Iceland in Wintertime Vik Black Sand Beach JetSettingFools

Iceland in Wintertime: A photo essay

We were in Iceland for less than 100 hours – 98 hours, to be exact. In that time, I managed to click the shutter on my camera more than 2000 times. I try to practice self-restraint, but with the beauty of Iceland in wintertime, I had zero willpower. I was in awe at every turn. City streets and amazing architecture {click, click}. Snow blanketed landscapes {click, click, click}. Thundering waterfalls and dangling icicles {click, click, clickity click}. Black sand beaches and silhouetted rock formations {click, click, click, click, click, click}. Powerful nature putting on a show {clickclickclickclickclickclick}.

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3-Day Itinerary for Iceland in Winter JetSettingFools.com

3-day itinerary for Iceland In Winter

We made a last-minute decision to make a four-night stopover in Reykjavik, Iceland while flying from the Netherlands to Costa Rica. It was our first time to the island nation and our list of things we wanted to see was extensive. We had three full days to explore and we were intent on making the absolute most of our time, cramming everything we wanted to see in our 3-day itinerary for Iceland in Winter.

Our winter visit presented a few challenges. First, we had fewer hours of daylight – about seven hours total each day. On the upside, dark skies are necessary for viewing the Northern Lights, so we considered the short days to work to our advantage in that respect! Second, we had to factor in the weather. While the temperatures are actually more mild than most people would think – averaging 31*F in January – elements like wind and snow could quickly alter plans.

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The 6 Best Things to Eat in Reykjavik, Iceland JetSettingFools.com

The 6 best things to eat in Reykjavik, Iceland (and what it cost!)

Hot dogs, fish, soup, yogurt, tomatoes and orange soda. It doesn’t sound like much, but these are the six best things to eat in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Due to the isolation and harsh winters of an island nation, the national cuisine in Iceland ranges from fairly basic and expected to creative and downright strange. The remoteness also makes it outrageously expensive. We attempted to keep our budget in check and still get a taste of Iceland cuisine and we think we succeeded in finding six of the best things to eat in Reykjavik, Iceland.

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3 Places to Drink Local Beer in Reykjavik, Iceland JetSettingFools.com

3 places to drink local beer in Reykjavik, Iceland

Stay out of the bars. That’s the #1 tip for budget travelers visiting Iceland. The best budget tip for those wanting to imbibe in Iceland and to save money is to purchase alcohol at the duty-free shop at the airport on arrival. While we clearly fall into the Budget Traveler category, there was zero chance we were going to bypass trying a few local brews at a pub. It is, after all, our preferred method of meeting and mingling with locals. We sacrificed the budget and found 3 places to drink local beer in Reykjavik, Iceland.

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Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland Our Experience JetSetting Fools

Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland: Our experience

It was our 4th and final day in Reykjavik, Iceland and we hadn’t seen the Northern Lights. On our first three nights, the excursions in search of the green glow in the sky had been cancelled due to cloud cover. The notifications via text arrived each day by mid-afternoon. Getting a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis was at the top of our list when we planned our trip. But, on our last day, we were coming to terms with the fact that we might miss seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland.

In the late afternoon we began making alternate plans for our last night in town. The day had been mostly cloudy and the fierce winds were brutally cold. My optimistic outlook and high hopes that skies would clear were waning. However, as the hours passed and darkness came, we had yet to receive a cancellation notice. Still doubtful, it wasn’t until an hour before the 9:00pm departure that we finally realized the chase for the lights was on.

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Iceland's South Coast Reynisdrangar from Vik Black Sand Beach

Iceland’s South Coast: A Daytrip from Reykjavik

On our first full day in Iceland, we toured the sights on the Golden Circle. We were blown away by the natural beauty of the country – and we were only seeing a small piece of it. By the end of our tour, we knew we had to experience more of Iceland. On the bus ride back to Reykjavik, we booked a second tour with Reykjavik Excursions for the following day to explore Iceland’s South Coast.

The tour itinerary to Iceland’s South Coast listed five sights and was slightly more adventurous than the Golden Circle (but not so adventurous that we needed special gear). We would see two waterfalls, take a hike through snow to see a glacier, spend time on two black sand beaches and visit a folk museum.

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Iceland Golden Circle by Tour Bus Stop 3 Gullfoss JetSetting Fools

Exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle by Tour Bus

As first-timers to Iceland, exploring the essential sights of the Golden Circle was practically a requirement. From the capital city of Reykjavik, 300 km of road wind in a loop to three of Iceland’s most naturally stunning sights: Strokkur Geyser, Gullfoss Waterfall and the exposed Tectonic Plates at Thingvellir National Park. Our standard approach to sightseeing is to find a do-it-yourself route via public transportation or by simply using our own two feet. In the case of the Golden Circle, however, neither of those options are viable. Instead we had two alternatives: rent a car or take a tour. In addition to our standard objection of driving cars in foreign countries, we had even more encouragement to forego the self-drive option: snowy, icy, winter weather. Hence, we spent a day exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle by tour bus with Reykjavik Excursions.

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