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Freya Dowson is an international documentary photographer based in Dubai.

About Freya

When we arrived back in London, Adam and I both agreed that we did Iceland really really well. We had a lot of help for sure with our own personal tour guide, but with the limited amount of time we had we sure packed a lot in.

Blue Lagoon :: a bit pricey, but totally worth it. We had a great time bobbing around in the water and trying to take photos while not dropping the camera! It can get really crowded so going early is a good plan. Also towels do not necessarily come with a ticket, you have to pay extra. And it’s a really good last day activity as it’s close to the airport, so you can have a pre-flight soak!

Airbnb :: always airbnb it! There are so many cities in the world Adam and I would never have been able to afford to visit if we had attempted to stay in a hotel. I often get asked how I can afford to travel so much, and that’s a post for another time, but saving money on accommodation has a lot to do with it. Here’s the wishlist I put together for Reykjavik. 

Music :: there are some really good bands coming out of Iceland these days. I already mentioned Ásgeir but while were in Reykjavik we managed to catch CeaseTone  a the Loft who were just awesome. We found out they were playing by looking in the paper but you can also check out.

Snacks :: food in Iceland is super expensive. We grabbed coffees in the morning and had dinner out (sometimes just a hot dog) but that’s about it – the rest I bought in my backpack from the UK before I left in the form of granola bars, those mini brioche buns from tesco and hobnobs. Note to self :: next time pack healthier snacks.

Drive yourself :: I think if Adam and I hadn’t rented a car, much of Iceland would have been off limits to us. Those tours are really expensive and for the price of around one ticket we managed to rent a car, and a 4×4 no less so that we felt really safe driving in the snow. Also, the satnav came with tours already on is so if we hadn’t had my friend as a tour guide, we could have driven ourselves easily.

Ion Hotel :: we really enjoyed our stay here, and it was really worth the price tag. The food, the rooms, the bar – all of this made it worth it. But also, if we hadn’t stayed there then we never would have seen the northern lights.

South Coast :: it’s worth going to see the lava fields, the ocean and the little fishing villages all along the south coast. It’s a good first day activity because it’s quiet and relaxing, and also gives you an idea of how sparsely populated Iceland can be in parts!

Solehestar Horse Riding :: if you feel like going on a horse trek then these guys seemed pretty great. They came to pick us up from where we were staying and dropped us off, the horses seemed well loved and cared for – not over-ridden or over-worked like a lot of tour horses. While we’re on the topic, if ever you’re overseas I urge you to consider the welfare of the animals working in tourism. Just have a look over a horse or an elephant or whatever before you accept a ride, take a peek under their equipment, make sure they aren’t over burdened – here’s a good page to read over if you want to learn more.

Layers and leggings :: if you’re traveling to Iceland in the winter do not underestimate the amount of layers you need to wear. I wore about two pairs of fleece lined leggings every day and I’m really glad I packed so much. It was that cold. 

Saegreifinn Restaurant :: this place comes with some mixed reviews but I really loved it. It’s not super comfortable and it’s a bit dark, but the lobster soup is really delicious and the fish is to die for. If you don’t mind stuffing your face with fresh fish whilst perched on a barrel, I highly recommend this place. Get there early though because it fills up quick!

The Landscape :: I just thought I should mention that a lot of my photos are very selectively taken, like all photos are, but there are quite a few factories around Iceland that kind of make you do a double take. They really rely on the thermal springs for all sorts of power and heating solutions, so next to areas that have a lot of hot springs you will also likely find a hydro plant. There is one right next to the blue lagoon, there was one next to our hotel. There are a lot of pristine landscapes, but there is a lot of industrial elements too – I just wanted to mention because it was a surprise to me when I got to Iceland. I wouldn’t say it detracted from the beauty of it all, it’s just part of the country.

And finally, if you’re ever looking for a tour guide in Iceland, let me know. I know a girl who is pretty great 🙂

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