Photographer & Author: Francesco Stumpo
Camera: Nikon D3100 and Bell & Howell Auto 35/Reflex
Film: Fujifilm Superia 35mm ASA 200 Color
Processed: Photoshop CS6, Lightroom and VSCO.

Date: May 30th, 2018

Photo Essay:
New Years in Southwest Iceland

Car bound in search of hot springs, waterfalls and hikes between Reykjavik, the Golden Circle and Vik in the middle of the Icelandic winter.

I’m always looking for destinations that push me to rethink the way I interpret cultures and environments, while witnessing the way people live, eat and enjoy their local traditions. Knowing we were probably late in the game to have an “authentic Icelandic experience”, after thousand of millenials have flocked to this northern island in both winter and summer for the past 10 years, we still decided to give it a shot in the middle of winter.

Traveling right before the end of the year, in time for New Year’s eve, we spent our first night in Reykjavik surrounded by strangers and fireworks in front of one of the city’s tallest structures, Hallgrimskirkja. The next morning we started our adventure, and jumped into what would be the theme for the rest of the trip: vast mountain ranges in the distance, cold windy landscapes and snowy peaks - all as a reminder of how incredible islands can be.

During this first half of the travels we spent a lot time in cars, driving around Golden Circle highway, going through Thingvellir National Park and checking local spots like Laugarvatn Fontana; a highly recommended serene destination with lakefront geothermal pools and outdoor saunas. Hours were spent soaking in all the heat we could get from the natural steam baths and outdoor mineral pools with temperatures soaring -10C overall. Content to have made it through the arctic winter, we also enjoyed the late sunrises at noon, ate our weight in hot dogs and rye bread. Yet it proved hard to see things close by or far away since we only had 4 1/2 hours of sunlight on average.

The next days were spent on hikes and slippery trails while visiting a few of the many waterfalls that continue to run year round in Iceland - like Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss – crystal clear water, frozen icicles and sparse foliage.
During our last day, we decided to tackle some more hot springs so we hiked the Reykjadalur Valley. The name means Steam Valley derived from the copious hot springs and mud pools that scatter the valley floor. There is even a hot river in which one can bathe, yet it was so snowy and uphill that we could not make it all the way. In the end, as we were eager to see the northern lights and have one final dip in some hot waters, we tracked back to the Hrunalaug Springs near Solheimar. This more local and car accessible springs were the best way to wrap up the epic four days on this artic island.

Overall, we could not believe the amount of things to see, experience and visit in such a magical and diverse place. It proved extremely hard to grasp the size and scale of mountain ranges and coastlines in this island – but finding random outposts, local knitting shops and diners helped tremendously along the way.



  • Book a free walking tour with Funky Iceland.
  • Stop by Bonus market and stock up on food.
  • Enjoy a sober adventure, as beer will be pricey.
  • Keep the weather map close ( and watch for the northern lights forecast closely.

Yet it proved hard to see things close by or far away since we only had 4 1/2 hours of sunlight on average.

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