Iceland

I bet you have opened a thousand blogs sharing "ultimate guide" to this and to that.
As much as I love to do the "no one has ever done this" stuff or "the local's choice", I also want to visit the places I see all the freaking time on Pinterest or Instagram and that most of the time includes super touristic spots.
Can I be honest? It's totally ok to travel abroad and want to see the Eiffel Towers, or the Big Ben or some giant mountain that everyone is "tired" of seeing it.
I have learned that no place is over visited until you get to be there and experience it by yourself.
That being said, visiting Iceland couldn't be different for me although I know this won't be my last time here, so why not visit all the places I have seen people posting a thousand times with my eyes and get my own opinion on it, right?!

Iceland has plenty of hikes, great views and every once in a while you are lucky to get lost between some pretty dope roads.
Sam and I chose to visit Iceland in December when the winter is just enough for you to be cold and still see everything without feeling miserable.
All roads were completely open and we had no issues driving to all places on our map.

  • THE LODGING

Although I did plan very well this trip, doen’t matter how or where I looked, hotels were always very expensive.
From the most basic one to the fanciest, prices were crazy high so I decided to search for an Airbnb close to the downtown area.
Threre were plenty of options in great spots for you to choose from the the prices were bsolutely incredible.
I am a big fan of Airbnbs and this will be my 5th year using it non stop all over the world and there is absolutely no regrets on it.
I would only recommend checking for spots with plenty of time before your trip so you can find what fits your budget and ideal best. 

  • THE CAR

Here its the tricky part of this trip. The car!
Man oh man, rentals are very expensive but so is the gas in Iceland.
If you are traveling in the summer, you better bring 30 other friends to share the price of the gas and car reservation as it goes up by 40% compared to the winter prices.
Of course we came in the winter (which was the best decision ever!) and still the rental was not the most affordable.
Here are a few tips for you to be aware:

+ If you go right now to EXPEDIA (or any other global booking website) and search for cars in Iceland, you will find great prices.
Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE MANUAL CARS!
Yes, so be careful while booking cars here. Make sure that you check if it's automatic or manual.
Manual cars are fairly cheaper than automatic ones so if you can manage a stick shift, good for you, otherwise, the price will have a little bump.

+ If you come in the summer, any smaller car will do as long as you don't go off road, which honestly, you don't need to and most places you can't anyways.
Get the most compact car out there and enjoy it. You should be just fine!

+ If you come in the winter, you will need a 4x4 car, which will make the prices go a bit up. You still won't go off road but the roads are covered in snow and smaller cars can easily slide side to side so a 4x4 is the most appropriate car.

BE AWARE OF THE INSURANCE POLICYS and I can't stress this enough.
After doing a long research with different companies, none of them covered "everything" and by everything I mean:

+ Tires (because people want to go off road on top of rocks and probably get flat tires all the time.

+Car's chassis (because of the rocks and off roads)

+ Doors (because of the strong wind, your door can easily be snapped off the car, which they won't cover it)

These 3 items are not covered AT ALL by most companies, except the ones that have a really high fee specifically for that.
Chat with them and get your terms very clear before you road away with the car.
For us, we went with an Icelandic company as they had the best prices for 4x4 cars during the winter.
Icerental 4x4 was the company we chose. They picked us up at the airport, drove us to their office where we were able to get the car.

Price: $753 for 10 days + insurance.
 

  • GAS

And you probably thought we were done with the car stuff. Nope!
Are you ready for this? 
Remember when I mentioned that you better bring 30 other people to share the cost of rentals? That's where I was talking about.
Gas in Iceland is close to $8 per gallon (#help).
If you are just staying around town and doing the same stuff everyone does when they come here, you should be fine but Sam and I drove between 5-8 hours per day to remote locations from one side to the other.
This was probably the worst expense ever.
Price: 10 days of traveling = Close to $600 worth of gas. 

  • FOOD

IT'S A TRAP! EAT AT HOME! ITS SO FREAKING EXPENSIVE!
Its so so so so expensive.
Seriously!
No matter where you go, a meal for two will cost between $50-$80 and it's not even fancy.
Most places serve seafood, which makes is pricy and the places that sell anything but seafood, are also expensive.
Surprisingly, grocery shopping was very cheap but didn't offer us many options.
I did what I do everywhere I go: I shop for breakfast items, snacks and here and there a frozen meal for those nights you can't stand on your legs anymore after walking miles and miles.
That costed us probably $50 total and lasted for the 10 days.
We ate at least 1 mean per day still outside the house, which usually was dinner and we managed to find some more affordable places to sit and enjoy it without having to break the bank.
Overall, eating here is not cheap so I recommend visiting cafes and smaller restaurants.

Here we go! Now that the boring part is fully covered, let's talk about the cool part.
Iceland is ONE OF A KIND. This place has been the coolest one I have ever visited so far and I will definitely come back again.
North and east side are the most non visited ones considering the most touristic spots are around the south west area.
I have pin pointed a full map with over 35 of the most visited / coolest locations to stop by and see.
We were able to visit 30 of them but I will save the other 5 ones for when I come back. Until then, I will share them here with you in case you are heading that way.

Here it's my pinned map.
Sam and I started from the farthest place East and headed to west.
You can break your trip anyway you want and think works best for you.
Because the days are shorter in the winter, we got to see between 3 to 5 places per day before it was too dark.
I also have broken the map in zones and I have coded them by colors:

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RED ZONE

1. Landbrotalaug Hot Springs: How could you go wrong with a natural pool like this?
Totally worth the hike.
Price: Free
Parking: There is a parking lot.

2. Akranes Lighthouse: Another cute lighthouse to visit.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking Lot

3. Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre: Pretty cool inside and outside. I happens to be right by the water, which makes the view even better.
Price: Free to visit inside unless you want to watch a concert.
Parking: Parking lots or along the streets.

4. þórufoss: Cool small waterfall.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot or along the roads.

5. Silfra Diving: Unless its summer, I don't think you would enjoy diving in the cold.
There are plenty of tours that will take you to swimming between two continents.
We still visited the area and it was super cool just to walk around.
Price: Free unless you want to take a tour and dive.
Parking: Parking lot.


6. Gardur Lighthouse: This places has 3 cool things to check it out. 2 lighthouses and a wrecked ship.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot or along the roads.

7. Viking World: Pretty cool small museum that displays all sort of viking things.
Price: $18
Parking: Parking lot.

8. Reykjanes Lighthouse: The coolest light house ever with such a great view.
Right across from it, there is a massive cliff that is totally worth the hike to the top.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot or along the roads.

9. Blue Lagoon: Alright, here we go.
Totally a tourist trap! It's gorgeous and really fun to be experienced once but honestly, there are so many other lagoons around that are as cool as this one for 1/3 of the price.
Here are a few tips if you want to visit the Blue Lagoon:

+ BOOK IT ONLINE! The prices online are 100$ cheaper than on location.

+ We booked the "COMFORT" package that came with towels, face mask and a free drink. - It happened that drinks were not that expensive at the lagoon bar (between $6-$12), they were giving towels to everyone no matter what package you got (maybe we got a lucky day) and there are two face masks offered by the lagoon which the first one is FREE (or complimentary as they like to say) and the one include in the package is the second one, which honestly, I was already pretty ok with just the first (free) one.
If I could recommend, book the cheapest option and online!


Price: $60-$450
Parking: Parking lot.

10. Dómkirkjan í Reykjavík: Its the main cathedral in Reykjavik and its absolutely gorgeous.
Price: Free
Parking: Along the streets and you pay at the machine.

11. Krýsuvík Hot Springs: I was not expecting much but I got absolutely blown away by this spot!
These hot springs are not for swimming as they are extremely hot but you get to walk between them on a wooden deck and enjoy all the warmth and smoke going around.
The view is unbelievable as this spot is along with the cost and has tons of beautiful cliffs around it.
Definitely a must see!
Spoiler alert: It stinks A LOT because of the sulfur chemicals, so just embrace it!
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot.

12. Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal River: Yet, another thermal pool in the middle of nowhere!
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot or along the roads.

13. Thridrang (Þrídrangaviti): You definitely want to google this name and you also will be mind blown.
It's a lighhouse on top a giant rock in the middle of the ocean.
You can't actually see from the shore unless you have a binocular but it's worth to hope for a clear day and get a glimpse of it.
Price: Free
Parking: Along the roads.

YELLOW ZONE

14. Vígðalaug Hot Pot: Probably the smallest hot springs there ever was but pretty cute to see closely.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot.

15. Efstidalur II: Its a very cute and authentic ice cream shop owned by a small family. Totally worth to try it.
Price: Between $7 - $11.
Parking: Parking Lot.

16. Bruarfoss Waterfall: Very nice waterfall to check and a very easy hike as well. Its apart of what they call "The golden circle."
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot.

17. Secret Lagoon: THE COOLEST PLACE EVER!
If you have to pay for a lagoon, pay for this one! So laid back and pretty out there. The price was half of the Blue Lagoon and (in my opinion) a much cooler vibe as we had tons of locals there.
Price: $28 for adults
Parking: Parking lot.

18. Geysir: Really awesome experience.
The Geysir erupts between evert 6 - 10 minutes and its gorgeous. 
You get to stand very close to it but also get the risk to get wet.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot.

19. Gullfoss Falls: Definitely my least favorite place during this whole trip.
There we probably 2k tourists there (which I have to idea where they have been hiding during these 7 days I have been here) and the view is very limited.
Nevertheless, its always fun to just stop by and take a look at it.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot.

GREEN ZONE

20. Seljalandsfoss: A less visited waterfall and much cooler than Skogafoss as well.
If the stream is not too strong, you can go behind it inside a small cave.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot.

21. Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool: The highlight of my trip was to see this beauty closely.
It's the oldest swimming pool still standing. The water is fed by a hot springs, which makes it super warm and similar to a lagoon.
Because not many people take the trip there, its always very empty.
There is a small (20 min) hike but totally worth it.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot.

22. Skógafoss: The "oh famous" waterfall that always has a rainbow formed.
Pretty awesome and very easy to spot.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot.

23. Solheimasandur Plane Wreck - The DC3 Crash: Also a highlight of my trip! The hike is pretty straight and easy to spot but very long.
It took us a little over 2.3 miles to get there and the strong wind + cold didn't make it easy.
There are yellow marks all along the path and once you get to the end of it, you have to hike down towards the left to spot the airplane.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot.

24. Reynisfjara Beach / Reynisdrangar: The black sand beach with that super cool wall (Reynisdrangar) that looks like something out of Game of Thrones.
Easy peasy to be spotted! I thought it was going to be s hidden jam, but no! It was right there where all the other people where right when you step into the beach.
There is also a path that leads right into it.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot.

25. Icelandic Horses: They are EVERYWHERE along the roads and they are so friendly.
You can either visit a farm that breeds them or just pull over and pet some of them.
Price: Free
Parking: Along the road

26. Drangshlíð II house: Pretty cute little hours inside a giant rock.
They say those are Elves houses and they have awesome legends about it.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot.

PURPLE ZONE

27. Fjaðrárgljúfur: Its basically hills and hikes and places to explore in one spot.
One of the most beautiful views from above for sure.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot

28. Skaftafell Ice Cave: The dopest thing you will ever get to see.
Pretty hard to find as its in the middle of a national park so I highly recommend buying a tour that takes you there.
Price: Free (unless you go with a tour)
Parking: Parking lot

29. Vatnajokull: Another ice cave even more impossible to go without a guide.
There is a long hike to get to this one but also, totally worth it.
Price: Free (unless you go with a tour)
Parking: Parking lot

30. Fjallsárlón: Its basically a beach with a lot of cool ice pieces hanging around.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot

31. Jökulsárlón / dimond beach: Here the sand is black and the ice pieces are huge creating an amazing contract between black and white. Definitely worth the drive.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot

BLUE ZONE

32. Mývatn Nature Baths: Another free hot spring with a beautiful view.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot

33. Stóragjá: We were not able to go there as the water was frozen but certainly a very unique place to visit in the summer.
It's a hot springs inside a cave. There is also a ladder that takes you all the way down to it.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot

34. Vatnsnes: It's a rock on the beach that has a shape of a rhino.
Sometimes if the shore is down, you can get really close to it.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot

35. Hellulaug: another free hot springs.
Price: Free
Parking: Parking lot

Yay! I hope you guys like the tips and all spots I have listed here :)
Iceland is definitely always a good idea.
Here are a few images from our trip. You can click on each one you want to see bigger.