A Dream Destination turned into a Reality...

I love a grand adventure and I have wanted to travel to Iceland ever since I was a teenager! I would Google, "best places to travel" and none of the results ever beat Iceland. It is a land so familiar, yet so foreign to me all at the same time. I grew up in Wyoming, a huge state with barely over 500,000 residents. Wyominngites have a strong sense of community and independence. We live off of the land and learn survival skills at a young age. Everyone has learned to work hard at what they do in Wyoming. I know great women who spend their days in the coal mine, running cattle ranches, and becoming successful entrepreneurs. We all know patriotic veterans, ranchers, and people who make their living off of trade work, and typically those people live under the same roof as you. It is a tough community and we have learned to thrive and co-exist with the land that we respect so much.

I tell you all of this because Iceland is so similar! They may be a time zone 7 hours away, but we are more alike than we may know. Iceland is a country with 372,520 residents and the country is about the size of Kentucky. Almost half of the population lives in the country's capital - Reykjavik. The other half live in tiny towns throughout the land. Recently they have learned to thrive off of tourism, which is convenient for me! Before tourism, they had to spend generations learning how to survive off of the land. They fished, they farmed, and a large percentage of their people worked (and currently still work) in the energy fields. 85% of Iceland's electricity is effectively provided by geothermal and hydropower electricity. The rest is imported oil products and the fishing fleet. They are the world's largest electricity producer per capita. Compared to other Nordic nations they greatly value independence. Self-sufficiency and strong work ethics are well-known traits for Icelanders. They were rated as one of the happiest countries in the world. They are extremely LGBTQ+ friendly, are ranked amongst the top 3 countries for women to live in, and actually have rules in the constitution that explicitly prohibit titles and ranks (everyone is addressed by their first name) for equality purposes. The only native land mammal in Iceland is the arctic fox, but they have brought in farm animals and Icelandic horses - which is its very own breed of horse. The country known as "The Land of Fire and Ice" is surrounded by crystal clear glacial water, and the land has active volcanos all throughout.

After my realization of our similarities, I knew that this was a place that I also wanted my family to explore. Now... this was the difficult part! If you know Wyomingnites, then you would know that they are not typically up for traveling, but I have been able to get my parents to come along with me on some adventures that they never would have before if it wasn't for their recent retirement. We worked up to it! I drug them along to Nashville, Tennessee, Southern California, and most recently, the entire Oregon coast. After these in-state excursions, they grew the confidence that maybe their daughter knew what would be fun, and they also learned that I am a very detail-oriented, somewhat compulsive planner (or maybe they would full-send the compulsive part)! So they entertained my idea. I started out with a presentation of a hypothetical itinerary and well-researched information on what they could expect if they were to go to Iceland. To my utter shock, they said, "Okay.... Let's do it!" and the ultimate Case family trip to Iceland began!

Below I am going to show you our itinerary, our photos and videos, and more about what our trip looked like, and what your trip could be!

Day One


If you weren't already aware, the flight to Iceland can be a long one. Of course, there are many different ways that you could go about flying to Iceland, but this is how we had to do it. We left Salt Lake at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, September 15th and we had a short layover in Seattle, Washington. I don't think I will ever understand the reasoning for going backward from a destination and then flying longer than necessary... but hey! That is how it works in America so we went with it. Because of the length of the flight and the crazy time change, we arrived in Iceland at 6:15 a.m. on September 15th.

After this long travel day, we needed some relaxation! The Blue Lagoon is the most popular attraction in Iceland. Like Wyoming, Iceland has many geothermal pools - Iceland has just learned to monetize them better than we have! Named one of the 25 wonders of the world by National Geographic, the Blue Lagoon has figured out how to unlock the benefits of geothermal seawater. Something that I was surprised by was just how large this business was! I was under the impression that it was just a large lagoon, but it also has a 62-room luxury hotel, subterranean spa, mineral-rich lagoon, and two restaurants - one of which being Michelin star-rated! I know that Dayton would love to go back and eat there, but for this trip, we couldn't make it happen.

Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon has an incredible story of healing and science. I would encourage you to read more about it on their site! My experience....

We could not check into our Airbnb until 3 p.m., so we decided to spend the morning at the lagoon and it was incredible! Even though we were tired as could be, we enjoyed drinks and facemasks right in the pool, the water was the perfect temperature for us even though it was downpour raining! The rain was cold but the warm water was sure refreshing. We also opted for a water massage! It was unlike any other massage we have ever had. You were placed on a floatation mat, and then the masseuse would work on different parts of your body while you floated on top of the water. They had towels to cover you so you wouldn't get too cold. It was a wonderful experience that really allowed you to relax while in the water. Before we knew it, we had spent hours at the lagoon!

Blue Lagoon tip - Something we did not know when we went to the Blue Lagoon is that the water will ruin your hair! They had signs that advised people with long hair to lather conditioner in their hair and then tie it in a bun on top of their heads. I did this, but between the hours spent in the lagoon and the water massage, my hair did get soaked. Throughout the whole trip, my hair was unmanageable and felt like straw. It wasn't until I got home and scrolled through Tiktok where someone mentioned the water being damaging to hair, that I had realized what happened. My suggestion would be to follow instructions very carefully at the lagoon, but also pack a hair mask and make sure to wash your hair very well after getting out of the lagoon.

We decided to eat at a restaurant inside the resort and had some authentic Icelandic lamb, as well as seafood and steak. It was very good and a great firsthand dining experience in the country. One thing to note about Iceland is that they do have to import a lot of their food. This means that food there can be a lot more expensive than we are used to here in the United States, and it can be a totally different culinary experience. The majority of the food served at restaurants is fish. They offer some unique dishes such as a fermented shark and whale. I learned from the locals that they do not like the shark and whale tourism traps. Locals actually advised that we do NOT eat the shark or whale. Skir is a very popular type of dairy product in Iceland. It is sort of like a mix between ice cream and yogurt.

After the clock struck 3 we were able to head over to our Airbnb. I purposely found us an Airbnb outside of the hustle and bustle of Reykjavik. It was actually about 40 minutes away from the capital, the closest town being Selfoss. I did this because we needed dark skies for a main attraction that we went there to witness - the northern lights! Airbnbs are great for family vacations. I know that a lot of people already have experience with them, but if you still haven't given it a try, I would, especially if you have more than four people on your trip. Airbnbs can be cheaper than hotels when you have a larger group. They also make the stay more comfortable because everyone has a space to retreat to at the end of the night. Our Airbnb was located along the Golden Circle (I will talk more about that later on) and it featured 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, a coffee maker, a grill outside, a hot tub, Wi-Fi, one bathroom, and a dark sky location for the northern lights. Here is the link to the exact Airbnb that we rented if you think our stay sounded nice.

Our drive back was our first time seeing the countryside! It was rural and very familiar to us being from Wyoming. The drive was rainy and slow. The speed limits in Iceland are quite slow compared to the U.S. That took some getting used to, but overall the sites were beautiful and the farms and towns were charming.

Day Two


Day Two was our first day waking up in Iceland. Something that we did not expect was just how amazing the sunrises and sunsets would be! Our Airbnb was full of panoramic windows and as we awoke, had breakfast, and got ready for the day, the sunrise was still on the horizon. We never timed it, but our best guess is that the sunrise lasted around 2 hours during this time of year. This is because of the way the sun rises across the horizon in this part of the world. It was absolutely gorgeous! We were shocked and we loved being greeted by warm, beautiful light every morning and evening.

Our whole trip was mostly centered around the Southwest part of Iceland, but we also had planned a trip north of Reykjavík. On the far north side of the island is the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. There are a few popular landmarks we wanted to visit, plus it is nice to see more of the country. If you have the time, we would all recommend exploring this part of the country. Even though it is less populated, the landscape is incredible!

Starting early after a good homemade breakfast, We traveled up to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and saw Mount Krikjufell, as well as Icelandic horses and amazing lava fields. This driving day really gave us such a scale of how vast Iceland truly is! With so few people there was lots of open road and with slower speeds, it really did feel like we were traveling hundreds of miles in a day. It was quite a variety of weather as well. This was our first taste of Icelandic weather, and it changed so quickly, from sunshine to cloudy and cold winds with rain. I had never seen such changes in weather so quickly before.

After a few hours of sightseeing, we made our way to a lunch restaurant Roy was very excited to find - Sker. There we had amazing fish and chips. It was so fresh I wouldn't be surprised if it was caught the day before.

After lunch, we left to see the Budir Black Church and we spent time photographing the area. The Black Church was nestled out in the lava fields and really was a sight to see. Even with down pouring rain, it was quite amazing to see a church with such a unique characteristic out by itself against the countryside and the ocean. It was one of the coolest buildings I had ever seen.

After visiting the church, we decided to head back towards the Air Bnb, we stopped in Sellfoss to get our full set of groceries and turned in for the night with some nice dinner and tired legs from driving all day. It was a great first day of the Icelandic trip of a lifetime.

1 / 33

Day Three

Travel To Vik

On day three we woke up, had breakfast, and set out to see some beautiful country! On our drive to Vik, we followed the southern coast of Iceland. We saw black-sand beaches, waterfalls, volcanoes, and glaciers! We had never seen such large waterfalls in our lives! and to see them from the highway was unreal.

When we were about 20 minutes from Vik we stopped and took a shuttle bus from a parking lot to an old abandoned airplane from the 1970's. It was a US military plane that had run out of fuel. The crew onboard made an emergency landing and the plane was left where it landed due to the high cost of recovery. Over the years the plane has been a popular stop for travelers to see a cool artifact on the black sand beaches. We loved seeing this place, it gave us a sense of a different planet! The black sand with 0 vegetation around was unlike anything we had seen before. It was surreal and the scope of it was grand. Locals called this area a "volcanic wasteland".

Being a portrait photographer, I love seeing beautiful land, but I can't help but think "There should be a wedding couple standing right there!" Roy and I posted on different photography groups to ask if anyone was in need of photos. Hanna reached out to us. She explained that she and her husband got married 3 years ago, but they never had a chance to take their wedding photos in Iceland. She still had her dress and so we told her we would love to photograph her! The black sand beach and basalt columns have been at the top of my bucket list for years! This was finally my chance to capture bridals there. When Hannah arrived she brought along her baby, and that was beyond cute! While I was photographing Hannah and Leslaw, Roy entertained the baby by watching coco-melon and it was so fun! Besides their session being a dream come true, we also had some coffee and chatted with them afterward! They talked a lot about living in Iceland as well as their story of how they moved there. They both are originally from Poland but had been in Iceland for quite a few years at that point. It was so interesting to hear them talk about the polar night in the winter, the weather, and some of the politics and culture of living in Iceland.

After we had our time with them we headed into Vik for the Lava show! This was a cool addition to our time there and we learned all about the volcanic history of Vik and what would happen if an eruption took place. We also learned about the last major eruption over 100 years ago. It was incredible to feel the heat of the lava and see how it cools and forms up close and in person. A highlight for sure of our day! This is an experience that I would personally love to go to multiple times and one that I would recommend to everyone.

The town of Vik has just over 300 residents and this gorgeous church. The census claims that over 80% of Icelanders are Christians and their churches are beautiful. Vik is a town with ongoing volcanic activity and this church actually becomes a meeting place for the residents should they need to escape an emergency such as a volcano. It also gives a great overview and look into the town of Vik being on top of a hill just outside of town.

Vik was a beautiful coastal town that was charming and a gateway to the south side of Iceland. It was truly a favorite of ours, and we enjoyed our time there. Iceland encompasses a lot of diversity in its towns and landscape and Vik proved that charm.

Fun Facts about Vik:

  • It is a 2.5-hour drive from Reykjavik
  • There is no other town in the surrounding 45 miles
  • There are about 318 people who live there. 
  • The only place in the world you can see a lava show

1 / 24

Day Four

Vik + Glacier Boat Tour

On day four we actually got to sleep in a bit - which we all appreciated. We had a long day ahead of us on the road to get to our glacier boat tour and sightsee the southern side of the island. We had a good breakfast and hit the road around 9 am. We drove through the town of Vik and this time we had to stop at the cutest coffee hut! It was an old bus converted to a coffee hut that served so many different kinds of coffee, treats, and chocolate. We all ordered something different and all of our drinks were amazing! You have got to stop there on your vacation to Iceland!

After that quick stop, we headed out and ran into the most unique lava fields. Spending a lot of time photographing the mountains and deserts of the West, you would think we have seen it all when it comes to landscapes, but this land was truly out of this world. We had never seen rolling rocks, moss, and terrain quite like this. It really gave an otherworldly sense and made us awe over the harsh yet beautiful environment we were driving in. As we approached the lagoon the Vatnajökull Glacier was a daunting and large landscape off in the distance. We had never seen such magnitude of ice before and quite frankly, it made the glaciers of Alaska seem like babies.

Along the drive, we also ran into a heavy amount of wind and even had a close call with the rental car literally blowing off the road! It was unreal! We grew up learning to drive with 65+ mph winds on I-25 and I-80 in Wyoming, but the weather apps informed us that the wind was blowing 92 mph on this stretch of road in Iceland!

Even though we were able to make it safely across the windy stretch of land, we did come across an accident that looked as though the wind had played a factor. We were actually getting quite nervous that there was a chance that they would cancel our boat tour but when we arrived and checked in, we were in luck as the tour was going to commence and we were just fine to go!

Our boat tour was the Jokulsarlon Boat tour. This boat tour was a must-see on our to-do list. It is only 35 minutes long, but it allowed us to cruise alongside huge icebergs. The glacial water in Iceland is so clear that our guide actually grabbed a piece of ice out of the water and we could see right through it! The guide spoke of movies filmed in the lagoon and glacier. The area was also just recently dedicated as a national park and was home to a handful of seals as well. It was so neat to ride right next to a glacier of that magnitude and realize the sheer amount of ice below the water. It was quite a sight to see and we think everyone should experience ice like this!

Driving back was an ordeal... It was a long drive back to the Airbnb and by this time we were nervous for the wind and exhausted from being out in the elements. We were hoping to see the northern lights once we got back, but with all the clouds and wind it wasn't going to happen. It was a very adventure-filled day with a hint of danger and really made us appreciate the safety of our Airbnb. The photos from this day were one of our favorites!

Even though we were all extremely exhausted from this day, we all agreed that we did not regret it! The icebergs were incredible and the landscape was inspiring. For anyone planning on going, we have some advice; try to plan out this part of the trip in a way in which you can stay the night closer to the iceburgs. The weather and long stretches of roads can wear on you and it would just be more enjoyable to have a close bed to sleep in after being out in the elements like that.

Diamond Beach

While researching Iceland, I knew that we had to go see Diamond Beach. Roy is an amazing landscape photographer and took almost all of the photos that you see in this blog. I knew that he would be able to capture unique and gorgeous images from this beach, but there was one problem. I had no idea how we would fit it into our itinerary! Besides that, I wasn't 100% sure that it would be as spectacular in real life as the professional landscape photographers made it seem. I begrudgingly wrote it out of our plans and continued research. Though I never forgot about it, I assumed we just would not have time for it on this trip and it would be one of those things we would come back for one day. As I continued planning I decided that we would go on that glacier boat tour. While booking the boat tour, Roy reminded me how close we would be to Diamond Beach, and suddenly my dreams of seeing it became a reality again! It was right across the street from the boat tour.

Sadly, we didn't get to see it in all its glory. Remember how I mentioned that the wind was insane? It actually broke apart, blew away, and damaged the majority of the ice. I could see how it would have been an unreal experience had we gotten to witness the large chunks of ice on that sand. We got to see some shards of ice against the black sand and it was quite amazing to see. If you are in the area, make sure to pull into the parking lot and take a walk down to Diamon Beach. If the ice is there, we promise that it will be an amazing site to see!

1 / 12

Day Five

Golden Circl and Thigvellir National Park

Our Day 5 started with the typical breakfast, and hitting the road, but today was all about sightseeing and exploring the Golden Circle! We started the day by visiting the famous Kerid Crater. This crater was actually about 5 min from our Airbnb! it was a great first stop. The crater is thought to be a 3,000-year-old volcanic crater and it has a lake inside of it! The country of Iceland preserves this area so they do have a small entrance fee. After parking in the parking lot, we headed to the edge and took in the sheer size of the crater. It seemed like quite a hike to get to the bottom so we opted to walk around the top to see the crater from different angles. It was incredibly windy that morning, to the point you could hardly hear each other speaking. Regardless it was beautiful and a great first stop!

We then drove to visit the most famous waterfall in all of Iceland - Gullfoss. Gullfoss has two drops, one of them measuring 36 feet and the other measuring 69 feet. Together it is a total height of 105 feet. There are several boardwalks that allow you to see and photograph the waterfall from various vantage points. we headed right to the top of the falls and the volume of water was impressive! It was fun to see the mist blowing in the wind right off the waterfall and into the air. It really gave a cinematic feel to the falls.

Iceland tip: Make sure to bring your rain jacket along to these waterfalls. The wind can pick up the water and spray it over you.

After leaving Golfoss we set out to the Geyser Geothermal area in the Haukadlur Valley. I have spent almost every year of my life visiting Yellowstone so I imagined it to be similar to the Prismatic Springs area. I knew we would see geysers, eat lunch, and there would be gift shops. It was similar to what I had imagined, but the geysers weren't quite as active as Yellowstone. We had some lunch at the area there and headed toward our main event of the day! Thigvellir National Park.

This was probably one of my favorite places of our whole trip. We saw the tectonic plates separating the North American Plate from the Eurasian Plate. It is the only place in the world where you can see tectonic divides above water! The whole area felt like an oasis. The wind calmed down and the sun was shining. It was so rich with vegetation and Icelandic history! This was the place where the longest-running parliament took place. Vikings would come together here to conduct political business and mingle from across the whole island. This dates back over 1,000 years and honestly, that timeframe is hard for me to grasp! Our American history mostly takes place in the 1800's so to see sights from 800 years before that was quite special and unreal. We saw some more waterfalls, and an old church house, as well as an old cemetery with graves from as far back as 1200 a.d. ! The whole area had such a rich feeling to it. It was peaceful and calm and really was a great place to get a sense of the history of Iceland! We then headed back to the Airbnb and stopped in Sellfoss to see the town more closely. We got some classic Sker and shopped around to see what it would be like to live there. Honestly, it reminded me a lot of the small town in Wyoming, it had charm and a sense of community!

After we arrived home we had hopes to see the northern lights. It is one of the reasons we picked that time of year to visit. One of the most magical things about going to Iceland in September is the sunsets and sunrises. September is not actually the most popular time for tourists to visit, but we specifically chose these dates for a reason. Iceland is a country that has a midnight sun in the summer months and can be dark all day long in the winter. Tourists typically choose one of those options to either spend several hours driving and exploring in the sunlight or chase the northern lights in the early evening. We wanted the best of both worlds so we chose to go during a time with familiar sunrise and sunset times. The problem with this is the weather. September is the rainy season in Iceland, but as you can see we had luck on our side! We ventured out to check the sky and you wouldn't believe it but we saw them! and the sight was great! It wasn't quite the intensity as we hoped but, we were able to photograph it. We still had one day left! and hoped we could catch them in all their glory.

All in all, it was a great day. We had one day left and we were excited to spend it in the capital city!

1 / 29

Day Six


On our last day, we headed to the capital city, Reykjavik! It's a city that encourages walking and prioritizes sustainability. We found a place to park and we prepared to spend the majority of our day on foot. Our first stop was a 2-hour free walking tour of the city. We learned more about the general history of Iceland, stories of elves, Vikings, food, nightlife, political affairs, and more. We saw Harpa Concert Hall, Hallgrimskirkja (the iconic church building), the old harbor, and the Sun Voyager sculpture. The walking tour was more than just sightseeing Reykjavik, it also allowed us great insight into the overall history of the island and a deeper dive into the culture. We learned about how the naming works there, the language, the way the government works, schooling, and health care of Iceland. It was a treasure of information that made our time much more rich. We had seen the wild side of Iceland, but learning more about the history and people made us appreciate the people who live there more. We would all highly recommend the walking tour! It was Dayton's favorite part of the whole trip.

It was neat to see how the largest city in Iceland operated, and honestly, the word "city" is not a good way to describe it. It still felt small and approachable. There were small town shops all over, and even a Hard Rock Cafe. the roads weren't that packed, and people were walking the streets with plenty of space and room. It was not crowded and really made me think of smaller cities like Casper or Cheyenne Wyoming. It was great to see the cool architecture in Iceland! The buildings were very European and colorful.

We had one last couple to photograph on our last day! Angelyn and Jerome. We met up with them about 20 minutes outside the capital on a secluded dirt road leading down to a private waterfall. It was magical! We had the place all to ourselves, and this not being a well-known touristy waterfall, we took full advantage. There were rolling green hills and grass surrounding the waterfall. The falls themselves were around 30ft tall. Angelyn was born and raised in Iceland, and Jerome was from Spain. It was so crazy to us because Angelyn knew, Spanish, Icelandic, and English and she said she was learning more languages as well! They both were very charming and nice. They are getting married in the fall of 2024 and have just recently gotten engaged. It was quite an honor to photograph them and learn more of their story!

After our session, we headed to our final activity of the trip! We checked into the Sky Lagoon at 6:30 to enjoy their water ritual. If you haven't guessed by now, Icelanders love their water baths. There are actually so many natural lagoons that are free to everyone that the locals prefer to spend their time in. The Sky Lagoon and Blue Lagoons are a luxury for those wanting to pay the price, we were on vacation so of course we had to experience them! The ritual at the Sky Lagoon includes soaking in the lagoon, a cold plunge into a glacier pool, warming up in the sauna, chilling out in the energizing mist, a cleansing scrub, steam, and a final shower. There were drinks there as well and the overall look of the pools was rocky and wild. The ritual itself was quite an experience. It was a lot of hot and cold it seemed! It was great to end the trip the way it started- hanging out in a hot spring on such a magical island.

After our time soaking, we headed home and got one last treat.... the northern lights came out with a big bang of a show! You could actually see the lights with your unaided eye! It was one of the most beautiful sights we had ever seen. It spanned across the entire sky and you could really see the lights dancing in real time. It is hard to describe, but it is something I think everyone should see and experience at least once in their lives! We had an early trip home, so seeing the lights right before bed was the best way to end our amazing trip.

1 / 28

Traveling Home

At the end of every trip, I like to ask my family their highs and lows. Roy's favorite was flying the drone across the landscape. Dayton said he loved Reykjavik and learning about its culture. My parents really couldn't pick a favorite as they loved just taking it all in and seeing something outside the country for the first time. It was a nice time to connect and have a nice conversation with everyone. I think every family trip should end like that! We packed up our bags and made sure that we left the Airbnb how our host wanted us to leave it. It was time for the long trip back home. It is always bitter-sweet to end a trip like this. I love the experience and I cherish all of the memories, but for me, I get excited to be back in my own bed with my normal routine again. I also had to save our puppies from their babysitter!

Our entire trip was about adventure, landscapes, and family.

There are many ways to explore Iceland that could be different from ours. Some people choose to stay in the city or relax at the Blue Lagoon in their luxury resorts. Other explorers who love extreme adventure rent a camper van so they have the opportunity to see the country in full over the course of about 12 days. Our trip itinerary was what we needed to take a break from our normal lives as a family and enjoy a place like we had never been before. To us, this was the perfect combination of culture, sightseeing, photography, family time, and adventure. We will never take for granted that not everyone gets to take trips like this, so we made the most of the six days that we had there. Thanks for taking the time to read through our adventure and learn more about the wonderful country of Iceland!

If you loved our adventure...

Roy and I are both professional photographers/ videographers. We solely make our living off of our craft and that primarily means that we go to amazing places like this with couples to photograph and video their weddings. We are based out of Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States. The Bonneville Salt Flats, Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Snow Canyon State Park, Bridger-Teton Forrest, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park are places that are extremely popular for our couples. Now that we have spent time exploring and photographing Iceland, that can be included in the list! Although our home base is in Utah and our most common bookings are in Utah and Wyoming, we have traveled for weddings. We have been to Southern California and the waterfalls of Oregon. If you would love to spend your wedding experience at a beautiful destination like this, please reach out! We would love to be a part of your day!