Glacier Lagoon

Glacier Lagoon, called also Jökulsárlón is one of the most beautiful places Iceland has. It is located in the south-east of Iceland and it is around 370 kilometers far from Reykjavik, just near the Vatnajokull National Park.The lake got bigger and bigger because of the melting of the glacier. It is more than 250 meters deep and it is still increasing since 70s'. 

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How to get there

You can get there on your own if you rent a car. The drive from Reykjavik is very long and if you plan to have a tour during only one day it might not be enough. Also, you can get there with a tour from Reykjavik. Most of the companies that operate tours in Iceland has a tour that can take you to the lagoon.

 

What to do

If you have a car and you are not depending on a tour bus, then you have more time to enjoy it. It is very nice to get there in early morning as the majority of the people will show up around 13:00 due to the driving from the city. You will find it very nice and quiet if you try to be earlier than everybody. 

Once you arrive there, you can just walk around and enjoy the beauty of the lagoon, go further closer to the glacier and enjoy the fresh air. Also, you can visit the diamon beach that is just across the street from the lagoon and you can see how the icebergs go into the ocean. Sometimes, they will stay on the black sand beack and this is the reason for which it is called Diamon Beach. 

There are also some tours that you can take by boat. There is a small boat (Zodiac Boat) and the big one (Amphibian boat). Both of the tours take you on the lagoon and you have the opportunity to see the icebergs and the seals closer. Even though they are really interesting tours and you cannot have this activity anywhere in the world, I would not recommend doing them in the winter time as it can be extremly ice cold and windy and you will not move for almost 40 minutes. 

Near the lagoon you have also a caffeteria and a souvenir shop. If you want to spend more time there, then I recommend having some snacks with you, as the variety there is very small and things are usually more expensive than in Reykjavik.

Animals of Glacier Lagoon

If you are lucky, you can meet the seals. Usually this is happening if it is sunny outside, as they seem to enjoy very well laying in the sun. Also, there are birds that are swimming in cold water.

Where to stay 

In June 2015, one very beautiful 4* hotel opened just 20 kilometers before Glacier Lagoon. It has more than 104 rooms, but it is made to fit in the incredibly beautiful nature in the South of Iceland. It is called Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon and if you do not book your stay there, you should at least pass by for a coffee and enjoy the nice lobby they have there and the fancy restaurant.

Blue Lagoon Experience

Blue Lagoon is one of the highlights of Iceland, being very popular to all the tourists and locals. It is very easy to get there, but not so easy to get in. In the end, it can be one in a life time experience!

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History

Before you go there, you should know that the beautiful lagoon is accidentaly made, by a powerplant that is nearby. The waste water from the poweplant, called Svartsengi formed the lagoon. The lava rocks and the shape of the lagoon are natural, but it was the consequence of the accident. Firstly, it became popular for its good properties of treating skin diseases and then it was improved step by step. Now, the lagoon has been extended and you can also book a night in their brand new hotel that gives you access to the amazing view.

How to get there

  • By bus - there are few companies operating transfers to Blue Lagoon. They have transfers from and to Reykjavik, but also to Keflavik International Airport. Most of the companies have departures every hour and you will be dropped off and picked-up from the front of the office they have there, in a big parking area. Then, you only need to walk less then 5 minutes to get to make your check-in.

  • By car - it is very easy to take a ride to Blue Lagoon and it lasts for 50 minutes. The lagoon is very close by the international airport.

Admission

If there is a tour that needs to be booked in advancee, then it is Blue Lagoon. Usually, they are fully booked and the restriction they have for the number of people that are allowed to be at one time in there are pretty severe. If you do not book it at least one month before, you should expect to have no space or only very late entrance times.

Luggage storage and lockers

When you arrive in front of Blue Lagoon, first you will meet their office for luggage. You can store it there if you are in transfer to or from Keflavik Airport. They do have a fee for this, but at least you do not worry about them anymore. The lockers you have inside Blue Lagoon are opening with the bracelet that you take at check-in and there are aproximately 200 of them.

Towels, robes, swimwear

You can rent all of them there, for an extra cost of course. The towel is around 900 isk/person, but if you buy a more expensive entrance, then you have them included. 

Facts to know before you soak in there

  • You need to shower before - Everywhere in Iceland they are very serious about taking a good bath before going into the geothermal water. And you need to do this without clothes. People usually are very 'not happy' about this, but you have private showers in most of the geothermal pools.
  • Conditioner - Before you enter into the lagoon, you should wet your hair and put a lot of conditioner in it, then try to make a tale. The water contains a lot of sulfur and it will make your hair very frizzy, dry and then you will be in the adventure I cannot brush my hair!
  • The masks - Into the lagoon they have masks for your face and body. They will make your skin very nice and clean and it is going to hydrate it amazingly nice. If you buy the standard package, you can only get the mud mask, which is the most popular one.
  • Drinks - There is one bar inside the lagoon and you can actually buy smoothies, water, beer or wine. The variety is not big, but you will feel the need to have a drink just after few minutes of being in the hot water.
  • It's hot! - There are areas in the lagoon, if you swim further that are more hot that the place you actually go into the water. It is reccommended to go in and out of the lagoon, to be a little bit away from the hot water and the steem that is everywhere.

When to visit

                          Blue Lagoon in February, with no natural light

                        Blue Lagoon in February, with no natural light

I have visited Blue Lagoon both summer and winter, in the light and in the dark. In the summer, if you go when you only have daylight it is very nice because you can actually see more of the lagoon. In the winter (dark), it was very nice also, because I feel that you can stay longer as you are not under so much pressure of the warmth around. It is very nice to be inside the water when it is raining or snowing because it is cooling down a little and it feels very refreshing. 

I have inserted a little vide of my 1st experience in the lagoon. Press play to watch 

 

 

Whale watching from Reykjavik

One of the activities that you should try if you arrive in Reykjavik is the whale watching. There are few companies operating this kind of tours and all of them are doing exactly the same. I have also tried it and it was nice experience, maybe one-time tour because you do not do so much except for enjoying the landscape.

Before you go for it, you need to understand that the ocean is not all the time so friendly and the weather can change pretty fast turning your trip in a very precipitous one. Also, whales are part of the nature, so the staff on the boat cannot control everything. Not in my case, when I think they turned on the button *see whales*. 

I have been with Special Tours for my trip with their big boat Andrea and it was around 4 hours. I did not want something extreme, so I did not take the tour with the small boats.There are more people on the boat, but I felt it harder to get sick. After 30 minutes in the sea, the boat was stopped because they could have seen whales on the radar. During all this time, the staff was extremly nice explaining the whales' habits and also about puffins, fishing and the importance of protecting all these species. Even though there were a lot of other people, I did not feel the area busy not even a moment. They had some posters and they showed us more types of whales and bones of them.

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It might be very nice weather in Reykjavik, but when you leave the shore the air is cooler and they provide you on the boat big suits like the fishermen use. It was really helpful to have something like this.

Luckily, the whales showed up and also the dolphins were excited to see so many guests. I know this is something that is not happening everyday, as it is part of the nature, but what I need to point out is that you should take it as a nice trip, being away from downtown and enjoy the fresh air and the quiet enviroment. If you do not see the whales, you still have a chance to see dolphins and in the summer also puffins. In my case, the month of June was the perfect one as they jumped out of the water for 32 times and the 2 whales were just playing around the boat.

Lately this winter, the whales did not show up so much, which might be because of their habits during this season. In my opinion, this is more of a summer tour and if you are not used with the cold and windy days you should not take this tour after October. 

10 things to bring to Iceland

Most of the destinations in Europe are not so unpredictable as Iceland could turn, so if you travel to Iceland for the first time, you should have some things in mind .. or in your suitcase!

Top things to pack when you come to Iceland

  1. Camera - you will need it every minute. It does not matter if it is day or night, you need it!

  2. Hiking shoes - if you plan to have a trip out of the capital, then you need to have hiking shoes and they need to be waterproof because you never know when it will start to rain.
  3. Waterproof, windproof, basicly Iceland-proof jacket. The weather is changing every minute and you need to be prepared for everything! And by everything I mean snow, rain, sun, wind, all of them together. With all these together, you should not forget about your swim suit, a geothermal pool is the only place where you forget about bad weather and cloudy sky.

  4. Medicine - you will not be able to find so much medicine, and if you do find, you will not be able to get everything without a prescription, so come fully packed. The price tag is also important because here, everything is expensive.

  5. Sunglases and sun lotion - one thing that you are probably not aware, Icelandic sun is very, very strong. You can easily get burnt if you do not pay attention to this topic and it can affect your condition also. 
  6. Clothes layers - no matter what season are you travelling to Iceland, you will need a lot of layers. It is very common to be rainy and it will be easier for you to have more layers, than to have everything wet.
  7. Hat, gloves, socks - you need to be protected and even if it is not so cold, because of the wind you will feel the temperature few times lower. You can buy them in Reykjavik as they are very popular both for tourists and locals.
  8. Ice cleats - for winter time, it is good to bring them with you. Only the streets in dowtown Reykjavik are heated, not all of them. Icy roads are something normal during the winter and a lot of people have trouble with this.
  9. Hyrdrating cream - because of the water, wind or powerful sun you will need a lot of hydratation. Your lips can get pretty dry and your face is very exposed especially in the wind and blinding sun as you take advantage of the whole day out.
  10. Bring a journal! 

Why Iceland

Well, a lot of you guys are looking for an amazing destination for their vacation every year. Some of the people are looking for shopping, some for nature, some for clubbing, but in the end, everybody can last going to a place that becomes more and more popular every year. So, as far as I know there are some reasons why people choose Iceland as a destination for their holiday. Lets see!

1. Eyjafjallajokull Eruption

2. Northern Lights

3. Geothermal Activity

4. Economical Advertisement -as crisis

5. Elves, saga and Christmas atmosphere

6. Relaxing Natural Spa - Blue Lagoon and Myvath

7. Adventure Hikes - going on top of a glaciers

8. Photography trips, all the reasons above

9. The media impact - videoclips and movies are shot in Iceland a lot last years

10. Purity of a newborn place

To DO in Iceland

If you come to Iceland and you do not have so much time, there are few things that you need to do and you will never regret it!

  • Go away from Laugavegur
    • Laugavegur is the main street of Reykjavik, where you can find stores, pubs and restaurants. It is very popular and it can get very busy, so what you need to do is to try to go also on the streets nearby, which are nicer, more colorful, quiet and you can enjoy you walk without walking into other people. And you have a lot of changes to meet the cats of Reykjavik (very nice and fluffy ones)
  • Go to a geothermal pool in Reykjavik
    • Blue Lagoon is expensive and it takes few hours to go and stay and then come back, so going to a geothermal pool in town could be a nice experience. You will stay outside and enjoy the water and the steam just few minutes away from your hotel, as there are few pools around the city. And it is less than 1000 isk.
  • Go sea angling
    • Fishing is one of the most important subjects in the country, so it is always nice to try to taste a little. There are tours operating in the summer time which actually take you to the sea, you catch and then you eat what you catch. So, it is double advantage as food is expensive and it is not as good as a fresh arctic char that you just got, BY YOURSELF.
  • Visit the countryside - if you have more than one day, then you need to go and visit few spots
    • Golden Circle - it can get busy and very commercial, so you need to be there before all busses arrive. You need to make a stop to a greenhouse and see how the tomatoes are grown in Iceland, then you need to see a geysir and the National Park where the tectonic plates meet. Oh, and the Golden Waterfall, where is cold and windy, but it is BEAUTIFUL.
    • South Coast - pretty many things to see, but who does not want to see the black sand beach and the bazalt columns? On the way to Vik, you need also to stop to see the waterfalls and the glacier.
  • Eat in Reykjavik!
    • You cannot leave Reykjavik without trying good things. Not the shark, but the skyr and the fresh fish they have in the harbour and there are few very good places where you can get a super tasty icecream! 

Northern lights phenomenon

Northern lights became popular long time ago, but there is a huge impact on turism caused by them. Tourist come to Iceland for many reasons, but the ones that come in the winter time are mostly the one hunting for auroras. Working in tourism for few years now, I can tell that there are so many people take a trip to Iceland only to see them. Even though there is a lot of information about the northern lights, people still think there is a button turning them on every night, no matter what the weather looks like.

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Few things to know before you book a trip only for auroras:

  • The northern light are happening all year round, but we cannot see them all the time due to natural factors 
  • It needs to be dark to see auroras and you need solar activity.
  • Weather is very important. No, you cannot see anything if there is a huge cloud cover over your area. The clouds can move pretty fast and you might have a chance, but nobody can guarantee.
  • They do not last forever! Sometimes, you can be very lucky and see them for few minutes, even more, but usually they come and go and you are able to see them for a little time, so that is the moment you need to enjoy!
  • Photography: your phone and also your camera cannot capture it .. just like this. You need to use a tripod and to have good settings on your device and even then..not every time they are on they are extremly amazing.
  • Talking about pictures and good view.. one of the keys to get a good view to northern lights is to go somewhere dark. If you have lights around you are not able to see them or if you have a change, it is not going to be great. 

ICELAND ON YOUR OWN OR BY TOURS?

If you buy a trip to Iceland, probably you have already seen a lot of posts, videos, articles about its natural beauties and lifestyle. There are more types of tourists in Iceland depending on what they want and how are they used to travel. Sometimes, the expectations do not meet the reality and a lot of people get disappointed by certain things.

Iceland on your own

It is always nice to have a private trip when you go somewhere, especially when you want to have a relaxing experience and more than everything to be in the nature. You should never forget that the conditions of travelling can be very difficult here due to the weather.

It is incredibly nice to visit Iceland during the summer by renting a car and organise your trip in a lot of places without being there at the same time with a huge group of people taking pictures. You can take advantage of the lack of darkness and travel during the night and try to sleep in daytime. If you are this kind of a person, who does not want to be the typical turist, this is the best option you can take  in summer months.

Winter can be very difficult in a country like Iceland, so travelling on your own implies a lot of risk. Not all the destiations are easy to get to, and also the road closure it is something very common. People need to understand that it is very dangerous also for locals to get out of Reykjavik during some stormy days, so you always need to check the weather forecast and the websites that provide information about the road status. (safetravel.is, road.is)

Iceland by tours

If you are a solo traveler, or somebody that does not want to be stressed about driving or organising a full trip, taking tours it is a good option. It can be way more expensive and you need to have your hotel in Reykjavik during the whole stay, as in the country side you do not have so many options. 

Winter time can be a very good period to travel with tour companies. Here you have some advantages:

  • You do not need to worry so much about road conditions.
  • The tour guide will always tell you what to do and what not to do when you get to a place that you need to visit.
  • Everything is very well organised and they have a lot of experience with winter time, so the staff will know your needs before you think about them.
  • Good decisions will be taken at the right time as nobody is exposed to dangerous situations.
  • People are very nice and they will share their experience and you will get a lot of information about everything.

Of course, there are also some disadvantages regarding guided tours:

  • You are not alone! There are other 30 people in front of you who want to capture the same picture and see the same landscape!
  • Waiting in line... You will make stops every 1-2 hours. If you travel with a big bus, you need to be very lucky to be the first one for food, restrooms or souvernirs.
  • Along the way there are so many beautiful spots and you could get the perfect photo. But guess what..? You cannot stop, because you need to be on time for the next stop you will make.

Iceland on your own or by tours

ICELAND ON YOUR OWN OR BY TOURS?

FEBRUARY 24, 2018

If you buy a trip to Iceland, probably you have already seen a lot of posts, videos, articles about its natural beauties and lifestyle. There are more types of tourists in Iceland depending on what they want and how are they used to travel. Sometimes, the expectations do not meet the reality and a lot of people get disappointed by certain things.

Iceland on your own

It is always nice to have a private trip when you go somewhere, especially when you want to have a relaxing experience and more than everything to be in the nature. You should never forget that the conditions of travelling can be very difficult here due to the weather.

It is incredibly nice to visit Iceland during the summer by renting a car and organise your trip in a lot of places without being there at the same time with a huge group of people taking pictures. You can take advantage of the lack of darkness and travel during the night and try to sleep in daytime. If you are this kind of a person, who does not want to be the typical turist, this is the best option you can take  in summer months.

Winter can be very difficult in a country like Iceland, so travelling on your own implies a lot of risk. Not all the destiations are easy to get to, and also the road closure it is something very common. People need to understand that it is very dangerous also for locals to get out of Reykjavik during some stormy days, so you always need to check the weather forecast and the websites that provide information about the road status. (safetravel.is, road.is)

Iceland by tours

If you are a solo traveler, or somebody that does not want to be stressed about driving or organising a full trip, taking tours it is a good option. It can be way more expensive and you need to have your hotel in Reykjavik during the whole stay, as in the country side you do not have so many options. 

Winter time can be a very good period to travel with tour companies. Here you have some advantages:

  • You do not need to worry so much about road conditions.
  • The tour guide will always tell you what to do and what not to do when you get to a place that you need to visit.
  • Everything is very well organised and they have a lot of experience with winter time, so the staff will know your needs before you think about them.
  • Good decisions will be taken at the right time as nobody is exposed to dangerous situations.
  • People are very nice and they will share their experience and you will get a lot of information about everything.

Of course, there are also some disadvantages regarding guided tours:

  • You are not alone! There are other 30 people in front of you who want to capture the same picture and see the same landscape!
  • Waiting in line... You will make stops every 1-2 hours. If you travel with a big bus, you need to be very lucky to be the first one for food, restrooms or souvernirs.
  • Along the way there are so many beautiful spots and you could get the perfect photo. But guess what..? You cannot stop, because you need to be on time for the next stop you will make.