Iceland is unquestionably the most breathtaking country I have laid eyes upon. Simply put, the natural landscape is otherworldly. Each corner of the country is more astounding than the last, with jaw-dropping waterfalls flanked by rainbows, turquoise blue glacial lagoons, lava fields, active geysers, and an abundance of natural hot springs. The added sheer luck of unusually warm, clear weather further accented the natural beauty of the land with crisp and sunny blue skies!
The recollection of unexpectedly stumbling upon Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is one of my most seizing and transcendent memories to date. The glacial icebergs are a radiant, luminous blue made all the more spectacular by the backdrop of a setting sun. Jökulsárlón serves as an incredible testament to the inexplicable, yet impermanent beauty of our planet. Moments following our arrival, a thunderous crack rang through the air as an iceberg broke cleanly apart and dropped into the icy waters below. Iceland makes for the ultimate road trip despite a common travel trend to stay in Reykjavík and take daily excursions. The highlights of our journey were found far from the country's capital, scattered all throughout the 800-mile loop encircling the country's perimeter. We flew into Reykjavik and began our excursion counter clockwise around the Ring Road. With luck consistently lending a hand throughout our trip, the Northern Lights greeted us on our very first evening in the country. Watching the brilliant green lights dance across the night sky was a most enchanting introduction to the breadth of Iceland's beauty. Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss are among Iceland's most remarkable waterfalls. Less than 100 miles outside of Reykjavik, both falls are located just off the Ring Road in the southern part of the country. It doesn't take long to come to the realization that foss is the Icelandic word for waterfall. The country is particularly well suited for large, powerful waterfalls with its frequent rainfall and snow. Skógafoss is one of Iceland's largest waterfalls, spanning 49 feet wide and 200 feet high. The spray from the fall often produces a double rainbow at it's base on a sunny day. Standing beneath this majestic sight, it's tempting to find truth in the old Viking legend of a treasure buried in a cave beneath the waterfall. One of the most remarkable aspects of Iceland is the sheer variety of the landscape. We left behind the volcanic, black sand beaches of Vík and the fishing port harbor of Höfn to arrive in the idyllic, mountainside village of Seyðisfjörður. The picturesque town is lined with colorful, wooden homes and encircled by spectacular snow-capped mountains. Hotel Aldan, a beautifully restored 19th century bank turned quaint bed and breakfast is an absolute must-stay. With all the charm of a Wes Anderson film and incredible seafood and sushi to boot, Seyðisfjörður was easily my favorite spot along the way. The landscape continued to take a turn for the weird and wonderful as we continued north to the Lake Mývatn region. The lake was formed from a volcanic eruption, with the surrounding wetlands boasting a diverse, rich bird population. Less than 10 miles away is the Námafjall geothermal field. The field is filled with boiling mudpots and fumaroles; openings in the Earth's crust that emit steam and gases. Walking through the area truly felt like a trip to Mars, if not a scene out of Mad Max. Not to be missed, and a mere 5 minute drive from Námafjall are the Mývatn Nature Baths. Opting to avoid the expensive, tourist-filled Blue Lagoon to soak in these remote geothermal waters was a no-brainer. The city of Akureyri in Northern Iceland was our final stop before heading back to Reykjavík. As Iceland's second largest urban center, with a strong restaurant and cafe scene, Akureyri is easily a place to stay and linger for a bit. The highlight of our time in Akureyri was spent in a gorgeous tiny home built by the owner himself. The view from the living room is breathtaking, with a floor to ceiling window overlooking the water. Without a single light in sight, viewing the Northern Lights from the comforts of this cozy, small home was a truly unforgettable experience.