Hello friends! Ohh the long anticipated Iceland travel diary is finally HERE! In November, I partnered with the wonderful Noken to create a promo video for their OFFICIAL launch! In a nutshell, Noken curates incredible end-to-end trips through Iceland (…and now Colombia, too!) and yes…they do ALL the work (hotels, rental cars, itinerary) and you just get to soak up the magic of this stunning country. I grabbed my two best friends, Elissa & Ben (…y’all probably know them very well by now – my besties since age 15…the best travel trio!) and we ventured to Iceland for a week of road trip bliss starting in Reykjavik and through southern Iceland. To say this was the trip of a lifetime is truly an understatement…I have never seen SO much vast beauty in one country. From driving on an open road (…with no one in sight for miles!) and a changing terrain every 20 minutes (…one minute you’re in a white powdered snow globe, the next in a mossy green lava field) to hiking on a glacier and looking out on giant pieces of ice in the middle of a black sand beach…Noken curated the most magnificent trip!
Sharing more about what we did, as well as a Noken discount code for LL readers (jump on this one, y’all – they plan THE BEST trips!) and the video at the end of this post!
^^It was SO cold next to the waterfall that my face literally wouldn’t move…I laugh every time I zoom in on my smile in this photo…my cheeks wouldn’t budge, ha!
^^Dying laughing it was SO slippery! Liss totally ate it!
Compiling the images for this post and piecing it all together gave me SERIOUS nostalgia pangs! Not only was it amazing to travel alongside my best friends (…who are the goofiest, most wonderful people ever…it is non-stop laughing when we are together!), it was SO nice to have Noken take the itinerary responsibility off our shoulders. I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t particularly enjoy planning and scheduling out my trips – it’s quite daunting to figure out exactly what to see, how we can fit it all in, and adding hospitality arrangements makes it all the more stressful. This is where Noken comes to the rescue: once you book your Travel Blueprint through them, you download their app to receive your full-service, tailored itinerary: your hotels are booked, the rental car is waiting for you and helpful tips pop up along the way (…like where to stop for gas, restaurants based on reviews and pricing, sights to see and a whole lot more).
When I have traveled with friends in the past, we are much more likely to take a few days of r&r rather than really dig deep into all that a city or country has to offer – then leave regretful that we didn’t take advantage of our time. I love that Noken encourages you to get out and make the most of your days traveling around Iceland – they really do show you an unparalleled travel experience where you get to see and do SO much (trust me, we LOVED absolutely every tiny detail in our itinerary!), while still being able to relax and thoroughly enjoy your vacation because they’ve done all the legwork for you. Also a plus? We spent the entirety of our trip with the Noken team and y’all…they are SO SWEET and passionate about what they do! It was really inspiring to be around a brand that whole heartedly believes in their business model and genuinely wants their customers to experience an amazing trip. Love to see that and can totally vouch that the folks behind Noken are as awesome as the trips they plan!
If you’re interested in booking your Iceland trip with Noken, use code VIPLivvy – which gives my readers $100 off a trip to either Iceland or Colombia. This offer expires on February 28th, so grab your hubby, besties, mom or travel buddy and go book it!!
Did you watch the video above?! I get chills every time…WHAT a trip!
Aaand now for some helpful info if you’re planning a trip to Iceland! What to do in Iceland, what to pack and some helpful tips along the way…
1. It’s COLD. Which might seem obvious…buuut this Texas gal was definitely NOT prepared for juuust how cold it would be. If you look closely at one of the images of me, Ben & Liss above in front of a waterfall, you’ll notice my smile looks a bit contrived…aaand that’s because my face was literally frozen and my cheeks couldn’t move haha! I promise I was genuinely happy to snap that photo, even if my face says otherwise, ha! So, when I tell you it’s really cold, that’s proof! 😉 Bring wool socks, buy snow boots that are insulated (this is a must!) and wear layers – lots of layers! Also a very good idea to invest in a super warm water repellent coat. My jacket was warm but I should have spent the extra money to get a heftier version. What to pack: down jacket, gloves, sweaters, thermals, warm hats (cover your ears!), scarves, sunglasses (snow = bright).
2. Buy your alcohol duty-free at the airport when you get in. This was a tip I learned from Lo Bosworths Iceland travel guide and it helped SO much. Everything is super expensive in Iceland (…we stopped for a beer at a fast food restaurant and it was $15 each!), so scoop up your wine and liquor asap once you get in. We bought a few bottles of wine that were $10 each at the airport, then saw the same bottle of wine for $45 in the city…
3. 100% rent a car! Elissa and I went to Iceland on one of her work overnight trips (…flight attendant life), so with 24 hours we strolled around Reykjavik (lots of cute shops & restaurants) and spent time at the Blue Lagoon. But with more days to explore this time around, we rented a car and saw a TON more by driving through the countryside. Also, most of the sights are a few hours away from the city, so renting a car allows you to take your time and stay overnight in different parts of the country.
4. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to visit: the coolest part about Iceland is that there is SO much nature to see and it’s all free! As long as you’ve got wheels to get you from A to B, you’re golden. My must see recommendations: the waterfalls (Selkalandsfoss, Skogafoss), Glacier Lagoon then a quick drive across the road to Diamond Beach, and lastly, Skaftarhreppurt Canyon (so magical at sunrise). There are also a bunch of natural hot springs throughout Iceland – we didn’t make it to any of those BUT I would definitely recommend!! The crashed airplane is also something to see but beware – it’s a 45 minute walk to and from and it was brutally cold (…I’d recommend doing it midday or when the sun is high so you stay warm…we went around sunset and we all thought our noses had frozen off on the walk, ha!).
5. The Blue Lagoon: definitely the most touristy thing we did on the trip but it’s a MUST! It is sooo lovely and relaxing (…highly recommend the cider beer, it was perfect with the setting!) – also very cool to be surrounded by travelers from all over the world (lots of people stop off during a layer over, then head back to the airport). Pro tip: condition your hair extra good before getting in (I lathered it up with conditioner, left it in and put it up in a bun…then took it out for a photo…haha bad idea!)…the water pretty much ruins your hair for weeks and makes it feel like straw (…eek!). Also! They have everyone shower naked before getting in the pool, but fear not, the showers all have doors and you will have privacy…no need to worry about showering in a group! (I had quite a few DMs on Instagram concerned about that one…).
6. Try to see the Northern Lights: we were so lucky to catch the Northern Lights once while staying at a hotel in Vik. We’d had a super busy day and were ready to hit our beds, then we saw others from the hotel standing outside patiently waiting. Liss and Ben grabbed a couple of duvet covers and bundled up on our deck for about 20 minutes staring at the sky…so surreal and beautiful! (Apparently they can be seen from late September to early March).
7. Where to get good coffee: I can’t not include this one in my roundup! 😉 A few favorites while in Reykjavik: Reykjavik Roasters (seriously SO good and precious!! Lots of yummy pastry and sweet breakfast options, too), Sandholt (so darling! Opens super early, so if your plane lands before the rest of the city is awake, you can kill some time and warm up here…that’s what we did!), Eymundsson Bookstore (they have a coffee shop upstairs…super cozy!).
Above all, this is one part of the world I think everyone should experience and see for themselves…it is unworldly beautiful and feels like you’re on another planet because the terrain is so special and unique. Whether you’re traveling alone, with your significant other (…I am 100% taking Blake on this same itinerary one day, it would be SO romantic!), with family or friends, Iceland is such a beautiful place and a must to add to your travel bucket list!
A HUGE thank you to Noken for planning the trip of a lifetime, we are forever grateful and will cherish the memories forever!!
Don’t forget, use code VIPLivvy to book a trip to Iceland or Columbia through Noken and take $100 off!! Offer ends Feb. 28th.
Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below – happy travels, friends! XO