How to make the most of your stopover in Iceland

What do you think of when you hear about Iceland? You probably know it as home to volcanoes, the mythical Blue Lagoon and that place Walter Mitty visits briefly in the film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. But what you might not know is that this island is home to an incredibly sustainable culture, epic landscapes and the friendliest people you will meet.

Oh and they also have some of the best hot dogs in the world! (We’ll get to that in a minute).

So if you don’t know where to start but are planning a trip there or a stopover on your way between Europe and the USA, here my tips to get through your stopover and will leave you wanting more.

 

The Blue Lagoon

A visit to the Blue Lagoon is definitely worth the trip, but try and remove the expectation that this is a completely natural hot spring haven, but rather a geothermal spa turned day spa. It a great place to relax in natures beauty while enjoying a delicious detox juice or cocktail with your girlfriends (like I did) or your significant other. You can either go for the basic package which will allow you to spend all day relaxing in the lagoon with the mud masks, or you can make additions on top from massages, facials to full body masks and everything in between. Plus it’s a great place for people watching.

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa located right between KEF airport and Reykjavik city, making this an easy activity to complete on your way to or from the airport but you could also spend a whole day there relaxing.

Activity timing: half a day

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Golden Circle Tour

The Golden Circle was definitely my favourite part of my trip to Iceland, the incredible sights we stopped along the way were like no other and got me much more interested in geology that I ordinarily would be.

The Golden Circle tour stops at the Güllfoss Falls, a set of waterfalls that are so large you can’t really tell where they start and end, and while they may look like the earth could start caving in any minute! Then the tour takes you to the Strokkur Geyser, one of very few natural geysers with frequent eruptions every four minutes, making it really easy to get that picture prefect Snap Chat pic to make your friends jealous back home. And the finale of the day is Thingvellir National Park, where you will be able to see the continental drift between the North American and Eurasian Plates or as I understand it, where the tectonic plates of Europe and Northern America meet! It’s so incredible to stand on this fault line and take in the scenery of these two different continents!

Activity timing: a full day

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Northern Lights Chasing Aurora Borealis

If you happen to be in Iceland from September to April then you may be lucky enough to see the Aurora Borealis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights. You will need to leave the city to see the lights, you can either go via a tour or if you have hired a car. Most tours take tourists to the national park where there is a lot of space and limited lighting.

Note that coming at that time of year, seeing the Northern Lights isn’t always guaranteed, so if you are unsure of the weather or where to go, make sure you ask a local or tourist office. Oh and don’t forget your tripod or your photos will look something like this.

Activity timing: full evening activity

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Hallgrimskirkja

A trip to the Hallgrimskirkja is a must do and not only is this church a great piece of architecture, it kind of looks like a Viking, but it also offers incredible views of Reykjavik! Make sure you take a trip to the Hallgrimskirkja tower, there are incredible views across the entire city which is a great place to get those panoramas! On your visit you may even catch the organist rehearsing, adding to the atmosphere, aren’t you lucky!

Activity timing: half a day

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Baejarins Beztu Pylsur

Baejarins Betzu Pylsur has become a local institution for the city of Reykjavik, this Hot Dog stand is popular with both locals and celebrities alike, they even had a visit from former United States president Bill Clinton! From the outside this appears like any street food vendor but the product speaks for itself. So no matter how long your stopover is, you will definitely have to make time to enjoy a trip to try the infamous hot dogs, and make sure you get it with the lot!

Activity timing: lunch or snack

Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach

If you are sick of all the black sandy Reykjavik beaches, then you can stop by and relax on Reykjavik city’s only white sand beach. As well as being Reykjavik’s only white sand beach, Nautholsvik geothermal beach is a great way to experience the thermal activity of Iceland without the trip out to the Blue Lagoon or the cost! Located just a short trip away from the Reykjavik city center, this beach is frequented by locals, so you know it’s good!

Activity timing: half a day

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Have you spent time in Iceland on a stopover? Tell me about your experience in the comments below.

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