Iceland – the land of puffins, fluffy wild horses, natural geothermic pools, towering waterfalls and giant glaciers. In less than a month we’ll hit this winter wonderland and I couldn’t be more excited!
We’ve got the most amazing itinerary lined up, some accommodation locked in and an awesome Jeep with our name on it. Snuggly warm clothes have been purchased and (with a little luck), the DJI drone that we’ve got on order might make it to us in time – we’re about as ready as can be.
I’m in the process of finalising our plans and practically burst with anticipation each time I see photos pop up on my Instagram feed. As Kiwis, we’re pretty accustomed to beautiful scenery and exciting activities but there’s something about Iceland that’s really calling to me.
I know we aren’t the only ones obsessed with this island national though – I’ve already spotted countless fellow travellers announce plans to visit for themselves in the coming six months so thought I’d put together this list to help people undertaking their research.
So, if you’re looking to book a trip, let us save you some time – these are the best of the best that we’ve come across so far. Each and every person that I’ve emailed has gone out of their way to help us and they all have reviews that speak for themselves.
Bring on December when we can bring you our own personal thoughts!
As if you needed any more reason to visit Iceland – here’s a set of fantastic wanderlust-fueled Icelandic photos to help get you excited too!
Ice Caving – Glacier Adventure
When winter sets in and the ice caves stabilise, adventurer seekers have the opportunity to go exploring under the ice. The way the light defuses through the ice is absolutely mesmerising – I can’t wait to see it for myself!
Amazing pictures from the Waterfall Ice Cave. Thank you @peterambertravel we truly enjoyed your company and reading about your tour to Iceland @glacieradventure #glacieradventure #icecaves #icecave #iceland #ice #waterfall #visitvatnajokull #vatnajökull #southiceland #adventure #wow #outdoors #picoftheday #photooftheday #instatravel #travelblog #travelblogger #glacier #niceland #instaphoto #instapic #natural
Snorkeling in the Silfra Rift – Scuba Iceland
If you’re looking for an activity that’s unique to Iceland, check out the Silfra Rift. This is the only place in the world where you can dive or snorkel between two continental plates. Done a dry suit and jump in – you’ll struggle to find water clearer than this anywhere!
Another glorious day in this winter paradise.#poseidon #waterproof #scubaicelandsilfra #scubaicelanddiveteam #scubadiver #padi #paditv #thingvellir #thingvellirnationalpark #silfra #silfracrack #silfradiving #silfrafissure #snorkel #snorkeling #iceland #icelandair
A photo posted by Scuba Iceland DiveTeam (@scubaiceland) on
Snæfellsnes Peninsula & Golden Circle Tours – Moonwalker
Known for their adventurous, go-anywhere attitude, Moonwalker organises both private and group tours through the best parts of this Nordic country (and seriously, check out those 4WDs!) Bessi has been awesome to deal with and we’re excited to meet him in person.
South Coast Tour – VIP Tours
Specialising in personal tours around the Southern and Western Coasts, Hörður, a born-and-bred Icelander crafts tours to suit the needs of his guests. He’s lined up some awesome spots for us and with any luck, he’s told us we might be able to spot the Northern Lights as we head back to town too!
Northern Lights by Boat – Special Tours
When tossing up between visiting Iceland in December or March the main factor we considered was the likelihood of seeing the Northern Lights. Everything we read said that they’d potentially be backing off come March so we promptly booked for December. Of course, nothing’s set when it comes to mother nature but we wanted to give ourselves the best chance of catching them.
There’s the option of heading out of the city by car/van/truck but to make things a little more interesting, we decided to join Special Tours on their boat trip to hunt down the Northern Lights. It will be nice to get a different view of the capital, whether or not we manage to catch the lights.
Very stormy day in Reykjavik today so all our boats are stuck in the harbor waiting for the wind to calm down. Here is a Northern Lights by Boat picture to keep us happy ☺ #wowmoment #travelgram #workview #picoftheday #everydayiceland #reykjavik #iceland #northernlights #auroraborealis #aurora #green #sailing #wheniniceland #iheartreykjavik #reykjavikloves
A photo posted by Special Tours Iceland (@specialtours) on
Relaxing in Iceland
Geothermal Spa – Blue Lagoon
Swimming spots don’t come much more iconic than the Blue Lagoon! Though it isn’t cheap and there are other geothermal pools around the country (each town has at least one of their own), there’s something impressive about the sheer scale of this one.
Foodies Tour – Wake Up Reykjavík
When it’s cold outside is there much better than warming up inside with delicious local food? Iceland is known for it’s traditional food (rams testicles, fermented shark and sour sheep heads anyone?) and though that doesn’t appeal to us so much, the idea of popping into Reykjavík’s most popular restaurants (alongside the local best-kept-secrets) certainly does. Renowned for showing everyone an awesome time, we can’t wait to chow down!
A photo posted by Wake Up Reykjavík (@wakeupreykjavik) on
Warm Clothes – Kathmandu
Having spent the last year-and-a-bit living in Abu Dhabi, we’ve been caught noticeably short on clothing designed to keep us warm but Nathan’s about to bring some awesome adventure gear back from New Zealand for us and I can’t wait to try it on and get snuggly! Kathmandu is one of my favourite shops back home – camping gear, hoodies, jackets – whatever the product, we always find it fit for purpose and well-made. I can’t wait to get my hands on some quality Kiwi-designed products again – especially my new jacket! The technology they’ve managed to incorporate into it is seriously impressive. They’ve taken the best of down and managed to waterproof the jacket which should result in us being snuggly-warm regardless of the weather.
Transport – Geysir
Iceland as a country is fairly compact but to make the most of your time, you’ll definitely want to get out of the capital. We’ve booked on a number of tours (and they’re very kindly picking us up) but to get out to the ice caving (+ the abandoned DC10) and to enjoy the Northern Lights out of Reykjavík, a car was on our ‘must have’ Iceland list. Geysir have some awesome options – lots of late-model 4WDs to make getting about really easy.
A photo posted by Geysir Car Rental Iceland (@geysircarrental) on
Our first night we’ve booked into a quirky little hostel in Reykjavík – far better than bunk beds, we’ll each be sleeping in a little self-contained pod. With accommodation prices in Iceland being relatively high, we’re more than happy to be staying here. It looks like the perfect way to save some money, meet other travellers and enjoy a unique accommodation whilst retaining the privacy that we’re used to.
Part of the appeal of Iceland is the ability to get out into the back-country and heading out into the wilderness means finding a spot to stay. The Hali Country Hotel tick all the boxes for us – a great restaurant, comfortable rooms, wifi and a beautiful, remote location. It looks like it’ll be a great place to unwind after our day out in the ice cave!
Öræfajökull and Fellsfjall seen from our headquarters at Hali Country Hotel . . . . #glacieradventure #glacier #öræfajökull #glacierwalk #halicountryhotel #sunset #redsky #thesunset #beautifulsunset #inspiredbyiceland #bestoficeland #picoftheday #photooftheday #instatravel #instaphoto #ig_iceland #igersiceland #wheniniceland #iceland #visiticeland #icelandicnature #icelandtravel #icelandtrip #super_iceland #loveiceland #islandia #icelandicglacial #igsunset
A photo posted by Glacier Adventure (@glacieradventure) on
After a marvellous stay at the Radisson Blu in Sohar, Oman, we’re very excited to experience the Blu hospitality again on our upcoming visit to Reykjavík. We’ve already booked in for dinner and can’t wait to relax here between tours and activities.
Recommended by another travel blogger, Kex is known locally for being a fantastic hangout spot, popular with musicians and those looking to have a good time. With industrial, quirky styling, Kex looks like a hostel with a real sense of character.
Stay tuned for updates from Iceland along with our experience visiting Amsterdam for the first time and touring Southern Norway in an RV. Bring on Christmas!
Update: We’re in Iceland and absolutely loving it! Check out our post detailing how to find Sólheimasandur’s abandonded DC3 – an absolute must-see on the South coast. Also, our review of Wake Up Reykjavík, the Galaxy Pod Hostel and our amazing Kathmandu jackets.
Unfortunately our ice caving was cancelled due to bad weather but we managed to visit the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach along with the Skaftafell Glacier – all of which were fantastic alternatives on the South-East Coast.
Have you visited Iceland, Norway or Amsterdam before? If so, we’d love your recommendations – especially for Norway and Amsterdam!
Feeling inspired? Save this post for future reference and help another traveller out in the process!