Welcome to The Exploring Yogini’s Guide to Backpacking Iceland Part ONE!
I’ve been to 14 countries, and Iceland is one of my favorites! How could it not be??
It’s absolutely stunning, full of adventure, and surrounded by wild nature.
Don’t think that you can’t visit Iceland because of finances, it can be done for less money, I PROMISE you.
I’ve written a three part series all about backpacking Iceland in Winter. This is Part One!
Don’t let winter put you off. It’s not as cold as you’d expect. Our one-week trip in January felt warmer than our January in Minnesota- Y E S you read that right. The land of Ice feels warmer than our home in the Northern U.S.
If you’re dreaming of Iceland, here are the Places to Visit while backpacking the Land of Fire & Ice!
My favorite memories of Rekjavik were walking around aimlessly. Upon our travels by foot we wondered onto the stunning boardwalk across from the Esja Mountains & then the magnificent Harpa Concert Hall. We also had a great laugh (… uh and a relaxing time) at the geothermal baths.
You only need two or at most, three days in Reykjavik. It’s a relatively small city that is easily accessible.
Tip: If you go to the geothermal baths, you have to shower naked before you go into the pools. Both Brock & I tried to shower with our swimsuits on (in our respective bathrooms) and each of us got yelled at by the shower police. Yes, they hire people to make sure attendees shower naked. The police then showed me a diagram of the places (of my body) that I needed to wash thoroughly! I reluctantly removed my swimsuit & embarrassingly followed the rules.
Þingvellir National Park (or Thingvellir):
Þingvellir National Park is stunning during the snowy winter! It’s a stunning UNESCO World Heritage that is the most important historical place in Iceland. The oldest parliament in the world was created at this park!
Þingvellir National Park is also where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are located. These plates are separating at about 2 cm per year, resulting in a huge continental drift between the two plates!
We went to this park twice! Once at night for the Northern Lights & then the next morning for our Golden Circle.
Each visit was only for a short period of time, I would have loved to explore this gorgeous park on our own time!
Hint: Do it on your own!
Like the rest of Iceland, Gullfoss Waterfall was radiant in the soft glow of the sun of golden hour! It’s falls felt like they were never-ending.
In the early 1900’s a young woman saved the waterfalls from being used for electrical energy. Her father was a farmer who leased the land to the developer. She hired a lawyer in attempt to void the contract. During a legal battle, she’d walk to Reyjavik barefoot, & also threatened to throw herself into the waterfall if they began construction. The contract was later void after not paying the rental fees.
Tip: Don’t buy the soup at the restaurant at Gullfoss, although it was delicious, it is ridiculously expensive… Like over $20 for a bowl!
There are plenty of geothermal pools, steam eruptions, and a few geyesers here!
Iceland’s most famous geyser, Geysisgil, is located here. It’s currently dormant & no one knows if it’ll ever wake up.
Strokkur is an active geyeser that blows every 6-10 minutes and reaches a 100 ft high! Before it blows, it creates a fascinating bubble of water, that looks like an eyeball!
Faxi is another stunning waterfall in the Golden Circle Tour. Despite it’s beauty, you’ll find little to no tourists at this waterfall. Most tourists flock to Gulfoss, forgetting about Faxi. It’s a lot smaller, & not as beautiful, but it still deserves a trip to be seen!
Seljalandsfoss was a slight detour off of the highway. It’s pretty crazy how magic lies just around the corner in Iceland!
This stunning waterfall is 213 feet tall! It’s so intense that you can’t walk too close to the waterfall because of the ice that accumulated near the fall.
We actually didn’t take any photos at Skógafoss! it was at the end of a long day and I was a bit cranky… I was upset that the viewers weren’t enjoying the views & we’re all attached to their tripods, trying to get closest to the waterfall….
I guess you’ll have to go see it for yourself! 😉
Also, don’t forget to live in the moment!
Visit the Vatnajökull Glacier
Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in all Europe! Your tour will start off with a ride in a gigantic van where you’ll do a bit of off-roading in the National Park. Your guide will give you crampons to put on your shoes & a big ole helmet. From there, you’ll get to climb around the cave. The stunning icy blue walls are unreal, making for an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
This glacier is only accessible during the winter. Besides this glacier, there are many more reasons why you should visit in winter, I’ll explain more in Part Two.
*Note that visiting this glacier is not free!
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
The glacier lagoon is also apart of the Vatnajökull National Park, making it super accessible if you have your own car. It’s a large lagoon full of glistening floating glaciers. You can spend hours here walking around, taking in the view, and searching for playful seals.
For fun facts about movies & music videos that have been shot at this lagoon, visit this website.
Places I Wish We Had Visited
- Blue Lagoon Geothermal Pool
- Landmannalaugar Mountains & Volcano
- Maelifell Volcano, Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park
- Inside Thrihnukagigur Volcano Tour
So there you have it! The Exploring Yogini’s Iceland Guide to backpacking during the winter.
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