Updated: Dec 12, 2021
WOW, Iceland! When WOW Airlines came to St. Louis, we made an impulsive decision—who could resist a direct flight to an intriguing place for a great price? Unlike 99% of our trip planning, this one had nothing to do with food. And, you should not plan a trip to Iceland based around meals, because nature is the star. However, there are some gourmet destinations…you just have to do a little research.
Iceland is like a trip to another planet. From black beaches to mossy, chunky other planetary landscapes—this place is like nothing else. Plan to see gorgeous waterfalls around every corner, for your hair to be frizzy and blowing in your face, to pay quite a bit for meals out and still like it.
We were curious about the land of volcanoes, waterfalls, the Blue Lagoon, elves/trolls and glaciers. The house we rented was remote—about 10 minutes outside Selfoss—and we loved its extreme quiet, privacy, space and of course, the hot tub.
This two layer waterfall was impressive. The upper rocky cascade drops about 35 feet and then the lower fall drops about 70 feet into a narrow gorge. Get your ponytail on as there is a lot of spray and water everywhere. There is a statue honoring Sigridur Tomasdottir, the woman who helped thwart plans for a dam and keep the land open and beautiful.
Waterfall-Pingvellir National Park
This UNESCO national park is significant for many reasons. During the Settlement Age, it was here that chieftains for the different parts of Iceland gathered annually to deal with government business.
From a geological point, it is where you can see the slow separation of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates—where the earth's crust is literally being torn apart. Oxararfoss, a beautiful waterfall, is where the river plunges over the cliff face into the valley.
Black Sand Beach at Vik
The dramatic basalt formations, formed by volcanic rock, are so fascinating. The jagged Reynisdrangar sea stacks were also formed by volcanic activity. The signs warn never to turn your back to the sea as there are sneaker waves which can jump 50 feet. Luckily, we didn't encounter them.
Seljalandfoss The water here comes from Eyjafjallajokull, the glacier capping the volcano that erupted in 2010. We decided not to walk behind the 210 foot high falls as the wind was making the spray go everywhere. While there is one giant waterfall, there are also several minis all around.
Forged in a massive volcanic eruption over 5,000 year ago, Raufarholshellir is one of the longest lava tubes in Europe. Some areas are very dark and wet and slippery. You are required to wear a headlamp and a helmet, but I showed my surprise at not having to sign a waiver, our guide stated, "In Iceland, we believe in common sense." That summed up the Iceland vibe for me—no frills, no stupid, not a usual touristy destination at all.