The Hunt for the Northern Lights - Experience Iceland in Winter!

8th Feb 2017
Day 1

So, I'm here to write down my first story on tripoto from our holiday in Iceland. The country that fascinates anyone who would ever think about visiting this marvelous place. But... what's the point of heading to such an island in Winter? Well, there are more answers to this question. First: You can't see the Northern Lights in Summer time. Second: The country is not so overcrowded by tourists. Third: You can see the nature in its pure wildness and power. Were we afraid of traveling there in February? Yeah, kinda. The weather is for most of the time windy, cold, and rainy. The scariest experience came way sooner than we expected - in the airplane. While trying to land in Keflavik, a strong blow of wind has made it difficult for the pilots to keep us safe. But they managed to land and we were almost ready for our one week adventure in this savage but charming country. It has welcomed us in its most natural way and we knew that if we were respectful enough, it would hug us warmly and unveil its hidden beauties.

Day 2

Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran parish church in Reykjavík

Photo of Reykjavík, Island by Floriano Fin

Reykjavík is a modern capital with a population of around 130.000 (200.000 in its region). I can agree with the statement that it's one of the cleaniest cities in the world. There are so many cultural sites to see. Harpa, Sun Voyager and the Church of Iceland are a must. But what I found most impressive is their cuisine. To be honest, I don't like to eat fish. My family, though, has convinced me to try one. From this day on my whole life changed. We have visited 4 or 5 restaurants downtown and I just couldn't decide which one was better... trouts, cods, whale fin steaks, fishstews - if you guys have the opportunity, don't miss any of them! And if you're an adventurous soul and you like to hazard, what should you do? Try their speciality - the Fermented Shark. I've managed to eat a small piece and I won't tell you how it tastes, you have to find out yourself!

Whale fin steak

Photo of The Hunt for the Northern Lights - Experience Iceland in Winter! by Floriano Fin

Cod, fried salmon, puree, lemon

Photo of The Hunt for the Northern Lights - Experience Iceland in Winter! by Floriano Fin

We didn't stay the whole time in Reykjavik, to be fair, we traveled around 2000 kilometers by car in a week. And our first goal was to look for some "fire". Seltún is the answer. A place where you can smell sulfur in the air, see the land exhaling vapours from the ground with boiling water.

Sulfur, boiling water, all kind of colors - Seltún

Photo of Seltún Geothermal Area, Island by Floriano Fin
Day 3

Lighthouses always bring some kind of strange passion. They symbolise arrives, departures... depending on weather, they add something more intense to those rainy and sunny days. You can find dozens of them on the Icelandic shores. We've decided to visit one of them on our way to Grundarfjörður in Akranes, a small town to the North from Reykjavík, where you pass through a tunnel 5 kilometers long under sea. Grundarfjörður is situated between mountains and the sea. Can you imagine waterfalls, Icelandic nature, a very special hill and the sea in one scenery? Take a look at the picture below and tell me you wouldn't like to spend there a night or two to get a chance for the Aurora borealis to enlight the place with her magic.

One of the two Akranes lighthouses

Photo of Akranes Lighthouse, Akranes, Island by Floriano Fin

The nature around Grundarfjörður

Photo of Akranes Lighthouse, Akranes, Island by Floriano Fin
Day 4

If you're in Iceland and there's a travel agency behind your back, you can be sure they're going to take you to "The Golden Circle". Þingvellir is the most famous National Park notable for its unusual tectonic and volcanic environment in a rift valley and together with Gullfoss and Geysir is part of the group of The Golden Circle. You'll find here the continental drift between the North American and Eurasian Plates, the oldest parliament in the world, and the Öxarárfoss waterfall. Next stop is at the Geysir, which erupts every 7-8 minutes up to 10 and more meters. And, after some minutes by car you'll reach the Gullfoss area. I was asking myself where is this waterfall everyone talked about. The answer came just about 5 minutes later. It has shown out of nowhere... an impressive waterfall where it looks like if the water was falling into the Earth itself. Unbelievable, gorgeous, epic, immensive. Those are the words to describe it. And if the photo below didn't convince you enough just check out the video in the end of this article.

The continental drift between North American and Eurasian Plates

Photo of Þingvellir, Island by Floriano Fin


Photo of Þingvellir, Island by Floriano Fin

Gullfoss, the Golden Waterfall

Photo of Þingvellir, Island by Floriano Fin
Day 5

Iceland is a country of waterfalls. If you spend enough time traveling around the island, you can see one every bunch of minutes. It really would be a shame not to come closer to some of them. On our way to Kirkjubæjarklaustur where we spent a night, we've visited the most interesting ones. Seljalandsfoss is definitely one of the most famous. One can walk behind it into a small cave and.. don't forget to take something waterproof or you're going to end up wet as I did :-D. Skógafoss is a huge one and you can walk up the hill to the point where the water starts to fall. Unforgetable.


Photo of Vík, Island by Floriano Fin


Photo of Vík, Island by Floriano Fin

Yeah, I know it's been a long day. It takes 320 kilometers from Reykjavík to reach "Kirkju" where our little cottage awaits us. But if you're aware that a black sand beach is right around the corner, could you just pass by? So, if I wanted to make a list of 3 things that impressed me the most about the Icelandic nature, it would be: #3 Gullfoss, #2 Reynisfjara beach and #1 will be unveiled later on ^^. The ferocity and roughness of the waves that constantly lashes the coast, well, it's quite a dangerous place. There are several deaths each year of people who aren't careful enough and move closer to its tongues and turn their backs to the ocean to take a nice picture... I'd recommend again to watch the video to see better what I described. Photos will tell you only half of the story.

Reynisfjara, The Black Sand Beach

Photo of The Hunt for the Northern Lights - Experience Iceland in Winter! by Floriano Fin
Day 6

People in here are among the best ones I've ever known in my life. They are not only warm-hearted and hospitable; the one thing that differs them from people of other countries is their trust in tourists. Everywhere we came, the door was open to us with keys inside and a pleasant welcome. I can only recommend Björk's Guesthouse in Kirkjubæjarklaustur where we spent our night under the green Northern Lights. The dream finally came true !

Our small cottage near Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Photo of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Island by Floriano Fin

Aurora borealis, Northern Lighs

Photo of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Island by Floriano Fin

I've mentioned before my hypothetical list of 3 things that impressed me the most about Iceland. When we were home and planned our trip to Jökulsárlón I saw some pictures of it and thought about it as a really nice place etc. etc. BUT the pictures yet again LIED. When we climbed a small hill at the park place, the scenery in front of my eyes took my breath away. I stood next to a large glacial lake under the greatest glacier in Europe. A lake full of icebergs which slowly rolled down the channel into the open sea and onto a black sand beach. Jökulsárlón is 400 kilometers from Reykjavík but there's no excuse to ignore it. We had to enjoy it !

Photo of The Hunt for the Northern Lights - Experience Iceland in Winter! by Floriano Fin
Photo of The Hunt for the Northern Lights - Experience Iceland in Winter! by Floriano Fin

On our way back to Reykjavík there was only a little room left for another special place. The name is: Svartifoss. If you've read all the way down to this point, you might guess what does "foss" mean. Yeah, you're right. It does mean "waterfall". And the last one we visited was also the most particular one. Svartifoss means Black Falls. It is surrounded by dark lava columns, which gave rise to its name. It's unbelievable how could nature create such a masterpiece. Just have a look yourselfs:

Svartifoss, The Black Falls

Photo of The Hunt for the Northern Lights - Experience Iceland in Winter! by Floriano Fin

We spent our last day chilling in Reykjavík, having a good lunch (soup and fish of the day) and enjoying the walks downtown. My son also did something extraordinary to end up this holiday in the most spectacular way... He proposed to his girlfriend next to a lake full of ducks, gulls and geese. We're just a happy family that enjoyed everything Iceland had to offer us. And I'm looking forward to visit Akureyri (town in the northern Iceland) next year too. Now folks just take a breath, sit down comfortably and relax; I have prepared a nice holiday music video for you to enjoy! Thank you!