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iceland

Iceland is a magical place. It’s special in that the country’s nature is fresh and untouched, which is a unique quality in this day and age. Between its jaw-dropping natural landmarks and the charming capital of Reykjavík, Iceland has an overall fairytale-like aesthetic.

After catching the red-eye from New York, we arrived in Iceland around 6am and went straight to the Blue Lagoon. Bathing in the light blue water of the thermal baths, set against a backdrop of snowy mountains, may be the best solution to jetlag I’ve experienced. Although the water is hot, the piercing wind chill cut down the amount of time we wanted to spend in there. Reserving the premium bath option ensures that you stay as warm as possible—you have a semi-private bungalow to change in, where you can also enter the water from inside. The Blue Lagoon also houses a delicious restaurant for lunch called Lava.

Afterwards, we stopped at Gunnuhver hot springs on our way to the 101 Hotel in Reykjavík, a boutique hotel with a lovely interior design. In November, the amount of sunlight during the day in Iceland is between 4-5 hours. We took advantage of the hour we had left to see the city in daylight, and quickly understood why it’s become such a hot tourist destination.

The following day was dedicated to the Golden Circle. This includes: Þingvellir National Park, where the North American & Eurasian tectonic plates are slowly splitting from each other; Haukadalur, a geothermal area with two famous geysers called Geysir and Strokkur; the Gullfoss Waterfall, woah!!; and finally Kerið, a volcanic crater of which the bottom is filled with deep blue water. While driving from location to location, Icelandic horses are seen grazing. They’re one of the many features that make Iceland so magical. If you pullover, they’ll walk towards you and allow you to pet them. It feels like something out of a dream.

On our third day, we went ATVing across the Black Lava Sand Beach. It felt like we were driving on the moon. I’m (almost) speechless that sights such as this exist in real life. During the tour, not only did we enjoy the breathtaking Mýrdalsjökull glacier in the background, we also stopped by the aircraft wreck of 1973 where the damaged plane can still be found (don’t worry, the crew survived!). On our way back to the hotel we stopped by the Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, which are also prime examples of why you should go chasing waterfalls.

Throughout the fourth and final day we explored Reykjavík, a city shockingly metropolitan for its tiny size. The lively streets, buildings decorated in street art, and unbelievable restaurants left me wanting to go back for more. From the top of the Hallgrímskirkja Church, you can catch a stunning view of the entire city, colorful roofs included!

Hotels: 101 Hotel, The Black Pearl, Canopy by Hilton, Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel (if you’re looking to stay outside the city).

Restaurants: Food Cellar, Kol, Fish Market, Grill Market, Perlan, Dill, Apotek, Brauõ & Co (bakery).

Museums: The Einar Jónsson Museum, i8 Gallery, Hafnarhús.