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Waterfalls in Iceland (and Other Places to Explore Outdoors)

Waterfalls in Iceland (and Other Places to Explore Outdoors)

As our trip to Iceland last summer was only short, we planned everything we were going to do before we set off on our adventure. Iceland is all about the great outdoors, so we spent a day or two experiencing all that it has to offer in the way of waterfalls and natural beauty.

And it did not disappoint! As cliched as it may sounds, parts of the country felt out of this world. Truly, at times it was like we were on another planet. Other times, the open road felt like we could have been in parts of North America! There’s lots of lush greenery, beautiful mountains, glaciers and of course, waterfalls. We plotted all the places we wanted to visit on Google Maps, then decided on the best route, which was to drive out to the furthest point and then visit places on our way back into the city.

The Blue Lagoon

Our first stop, like many, was the Blue Lagoon. It’s a man-made geothermal spa and is one of the most visited places in Iceland, so it’s imperative that you pre-book. We had enough time to collect our car, head to our hotel and get acquainted with the area, as we booked our visit for a few hours after landing. As it’s only a 20 minute drive from the airport, it also meant if our flight was slightly delayed, we would be able to head straight there too.

Outside the Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Ashley outside the Blue Lagoon

There’s probably only one way to describe the Blue Lagoon, and that is dreamy. We spent hours in there, thanks to the midnight sun and losing track of time.  It is a tourist trap, but you can see why, as soon as you step into the warm, milky waters. It’s definitely one to tick off the bucket list!  Lots of people stop in Iceland specifically for the Blue Lagoon, on their way to/from the USA and I don’t blame them; I’d go again! You can typically expect the water to be about 37–39°C and as you move around, you’ll notice some spots are hotter than others. There’s a swim-up bar to keep yourself hydrated, as well as huge pots of natural face masks that are available too, for the ultimate in pamper and relaxation.

Views inside the Blue Lagoon, Iceland Slushy at the Blue Lagoon, Iceland
I took my phone in a waterproof case, so my photos of the Blue Lagoon are blurry and minimal, but I just HAD to document this place!

I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive about the pre-shower situation.  You have to get completely naked and shower before you get in and I had heard the shower rooms were public.  It was easy enough to wrap yourself in the rented gown, before heading from the shared ladies locker room to the showers, though.  And I was very pleased to find they were single cubicles with frosted doors!  Ensure you slather your hair in the conditioner provided, even if you’re not planning to get it wet in the lagoon. Somehow, you just will and it will be so dry and dehydrated, because the high levels of silica in the water.

Black sand beach at Vik

Vik was the first place we visited on our day exploring outside of Reykjavik and the furthest place we drove to. It was wet and windy, and we didn’t spend much time there in the end, but it was a beautifully unusual place and well worth the three-hour drive there, if not just for all the scenery we saw on the way.

Black sand beach at Vik
Views from the black sand beach at Vik
Flora & fauna
At the black sand beach, Vik

WATERFALLS

Skógafoss

Iceland has an abundance of waterfalls, but we decided to visit just three during our mini-break and so our first stop on our way back into the city was Skógafoss. It’s one of the biggest waterfalls on the island and due to the amount of water falling and the spray-back once it hits the ground, there’s usually a rainbow or two visible on a sunny day. We were really lucky with our trip as we had bright sunshine 90% of the time and the weather was mild!

Waterfalls at Skogafoss, Iceland
Approaching Skogafoss, Iceland

You can climb to the top of the mountain and see the view of the waterfall and surrounding area from the top, if that’s your thing. We decided against it due to time, but I can imagine the view would have been amazing. At ground level, you can walk right up to it; just prepare to get drenched!

Waterfalls at Skogafoss, Iceland
View from Waterfalls at Skogafoss, Iceland
Waterfalls at Skogafoss, Iceland
Waterfalls at Skogafoss, Iceland
Skogafoss, Iceland

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss was the one of waterfalls I’d most wanted to visit, as I’d heard you could walk behind it in a small cave. It sounded magical! I spent half of the way around fearing for my life though, otherwise it would have been more magical. It was very slippery and narrow at some points! Outdoorsy folk would have found it a breeze, but I’m a bit of a city girl and at one point I think my husband thought he was going to have to leave me there, as I was adamant I was going to slip to my watery death with every move. Despite my fear, the experience was worth it and I’m glad we went!

Waterfalls at Seljalandsfoss, Iceland
Waterfalls at Seljalandsfoss, Iceland
Waterfalls at Seljalandsfoss, Iceland
Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

Gullfoss

The waterfalls at Gullfoss are among some of the most iconic on the island; water plummets down 32 meters in two stages into a rugged canyon where the walls reach up to 70 meters in height! There are lots of different view points to experience at different levels (and nice a nice boarded walkway; take note Seljalandsfoss!) Like most of the country, the area is steeped in history, which is well worth learning about too.

Waterfalls at Gullfoss, Iceland
Waterfalls at Gullfoss, Iceland
Gullfoss, Iceland

Geysirs in Haukadalur Valley

Every few minutes in Haukadalur Valley, Strokkur, a powerful geyser, spurts boiling water 30m into the air. It’s a big tourist attraction so it can also get quite busy, however it’s worth the experience to capture something so bizarre! The ground is vividly coloured in parts due to natural elements like iron and there’s lots of mud pools and other tiny geysers in the area, as well as lovely views of the valley too.

One thing to note though, is the naturally occuring sulphur means that the area does smell like rotten eggs…

On the opposite side of the road is the Geysir Centre, where you can find snacks, tourist information and souvenirs. I sipped on a delicious hot chocolate as we walked around the hot springs, that was to die for!

Geysirs atHaukadalur Valley
Geysirs atHaukadalur Valley
Geysirs at Haukadalur Valley

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park is huge, so we decided to spend a whole morning there, exploring. Icelanders hold the park in high regard, as major events in the countries history (including parliament) have taken place there. It’s an area of outstanding natural beauty, with plenty of walks, routes, lakes and waterfalls. Prepare yourself for a high step count if you visit!

Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir National Park

…And anywhere else that you’d like to stop!

My favourite thing about our days out exploring was the the route to and from each stop; there’s just so much to see and some spectacular views. It’s most definitely the best way to find hidden gems and things that you might not have seen in guidebooks. You’ll often see people at the side of the road, taking photos of flora and fauna, or the fantastic views.

Exploring views on our adventure
Roadside views in Iceland
Exploring views on our adventure
Exploring the roadside views

Over the coming week, I’m going to be re-capping the places we visited, the fun we had in Reykjavik and all of the delicious food we tried during our mini-break to Iceland. I’ll come back and place the links below once the posts are live, or you can find them on the Iceland tag, here!

Iceland: A Summer Mini-Break

Iceland: A Summer Mini-Break

When you think of Iceland, you probably picture cosy winter nights, snow-capped mountains and the Northern Lights; but the country is just as beautiful and picturesque (if not more so) in the summer months too.


Last summer saw both me and my husband celebrate turning the ripe old age of thirty. We always knew that we wanted to do something special to mark the occasion, whether it was a big party with our friends and family, or a city break just the two of us. We wanted something different to anything we’d done before, or were likely to do again.

As it turns out, party-planning is long and arduous, so a long-weekend away it was!

We’re not exactly explorers and the whole gap-year travelling thing isn’t our jam; I doubt you’ll catch us backpacking across Asia or inter-railing around Europe anytime soon. Besides the odd city break to Paris or NYC, our holidays as a couple for the seven years pre-parent were always abroad and resort-based, with food and drink on tap. As parents of a young family, holidays like that are still my fav and they’re perfect for when you’re just looking to do absolutely nothing while the sun beats down on your back on the beach.

However, our tastes have evolved and changed as we’ve grown up together; I now want to see more of the countries I visit. That’s not to say I wouldn’t like be laying poolside doing sweet FA in Spain right now, but I appreciate history and culture more now than I did a decade ago!

Neither of us can remember where the idea of visiting Iceland came from, but we’re so thankful it did. As a sun-worshipper, I didn’t think I’d consider somewhere that’s usually colder and wetter than England a holiday, but we’re all entitled to change our minds, aren’t we?

Flying with WOW Air
Exploring the black sand beach at Vik

I’d absolutely recommend Iceland to anyone who was looking to do something a little different from your average week in the sun or city break. We departed on a Thursday afternoon and arrived back in the UK late on Monday night, so we had to plan everything we wanted to do in advance, but that made it even more exciting!

Getting Around

There are an abundance of ready-made tours you can book yourself on in Iceland, but we didn’t want to be dictated by someone else’s schedule, so we decided to rent a car and I drove abroad for the first time ever. Honestly? It’s not as terrifying as I thought it would be!  Just be sure to read up on their driving regulations before you go.  The roads are wide, open and very quiet once you’re out of Reykjavik and a breeze to drive.  In fact they’re such a breeze, it can be difficult to stick to the 90km limit! If you’re a stickler for the speed limit like me, lots of people will overtake you— but I stick to the speed limit here, so I’m not about to break it in a foreign country!

Harpa Concert Hall

Car Rental

We rented our car from Geysir, which meant we were able to get to them using a short shuttle bus from the airport. We dropped our rental car off at Harpa (above) a few days later when we were done with it, which was just a stones throw from where we were staying.  You’ll need to leave your credit card details with most, if not all car rental companies, in case of accidental damage. Geysir were ace and the only company we came across that allowed me to be the main and only driver (with no credit card), but leave my husband’s card details with them (even though he doesn’t have a licence); he just had to sign the paperwork too.

On-street parking, like any busy town or city, is a matter of luck;  you might have to drive around a few times and be prepared to parallel park! Just be sure to read the signs, as most of the places around our hotel only charged for parking 9am-5pm, which was perfect as that would be the time we were out exploring Iceland anyway.

Where To Stay

We stayed at 41 – A Townhouse Hotel, on Laugavegur; the main street in Reykjavik. It’s right in the thick of the hustle and bustle and just a short walk to lots of tourist hot-spots. It’s a small boutique hotel, that’s still fairly new and while the room is basic, it has everything you could possibly need, including an all-important, well-equipped kitchen. You’ll probably have heard that Iceland is expensive— and there’s no getting away from it, it’s just the way it is. You can save yourself some money though by going to Bonus (a supermarket chain with locations all around Reykjavik) and stocking up on some staples. That means you can have breakfast in your hotel and make a packed lunch for when you’re out on the open road. We bought some bagels with cumin seeds in which were delicious!

Amazing landscapes in Iceland!
Beautiful views in Iceland

Re-Visiting Iceland

It’s been a year since we visited Iceland and I’m certain we’ll be back one day with our children in tow. Over the coming weeks, I’m going to be re-capping the places we visited, the fun we had in Reykjavik and all of the delicious food we tried. I’ll come back and place the links below once the posts are live, or you can find them on the Iceland tag, here!