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Planning Our Trip to Iceland

September 17, 2018

By:

Erin Schrader

We’re Headed to Iceland…

Every once in awhile that husband of mine gets a wild hair in him and does something very unexecuted and out of the blue. Insert Christmas of 2017. As I opened my last gift, I unfolded a piece of paper that showed pictures of Iceland. I was so confused. Iceland? What’s happening in Iceland? Isn’t it cold in Iceland? Do people go to Iceland? It turns out that yes and yes – it is cold and tons of people go there. The best part? We’re going now too. Shawn decided to surprise me with an adventurous trip for us to take this fall [we’re normally those people who find the warmest beach to set off to] and do something out of the ordinary. Excited for this next adventure is an understatement. We recently spent some time doing a little bit [okay, a lot] of research on what we want to do while we are in Iceland, where we’re staying and most importantly – what I plan on packing [hint: it will ALL come from one place and it’s here]! Here’s a quick rundown of our trip before we go [and why I think you should start planning a trip there as well]!

My outfit: Free People Golden Gate T-Shirt [TTS, wearing XS] // Dl1961 Margaux Quincy Instasculpt Ankle Skinny Denim [TTS, wearing 26] // Filson Open Tote Bag // Penfield Vassan Jacket – Women’s  [TTS, wearing XS] // Seychelles Footwear Deep Sea Boot // Pistil Soho Fedora

Shawn’s outfit: The North Face Glacier Alpine Fleece Jacket – Men’s [TTS, wearing Medium] // The North Face Terry Long-Sleeve Henley Shirt – Men’s [TTS, wearing Medium] // New Balance 247 Deconstructed Knit Shoe – Men’s

What to Do

Apparently there is way more to do in Iceland than I ever thought, starting with natural scenery. Do a quick google image search of Iceland and you’ll probably have the same blown away reaction that I did. Here are a few of the items on our itinerary:

  • Soak in the Blue Lagoon Hot Springs
  • See the Gullfoss Waterfall [along with MANY of the other breathtaking waterfalls in this country]
  • See the Northern Lights [preferably while sitting in a hot tub]
  • Snowmobile through ice caves
  • Potentially take a flight over to Ireland for a couple of days to explore the country, but most importantly enjoy an adult beverage in an Irish Pub
  • Drink lots and lots of hot cocoa in cozy pajamas while looking outside at the beautiful natural landscape

Pistil Soho Fedora // Free People Golden Gate T-Shirt

And much, much, more. I’ve learned since booking our trip that Iceland has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, that it is unlike ANY other place in the world due to all of its untouched natural beauty and that it’s very fairly inexpensive to travel to/from there.

Where to Stay

While they are some incredible hotels in Iceland, we opted to rent a home for our weeklong stay in the Golden Circle area. The biggest perk? Outdoor hot tub. You know I’ll be using that sucker every single morning and night. After our stay I will share the exact link of the home we rented along with my honest thoughts on staying there and if I’d recommend going this route or not. More details to come post vacation.

What to Pack

Is it ridiculous that this is the part I may be MOST excited about? There’s just something about traveling to a land where I get to layer up in cozy clothes that has me all sorts of giddy. Like I mentioned before, it’s cold in Iceland [shocking based off the name of the country alone, I know] so warm and waterproof clothing is a must. My favorite spot to shop for activewear that looks great? Backcountry. From Sorel boots, Patagonia pullovers, Free People oversized sweaters, The North Face jackets, you name it – I’ll be packing it! Backcountry’s fall style selections have me head over heels ready to start buying everything immediately and begin packing. From flannels, to waffle knits, hats and more – I want it ALL. If you have similar feelings, use code YELLOW15 for 15% off your first purchase at Backcountry [some exclusions apply, one use per customer]. At the top of my list for packing – comfortable shoes and bags that are durable and can hold all of my things as we’ll be on the go often.

Filson Open Tote Bag Seychelles Footwear Deep Sea Boot New Balance 247 Deconstructed Knit Shoe – Men’s

All in all, I can’t wait for this next adventure with Shawn and I only hope it’s the start of a few more journeys off the beaten path.

Have you been to Iceland before? I’d love any and all recommendations on what to do / where to eat / etc while we’re there! I can’t wait to share our travels once we’re home!

Shop today’s post along with the ability to set-up sale alerts on the items you have your eyes on. Don’t forget to check out Backcountry for all of your fall and travel needs!

Disclosure: Thank you to Backcountry & ShopStyle for partnering on today’s post.

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  1. Maureen says:

    I went to Iceland when I was 14 yrs old with a school trip –we continued onto Europe after a 3 day stay in Iceland. I would love to return. Last year my sister , brother -in-law and now 15 yr old niece went to Iceland and enjoyed it so much. Another acquaintance went and was there for about 10 days and she so enjoyed it as well.
    I hope that you enjoy the time and the beauty of the country.

  2. Kelly Camp says:

    Iceland is beautiful!! I was there this past February with a bunch of my college girlfriends. One of the best restaurants is Grillmarkadurinn, Grill Market. It’s in downtown Reykjavík. Alcohol is extremely expensive in Iceland so my advice is to buy some to keep at your rental. I paid $29 for a glass of red wine one night at dinner????!!! Crazy!

  3. Kait says:

    We leave for Iceland this week!

  4. Jeri Marko says:

    We did Iceland this past summer. One of our favorite trips!! Look into https://www.buubble.com/ for a cool way to see the Northern Lights for a night. It wasn’t an option during summer months. Our friends said it was the coolest experience ever last winter. . When you turn your lights out the “buuble” completely disappears and it’s as if you’re laying out under the stars. I promise it won’t disappoint.

  5. Angelica says:

    DEFINITELY go to a lagoon but I personally though The Blue Lagoon was too touristy. There’s lots of other options for lagoon spas ???? Be prepares to pay a TON of money for food because everything has to be imported. It’s one of the best vacations though. I hope you guys have a blast!!

  6. No, I’ve never been but I heard it’s amazing! Hope you have a fabulous time, and thanks for the great coupon code for Backcountry! I will live vicariously through you from a wardrobe perspective hehe.

  7. Maureen says:

    Blue Lagoon is an amazing tourist attraction, but also check out “secret lagoon” in Fludir – way more authentic experience. And the restaurant at Guesthouse Fludir (just down the road) is incredible for Icelandic food. We went glacier snowmobiling after our Golden Circle tour with Arctic Adventures and it was a highlight of the trip.

  8. Cyndy says:

    Visited Iceland in June with my daughter. So glad I experienced the Blue Lagoon. Wonderful!! Enjoyed the beautiful scenery and great people. We loved the Rusto restaurant for delicious seafood and lamb- cozy too!! We cannot wait to visit again! Enjoy!!

  9. Mandy says:

    How exciting!! I have been telling my husband the last 2 months we have to go there next year. Sooo I’m so excited for you to blog all about it!! Have so much fun!!

  10. Charity says:

    Just returned from our trip to Iceland a couple weeks ago! Highly recommend the Jökulsárlón boat tour – i.e. on a boat with icebergs all around. In Reykjavík, Petersen’s bar was cool – rooftop in the middle of the city, with blankets and fire pits if needed. Helicopter tour was also really solid!

  11. Lindsay D. says:

    We went to Iceland for a week this past March with 14 of our best friends and family! Blue Lagoon for sure – the Falls, the geysers and the black sand beaches are all musts! You are also able to hike out into the glacier that’s slowly melting! I wish you all the luck in seeing the Northern Lights. We went out twice and thankfully saw the tiniest of dancing green light at the very end of our second night. While inexpensive to get to and from, be ready for the sticker shock once you get there!! You have to eat a hotdog from a street vendor while there, Boston’s was great for fish and chips and good happy hour specials. Hereford Shiekhus is great for an upscale quiet dinner. Bryggjan Brugghus (bistro and brewery) has excellent seafood down near the marina. Waterproof boots and a rain jacket or good shell to wear over your regular jacket is important! Layers are good, and fleeced lined leggings were my best friend! Have so much fun!

  12. Basia says:

    Yes, I almost froze to death at Gullfoss. In July. During a “heatwave”. Pack WARM!! It was all worth it 😀 You’re gonna love it.

  13. K Campbell says:

    We just got back from Iceland . I highly highly recommend going to the Westman islands. We did everything you mentioned ( and more) but the islands were truly amazing! It’s unlike anyplace I’ve ever been. Have so much fun!

  14. Victoria says:

    I’ve never been but I here it’s amazing!!! We actually have family coming from Wales to stay with us for a week then they are headed to Iceland. What an adventure! Can’t wait to hear about your trip!!!

  15. Bird says:

    Going for the first time in a couple months! Not sure when you’re going, but two things recommended to me were waterproof pants and yaktrax (https://yaktrax.implus.com — also available on Amazon). Isn’t the planning fun?! 🙂

  16. Alison says:

    Iceland is incredible. You have to go eat at Messinn in Reykjavik. It was by far the BEST meal we had there (I’m still dreaming about it) and we would have gone back a second time if we could have gotten a reservation! So yeah, make a reservation 🙂

  17. Ellen says:

    Never been but have heard it is very expensive to eat there. I’ll be curious to hear what you say about that. Have fun!

  18. Jo Nelson says:

    I was there this past June. It was in the 50’s. It stayed light out until after 11 p.m. We stayed in a hostel in Keflavik. We toured the Golden circle. We saw Blue Lagoon, but didn’t go because it was $99/person and, while that was ok for me, my daughter and her family of 4 didn’t want to spend $400 to sit in hot water. It was pretty tho. We saw a crater filled with water that was beautiful. We saw gorgeous waterfalls. We were going to go to another hot spring along the Golden Circle but found out you have to take a shower in front of everyone naked, and this 70 yr old body isn’t going to be seen by anyone! Parts of Iceland were beautiful, parts were very stark. I’m glad I went but I wouldn’t go again. It is also very expensive. Our first lunch I had a bowl of lamb soup. Not a big bowl, and absolutely not delish and it cost $15. Enjoy and I’ll look forward to hearing your views.

  19. Stephanie says:

    We went in February. It’s cold but no worse than east coast in winter. The wind is pretty intense though. The best thing I bought before going were rain pants. We were in and out of vehicles a lot and they were great to zip on and off and kept me dry and blocked the wind. I used snow boots and hiking boots(make sure they’re insulated and waterproof) and you’ll have a better chance of seeing the northern lights if your outside the city! Also the Water is the best water ever and you can drink it out of the tap (literally amazing) if you have a chance to stop by Hotel Ranga they have a great restaurant for dinner. Also bring tons of cash because eating is expensive everywhere! Otherwise it’s a beautiful country and the people are so nice! Enjoy!

  20. So jealous!!! Iceland is on my bucket list. Everyone I know who has gone there has loved it. Be prepared for all the HYGGE, my friend — or whatever the Icelandic equivalent term is. That is the perfect place to be cozy, particularly with your new line of clothes coming out. Good timing. 🙂 Enjoy!! Can’t wait to see the pics and hear the stories.

  21. Maureen says:

    Iceland is such an amazing place to visit! Blue Lagoon is an incredible attraction – but I highly recommend also checking out Secret Lagoon near Fludir for a much more authentic experience (it’s amazing at night, with the steam rising from the water). The restaurant at the nearby Guesthouse Fludir is fantastic. Our group went snowmobiling on the Langjokull glacier after our Golden Circle tour – it was easily the highlight of the trip. Be prepared – while it’s pretty inexpensive to get there, everything is SO expensive once you’re there. Definitely bring a water bottle (their water is incredible!) and snacks with you. Enjoy!

  22. Kaelene says:

    How exciting that you guys are coming to Iceland! I am from Oregon but have been living here with my Icelandic husband for five years now, it is an amazing country I am sure you guys will have a good time! In the Golden Circle area make sure to check out the Secret Lagoon (one of the oldest geothermal pools in Iceland), Fridheimar Greenhouse for lunch, Bruarfoss waterfall (a crazy blue waterfall) and Kerid crater which looks amazing in the fall colors!

  23. Dawn says:

    Your post is so timely! Already a huge fan of LIY, but now this. I am headed to Iceland in 2 weeks. Cannot wait. I’m obsessed with outfit planning too!! In addition to all the things you’ve mentioned, check out the downed naval plane DC 3. It’s a very picturesque stop located on a black sand beach. Not your average find on vacation. It’s defibitley on our list to see. Have fun planning!!

  24. Barbara Pedersen says:

    My family went last summer – so much fun and just gorgeous everywhere you looked!!!

    Eating:
    In Reykjavik – eat at Svarta Kaffid. Soup in Bread bowls – quick and inexpensive (although all the food is really expensive in Iceland).
    At any bakery – try the Happy Marriage cake/pastry.
    Skyr yogurt – or any of the Icelandic yogurts. so delicious.

    Sights to see:
    Thingvellir – a geologic area of Tectonic Plates (so neat, you can walk inside)
    We did a Lava Flow Cave tour – really amazing.

    Happy planning!!

    • erin says:

      Thank you so much for all the wonderful suggestions!

      • Stephanie Perret says:

        I agree – that soup bread bowl at Svarta Kaffid was so good after a cold day! It was the first thing I though of when I saw this post. It was so cozy and delicious!

        We also ate at the Fish Market. I didn’t know if I would like it because it was a lot of seafood but I loved it! Each course was delicious and interesting.

        We did a glacier snowmobiling tour which was really fun, a little scary and pretty cold but so worth it!

  25. Taira says:

    We’ve been to Iceland four times (yes, we are addicted). Renting a car is the way to go! You will LOVE having the outdoor hot tub; there was one at one of the guesthouses where we stayed. When you do the Golden Circle, start with Gulfoss (most tours from Reykjavik start with Þingvellir); you’ll avoid some of the tourist traffic this way. For the hot springs, I would recommend Laugarvatn Fontana over Blue Lagoon. If you like lobster, drive down to Stokkseyri and have dinner at Fjorubordid. The Icelandic Wonders museum is right next door and is an amusing place to learn about folklore. On the south coast, be sure to checkout the Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. Skógafoss is huge and you can take stairs all the way up to where the river feeds it. At Seljalandsfoss you can walk all the way around behind it, and if you go in the evening, the setting sun will make a rainbow (resulting in some very cool pictures). There’s also lots to check out in the Vik area, and if you have time to head as far east as Jökulsárlón, the glacier lagoons are awesome. You should also have a decent shot at seeing the northern lights if you get some clear nights (amazing!). So yeah, that’s my initial brain dump. ENJOY!!!

  26. Amberley says:

    Hi! We went in October, 2016. It is definitely amazing. There are so many things to see and do that you will probably run out of time.
    You should definitely rent a car, so that you are on your time and you can go where you want to go. We spent a ton of time in our rental car getting from place to place.
    It really was not cold at all, and I am usually always freezing. We live in Cincinnati, and it was no worse than the winters here for sure. The best plan would be to wear tons of layers so that you can remove clothing as you get warmer. Having waterproof pants, jacket, and boots was a life saver. Also, I would recommend taking some snacks too. When you are out driving on the ring road there is no where to stop and get food, minus gas stations. We took nuts, trail mix, beef jerky. It was life saver for me.. I need food! 🙂 We did the Blue Lagoon.. Yes, it’s a tourist trap, but I feel like it’s still one of those things you should do. We also hiked Glymur Falls.. that was such a fun one to do. By far my favorite was taking the zodiac tour at Jokulsarlon Lagoon. (It’s a black sand beach with giant glaciers that wash up on it). No matter what you do, you will have a great time.. It’s an amazing country with very nice people. I can’t wait to get back there! Thanks for all your shopping tips and ideas.. I am going to go broke. LOL 🙂

  27. Michelle says:

    I went to Iceland about two years ago. My husband and I still talk about this trip nonstop! It was absolutely amazing???? a rain jacket and waterproof boots are an absolute must for this trip. We did the Blue Lagoon. It was fun for awhile but eventually got super crowded. It’s definitely a tourist trap, cool experience though.

    Our favorite places were Vik and the glacier lagoon. Make sure you always have snacks and drinks in your car when driving Ring road. Limited food availability ???? and always fill your gas tank anytime you see a gas station. You never know when you will see another one.

  28. Kaylee Adams says:

    I’ve been in full planning mode the last few weeks! We leave on October 2nd for a photography/videography focused trip, and I’m so excited! My husband always says that it’s not the trips that are expensive, but the new wardrobe that I think I need for each of them.????????‍♀️

  29. Erin says:

    I went to Iceland in August and it’s beautiful! We rented a car, and is a must if you want to drive the Gden Circle. We loved the Blue Lagoon, and our favorite restaurant was Fridheimer- a greenhouse/tomato restaurant. I recommend skipping the whale watching tour if it’s on your list????, there were a lot of seasick people.
    Have fun!

  30. Erin says:

    I second the recommendations of Þingvellir and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Another activity you might consider is horseback riding. Iceland has the most amazing little horses unique to the island. They are adorable and very easy and fun to ride, even for non-horse people. In Reykjavik, definitely go try the “Worlds Greatest Lobster Soup” at Sea Baron (Saegreifinn). There’s also a great Indian restaurant called Austur-Indiafjelagid for when you get tired of seafood.

    Iceland is a great place to visit. Stunning landscapes, fascinating culture, and the people are extraordinarily nice.

  31. I’m so jealous! I went years ago – one of my all time favorite trips. We stayed for a few days at Polar Hestar in Akureyri and did horseback riding – simply the best. The horses in Iceland are Indigenous to Iceland and they are very protective of the herd. Incredibly special. (I literally almost bought one to bring home) And that area of Iceland is untouched and gorgeous.
    Can’t go wrong with Blue Lagoon. Enjoy -looking forward to seeing pictures.

  32. Sara says:

    We just got back about three weeks ago. It is incredible!! If you make it to Vik, eat at Smidjan Brugghus. It was the most delicious pulled pork sandwich I have ever tasted, and my husband said the same about the ribs! Also, the waterfalls are always packed with tourists, so if you are morning people, go early! We were at Gulfoss around 6am and had it to ourselves. It was much more enjoyable, and pretty powerful to have it to ourselves! Have fun!

  33. Lisa S. says:

    So excited for this! My kids are finally old enough where its easier to start exploring more and Iceland is coming up on our list. Went to Banff, Canada in July and they loved all the hiking and scenery so I think Iceland will be amazing. Can’t wait to hear about your trip as we are in the beginning phases of planning. Renting a house sounds like a great idea, especially with the kids.

  34. My husband and I visited Iceland mid August and loved it! Beautiful place and amazing people!
    Tips:
    Packing :Casual clothes you can layer, the weather changes during the day based on elevation and proximity to the ocean. Pack a waterproof jacket with a hood, comfy hiking type boots areas tend to be slippery..
    Food: Did not have a bad meal the entire time we were there! Fish soup is the big thing, also the lamb is amazing! Check out Public House, Resto and Messinn for dinner Icelandic Street Food is a great spot for lunch, Everyone dresses very casual when going to restaurants, boots, jeans and a sweater.
    Sightseeing: Black Beach is a must, Golden Circle, Northern Lights, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, South Coast, Whale Watching. The Blue Lagoon is a major tourist trap but you sort of have to go if you are there honestly I could have personally skipped it but I people seem to love the experience! Let me know if I can answer any additional questions.
    ENJOY! Lisa

  35. Aliza says:

    We went to Iceland this summer and it was amazing!!
    The natural wonders are exactly that wonders! We often ask ourselves if a place is as glorious as the pictures and Iceland definitely is. The waterfalls, geysers, volcanos and glaciers won’t let you down. I agree with the previous post, all those attractions are a must see. We travelled the golden circle also, however added a day to go to the western coast towards the peninsula. We chartered a boat and went whale watching. We seen 11 orcas and it was beautiful. Also took a ferry to Westman Island to see the Puffins they are so adorable and worth a quick trip.
    Have a wonderful time and don’t forget to pack gear for chilly weather and wind. I noticed temperature changes often. The coast was colder and when you were near a waterfall, the wind blowing water made the air colder and you WET!
    So add many layers and rain gear!

  36. Elizabeth Smith says:

    After reading this I opted to book a trip there through IcelandAir on our way to Germany. The airline allows a stopover in Iceland on your way to or from Europe. Needless to say, Iceland has been on our bucket list and you encouraged us to just do it! Now I am buying the suggested clothes and taking in all the recommendations! Thanks!

  37. Hannah says:

    Make a reservation to eat at Dill, the first Iceland restaurant to receive a Michelan Star (and just do the full tasting menu + drinks; whatever they are making is incredible and like nothing else you will have ever eaten); and if you can, sit at the bar table (for lack of a better term), you can see them prepare the various dishes and it is almost as amazing as the food!
    If you haven’t already try to book this tour: https://www.buubble.com/golden-circle-iceland-tour/
    It is a guided tour that takes you to the waterfall, another national park, the geysers, a hot spring that is far less touristy than the blue lagoon (and they close it down for the tour, so it’s just your group); free massages in the lagoon, then you boil eggs in another hot lagoon nearby and most amazingly, spend the night kinda in the middle of no where, in a bubble with a clear top half so you get to SLEEP UNDER THE NORTHERN LIGHTS, if you’re lucky enough to see them. Even if you’re not, it’s AMAZING. We saw the lights both at the lagoon and then again at the bubble.

    Also, the restaurant and bar tour through this company are incredible! We did both and loved them.
    https://wakeupreykjavik.com/all-tours/

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