Day 1: Reykjavik, Iceland (capital of Iceland)
Day 2: Southeast Iceland (Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Dyrholaey Headlands, Skaftafell)
Day 3: Vatnajökull Glacier Hike, Jökulsárlón Lagoon, Hofn
Day 1: Reykjavik, Iceland
Arriving in Keflavik, Iceland at 4:50 AM, we took the Flybus from the airport to our hostel – Bus Hostel. The hostel was a 15 minute walk to the Hallgrimskirkja church. Check in was at 3 PM but they let us leave our luggage in their luggage room (we had no issues) and even provided us with the option to shower. Then we headed out on a “self-guided walking tour” using the map provided by the hostel.
- Sun Voyager (a tourist on their morning run stopped to talk to us about a billionaire yacht – it was massive!)
- City Hall’s pond
- Harpa concert hall
- Hallgrimskirkja Church views – for a small donation, you can take the elevator to the top and get an amazing view of Reykjavik. Highly recommend!
Day 2: Road Trip in Southeast Iceland
Bright and early, I went to pickup our rental car that we would be using for the next 10 days. We rented a little Toyota Yaris from Blue Car Rental and because of this had to stick to the Ring Road (i.e. Route 1). There are a few off-roads you can only access by a 4×4 but there was so much to do we didn’t miss not having the opportunity. We had looked into getting the Campingcard, which (for a fee) allowed you to stay at 30+ camping sites along the Ring Road (note, most of the sites are in the south of Iceland). At the first camp site we discovered the facilities at the camp sites were available at a small cost and decided to take our chances with the other camp sites along the Ring Road. It worked out for us and we were able to sleep at designated parking lots along the Ring Road for free.
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall: the waterfall you get to walk behind! (we missed the Gljúfrabúi waterfall but had time to circle back at the end of the trip. Don’t miss it, it’s definitely worth the short trip up the trail from Seljalandsfoss plus you’re already parked).
- Skogafoss Waterfall: we took the short (1 km) but steep hike up to the top of the waterfall
- Dyrholaey Headlands: amazing views from a seaside cliff lookout.
- Black sand beaches: dipped our legs in the freezing cold water but got some great videos.
- Driving along the Ring Road and seeing the amazing views of ocean and mountains. We drove through a sandstorm at one point.
- Skaftafell Waterfall: basalt columns for very picturesque boomerangs (for instagram). It was approximately a 2 km hike to the waterfall and you could see it from a distance. It’s deceptively large!
- Drove a short distance back down the road and discovered (in the middle of May) it was almost 24 hr sunlight. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the Northern lights on the trip but it didn’t put too much of a damper on the rest of the road trip.
Day 3: Glacier Hike, Jökulsárlón Lagoon and Hofn
It was cold in the car at night, which I did not expect! We turned the car on in the middle of the night to add some heat and I added many more layers for the rest of the road trip. We weren’t even in the north yet! I wore a hat, gloves, my onesie, wool socks x 2, tights and a sweater at night under a blanket! Next time, I’ll bring a warmer blanket.
- Glacier Tour. Our third day in Iceland we booked the Glacier Experience tour with Arctic Adventures. Normally I’m all about self-guided tours (free!) but the experience was too good to pass up and I’m fairly certain they don’t allow tourists (even if experienced) to hike up the glacier by themselves. For a fee, we rented hiking boots and they provided harnesses, crampons (to dig into the ice), ice picks and helmets. The tour was 5.5 hours total and they recommend (and I do too!) wearing warm winter gear (jacket, hat, gloves, warm pants). The tour guides were fantastic and provided loads of information about glaciers. The glacier next to ours (ours was Vatnajokull) is frequently used in films: Game of Thrones, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and King Fu Yoga among others. I could go on and on about the hike but in summary: great guides that were very informed about glaciers; good physical activity for the day (4.5 km and 81 flights of stairs); witnessed landslides of ice breaking off; the water off the glacier is clean enough to drink; highly recommend this tour!
- After the hike we headed to Jökulsárlón – a glacial lagoon.We were hoping to catch some seals close up but only managed to see them from a distance.
- Off to Hofn and we were given the address of a restaurant with amazing lobster by one of the glacier tour guides (so we heard, at approximately $80/lobster dinner we headed to a different restaurant to try to find something cheaper!) We stopped at Pakkhún Restaurant instead and grabbed an Icelandic beer (Gull and Tuborg) while waiting for a table. The lobster pizza was fantastic and I highly recommend the restaurant!
- Drive to Egilsstadir – the quick route was closed due to unsafe conditions (this happened often in the north due to snow and lack of plowing) so we took the nerve-racking, slow drive through the east fjords. Arrival at 1:30 AM.
Stay tuned for Part 2!