If you’ve been following along with our Iceland journey, this is it, we finally made it to day 15! It was an incredible trip from start to finish, and our last full day in Iceland did not disappoint.
When we left off at the end of day 14, we had made a veggie pasta with tomato sauce, and a veggie Thai curry so we wouldn’t have to cook the next day. We went to bed early because we knew we’d be getting up well before the crack of dawn for our last adventure.
Day 15 was also the day we had to hand the van back in mid-afternoon, (more on that later) so we planned a slightly more easy going day. We had heard of the hot spring hike near Reykjavik, (the main city near the airport) in small town called – Hveragerdi – where you can hike to the Reykjadalur Hot River for a soak.
We figured it would be busy since it was so close to the main city and other tourist attractions. So we decided to start out early, and let me tell you what, that was a good idea! This was definitely one of those days when you’re really just not feeling it. The wind was gale force, but seriously… this is not an exaggeration, I was having a hard time standing up. And the rain was sleeting down so hard at points that it hurt my face.
But instead of backing out, we rolled out of bed already fully dressed from head to toe in gortex, laced up our boots, and left the campground with coffee and power bar in hand. At the trailhead, we decided to bring just one camera and our phones since the weather was the worst we’d seen yet. So we put the camera in a dry bag, (we use Sea to Summit) and packed up our towels and flip flops for when we got there.
We had read that they had just added a network of boardwalk along the banks of the river where you soak which was kind of a bummer. I get why they would add the boardwalk to this popular place, but it does take away from the nature vibe a bit.
The hike in was beautiful, and I can only imagine it would be even more gorgeous if you could see further on a less rainy day. However I just loved the moody landscape on the way up, especially the gorgeous waterfall called Djúpagilsfoss which is pictured below.
The hike itself is just short of 2 miles, or 3km, and it takes around an hour to get there depending on your pace. Once you arrive, like I mentioned there’s a boardwalk, along with some dividing walls you can change behind. We both wore our swimming suits under our hiking clothes so we could just get right in when we got there.
Even as early as we arrived, there were still a few people who had beaten us there. They must have been there extra early because they were already leaving. So we really lucked out and had the whole river to ourselves for over an hour before other early birds started arriving.
Apparently the temperature really varies, and in the boardwalk area where you’re supposed to soak in, it was only warm at best. So we headed up river past all the warning signs in search of hotter water. After all, it was absolutely freezing out, and we wanted to get warm.
Nothing wakes you up quite like stripping down to your bathing suit, and getting into the river only to find it’s lukewarm at best. So in the pelting sleet, we waded up river soaking wet, and oh so cold, (1st photo)! Luckily things got better up river, and we found a few hot soaking pools in the river to choose from. (See the slightly blurry photo of my flip flops below which was taken with my phone, which kept getting so steamy that the photos are a bit blurred.)
We soaked for well over an hour before we knew we had to head out to make our appointment to turn in the van. Unfortunately right as we were trying to change on the edge of the river bank, tons of people started showing up. Trying to dry yourself off in the wide open with rain pouring down and strangers coming around the corner every few seconds isn’t my cup of tea.
But we did our best, and got out of there just in time. This also might be a good time to mention that nudity isn’t uncommon in some of these hot spring areas. I might have been uncomfortable trying to change quickly with Tyler trying to shield me with our pocket sized towels. But just a few yards down the river from us was an elderly couple soaking completely nude. So to each their own, just be prepared. From what we saw during our trip, bathing suits are the norm even in wild hot springs, but not for everyone… obviously!
So sort of dry and back in our hiking clothes, we headed back down towards the parking lot. The weather had gotten even worse, and I really had to lean into the wind on the way back down. It would seem we got out of there just in time because it was nothing but non stop people heading up. And we got back to the parking lot we finally figured out where the crowds were coming from – the giant tour buses stop at this hike on their route around the ring road.
I just wanted to share this in case our pictures of a completely empty river was misleading. I think the experience here really varies depending on time of day and time of year. We got lucky and had a magical morning, but since coming home I’ve seen pictures of this place on Instagram just jam packed with people.
Once we were back in the van, Tyler started driving while I started my usual routine of drying everything out, and charging up the gear. We made it to our appointment to turn in the van early, and then proceeded to wait for an hour for the guy who owned the company to show up.
Don’t even get me started on how bad this rental company was on so many levels, we won’t be talking about it. But let’s just say we were grateful we managed to find any vehicle we could take into the Highlands and camp. So we just dealt with the unfortunate circumstances that came with it.
When he finally arrived, he took us to the airport which wasn’t far from his business where we had rented a small car for the second half of the day. We had booked a car for about 3/4 of a day total simply to go to the Blue Lagoon that night. It’s kind of a strange thing to do, but we had looked into the bus rides and such. And not only did they not fit into our timeline, but they were also pricey.
So in the end renting a car to go out to dinner and the Blue Lagoon was the most efficient way. It also gave us complete freedom to come and go as we pleased, which is always nice on vacation.
For this final night in Iceland, we had rented a hotel room in the city of Keflavik which is the small city you fly into before making your way to the nearby main city of Reykjavik. Not only was this our first night spent in a hotel on our trip, we actually went out for dinner as well. Crazily enough, we cooked all our own meals during this trip.
The locals recommended Kaffi Duus which is right in Keflavik, and it was great. Tyler had ribs and I had fish and chips, which everyone also recommended. They were also really accomodating to our schedule when we told them when our appointment was to check in with the Blue Lagoon. I had no idea they were open so late, (when we were there it was 11pm) or we could have just come in after our soak.
But in any case we still had a nice dinner and made it to the Blue Lagoon on time. However I don’t really recommend eating a big salty meal right before soaking in a hot spring of any kind. It’s just not as fun to be super full, and you’re constantly thirsty.
(Another iPhone photo that’s a bit blurry from the steam, but this place was too magical not to include it since we didn’t get the camera out in the downpour.)
And so now… on to the Blue Lagoon – is it really worth all the hype? For us personally we’d have to say no. We had a nice enough time, but nothing magical like our soak in the hot river flowing out of the mountains just earlier that day. The changing rooms are a maze, and you’ll want to pay attention to which one you’re assigned to – lots of people get lost.
Also just a little caution about the locking system on the lockers. It’s the most advanced system we encountered, but what I didn’t realize is that while trying to help the woman several lockers down from me with hers, (she couldn’t get it to lock) my locker unlocked because I was within range of it with my bracelet on. So I merrily went off on my way with all my stuff in a locker with the door wide open.
Luckily I didn’t have my big camera with me, only my phone. So I headed out of the changing rooms just to get one photo with my phone, and when I came back, I discovered my locker had been open the whole time. It was no big deal because I didn’t have much of value in there anyways, and no one took anything. I just wanted to mention it because if I had my big camera in there, I would’ve had heart failure coming back to an open locker.
(Pictured above is the beautiful outdoor seating of Kaffi Duus if you had a warmer day to sit out.)
Since it was our last night in Iceland, we didn’t do much in the way of photos or anything. The second to last photo below was taken just outside the Blue Lagoon, and the last photo was my phone’s attempt to take a photo in the near dark conditions when we got in there.
And yes, the water really is that color – it’s absolutely incredible and you don’t even feel like you’re on planet Earth. But I guess for us it was just ok overall because it was rather crowded. But on that note I still feel like it’s worth going once, just so you don’t feel like you missed out.
Also if you go at night be prepared for more of a party crowd and overly amorous couples. Maybe this was just our particular experience, but when you take all that and combine it with the fact there’s absolutely no where to sit, how long can you stand around in beautiful blue water before you’re ready to go?
We really enjoyed our time at the Myvatn Nature Baths much more. It was way less crowded, there were 3 different temperatures of pools to soak in, and nice little alcoves of benches you could sit on. Also one of the pools was an infinity pool overlooking the amazing area of Lake Myvatn, as well as being a stunning place to watch the sunset. The only thing the Blue Lagoon has, (in our opinion to be fair) is the stunning color of the water.
After soaking until we were exhausted from standing after a long day, we decided to head back to the hotel to do the final packing. Our hotel was super helpful and loaned us a scale we could weigh our bags with. We were carrying 3 checked bags along with 2 carryons and 2 camera bags, so we really needed to get the weight right! (This is the problem with packing so much gear around.)
By the time that was all said and done, it was way into the wee hours of the morning. So we set our alarm for a couple hours, and went off to sleep. When the alarm rang the next morning it was serious case of ‘where are we, and what’s happening’!
We were both so groggy from burning the midnight oil for 15 days we could barely function. But our hotel had a nice little coffee station in our room, so I got right to work making a couple cups of pour over coffee. Predictibly we raced around trying to shower/last minute pack/drink all the coffee, and then ran out the door to catch our flight home.
(DSLR photo outside the Blue Lagoon.)
Everything went really well on our way there, so we even had time to go to Joe and the Juice before security. They sell all sorts of juices/smoothies/and coffees, and everything we tried was awesome. I can’t remember what we got, but between the 2 of us we were juggling 2 luggage carts and 5 drinks! Somewhere in this mess to get through security, I pulled the boarding passes out of my coat pocket, and unbeknownst to me my credit card hit the floor.
About 30 minutes later, I panicked when I couldn’t find it. They were really helpful phoning around the airport to see if it had been turned in, but no luck. So we made a phone call to our credit card company cancelling the card, which made the trip home a bit more complicated, but not too bad.
I was so embarrassed because I’d never lost my card before, and what terrible timing. Just another reason to have more than one card. We just used our business credit cards for purchases on the was home, which isn’t ideal when it comes to sorting out the bookkeeping later!
(An iPhone photo in the near dark without a tripod inside the Blue Lagoon – little bit blurry.)
But after all, doesn’t every trip come with it’s challenges, which then end up becoming funny stories later?
So that’s it, the whole story from our time in Iceland! It definitely was a wonderful ‘once in a lifetime’ type of trip. And now I’m going to do my best to get all our tips down to help you out. Whether you’re going to Iceland or not, hopefully our tips will be of some help.
And on that note, let me know if you have any specific questions below? One of the most popular questions so far is how we charge our electronics on the go, so that will definitely be answered.