Five Days in Iceland: An Insider's Guide

Travel inspiration and tips for a quick trip to Iceland with travel, lifestyle, and beauty expert Sarah Phillips of Fifty-Two Thursdays.

Iceland: known for sweeping natural landscapes, geothermal power, and everything from glaciers to lava fields. This land of largely-untamed nature is on the “must-travel” lists of many, and we were lucky to get a glimpse into the Nordic destination by way of a partnership with travel blogger Sarah Phillips. Sarah and her friend, Michelle, inspire their readers through beautiful photography of their favorite destinations and their stellar personal style. 

Ricardo: The scenic beauty is a clear reason to visit, but we’d love to know: what inspired you to travel to Iceland?

Phillips: Iceland has been on my bucket list for a while now, mostly because I have friends that have traveled there and returned with epic stories to tell. The photos you see on Instagram really don’t do Iceland justice. You have to see it with your own eyes!

 

What was your favorite thing you saw/experienced on your visit?

My favorite experience in Iceland was hands down being able to witness the Northern Lights. It’s actually a “top five” life experience of mine! We looked for them every night we were there but then on the fourth night, when we were in Jökulsárlón, they finally came out and danced for us. It was absolutely surreal, the lights were moving all around us…it gave me goose bumps!

 

 

Five days isn’t that long! Was there anything you didn’t have time to do while there?

Five days isn’t a ton of time to explore Iceland but we packed our days full so that we were able to see everything we wanted. We traveled around the Golden Circle and down around the south coast. We didn’t have time to head up north, so I will have to save that for the next trip!

 

Now that you’ve been, what tips for planning and visiting do you have for people who have never been?

Many people that travel to Iceland end up doing tours and then staying in Reykjavik the entire time. I recommend renting a car and traveling from town to town. Stay in a different town along the way each night so that you are truly able to experience Iceland outside of the city!

 

What was your favorite meal/restaurant you discovered while you were there? What did you find that was special/unique to Icelandic cuisine?

The food was very good but also VERY expensive! We tried to eat large breakfasts, pack snacks for lunch and then have a good dinner at a local joint in each town. My favorite Icelandic food was the yogurt. It is soooo good!

 

Was there anything about Iceland that surprised you?

The change in terrain. It was nuts how you could go from seeing a waterfall to a glacier to a grassy knoll all within 5 miles of each other.

 

What are your top 5-10 must-sees that you’d recommend to anyone traveling to Iceland?

I loved Diamond Beach and Glacier Lagoon, seeing the northern lights and waterfalls, and the abandoned plane crash on Black Sand Beach. Also, you have to try to find some puffins!

 

Where has Iceland inspired you to travel next?

Next up I will be heading somewhere warm, St. John! Looking forward to soaking up some sun on the beach after this cold trip!

 

Last question! As an expert on beauty, travel, style, and fitness, do you have any words of wisdom for staying stylish and healthy while traveling?

Packing in a carryon for a trip overseas wasn’t easy but once I got there I was so happy that I hadn’t packed more! It’s a pain in the neck to travel with too much luggage, plus I always like to leave a little room to bring souvenirs home. I recommend packing a few of your favorite staple pieces and then mixing and matching them during your trip. I love looking stylish but I also wanted to be comfortable and warm while in Iceland. So I practically lived in my Lululemon leggings and then swapped out cute sweaters and tops. Having a great jacket, cute boots and fun hat helps pull the entire look together!

 


I have a ton of beauty products at home but when I’m on the road, I only bring the essentials. Hair braids and hats work wonders when traveling because you don’t have to worry about making your hair just right!

I try to make a point to hit a CrossFit gym when I’m traveling because it’s always fun to get in a WOD in another city and to meet some of the locals. They are always super welcoming and usually give great advice on local restaurants and things to do a round town! I also pack a few of my favorite protein bars so that I have snacks just in case we miss a meal.