• Krista the Explorer

Iceland: Beyond the Golden Circle

Isn't it everyone's dream to travel to Iceland? The landscape all over the country is simply breathtaking, and it's a big change from visiting a bustling, overcrowded city for a vacation. Iceland is always seen as an expensive destination for people. Luckily, I was able to find a cheap flight and some great accommodation, which gave me a bit of wiggle room with my budget. The best way to see the country is by car. We used Icerental 4x4 and added WiFi to the package in the event we lost phone service (highly, highly recommend doing this). We were there a total of 5 days, and crammed a lot into each day. Food is expensive. Very expensive. I'd recommend going to a grocery store and getting some food to take on the go. Of course, we stopped in a few restaurants and cafes along the way though!

If you're looking for a great hotel to stay at near the airport, check out B&B Hotel Keflavik Airport. It's only 5 minutes from the airport itself, and around 15 minutes to the Blue Lagoon which is ideal if you have an early morning ticket. There are lots of hotels to choose from in Reykjavik itself, and many of them can blow a big hole in your budget. Hotel Klettur was a great choice, both for its location and price. To walk into the centre it only takes 20 minutes, and it's located just behind the famous cathedral. If you're planning on taking a tour, they'll pick you up right outside the hotel which is very handy. If you're looking for an out-of-this-world experience, check out Galaxy Pod Hostel! Don't let the word hostel put you off. You get to stay in an individual pod, that has a lockable sliding door on it, and the inside is very high tech with a number of lighting options and a television! Pod hostels are gaining popularity, so I'd recommend trying it out. I found the best way to save money in Reykjavik was to purchase the City Card, which gives you entry into all of the city's key museums and thermal pools, as well as a few added bonuses too such as free public transportation!

From driving the Golden Circle route, to crawling through ice caves, to getting close and personal with waterfalls, Iceland has it all and really is an explorer's paradise. Don't let the cost put you off. Make sure you budget ahead of time and plan your trip. Everything you do will be a once in a lifetime experience, and you can't put a price on that.

Take a Dip in the Blue Lagoon
Is any trip to Iceland complete without a trip here? It's honestly an incredible experience, and if you get the premium ticket you get 2 face masks, a drink, and a robe/slippers too! Get the earliest possible ticket if you can, that way you'll avoid the crowds!
Hraunfossar Waterfall
If you're heading to the Into the Glacier experience, make sure you stop at this waterfall. It's only 5 minutes down the road from the meeting point. Barnafoss Waterfall is also right next to this one.
Into the Glacier in Langjokull
This is a surreal experience, and I'd highly recommend it. It takes around 3 hours in total, including the journey up the glacier and your time in it. It's Iceland's second largest glacier, and the tunnels through it are a work of pure masterpiece. It's a once in a lifetime experience too, as the glacier and tunnels are constantly changing!
Get Up Close With an Icelandic Horse
These majestic (and cute) horses are dotted all around the country, and are the only type of horse in the country. You can even go on a tour while riding one for a very unique experience!
Go on a Game of Thrones Tour with GetYourGuide
This full day tour is an absolute must for any GoT fan. Even if you aren't a fan of the show, you get to see some incredible spots, most of which aren't crawling with tourists which is a bonus. The guide was actually an extra in the show, and gives some behind the scenes insight into it! The first stop was Thorufoss Waterfall, which was used in the famous scene when one of the dragons burns all of the sheep and flies off with one.

This was also a beautiful stop. In Thingvellir National Park, you can walk between the tectonic plates. It's also the filming location of The Eyrie, where Sansa and Little Finger entered the Bloody Gates.

Oxarafoss Waterfall is located at one end of the tectonic plates, and is a beautiful sight.

Recognize this? "Olly's Village" was the location of the gruesome scene which saw the wildlings slaughter everyone, except for Olly. It's called Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng in real life, and is a reconstructed Viking village. Surprisingly there was absolutely no one else there, which was great for photos!
Grab Some Gluten Free-Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream at Joylato
Ever wanted to watch your ice cream being made right in front of you? This is the place to go! They have a couple of different ice cream options, but naturally I went for the liquid nitrogen one, which was very fun to watch and reminded me of a science experiment. Result? Deliciously smooth and creamy ice cream. It's located in the heart of Reykjavik too, so no excuses not to stop in!
Explore the Streets of Reykjavik
Reykjavik is a beautiful city, so put on your walking shoes. Of course, the famous cathedral is a must visit, but you should also make sure you take time to walk around the streets and look in some of the unique shops. The waterfront is also a great place to walk, especially around sunset!
Treat Yourself at Sushi Social
You can't visit Iceland without trying the fish. And we found the best restaurant for that! Sushi Social offers a blend of Japanese and South American cuisine, which together is simply amazing. We had several dishes from the menu, and all of it was incredible. The presentation of the food was also just as incredible as eating it! I'd highly recommend stopping here.
Puffin and Whale Watching with Special Tours
Definitely try both tours if you can. Their puffin tour only takes an hour, and you get very close to them! The whale watching tour is around 3hrs, and in the event you don't see any whales you're welcome to try again free of charge! You can upgrade your ticket to include the Whales of Iceland exhibition too which is very interesting!
Have a Break at 17 Sortir
There are two locations in the city, but we stopped by the one along the waterfront which is perfectly located if you're looking around some of the museums in the area or going on a boat tour. Their selections change every day, and the cupcakes are to die for. So make sure you take a break from exploring the city and grab yourself a sweet treat!
Walk Around the Kerid Crater
There's a small entrance fee of 400isk if you visit here yourself, but some tours also stop off here The volcanic crater is a magnificent sight, and is very easy to get to from the Golden Circle route.
Another great detour from the Golden Circle. Skalholt was a very important settlement in Iceland, and dates back to the 11th century.
Marvel at Strokkur
If this isn't on your bucket list, it should be. The geysir erupts every few minutes, and is located in the famous Geothermal Area. I'd recommend going later in the evening if you have a car, that way you avoid all of the crowds.
Gullfoss Waterfall
This is a major stop on the Golden Circle route, and one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland. It falls in two stages, and is by far one of the most beautiful waterfalls I've seen.
Skogafoss Waterfall
Located in southern Iceland, Skogafoss is a mighty waterfall, You can walk right up to it but be prepared to get soaked. There are also steps leading up to the top for a different view. If you're driving, you'll easily see it from the road!
Take a Tour With Katlatrack
This was the most incredible experience I've had. Their ice cave tour takes you across a black sand beach, past green mountains, and through unbelievable ice caves. After crawling through a second, small cave, you emerge inside the crater of the glacier, and get some amazing views from the top as well. It's a once in a lifetime experience, and if you're in southern Iceland don't miss out!

Did someone say view goals?
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
You didn't think I was done with waterfalls did you? I love waterfalls, so the trip was packed with them. This one is really unique, as you can walk directly behind it! You do get drenched though so come prepared!

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Southern Iceland is beautiful. And one of the most beautiful spots is this black sand beach right next to the small village of Vik. The large basalt columns are another pull to this beach, and some scenes from GoT were shot here as wel!

Iceland can get quite pricey, so make sure you plan ahead and have all the tours pre-booked, so you can budget more effectively while you're there! Happy travels!


My name is Krista, and like many people I love to travel! I think it's important that people share their travel experiences, so I hope that mine help you in some way in your own travels, or inspire you to travel more! 

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© 2018 by Krista the Explorer