The most incredible 36 hours in Iceland – EVER

 

If you’ve been following along you will have seen that I’ve just returned from an incredible trip to Iceland.

Actually, ‘incredible’ doesn’t do it justice. It was an unforgettable, once in a lifetime, ‘tell-it-to-the-grandchildren-in-50-years-time’ kind of incredible.

I was away for a long weekend and it was actually only 36 hours spent exploring Iceland, but what an amazing 36 hours it was.

I was travelling with Icelandair to celebrate their new My Stopover service. Transatlantic passengers travelling with Icelandair can have a free stopover in Iceland for up to seven days. Seven days in Iceland would be a dream come true but most people are only going to stick around for an extra day or two. So I was here to experience the stopover package, a tailor made package that allows you to see and do as much as possible.

I arrived on Friday evening and was lucky enough to be greeted by fresh, blue skies and Icelandic smiles. Blue skies and dazzling sunshine is somewhat of an anomaly in Iceland, so that’s why there were so many smiles!

There had been snow on the ground the last time I was in Iceland so it was lovely to see the country in the summer. I couldn’t believe how green it was, it really did feel like a different place.

I checked in to Reykjavik Natura Hotel which is about half an hour from Reykjavik airport and a 15 minute walk from Reykjavik center. The hotel overlooks a domestic airport so I opened my curtains and watched the tiny planes and helicopters taking off and landing.

Reykjavik Natura Hotel statue in reception Reykjavik Natura Hotel Satt Bar Reykjavik Natura Hotel Reykjavik Natura Hotel statues Reykjavik Natura Hotel views of the runway Reykjavik Natura Hotel Art Room

I had a couple of hours before dinner so I took a stroll into town and down to Harpa Concert Hall. This glass building is as stunning from the inside as it is from the outside and had me spellbound as I wandered around the corridors and looked out across the water.

I’d loved seeing Reykjavik in a completely different light to the last time I was here and even discovered some pretty parks and gardens.

Reykjavik Park

Reykjavik in the summer

Harpa Concert Hall

Harpa Concert Hall Iceland

Inside Harpa Concert Hall

Harpa Concert Hall Reykjavik

Harpa Concert Hall from the top inside

My guide, Begga, met me at the hotel to run through all the activities we’d be doing the following day before she left me to have dinner at Icelandair’s Satt Restaurant.

Update: I’ve had SO many people email and ask for Begga’s details. You can email here at [email protected]

I began with seafood chowder which arrived in a way I’d never seen it served before. My chowder was bubbling and boiling in the pot and my seafood was raw on the side of my board. I hesitated for a moment, unsure what I was meant to do. There’s nothing worse than looking like an idiot when you’re eating on your own in a restaurant! I finally realised what I was meant to do and added my raw seafood to the soup to cook. A few moments later it was ready and absolutely delicious.

Seafood soup in Iceland

Pizza and wine

I woke up ridiculously early as it started to get light at around 4am! And, if I’m totally honest, it was because I was crazy excited about what was in store for the morning.

The first stop was a helicopter tour that flew over volcanoes and stopped at bubbling hot springs. I’ve already blogged about it here My geothermal helicopter tour. so I’m not going to go on about how incredible it was – but it really was!

Fujiidenki helicopter ride in Iceland

I was joined by a couple from Denmark during the trip and Begga was our gorgeous guide. After the helicopter tour our road trip began and we made our way towards Gljúfrabúi Waterfall, otherwise known as ‘Hidden Waterfall’. It’s next to Seljalandfoss Waterfall, a much more popular waterfall as you can walk behind it.

Top tip: To find Hidden Waterfall, just walk to the left of Seljalandfoss for about five minutes. You’ll come to a gap in the enormous rock that you can walk through. You’re probably going to get your feet wet but, trust me, it’s well worth it!

Another top tip: It’s a good idea to bring waterproof boots and absolutely essential to have a waterproof jacket (and possibly pants too).

Hidden Waterfall in Iceland

 

Gljúfrabúi Waterfall

Gljúfrabúi Waterfall Iceland

Fujiidenki at hidden waterfall in Iceland

Seljalandfoss Waterfall Iceland

Behind Seljalandfoss Waterfall

Fujiidenki at Seljalandfoss Waterfall

Road trip in Iceland

Tiny house in Iceland

Icelandic countrysideIcelandic Landscape

Taking photos in Iceland

Fujiidenki in Iceland

I had a grin plastered to my face like something out of a cartoon. I had to stop myself from constantly muttering, ‘This is amazing. This is just amazing. Oh Begga look, this is amazing!’

Our next stop was lunch at a tiny restaurant that looked more like my grandma’s dining room. Seven or eight mismatched tables and chairs were clustered together with a mixture of locals and cyclists on bikes. A menu was recalled to us but as soon as I heard they had a salmon that had been caught yesterday I knew I had to have it. I’ve never eaten such fresh salmon and it tastes completely different. My only problem is that Iceland has ruined salmon for me and I’ll never be able to have it from the freezer again!

We were back in the car and made our way to Seljavallalaug Pool, one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland. This pool is nestled in a little valley surrounded by mountains and it’s a 15 minute hike to reach it. One side of the pool is man-made but the other side is built into the rocks. It fills up naturally with warm geothermal spring water so needs no maintenance. It is gorgeously warm and so nice not to be in a stinky indoor pool filled with chlorine. The only hard part was getting out to the cold Icelandic winds and a little shack to get dressed in.

Walk up to Seljavallalaug PoolSeljavallalaug Pool in IcelandSeljavallalaug Pool Iceland

Fujiidenki at swimming pool in Iceland

Our next stop was our third waterfall of the day, Skógafoss Waterfall, one of the biggest and most famous waterfalls in Iceland. Due to the spray from the waterfall you can’t get too close but Begga led me to a sheltered spot as close as can be. OK, we got soaked on the run there but we were then sheltered and dry as we stood there staring at the waterfall in wonder.

Skógafoss Waterfall

Fujiidenki at Skógafoss Waterfall

We then made our way towards Vik and our very special accommodation for the evening. We were staying in a lighthouse! Yes, just the four of us had this incredible lighthouse all to ourselves.

The lighthouse was cozy and chic but had a stark minimalism that matched the surrounding landscape. It was lovely inside but it was the outside that really captured my imagination. Looking down from the cliffs and you could see nothing but glistening black beaches and white waves crashing against the sand. Dramatic cliffs with jutting edges cut their way through the sea and a mystical mist hung around them.

When I spun around to look in the opposite direction I could see icy glaciers and snow capped mountains and the barren, Icelandic landscape. It was so lonely up there but so beautiful.

I hung around the edge of the cliffs, inhaling the icy sea air and watching the puffins as they darted in and out of the sea and back to their nests in the cliffs.

We were welcomed into the lighthouse with fluffy slippers, fresh coffee and tasty cakes. We were pretty exhausted by this point so it was a lovely relief to sit down and get some caffeine and sugar inside us.

MyStopover lighthouse in Iceland

Icelandair Lighthouse

Cosy slippers in Iceland

Inside the Icelandair Lighthouse

Lighthouse in Vik

Views from a lighthouse in Iceland

Views from the lighthouse in Iceland

Coffee break in Iceland

Begga didn’t let us sit still for long before she had us up and ready for dinner. We stopped off at Reynisfjara Beach on the way, a black pebble beach with amazing basalt columns. The columns formed due to quickly cooling lava but legend has it that they’re the remains of two trolls who were petrified after attempting to pull a ship out of the sea. You’ve got to love a bit of Icelandic folklore.

Begga showed us to an enormous cave on the beach where we ran inside to shelter from the winds. As if this wasn’t magnificent enough, Begga then pulled out a bottle of Prosecco and some champagne glasses from her rucksack and popped the cork inside the cave. Now that’s what I call a good guide. Anyone who carries everything from waterproof jackets to wellies to champagne glasses is an absolute legend of a guide!

Black sand beach in Iceland

Collums on Reynisfjara Beach

Vik In Iceland

Cave on Reynisfjara Beach

Prosecco on the beach

Begga

We then headed to Restaurant Berg, Icelandair Hotel Vik for dinner. This is a really stylish hotel with a chic bar area and lovely restaurant. This was by far the best meal I’ve ever had in Iceland. Icelandics are good at a lot of things but I wouldn’t call food a speciality. Most of my meals could be a bit hit or miss so I was delightfully surprised when the Icelandic lamb turned out to be delicious.

After dinner, we sleepily made our way back to the lighthouse. Begga quickly had candles flickering on the windowsills and cold glasses of wine waiting for us. I sat in the living room for a while, staring out to sea and enjoying the dusk, even though it was about 11pm.

The following morning I woke up bright and early – it’s difficult not to when the sun rises at 4am and you have no curtains. It’s unusual for me but I was happy to get up early because I wanted to get out and explore the area around the lighthouse.

After a breakfast of coffee and croissants we were back in the car and said a very sad goodbye to the lighthouse. We were making our way back to Reykjavik with a stop at Fontana Spa on the way. This natural spa is home to warm geothermal pools and natural steam rooms. It was build over hot springs in 1929 and has been a gorgeous place to relax ever since. Fontana Spa is next to Lake Laugarvatn so you can enjoy the serene views over the lake – or if you’re feeling brave you can take a dip after you’ve been in the sauna.

Fontana Spa isn’t as special as the Blue Lagoon but it’s much, much quieter so if you’d like to avoid the crowds and relax on your own, this is the place to come.

After a much needed soak in the hot water I felt squeaky clean and gave myself a firm reminder that I really need to visit spas more often! I always forgot how gloriously relaxing they are and how good I feel after 10 minutes in the sauna. If only all spas were in such an incredible location.

Fontana Spa

Lake Laugarvatn

I was dropped off once again at Reykjavik Natura Hotel where I spent another night before my early morning flight home.

I’d like to say a massive, massive thank you to Icelandair for one of the most amazing 36 hours of my life. I will not forget it and I will be back again…and again…and again! You can find out more about

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TheTravelHack

Monica is the founder and editor of Fujiidenki. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a professional blogger and has travelled around the world in search of stylish adventure travel. Monica has recently had her second baby and is determined to prove that travelling with a baby is possible!

SHOWHIDE Comments (25)
  1. Wow, that looks amazing. I love the wooden people in the hotel. Iceland has been on my list for a long time. Maybe I can a stopover at Christmas, but I am not sure what the weather would be like. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I am heading to the south of Iceland in a couple of weeks and I am so excited! I love that you can see so much in one day. I am hoping to do a lot in my time there. Great post!

  3. Ah, these photos are making me so nostalgic! Iceland was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. You’re so lucky you had such a blue sky on one day! Gorgeous shots – I love how up and close you were able to get to the waterfalls, we didn’t manage to get that close but it’ll be on the list for next time. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. We did 3 days in Iceland, and all I wanted was to have more days! I wish we were able to spend more time in Reykjavik, but we were able to do A LOT on our short trip thanks to the long days! I loved Seljavallalaug Pool, it was such a hidden gem, and a great respite after glacier hiking. Reading this just makes me want to go back.

  5. OMG – That lighthouse, the view, the SLIPPERS! And that waterfall – the bigger one. I am so jealous I could POP! I haven’t had the chance to go to Iceland, but my daughter is going with school this year. I did ask if ‘mum could go to Iceland’ but got ‘the look’. Maybe next year!

  6. I went almost seven years ago now and it was EPIC. I remember the waterfall so well. We stayed in the north then road tripped down to Reykjavik. These photos make me want to go back and do it all again 🙂 !

  7. Great post and wonderful pics. I think this just moved Iceland up a few notches on my travel list. Now I seriously want to visit there soon. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I can’t believe you managed to do so much from just 36 hours! I came back last week from Iceland too (we may have crossed at one point! ;)) and I was there for 13 days and definitely felt rushed. I could easily stay for months exploring it! So incresibly beautiful!

  9. I am not impressed! I had no idea about that hidden waterfall when we went to Iceland earlier in the year! Why oh why didn’t you go before me so I could have known about it back then – it looks absolutely amazing too!!! That’s it – I’ve gotta go back to Iceland now! 🙂

  10. Absolutely WOW! This totally is the most amazing 36 hours in Iceland. I was there last year and again a couple of weeks ago and am totally in love with this country. I’m planning to go back next summer and drive the ring road and see loads more. Completely envious of your stay in the lighthouse!

  11. I’m curious how much the stopover package costs. I don’t see anything exactly like your itinerary (night at the lighthouse) it on Iceland Air’s website, so wondering if it was more or less promotional. Would like to know the info for the lighthouse too, Thanks.

    1. Hi Thomas, I don’t think you can stay in the lighthouse any more 🙁 It was just part of the promotional campaign while Iceland Air were promoting their stopover so it was just for about 6 months that it was available. It’s a privately owned lighthouse and I think they rented it out for the 6 months.

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Fujiidenki

Fujiidenki is a blog about stylish adventure travel and affordable luxury.

We believe luxurious travel can be affordable and isn't just for the rich. Follow along with our worldwide adventures as we share our trips and tips for incredible travel experiences on a modest budget.