“Iceland belongs to Mother Nature.” My husband said that on our first full day on our bucket list trip to Iceland, and it stayed with us for the rest of our visit. I couldn’t have imagined a better way to begin the new year, so we decided to brave the cold and head further north to indulge in the most incredible experience of our lives.
In the spring of 2016 (actually it was on my birthday back in March!), Tor found out we would be flown to Paris in the first week of January for a convention for one of his television shows. Originally, we planned on touring more parts of mainland Europe post-Paris, but as it turned out, we spent a majority of 2016 touring around mainland Europe because of my husband’s latest television show. So, Tor and I decided to go off the beaten path a bit and trek north to Iceland. We had been talking about visiting Iceland for years (one of our friends went there on their honeymoon!) but we never truly made plans to actually visit…. until now!
After spending a week in Paris with friends and Tor’s costars, we hopped on an Icelandair flight (HIGHLY recommend flying them to/from Iceland!) to Reykjavik. We rented a car for our trip, which we highly recommend. While there are tours you can join and travel with, we personally prefer not to take tours since we like moving at our own pace and creating our own schedules. We spent our first few nights at a luxury hotel about 90 minutes outside of Reykjavik called Hotel Rangá. Although it snowed each night we were there, we chose to stay outside of the city for the most part of our trip because that’s the best way to see the Northern Lights at night. The hotel was incredible (one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at!), and it proved to be the perfect base for all the sights we wanted to see in South Iceland.
On day 2, Tor and I had planned to visit a few waterfalls and a black sand beach not too far away, however, the weather ended up being blissfully perfect and we felt in the mood for a true adventure. One thing that’s incredibly unpredictable about Iceland is the weather. We were SUPER lucky to have a clear, sunny day since originally the weather forecast called for daytime snowstorms. So, with our super last minute change of plans, we hopped in the car at 10 am (even though it was still dark since the sun doesn’t rise until 11 am in winter!), and headed for Seljalandsfoss to start our day.
After Seljalandsfoss, we calculated it would take about 2.5 hours to our final destination, and since we would lose light by 4 pm, we decided to head straight for that spot. However, on our drive down Highway 1, Tor spotted a red church on a hill in a town called Vík and said we had to stop. From that viewpoint, we were able to look out and see not just the town of Vík, but also the incredible Reynisfjara beach and its sea stacks Reynisdrangar.
After stopping for gas and food in Vík, we got back on the road and headed for our final stop which was still about 2 hours away. Tor used his Apple Music to stream Sigur Rós for the entire drive, which proved to be the best music to go alongside the magnificent landscape of Iceland all around us. We finally reached our final destination for the day – Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and beach – around 3 pm, with the sun just beginning to set which caused the ice to sparkle in the light.
There are four different parts to Jökulsárlón – the glacier lagoon, a lookout over the glacier lagoon, and two black sand beaches sprinkled with icebergs. Although it took us about 3.5 hours to get there from our hotel, it was more than worth it in the end. My husband couldn’t stop taking pics, and we ended up staying there for over an hour!
We had a dinner reservation back at our hotel (seriously it was the best food we had in Iceland) at 8 pm, and since it would take us over 3 hours to drive back, we hopped back in the car. We put on more Sigur Rós as we drove towards the setting sun, and we reflected on our most perfect day in the beautiful country of Iceland.
Stay tuned for the second part of our trip plus an Iceland Q&A with all of your questions you submitted via Twitter!
Photos by Torrance Coombs.
Look 1: Topshop coat, J.Crew sweater, J Brand jeans, Sorel boots (currently on sale!)
Look 2: Ellen Tracy coat, J.Crew sweater, Blickley & Mitchell headband (old, similar here), North Face snow pants (similar here and here), Hue sweater leggings, Sorel snow boots (currently on sale!), J.Crew cashmere socks, Bloomingdale’s cashmere gloves, Red scarf (old, similar here)