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October 17, 2017

My Autumn Iceland Itinerary: Part 2

If you haven't read Part 1 of my Autumn Iceland itinerary yet, click here to see what we got up to. It was such an amazing trip; truly one for the books!

Day 5: Midway through our trip on Wednesday, we had planned a day trip to the South of Iceland to see the Jökulsárlón Lagoon. Of course, it's a long trip from Reykjavik to this area, so we made quite a few stops in between, making sure to see many sights of note while we were in the area, even in the pouring rain. The first stop was Skogafoss, one of Iceland's most well-known waterfalls. It's such a beautiful spot and the waterfall is a real life example of climate change, as the cliff where the water pours over the ledge is actual the former coastline of Iceland. 

After exploring the beautiful falls, we journeyed further south to Katla, the famous volcano which is expected to erupt at any time. The drive to the glacial lagoon of Jökulsárlón was quite stunning; passing waterfalls, lava fields and black deserts were nothing out of the norm on this trip. Once we finally reached our destination, we headed out onto what we'd typically call a "duck" boat, as it has wheels and can drive on land as well. It was quite an experience, being loaded onto this boat with full lifevests and parkas in the rain only to come across these majestic icebergs in the middle of a lake that leads right into the Atlantic. Such an unforgettable experience, watching the seals and birds play and hunt in this crystal waters. It's sad to think that this beautiful area is at such risk currently, and is expected to fully open into the ocean within the next century. 

After our visit to the lagoon, we made our way to Vík, the village famous for its black sand beaches and rugged coastline. It's really a sight not to be missed, just look at the images below. On our way back north to Reykjavik, we stopped to see Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which is popular as you are able to walk behind the falls. It's so incredible that around every corner in this magical country you can see another natural wonder such as this. 
Day 6: After a long journey the day before, we wanted to spend the day locally in Reykjavik, so we decided to book a whale watching boat trip into Flaxafloi and the Flaxa bay area. Before heading to our boat, we stopped at Reykjavvik Röst for a coffee, which I would highly recommend. 

During the autumn, you're not typically expected to see much whale activity because many of the local species migrate once the temperatures drop, but we were lucky enough to see quite a few Minke whale and some beautiful Gannets diving for fish. It was quite chilly during our ride, so we even wore full "Arctic overalls" for the duration, and warmed up in a pub called Sæta Svínid afterward with a drink. For dinner that night before venturing out to see the Northern Lights, we went to an Italian restaurant called Caruso, which was surprisingly delicious, and the owner even called us all outside when he caught a glimpse of the lights right there in the city. It was really beautiful!

I have to say I wasn't quite expecting to see the lights on this trip to Iceland, as many people say that while you may see them beginning in September, you shouldn't expect it. We waited until we saw the forecast on Thursday and booked a trip that night to go outside the city and see the lights. It was the clearest day out of the whole week, and we ended up seeing quite a spectacular display. I can't believe that I got to experience them so vividly, as they were a 6/10 that night which is extremely rare in this area.
Day 7: Exhausted after a late night of Northern Lights spotting, we headed for Langjökull Glacier, which is the second largest in Iceland. We arrived at the foot of the glacier and hopped an old missile transport bus that drove us to the top of the glacier. There, we got out and explored the area a bit (#beyondthewall, for all you GOT fans) and then headed down into the glacier via a tunnel that was carved right into the ice. It was so incredible to see the true blue of the ice and the underground caverns and icicles that were formed by thousands of years of snow. 

On the way back from the glacier, we stopped at Barnafoss and Hruanfossar falls to see the gorgeous "children's falls" and the "lava falls", which are both incredibly unique. I've really never seen anything quite like these falls, and the autumn colors really popped against the lava rock and turquoise blue waters. 

When we returned to the city we stopped into Laundromat Café for a drink before heading back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. We ate at Tapas Barinn, which was surprisingly delicious and offered quite large portions compared to traditional Spanish tapas. 
Day 8: After a tiring week of sightseeing and hikes, we decided to truly take it easy on our last full day in Iceland. We strolled around the city and walked the pedestrian bridge along the harbor in Reykjavik. It was a beautiful, clear day and the sun was shining, so we lucked out in our choice to take a leisurely walk that day. For lunch, we headed to Reykjavik Fish Restaurant for fish and chips, which I have to say, was absolutely delicious and certainly not low calorie. 

After lunch, we walked the city again and did some shopping before heading to dinner at Le Bistro downtown. It was a great, easygoing dinner to end our wonderful trip to this beautiful country.
Have you ever visited Iceland? Share your experiences if so!

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