Iceland is a unique destination that offers breath-taking scenery with a spectacularly varied landscape, from geysers and waterfalls to volcanoes and mountains, and dramatic glacial lagoons. Reykjavik is a colourful, vibrant city, yet Iceland is Europe’s most sparsely populated nation, and a wonderful place to visit if you like to avoid the crowds. The only problem is, it covers such a vast area, you will need to return again and again to really appreciate everything Iceland has to offer.
Where we stayed: Viking Villa Sleeps 8. 3 bedrooms 2 bathrooms
Price: For 6 people £190 a night £950 a week
Location: Heart of the Golden Circle, South Iceland, near a village called Fludir. Close to Gulfoss Waterfall, Geysir Hot Springs and Pingvellir National Park.
Time of year: February
As it was our first time in Iceland, and we were only there for 4 nights, we wanted to experience as many of the recommended ‘must-sees’ as possible. These included, of course, the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa, and the stunning features of the Golden Circle route, plus a snowmobile trek on the Langjokull glacier. .
We were also keen to see the Northern Lights, and were hopeful that there might be snow in February, hence the 4×4 vehicle hire! Unfortunately, we experienced neither, in fact the temperatures were so mild, we wondered why we had equipped ourselves with enough thermals and ski gear for a trek to the North Pole!
As our flight was an early one, we planned to visit the Blue Lagoon on the way from the airport – just 20 minutes away – before driving to Viking Villa. We chose the Premium inclusive lunch package for 94€, which although sounding expensive, was one of the best decisions we could have made. The buffet lunch, which we enjoyed in white, fluffy bathrobes (apart from Jamie, who felt rather overdressed), was amazing – so much choice, we just kept filling and refilling our plates so that when we finally finished, we looked like over-stuffed penguins!
How can I describe the Lagoon? It’s set in a lava field that looks like a luna landscape, you submerge yourself in the glorious warmth of the steaming water, you daube on white-silica mud, and you experience the most blissful, sublime, bath of your life……just wow!
Viking Villa was another “wow”, as we drove up to this spectacular isolated villa in the midst of wonderful scenery. Inside was amazing, with a spacious open-plan living area and even a cosy ‘look-out’ snug from where we could view the Aurora (if only the clouds hadn’t blocked it!) The wood-burning fire was a lovely central feature, though it really wasn’t cold enough to light!
Geysir Hot Springs was amazing – the Strokkur is the only active geyser, but went off every 10 minutes, so we had great fun waiting with camera poised to catch the best shots! It was quite exposed, and did get cold, but the restaurant, though expensive, was a great place to warm ourselves up with a mug of hot chocolate. The shop was lovely, with some beautiful gifts – I couldn’t resist treating myself to a gorgeous Icelandic rug!
The snowmobiling was a fantastic experience (www.mountaineers.is) – the truck ride up to base camp across snow covered tracks was an experience in itself; then we got ourselves geared up in overalls, gloves and helmets ready for our safety instruction – cameras and go-pro at the ready! There followed one high-speed hour of adrenaline-pumping excitement as we traversed the glacier and were immersed in the most breathtaking scenery and staggering views imaginable. Yet another wow!
We combined this trip with a visit to the Gulfoss Waterfall – a beautiful, stunning explosion of water as it thunders down 2 tiers of rock. You can view from the top or you can walk down a rather uneven and slippery path to the bottom – either way, the views are awe-inspiring. Afterwards the café serves a very welcome bowl of hot soup, with free refills!
Pingellir National Park sits between two tectonic plates, so you can literally stand between two continents. Set off from the Visitor Centre (no café) and explore this staggering landscape along decked walkways and clear pathways. Allow at least 2 hours if not more, just to walk and take in the beauty of this area – the mountains, the clear sparkling rivers and waterfalls, and most of all the fabulous views.
Finally, a day in Reykjavik, to include a whale watching tour, and a walk around the town – there is plenty to see and do. Café Babalu had a lovely, relaxed atmosphere, and themed bathrooms, and we found the best fish and chips at the Icelandic Fish and Chips Restaurant.
- If my review still hasn’t inspired you to take the trip, check out www.inspiredbyiceland.com – a fantastic blog with incredible imagery and videos
This holiday break was just an amazing experience with all the activities equally impressive in different ways.
Would I go again?
Definitely. There is so much more to explore.
Have you been to Iceland?
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