My family and I (and my brothers BFF Maggie) spent a week in Iceland and it was INSANE!
My brother had just finished his grad program and we knew we wanted to take a big family trip, as it may be the last time everyone can get off work for a while. My mom and I voted Europe, while my brother and dad voted Alaska. Somehow we figured Iceland would be a good place to meet in the middle, city life for my mom and I and adventures for the boys.
Here’s a FULL recap, day by day, of what we did. Everyone in the group agreed they would do this exact same trip over again… it was that good!
**Nothing in this post was sponsored, these are all my real opinions and experiences.**
We flew through JFK on a Delta red-eye. We arrived really early in the morning, but luckily most of us got sleep on the plane.
TIP- alcohol: Buy your alcohol in the airport at the duty free store!!! The alcohol in Iceland is super expensive and for us we had a full kitchen most days so it made more sense for us to stock-up.
TIP- rental car: Renting a car is a must! You’ll do so much driving and being at your own leisure will make all the difference. Also, rent a car with lots of room. We squeezed into our car with all of our baggage, food and us… it was comical. We looked like a clown car, but it made for really funny car rides.
We headed straight from the airport into downtown Reykjavik to check-in to our Airbnb for two nights.
Here’s the Airbnb we stayed at night 1 and 2 **Can sleep 8 people
LOVED the location of this one. We were right in the center of town and walked everywhere. The nightlife is crazy so if you stay here on a weekend night bring earplugs to sleep with. We stayed on Monday- Wednesday so we didn’t have any noise issues.
We used this first day to explore all of the shops and coffee joints around town.
Go to the top of this church, so worth it. The view is incredible, you’ll be able to see all of the city.
Make sure to get lunch at Sandholt, the interior is adorable and the food is perfect for chilly days.
We were exhausted this night so we sent the boys out to grab hamburgers at Block Burger and ate in our cozy living room while playing cards.
We woke up early and headed out for a full day tour around the Golden Circle. I highly recommend going through the company we did, the tour guide Logi knew everything and made sure to show us a few hidden spots along the way! All of the pictures below are from our day tour.
The one thing I really loved about this tour was the way Logi worked it so we avoided all the crowds and tour buses. Each site we went to, other than the first two stops, was so quiet and we really had space to explore.
Waiting to watch the Strokkur Geyser explode…. it goes off about every 5 minutes.
Logi took us up to a crater, it was pretty surreal.
We spent the morning sitting outside of a coffee shop before checking out of our Airbnb. The next place we were heading was in the middle of nowhere so first we stopped at Costco, new to Iceland, and loaded up on groceries. The best thing we picked up was fresh salmon… unreal… SO fresh! We ate salmon two nights because it was that good. Costco doesn’t sell wine, beer or liquor unless you have a liquor license, so don’t go there for that.
Our next location was by far the best part of the entire trip!
Brekka Cottage, booked through TripAdvisor **Can sleep 6-8 people
Brekka Cottage is a 30-45 minute drive from downtown and the whole drive is scenic, so it goes by quick. Pictures can’t even do this place justice. We spent the majority of our third day drinking wine in the hot tub out back and grilled salmon on the patio for dinner.
ATV!!!!! Ok none of us were prepared for how intense this tour was going to be. It’s definitely not for anyone afraid of heights, speed or ATVs in general. Our whole group was terrified the entire 2 hour trip, but (big BUT) the things we saw were worth it.
After our scary afternoon riding ATVs through valleys and volcanoes we headed into downtown for the best fish & chips from Reykjavik Fish Restaurant (right on the harbor).
I tried to plan the trip so that we had activities every other day. The owner of Brekka Cottage gives you a link to his website once you book, an added perk, so we went on his site and saw there was a cool hike, Glymur waterfall, 15 minutes (driving) from the cottage. We had a slow morning drinking coffee on the porch and then headed out to explore and hike. I’m NOT a hiker normally, but when in Iceland…
This was a hidden spot we found on the drive to the hike.
View from the top of the hike. There are two options for this hike, 1 hour or 3 hours, we obviously chose the 1 hour…. like I said… I’m not a hiker. This one was perfect for me, really challenging and amazing views.
This was the funniest part of the hike. You had to cross this hanging log and I was hugging the wire for dear life the entire way across.
On our drive back to Brekka Cottage we stopped at a farm. The best thing about Iceland is pulling over on the side of the road and wandering!
This night we cooked in again, played Cards Against Humanity and sipped wine while taking in the view from our porch. The cottage was seriously so amazing that we never wanted to leave. Don’t plan too many activities for the days you stay here, if you do stay.
We were all sad to go, but we packed up our things and drove to our final location, the Silica Hotel- right next to The Blue Lagoon.
This is the only way to go when experiencing The Blue Lagoon. When you book here you get 2 premium passes to The Blue Lagoon and 2 free drinks at the lagoon with each room. Most importantly, Silica Hotel has its own hot lagoon, which is WAY less crowded. We spent the entire afternoon in the hotel lagoon and there was maybe 1 or 2 other people there.
Silica Hotel’s private lagoon.
Walking to The Blue Lagoon for dinner, this is a view of the Silica Hotel from the walking trail.
We had dinner at LAVA, right on The Blue Lagoon, to celebrate our last night. MAKE A RESERVATION if you plan on eating here! Because we stayed at Silica Hotel we all got a free glass of prosecco when seated. After dinner we changed and went into The Blue Lagoon. The lagoon was cool, but honestly it’s incredibly packed with people and after being at our hotels lagoon all day we weren’t used to bumping elbows with people everywhere we turned.
I would do this entire trip over again without a question! Everyone in my group usually has different things they enjoy on vacation, but everyone agreed this was the perfect trip.
The only things I’d change next time would be renting a bigger car and loading up on wine at the duty free store. Can’t stress enough how expensive alcohol is in Iceland. Also, we didn’t get a chance to go to Fridheimar for lunch, so next time I’d love to add that to our agenda.
**My dad had a headache one day and getting our hands on Advil was incredibly hard. Bring all necessary medicines!
Comment below if you have any other questions! XO.