828 miles: An adventure across Iceland  

Submerged entirely in a warm magical lagoon, with only two little eyes above the natural thermal water. Crisp fresh air tickling the tops of my ears and salt encrusted hair. The Blue Lagoon seemed like the perfect place to sit and reminisce of seven days spent attempting to complete 828 miles across Iceland’s famous Route One.

Blue Lagoon Iceland (Standard entrance €40 per person) Blue Lagoon Iceland

I’ve always been the person who takes the most complicated routes anyway, whether it be life or in this case travel.

I have flirted with the idea of travelling to Iceland since I was an eleven year old girl. I’m not sure if it was the horse lover in me, or my long term romance with the outdoors pulling me towards the land of fire and ice.

These days it seems impossible to avoid the perfectly orchestrated Instagram photos of influential travel bloggers and models. Iceland is no exception to this social media wanderlust, with over 4 million people posting with the Iceland hashtag on Instagram.

I decided that 2016 was the year for me to FINALLY #Iceland.

It’s cheaper than ever

Iceland has seen an invasion of tourists in recent years, with numbers almost surpassing the local population of 330,000. With flights for as little as €69.99 with Wow Air, it’s no wonder the masses are finally flocking to Iceland to get their taste of this natural wonder filled destination.

  • Fly Dublin to Reykjavik for €69.99 with Wow Air
  • Fly Cork to Reykjavik for €59.99 with Wow Air

www.wowair.ie

Route One

Route One, also known as the Ring Road is a national road that stretches across the entire Island. This road offers travelers a unique opportunity to experience every corner of the country from South to North. An epic journey that promises to offer epic situations.

One would imagine that their first steps on Icelandic soil would be greeted by a tall, rugged and bearded Viking.  Well,  I was.  John from Lotus Cars Iceland tells me during my airport pick up that he’s bored of waterfalls, joking of course.

I wanted my trip to Iceland to be uniquely mine. One week where I can go, see and do whatever it is that I want. Pick and choose the natural wonders that spark my imagination at any given time during my expedition. Renting a car made total sense and its essential if you intend on taking on Route One. Lotus Car Rental Iceland offer packages starting from approximately €45 per day, with the option to add extras like wifi at an additional cost.

http://www.lotuscarrental.is/

Daunting one lane bridges, landscapes that seem to change as fast as you blink and roadways that take you deep under, over and around colossal mountains. Route One is simply a thrill, especially if you are on the brink of breakdown, with petrol levels at a dangerous low.  After a warm and toasty night sleep, I left the comfort of Hotel Framtid in the East of the Island, with a hunger to take on a new day in this addictive country. A country that just never stops giving. Unfortunately this urge to hit the road lead me to make possibly my most foolish move during this trip, or maybe the most thrilling.

I find myself driving along the East Fjords, we’ve veered off Route One searching for a petrol station. A magnificent accident that resulted in me being overcome with a sense of positive panic. Where are we exactly, will we make it to a petrol station, will we breakdown In a location we never planned on visiting.

That fundamental feeling you should discover when you travel. The unknown, the spontaneous, the rush.

We didn’t break down but we did accidentally discover The East Fjords.

I’m so grateful I got lost.

Hotel Framtid (Double room with breakfast €125)  http://www.hotelframtid.com/

 

Black beaches and diamonds

Chasing moisture behind Seljalandsfoss waterfall like a giddy child and holding ice in your palms, like a diamond that has floated onto the shore at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. The South of Iceland is a playground full of fairytale like fun.

When you first lay eyes on the Renisfjara Shore your left temporarily speechless. A combination of intense, untamable wet winds hitting you in the face and a view that can only be described as something supernatural. People dream of white sand beaches, but here you meet the power and force of nature. Black sand beaches and white mist as far as the eye can see. The view of the black sand beach makes you feel utterly insignificant yet alive at the same time, quite a surreal experience.

What’s even better is that all of these locations across Iceland are free to visit.

The only way is north

Snuggled up like the marshmallow man on board the North Sailing ship, heading out towards the Husavik bay and into open water. An arctic sea adventure where i got to witness the most subtle yet beautiful moment of my life. Total silence followed by a burst of water into the air, similar to the geysers on land but much softer. The breath of life from a local humpback whale. Most have immigrated to warmer climates for the summer, I like to believe this one stayed just for me and my moment. Sipping hot chocolate, bobbing up and down and back and forth, in awe of this local humpback whale and the beauty of the open ocean. Whale watching is an essential and the North is the best place to behold the biggest mammals on the planet.

Husavik Original Whale Watching with North Sailing  (€75 pp)

http://www.northsailing.is/ 

Little did i know that this wonderful spectacle in Husavik was going to be challenged, with one little phone call in Myvatn. ‘Hello, this is hotel reception here at Hotel Laxa. If you would like to make your way outside for The Northern Lights. ‘ The green illusive lights in the sky are more common here in North Iceland, especially in the winter months. Every single head outside the hotel grounds were firmly focused on the sky above. It’s almost like a giant paint brush using vibrant green paint and splashing its brushstrokes at random across its canvas, the sky.  I wonder who is the artist creating this neon masterpiece. It’s more magical than I had anticipated.

Hotel Laxa (Double room with breakfast €155 in low season/October to April)  https://www.hotellaxa.is

Famous hot dogs in Reykjavik 

Who knew walking along the pathways of central Reykjavik would be so glorious, but after days of driving 828 miles alone I was happy to hit the streets by foot on a culinary day with Wake Up Reykjavik. Perfect for the curious traveler who loves food and socialising. Wrap your lips around the famous Baejarins Beztu Hotdog with all the toppings, slurp traditional Icelandic lamb and nibble locally sourced produce and cured meats. With the help of your local guide you will taste your way around the city and learn all about life in the capital of Iceland for €115 (per person) http://wakeupreykjavik.com/

Sitting behind the bar of a candle lit bar, bustling with people checking in and others just here to check out the band on stage. Hipster central, with a quirky design and buzzing atmosphere that made you want to stay and watch the people come and go. Kex Hostel seemed like the place to be with prices starting at €54 (per person/per night). http://www.kexhostel.is/. It’s my last day in Reykjavik and I finf myself sipping my morning black coffee on the balcony of Center Hotels Arnarhvol, located along the waterfront, overlooking the impressive glass building of Harpa and minutes walk from The Sun Voyager sculpture. The perfect location for those looking for something a bit more relaxed and mature for approximately €206 (per person/per night) Whether your looking for a quirky contemporary stay in a youth hostel like Kex or a quiet romantic break in Center Hotels, there is literally something to suit each style of trip.

Gazing at colourful rooftops from the top of Hallgrimskirkja church or feeling tiny underneath a life size model of a blue sperm whale at Whales of Iceland. (http://whalesoficeland.is/) Its early October and i find myself rushing each morning to start my day the moment sunrise breaks the sky, 8:59 to be exact. Sunrise comes and I’m covered in my oversized scarf and walking out the door of my hostel or hotel, because there is simply so many interesting sights and activities in this quirky like city. It’s totally different than the rest of the country and i love that.  I spent two full days exploring, eating and learning about the Viking history.

Why Iceland

So whether you’re looking to dip your toes in the famous thermal springs of The Blue Lagoon or chase the Aurora Borealis across the country. Iceland has everything you could hope for and more. Rub the famous Icelandic horse along the side of the road, fill your nose with sulfur as you gaze at bubbling mud pools or get drenched head to toe in dirt with action packed Buggy Adventures just outside the city (http://buggyadventures.is/)

The only limitation is your imagination in Iceland. Like me you’ll be wishing you booked a longer trip, just so you can see one last natural wonder before you leave this island that reminds you just how incredible our world is.

Survival tips

  • Add wifi to your car rental service
  • Download appy Hour for the cheapest deals in Reykjavik
  • Rent a 4×4
  • Reduce the cost of petrol around Route One by travelling in a group of 3-5.
  • Travelling in off season? The sun will go down at approximately 5:00pm so make sure to start your day as early as possible.
  • Bring waterproof clothes, trust me.

 Book your flights now https://wowair.ie/

 

 

 

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I worked alongside a range of brands during this trip including Kex Hostel, Center Hotels, Hotel Laxa, Hotel Framtid, Buggy Adventures, Blue Lagoon Iceland, North Sailing and others. All views expressed here are my own and not that of any brand mentioned.

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