Two Girls in Iceland: 6-Day Winter Itinerary
January 24, 2019
by This Is Our Wanderlust
As I looked out of the plane, I thought to myself this is really ‘Ice-Land’ as I saw the extensive white landmass beneath me. As two women traveling halfway across the world, Iceland in winter gave us the thrill of going from 32°C at the southern tip of India to-14 °C at the brink of the Arctic, experience the power of gale force winds and hike Europe’s most voluminous icecap.
Living up to its name, ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ it is one place where you get to see volcanoes, geysers, lava caves, beaches, glaciers dwelling on a single land mass. The isolated island of Iceland is formed where the tectonic plates of North America and Europe meet. Googling and recommendations brought us to what we think is the perfect itinerary in the minimum time needed for Iceland.
- Chennai – Mumbai – Amsterdam (Jet Airways) – Departure from Chennai: 21:05 Hrs
- Amsterdam- Reykjavik (KEF) (WoW Air) – Arrival in Kef: Next Day by 14:00 Hrs
- Reykjavik (KEF) – Amsterdam (WoW Air)
- Amsterdam – Mumbai – Chennai (Jet Airways)
Why is this a great option?
Departing at night we got to complete the working day and get a good nights’ rest on the flight. On the return, we visited Amsterdam for the Christmas lights and the Light Festival which happens only from Early December – Mid January each year. (More on that experience coming soon). The flatbed in the business cabin and Indian food on board was a sweetener
Alternative Option from India: WoW Air now offers direct flights between Delhi and Keflavik
- Day 1: Arrival, Blue Lagoon, and Northern Lights Hunt
- Day 2: Golden Circle and Bubble Stay
- Day 3: Buuble morning, Reykjavik City Centre and Northern Lights Hunt
- Day 4: Waterfalls, South Coast and Spectacular Views
- Day 5: Diamond Beach, Glacier Hiking and Ice Caving
- Day 6: Lava Caving and Reykjavik City
- Ideas for Variations and What’s Next?
Day 1: Arrival, Blue Lagoon, and Northern Lights Hunt
We arrived into KEF Airport and headed straight to the Blue Lagoon with a combo ticket (Bus to the Lagoon + Entry Ticket + Drop to Hotel in Reykjavik) with Reykjavik Excursions.
It was cold and windy as we strolled our luggage by the Oreo-like mounds to enter the blue lagoon, but the warm, milky water which ranges in temperature to about 39°C relieved our senses. The algae/silica mud masks soothe the skin and we relished a fruit smoothie.
- ‘Blue Lagoon Hair’ is a nightmare which makes your hair clump and difficult to comb. Apply Protein-free conditioner before entering.
- You can keep your luggage in a paid locker so try doing it on/to the way to the airport.
- A waterproof phone pouch is recommended to take pictures
We picked the Northern Lights tour from ‘Guide to Iceland’ which was well planned with an experienced and friendly guide who gave us hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies. Since we did not see the lights that day they rescheduled our tour for free. Remember, the northern lights are unpredictable and both activity and clear skies are needed. Go with an open mind and you will still enjoy the ride, stargazing and making new friends!
Day 2: Golden Circle and Buubble Stay
While the Golden Circle is a must-do in Iceland, the combination with the Buubble Stay made this a unique experience. The Golden Circle tour covered the below places in a group of six with a remarkable guide Kiddi:
- Thingvellir National Park – A UNESCO world heritage site with gorgeous views and the continental drift valley between Europe and North America
- The Geysers and Hot Springs in the geothermal active Haukadalur Valley with the Stokkur spring erupting every 5 minutes
- The Gullfoss Waterfall – The staircase-like falls are breathtaking and we experienced gale force winds
- The Secret Lagoon – Located in Fluoride this is less touristy than the blue lagoon and offers the experience of swimming in a natural hot spring and the oldest swimming pool in Iceland.
The highlight of the night was stargazing in a completely transparent ‘Bubble’ in the middle of the forest. It is cozy, comfortable, warm and beautiful. The night is spent sleeping in the bubble and there the bathrooms/kitchen is just a few meters away from the bubble. As it is surrounded by trees you have your privacy. On a clear winter night, there are good chances of seeing the northern lights dance above you as you lie in your bubble.
Day 3: Buubble morning, Reykjavik City Centre and Northern Lights Hunt
The morning view from the Buubble was colorful and we had a relaxed morning. At Reykjavik City, we decided to do a self-guided walk around the city and also went to the Lutheran Hallgrímskirkja Church. The architecture reminded us of the Basalt Rock columns at the Reynisfjara beach.
Day 4: Waterfalls, South Coast and Spectacular Views
The next two days were booked with ‘Troll Expeditions’ and we had an awesome guide Siggi and a small group of 7, where we made good friends. It was a nature’s paradise to explore the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Skógafoss waterfall, Reynisfjara, the Black Sand Beach and we managed to squeeze in the mossy lava fields and Fjaðrárgljúfur a magnificent canyon, where Justin Bieber’s music video for “I’ll Show You” is set.
Day 5: Diamond Beach, Glacier Hiking and Ice Caving
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a must do in the winter and is opposite the Diamond beach. We walked by the bridge to a part of the beach, which was less crowded and then to the lagoon. This gave us three views – The diamond beach, the walk under the bridge beside the lagoon seeing the icebergs float and a view from atop the lagoon.
As first-time hikers, Iceland’s Vatnajökull glacier – Europe’s largest icecap was daunting at first, but once we got a hang of it we enjoyed the experience. The gear was also provided. This place has been in the film sets of movies like Interstellar and shows like Game of Thrones.
Day 6: Lava Caving and Reykjavik City
A cloudy and windy day we decided to explore the Lava Caves of Raufarholshellir, a large and airy cave where lava that once flowed has formed a beautiful and colorful cave. It is chilly inside the cave, and they give you crampons and a guide if you take a tour. A winter highlight — you get to see beautiful icicles reflecting the colors of the lava.
Ideas for Variations and What’s Next?
This itinerary gives you a relaxed yet fulfilling trip to see Iceland’s wonders. Lagoons could be done at the end of the trip to relax. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a great one day trip and with more time you could explore the DC3 Plane Wreck, Akureyri and Mývatn. We decided to go with tours since driving in winter needs experience and with smaller tours, we got to meet fellow travelers and local guides who drove us.
My upcoming posts will detail some of the experiences on each of these days, tips on packing, photography, and food in Iceland!
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February 1, 2019
Picturesque account,.. have to be next in my list after Mount Kailash and Mansarovar lake ??????
February 13, 2019
This is amazing! Looks surreal! Especially loved the bubble!