Our trip to Iceland was so extraordinary that I had to split our visit into two blog posts! And even so, these posts aren’t short. I’m glad to hear many of you are beyond impressed with photos of the country, since initially I worried that photos wouldn’t truly be able to capture how majestic Iceland is in person. Our second half of our trip featured a very popular spot in the country – the one and only Blue Lagoon.
I am not exaggerating when I say Iceland is probably the most beautiful place I have ever visited on Earth. There is so much untouched natural beauty everywhere you turn. There were many moments throughout our trip where Tor and I caught ourselves asking, “Are we on another planet?” and my typical phrase was, “What is life?!” because I was just completely in awe of Iceland’s majesty.
After a few days exploring Southeast Iceland, Tor and I packed our bags and drove back towards Reykjavik (listening to Björk this time!). We decided to spend the day in the city before continuing on to our final destination at the Blue Lagoon. The first thing we did once we arrived in Reykjavik was head for a coffee shop since Tor had not yet had his daily cup of coffee yet. Since Hallgrimskirkja was the main reason we were stopping in the city, we stopped for coffee (and hot cocoa for me!) at Reykjavik Roasters since it was right around the corner.
After our quick pit stop, we visited the impressive Hallgrimskirkja church, which can be seen from almost every corner of Reykjavik. There’s an elevator that takes you all the way to the top, where we got a breathtaking bird’s eye view of Reykjavik. After spending the last several days exploring the mountainous regions of Southeast Iceland where cities and towns were sparse, it was incredible to look out onto Iceland’s capital and admire its own beauty as well.
After a couple of hours in the city, we got back in the car and drove the 40 minutes south towards Grindavík to finally enjoy one of Iceland’s most famous specialities – the Blue Lagoon. Driving towards the Blue Lagoon is an adventure itself, since you’re driving on a road surrounded by lava rocks that seem to go on for miles. During that drive, Tor and I remarked how we felt like we were on another planet!
Thanks to one of our friends and one of Tor’s costars, we chose to stay the Silica Hotel which is attached to the Blue Lagoon. They had stayed there in September and raved about it to us as soon as she returned from Iceland, so we took advantage of her tip and booked a room for our own stay this past month.
While it’s located at the Blue Lagoon, you get your own private lagoon to enjoy that’s just for hotel guests. It’s much, much quieter which was the initial appeal to staying at Silica. The private lagoon is open later than the main public lagoon, which is a 7 minute walk away through the lava rocks, and your room rate includes luxury passes to the main lagoon should you wish to check it out (I recommend you do, especially since it has a swim up bar!).
My best tips for the Blue Lagoon are: 1) Stay at the Silica Hotel if you can. 2) I recommend not wearing makeup in the Blue Lagoon. 3) I highly recommend NOT getting your hair wet in the lagoon water. Since the water is full of minerals, it will make your hair dry and stiff. 4) When you shower before you enter (you MUST shower before entering either the private or public lagoon) wet your hair and leave conditioner in it as you enjoy the lagoon. When you shower once you come out, your hair will be extra silky smooth.
While flying back to London on Icelandair, I was able to chat with a bit of you on Twitter (thanks to the airline’s international wifi!) and a lot of you had a bunch of questions about Iceland, so I have rounded up some of the most popular questions and answered them for you here:
Q: How would you describe the waterfalls in Iceland?
A: Well since I don’t get to see waterfalls much being in Southern California, I find them absolutely breathtaking. Plus the power behind them is incredible.
Q: Why did you choose January to go to Iceland?
A: It’s an opportune time to see the Northern Lights, plus we had seen photos of Iceland in winter and wanted to see its snowy and icy beauty in person.
Q: What is a popular misconception about Iceland?
A: Popular misconceptions about Iceland are that people think there’s not much to do there and that it’s too painfully cold. On the contrary, there is so much to do in Iceland that Tor and I are angling to go back to get to explore more! Also, Iceland wasn’t as cold as the many brutal winters we braved for three years in Toronto! Just pack accordingly and you’ll be fine.
Q: Is the Blue Lagoon worth it?
A: YES! After spending days exploring the southern part of the island, it felt wonderful to relax in the Blue Lagoon since it’s not something we get to experience much back home! It took me by surprise at first at just how warm it is (around 100 degrees F) and that the bottom is very slippery and slimy (it’s all the blue silica mud!), but overall it’s an experience that shouldn’t be missed!
Q: Did you secretly hope to see Björk?
A: I think my husband did! We listened to her on our drive from Hella to Reykjavik and then Reykjavik to Grindavík.
Q: How did you and Torrance get the idea to travel to Iceland?
A: Well, someone who worked on my husband’s last television series had spent their honeymoon there, and then another one of his costars on his latest series visited the country in the fall and that inspired us to finally take the plunge and visit for ourselves.
Q: Can you tell us something funny that happened in Iceland?
A: After we landed, we picked up our rental car from the airport but poor Tor had to spend the first 10 minutes scraping ice off all of our windows and windshield. As he scraped all the ice off, he said, “They’re really putting the ‘ice’ in ‘Iceland’, am I right!?” Also, the path and bridge at Seljalandsfoss was COMPLETELY covered in ice, so climbing up the stairs to get to the lookout proved to be somewhat of a challenge. On our way up, a woman wiped out behind Tor as he was getting video of me trying to climb my up. Then, on our way back down, I pretty much gave up trying to go down the icy stairs and path carefully so I just slid down the ice on my bum.
Q: What activities would you recommend in Iceland?
A: There are so many! I recommend horseback riding, whale watching, hiking (especially in a volcano!), and viewing the Northern Lights. Check out my Iceland travel guide for more!
Q: What’s your favorite thing about Iceland?
A: That will be hard to narrow down! I think I love how off the beaten path it is, as well as how proud of their culture they are. Something I truly loved was during our drives throughout Southeast Iceland was you could go two hours before reaching the next town, but at the same time, you were surrounded by so much nature – lava rocks, snow-capped mountains, and waterfalls. Then when we would reach the next town, it was so small and quaint but the residents’ way of life was still so evident. I found myself daydreaming what life must be like in these towns. Compared to the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, it was incredibly refreshing.
Q: Will you return to Iceland?
A: Yes we will!
Iceland will definitely go down as one of our ultimate favorite excursions we have ever done, and Tor and I are already plotting to return next time with friends. We will find any excuse to go back, especially to go explore the north side of the island. In the meantime, be sure to check out my Iceland travel guide of our recommendations for your upcoming trip!
Photos by Torrance Coombs.