Christmas in Iceland

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Iceland will be moving up to the top of my favourite lists! The country is filled with picturesque landscapes, animals, and snow.  I LOVE snow!   I’ve said this many times before, but we’re SO lucky to have the Ives in London with us and be able to adventure around the world with them.  And it was a no brainer for the four of us to spend Christmas together this year, as our Core Four family.  So off to Iceland we went!

We stayed in this incredible AirBNB outside of Reykjavik.  It was totally perfect for a home base for the week we were there.  It is an old house that was built in 1907.  It had the cutest decorations and design, and as an added bonus – it had an amazing outdoor hot tub!

Here are some of the adventures we set out on and how we spent our time in Iceland around the Christmas time!

Blue Lagoon:  If you’re visiting Iceland and want to do the Blue Lagoon – top tip:  book as far in advance as possible to get the time slot you want!  We waited until last minute to book, so the only slot available was 8am on the first full day we had in Iceland.  Although we didn’t necessarily want to go straight away, I would recommend the 8a time slot.   We had heard that it gets really busy and crowded, but going first thing in the morning left the lagoon very quiet and calm.  We stayed for about 3 hours which was just the right amount of time to watch the sun come up.  [Which -sun rise is about 11a and sunset is 3p!] It was fun relaxing in the beautiful milky blue water and treating our skin to silica and algae masks!

Waterfalls: There are so many waterfalls in Iceland!  We were lucky enough to make it to some of the top ones in the country during our time there.   They were all surprisingly different and all uniquely beautiful.

1 – Gulfoss:  We arrived in a crazy snow storm so these photos do not do it justice.  It’s an incredible sight to see.

2 – Skógafoss:  This one was also really cool.  We were able to climb all the way up to the top and catch the incredible sunny views of the land around!

3 – Seljalandsfoss:  When the weather is nice, you can actually walk behind this waterfall!  As the wind was whipping like crazy, we didn’t end up going behind it because we didn’t really want to get soaked.  We left there just at sunset and were able to capture some great landscape shots in the fantastic light!

20161224_122047Icelandic Horses:  Ok, not another surprise to anyone that knows me.  But I LOVE horses.  Ok – I really love any animal.  But horses are one of my favourites!  Add beautiful pony-esque features and flowing beautiful hair – and I’m in heaven.  I was on a mission to see these beautiful creatures as soon as we touched down in Iceland.  On our way to some of the waterfalls one day, we spotted a group of horses alongside the road.  Most of the farms have fences around them, but this one only had a cattle grate, so I hopped out of the car and ran right up to love on them.  After a good half hour of petting and playing with them, I decided it was time to hop on one 🙂  This was one of the highlights of our trip!

Ice Caves + Beaches:  Ok so going into this trip, we thought we booked this ice cave hike/climb.  Turns out, we booked just a tour bus dropping us off into an ice cave where we can just walk around and take photos.  Not quite what we expected – however, it was totally worth it.  It was the most unique/bizarre natural phenomenon I’ve ever experienced.  It was pretty expensive, but if you have the time to do it, I’d say go for it!

Outside of the cave is this incredible lagoon (Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon) where the icebergs from the glacier float off in and out to sea.  The icebergs are so dreamy with their creamy blue swirls.  At the mouth of the lagoon is the black diamond beach.  The beach is made of fine volcano ash creating a beautiful dark black beach.  Pieces of the icebergs break off and rest on this beach, creating a beautiful “diamond-like” scene.  Pretty amazing!  There were even some seals swimming around in the lagoon!

Christmas (!!!):  If we’re going to be away from family on Christmas, we HAVE to be somewhere with snow!  It was so fun celebrating with the Ives.  We went to a Christmas Eve service at the famous church in Reykjavik.  The entire service was in Icelandic, which was really cool!  Christmas morning was quite the treat for me and Erin -the boys cooked us breakfast! After breakfast, we had a little family photo shoot then opened our presents.  We spent the rest of the day relaxing in the hot tub, the boys went for a run, and we watched Home Alone!

Driving:  Ok we could have done this probably a bit more efficiently.  But we really wanted a home base during Christmas.  A lot of people move around the island every day, but we used our AirBNB as a base every day.  So this meant for some long driving days!  Luckily, Dan and Kent are the best winter drivers out there.  Growing up in Michigan made these guys perfect for the task.  The weather changes super quick in Iceland, so one minute it would be clear and sunny, the next it would be a whiteout! We spent many, many hours in the car. But again, it was totally worth it for the views!!!  Check out some of these snaps we took while driving –

Northern Lights: We didn’t have the best luck with the Northern Lights on this trip.  The cloud coverage was pretty heavy most of the evenings.  Our best night was the night we arrived.  We were able to snap just a few shots:

Downtown Reykjavik:   When the weather was too bad to drive out, we’d spend our time exploring the town.  It’s such a cute town!  The buildings have fun colours with the cool modern Scandinavian design.  We even spent a relaxing morning at an adorable coffee shop playing cards!

Overall, this was the perfect Christmas trip with the Ives.  It was so beautiful, relaxing and fun.  If you ever get the chance to go to Iceland – GO!  We’d love to go back in the summer months to see it’s beauty in a different season!

 

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