Kelsey relaxes in a natural geothermic bath at Laugarvatn Fontana. Photo credit: Rob Marsh
As a holistic nutritionist, I understand the importance of diet, but it’s rarely the first thing I talk about. For me, it's never about weight loss just for the sake of weight loss—it’s about self-care.
My goal as a health professional is to help people achieve their highest level of wellness. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience life deeply, and get the absolute most out of every minute we’re here.
Self-care is about eating well, moving our bodies, managing stress, and making time to play.
Play looks different for everyone, but one of my favourite ways to have fun is travel. Chatting with locals in a lively beer garden, trying a new dish for the first time, renting bikes and exploring the countryside—nothing compares to experiencing the sights and sounds of a new place.
I recently had the chance to spend three wonderful weeks traveling with my partner through Iceland, and parts of Scandinavia. I’m so happy to share some of my favourite memories, must do's, and holistic traveling tips with you over the next few weeks—starting with Iceland!
Holistic Travel Tips
Thinking of heading to Iceland? Here are a few basic things to remember:
- Stock up at the duty-free before you leave the airport. Everything is so cheap (and tax-free!) so it's a good way to keep your car stocked with snacks for those long day trips.
- Although restaurant food in Iceland is usually local, whole, and delicious—nutritious to-go options are hard to find. I brought energy bars, nuts, kale chips, and a few other snacks for the road from Canada, and I’m so glad I did!
- Make sure you have some essential oils to perk you up when jetlag hits. My favourites are peppermint, lemon, rosemary, grapefruit, and ginger.
- Don’t forget your moisturizer! The winds in Iceland are strong, and don’t let up often, which can leave your skin feeling dry and dull. You’ll want to bring your best natural hand creams and moisturizers.
- Drink up! The tap water in Iceland is so delicious and clean, better than any bottled or filtered water I’ve had.
- Bring layers! You don’t want unexpected rain, strong winds, or anything else to stop you from exploring every inch of this stunning landscape.
When we landed in Iceland, we headed straight to the Blue Lagoon. Yes it's incredibly touristy, but you simply cannot go to Iceland and skip this beautiful natural lava field. The lagoon is surrounded by basalt lava flow, and the water is the most crystal clear, aquamarine colour you will ever see. We jumped straight in and enjoyed a cheeky early morning cocktail at the swim-up bar—I can't think of a better way to start a trip!
A bird's eye view of Reykjavik. Photo credit: Rob Marsh
After a couple of hours in Iceland, we finally made our way into Reykjavik. I was an absolute zombie at this point (yay jetlag!) but
thankfully my purse is a small apothecary full of oils, and I was able to use a combination of grapefruit, lemon, and peppermint to perk me up.
We spent the rest of the day learning about the settling of Iceland—including its intimidating Viking history!—before we took shelter from the strong winds inside some fun shops, and cute local cafes. I enjoyed my last good cup of coffee at Stofan Café and jumped in the car for our first drive south to Selfoss. We were about to drive the ring road all around the entire country in seven days!
Black sand beaches of Vik. Photo credit: Rob Marsh
On the Road
It’s hard to put into words just how stunning and varied the landscape of Iceland. As we moved east from Selfoss, we explored waterfalls, an old plane wreckage, beautiful black sand beaches in Vik, hulking glaciers, hooded volcanoes, and fields upon fields of moss-covered lava. I have never felt so humbled by the majesty of Mother Nature.
The sun sets on the Glacier Lagoon. Photo credit: Rob Marsh
Moss covers hardened lava fields. Photo credit: Rob Marsh
We arrived in Höfn late, but our guesthouse happened to be across the street from the liveliest (and only!) bar in town. We met a group of fellow Canadian travelers and spent a few hours with them, drinking local beer, and sharing stories with our energetic Icelandic server.
Kelsey walks along the beaches near Höfn. Photo credit: Rob Marsh
The Endless, Empty East
As the ring road took us further east, our human interactions lessened dramatically. Hours would stretch by before we saw another car. We stopped in towns as small as 100 people to stretch our legs. Days were spent exploring fissures, waterfalls, and the endless road.
Thermal vents at Namafjall Hverir near Myvatn. Photo credit: Rob Marsh
Godafoss waterfall on the Sprengisandur highland road. Photo credit: Rob Marsh
One of my absolute favourite days of the trip was spent exploring the tiny towns that dot the east coast. We drove for hours, exploring every little town, driving up huge mountains, careening through a six kilometer long tunnel, and finally winding down into the sweetest little town, Neskaupstaður. We ate a delicious dinner at Kaffi Lára El Grillo Bar (burger for him, catch of the day for me), and drank all the coffee before returning to the road. On our way down the mountain, we caught the most beautiful sunset reflecting over sheets of fresh snow as deep as a small house. Magic!
A lone building on the isolated road back down from Neskaupstaður. Photo credit: Rob Marsh
In the north we fell in love with Reykavik’s cuter cousin, Akureyri—a city of only 16,000 people, but rich with vibrant shops, restaurants, and cafes. We stayed in a cozy guesthouse, Countryhotel Sveinbjarnargerdi, and dined on a breakfast buffet of goji berries, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, walnuts, and granola—I was in heaven! We walked around town, chatted with locals in hostel bars, and scouted out eco-stores and second hand shops. I can't lie: I left with more than a few antique Icelandic treasures!
A colourful, nutritious breakfast at Countryhotel Sveinbjarnargerdi. Photo credit: Rob Marsh
Last Few Days
We ate geothermically baked bread, bathed our feet in mud and hot springs, and may or may not have spent a few cheeky hours soaking in the mineral pools at the Fontana—pure bliss! We also joined the crowds navigating around the impressive Golden Circle, a route that includes Geysir, Gulfoss, and Þingvellir National Park.
The Strokkur Geyser, one of the attractions in the Golden Circle. Photo credit: Rob Marsh
When we finally made it back to Reykjavik, it was with heavy hearts. We could have used at least another week in Iceland, if not a month. It was truly an experience I will never forget.
Thank you for reading—up next, Copenhagen!