A Weekend Escape in Iceland, the Land of Fire and Ice
Iceland is certainly a destination of the moment. A fairly unassuming place for many decades, it seemed like overnight everyone from Beyoncé to Sue from the front office was escaping to this incredible country – and posting amazing photos along the way.
I could only resist the temptation of all those incredible Instagram posts and inspiring blogs for so long; I simply had to book my own trip to the land of fire and ice.
Despite my sky-high expectations and having just one short weekend, Iceland blew me away.
Day 1 – Blue Lagoon / Reykjavik / Northern Lights
My first glimpse of Iceland’s dramatic landscapes came from the air, as my plane from London began to descend into the airport. Even from thousands of feet above, I could already make out some of the distinctive landmarks including the mountains and volcanoes peppered around the country.
I could barely wait for the plane to touch down and for my exploration of Iceland to begin. With my passport stamped, I exited immigration and found my airport transfer. Although there is a shuttle bus from Keflavik, I’d opted for a private transfer for one reason – I wanted to waste no time in visiting the Blue Lagoon, which is about halfway between the airport and Reykjavik.
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most famous tourist destinations. In fact, there are hot springs all over the country, however, the color of the Blue Lagoon sets it apart. It’s almost unbelievably blue; a beautiful pastel hue that looks as though it could be a set designed for a movie.
Arriving at the Blue Lagoon, I paid the entry fee and was given a wristband that entitled me to a drink at the swim-up bar. Between the cocktail and the blissful warmth of the blue water, I was in heaven. I couldn’t think of a more perfect introduction to beautiful Iceland.
While the experience was delightful, I’m not sure the water had the ‘healing’ properties that are sometimes advertised! I actually found my skin and hair to be quite dry afterward. When I got to my hotel, I was so grateful that I’d brought along my all-in-one skincare products – VENN Age-Reversing All-In-One Concentrate and VENN Advanced Multi-Perfecting Red Oil Serum – to add some life back into my complexion without missing out too much time for sightseeing.
This was important because I had Reykjavik to see! Iceland’s charming capital is absolutely beautiful, set on the water with a variety of gorgeous rustic buildings. It is just the right size – so easy to explore on foot, yet with everything you could need.
I couldn’t miss Reykjavik’s famous church, Hallgrímskirkja (I never did get a handle on Icelandic pronunciation). It is very unique in shape, and as my hotel was near it, the perfect landmark to prevent me from getting lost!
The Northern Lights
After exploring beautiful Reykjavik for several hours, the sun began to set. The sight of it dipping below the horizon was enough for me to feel the excitement building – it was time for me to join a tour in search of the elusive Northern Lights.
As I only had a weekend in Iceland, I knew there was a good chance I’d miss this incredible phenomenon – but I had to try. Luckily, the tour company confirmed the conditions were clear, and I climbed into the minibus with a group of other travelers, eager to chase the aurora borealis.
We drove for about half an hour when the vehicle suddenly stopped. A flicker of something appeared in the sky. Could it be? I thought.
It certainly was – it was the Northern Lights, dancing above me in their shades of neon green. I was totally captivated, and the entire bus was bustling with energy as we poured out to get a better look. Amazed, we stared up in wonder, hearing only the clicking of cameras we tried to capture the moment forever. I’m not sure my photos did it justice, but at least they are a souvenir of this amazing experience.
Day 2 – Golden Circle
The next day I awoke earlier than my alarm clock, mostly due to my excitement for the coming day. I got up and began my morning routine, again reaching for my VENN all-in-one skincare. My skin is dry at the best of times, and the cool winds of the previous night had left my skin feeling quite parched.
Luckily, the all-in-one solution had done wonders and restored some of that healthy glow to my skin. I carefully applied my favorite natural glam makeup, hoping I’d fit in with the gorgeous and stylish ladies of Reykjavik.
In truth, I was actually heading out of the city on the 300-kilometer (186-mile) ‘Golden Circle’ route. One of the most famous itineraries in Iceland, it takes in several of the country’s most spectacular sights all in one day.
I was again picked up by a minibus, and a group of us set out to explore the Icelandic landscape.
Þingvellir National Park
Our first stop was Þingvellir National Park, also sometimes called ‘Thingvellir’. This amazing national park is UNESCO World Heritage listed, and has two particularly unique features. It is the sight of the first Icelandic parliament, which first met in 930 AD, making it the oldest continuously operating parliament on earth.
In addition, it is where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. It is literally earth-shattering; you can see the dividing line striking through the landscape. In fact, you can even swim between the two, if you are braver than me!
Geysir Geothermal Area
After our adventure through the national park, our next stop was at the Geysir Geothermal Area. There are many geysers in Iceland, which are like air vents where pressure is let off from volcanic activity underground, causing boiling hot steam to spurt high into the air.
Sure enough, we had been there for mere minutes when we were witness to the spectacle of water shooting about 20 meters in the air from the geyser Stokkur. Famously, Stokkur sits nearby to Iceland’s Great Geysir which is known to spout water up to 70 meters high – sadly, it is nowhere near as active and we did not get to see it erupt.
The final stop on our Golden Circle tour was at the incredible Gullfoss Waterfall, also known as the Golden Waterfall. It’s one of the most famous and beautiful falls in Iceland, with water from the nearby glacial river stepping down several levels and flowing through the beautiful landscape. As I’d expected, it’s a magical sight and a fitting end to our Golden Circle tour.
Arriving back in Reykjavik still buzzing from the incredible natural beauty of the Golden Circle, I had just a couple of hours before my flight back. Not wanting to spend it in the hotel, I asked for a recommendation for a wine bar. Port 9 did not disappoint, and as I sipped my delicious Shiraz, I took a few moments to reflect on what a dazzling weekend it had been. Iceland is certainly deserving of all its praise, and more.