Sunday 17 January 2016

4 Nights in Iceland

4 night Iceland Itinerary

Because I'm pretty much the luckiest person ever, my boyfriend took me to Iceland to go Northern Lights hunting for my birthday this year. Here's what we got up to.

Saturday Night: Northern Lights

We arrived in Iceland around 6pm and got the GreyLine bus from the airport to our hotel in Reykjavik. Luckily for us unorganised folk there's no need to book a transfer in advance as the buses seemed to be leaving pretty regularly. We got to the hotel about an hour or so later, checked in and booked onto a Northern Lights tour for that evening. We had already planned to hunt the Northern Lights on the first night as you get a free ticket the next day if you don't manage to see them, but, we were tired and the forecast was really low (2/9) so we didn't think we had much hope of seeing them. James was pretty close to bailing but I managed to persuade him against it and I am SO glad I did.

On the tour, you pretty much pile into a bus with a bunch of other tourists and drive away from the city. Essentially, you want to get away from the "light pollution" so, you know, get somewhere that's pitch black. The lights are technically there all the time, it's just the conditions that stop us from seeing them, either it's not dark enough, the sky isn't clear enough or, the aurora just isn't strong enough. We drove around until we got to a dark spot where we could see the stars (clue that the sky is clear!) annnd then we waited. In what was essentially a car park, in pitch black, in -7degrees, with no real hope of seeing the lights. It's in this moment that you really have to just appreciate the fact that you've probably never seen so many stars and that alone is just SO beautiful. In itself, that might be enough...if it wasn't just so cold.

Then, everything changed. Our bus drivers busted out the hot chocolate and donuts annnd spotted a very faint green line in the sky. We all stared at it, just willing it to move, to brighten and by some miracle it actually did. Pretty soon we were standing in a pitch black car park, clutching cups of hot chocolate and ticking off our mental bucket lists. We had seen the Northern Lights, and they were beautiful (but annoyingly hard to photograph).

We got back around 1am feeling sleepy, but, smug.

Sunday daytime: Reykjavik

Things to do in Reykjavik

Off to explore Reykjavik. First stop, coffee, obvs. Then we went to hunt down Hallgrimskirkja, or simply, "the church". It's such a striking building and offers stunning views of the entire city at the top. We were loosing the light a little because we spent too long faffing with our hire car earlier so were in a bit of a rush after this. We headed to one of the citys amazing outdoor swimming pools, or "thermal spa" if you're feeling fancy. It was so relaxing and pretty cool to be chilling in a heated pool, watching the sunset whilst it's -6 degrees. I would seriously recommend! 

Sunday Night: Northern Lights

The forecast for the lights wasn't looking to great for this evening either, but, we had a car and the forecast had lied to us yesterday so, we didn't really trust him anymore. Now, fully equipped with the tour guide trade secrets (find the dark, clear spot) we went hunting, We ended up in Thingvellir National Park and, whilst the lights weren't as good as the night before, they were there. Success,

Monday Daytime: The Golden Circle

Iceland the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle. The big one, right? We had the car so didn't need to book a tour for this, there aren't any entrance fees on the tour and all the spots were pretty easy to find. Driving also means you can move at your own pace and don't have to rush off if you want to spend more time somewhere.

Our first stop was Thingvellir National Park where we'd seen the lights the night before, it was just the most beautiful place. I have to admit though, I am not the best with walking on ice, and it was pretty icey! James ran off exploring like the inner 6 year old he is, whilst I hung back listening to a tour guide that we'd gatecrashed and admiring the beautiful scenery.

Next up, the Geysir, a "geothermally active valley". Sure, I don't really know what that means, but, I know it was impressive. Photo-wise, it's the middle one above. It was slightly disappointing that it was snowy here because the camera just couldn't capture the full beauty of the eruption.

Final stop on the Golden Circle is Gulfoss an incredibly beautiful waterfall. Again, James was off maximising the danger he could get into whilst I hung back and admired the view safely from the designated viewpoints. (James definitely wins the life points, but, I'm just too much of a wimp..)

It's worth pointing out that it was snowing, pretty heavily. This obviously affected some of the views but in a way I think it made everything look so pretty. I'd definitely be keen to see Iceland in the summer though, I think we could do this exact tour again and have a completely different experience.

Monday Night: Selfoss

We drove further South and checked into the cutest cabin in Selfoss (Gesthus) It was literally something out of a Christmas card. We chilled in the cabin for a bit and then headed out for some food at Surf n Turf - I mention the specific restaurant because there isn't that much going on in Selfoss and if you find yourself there you should check it out. Afterwards, we walked back in the snow, which was now knee deep so, well, it took a while.

Tuesday Daytime
things to do in Selfoss

We didn't have a plan for Tuesday daytime, so were pretty flexible in what we saw. We went for a drive which in itself is such a lovely thing to do in Iceland. Everywhere is just so beautiful. Speaking of driving, if you're planning on staying in Reykjavik for your whole trip you definitely don't need a car, but, if you want to get out and about I'd highly recommend it. We got to maximise our changes of seeing the lights and could work to our own itinerary.

We ended up at Skogafoss waterfall which was, again, beautiful. Now, I know I sound like a broken record, but, it really is cold here. What I mean by that is, I went up close to the waterfall to take some snaps, the mist made my coat really wet, within 2 minutes, my coat was frozen, and I really do mean frozen, not cold, but, actually turned to ice! So, I know it goes without saying, but, if you're going, pack the thermals.

Next up, Glacier walking. Now, we hadn't booked a tour or anything for this (if you want to do it properly you really do need to). We just hunted down a glacier and walked to it..sounds simple enough but, remember what I said before about not liking the ice? I kind of downplayed that there, what I mean is, I have a genuine totally irrational phobia of ice and open edges. That really doesn't make me the target audience for glacier walking. Especially when "glacier walking" is just James and I walking with no equipment, totally on our own, when the sun is setting, I was genuinely terrified and had a bit of a breakdown BUT you probably aren't as crazy as me and will most likely love it. Like all of Iceland, it's spectacular to look at.

We headed to another waterfall (Seljalands-Foss) and for something to eat to plan our final hunt for the Northern Lights.

Tuesday Night: Northern Lights

It was our final night and the aurora forecast told us the Lights were a 4/9 and Active. This was very exciting and we headed into the car on another hunt. The roads were pretty icy and we stopped at one point to admire the faint lights and got stuck...we had to wait until a passing car came (of course, we'd hunted down a super dark spot so nothing was going on there and it took a while for someone to come get us) eventually, the nicest Icelandic guy stopped and drove the car while James pushed - we were free and ready to hunt again. Later that night we were in Northern Light heaven. When I say we were surrounded by bright green, dancing lights I completely mean it. It was so special and a memory I'll treasure forever. It was cold!

I had the best time in Iceland and would totally go again (this is big for me, as there are so many places in the world I want to see, I don't usually want to go to the same place twice). I am so grateful to my lovely boyfriend for being the most generous person in the world for the best birthday present ever <3 He is such a keeper.

Iceland 4 day itinerary


  1. I'm so glad you posting this Iceland has been on the top of my places to go! Sounds like you both had an amazing time.. The pics are stunning the sights look incredible! Hoping that when I go i'll be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights xx


    1. Hello lovely! Glad this post was interesting to you! I don;t know how true it is, but, I read an article the other day that said after 2016 the Northern Lights will be dimming for about a decade so maybe this is the year to see them! (although, could also be totally untrue haha) xx


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