I've wanted to go to Iceland for a number of years now, I have family from Iceland and it always seemed like a very distant place to me. I believe the rise of Instagram and social media has created a massive boom in tourism for the island. In the past when people spoke of Iceland they would say "Wow it must be cold in there" but in reality it's not very cold at all (especially for a Canadian). Once people began sharing photos of Skogafoss, the Blue Lagoon and other landmarks the attitude towards Iceland changed to one of awe and amazement.
A couple of weeks ago I finally fulfilled my dream of visiting Reykjavik, Iceland. As you fly in from a seemingly endless amount of water you land on what looks like the moon. The landscape in Iceland is spectacular... everywhere. We drove in from Keflavik airport and had our eyes glued on the sprawling landscape, "ooing" and "ahhing" at everything we saw. After about a 45 minute drive we arrived at the Canopy Hotel Reykjavik, easily the nicest hotel i've ever stayed in. It's brand new in Hilton's line up of hotels and is immaculately styled from top to bottom. The Canopy truly felt like home, it wasn't sterile or stuffy, it had trinkets and throw blankets and everything to make it feel like you were staying in someones home and not a Holiday Inn. Let's just say that the entire hotel was #bedroomgoals.
We spent the first night exploring the city and Halgrimskirkja church. This is one of the most impressive structures i've seen. The way it towers over the city and can be seen from almost anywhere is quite astonishing. It was an early night because we had to wake up early and go visit Laxnes Horse Farm the next morning. At Laxnes we went on a 3 hour tour of the countryside. The Icelandic horse is quite unique, it has 2 extra gaits that North American horses do not have and they are known for being quite friendly as well. After that we went straight to the Blue Lagoon to rest our aching legs (riding a horse is actually quite a bit of work). The Blue Lagoon is just as advertised, the contrast of blue and black volcanic rock is amazing. The average temperature of the Lagoon is a scorching 104 degrees Fahrenheit and the minerals in the water are supposed to work wonders on your skin. After spending a few hours covering ourselves with Clay masks and Algae we headed home and had dinner at "Lebowski Bar" an entire restaurant dedicated to the movie "The Big Lebowski".
Day two was an early start again but luckily we got to begin every day with an excellent breakfast at the hotel. We Made our way to our tour bus and headed off to the South coast of Iceland. First stop was the site of a farm that was closest to Eyjafjallajokull (say that ten times fast) during it's 2010 eruption. Next was the beautiful Skogafoss (Foss is waterfall in Icelandic). Our next stop was one of the most thought provoking locations we visited. Myrdalsjokull Glacier is melting at such an alarming rate that you can literally see it dripping right before your eyes. Our tour guide told as that the glacier looks different every single week because it is melting so fast. It was humbling to see the damage that global warming is inflicting first-hand. We then traveled further south to the black beaches of Vik, an absolutely stunning site. After Exploring the South coast we made our last stop at Seljalandsfoss, which was the most beautiful location we visited, hands down. We decided on the South coast rather than doing the traditional "Golden Circle", I believe this allowed us to take in the largest amount of sites in the shortest amount of time.
All in all Iceland was even more beautiful than the pictures. It's a very peaceful and clean feeling country and I can't wait to make my way back. Next time I plan on renting a camper and exploring the entire ring road which runs around the perimeter of the island. If you are planning on visiting the island in the near future I would suggest making your way sooner rather than later. The country is experiencing an enormous boom and I worry that some of the beauty may become tainted by the influx of tourism. Hopefully that's not the case and this beautiful country remains one of the truly breathtaking landscapes on this planet.