I.C.E.L.A.N.D….. hell yay!!!!!!
After exploring almost all of Europe, I always wondered what could be so different about this country? Like everywhere else in Europe, we expect some surreal landscapes and picturesque panoramas. But nothing, we repeat NOTHING, can prepare you for what lies in store on a road trip through Iceland.
The Earth is alive in Iceland – there are natural hot springs, blue icebergs, roaring waterfalls, handsome horses, and stunning mountains at every single step.
Here’s a suggested itinerary for a road trip based on our experience in Iceland. It involves exploring active volcanoes, marvelling at beautiful waterfalls, soaking in natural hot springs, and dancing on snow-capped mountains, so consider yourselves warned!!!!!
Here is our short video to get you started on what ICELAND really is:
Day 1: Arrival and drive to Geysir (1 Night)
On the day of arrival, as we landed we picked up our rental car from BlueCar rentals at the airport. Make sure to book a 4×4 if you plan to drive on F-roads, otherwise if you plan to remain just on the ring road then a small car would also do. Take your time to settle with your car, your route and install GPS etc. Once you are all set, head to Geysir.
As soon as we left Keflavik, we saw vast expanses of untamed wilderness. Along the way, we started with the golden circle route, If you’re asking yourself, ‘what is the Golden Circle?’ then the short answer is that it’s a common route between 3 beautiful natural attractions in Iceland;
- Þingvellir National Park: Iceland is divided by the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Thingvellir is the only place in the world where the rift is clearly visible and you can actually cross over from one continent to the other. How cool is that?!
- Geysir Geothermal Area: Follow your way to Geysir, a famous hot spring in the geothermal area shooting boiling water about 20 meters up into the air. This happens every 5 to 10 minutes. And it is absolute must-see!
- Gullfoss Waterfall: A 1-hour drive from Geysir is the powerful Gullfoss waterfall which has a two-level 70-meter high drop. It’s funny how something as simple as water falling off a cliff can create a thing of such immense beauty.
End your day by relaxing in the hot water lagoon at Secret Lagoon in Flúðir or visit Hrunalaug Hot Springs, one of many natural thermal bath spots in Iceland.
Accommodation: Check in at Litli Geysir Hotel for 1 night.
Tip: Don’t hesitate to drink water from the tap in Iceland! Also drinking water is free in restaurants.
Day 2: All about Waterfalls – Drive to Vik (2 Nights):
Start your day by driving towards Vik, yet another beautiful drive. Along the way visit 2 famous waterfalls of Iceland:
- Seljalandsfoss: The waterfall can be visited from every angle which is quite unique in Iceland.
- Skogafoss: Not far away from Seljalandfoss is another beauty, Skogafoss. This is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland.
Accomodation: Check in at Hvammbol Guesthouse (2 Nights)
Day 3: Cliffs and Caves
Wake up and enjoy the surroundings of this beautiful Guesthouse. It is beautifully located with a view of Dyrhólaey.
Today, start off you day early and visit:
- Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck: There is a 4-kilometer walk is required to reach the sight. Phew.. now can opt for shuttle service as well, if you don’t prefer to walk.
- Have lunch at Beach Restaurant
- Reynisfjara Beach (Black Beach): Rock formations at Reynisdrangar
- Dyrhólaey viewpoint: Get a view of Iceland’s very own Durdle Door, where you see the arch and the black sanded beach.
- Loftsalahellir Cave: Also, don’t miss the nearby located Loftsalahellir Cave, it is out of the world!
Accomodation: Continue your stay at Hvammbol Guesthouse.
Day 4: Drive to Höfn (1 Night)
1. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon: Drive to enormous Jökursálón Glacier Lagoon where you can take a boat tour and sail among the massive icebergs, you can also spot lot of Seals here.
2. On the other side of the road, is the Diamond Beach. This beach is worth the view. The black beach is filled with blocks of ice which have separated themselves from the glacier! They surely do look like Diamonds.
3. Vestrahorn in Stokksnes: The picturesque flat lagoon and small black dunes display one of the most beautiful Icelandic landscapes.
4. Explore Hofn and do try some authentic Icelandic Hotdogs.
Accomodation: Hrafnavellir Guesthouse for 1 Night
Day 5: Drive to Egilsstadir (1 Night)
Today, we started our day late, after a plentiful sleep, drive of today is towards the eastern fjords with narrow cliffs, jagged peaks, and hairpin bends perfectly punctuated with tiny fishing villages. Enjoy the spectacular drive along the huge coastline and snowy mountains.
Visit the art town Seydisfjordur. This is a hidden gem in Iceland.
Do some grocery shopping at Egilsstadir and end your day with some drinks and barbecue!
Accomodation: Check in into beautiful Kalda Lyngholt Guesthouse, the view are spectacular and they have a private waterfall and jacuzzi.. we were sold!
Tip: Make sure to only follow road 1 from Höfn to Egilsstaðir. Google maps will guide you to road 1 and 95. Ignore this so you won’t miss will get the best coastal view.
Day 6: Drive to Akureyri (2 Nights)
Wake up in the beautifully located East Fjords village in Iceland. Today the drive is towards Northern Iceland.
Things to see along the way:
- Dettifoss Waterfall: Europe’s most powerful waterfall.
- Hverir: Smeely boiling mud area
- Grjotagja Cave: Located right next to Hverir, this is a GOT spot where Jon Snow and Eygritte had their little romantic moment.
- Myvatn thermal baths: Soak in for an hour and relax in Myvatn Thermal Bath.
- Godafoss: Right on the ring road is this another beautiful waterfall.
- Akureyri: This city has loads of great restaurants, bars and shops. This is second biggest city after Reykjavik in Iceland, If you are our of supplies, visit supermarket (Bonus, Kronan) here.
Accomodation: Check in at Ytri Vik Cottages. Another excellent property with beautiful fjord and mountain views!
Tip: Watch out for Vaðlaheiðargöng tunnel toll:
The tunnel toll cannot be paid physically on location. Drivers can instead pay for a single trip Online or register to be automatically charged for their trip to a card or bank account. The toll must be paid within three hours of travelling through the tunnel, otherwise it will be charged to the individual under whose name the vehicle is registered, with an additional ISK 1,000 charge. This tunnel is 7.4km (4.6mi) long and lies between Akureyri and Húsavík, in North Iceland.
Day 7: Relax, Relax and Relax
Start your day late, relax, prepare a good meal and then if you feel like exploring, drive through older tunnels and more scenic route towards Siglufjordur. highly Recommended!
Accomodation: Continue your stay at Ytri Vik Cottages
Day 8: Drive to Snaefellsnes Region (2 Nights)
Today we start our trip towards the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Along the way you can visit:
- Hvítserkur: 30 minutes drive away from the ring road, A 15-meter high dragon shaped basalt rock formation is something out of the world. Well to me it looked more like a rhinoceros, though 🙂
- Kolugljúfur Canyon: This gem is hidden just next to the main road. It belongs to the best things to do in Iceland.
Accommodation: Helgafell Guesthouse, Helgafellssveit.
Day 9: Explore Snæfellsnes Region
Today’s its all about exploring Snaefellsnes. Start by noon to experience all of Iceland in one day. From waterfalls, to volcano formations to snow mountain to coastal drive you will have it all.
Places to See:
1. Seal watching at Ytri-Tunga Beach: Alongside Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and the Vatnsnes Peninsula, Ytri Tunga is the most reliable place in Iceland to see seals. Just offshore, on some rocks protruding from the water, at least a few seals can be seen hauling out all throughout the year. The best time to see them, however, is in the summer months.
2. The Black Church of Budir has in recent years become a very popular object for photographers and with good reason. The small distinct church is a beautiful and minimalistic object where the black color makes a beautiful contrast to the incredible landscape!
3. Arnarstapi: Explore beautiful cliffs.
4. Snæfellsjökull National Park: Snæfellsjökull National Park‘s main feature is obviously the sub-glacial volcano Snæfellsjökull. Another feature within the National Park is the Buðahraun lava field, which encircles the glacier. This moss-coated terrain gives the area a haunting, especially when grey or snow-coated in the winter months
5. Ingjaldshólskirkja: Don’t miss the most picturesque church in Iceland! Try to be here at the sunset time.
6. Kirkjufellsfoss: One of Iceland’s most photographed spots. It’s best to visit it as early as possible or at night, if you have good weather, do try catch some beautiful sunset views. We were here at midnight and it was mind blowing!!
Accomodation: Continue your stay at Helgafell Guesthouse, Helgafellssveit
Tip: Lot of Lupine fields in Snaefellsnes Region. Stop by and enjoy them bloom.
Day 10: Drive back to Reykjavík (1 Night)
Last day, few last hours…Time to experience the capital city – Reykjavik! From the Snaefellesnes region, drive to Reykjavik and have a day of sightseeing with the Hallgrímskirkja church, shopping, colored houses and treat yourself with a delicious dinner at a restaurant or with world famous Icelandic Hotdogs!
Also, relax and end you trip by soaking in another amazing thermal bath. The Blue Lagoon!
Accomodation: Hotel Berg by Keflavík Airport
Day 11: Take your flight back home
Well this is the saddest part of the whole journey! You just don’t want to leave this place! But you got to accept the reality and get out of this seductive place with hell lot of memories to cherish!
Renting a car in Iceland
Gravel roads are roads that are good enough to drive on and usually lead to a spectacular natural wonder, but they are full of little rocks. It only takes one little rock thrown on the body of your car, or worse – on your windshield, to open a crack that will make you need to pay for a new windshield. The same goes for the ash and ice in high winds. Those act exactly like rocks and can damage your car in no time. So don’t compromise on getting a full insurance for your car that includes the gravel road insurance. Also consider ash and ice insurance if you are going in the winter and sand and ash insurance in the summer.
Tip: Only drive on F-roads with a 4×4 car. You can see the road numbers on Google Maps.
Best time to visit Iceland
July to August are Iceland’s warmest months and almost the most popular time to visit Iceland. Keep in mind that in those months you don’t have the northern lights because of the 24-hours of daylight.
May and September are best all round to avoid the mass visitors and still have the chance for good weather.