Iceland sparkles for me. The reason? I can’t quite put my mitten on it. Maybe it’s this small north Atlantic island’s vast landscapes, canyons, and geysers. I do love to be near water (having grown up in a coastal town in Fife, Scotland) so is it the thundering waterfalls, lagoons, and beaches? Or the beautiful Reykjavik city folks with their cool exterior? I know for Craig Iceland means the solar spectacular, Northern Lights and glaciers. Whatever the reason, it’s easy to see the appeal of an Iceland honeymoon.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon | Image by Follow Me Away
Now I know what you are thinking – didn’t you pair marry last March in Austin, Texas and then travel around the Americas and Europe? Correct, but hey, you only get married once (we hope!) We deserve a backpack / budget free honeymoon! Imagine not being confined to $45 a day… Here’s what we plan to get up to in 2017 and 23 (+) reasons why I think an Iceland honeymoon is a cracker.
Driving the Ring Road
Driving in Iceland is kind of like taking the Subway in Glasgow; there are two routes – you can go around it, then come back around the other way, with a few reindeer, twigs, and floods thrown in.
Many visitors to Iceland opt to see Iceland’s 800 miles of Route 1 with a group tour; others take the 4×4 by the wheel and attempt a self – guided tour of Iceland. Driving around Iceland’s Ring Road takes a good seven days (perfect for those using Iceland as a stopover destination as you are awarded one week free of charge), although we are never ones to rush a trip so, finances depending, may take longer.
What to See in Iceland?
Skógafoss Waterfall | Follow Me Away
Our Ring Road itinerary includes:
- The Golden Circle Tour of the south (see below)
- Rafting in the Hvítá River
- American wreck DC-3 plane on Sólheimasandur Beach (4km trek)
- Sunrise at Seljalandsfoss waterfall
- Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon
- A Jökulsárlón tour to see the ice melt
- Vatnajökull Glacier’s crystal ice caves <— seasonal unfortunately
- A visit to the crafty and mountainous Seyðisfjörður
- Iceland’s second city, Akureyri – whale watching in Iceland!
- Dettifoss – the most powerful waterfall in Europe, apparently
- The gateway to Hell – Dimmuborgir
- The north’s equivalent to the Blue Lagoon, Mývatn Nature Baths
Research indicates that the west side of the Ring Road is more drive than stop but it is worth taking a detour to….
- Snæfellsnes aka “Little Iceland”
… and then on to
- Hike Mount Esjan
- Then a celebratory end of tour drink at Blur’s Damon Albarn’s bar in Reykjavik
Iceland’s Golden Circle Tour
If my chauffeur decides that being the designated driver for the entirety of our honeymoon is no fun (likely), then the alternative reduced Iceland itinerary would be the Golden Circle Tour which takes a mere 3.5 hours to tackle by car (6 – 10 hours with stops). Although, I hear that a tour guide input may be useful at times and I don’t want to miss out on the history of the Iceland. Did you know that Iceland was the first country to elect a female Head of State?
Highlights of the Golden Circle include
- Thingvellir National Park
- Geysir hot springs – The Great Geysir
- Gullfoss aka the Golden Waterfall
- Iceland’s second biggest glacier, Langjokull
(similar to Columbia Icefields in Canada which we visited last year)
All of the above can be seen as an Iceland day tour from Reykjavik. What do you recommend – self-drive, private taxi tour or guided bus tour?
Gullfoss | Follow Me Away
Now this is a sad one as our timings are out. We are humming and hawing about when to visit Iceland. Our official wedding party takes place in April and we plan to catch cheap flights to Iceland in the middle of the month, just flirting with the official window (October to March) of seeing the light show also known as the Aurora Borealis. Iceland is not always dark, and although lots of factors come into play when chasing the Northern Lights in Iceland, the darkest months of November to February are your best bet.
One of the downsides of visiting Iceland in April is that you are kind of in a limbo period where the weather dictates Iceland’s tourist attractions. If we hold off until summer (July), we can hike, whale watch, and avoid freezing our asses off, however, this means giving up the chance to witness the dancing light show. I don’t think this will be our last trip to Iceland so I am slowly getting over not seeing the lights, when we do return I definitely want to sleep in this Iceland hotel. Are there bears?
Sólheimasandur Beach + Aurora Borealis
Lagoons in Iceland
Now that I am over not seeing the lights (I don’t like being cold anyway) let’s dive deep into something I do love – geothermal activity. Oh hello hot water! I’m a 40 degrees at the Hungarian baths type of chick, Craig not so much! Iceland’s most famous hot spring is the Blue Lagoon. Close to the country’s capital, a trip to this lagoon is an easy, yet pricey, day trip from Reykjavik (40 mins by car, you will be inundated by adverts for Reykjavik tours to the Blue Lagoon).
Basic entry cost is €40 / £33. 95 / $42.37 (top tier luxury price €195) however, I am told repeatedly by bloggers and tourists alike that regardless of fee and popularity, the Blue Lagoon is worth every penny. Do not wear your contact lenses like my good friend Helen!
Budget lovers, there are free hot springs in Iceland (my favourite phrase) making it one of the hottest free things to do in Iceland (get it?) Check out Hveragerdi which is only 30 mins from Reykjavik and also has free hiking trails; a stride and a soak seems like a winning combo to me! There are a variety geothermal pools of all sizes in Iceland so this is only the tip of the iceberg. Which do you prefer and why?
Hiking in Iceland
Hiking might not be everyone’s ideal honeymoon activity but we are a big fan of the outdoors and Iceland certainly is a hotbed for nature. The most popular trek in Iceland is the 4 – 5 day south – west Laugavegur trek. If that’s not enough, you can continue on with the Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail (or attempt as a stand alone one day hike) which takes you between the two volcanoes, Eyjafjallajökull and Katla. Part of Fimmvörðuháls has literally risen from the ashes after the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull. There are easier Iceland hikes such as Mount Esjan which is close to Reykjavik.
October to April is low season. Winter activities such as the ice caves are open (what about snorkeling at Silfra?) and the Northern Lights are at their optimum. It is not advised to drive in Iceland during the low season unless you are used to Canadian winter conditions (and I don’t mean B.C), although it is never as cold as Alberta. October to February sees the most rainfall. Time to get cosy on that Iceland honeymoon!
Spring starts in April and ends in May, although the first day of summer is April 18th… Summer means a lot of daylight, the longest day is June 21st where the sun sets around midnight in Reykjavik and rises before 3am! This may take a bit of getting used to but obviously offers a good chance to enjoy the midnight sun (while partying?!) Skiing is out and unfortunately mass tourism, pre-booking, and selfie sticks are in. In summer, budding photographers can capture the crazy lights of the golden hours (without the pressure of time), driving is safe, and hiking doesn’t involve an axe.
Getting to Iceland
Cheap flights to Iceland (Keflavík International Airport) from the UK can be found for under £200 via Wow Air, Icelandair, and Easyjet.
Well, folks, that’s it from me and my dream Iceland honeymoon. Just think, the next time I am writing about the land of fire and ice it will be live from our actual honeymoon. I could explode with excitement just like Katla volcano, which has actually set off its biggest tremors since the ’70s. Eek!
Going to Iceland?
Why not pin to your Iceland board?
Have you been, are you going?
Give us tips in the comments below!