Hoth, it looks like Hoth. The fictional land of ice and snow from a galaxy far far away feels all too real as you step out of Keflavik Airport and into Iceland’s December air. We follow our paths to our rented Toyota Rav 4 (we rented through Arctic.is) and piled in before our weary legs freeze and drive the 45 minutes into downtown Reykjavik, arriving to our apartments just before snow begins to fall. The blanket covering the city for Christmas Eve is a welcome sight for travelers hoping for a white Christmas, ourselves included, so we ditch the warm apartments for wandering downtown among the closing shops and enjoying what little daylight we have left (roughly 3-4 hours of sunlight in December).
Christmas in Iceland can be such a magical time what with the constant snow, the local folklore of the 13 YuleLads, and the general wintery ambiance. Though many shops are closed from Christmas Eve until December 27th, if you have good weather and a proper car you can still manage to see some sights and enjoy your trip. With only a few roads open during the winter months you’ll still be able to see the Golden Circle (a 3-4 hour roundtrip drive from Reykjavik), the Blue Lagoon, and most places along the Ring Road (the national highway of Iceland) if you are staying more than a long weekend.
Traveling with our family we knew we wanted a more leisurely experience so after the 27th we drove north to the second largest town of Akureyri. Our Arctic Rentals car was, thankfully, a 4×4 Diesel SUV which greatly came in handy along the stormy, windy drives on the winding thin 1 Hringvegur (“ringroad”, the only highway in Iceland that circumnavigates the entire country). After driving north we relaxed along the bay before sightseeing.
We explored Godafoss waterfall, Myvatn Lake, Myvatn lake’s lava fields, mud flats and geysirs,and other beautiful scenery. After running around in the freezing cold all day it was finally time to indulge in what everyone goes to Iceland for – hot springs! We had heard that the Blue Lagoon was “just for toursits” and with intense and impure water. We did our research and were excited to check out the Myvatn Nature baths instead and boy was it ahhhh-mazing. 100 degree water while the air is below 30 degrees, taking in the landscape of far off volcanoes and snow capped mountains was the perfect way to end our day with a sunset and a soak.
After our long day of sight seeing it was back on the winding roads headed back down south to end our trip; short but oh so sweet. It’s a beautiful country, and though it was cold and windy and full of storms I cannot wait to get back….except maybe next time in spring or summer!
Stay tuned for a few follow up posts jam packed full of information! In the meantime, I hope these images evoked some wanderlust in you!