The Beauty of Iceland

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“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.

Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella of The A List blog stays at Hotel Rangá in 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.

Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella of The A List blog wearing Sorel Caribou boots in Iceland

Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella and husband Torrance Coombs visit Seljalandfoss in Iceland.

Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella of The A List blog visits Seljalandfoss in Iceland

Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella of The A List blog wearing Ellen Tracy faux fur coat and Sorel Caribou boots in Iceland

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!

Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella of The A List blog visits Jökullsárlón, Iceland

Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella of The A List blog visits Jökullsárlón, Iceland

Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella of The A List blog visits Jökullsárlón, Iceland

Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella of The A List blog wearing Ellen Tracy faux fur coat and Sorel Caribou boots and North Face APEX snow pants in Jökullsárlón, Iceland

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.

Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella of The A List blog visits Jökullsárlón, Iceland

Click here 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.

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  1. Sandra Wehmschulte

    Dear Alyssa,
    I am a 18 year old girl from Germany who really loves your blog and your Instagram page. A big compliment for your amazing photos and your fashion style. I love your pics and reading what you are enyoing in life with your husband. I’ve watched Reign and I was a huge fan of “Bash” and this is why I found your page. You two are a very cute couple and I wish you all the best.

    • The A List

      Hi Sandra! Thank you so so much! You are too sweet 🙂

  2. Editha Herrmann

    The new layout of your site,
    is fantastic.
    Thanks that you and Torry share your
    Travel pictures with us.
    Torrance is a fantastic fotograph.

    • The A List

      Thank you, and I will be sure to tell him!

  3. Angela

    Thanks for sharing this! I visited Iceland over the summer and it was spectacular. It’s fascinating comparing your pix from January with mine from June! So different but still so beautiful.

    • The A List

      I can imagine it being different in June but like you said still very beautiful. We are planning a second trip to visit more of the island and stay a bit longer!

  4. Debbie Shands

    These are fabulous pictures!!! What a stunning place, definitely belongs to nature.

    • The A List

      Thank you so much! These photos do not do it justice though!

  5. Victoria

    Alyssa, these photos are ridiculously beautiful! Iceland’s been on my list for a while…and it just moved up a few more spots! 🙂

    • The A List

      Yay, I’m so glad to hear that Victoria! You definitely need to visit it!

    • The A List

      As you should, Maggie! It’s the most breathtaking place I have ever visited and I want so many others to be able to experience it as well!

  6. Nikaia

    Ahhh Iceland is so dreamy! However, have you guys seen the Northern lights? I always want to witness them! <3
    XX Nikaia

    • The A List

      Hi Nikaia! Since the weather is extremely unpredictable in Iceland, we weren’t dedicating the trip solely to the Northern Lights. Unfortunately, it snowed each night for our trip there so we did not get to see them but fortunately the country has so much to offer besides the Northern Lights! We will definitely be back again soon to get a chance to see them!

  7. Chloë

    Gosh, these landscapes are beautiful! I don’t have the words to describe this beauty made of blue and ice. I really need to go there someday! And all of your photos are incredible! I hope you’ll be back in France soon. Can’t wait to read the next chapter of your trip. Xx

    • The A List

      Thank you, Chloé! Yes if you ever get the chance to go, please do! It’s extraordinary! And if my schedule allows, I plan on returning to Paris next January with my husband. 😉

      • Chloé

        Today I leanrt that there will be an other edition of Long Live to Queen so yes I’ll be there and I’d love to meet you 🗼

  8. raj b

    beautiful photos!

    • The A List

      Thank you!

  9. Marine

    Hi Alyssa !
    Thank you so much for these beautiful pictures !
    I have been thinking about visiting Iceland for a while now, but since I have seen your pictures I am obsessed with the idea of visiting this country, and especially in winter ! I already have an idea of what I want to see thanks to you !
    The landscapes look spectacular and seem peaceful at the same time. It’s like I feel attracted to this country !!
    Definitely on the top of my bucket list !
    Kisses from France

    • The A List

      Hi Marine! I am so, so glad to hear that! It’s also very easy to get to Iceland from France… that’s what we did! We flew Icelandair to Reykjavik from Paris and it was one of the easiest flights ever. I hope you enjoy it!

  10. Wouter

    We went to Iceland last spring, it was really amazing! Thank so much for your work and info! It was my second time i have visited Iceland but after reading your inspiration and want to jump on the plane again.

    • The A List

      Thank you so much! I totally want to jump on a plane back to Iceland, too!

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