Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit Iceland for two weeks with my best friend. This was my first “adventure trip” and I’m hooked. We hiked a glacier, marveled at numerous waterfalls, drove through a sandstorm and up and down mountains, visited the black sand beaches, took a dip in the hot springs, and climbed through a lava cave. There were endless activities to do.
I plan to do a few posts of my entire trip but I’ll start off with some of the main points I discovered while researching the trip and spending time in this amazing country.
- SO MANY WATERFALLS. This is not a complaint. I still cannot get over the amount and variety of waterfalls all around the country. There are a plethora of tourist attraction waterfalls (Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Svartifoss, Godafoss, Kirkjufelssfoss, Glanni Waterfall, Trollafossa and that’s only day 6 of 14!) among waterfalls lining the roads that made great pit-stops.
- The wind. We rented a car for 10 days and travelled the Ring Road (one road that circles the perimeter of the country) and the insurance company reminded us to hold our doors when we get out of the car because it is so common for the strong winds to whip open the doors and damage the car. They weren’t kidding!
- Nerve-racking driving conditions. There is one major road (the Ring Road) that travels the perimeter of the country but not all of it is paved. I mostly drive in the city and on major highways so driving on a dirt road up and down the side of a mountain was not my favourite experience. Be prepared for narrow roads with bulb-outs for passing and fast locals.
- Attraction signs. Along the Ring Road there are signs indicating attractions such as waterfalls, monuments, historical plaques, etc. to stop at along the road. I suggest stopping if you have time!
- Sleeping. It was very common for people to rent camper vans or vehicles to camp along the side of the Ring Road. There are designated parking areas where we saw loads of people sleeping. I looked into the “Campingcard” which is a great idea for people with tents. A few of the camping sites had showers (for a small fee) for people who weren’t staying at the site but wanted to use the facilities. There are also loads of guesthouses along the Ring Road for people wanting to stay in a room with heat. I will say, I slept in multiple layers under my blanket in the car since the temperature dropped below 0 C every night.
- The “Golden Circle”. For those of you not wanting to spend an extended period of time in Iceland, the Golden Circle is a must. Within about a days trip from the capital, you can visit Þingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir and Strokkur geysers and Kerid volcanic crater. All of these were great and easily accessible. You can choose to rent a car and tour the Golden Circle yourself or book a tour. Blue Lagoon is another popular destination (however, in the interest of saving money, we went to the naturally occuring hot springs on the side of the road for free).
- Finally, no amount of research or drooling over pictures on the internet could prepare me for how amazing the country is. With mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, geothermal areas, fjords and farmland the sheer amount of changing geological landscaping of the country was outstanding.