A Weekend in Iceland: Things to Do

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A Weekend in Iceland: Things to Do

A weekend in Iceland: Back in January, I got an alert for a killer flight deal to Iceland. I spent $198 round-trip from Chicago to Reykjavik. I couldn’t not go! I’m a pretty adventurous traveler who chooses to do things that you wouldn’t typically do on vacation. Late nights and early mornings comprise my vacation days – trying to jam-pack it with adventure.

How to spend a weekend in IcelandThank you to Tripadvisor for sponsoring this trip, but my love for travel is all my own

Tripadvisor is where I do all of my research – what to eat, where to stay, and what to do – for starters. If a place has some poor reviews, I’ll take a closer look. I love that Tripadvisor allows me to see the real reason behind a rating. Perhaps there was a scheduling mixup between the tour company and the traveler, so they rated it poorly? Or perhaps the hotel could have used a remodel but has since remodeled after receiving the poor reviews.

A weekend in Iceland: This TripAdvisor Tour had great reviews so I chose it!
This TripAdvisor Tour had great reviews so I chose it! Oh look, there’s my review, too!

This is the tour I booked with Tröll Expeditions – it’s very easy to check the availability of an attraction by picking how many are in your party and the date you’d like to go! 
TripAdvisor is super easy to use

My fave part though, is the Low Price Guarantee! If you find a lower price for the same tour or activity within 72 hours of booking, or if you arrive in your destination and find your activity offered at a lower price by our operator, just give them a shout. They’ll refund the price difference! So there’s really no reason NOT to use TripAdvisor to book – whether it’s an excursion, tour, hotel, or many of the other options they offer.

My friends at Tripadvisor were so generous to let me go on some excursions while in Iceland, and they did NOT disappoint.

How to Spend a Weekend in Iceland: Things to Do

Day 1: Weekend in Iceland

My first day I went with Tröll Expeditions to the Golden Circle with a stop at the Silfra fissure to snorkel between two continents! My guide was David, who knew so much about Iceland despite being from Madagascar! The tour was made up of 30-somethings, which was nice because we were all very social. A lady from Brazil, a guy from New Zealand, California, and a couple from the UK.

Our day started with David picking me up from my hotel, which was super important to me. I wasn’t staying in the city center, and it would have been a pain to navigate to the center otherwise.

Kerið Crater

We made our way along the Golden Circle, stopping at Kerið Crater first. The views were spectacular and the water – oh, SO BLUE! The cost to enter the area was covered by the tour, but I recall it being very reasonable as I passed by the little ticket booth.

Take a peek at the photo I put on my Facebook – you may need to view the original photo to click and drag it around to see the full picture.

Gullfoss Waterfall

After the crater, we stopped at Gullfoss Waterfall. When you’re at the top, you don’t really even know this place is here. You just hear a lot of loud water moving, and you make your way down a long staircase. Once you round the corner, you literally gasp at the beauty.

If you choose to walk the path along the waterfall to get to the start of it, be prepared to get wet. Don’t even bother bringing an umbrella – the water will be coming at you from all directions as the wind carries it. A warm rain jacket with a hood will suffice – and don’t forget your boots!

Geysir

We ate lunch near the Geysir – a little place called the Canteen. The lamb soup is delicious, and they’ve got a large gift shop, too. After you eat lunch, head across the road to view Geysir. About every 8-10 minutes, you’ll see this bubble up and then shoot into the sky. It is really something to behold – I Facetimed with the family back home to witness it.

Snorkeling between two tectonic plates

When I was at the Travel & Adventure Show in Chicago over the winter, I ran into a tour company from Iceland that offered snorkeling in the Silfra fissure. It was completely WILD to me – and I knew that I HAD to do it. The temperature of the water itself is always around 3-5 degrees celsius, which is VERY cold.

The process of getting ready to snorkel is indeed a PROCESS. You wear your regular clothes underneath something that reminds me of a snowmobile suit. After that, you put on a dry suit. This dry suit keeps you from getting wet! If any of you have ever put on a wetsuit before, you know how difficult it is. Imagine putting on a dry suit OVER all of your huge layers. Our guide, Christina, made it go by quickly though!

Then you put on your headgear, have straps placed around your neck and wrists to prevent water from going in, your mask, and then gloves that resemble Ninja Turtle fingers. I am not sure why they’re not your standard five finger gloves 🙂 Now, your hands WILL get wet. It’s not designed to prevent that. Water will get in, and you want to keep the water in there rather than moving your fingers around to get it out. The idea is that your hands will warm this freezing cold water, so you don’t want to replace it with cold water! Christina taught us to keep our hands clasped behind our backs while snorkeling to minimize the cold.

Snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure
Me snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure

There isn’t a lot to see underwater, aside from lots of algae and huge boulders. However, the experience was unreal! If you’ve ever seen Game of Thrones, you’re familiar with The Wall and the waterfall near it. This crack is right below it!

Snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure
I learned that it’s hard to keep your mouth closed around the mouth piece when they’re numb! And, it’s hard not to want to smile when having your picture taken!

You’re probably wondering if I was cold while snorkeling. My body was nice and cozy – however my face HURT. It was a painful cold and I got relief when I lifted my head out of the water. However, that was my mistake! When you lift your head out of the water to seek refuge from the cold, you start the numbing process all over again. Keep your head under water so that your face can go numb and you won’t feel a lot of the cold!

Snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure
We had the BEST crew – David is the one not dressed in a dry suit:)

Blue Lagoon

After the tour with Tröll Expeditions, I headed to Blue Lagoon. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking they can just arrive and get right in. However, it must be booked in advance – sometimes more than a week! I got lucky and booked a spot for 8 pm (they close at ten).

I did the Premium Package, which allowed me to go in the Premium line that had no wait at all. The general line was quite long! They give you bracelets to wear that allow you to go into the lagoon, and make purchases on it. When you check out, you pay based on what purchases showed up on your bracelet.

You will need to shower naked before putting on your swimsuit. It’s a little funny to me – after all, I can bet that there’s all kinds of drinks spilled into the lagoon! You’ve got lockers to put your stuff in…and be sure to put lots of conditioner in your hair for the lagoon. It will help protect your hair from the silica. I used a LOT in my hair and it still feels like straw days later, despite washing it several times.

I did two masks – the silica mud mask, and later followed by an algae mask. A word of caution: don’t wear any gold (white or yellow) into the water. The silica will tarnish it!

I got my first mask on and then headed over to the bar for my free drink. I opted for a blueberry smoothie using skyr. Skyr is an icelandic cultured dairy product that’s a lot like a thick yogurt. By the time I finished that, it was time to remove my first mask. I headed back to the mask station to get my algae mask.

When the algae mask was ready to be removed, I made my way to the area furthest away from everyone else. I found a place to set my phone on the rocks and then the perfect rock to nestle my head and neck into so it was supported while I floated in place. I stayed like this for a good hour, staring up at the night sky. The stars were so beautiful and tranquil. Is this what heaven is like, I thought? 

Be sure to shower really, really well after you’re finished. Have you ever used a mud mask and let it sit on a little too long? Your skin will feel pretty tight. On your way out through the gift shop, don’t forget to snag a little bit of face moisturizer – you’ll need it!

Day 2: How to Spend a Weekend in Iceland

ATV riding up mountains

Because I had to check out of my hotel on Sunday, I opted for a pretty easy day. I booked a last-minute tour with Safari for a 2-hour ATV tour up two mountains.

They bundle you up in warm gear, including gloves, a balaclava, snowmobile-looking suit and a helmet. Our guide was Hanna, who was really nice. We had a young group who enjoyed going hard and fast up the mountains, which made it even more fun. We crossed rivers, lots of puddles, and mud. Even if you’re a novice with riding an ATV, it’s made super comfortable for you. She stops everyone to tell you when to switch to 4-wheel drive and back to 2-wheel drive.

Aside from the fun, I really loved that the handlebars were heated! This kept my hands toasty.

Check out some of the pictures here by clicking on View More on Instagram:

 
 
 
 
 
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Around 4:30 this morning, I got home from an incredible trip to Iceland. There, I obliterated my fears. – I rode up two mountains, through rivers, mud, and rain on an ATV with @Safariquads – I snorkeled between two continents at the Silfa Fissure with Tröll Expeditions (ever see Game of Thrones?? That huge wall is right next to it, and so is the waterfall in the show!)…and did a tour of the Golden Circle – I enjoyed lots of relaxation in the warm Blue Lagoon – and so much more I used to live in so much fear – fear of the unknown, of failing, of succeeding (crazy, right??), of making lots of money (because I’d lose it all, right??), and then some. I’ve learned that the secret to telling a great story is living one. Thanks @Tripadvisor for helping me discover that.

A post shared by Kathy Haan, MBA (@kathyhaan) on


I loved every bit of Iceland that I got to explore, and can’t wait to come back. So much so that I even looked up how feasible it would be to move there. 🙂

Thank you, Tripadvisor!

 

{Aside from gratuities, tour companies really love when you leave reviews on Tripadvisor. Be sure to do that – it’s one of the greatest compliments you can give!}

3 thoughts on “A Weekend in Iceland: Things to Do”

  1. Pingback: 150+ Epic Bucket List Adventures - Idyllic Pursuit

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