Iceland has always been a bucket-list destination for me, I often see it featured in travel magazines or on TV and it takes my breath away. Some of my favourite photographers have been lucky enough to visit and I can’t wait to follow in their footsteps.
You know I always champion family travel and I really do believe that adventure is good for children. If resorts aren’t your thing you don’t have to stick with them once you have children – we’ve been all over with Lu and always have a great time. With that said, Iceland will be an adults only affair for us. We want to be free to really get out there and not have to worry about snack stops, the temperature and remembering pull ups! Matt and I can obviously handle extremes a lot better alone, we’re prepared to hike for the best views and brave the cold. Now that Lu is almost four and loves to go for sleepovers with her grandparents we can start thinking about our first solo trip – Iceland is firmly on my mind.
The main draw of Iceland is the opportunity to see the Northern Lights and hopefully capture some incredible photos. The Aurora Zone are the original Northern Lights holiday company, their knowledge about the spectacle itself and the best places to stay across Northern Scandinavia is second to none. I’d absolutely love to go on one of their bespoke adventures. The best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is between September and April but the conditions have to be right. You need to be away from major towns on a dark clear night and even then you might not catch a glimpse. If, like me, seeing the Northern Lights is one of your main reasons to visit Iceland I would definitely hedge your bets by having an expert on hand to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time.
The thing Matt is most keen to seen is the famous black church in Budir – it was first built in 1703 and is a really iconic image of Iceland. The church sits alone amongst a desolate lava field near the south coast – it’s so eerie and I imagine rather peaceful if you get there early enough to avoid the other tourists.
His close second is the iconic abandoned DC plane on the black beach at Sólheimasandur. In 1973 a United States Navy plane ran out of fuel and crashed on the South Coast of Iceland. Fortunately, everyone survived and the plane wreck is still there. The wreckage sits on totally black sand which makes for the most incredible photos. As it’s very soft terrain you need to walk out to the plane from the beach which takes about an hour I’m told. Like much of Iceland you need the right conditions to be able to visit. Too much snow and you might not be able to pass, plus the sand will be white and not black. Too much wind and it’ll be really dangerous with poor visibility. Still – worth a try for the instagram photo, right?
Another unmissable wonder is the famous Blue Lagoon – an outdoor volcanic spa. It’s on the south west of Iceland and is really easy to get to from both the airport and Reykjavik. Be warned though, you need to book online in advance as it’s really popular. If a day in the Blue Lagoon doesn’t soak away the stress and strain of four years broken sleep then I don’t think anything will!
If you’re thinking this all sounds very pretty but a bit… sparse then fear not! Iceland might have vast empty spaces but there is plenty of life. They have various festivals and events almost every month that you could coordinate your trip to enjoy. I have my eye on the winter lights festival in February. If you’re a foodie you’ll be absolutely spoilt in Reykjavik – they have some of the best seafood in the world and there are countless restaurants winning awards for their modern take on traditional cuisine.
Ultimately, for me, Iceland is all about getting outdoors and absolutely packing every SD card you own with photos. It’s a stunning country and is small enough to take in a really wide variety of sights in a reasonably short trip. Hopefully 2019 will be the year we finally make the short trip to a truly otherworldly place.
Have you ever been to Iceland? I’d love to hear about it if you have!