Dog Sledding in Northern Minnesota

Winter 2018-41.jpg

Alex and I headed up north (basically Canada) to celebrate our 3 year anniversary at the end of December. We stayed in Ely, MN - a small town in the Boundary Water Canoe Area, a million acre area of wilderness in the Superior National Forest that holds over 1,000 lakes. In the summertime these lakes are a popular destination for canoe camping, but in the winter, the majority of the lakes are frozen and covered in snow. Which makes them perfect for ice fishing, cross country skiing, or in our case, dog sledding.

To celebrate our anniversary, we skipped on the gifts, and instead used that money to go dog sledding. Dog sledding has been on our bucket list ever since moving to Minnesota, and with only a few more months left in this state before we leave, I am happy that we were finally able to check off that item! We did our dog sledding adventure through Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge (which we highly recommend). We did one of their day trips, but they also offer multiple day lodge trips, camping trips, and even Arctic trips.

We only had 5 people in our group - a family of 3, Alex, and myself. After learning the Do’s and Don’ts of dog sledding we made our way down to the nearby frozen lake to meet our dogs. As we approached the lake, the dogs must have sensed it, because they began loudly hollowing non stop, eager for the next team of people to take them out.

All of the dogs are Canadian Inuit dogs, which is the oldest breed of domesticated canine dogs and the closest cousins to the timberwolves. Each “sled” had a team of dogs - all of which LOVED to be pet. We got to know each of our 5 dogs, because like all good dog sledders know, you need to know the names of your dogs. We had one dog names Whoopsy (not kidding, haha) and she was my favorite because she had a strong tendency to always be leaning to the left.

Once all of the teams were set up, one of our guides, Tristan, began cross country skiing in the lead. (For best results, the dogs need someone in front of them to follow). With a “Ready, hike!” our sled launched forward as the dogs started running, but then they settled down into a steady trot. We traveled across numerous frozen lakes, frozen marsh land, and through the forest.

There were a lot of things about dog sledding that came as a surprise to Alex and me, especially in learning that it is much more active than we thought. Which to be fair, they do warn you about that on their website, but when I read that I admittedly rolled my eyes wondering how standing on a sled was physically exerting. Boy was I wrong. Whenever going uphill (and I am talking about any kind of upward incline, no matter how small), our tour guides asked us to hop off and run alongside the sled and help the dogs pull the sled up. Whenever we weren’t on the wide open frozen lakes, we were on narrow trails with frequent sharp twists, which required us as the drivers to utilize core and arm strength to stay on. And of course, in order to keep our bodies warm during the easy, straight portions on the lake, we were told to run alongside the sled to get our blood flowing if need be. I have terrible circulation to my hands and feet in the cold, so I was running often. And let me tell you, when a thick layer of snow is involved with all of these activities, it adds another layer of difficulty.

But one of my favorite aspects about the adventure was the quiet (not counting the times the dogs were howling with each other because they were anxious to get going whenever we had stopped to regroup). Ever since our first winter adventure, the quietness of being out in the open, snow covered wilderness gives me so much peace and happiness. Once the dogs started going all we heard was the snow crunching beneath the dogs’ paws and our sled. With minimal auditory sensory input, it seemed as if that allowed our visual input to only heighten. The landscape that we explored was stunning. It was lightly snowing during the entire 3 hours we were out, which was so magical. And after a cloudy day all day, the clouds finally parted at sunset to show a beautiful sky. Overall, it was an experience that was even better than we could have imagined.

A Day in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

A Day in Old San Juan || To Salt & See

The planning for this trip started a few months prior when Alex told me he would have a week off from school at the beginning of May. His schooling rarely has breaks, so when one does arise, I immediately begin planning a trip. With limited time, we wanted minimal flight time in order to maximize our vacation. Looking at flight prices on Google flights we landed on Puerto Rico. Both of use knew very little about Puerto Rico, except that it is a US territory and the music video for the popular song, “Despacito” was filmed in Puerto Rico lol. More importantly, the country had been hit by Hurricane Maria less than a year prior.

After some quick googling, we found numerous sources claiming that the state of Puerto Rico was good, with power and water available to the “main” areas of the country, and now more than ever the country needed tourist dollars. Sold.

A week prior to our departure, I had a conversation with a man at work who I soon found out was born in Puerto Rico. Excitedly, I told him that I was traveling there the next week – and I guess I was subconsciously expecting him to start raving about his home country and give me lots of advice as to where the best places are to go. Instead, he scrunched his eyes, knelt his head down, and started shaking it back and forth, all the while saying, “no, no, no, no.” Cue my internal panic lol. He proceeded to inquire why I wanted to go there, told me about how dangerous it was there, told me to go somewhere else, and to never go outside when it was dark. Well this is just great.  

So let me briefly touch on the safety of Puerto Rico. The recommendations for San Juan are exactly what you would expect it to be for a large city - to use your common sense! Don’t leave valuables in plain site, don’t walk on the beach at night (this is prime theft area), be aware of your surroundings, and listen to your gut. With that said, there are some specific areas to avoid in San Juan. La Perla, located on the northern area of the OSJ peninsula and where the Despacito music video was filmed, is known for heavy drug trafficking and is best to be avoided at all times of the day. Also avoid Puerta de Tierra at night. Alex and I had to drive through here at night when coming back from dinner on Condado Peninsula and we both felt a bit uncomfortable, so we hurried through without any issue. But walking around OSJ or Condado Peninsula are definitely safe, even at night.    

We split our time between Old San Juan and Rincon. I’ll talk about Old San Juan in this post, and Rincon in a separate post still to come.

We stayed in an Airbnb in the heart of Old San Juan, which was so convenient for exploring and walking OSJ. We parked our rental car in Dona Fela Parking, which if you have a rental car for exploring more of the island, I highly recommend this parking structure. As you can imagine, parking on the narrow streets of Old San Juan is nearly impossible. There are a few parking structures scattered throughout OSJ, but they can became expensive very quickly. Dona Fela is so cheap, at just $4 for 24 hours. The parking structure is also huge, so we never had any difficulty finding a parking spot.

Here is what we did with 24 hours in San Juan…  

Old San Juan

Colorful Streets \\ We woke up early in order to explore the streets of Old San Juan without the crowds. The buildings truly are, if not more, as colorful and beautiful as they look in photos. Better yet, the entire OSJ area has these colorful buildings and it is not simply limited to a few streets. The architecture of the buildings, specifically the second story balconies reminded me of the architecture I have seen in photos of New Orleans. But I can imagine that the particular architecture I was seeing was Caribbean in origin, which later got brought to the states. The streets are made of cobblestone, and their shape has visibly been molded from the weight of cars driving over them. There was a Carnival cruise ship in the harbor while we were there, and there was a noticeable difference in the crowds between when the cruise ship was there and when it was not. While exploring these streets expect to find some friendly kitties around every corner!

Stuffed Avocado Shop \\ We ate lunch at this fresh, and healthy restaurant. They serve avocado based bowls with a wide range of protein and veggie toppings. I found that the majority of restaurants in OSJ only served fried dishes. After getting sunburnt in the early hours of the morning, and continually sweating under the harsh Caribbean sunlight as we explored the area, the least appealing meal to me was a fried one. If the weather is hot I am all about fresh juices and smoothies, or light and healthy meals. That is why I was SO happy that Alex found this restaurant.

Señor Paleta \\ Speaking of things that I crave in hot weather conditions - ice cream. This hip and trendy shop serves gelato and sorbet in popsicle form. The frozen treats are not only flavorful and delicious, but also so so so refreshing amongst the heat. I got a Pistachio gelato while Alex tried their Strawberry Lemonade sorbet. I recommend their sorbets because while they were both delicious and flavorful, the sorbet proved to be more refreshing.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro \\ This old Spanish fort stands guard on the westernmost tip of the OSJ peninsula. We did not explore the fort itself, but we did enjoy the large grassy area in front. The day we were there, there was a reenactment presentation of soldiers marching, loading canons, and giving sword fighting demonstrations.  

Luquillo Beach

After a morning of exploring OSJ we drove less an hour east to Luquillo Beach, located near the northeastern corner of the island. We went on a Sunday afternoon, so it was quite busy with local families enjoying the water and cooking up some BBQ. Unfortunately we got rained out after an hour of being here.

Condado Peninsula

While we were walking along one of the streets in OSJ we randomly ran into one of Alex’s friends that he had made while studying abroad in Spain. To say we were shocked would be an understatement! We met up with her for dinner that night over on the Condado Peninsula, about a 10 minute drive from the OSJ peninsula. Condado reminded me of Waikiki Beach in Hawaii with its high rise hotels along the shore line and its various extravagant restaurants that catered to tourists. At La Ventana al Mar Park, there is a Puerto Rican walk of fame, where star plaques in the ground highlighting famous Puerto Ricans, such as Lin Manuel-Miranda, Ricky Martin, and Daddy Yankee.

Kabanas \\ We had the BEST fish tacos here. (Something to know about me is that if I am vacationing next to the ocean, I will without a doubt order fish tacos). These tacos were very unique in that the outside of the tortillas had crispy cheese attached. Highly recommend!

4D Coffee & Artisan Gelato \\ After dinner we walked down the street to this gelato shop, because gelato is always a good idea.

Post Hurricane Maria

Overall we felt that the portions of Puerto Rico where we visited were in good shape considering it had been less than a year since Hurricane Maria had hit. However one thing that stood out to me was when we were flying into San Juan, we could see that a large portion of the homes in the area had blue tarp roofs because they were still unable to fix their roofs after the hurricane tore them off. I realize that the tourist areas where we were hardly represent the majority of the country. There are still a lot of families and villages whose electricity has yet to be restored, and who don’t have access to sanitation and water.

Alex’s friend, who I mentioned above, is in Puerto Rico because she is working with the nonprofit organization, Save the Children, who provides safe places for children to play and emotional support for them in light of dealing with feelings of uncertainty and loss. Additionally many of the schools have been unable to reopen their doors, while some can only open for part days. Save the Children provides these students with educational programs for continued learning. If you wish to donate to this particular organization, click HERE.

Driving around in Puerto Rico did present some pot holes here and there; however, we felt that they had less pot holes than we do here in Minnesota. While driving we also saw a few telephone poles that still hadn’t been fixed, but overall the things we saw were very minor compared to what I imagine they had been immediately following Hurricane Maria. And again, the country fixed the tourist areas first so as to bring in tourism money – so if you are thinking of going to Puerto Rico I encourage you to go. Not only was it a wonderful destination to visit, but the country could use all the tourism profits they can get as they continue to work to rebuild the country.


 

Guide to Road Tripping through Norway

NORWAY! This country is most commonly traveled via cruise ship through the fjords, but road tripping through the country instead was an absolute dream. Unlike the cruise ship set up we were able to drive on our own, at our own pace, visit what we wanted, when we wanted, and were able to take in the beauty of the country with just one another and no one else. Don't get me wrong, I love cruises and the convenience that they provide, but with the type of trip we wanted, road tripping was the only option. Due to how expensive Norway is, and their laws that allow for free camping on public land we decided to camp our way through the country. Of course this option was difficult and exhausting - setting up and breaking down camp every single day - but it was an adventure of a lifetime. Below are the locations where we stopped and some of our recommendations. After road tripping the southern portion of the country we flew north to the Lofoten Islands, which you can read about here. Also be sure to check out our travel video at the end of this post!! 


Låtefossen Waterfall

This highly visited waterfall is both beautiful and unique. Starting as two separate waterfalls from the lake 540 feet above, they merge together at the bottom, creating a powerful base. Extremely easy to access, these waterfalls are located RIGHT NEXT to the road. Seriously. The narrow bridge you have to drive over is directly on top of the waterfall’s base. As we drove over it, our car got completely wet from all of the mist. Thankfully there is a small parking lot located adjacent to the falls, otherwise I’m sure it would be nearly impossible to drive over the bridge with everyone wanting to stop and take pictures.

Pro tip: Because this waterfall is so popular tourist buses stop here and unload countless tourists. Thankfully they did not stay long before boarding the bus again. So if it feels extremely crowded when you arrive, just wait for them to leave and then you will be able to enjoy the area with a bit less people around.

Odda/Trolltunga

Odda was my favorite little town that we visited during our time in Norway. The town is so colorful and located at the base of one of the countless fjords. PLUS! The trailhead for Trolltunga is just up the road from Odda. Read more about hiking Trolltunga here!

Flåm


Flåm is a tiny village located on a fjord, surrounded by towering mountains. One of the main attractions in the area is the Flåm Railway. On the train ride you will experience the unique landscape of Norway, from towering waterfalls, to lush mountainside farmland, to steep hillsides, to views of the beautiful fjord below. Flåm also has some of the most scenic bike routes in Norway as well as renowned hiking. Unfortunately, Flåm was a bit of a disappointment for us. When we arrived there was a cruise ship in the harbor, so the town was jam packed with tourists. Personally I am not one for crowds, especially since for the past week we had been traveling in areas that were just the two of us. We got a quick snack from the local bakery, and decided to skip the activities in the area so as not to fight the crowds.

norway_flam-1.jpg

Flydalsjuvet

This is one of the most picturesque locations in Norway, and seeing this gorgeous view in person was the main reason I wanted to stop here. In full disclosure, when we arrived to this ledge, my husband was so upset because it was nothing like he had imagined! If you look at this picture you would think that it is in the middle of nowhere, hidden off the side of the road. While it is hidden, it is also located directly between two extremely busy tourist lookout points! So when we were standing on this ledge, we had about 100 people staring at us from about 100 feet away ahah. Oh the deception of social media and camera angles! If you are afraid of heights, take caution. The ledge is extremely high and had me feeling queasy during the half second I accidentally looked down. 

I would still recommend stopping here for the view if you are driving through the area. Like Flåm, Geiranger (the town below) is also a port for cruise ships, so it is busy with tourists. One of the popular things to do here is to take a boat tour on the fjord to the seven sisters waterfall! 

Lovatnet

OMG THIS PLACE IS UNBELIEVEABLE. Sorry (but like not) for the over excitement, but the water in this lake is so turquoise blue that it almost looks fake. Sadly we arrived late in the evening so all of the camping sites next to the water were taken, so we ended up getting a small cabin on the hillside. The weather was poor for us, drizzling on and off the entire time that we were there. Nonetheless the brilliance of the water truly shined, contrasting beautifully against the green hillsides and overcast skies. If it had been slighlty better weather I would have absolutely loved to take a small row boat with Alex out to the middle of the lake.

Ålesund  

A very cute, colorful, and small city surrounded by water. This was the farthest west that we traveled, and because of that, the weather was rather poor. If it wasn’t pouring rain, it was extremely windy. However, we were able to make the best of the situation and enjoy some of the city’s uniqueness. The architecture is beautiful and will have you feeling like you are wandering through a central European city. For a stunning (and the best) view of the city, head to Aksla, a 400+ paved step ascent. If the number of stairs intimidates you, don’t worry, you will start to see the view before you are even halfway up. We stopped halfway to get all of our shots, because it was so gosh darn WINDY - I thought we were going to blow off the side of the mountain. While in Ålesund you also have to sample the local seafood as it is one of Norway’s top fishing harbors. We enjoyed a bowl of fish soup on a grey and rainy evening, and it was absolute perfection. While here we stayed at the CUTEST and most perfect Scandinavian Airbnb ever. After camping for a week, sleeping on a real bed felt heavenly. We were also introduced to the uniqueness of Norweigan shower setups, and were once again reminded of our hatred for Norweigan laundry machines (don't ask).

Atlanterhavsveien (Atlantic Ocean Road)

One of the two infamous roads in Norway that we visited! Back to back bridges create this road to connect a small collection of islands on the west coast. Because the road spans across open ocean water, the area’s unpredictable storms and blizzards, can make this road extremely dangerous. Thankfully there were no weather concerns when we visited, so it was just a peaceful scenic road. To be honest, it was hard to appreciate its true beauty from the ground. It wasn’t until we got our drone in the air and saw the bird’s eye view that I truly started gapping at its beauty!

Trollstigen (“The Trolls Road”)

This was the second infamous road that we visited. It is a steep, snakelike road that quickly ascends the side of a mountain with razor sharp switchbacks. Due to its relative proximity to the fjords, this place will fill with buses packed with tourists day tripping from their cruise. Thankfully we were able to avoid the crowd by arriving extremely late at 9 PM (thanks long Norwegian summer nights!) Once you drive up the road there is a tourist area that includes a large parking lot, restaurant, and gift shop. Definitely go to the lookout area as this provides the BEST view of the road. If you have a drone, beware! The road is between two mountains, which creates a wind tunnel. We legitimately almost lost our drone here but the little guy was eventually able to fight the wind.

Åndalsnes

Yet another cute, small town. It is located down the road from Trollstigen. Unfortunately we weren’t able to spend much time here since we arrived at 10 PM the night prior and were forced to pack our tent early the next morning due to rain. If we had had better weather, I would have loved to hike Rampestreken. The starting point for the hike is located in the town center and it steeply ascends to a narrow, suspended lookout platform that provides a panoramic view of Åndalsnes below. Again, we didn’t do the hike ourselves so I can’t speak to the difficulty of the hike, but it sure looked beautiful.

Jotunheimen National Park

We stopped through Jotunheimen on our long route back to Oslo. Driving though this portion of the country provided a landscape that was drastically different than what we had seen thus far. There were few trees, the land was drier and golden in coloration, and the sun was shining bright now that we were far away from the west coast gloomy weather. But nonetheless it was still beautiful! Since this was an unexpected stop due to changing plans from weather misfortune, we had to do some quick researching to find what to do in the area. We stayed in a cabin at Trolltun Gjestegård for the night (because our tent was still soaked from the morning) and that provided the much-needed indoor relaxation we needed – and it also had the wifi we needed! We went to the viewpoint Snøhetta – a small metal box with an entirely glass face, that stands alone on the top of a hill. It even has a cute Scandinavian fireplace inside. On our way out we stopped by Gjende Lake, which omg WOW is a stunning turquoise color. If you have time, there is a hike (Besseggen) nearby that ascends above Gjende. The hike is 8 miles in length, but you can turn around whenever depending on your time constraints.

 

Oslo

We only spent one day in Oslo before flying north to the Lofoten Islands, and to be honest that was enough time for us. After spending the prior week roadtripping through Norway’s naturally beautiful and dramatic landscape it was difficult finding the appreciation for the large city. We wandered around the nearby university and royal palace. We snacked on some authentic Norweigan vaffles and even tried the highly recommended brown cheese topping, and found a cute Thai restaurant next to a waterway to have dinner. We took the high speed train to and from the airport (which is located a ways outside of the city) after we dropped off our rental car, and while the train is expensive, it is extremely convenient and easy to navigate. 

The Scenic Route

Because we saw so much of Norway by driving between all of the above locations, I felt like I had to add that just driving throughout Norway was in itself AMAZING! The country of Norway is basically a giant mountain range, well at least the entire western portion is, which lends itself towards beautiful views. We drove high in the mountains, looking down at cute, farm towns below. We drove at the base of the mountains, eye and eye with the stunning turquoise waters. We drove along massive fjords. We drove through lush farmland and saw houses with grass roofs. We drove past more waterfalls than we could count. We drove amongst the evergreen trees and saw glaciers in the distance. Maybe things seemed more epic than they really were because we were listening to The Hobbit on Audible the entire time - but, nah, I think it really was amazing. 

This is the route we took for the first half of our Norwegian road trip! Special thank you to Alex who drove the entire time since this girl doesn't know how to drive manual lol! :) 

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 4.34.52 PM.png

To see more about our Norway travels, check out this video we made! It includes the road trips we did in both the southern and northern regions of Norway. To read more about our road trip in northern Norway (Lofoten Islands), check it out here

Iceland: Chasing Waterfalls

I don't know about you, but when I hear the word Iceland, my first word association is: WATERFALLS. Thanks to Icelandic weather conditions, mountains, plethora of glaciers, and freeze/thaw cycles there are countless waterfalls on the island.  

We only had 3 days to explore Iceland during our stopover to Norway, and you better believe we went to as many waterfalls as we possibly could! One of my favorite aspects of some of these Icelandic waterfalls is how small they make you feel. Towering above, their water falls with such force that you can visibly see how the rocks below have been shaped from the waterfall's power. 

I've compiled a list of the waterfalls that we were fortunate enough to visit during our short stay in Iceland. The majority of these waterfalls are relatively close to one another, all located on the western side of the island. Iceland's landscape offers countless more waterfalls, not to mention a wide variety of other terrains and sights to explore!  


Seljalandsfoss:

This is the first south-coast waterfall that you will hit when driving south from Reykjavik. Therefore it is highly popular and typically filled with tourists as it makes an easy day trip for those staying in Reykjavik. This was the only waterfall we visited that had a parking fee. It is 700 ISK ($7) per day. Once you get to the waterfall there is a path to walk behind it, but be warned, because everyone who did got drenched from the waterfall’s mist. 

Gljúfrafoss:

Located about a quarter mile down from Seljalandsfoss, is Gljúfrafoss. Despite being next to the most popular waterfall in Iceland, it is not well known due to being hidden behind the lush green cliffs. From the road you can see the top of the waterfall, but in order to experience the full waterfall, you will need to walk through the rock crevice, crossing a shallow river, to enter into the open topped cave. Due to the waterfall’s mist, it is extremely wet in there. So yes, you will get wet.

Kvernufoss:

Hands down this was my favorite waterfall in Iceland. Because it is a lesser known waterfall, we had it all to ourselves, which I think is why it was my favorite. Down the road from Skogafoss, it is tucked behind the hills, and you will need to walk behind some buildings in order to find the trail. But once you round the corner to see the first glimpse of the waterfall, it is breathtakingly magical. We danced and stared at the waterfall for hours, playing with our camera and drone to get the best captures possible. During those couple hours only one other group came through. After visiting some highly popular waterfalls, getting to explore a quiet waterfall, whose beauty and surrounding area are still untouched was a wonderful treat. 

Skógafoss:

This is another one of the most visited south-coast waterfalls. In order to enjoy Skogafoss without the plethora of tourists, Alex and I camped at the campsite right in front of the waterfall. Waking up really early the next morning, we had the waterfall all to ourselves, and were able to take in the beauty of the waterfall amongst the quiet, misty morning. What you don’t see in the photos is how cold it was! Even with wearing all of our layers we had a difficult time staying warm as the cold waterfall mist pelted us in the face. If you want to see the waterfall from above, there is a staircase pathway to the right that will take you to the top. 

Bruarfoss:

OMG, this was the hardest waterfall to find. Granted we were looking for the trailhead in the rain, which side note - if it is raining in Iceland, do not give up on your plans because chances are it will clear up shortly. For instance, it was pouring while we driving, but by the time we parked the car, the rain had cleared, and the sun was shining brightly. 

The logistics of getting there are challenging. Once we parked and started walking on a pathway with fellow waterfall enthusiasts we soon realized we were on the wrong path. Backtracking we found the correct one quickly. Just know that the start of the trail has you walking through a field briefly, crossing some barbed wire, and if it has rained recently, the path will be extremely muddy. Unfortunately, due to the muddiness people were walking on plants, thus widening the path and causing damage to the terrain. So please be respectful of the land and stay on the paths. The walk out to the waterfall was roughly a quarter mile.  

Now you may be wondering if the water was truly as bright blue as it looks in the pictures. No. It was even brighter! Truly it was unbelievable and absolutely amazing to see in person!!!

Kirkjufellsfoss: 

Alex and I were first introduced to the beauty of Iceland after seeing a photograph of this waterfall. We both were dying to see it in person, so we made the couple hour drive north to the Snæfellsnesvegur peninsula. Up there, there were very few tourists as it was too far for a day trip from Reykjavik. 

It was surreal seeing this waterfall. On the one hand, we had been dreaming of this spot for years, and on the other, it was completely different than what I had thought it would be like! There is a road and footpath that go between the waterfall and Kirkjufell (the mountain in the background). So in order to get the money shot, you have to walk around to the other side of the waterfall, and wait forever for someone not to be walking on the footpath in the middle of your picture lol. 

Why Lofoten Should be on Your Travel Bucketlist

lofoten_norway-56.jpg

To be honest, I had never heard of Lofoten until 2 years ago. It wasn’t until photographs of its iconic scenery started showing up on my social media feed that I became enthralled with this region.

Lofoten is located off northern Norway, just within the Artic Circle. It is comprised of a granite archipelago (read: giant, pointy granite towers shooting out of the ocean). It’s pristine, untouched beauty makes it a photographer’s dream. But thanks to such photography captures, tourism in Lofoten has exploded in the last few years – faster than the narrow roads can keep up with. However, while we were there I didn’t feel like the region was overrun by tourism, though some of the footpaths of the more popular hikes are starting to erode.  

To fully experience Lofoten, we decided to road trip between the main islands. Along the way we saw inland farming towns, charming fishing villages, and countless stunning views.

Below I have outlined some of our favorite things we did while in Lofoten to help show you why Lofoten should be on YOUR bucketlist! 

Roadtripping

If I could give only one reason as to why Lofoten should be on your bucketlist it would be driving the scenic main road (the E10). We opted to drive from the mainland to Lofoten rather than take the 4 hour ferry across the Norwegian Sea. This allowed maximum driving time amongst some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. The entire time I was screaming in amazement at how BEAUTIFUL everything was outside of our windows. Depending on the time of year you travel to Lofoten, you may drive past thousands upon thousands of drying cod. We weren't so lucky to see this sight (though we did manage to find one rack of drying cod), but we did see the countless number of drying racks throughout the islands. 

Festvågtind

This hike was one of the highlights during our time in Lofoten. Located near the town of Henningsvaær, this hike is a steep upward climb, taking about 3 hours round trip. The start of the hike is difficult to find – during the summer, the surrounding bushes created a slight archway over the trailhead, but you only really notice it when you are standing directly in front of it! There are 2 small parking lots along the road nearby, but most people had to park farther away.

Once you start at the trailhead the trail will put you in a large boulder field. There are some spray-painted “T”s to mark the path, but just keep heading towards the center of the hill. Once crossing the boulders, you will see the trail ahead of you more easily. From the road, this portion of the trail simply looked like people scrambling over rocks, with no clear path. However, at closer look, the trail is well marked parallel to the portion of the mountain face covered in large rocks. As you make your way up, you will begin to see a small lake below to your right. The trail will then start to wrap around the backside of the mountain until you reach the peak.

One of my favorite things about this hike were the views throughout the entire time. The view of the town of Henningsvaær, a cluster of tiny islands connected by bridges, will be unlike anything you have ever seen before. When we finally reached the top the sun’s rays warmed our faces as we emerged from the cool breezed backside of the mountain. The sun was slowly setting at this point, creating a pastel masterpiece in the sky against the mountain peaks. In the distance we could see two fellow hikers exploring a neighboring mountain – their tiny siloutte’s highlighting the grandiosity of the granite monsters. The views alone from this hike are reason enough to make a trip to Lofoten! 

Henningsvaær

Once you’ve completed Festvågtind, explore the beautifully unique town of Henningsvaær. Like I’ve mentioned before, this town is comprised of a tiny cluster of islands, the larger of which are connected to one another via bridges. The village is filled with colorful houses, art boutiques, cafes, and a beautiful fishing port. Oh, and there’s a soccer field.  

Ramberg Stranda

A large stretch of white sand beach and turquoise ocean waters – what could be better? When you have it all to yourself, that’s what! While Lofoten has been gaining more recognition over the years as a travel destination, it still does not feel crowded. This was especially obvious when we had such a beautiful beach all to ourselves. The fact that it was slowly starting to rain may have had a tiny hand in that as well ;).

For the backpacking folks: There is a campsite next to the beach that has both trailer and tent camping. The restaurant/camp reception has free wifi, which was useful when checking the ever changing Lofoten weather. 

Kvalvika Beach

Near Reine, there are a few beaches that are only accessible via hiking. Some of these beaches included: Horseid, Bunes, and Kvalvika. We only were able to make it to the latter of the three. The hike out is easy, taking about 1-2 hours. The trail can be very muddy if there was recent rainfall. However there are wooden planks to help you navigate through the muddy terrain. Eventually you reach the top of a hill and see the beach. Pristine, white sand beach, and turquoise water – I was in disbelieve that we were looking out onto the Artic Ocean.

To get an even better view of the isolated beach, hike up Ryten Mountain. If we had had more time, I would have loved to done this hike! The hike takes 2-3 hours to complete, with an elevation gain of 540 meters. When facing the ocean from Kvalvika Beach there will be a small stream coming off the mountain to the right. Next to this stream will be a trail that you can use to ascend the mountain.  

For the backpacking folks: Camping at Kvalvika Beach is a great option for you! The flat, grassy dunes at the back of the beach provides numerous spots to pitch a tent.

TIPS: There is limited parking near the trailhead, so given the popularity of this hike you will likely find yourself having to park far away (we found parking half a mile away). 

Reinebringen

While we weren’t able to do this hike ourselves, it is Lofoten’s most popular hike. It provides an iconic panoramic view from the summit, looking down on the fishing village of Reine below.

It is a 2 hour “hike”. I’m calling it a hike, but really it is a climb, with a 1400 foot elevation gain just over half a mile. The current trail is too dangerous to use due to deterioration and erosion from excessive numbers of people walking on it, causing rock fall to become a more common occurrence. The trail is extremely steep, and slippery – with some portions of the trail requiring ropes. With that it mind, it is highly advised that you do not hike if it recently rained or is forecasted to rain. Additionally, do not attempt to hike without proper hiking boots!

Due to the hike’s popularity, the Norweigan Environment Agency began building a new trail in early 2016, with expected completion time in the summer of 2018. Until that time the trail is not blocked off thanks to Norway’s "free to roam" policy, rather is it just recommended not to do this hike until the new path is done. 

Picture from https://norwaytravelguide.no/connect-with-locals/Carina/info-about-hiking-reinebringen

Picture from https://norwaytravelguide.no/connect-with-locals/Carina/info-about-hiking-reinebringen

Reine

Reine is the most picturesque fishing village that you will ever see! Seriously, it was voted one of the most scenic villages in the world by National Geographic! It is one of the few villages in Lofoten that still has a thriving fishing community. Up the road from Reine is also some INCREDIBLE photo spots: Hamnøy and Sakrisøya. 

Stay in a Rorbu

Rorbuer are brightly colored, seaside, wooden huts where fishermen used to stay. The majority of the rorbuer have been converted into accommodations for travelers – and staying in one of these huts was certainly on my bucketlist! However our original plans only accounted for camping sites because rorbuer can be pretty pricey. But when a large storm hit Lofoten, bringing half a day’s worth of rain, we thankfully were able to find a last minute affordable deal at Reinefjorden Sjøhus. Passing by the afternoon in a cozy cabin, rich with history, with my favorite person was a wonderful change of plans.  

Å

The small town of Å marks the western end of the E10 road. There is a small bakery here that was originally built over 170 years ago. (Like WHAT!) In the summer, the bakery is a “demonstration bakery”, showing customers how their beloved baked goodies were made back in the old days. We bought some cinnamon rolls, which came highly recommended by multiple people we had met during our time in Lofoten. Their cinnamon rolls took me by surprise because unlike American cinnamon rolls, drenched in sweet icing and glued together by brown sugary-buttery goodness, these rolls could be described more as a cinnamon infused bread twist. They were delicious nonetheless!  

I hope this blog post has inspired you to add Lofoten to your bucket list of travel destinations!

PIN IT.jpg

Complete Hiking Guide to Trolltunga

norway_odda_trolltunga_hike-21.jpg

“Hey, Trolltunga is right up the road. Should we hike it?” A question that should not be taken lightly, but nonetheless a question that led to one of our favorite experiences from our time in Norway.

An hour and a half later, with our 30-pound packs secured, we started the 5 hour ascent. Fellow hikers who had completed the hike were making their way down the steep trail. Some had smiles of triumph on their faces, some were walking heavily with each step, and some were walking casually as if on a stroll – these were the Norweigans. But as we were the only ones going against the downward parade, all of these folks stared at us as if we were crazy. (Great, this is a promising sign). The landscape changed every couple kilometers – ranging from wide dirt paths, to rocky terrain, to reflection pools and left over snow, to mossy wetlands, to grassy outlooks, and hills of rock. Mile after mile we climbed. Faster and faster we went as we tried to beat the falling sun, eager to make it to the top before sunset. Looking ahead with each step, I desperately tried to cheat a look at Trolltunga from the distance, but no such luck. Then suddenly after 4 hours we were there. Trolltunga, the subject of thousands of pictures and the platform of numerous surprise proposals,  was finally in front of us, in the foreground of the start of a glorious sunset. My heart pounded as we walked out onto the narrow rock, 700 m (2300 ft) suspended in air.  The sun’s golden light hitting our face, with a 360 degree view, it was difficult to take in the vastness of the moment. Then, I'll admit, some slight social panic struck as we had to quickly pose for the camera in a creative way (because that’s what you do) as the small line of people waited for us – but how on Earth were we supposed to top the girl who went before us, holding her dog up like baby Simba?? 

As the sun continued downward, the colors of the sky grew and changed. Various tents were set up along the ridge, overlooking the lake below. Hungry and in search for shelter away from the windy mountain edge, we re-traced our steps until we found a secluded grassy patch protected by surrounding mounds of rocks. Sticky from sweat and still hungry after eating our “serves 2 (but not really)” backpacking meal we feel asleep in the complete silence of the mountain top.

Pitter patter as a light rain gently hit against our tent, telling us to get going. It was dawn, but no sunrise was visible thanks to the vast cloud cover. With all our gear and selves protected under their respective rain covers, we set out.

By the time we hit the last 4 km, our legs numb with soreness and our feet in physical pain, we started running. Running to cover more ground with each step so as not to prolong the pain. Remember, we had 30-pound packs on our backs – bouncing in every direction as we clumsily and noisily ran down the steep dirt slopes.

Was the hike worth the pain?

ABSOLUTELY. 


When in Norway, I HIGHLY recommend doing as the locals do, and hike. Norweigans grow up hiking in the plethora of mountains that make up the country. Some of the most beautiful scenery we saw in Norway was seen by foot.

But I’ll be honest, Trolltunga was not the #1 hike we wanted to do – in fact, we didn’t even plan to hike Trolltunga because of its length of commitment!  No, the hike we were eager to complete was Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock). A relatively short hike, the trail leads you to a flat 600m high platform over looking the fjord.

However the weather had a different plan. We landed in Oslo at 6:30 AM after only sleeping 2 hours on our red eye from Reykjavik. The original plan was to get our rental car, and drive 8 hours west to Pulpit Rock AND complete the 2 hour ascent up. Anyone else see how crazily unrealistic my planning was for this day? My eager heart was making promises our future tired selves wouldn’t be able to keep. It’s no surprise then when Alex ended up pulling over to the side of the road a few hours into the drive, and we passed out from exhaustion for a couple hours.

As we made our way closer to the Atlantic Ocean, the rain started, nonstop. Realizing the rain was not going to stop, we cut our loses, and adjusted our travel route so as not to head south anymore nor waste any more hours driving. Goodbye Pulpit Rock. The next morning we traveled to the cutest town of Odda. While having a picnic lunch on the waterfront we met an English couple who were also backpacking their way through Norway. The day prior they had completed Trolltunga, the well known hike whose trailhead was just up the road. They told us the 8-10 hour hike was definitely worth the effort, and seeing as they did it in the rain, that’s saying something! Their love of the hike planted the seed in our hearts to maybe reconsider hiking Trolltunga, and thank goodness we did!

Ok, so getting down to the details…

WHAT:

I’m not going to sugar coat it, this is a very long and demanding hike. From the main starting point near Trolltunga Active, it is a 27.5 km (17 mile) roundtrip hike, taking 8-12 hours to complete. It is such a wide range of time because there are a few factors involved – level of fitness, stopping for pictures, meal breaks, waiting in line to take a picture on Trolltunga (sometimes it can be upwards of 45 minutes!), and then how tired you are coming down. If you plan to hike Trolltunga, please, be prepared. The search and rescue team is already extremely busy here, rescuing unprepared or foolish tourists.  

WHEN:

You can complete the hike on your own from Mid-June to Mid-September. Outside of this time you will either have to complete it via a guided tour (with snow shoes in the spring time), or it is simply ill-advised during the harsh winter. Check here for more information. 

If you plan to complete the hike in one day, you should begin no later than 8-9 AM, allowing yourself plenty of time to return before it gets dark. However if you plan to spend the night at the top (which I HIGHLY recommend), you should just give yourself enough time to get to the top before dark. While breaking the hike up into two days causes you to hike down with sore muscles, being at Trolltunga with minimal tourists and witnessing sunset and sunrise is well worth it!

Be sure to check the weather before hiking. Trolltunga Active has a print out of the hourly weather forecast for the next 24 hours at their front desk. When we were contemplating whether to hike, we only felt comfortable doing so when we saw there was no rain or wind for that evening, and figured we would be well on our way down the mountain by the time the light rain started the next morning. 

GETTING THERE:

We had a rental car, so I don’t have any information regarding public transportation to the trailhead. Some people stayed in the nearby town of Odda the night before or after their day hike to Trolltunga. Heading from Odda, drive north along the fjord for 6 km to reach Tyssedal. Taking a right onto Skjeggedalsvegen you will wind your way up the mountain. You will see signs for one of the parking lots for Trolltunga before you leave Tyssedal. From this parking lot it is an additional 5.5 km up a single lane road to Trolltunga Active in Skjeggedal. The lane has a few widen areas for passing cars, but be careful driving this road as there are a lot of blind curves.

PARKING:

There are a couple of different parking options. The main parking lot is located next to the Trolltunga Active center. There is a fee of 300 NOK for 12 hours and 600 NOK for 24 hours hours. The second option is farther from the trailhead, located in Tyssedal, and costs 150 NOK for 24 hours. Most folks we saw who parked here paid a taxi to transport them to and from the car. The third option is limited – a small parking lot located at the top of the trail's most difficult incline. The dirt road leading to the lot opens at 7 AM, and there is only room for 30 cars. The fee is 500 NOK for 12 hours, and operates on a first come, first serve basis. 

There are two trailheads: #1 the red dotted line. These shorter switchbacks result in steeper inclines, over a less distance. #2 the white solid road leading to the upper parking lot. (Remember this parking lot is not only more expensive, but also limited in size, only able to hold 30 cars. The lot is first come, first serve.) This second option, while still steep, is less steep than #1 due to the longer switchbacks. Clearly #2 is longer than #1. At the top of #2, there will be a trailhead sign (the red dotted line). This trail will soon join the #1 option trail.   Click  here  for original image source

There are two trailheads: #1 the red dotted line. These shorter switchbacks result in steeper inclines, over a less distance. #2 the white solid road leading to the upper parking lot. (Remember this parking lot is not only more expensive, but also limited in size, only able to hold 30 cars. The lot is first come, first serve.) This second option, while still steep, is less steep than #1 due to the longer switchbacks. Clearly #2 is longer than #1. At the top of #2, there will be a trailhead sign (the red dotted line). This trail will soon join the #1 option trail. 

Click here for original image source

THE TRAIL:

There are a two different starting points from the base that eventually come together after a steep incline. The first is located west of Trolltunga Active. It is essentially a vertical stairmaster with a 450 m elevation gain over 1 km. This route is made up of stone steps, as well as ropes in places of steep incline for added support. The second option is using the dirt road behind Trolltunga Active. The road was recently built leading to the top parking lot. This option is longer in length (~2.5km) due to minimizing the gradient via switchbacks. But this is still steep as well. With 17 hair pin turns, it has upwards of a 17% grade. Once you reach the top of this road, you will see signs for the Trolltunga trailhead. This is where you will start if you opted to park at the top (you’ll just have fresh legs relative to those who hiked to get to this starting point).

norway_odda_trolltunga_hike-10.jpg

The entire trail is marked with red, spray-painted ‘T”s on the rocks or tall, skinny poles with red tape on the top. These markings are frequent, but if you are not looking ahead to find the next “T” you may get a little off track. Additionally, there are a signs every 1-2 kilometers, indicating the number of kilometers hiked, and the amount remaining. 

The initial incline is the worst, so don’t get too discouraged from it! From here the trail levels out as you make your way through the “valley of cabins.” There are numerous glacial streams and wooden bridges to make your path through the marshy area easier. After a km you will come to the second worse incline (about 300m). The incline starts with large stone steps, and eventually turns into an enormous rock face – which looks slippery, but we had no trouble feeling secure with our steps. Once you reach the top of the rock face you will see the 4 km sign.

The next few kilometers will be relatively easy. The terrain starts to change frequently, ranging from large reflection pools, to left over snow from winter, to mossy wetlands. Eventually you will come to the first outlook of Lake Ringedalsvatnet, the body of water you see in the infamous Trolltunga pictures. Looking out you can see how high you have climbed, the lake’s shore looking unbelievably small. 

Continuing another couple kilometers through more mossy wetlands, you will make your way along the lake. Soon the terrain will turn into hills of rocks. Climbing up and down these rocks, you may eventually start to hear buzzing. Where there are drones, there is trolltunga! Then after many, many tiring hours, you finally see Trolltunga.

WHAT TO BRING:

Even if you don’t plan on spending the night at the top of the mountain, you should still bring a small pack of essentials.

  • Sturdy hiking boots (even better if they are waterproof)
  • Rain/wind resistant jacket
  • Clothing layers – the weather can change very quickly
  • Fresh pair of socks - because changing into fresh socks at the top feels so good! 
  • Hiking pants - these are advised by all the Norwegian sites, but I wore athletic leggings and was fine
  • Water – we took with us one hydration pack and one large water bottle. A lot of other websites will tell you there are frequent safe water sources along the path, including ponds, small lakes, streams, and trickling waterfalls. However we didn’t feel comfortable with most of these sources seeing as some were stagnant bodies of water, and others were streams with an easily accessible upstream where an animal could have peed in. We waited until we were at the top of the mountain – there were a few trickling waterfalls from the glacier runoff – to fill up on water, because this had less of a chance of contamination.
  • A map and/or compass
  • Sunglasses
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Biodegradable toilet paper
  • Protein bars
  • Plastic bags/small trash bag – please respect nature and save all of your trash to be disposed of properly when you return to the base.

Trolltunga Active has a few of these essentials for purchase should you have forgotten them. They carry clothing, hiking poles, energy bars, water, maps, and of course, souvenirs. They also have vaffels (Norweigan waffles) for purchase. There is a bathroom at the start, located in the parking lot, so be sure to utilize it because on the trail, it’s all natural.

SAFETY:

Apparently there is limited cell service on the mountain – though we watched a couple at the top face time their family in the US after getting engaged, so not sure about that...?  

Don’t hike if there is strong wind, heavy rain or fog. If you are doing the hike in 1 day and reach the 4km sign after 1 pm, STOP, and turn around because you will not have enough sunlight to make it to the top and back.

There are a few “survival cabins” located throughout the trail. These cabins are small, but provide shelter from the elements and supposedly are equipped with blankets.

If possible let someone know that you are doing the hike. We foolishly didn’t do this as it was a last minute decision for us, and the itineraries we had sent to our parents didn’t even include this hike as a potential plan.

WHERE TO CAMP:  

Norway’s “right to roam” allows you to freely camp in the open country (with a few exceptions of course). But that means it is free to camp on Trolltunga. You can camp anywhere except between the 1 km to 3 km markers. This area is clearly marked as a no-camping zone as it is an environmentally protected area. As I mentioned before, a decent portion of the people camping overnight choose to camp on the cliffs next to Trolltunga. Keep in mind though that camping anywhere along the ridge can be cold and windy. There are PLENTY of camping locations throughout the entire hike. With the “right to roam” law also comes the expectation to LEAVE NO TRACE. Again, take an extra plastic bag or trash bag with you to collect all of your waste so you can dispose of it properly once you complete the hike. 


This hike was one of the top highlights from our entire trip in Norway, and therefore I highly recommend it. If you are considering completing this hike and have additional questions regarding our experience, please feel free to comment below or send me a private message! 

 

Is the Blue Lagoon Worth It?

Driving to the Blue Lagoon was anything but what I had expected. It was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by moss covered lava rocks. In the distance we could see large, billowing clouds of steam rising into the air. That must be it, we thought. But as we drove closer, we saw to our surprise, that the source of the steam was actually a geothermal power plant. And there, next door, was a large parking lot packed with cars and buses.

With our bathing suits in hand, we walked along the lava rock lined pathway. Finally we saw the Blue Lagoon facility – a drastic contrast to its surroundings, it was a large, modern, and white building. We walked through its tall, elegant, glass doors, then BOOM, saw a line winding back and forth, resembling a line for a Disneyland ride. Except, that rather than a Disneyland themed area, the inside was just as modern and minimalistic as its exterior. I looked to the right and saw a large gift shop that everyone exiting the facility had to walk through. Alright, I thought, let’s see if this is worth the money. 

iceland-122.jpg

Ten minutes later, after having great difficulty figuring out how to work the lockers, I was getting ready to shower off before heading out to the lagoon. I don’t know if there was something extraordinary about this shower, or if it was the fact that it was my first shower in 3 days (when camping through Iceland, am I right?), but I almost didn’t want to leave the shower, I was so in love!  

With there being so many pictures on the internet, my first glance of the Blue Lagoon was exactly what I had expected. Wanting to be cool like all the travel bloggers whose sites I had meticulously combed through when researching for our trip, we obviously wanted to get some cool shots of us in the water. But still wet from the shower, we started getting very cold in the 55 degree F weather. My sweet, sweet husband knew by eagerness to pose in the water, so standing in the cold as I got into position, he took some quick pictures then ran to put the camera away in the locker before he joined me in the perfectly warm water. Something I was surprised about was how BIG the lagoon actually it. Despite it being crowded with tourists, we were able to meander away from the “shore” and found a few quiet spots to ourselves. After 3 days of nonstop driving, hiking, exploring, and minimal sleep it was such a treat to just float in the milky water, giving our feet and legs a much needed break!

Two and a half hours later we emerged from the Blue Lagoon, and drove to the airport, completely relaxed and thankful we had decided to give the Blue Lagoon a try. 

Below is a guide of everything that you need to know when planning a trip to the Blue Lagoon. 

WHAT:

I’ll admit I was pretty skeptical about the Blue Lagoon. I had read that it is basically an over-priced, crowded tourist trap. Traveling on a budget for 2 weeks across 2 of the 5 most expensive countries in the world, we certainly didn’t want to waste our money if it wasn’t worth it. Thankfully one of my best friends had traveled to Iceland the year before, and she told us, that while she may not go back, it was definitely worth the money and going at least once. Ok, we were sold.

The Blue Lagoon is not naturally occurring, but instead is the runoff from a geothermal power plant next door. Don’t worry, it’s safe. The water is rich in silica, algae, and other minerals the first being the main cause for the water’s milky, turquoise coloration. There is also sulfur in the water, thereby creating a slight sulfur smell in the air. Honestly, the smell isn’t horrendous, and you quickly get used to it. 

PRE-BOOKING:

Roughly 80% of the tourists that travel to Iceland visit the Blue Lagoon. Therefore you are required to pre-book a ticket with a specific time slot before arrival. There is no time limit to the ticket, so you can stay as long as you like. For this reason, the afternoon (particularly after 12 PM) and evenings can be highly crowded. If you want to avoid some of the crowds, go early in the morning. The cheapest, standard ticket costs anywhere from 6100 ISK ($60) to 8000 ISK ($77), depending on the time of day you go. This standard ticket only includes admission and a free silicon mud mask.

If you are looking to go at a specific time of day, be sure to book EARLY as the popular slots sell out. For our 6 PM visit, we purchased the ticket 2 weeks in advance, and at this time a decent portion of the tickets were already sold out.

When you check in at your pre-selected time, you will be handed a wristband. The chip on the wristband is used to open your locker and charge any additional fees (ie drinks from the bar, special facial masks, or renting a towel ($6)) directly to your bill. You then settle the bill before leaving. Be sure to not lose the wristband in the water as that will be an additional fee! Upon exiting, you will scan your bracelet, the exit turnstile will open, and a small compartment will open, where you will return your bracelet. If the exit does not open for you, that just means you many need to still settle your bill. 

iceland-124.jpg

LOCATION:

Many people are surprised to find that the Blue Lagoon is far from Reykjavik, with little to nothing surrounding it. It is 24 miles from Reykjavik (about a 40 minute drive), and 12 miles from the Keflavik international airport (20 minute drive), making it a popular stop right before or after a flight.

If you have luggage with you, there is a small building next to the parking lot where you can rent a locker to store your luggage. The cost is 550 ISK ($5.30) per bag. You will need to store anything larger than a backpack here, because the lockers in the locker room are not very large. Our rental car had a covered trunk, so we felt comfortable leaving our luggage in the car, and simply taking our valuables with us to place in our locker with our clothes. 

LOCKER ROOMS:

Their locker rooms were a little too modern and high tech for us! There are multiple locker rooms for men and women. When you enter the locker room you will see a large TV monitor indicating which lockers are occupied and which are available. Underneath the monitor are shoe racks. When you find an open locker, look for the instructional sheet about how to program the lock to open to your specific wristband. (I didn’t see this sheet at first, so as a millennial, who normally has no trouble figuring out technology, I was not used to asking someone older than me how to work the technology. A frustrating, yet humbling experience!)

Before getting into the water you are required to shower naked. In the locker room there are a few communal shower heads, but most of the women opted for the private showers. Each private shower has a rain shower head and is supplied with the Blue Lagoon’s special hair conditioner and body wash. It’s recommended to use the conditioner before and after bathing in the lagoon, especially if you have long hair, because the geothermal mineral water is extremely drying to your hair. (I took the advice of many travel bloggers and avoided this issue by not getting my hair wet in the lagoon). When exiting the men and women’s locker rooms, there will be a common area (designated as a relaxation area) where you can meet up with the rest of your group before heading out to the lagoon. 

iceland-blue-lagoon_125.jpg

THINGS TO DO:

Due to its increasing popularity, the Blue Lagoon has expanded a lot over the years. There is a swim up bar, a swim up Silica bar, a sauna and steam room next to the lagoon, and a swim under waterfall.  Inside there is a restaurant and a relaxation area.

At the swim up Silica bar, you will be given a complementary white silica mask. The mud mask can be applied to your face and skin. Leave it on for 10 minutes before washing it off. We can personally attest that your skin will feel significantly refreshed, cleansed, and softened afterwards. 

GOPR0569.JPG

EXTRA TIPS:

  • If you are like us and going to the Blue Lagoon before you fly, I would recommend bringing a plastic bag for your wet bathing suit. The facility does not have a bathing suit dryer. Don’t worry about having to fly with wet hair because the locker rooms are equipped with hair dryers.
  • Due to the water’s chemical composition they recommend you not wear any jewelry in the water.
  • If you have room in your bag, bring a pair of cheap flip flops to wear in the showers and out to the lagoon (because the ground is COLD).
  • Don’t dry off with your towel after completing your pre-shower. Safe that dry towel for when you are done and exiting the lagoon!
  • Bring a water bottle if possible. The warm water will certainly have you feeling a bit dehydrated.