Captain Wanderlust Vijay Ram surveyed, explored and fell in love with Iceland on a whim. But here is what, how he discovered Iceland in 7 days – some pointers for everyone!
And after you have got down to that, get your vacation started with Pickyourtrail.
When I began my Europe trip 3 years back, Iceland wasn’t on my bucketlist. I only had Paris, Switzerland, Germany, Spain or Italy on my mind. After exploring the main European countries, I was craving to see, to explore more. While looking at other Schengen countries, Iceland popped up. Since Christmas vacation was around the corner, I went gung-ho on my Iceland vacation – quite excited to witness Northern lights. With my friends unable to take off, I went ahead anyway – one of the best decisions I took!
• Before Iceland •Iceland needs Schengen visa – along with 26 more countries in Europe. This is handy, especially, if you plan multi-country tours in Europe. A no brainer – do all bookings in advance. It saves you time, from standing in queues and costs cheaper online – especially for the Blue Lagoon. Take sufficient warm clothes as temperatures may drop as low as -20 degrees. Take local currency, some places don’t accept Euros or charge more if you give Euros. You need to take Icelandic Krona. Staying at hostels will cost you lesser than hotels. Most of them are even safe and clean – great choice if you are travelling alone or with friends. First aid kit and medicines are always handy. A proper travel insurance would be highly helpful. If you are planning to catch the Northern lights, it’s better to plan a 5-7 days trip as some days are cloudy and you may not be able to witness the lights.
• In Iceland •
Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa ~
An Iceland trip is incomplete without a visit to the famous Blue Lagoon. Located amidst lava fields in Reykjavik, it offers one of the best spa experiences. With its water warm and rich in silica, sulphur; you can rejuvenate all day long. There is even a bar where you can enjoy local drinks, and try on silica mud masks and algae masks. Escaping the freezing temperature outside, once I got into those waters, I never felt like leaving.
Golden Circle Tour ~
One of Iceland’s best tours this will take you through Gulfoss waterfalls, Strokkur geyser, Pingvellir national park, and an organic tomato greenhouse farm. Gulfoss waterfalls is a spectacular show of beauty and unspoilt nature, and at Strokkur geyser watch geysirs erupting every five minutes. At Thingvellir National Park, awe at a landscape filled with lava rocks and rugged landscape.
Northern Lights Tour ~
Appearing between late September till early April, the Aurora Borealis can be seen in very few countries like Norway, Sweden, Alaska, Canada, Finland, Scotland and Iceland during winter. Aurora happens due to collision between electrically charged particles and oxygen, nitrogen gases. We also need some luck to witness northern lights as clear skies and ideal weather conditions are needed to witness it. There are guided tours who know all the places where it predominantly happens. I was extremely lucky to see it during my Iceland tour in December. One of my biggest dreams fulfilled!
Jokulsarlon Glacier Tour ~
Yet another beauty of Iceland are its ice glaciers. The Jokulsarlon glacier even featured in movies like Interstellar, Oblivion, Die Another Day. You get to tour around ice caves and ice glaciers, go ice climbing, glacier hiking and bike ride. But one of the best experiences would be a boat ride witnessing the beauty of glaciers.
Reykjavik City Tour ~
There is so much to see in Reykjavik – start from the famous Hallgrimskirka cathedral, then to the National museum of Iceland, Viking world museum and the Harpa concert hall. And of course, taste local Icelandic food and desserts.
Adventurously Iceland ~
There are a variety of adventures you can try to get that adrenaline rising in Iceland. From whale watching, snorkelling in crystal clear waters of Silfra, to ice hiking along the Jokursarlon ice caves and much more. Unfortunately due to shortage of time couldn’t explore much into adventures which I’m planning to do in my next Iceland trip.
Ideal Time to visit: September to March
There are lesser crowds plus you can witness the Northern Lights. Flights, hotels and more would cost lesser as it’s off season.
Foods to try
#1 Hangikjot (Smoked lamb)
One of Iceland’s traditional foods served during Christmas. This smoked lamb is generally served with potatoes in bechamel sauce and peas.
A mild Icelandic yogurt rich of protein, calcium and vitamins. It is generally served with cold milk and sugar. It can be eaten with cereals, as a porridge and used in desserts.
#3 Kjotsupa (Meat soup)
A traditional winter soup of Iceland made with winter vegetables like potatoes, carrot, onion in a lamb broth. Perfect cure for relentless colds.
Popular seafood that is baked or pan fried and is quite delicious.
#5 Icelandic beer
They have their own beer manufacturers like Einstök Beer, etc.
Thick pancakes that maybe served with cheese, meats or salads.
Icelandic almond cake dessert filled with cream.
Cinnamon rolls frosted with chocolate and other flavors.
Chocolate cake available in most cafes and bakeries in Iceland. It is covered in buttercream icing and dessicated coconut.
Vijay is a techie, globetrotter, a bookworm with an endless bucket list. Began with a trip to Asia with his friends, he has travelled across Africa, Middle East, United Kingdom and Europe. 39 countries and counting.