Iceland has been on top of my bucket list for the past couple years, so when the time came to go I could not have been more excited! Contiki introduced their Iceland trip in 2016 and it was wonderful (though I do not recommend going during Christmas time - more on this later). In case you are not aware of what Contiki is, it’s a travel company for 18-35 year old’s that plans trips around the world - I’ve raved about them in the past, check out their site for more details (I highly recommend it).
Not sure why but I just assumed Iceland was much further than it actually is. The flight was shorter than getting to Los Angeles from New York City which makes it a doable trip for those not looking for a long haul flight. I stayed in the main city of Reykjavik, but of course ventured out since most the jaw dropping waterfall, caves, and geysers are outside of the main city. Iceland only gets about four hours of sunlight during this time of year and it took a bit getting used to, pretty cool to experience it still being dark at 10am, but it did mean your days felt shorter. The city of Reykjavik is where two thirds of the Icelandic population lives and this makes a lot of sense since the further out you go the less things there are. It's filled with cozy cafes and shopping boutiques, breathtaking views of the water with backdrops of snow covered mountains. They also have a range of museums, personally I really enjoyed their whale exhibit it was filled with impressive whale models and interactive learning stations.
Outside of the main city there were tons of sites to explore, we did the Golden Circle tour which included the Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir geothermal area, and Þingvellir National Park which is where a canyon runs through the park dividing the fault line between two of the earth's tectonic plates - how cool is that! This is one of the most popular tours in Iceland and I can truly see why, everything was breathe-taking; it's very different from any other place I've travelled to. Due to weather conditions caving excursions were not available, but that only means I will have to return to this beautiful country.
Visiting the Blue Lagoon Christmas morning was quite the highlight. I had read mixed reviews, some said it’s a must-visit and others said it gets crowded/overrated, but I loved it! I think since it was christmas morning there were not as many people and you truly got to enjoy the experience of being in a geothermal spa with snow-capped mountains in the background, snow falling all around you, with a hint of light in the sky - It was amazing! So if you’re thinking of whether or not to stop by the Blue Lagoon, I suggest visiting during the early hours before it starts to get crowded. That night we did venture a couple hours outside of Reykjavik to try and catch the Aurora Borealis, conditions were not ideal (just another reason to return) and we did not see them, but we did have fun searching.
I did stay a couple of extra days after the Contiki trip ended, but wasn’t as lucky with the weather; got stuck in a rain/wind storm which resulted in my flight to Copenhagen getting delayed five hours. While the trip was beyond amazing I will say it was difficult to visit during Christmas time as most things were either closed or had limited hours the 24th to 26th. However, I highly recommend visiting during the winter season, it was literally a white winter wonderland and honestly not as cold as you would think. Here are a few photos from my trip, enjoy!