This year I decided to head to Iceland for New Years. Why? Because I yearned for adventure. Wilderness. Nature. I wanted to in effect reconnect to myself. ‘Iceland transforms you’ one of my friends told me on the eve of my departure – and it did. A sort of alchemy happens when one places him/herself into extreme environments. Nature is above all, humbling. We learned this lesson many times on our six day trip; whether driving precariously over frozen lakes or witnessing what a true Icelandic snow storm looks like. But through it all runs a common thread: Beauty. A type of beauty that confounds and stops one in his/her place. That takes you into the immediate Now. From mammoth waterfalls, to endless mountain ranges, and otherworldly beaches one gets the sense that there is nowhere else on Earth quite like here.
DRIVE! Unless you cannot, I highly recommend renting a car + extra insurance (b/c Iceland is literally wild). For 7 days we paid 400 Euros. Driving along the coast of western Iceland is a real treat – you discover the landscape of the country and chance upon many beautiful, less visited sites (like hobbit houses!)
MONEY! Iceland is expensive – afterall it’s literally in the middle of nowhere. We found certain meals (especially healthy ones) to be very pricey. Friends and locals all echo similar sentiments. Even groceries are expensive!
COOK! Because of above and lack of restaurants on the road, I highly recommend having your own food. Some hacks – I made overnight chia pudding daily and piled on seeds and nuts in the AM. This saved me time and money (plus it was delicious). We bought canned beans, a small bag of rice, and fresh greens, which we made bowls with (nutritious & full of vital plant energy)
*make sure your airbnb has basic kitchen equipment*
PACK LAYERS Iceland never gets *that* cold; however the conditions are very wild. If you go in the winter, bring multiple layers and waterproof outerwear.
HUMILITY & RESPECT Tourists die every year in Iceland because they underestimate the power of Mother Nature. Last year a tourist died at Vik after a thick fog rolled in on the famed black beach and he could not find his way back to his car (he froze to death). We are not above nature, and Iceland really reminds you of this, so be safe, respectful (don’t litter)
100% stay in an airbnb or rental. This is how everyone travels in Iceland. Cabins range from the essential to P-I-M-P. Book in advance because demand often exceeds supply.
I highly recommend staying a couple nights at Kristinn’s refurbished farmhouse. This is one of the nicest airbnb’s we’ve ever stayed in. Tucked away. Quiet. And beyond stylish. Plus it has a hot tub that we dunked ourselves in every night (and watched the whirring stars above)
Glo: vegan & vegetarian – they do bowls, sandwiches and juices.
Bergsson Mathús: vegan options – I really like their brunch options and delicious sourdough bread
Garðurinn: local veggie hang out
Krúska: vegan & vegetarian options
Kaffe Vinyl: cute cafe that offers food and as name suggests vintage vinyl
There are literally too many – but a tip: see what you really want to see because you will never see it all. Stop chasing after the gram (if that’s what you fancy) because Iceland is so much more than just a snapshot. This is what I had to remind myself. Do less. Absorb. Put phone away. All above photos are tagged with location name.