Iceland: the land of waterfalls, rainbows and the most magic I've seen IRL
Picking when you will head to Iceland can be one of the trickiest parts! Remember, Iceland is so far in the Northern hemisphere that the winter has about 20 hours of darkness, while summer is 20 hours of sunlight. One of the best reasons to check out Iceland, IMO, is the Northern Lights. We caught them 3 times on our trip and I still to this day cannot describe the feeling in words. If you don't believe in magic, you might start to Iceland.
My rec: go in the early spring or late fall. We went end of September and we didn't freeze our asses off or miss the Northern Lights, win-win!
Now that you've picked a date, next you'll want to look into lodging. There are 2 routes to go here.
Staying in Reykjavik: This is the option we went with. If you are only going for a few days, but want to hit all the top spots, I would recommend coping an AirBnB in the capitol. First of all, the locals, and their interior design, is impeccable. I wish we could have jumped round! But it is nice for a trip with lots of car time to have a consistent home-base. We can't recommend our choice of house and host enough!
Roadtrip style: The other option, which is requires a little more time and planning, would be hopping location around the island while you traverse most or all of it. This could be done by renting a camper or moving locals each night.
For getting around, I would definitely recommend renting a car for the entirety of your trip. First of all, the airport is not incredibly close to the capitol (about 30 minutes). Second, most of your time spent in Iceland is exploring the rich and beautiful landscapes and natural wonders the island has to offer. A few things to note.
-Police are nearly non-existent in Iceland (so the speed limit seems up to your discretion [although speed limit signs are indeed posted])
-I would consider getting a SUV even if it is only 2 people as tons of road in Iceland are gravel and damage to rentals is a real issue (they even advise you to always keep your doors closed as they can be ripped off the car at certain wind speeds)
-Gas is incredibly expensive (like $200 a tank, but spilt among you, it shouldn't be too big of a barrier)
-While most of the island does not have cell signal, Google Maps works offline in Iceland and you can start spots you want to see and follow along on the map with or without a roaming plan.
The possibilities are really endless in Iceland. From natural springs an waterfalls, to glaciers and beachs, Iceland's landscapes run the gamut. In one valley you could feel oddly reminiscent of desert scenes from the southwest and with the turn of a corner feel that you are in the muggy lowlands of Scotland. It is truly breathtaking.
Snowmobiling on a Glacier: One thing we did on our trip that was unforgettable was a tour of a glacier on self-driven snow mobiles. We took a trip with Arctic Adventures. The adventure was amazing. They pick you up at the Gulfoss parking lot (and you can check that off your to-see list) and start the journey in lifted Mercedes vans. The ride itself is quite the adventure as you pressurize and depressurize the van's wheels and terrain's change and you cross the Mars-like boulders to get to the changing dock and then glacier. It was not cheap (around $300 a person), but was definitely the experience of a lifetime.
Blue Lagoon: The Blue Lagoon is legit! Get ready to pamper yourself and enjoy some much needed R&R after a long trip. The lagoon is close(ish) to the airport so you will likely want to plan your trip upon arrival or prior to departure. We chose the Premium package and believe it was the best deal of the bunch. The Luxury did not seem to us to come with the perks of the price upgrade. I recommend booking early in the day so you have some time there- time does fly trying out all of the amenities. They are flexible and accommodating as we came a little late due to construction along the way.
Secret pools and natural hot springs: The amount of natural pools and hot springs is astounding and I'm sure endless. But one I loved in particular was Seljavallaug. Tucked away in a tiny valley, this pool is surrounded by stunning views and feels more private than a lot of the more typical tourist stops.
Waterfalls: Again, the list is endless, but these bad boys are everywhere in Iceland. Take a walk off the beaten path, you may find another just around the corner.
NIGHTLIFE & FOOD
Reykjavik is quite the living town. By day, you'll find tourist shopping and checking out local restaurants, but come night fall, the bars will be lively and cheerful as tourist and locals alike file in to warm up a bit. While the food is not often raved about in Iceland, we found some delicious spots. Some of our favorites below:
Lebowski bar - Divey, American vibes and dance-y. Perfect for a nightcap
Kiki's - The rainbow outside might tip you off that this is the gay hotspot in Reyk
Habibi - Not what you would expect to hear, but we had the best shawarmas of our lives in Iceland! This place is a perfect after-the-bar snack or some fuel for late night light hunting!
Snaps - When we asked our AirBnb hosts for local brunch or dinner picks, they resoundingly answered Snaps. They eventually muttered some other recs like a nondescript Indian restaurant that proved very difficult to find (if you do, let us know where!), before saying again, just go to Snaps, you won't regret it. And we didn't! We went for brunch, but the lovely greenhouse-style restaurant offers a seperate Gin and Tonic menu that is not to be missed. (They don't put out the menus during brunch, but ask and they will provide for you.)