Avital and I just returned from a week in Iceland - it was an awesome trip!
We saw so much (and took so many pictures) that I’ll break the recap up into two posts. This post will cover Monday through Wednesday. I write about the second half of the trip in Exploring Iceland: Part Two.
We arrived in Reykjavik (the capital) on Monday afternoon it was a beautiful afternoon and we walked around to get our bearings. One of our first tasks was to pop into a grocery store and try some Icelandic candy - they love putting licorice in everything.
The next morning we drove the Golden Circle, a cluster of interesting sites a short drive out of the city. First up was Thingvellir – a national park and the site of the ancient Icelandic parliament (Althing) where chieftains would assemble once per year. It’s situated in the rift valley where the American and European plates are drifting apart.
We then drove north to Geysir where we took in the hot springs and watched the geyser Strokkur erupt a few times.
We then drove to Gullfoss, a massive waterfall nearby.
Our final stop in the Golden Circle region was Kerid, an ancient crater lake. With bright flora.
After walking around the volcano we drove southeast toward Vik, a small town we used as our base for a few days as we explored the southern coast.
Along the way to Vik we stopped by two great waterfalls, Selandjafoss and Skogafoss.
I climbed to the top of Skogafoss, to the start of a trail that leads all the way to Thorsmork in the Icelandic highlands. The trail is set up for multi-day trekking. I only walked the first bit but it was absolutely stunning. There were great waterfalls and views around each turn.
On Wednesday morning we took the ferry to Heimaey Island in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago, 30 minutes of the coast. Heimaey is a fishing town and home to multiple volcanoes. We spent the day exploring the island and looking for puffins.
After landing, we hiked up Eldfell – a new volcano that nearly destroyed the town and harbor in 1973. It was super windy but the views from the top were great.
We then took a bus tour around the island. It started with a stop where we got to hold a puffin on our head – it was super friendly!
We saw cliffs packed with different birds.
And rugged coasts with black sand beaches.
We learned about the nearby islands where locals have clubhouses. They go there to hunt puffins once a year with giant nets on sticks and to gather eggs from seabirds.
We saw some wild puffins swimming off the shore but we had to catch a ferry back to the mainland before they came in for the night. By late May they’ll swarm the island once their eggs start to hatch.
It was a great day trip!
On our drive back to Vik we stopped by Dyrholaey, a peninsula with gorgeous views.
The trip was off to a great start and we were excited to keep exploring the southern coast! You can read about the rest of the trip in Exploring Iceland: Part Two.