rain coat as you will get wet if you’re walking close to the waterfall!

THE GREAT GEYSIR

I didn’t know what to expect at this stop. Do you have to wait forever for it to go off?  Did it only go off once in a blue moon? Thankfully this geysir was blowing up about every 5 minutes! We had a lot of fun referencing sexual innuendos since we are very mature like that. Science is so cool!

Not too far from the Gyser was this cute cottage we rented on Air Bnb for the night. Not only did they have a hot tub with a beautiful view, but it had a kitchenette with fresh eggs from their farm! The couple were very nice and hospitable along with their chickens, geese and dogs 🙂

SILFRA

This body of water is located at the National Park Thingvellir and is as clear as it looks. What’s really cool about this lake is that it’s actually the only body of water where you can snorkel between 2 continental plates! And yes of course the water is cold (even in the summer) so if you do decide to snorkel or dive you have to go through a tour company which will provide you with wetsuits.

NATIONAL PARK THINGVELLIR

The national park includes the Silfra lake pictured above. Not too far from Silfra is a historical chapel and graveyard. Next to the chapel is the oldest existing parliament in the world! You can either take a little hike from Silfra or drive to another closer parking lot where you can hear a waterfall, but can’t see it as it’s covered by the rocks. It’s only a short walk from the closer parking lot up to the spot in the picture above. This is a must see when in Iceland!

REYKJAVIK

Last but not least is the capital of Iceland where majority of the population lives. As you can see from the photo above it’s actually quite an artsy town. There happened to have a festival going on the weekend we were there so the streets were packed with people and food trucks. Hallgrimskirkja is a very unique church. You can see the inside of the church for free, or pay about $8 to ride to the top for a great view of the city. We of course had to make the tourist stop at the famous hot dog place – Baejarins Beztu Pylsur – which literally translates as best hot dogs in town. In my opinion they were good but nothing to write home about. Did you know that a majority of Icelanders believe in elves? Thats why you will see many statues of them around the city. The one downside of Iceland is how expensive it is. Reykjavik’s hotels can cost as much as $300 a night! I recommend booking in advance with a travel agent to help you get the best rate. Iceland is not all just about sightseeing, this city has an abundant nightlife with people lined outside the bars until the wee hours of the night.

BLUE LAGOON

People come from all over the world to bathe in this hot spring. Fun fact – although the water appears to be this light blue it is actually white! The blue coloring is caused from the reflection in the sunlight. We had intended for this to be our first stop after leaving the airport as it is only about an hour away. Of course you need advanced reservations, so stopping in in person does no good, as we learned first hand. The only way to make a reservation is online. Thankfully we were able to make a reservation around 9 p.m. the next night online. Enjoy a face mask and a cocktail while bathing in this beautiful hot spring.

I’m also a big fan of animals and there was no shortage of friendly horses and curious sheep 🙂 Overall we had a great/quick experience in Iceland. I would definitely recommend more than 48 hours, although it is an expensive country so it depends on your budget. It may only be a little money saver, but one thing I loved about Iceland is that is the only country in Europe I have ever been to where they give you free tap water! Also, it is safe to hitchhike here! One of my regrets is that we didn’t pick up a total stranger to share our journey with. I would love to go back to Iceland and venture off more to hopefully see some puffins some day. Is is amazing how much you can see in just 48 hours.