Day 1 - May 4, 2017: Blue Lagoon & Golden Circle
Many of the incoming flights from North America arrive very early in the morning in order to give you the maximum amount of time in Iceland (especially if you're connecting later in the day). I landed at 6 am, however my partner in crime wasn't arriving until early afternoon and I couldn't pick up the car rental because it was booked on his credit card, so I took the opportunity to take the bus out to the Blue Lagoon for the morning. It definitely beat sitting in the airport for 8 hours! Prices start at 6100 ISK per person (checked June 2017) and varies depending on time of arrival. For an 8 am arrival including bus transfer to and from Keflavik airport it cost 11000 ISK (approximately $140 CAD). The bus was easy to find once I determined that it was not in the row of buses directly outside the airport and instead was on the other side of the parking lot behind where the taxi/car rental lineup was. It was beautiful and well worth not having to waste half the day in the airport, but I didn't find it as amazing as everything I've read. The water is very warm (especially close to the boxes), and it is a lovely blue, and If you are not going to have time to check out any of the other hot springs than I do highly recommend it, but for the price there are other hot springs around that are much cheaper or free. If you do go check it out, I highly recommend giving the silica mud masks a try, and once in a while the staff will wander around with a different kind of mask (I tried the volcanic ash mixture). I used the silica mud mask on my face and arms and my skin felt great for the rest of the trip!
We made the somewhat crazy decision to drive the Golden Circle on the afternoon and evening of day 1 (Thingvellir National Park, Strokkur Geysir, and Gulfoss Waterfalls), silly because we were both a little jetlagged and by the time we got the car, picked up groceries in Reykjavik, and headed out of town it was after 4 pm. Good thing that by early May the days are quickly getting longer and longer so we had light out until after 10 pm and we did manage to get through it all, albeit much too rushed. (Google)
Day 1 map (Image credit: Google)
Photo credit: Elijah Martinez
These domes are all over Iceland; they have something to do with the geothermal electricity that is produced in Iceland.
Random fun fact: Iceland runs entirely on renewable energy, everything operates off either hydro or geothermal power.
Þingvellir National Park
Photo credit: Elijah Martinez
I think Þingvellir is the only place in all of Iceland that we had to pay for parking (besides downtown Reykjavik), and also the only place that charged to use the bathroom, but it was definitely worth it! I would recommend planning to spend *at least* a couple hours here, as there's some amazing views and waterfalls within a couple kilometers.
Given that we still wanted to head to Strokkur and Gulfoss and it was quite late in the afternoon by the time we arrived, we definitely didn't give ourselves enough time.
We didn't wind up seeing any puffins in the 10 days we were there, but we did see a bunch of these colorful Harlequin Ducks.
This is the view at Þingvellir, stunning landscape and beautiful mountain ranges!
I thought this was adorable, if you're speeding you'll get a sad face, and if you're not you'll get a smiley face :-)
Watch Strokkur Geyser go off! Of course some of the best geyser spurts happened after we'd walked over to the next one though heh.
The pictures definitely don't do it justice. That's not rain, it's backspray from the waterfall!
This was the first of many waterfall stops on our Iceland trip, but no matter how many we saw they just kept getting better and better!
We got a wee bit wet on the walk back heh, totally worth it though (although our camera lenses weren't too happy)!
All in all we were on the road for probably 3-4 hours total, plus a few hours of sightseeing. After a long day, we crawled into our hotel room at 11 that night, and of course then had to unload everything from the car and repack in an attempt to be more organized for the rest of the trip ;). We stayed at Brekkugerdi Guesthouse in Laugaras, because it was very close to the Golden Circle, had private bathrooms, and fantastic reviews! Our host was great, super friendly and informative, he gave us a bunch of tips for places to see along the way, and the included breakfast was delicious!
See Iceland Day 2: Eldborg Crater and bruised butts!