Visiting Iceland has been a dream of mine for at least ten years.

I remember being a senior in high school looking at photos of the Blue Lagoon and thinking how badly I wanted to visit one day. The reason it took me so long to get around to is because.....

1) Iceland is expensive. So, so expensive. Finding the funds to visit is no joke!
2) I wanted to see the whole country and needed to make sure I had the time off to do it properly. 

After years of living in Ireland (a TWO hour flight from Iceland) and not having visited due to being unable to acquire enough money and time off for a long visit, I put my foot down.  I decided I would rather visit for a short amount of time then continue to wait for my dream trip. Waiting around just isn't my style!

Some things I had to decide...

Summer or Winter? 
I chose summer because summer in Iceland means looooong days (sunrise at 4am, sunset at midnight!), so we could cram as much as possible into a short stay. Plus I wanted the weather to be mild so I wouldn't have to worry about bad conditions cancelling/delaying my flight when I only had a short amount of time there to begin with. However, winter means a beautiful snowy landscape and of course a chance to see the Northern Lights. A difficult decision!

Car Rental or Day Tours? 
This was a no brainer for me, I always prefer to rent a car and do my own thing rather than be in a crowded bus with strangers. However, I do enjoy that day tours provide you with all the history!  

Van Life or Airbnb? 
This took me a LONG time to decide, which will be surprising to people who know me because I am notttttt the Suzie Wilderness type. That being said, the idea of falling asleep and waking up next to a waterfall or a glacier seemed incredible. In the end I took the safe route and went for an Airbnb, but there are loads of amazing vans to rent for those who want to be more adventurous!

What do I want to see the most? 
For our itinerary, compromise was key since we only had two FULL days to go explore. I spent hours researching and found the vast majority of the things I wanted to see weren't along the Golden Circle like I had originally anticipated, but actually along the South Coast. From there, I created a rough itinerary and just rolled with it.

Our Itinerary: 

Saturday we arrived around 4pm, picked up our car, then drove into Reykjavik to grab some groceries and have a browse around. By the time that we arrived most places were closed, but we managed to get to the Hallgrímskirkja to take in a beautiful view of the city.

We then drove to our Airbnb, jumped in the hot tub to watch the sunset and then went straight to sleep, making sure to rest up for a FULL day of adventures the following day.

Our Airbnb happened to be on a horse farm, so Sunday we woke up early in our beautiful little cottage (you can find it here) and walked to the main house for a morning horseback ride through the mountains.

Horses are EVERYWHERE in Iceland and they are so majestic. The ride was expensive (around $100/each for an hour) but it was so lovely and a wonderful way to start our day - though I won't lie, it's a little scary. I haven't been horseback riding in years and I had NEVER ridden a horse English style (only Western) so it was definitely an adventure, but once I got over the "holy shit I am on a horse" feeling it was fully enjoyable.

After our mountain ride, we hopped in the car and head to our first stop, Seljalandsfoss waterfall.

I had never stood BEHIND a waterfall before and the perspective was incredible. They also have the loveliest little coffee and pastry stand to warm up after you're done being sprayed by chilly Icelandic water. Which, as a side note, is INCREDIBLE to drink. Fresh, ice cold, Icelandic tap water is truly better than any bottled water I've ever had. It is rumored to have healing properties, which does not surprise me!

Now, I don't want to downplay Seljalandsfoss because it is stunning and definitely a solid stop, but....

Skogafoss was truly the most beautiful waterfall I have ever, ever, ever seen in my life.

If you visit mid-day when the sun is shining directly onto the falls, you will be treated to the most magnificent rainbow. It was so ridiculously beautiful that it didn't look based in reality. I literally had an emotional moment when I was standing at the base of it - I just teared up thinking about how lucky I was to be there and how amazing nature is.

After spending a very long time staring into rainbows, we made our way further south, where we stumbled upon this creation on the side of the road:

It's called Rútshellir and it's basically a cave. Legend has it it was created by Icelandic trolls who wanted to be away from civilization (which, I can spiritually relate to). From the outside it looks like a little hobbit hut built into the hill. But on the inside...

INSANITY. It goes so deep and is SO much larger then you'd ever anticipate. Apparently there are over 90 of them around Iceland. I am 10000% convinced this hut is haunted AF and would not recommend visiting during the evening. However, it is a solid day-time roadside spectacle.

Eventually we made our way to Vík, a little seaside town known for it's incredible black sand beaches and rock formations:

We grabbed coffee and took a quick stroll and it was delightful. A nice place to stop when you need a moment to chill.

For the finale of our day, we drove back towards Reykjavik, through dirt roads and into the mountains to find this incredible spot for a swim:

It's called Seljavallalaug, and it's not particularly easy to find - not only is the parking for it in an unmarked area off a dirt road on the side of the highway, but it requires a solid 20 minute walk into the mountains to get to. But let me tell you, it was a remarkable experience that I will never forget. Walking through the mountains and jumping into a geothermal pool is the definition of a beautiful experience. However, I maybe wouldn't recommend it to germaphobes -  it's definitely "rustic" if you catch my drift.

We spent our Sunday evening in our hot tub, followed once again by a loooong sleep. There is something about Iceland that's very soothing and gave me one of the best sleeps of my life.

Monday we woke up around 10 and decided to explore Reykjavik again. We could have done another driving excursion but we wanted to have a relaxed morning having breakfast and watching the horses rather than another early morning that was action packed.

We stopped at the famous Reykjavik Roasters for an iced coffee, then over to Brauð & Co. for what was potentially the best cinnamon roll I've ever had in my life!?! Highly recommend paying it a visit if you are a fellow baked good aficionado.

We also stopped by the popular Sea Baron restaurant for lobster soup and oh my GOD. It is next level! We each devoured a bowl of it, dipping buttery crusty bread in it along the way.

Reykjavik is seriously so cute. If it wasn't so expensive I would happily fly back just for a city break. The shops, restaurants and overall feel are so relaxed and much more modern than I anticipated. We hadn't heard great things about it so we almost skipped it entirely but I am SO happy we didn't. A reminder to not let other people's opinions of somewhere/something/someone get in the way of exploring!

After saying goodbye to Reykjavik, we drove south to embark on what was potentially the thing I was MOST excited to experience...

The Blue Lagoon!

I have heard VERY mixed reviews on the Blue Lagoon. Some people have told me it's a fun experience and others have told me it's crowded and gross and filled with tourists. I won't lie....I do not like crowds. Especially tourist crowds. So when I was looking at the booking options for the Blue Lagoon, I only slightly hesitated before booking the fanciest option. My bank account was not happy (hehe) but when I mentioned earlier that I used to dream of the Blue Lagoon as a teenager, I was not joking! Because of this reason (and the crowds, of course) I decided to go all out. I might not ever get a chance to go again so I wanted to make sure to have the experience that my 18 year old self would approve of!

The basic entry option offers access to the main Blue Lagoon + a drink, towel, slippers, locker etc if you so choose.

The top tier option, however, offers more luxurious experience. You are given an electric wristband that gives you access to your own cabin, complete with dual showers, sink, hair dryer, iron, towels, robes, slippers, and Blue Lagoon products to use. You're also given access to a private area of the Blue Lagoon, separate from the main lagoon. You get a free drink from the swim-up bar, access to their restaurant (that you can visit in your robe and slippers!), multiple 'relaxation rooms' (one was pitch black with a crackling fire in it, one was filled with swinging seats that overlook the lagoon where you can sit in and nap, etc), two saunas, one cold plunge pool, and the ultimate treat - their 'Ritual' experience. The Ritual is basically a full body scrub and two full body masks that you put in post-Lagoon lounging that makes your skin feel baby soft and moisturized.

You also get access to the regular Blue Lagoon, which you can visit if you want. We went over there to take photos (you can't take photos in the private space, hence why I have none) but immediately came back to the private area because the rumors were true - it was pretty crowded.

I cannot, and I mean truly cannot recommend this experience enough. It was so rejuvenating and overall just incredible. The private lagoon is so private that there were times it was just Joey and I swimming totally alone, which was divine. The customer service was great and the facilities are AMAZING. If you can swing it, I highly recommend.

But you know what, if you can't, I will say the regular Lagoon did look like fun. Just go in thinking of it as a big hot tub party rather than a relaxing experience and I think anyone could have a good time!

After our Blue Lagoon experience we simply dropped off our rental car and hopped over to our airport hotel to order a pizza. We flew back to Dublin the next morning at 7am!

A truly quick trip that we managed to jam pack with adventures but also relax. A difficult balance to make.