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10 really cool things to see in Iceland

10 really cool things to see in Iceland

10 really cool things to see in Iceland

There are so many amazing things to see in Iceland.

We visited Iceland back in August of 2015 and we still get questions every now and then about where we went, what we did and what our favorite things were! Why not write a blog post 3 years later?!

There are COUNTLESS things you can do and see while in Iceland. Really, the only disappointment you’ll encounter is not having enough time to see and do everything! That being said, we recommend spending at least a week if you’re able to take the time to go.

We spent the first 4 days of our trip on a backpacking trek of the Laugavegur Trail. We can’t recommend this enough. This trip alone deserves its own post, so I’ll be writing one in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Without further adieu, here are the 10 really amazing things to see in Iceland.

1. Geothermal Springs

Iceland is a hotbed for geothermal activity (no pun intended!). We knew we needed to check out the hot springs while visiting. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to hit up the Blue Lagoon, which is a very popular hot springs destination close to Reykjavik. However, we enjoyed the natural hot springs in Landmannalaugar (at the start of our backpacking trek) and the in Myvatn Nature Baths on the way to Akureyri.

2. Eldhraun Lava Fields

First of all, moss covered lava is freaking cool as shit (pardon my French). If taking the Ring Road counterclockwise, you’ll drive through moss covered lava fields in just a few hours of leaving Reykjavik! Try to take paths that are marked that way you’re not damaging the moss by walking directly on it.

3. Waterfalls

I may have lost count of how many waterfalls we saw in Iceland. Some of the waterfalls we saw included Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, and Goðafoss. Our favorite waterfall (which name I couldn’t find) you could literally walk into and was a short walk from Seljalandsfoss (to the left). You head away from the more touristy area, find a path that heads into the rock and trek through some slippery rocks. If you don’t mind getting wet, it’s worth the short trek!

4. Icelandic Horses

If traveling the ring road you’ll see plenty of Icelandic Horses. They are the only breed of horse in Iceland and no other breeds are allowed in. We think they’re quite majestic but they’re also pretty friendly and curious too!  If you can safely pull off the road, we’d recommend stopping for a meet + greet!

5. Landmannalaugar

Try saying that 5 times fast! Landmannalaugar is the name for the beautiful mountains of the Icelandic Highlands. These mountains here are pretty unique. The stark landscape and beautiful colors mixed with snow/ice are one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. As I mentioned before, this was the start of our backpacking trek and we took a very burly tour bus to get there. You can book a hiking passport (a bus ticket that takes you to the trailhead) by visiting this bus website.

They say to reserve in advance, though if I remember correctly we just went straight to the station the evening before and were able to book tickets for the next day.

6. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

We didn’t know what to expect when we arrived at Jökulsárlón. Simply breathtaking. At the far edge of the lagoon is a glacier that calves and fills the lagoon with beautiful icebergs of all shapes and sizes. The icebergs are slowly (over many years) making their way to the shortest river in Iceland and out to the Atlantic.

BONUS: Cross the Ring Road (Rt 1) and head to the black sand beach across the road to check out the ice that’s been washed up on shore. If you’re cool like us, you’ll drink Icelandic vodka with glacial ice in your camp mug!

7. The tiny town of Seydisfijordur

Seydisfijordur is a small, quaint little fishing village nestled in one of the East Fjords. The town was great but the best part was was the windy roads down to the village where there were dozens of cascades flowing down and lush green scenery surrounded you. Oh and sheep too. Many, many sheep.

8. Mudpots of Mývatn

Seriously, if I could image what Mordor would be like… this is it! You’re surrounded by smoke rising from the earth and giant pots of boiling mud. I wouldn’t have wanted to be the first explorer to stumble upon this in the night!

9. Snæfellsnes Peninsula

We heard a lot of great things about the West Fjords, but due to lack of time, we decided to check out the Snæfellsnes Peninsula instead. We were not disappointed! Quaint little towns, waterfalls and ocean views. Plus, this just meant we needed to make a trip back to Iceland in the future to check out everything we couldn’t see the first time.

10. The Vibrant City of Reykjavik

We do wish we had a little more time to explore Reykjavik. They have so many amazing restaurants, bars, shops, and museums. Plus the music scene is great too! If you’re looking for cheap lodging, the backpacker’s hostel/bar on the main Laugavegur Street came highly recommended. We stayed in an Airbnb a few nights at the beginning of our trip and spent one night at the end of our trip at this campground right in Reykjavik which was awesome! Hot showers, wifi and a nice community of fellow campers/trekkers.  Plus, you’re only 3km from the center of town!

Our Iceland Trip 2015

Here’s a map we created via Snazzy Maps that corresponds to the “10 cool places to see in Iceland” based on our trip in 2015. As we mentioned, we were there in August. We’d love to return to Iceland sometime during the winter to see the aurora borealis.

We’d love to hear if this post was helpful to you or if you have any questions at all – give us a shout in the comments below.

All photos in this post are subject to copyright and are original images by Jay Rogan. If you’d like to use them, please reach out!

Beers Boulders and Friends

Beers Boulders and Friends

This past weekend we ventured back to our home state of Pennsylvania, or PA…pronounced pee-aay. We were visiting some friends, Gretchen and Adam, we made in Ithaca who have relocated to attend physicians assistant school, or PA school…in PA. They were some of our closest friends both in terms of interests and proximity since they liked outdoor adventure and lived downtown near us.

For a wedding gift, they had bought us tickets to see Penn State play Nebraska. They also arranged for a bunch of other Ithaca friends to attend the game, and hang out that weekend…which also happened to Gretchen’s birthday. The weekend consisted of some drinking, standing in the rain to watch football, soup eating, and a pretty fantastic hike along a boulder field in Lock Haven. We even spotted a sasquatch, but the image was blurry…as are most documented photos of these things.

You can see some photos of the weekend below.

Walking through the woods with friends

Walking through the woods with friends

It’s been getting colder and colder as of late. The mild Fall lulled us into a false sense of comfort. But now it’s apparent, Winter is coming. It takes a lot more effort to just step outside. Biking isn’t as appealing as it was a few weeks ago, and there is not enough snow for skiing.

We got a text from friends asking if we’d like to join them on their hike around Shidagin Hollow State Forest this past Saturday. It’s not normally a place we go hiking, it’s our local bike spot. But we were looking for something to do outside, and Cooper was acting cooped up in the house, so we eagerly said “Yes!”

We spent a few hours wandering through the forest with some of our best friends.

It was really nice to wander through this forest at a more casual pace for a change. Unlike biking, walking causes you to slow down and take in more of the details that surround you.

Everyone was glad they broke out of the comforts of their home today and spent a little bit of time in the cool crisp air. Jess even did some parkour off the lean-to.

Day 9 – Ha Ling Peak and Floating in Canmore

Day 9 – Ha Ling Peak and Floating in Canmore

Ha Ling is a very distinguishable peak from the town of Canmore. As soon as we arrived in town I could tell Jay was thinking, “I want to climb that thing”.
In the morning, we fueled up with some yummy breakfast tacos and drove into town to find someone who might know a little more about the trail.
The guy at the Bike Cafe in Canmore described Ha Ling as the “Stairmaster to Hell”. What an awesome description right?
Now having done the hike, he couldn’t have been more spot on. He also mentioned that he hiked to the top with his 2 old, overweight, furry dogs in about 4.5 hours (give or take a few breaks). 4.5 hours of Stairmaster hell isn’t that bad, lol.
The drive up to the trailhead was a rather loose and dusty. On the way up, we passed a few pristine turquoise rivers and lakes along the way with some great views of Bow Valley.
The trailhead looks just as we pictured it. Rooty and steep! #letthefunbegin
The Ha Ling trail meanders through the pines for the first 3/4 of the way up featuring beautiful lookouts along the way.
This trail, for being on the difficult side, is quite busy. We ran into many other hikers along the way.
When we exited the forest there was a steep, dusty and loose scramble up to the top. I thought it was rather rugged but there were people in beat up Nikes hauling ass, so really anyone with enough stamina can make it up this trail. Here’s Jay in the shoulder area before we kept heading up to the peak (which is not visible in this photo since the peak is to the left).
Here I am on the peak with Cooper. Notice how I’m a good 5 ft from the edge? It was a straight vertical drop on the other side!  Jay knows exposure isn’t my favorite thing, but the views made this hike totally worth it.
After spending some time at the peak it was now time to descend. Hiking poles would have come in handy considering our knees weren’t so happy by the end.
This hike took us about 4 hours from start to finish.
Once we got back to the truck we headed back to Canmore to meet up with Danielle and Bill. They were treating us to a FLOAT as a wedding gift.  No, not a river float trip but a FLOAT experience.
Okay, let me explain. Basically, you float, naked, in a giant pod filled with 10″ of water that has about 800 lbs of Epsom salts dissolved into it. Pretty awesome.  I hadn’t heard of anything like this before either… but after the Stairmaster to Hell I could use as much floating as I could get. Here’s one of the float pods.
All in all, the hour of floating was super relaxing. I didn’t fall asleep, which apparently happens for some folks and is completely safe to do so. Danielle and I, on the other hand, did a similar thing where we’d touch the edge of the pod and start counting how long it’d take to float to the other side.