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Iceland Travel Log: A Week in Akureyri

    How do you even recap an incredible trip like a week in Iceland? It was the most amazing experience, and I’ve struggled to put it into words since coming home.

    I traveled to Iceland as part of a group trip with 17 other women that was organized by my yoga teacher and her sister. We partnered with True Nature Travels for the trip to Iceland and worked with Inspiration Iceland in Akureyri. (Previous to the trip, we pronounced this Ah-cure-ee but locals say it Ah-kur-rare-ee with a rolled r.)

    I want to give a huge shout-out to Andreas with Inspiration Iceland. I usually do a lot of planning and coordinating for my vacations, but this was an all-in-one booking, and we all loved it! Andreas owns a beautiful yoga center where we hosted our retreat as well as several Airbnb apartments that we stayed in. In addition, he coordinated and included nearly all of our meals, provided breakfast items, and played tour guide, driving us all over his beautiful country of Iceland. The trip was a beautiful mix of popular travel destinations and unknown local spots and his storytelling really tied everything together.

    Here’s an Iceland Trip Log, breaking down our time in the land of fire and ice.

    Travel Day(s)

    Our nearest airports don’t fly direct to Iceland, so we started out the trip with a train ride to a larger airport. This was the kickoff of a 36 hour travel day. After a shuttle transfer from train station to airport, we took off for a 6 hour flight to Iceland, landing at 5 am Iceland time. We had booked a second flight from Reykjavik to Akureyri, which also involved a long bus transfer from KEF to RKV, because the international airport is not actually in Reykjavik. RKV is a very small airport, so we got a little stir crazy there waiting for our flight at noon. Then we found out our flight was canceled due to weather and no planes were expected to fly out the next day either. Que temporary chaos. There were 8 members of our travel pod (we had sent a good portion of our group out on an earlier flight across Iceland), so we rented a 9 person van and drove 5 hours around the island instead. Beautiful views of the rocky coastline and countryside waterfalls made up for the wild and windy conditions.

    What I’d do differently: Even without our 2nd flight getting canceled, we still had several hours of waiting around to get to Akureyri. In hindsight, I would have taken the money our group spent on the bus transfer and regional plane ticket and planned to rent vehicles to drive part of Ring Road around Iceland from the start. We would have gotten there around the same time as originally scheduled, saved a few bucks, and gotten to see more of the country.

    Day 1: More Bad Weather

    We’d heard that it would be windy and rainy in Iceland, so we weren’t sure what to think of the weather we were experiencing. Was it a regular windy day or a truly bad weather day? The locals reassured us that this was not their usual weather. Our excursion for this day got rescheduled to later in the week, so we bundled up in our rain gear, walked around the town, and had the first of many delicious lunches in Akureyri. We also met up with our entire group for the first time and opened our retreat with ice-breaker games at one of our apartments.

    Day 2: Icelandic Horses and the Northern Lights

    On our 2nd day in Iceland, we drove to the countryside to ride horses. People refer to them as Icelandic ponies, because they look similar to Shetland ponies, but they are actually horses. We experienced the unique gait Tölt that only Icelandic horses have and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. We even rode up into the mountains for a panoramic view of the landscape.

    This was the clearest night of our week and our best chance to see the Aurora Borealis, but there was not expected to be any solar activity. The Aurora is charged particles from the solar winds that penetrate the Earth’s magnetic field and collide with gases in our atmosphere, causing colorful flashes of light. The Northern Lights can happen all throughout the year, but it has to be quite dark out in order to see it. Only very strong Auroras can be seen in the middle of town. Just as we were all about to go to bed, the solar storms strengthened, and we got an incredible showing of the Northern Lights. It danced and swirled and arched above our heads. Just as it would fade in one part of the sky, it would appear in another. It was truly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and a moving, emotional experience.

    Day 3: Hrisey Island and Bjórböðin Beer Spa

    Still buzzing about our incredible evening the night before, we took the ferry to Hrisey Island and enjoyed a 4 mile hike through the nature reserve there. The snow covered mountains and rocky cliffs were only enhanced by the incredibly mild weather. We had all worn plenty of layers, but it was a beautiful day!

    After riding the ferry back to Árskógssandur, we enjoyed our evening at the Bjórböðin Beer Spa. Several of the ladies had booked beer baths, and we all enjoyed the scenic outdoor hot tubs and a lovely sunset before having dinner in their restaurant. This relaxing evening was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

    Day 4: Goðafoss and Mývatn Nature Baths

    Day 4 was action packed! We started the day at the gorgeous Godafoss waterfall. This is such a stunning spot: the rocky glacier river with the snow dusted mountains behind, in the middle of the Icelandic countryside. It was majestic and left so beautifully natural. We spent an hour here, and I wasn’t ready to leave!

    Next, we walked around Skútustaðagígar by Lake Myvatn to see the pseudocraters formed by lava flowing over wetlands. This nature area is in the Icelandic highlands and our guide was surprised to see the lake so peaceful and reflective and told us it’s usually very windy here. We saw a lot of sheep in this area, having recently been brought down out of the mountains for the winter. Looking out across Lake Myvatn, we could also see steam rising from the geothermal area, where we were headed next.

    On our way to Myvatn’s geothermal area, we made a quick stop at the Continental Divide and stood across the tectonic plate fissure with one foot on the North American tectonic plate and one on the Eurasian tectonic plate. And because this was a yoga trip after all, members of our group did a variety of poses in our photos like downward dog, warrior 2, and even a cartwheel.

    Then we stopped at the Myvatn Geothermal Area to see boiling mud pits and other geothermal wonders. After a short walk around this area, we headed to dinner, and then to the Myvatn Nature Bath for a sunset soak. What a beautiful and relaxing end to the evening!

    Day 5: Whale Watching and Geosea

    Thursday was a ‘choose your own adventure’ day, so our group split up for additional excursions we had booked or a afternoon of shopping and relaxing. In the morning, I walked with a couple of my roommates to Akureyri’s botanical garden. We got coffee and hot chocolate at the beautiful cafe, wandered the gardens, and saw the oldest house in Akureyri, a historic site which has been relocated here to preserve it. We also took care of some final souvenir shopping in town and walked to the beautiful Lutheran church at the center of Akureyri.

    In the afternoon, part of our group took a whale watching tour in the fjord and others drove to Geosea, a beautiful geothermal pool in Húsavík. There’s truly not a wrong answer when you’re choosing excursions and adventures in Iceland! Our boat saw several humpback whales and we got a beautiful and unique view of Akureyri and the surrounding mountains from the water.

    Day 6: Private Tour

    On our final day in Akureyri, we visited several beautiful stops that are not usually accessible to tourists. We walked through a farmer’s sheep pasture to a waterfall on his private land, ate ice cream at a local dairy farm, and visited one of the 6 remaining turf churches in Iceland. We finished the night with a delicious dinner of lamb, potatoes, and beets at a local farm. It was a magical final day in Iceland.

    Traveling Home

    What a whirlwind day! Inspiration Iceland dropped us off at the Akureryi airport for a short flight to Reykjavik, after which we took another long two-bus transfer to the airport outside of the capital. We got on the shuttle at 12 and our flights left at 3. This sounded like plenty of time when we booked, but the shuttle takes a long time, so I recommend leaving much more time. As soon as we hit the airport, our group scattered to check baggage, file for tourism tax refunds, get through security, and grab lunch. We had hoped for a real goodbye to all the new friends we’d made on the trip, but there just wasn’t time.

    After our international flight landed, we picked up 2 rental cars, grabbed some dinner, and started the drive home. We finally made it back to our beds at 1:30 am (6:30 Iceland time!).

    What an adventure!

    See more of our Iceland series:
    Akureyri Iceland: 7 Day Itinerary
    12 Things You Must Do in Iceland
    Iceland Packing List: Fall or Spring in Iceland

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