I did not believe all the hype surrounding Iceland. I had seen the stunning photos, the moody landscape, the wild horses and the waterfalls, but I just thought the people that took the photos were good photographers; perfectionists at making the average look beautiful.
I was wrong, and I am so glad I was. Iceland is one of those rare places that is still mostly untouched by man. What you see is what you get. There are no long tourist lines with security guards, where you have to pay money at the entrance to get in, and there are no signs indicating the original structure and the one recently built to reinforce it. The sights aren't housed in a museum, and there is no tourist restaurant with overpriced food next door. It's just nature and beauty. It simply is.
What I loved most about visiting Iceland was how surreal the entire trip felt. Not only is the landscape constantly changing, and the scenery breathtaking, but it is actually an island. I don't know why I couldn't get over that fact, but knowing that it was a (somewhat) small island miles from cities and lots of people and civilization kind of freaked me out a bit. It was in a good way, that made me feel very small and unimportant but also confused as to how diverse a tiny little island could be.
The other crazy thing that I couldn't get over was the never-ending daylight. In summertime Iceland only gets dark for about 2-3 hours. By midnight it was still light out, and by 3AM the sun was already rising (or maybe even already overhead). Despite the consistent sunshine, it was very overcast 99% of the time, and created that perfect even lighting situation that photographers love. I'm telling you now, that if you go to Iceland, you CANNOT take a bad picture. Seriously, the entire place is just a photogenic dream world.
We flew via Icelandair after finding a very affordable deal from JFK. We flew to Copenhagen first for nearly 3 days, and then on to Iceland for almost 4 full days. We rented a car through Lotus Car Rental, and opted to not get a car with wifi. We wanted to fully experience each destination, and I knew if we had wifi in the car I would be tempted to be on my phone more than necessary. Since we didn't have wifi for GPS, Kyle found this incredible offline navigation app called Here Maps, that works very similar to Google Maps but doesn't require internet/wifi. How, I'm not exactly sure, but it was a lifesaver for us!!
For lodging we chose different AirBnB's, a hotel, and a cabin. Since we stayed at a different place each night and we only slept there, we tried to choose places based on their location and that were at an affordable price. This part was the most difficult with our planning because we weren't sure how far we would drive each day, but we just booked our lodgings in advance and hoped for the best. Thankfully, everything worked out pretty well! One of the Airbnb's we stayed at (on our last night in Iceland, the night before our early flight back) was simply adorable. STAY THERE.
We saw a lot there, but for this post the three places pictured here include:
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall - Oh my goodness this place was AMAZING. A 200 ft. tall waterfall, that you can walk behind. That is all.
Blue Lagoon - I'm still not sure how I feel about this place. On the one hand it was amazing because it was relaxing and the water was questionably blue, but on the other it was kind of pricey and a little underwhelming. This was the only thing about Iceland that I was a bit disappointed in (and that's probably because it was man-made!). It's still worth going, but just be warned it might not be what you expect.
Fjadrargljufur Canyon - This may have been my favorite sight of the entire trip. It's a jaw-dropping canyon with the bluest, clearest water running through it. It was huge!