From the dust storms of the Desert to the fresh waters of Iceland….it’s fair to say we were under prepared and overly excited for the Fegurð of Iceland.
Iceland is probably already on your 2017 #travelgoals list, if it isn’t add it now. You’ll want to bath in a lagoon, view a waterfall from above and take a selfie with the Icelandic horses. We loved visiting Iceland and exploring with an awesome crew of kiwis. Check out our Itinerary below with handy links from our trip in April: Including 4 days with friends and 6 days as a couple.
Our 8 day road trip itinerary on a budget looked a bit like this…
- Arrive in Iceland
- Catch Flybus to Blue Lagoon (prebook these tickets – click here)
- Take the flybus (click me) into Reykjavik direct to your hotel or Airbnb (stay here)
- Go out and explore the nightlife of Reykjavik.
Note: The Blue Lagoon is busy and you will be waiting in lines….”Bathing in the Blue Lagoon of Iceland is the most coveted travel experience amongst millennials, according to a new survey…..Iceland has fast emerged as one of Europe’s most popular destinations” – reported Soo Kim, a Travel writer for The Telegraph.
- Go to Budget cars (click here for 10% code) and pick up rental @ 9am (we also picked up friends from London at the BSI)
- Head to the golden circle, Thingvellar check out the scenery as you drive.
- Smell the goodness of the sulfuric geysers and stare in awe at the first of many waterfalls you will chase – Gullfoss.
- Search for the Hveragerdi hot spring river and soak. It. Up. Nothing like a defrosting after a day touristing! (we didn’t make it here)
- Hop in the car and head to your Airbnb in the Golden Circle (check out this cottage, it’s epic and has sweet views of the Auroras from the spa if it’s the right weather!)
- WAKE UP during the night 12-2am and see if the auroras have come out to play – they’re insanely magical!
- Wake up super early and head down to the South coast
- Stop everywhere and anywhere for photos and waterfall chasing
- Drive all the way along Rd 1 to Jökulsárlón
- Check out the glaciers and floating ice lagoon, but be careful of the waves!!
- Head back the way you came along Rd 1
- Stop at Svinafellsjokull Glacier, it’s huge and easy to walk up to. The road is gravel but any car can drive on it.
- Stop at Skaftafell for a 2 hour hike to the Glacier and then to the Stratifoss and Hundafoss (small) Waterfalls (try to find the cute little turf houses)
- The Heidarvatn lake is meant to be nice if you want to go for a non-touristy walk.
- Head home (wherever that is for you)
- Drive towards Vik and turn towards the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach,
- Check it out from the ground, go look at the Basalt columns and skim rocks into the ocean
- Hop in the car and make your way back along RD1 to the next left exit, Dyrhólavegur road – follow the Dyrhólaey Arch signs but…
- Turn right and drive up the gravel road to the top (no tourist buses can get up here so it’s stunningly quiet!) You will have great 360 views here and a good view of the Arch below.
- Drive back to RD1 and your next stop is Solheimasandur – the US Marine Plane! This will take you an hour or two to complete. Park the car and walk down the very boring volcanic rock track, it’s a 4km walk out and 4km back. Reuben wasn’t impressed at this little adventure. Our advice: only do it if you’re itching for that photo. Not worth it really.
- From here drive to Skógafoss and have lunch. Watch as the tourists flood off the buses and up to the top of the waterfall. if you want to come here when it isn’t busy I would advice arriving before sunrise.
- Jump back in the car and drive towards the Skogar Museum – Skógasafn. Park in the gravel car park and go for a beautiful walk to Kvernufoss Falls – This was our favourite as it had a nice little walk, clear water with fish and eels and NO ONE WAS THERE!!!! It was peaceful and beautiful.
- Your next stop along RD1 is Seljavallalaug – One of the oldest natural hot pools made in Iceland. you have to park at the new building and walk through the river bed towards the mountains where the old pool is.
- Don’t get changed in the changing rooms – they’re pretty disgusting so we just changed behind the building.
- Jump into the river before the hot pool – it’s breathtaking but worth it 100%!
- The hot pool is not looked after so I wouldn’t put your head under, however our mate Paddy did and he was fine afterwards (no sickness followed!)
- On your way home in the late afternoon head right down Þórsmerkurvegur road and check out 3 waterfalls: Seljalandsfoss (you can walk behind this one), Gljúfrabúi which has a cool archway into the waterfall, and head around a gravel road for a while and you’ll come to Nauthusagill Waterfall – for this one you have to walk up the river bed for 15 minutes until you see the waterfall. We didn’t get down to it as we were running out of daylight.
- Head home. Catch the Northern lights again.
- We packed up our gear and left the best little cottage behind and road tripped back to Reykjavik for the morning.
- Check out the Saturday markets full of fish leather jewelry, wool coats and seafood.
- Head to the bakery, Brauð & Co. and revel in its delisiousness (follow them @braudogco on instagram)
- Wash your bakery feast down with a coffee from Reykjavik Roasters – the flat whites are called ‘Do it yourself’ on their menu (@reykjavik_roasters)
- Head to the Snaefellsjoekull peninsula (make sure you go through the tunnel rather than drive around)
- Stop at the Olkelda Mineral Spring and taste its health benefits!
- Search for the Seal Colony at Ytri Tunga Beach, they are way out on the slippery rocks – good luck!
- We stayed at Guesthouse Hof (click here) it was simple accommodation, comfy enough for a night.
- Drive around the peninsula, stopping wherever you like!
- Búðakirkja – a small black church, you can also do a walk here.
- Arnarstapi was a cute small town and you can walk from here to Hellnar
- Vatnshellir Cave – friends of ours went in the first part of this cave to check it out. You can pay to go in further
- Kerlingarfoss waterfall is small but just off the main road. Svöðufoss waterfall is also here – we tried to walk up to it but the weather was too bad. In summer you’ll have better luck!
- Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall – small, not as good as the pictures make it out to be!
- Stykkishólmur is a quaint village.
- We drove all the way to Blönduós this day and stayed the night in Gladheimar Cottages (website)
- Head North to Akureyri – we found this to be one of the more beautiful drives as you wove around snow capped mountains, saw dog sledding and stopped at trickles of water to fill our water bottles up – It’s the simple things!
- Enjoy some Akureyri Fish & Chips (facebook link)
- You could stay here, we continued on to Myvatn
- Stop at Góðafoss Waterfall, you can walk up to the top of it over and around rocks if you’re keen!
- Try to find another waterfall down the 842 road, it’s meant to be beautiful!
- From there drive around Myvatn Lake to reach Myvatn village.
- There is an earth bubbling area here called Hverir or Námafjall, there is a lot of orange clay so wear your old shoes here!
- Go back towards the village and turn into Myvatn Nature Baths (see here). these were better than the Blue Lagoon for us because we were swimming with the locals and enjoying the beautiful views of mountains and the lake. It was more quiet and peaceful – less touristy!
- On your way back to the village turn left and check out the Blue water cave, Grjótagjá cave, it’s pretty cool but super hot!
- Stay the night with Oli (Airbnb link here) He is by far the best Airbnb host we have ever stayed with! He will tell you everything about the Myvatn region and history.
We were suppose to head to the Western Fjords and see Ísafjörður town, check out the Pollurinn Hot Pool and Vesturbyggð then head around to Látrabjarg to see the Puffins! However, we had to cancel our Airbnb that night and head back down to Reyjavik. We spent two nights here, on our last day we wandered around Reykjavik, hung out at Reyjavik Roasters and checked out the Opera House. Dinner at the soup house, Svarta kaffið, was a great experience and delicious!
For Your Information
⇒ Why did we rent a car?
We went to Iceland purely for the Nature; waterfalls, glaciers, black beaches, floating ice and volcanic mountains. That being said, we tried to do it on a budget. We chose to rent a car and go from place to place due to the fact that my husband would rather not squeeze into a camper van. Comparatively, either way costs you about the same, so we chose comfort!
⇒ What would we do differently?
I would suggest a camper van and travel all the way around RD 1, that way you can stop where you like and make the most of the early mornings and late evenings when all the tourist buses head back to Reyjavik.
Pack warmer clothes – have extra gloves, beanies, long johns 🙂
Look for Airbnb hosts who will engage in personable chat and talk to you more about their history and their families. (a lot of the accommodations are there for the money, which is fine, but we really enjoyed the hosts who invited us into their homes and made us apart of their family for the night)
⇒ What food should you try?
Hákarl – fermented shark (tastes like toe jams)
Pylsa – aka Hot Dogs – find them at petrol stations, have it with everything! fried onions are yum, We rekon Blondous Petrols stations serves the best in Iceland!
Skyr – technically not yoghurt but it does taste like it and it’s full of protein, we love it!
⇒ What was the most expensive thing?
The Blue lagoon and Airbnb’s. Blue lagoon = 5800 Kr
⇒ What were our favourite spots?
Kvernufoss Falls and the cottage Airbnb near the Golden Circle where we saw the Northern Lights!
⇒ What were our disappointments?
The plane crash site and not seeing the puffins!
If you’re interested in Iceland or curious about anything else we did ask away any questions below 🙂 #thebarefootkiwis