I had a great time traveling around Iceland with friends for my grad trip during the end of April. Here’s rundown of our nine day itinerary - maybe you will find some interesting tidbits :)
- We used Blue Car Rental to book our cars. It bundles in gravel protection which is highly recommended. The wifi hotspot was also very convenient. A 4x4 vehicle is required on some rural (and F-roads) roads so plan ahead.
- We alternated cooking ourselves (which saved us some money) and dining at restaurants (which allowed us to taste the local cuisine)
- The major budget groceries stores are “Bónus” and “Nettó”. If you buy their sandwiches, definitely go for the salmon one! Also the chocolate tastes better in Iceland (but maybe it’s just a Europe thing).
- If eating out, try to find restaurants that serve fresh fish or lamb, as these are among the best foods in Iceland
- The road infrastructure was a lot better than I expected considering there are so many rural regions. Another challenge is that every year the rivers may shift, requiring new bridges to be constructed.
- We drove counter-clockwise around Iceland which aligned nicely with our itinerary in that the majority of our attractions were earlier in the trip when we had more energy
- Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital, is home to 126,000 out of 350,000 in all of Iceland. For comparison, it’s estimated that there’s over 800,000 sheep!
- Some of the Airbnb’s were very modern with expansive glass windows. I especially liked the bathrooms with doorless walk-in showers and stone tiling.
- Blue Lagoon: Geothermal spa with mud masks - be sure to book a few weeks ahead of time!
- Sægreifinn Restaurant: Small cozy restaurant offering variety of skewers and hearty soup
- Öxarárfoss Waterfall nice scenic hike
- Kerið Crater There wasn’t much vegetation when we went
- Gullfoss Waterfall Home of Iceland’s first environmentalist who prevented a hydroelectric dam from being built
- Geysir These geysers erupt every so often. Look closely and you can see a beautiful blue bulge of water before it erupts.
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall The main attraction is a waterfall that you can walk behind, but there’s two hidden gems to discover if you continue walking North along the path to Gljúfrabúi, a hidden waterfall.
- Sudur Vik Restaurant Their apple pie with ice cream was delicious!
- Skógafoss Waterfall There are stairs that you can climb up. And the railing is made out of polished wood.
- Sólheimasandur Airplane Wreck Park here and walk to the wreck (about 7km round trip)
- Dyrhólaey Lighthouse This lighthouse was renovated to accomodate guests - not sure if it is still in service. Need an AWD to drive to the top.
- Sólheimajökull Glacier Guided tours are available
- Svartifoss Waterfall and Glacier The visitor center is pretty high tech: Just enter your license number (it even knows your vehicle model) when paying for parking. The (shorter) trail on the right takes you to the glacier, while the left takes you to several waterfalls.
- Fjallsárlón Glacier Small patches of clear ice scatter the lake, and boat tours available
- Pakkhús Restaurant Great decor and fresh food
- Weywadt House This was a unique house (especially for its time) because it was constructed out of tar, which gave it its contrasting colour
- Kirkjubær Church This church was renovated to accommodate guests!
- Grjótagjá Cave There’s a natural hot spring inside this cave
- Hverfjall Crater To be honest there wasn’t much to see at this stop. Luckily we had a few lateral thinking problems.
- Ásbyrgi Trails There’s a variety of trails (including a 2-day hike!). Best enjoyed on a sunny day and pack lots of water.
- Goðafoss Waterfall Known as “God’s Waterfall”, the myth says this was where lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði declared Christianity as the new religion of Iceland by throwing the old statues of Norse Gods down the waterfall.
- Noa Restaurant This restaurant has a unique style of cooking fish and veggies together. Do you like the sauté or baked version better?
- Brynja Icecream A few swirls and is then dipped into chocolate
- Pylsuvagninn Hotdog Stand They have a crispy topping and makes for a great late night snack
- Hlíðarfjallsvegur Ski Resort Highest point in the town for viewing the Northern Lights
- Sundlaugin Outdoor Swimming Pool with mountains in the distance
- (Lots of driving today)
- Sjávarpakkhúsið Restaurant Relatively small restaurant known for it’s pot of mussels
- Ölkelduvatn Mineral Spring We got to taste some fizzy mineral water
- Londrangar Lookout View a pair of towering rocks and powerful waves from atop a cliff
- Gestastofa Visitor Center Get more information about the Snaefellsjoekull National Park.
- Djúpalónssandur Beach Known as Black Pebble Beach for the smooth rocks. Parts of the shipwrecked fishing trawler Epine have washed up here and still remain today. There’s also Lifting Stones to test your strength!
- Saxhólar Crater I found this cool aerial shot of the crater
- Skarðsvík Beach Also known as the White Sand Beach
- Kaffivagninn Cafe This place was packed when we went in the morning. They also served salmon for breakfast - why not?
- Hallgrimskirkja Church Iceland’s largest and arguably most iconic church.