May 10, 2017: Day 1 // Keflavik & Reykjavik
Departure from Lyon to Geneva, our fligh was Geneva-Keflavik & lasted 3h40.
There were a few turbulence during landing, a violent wind and rain for our arrival. We are welcomed by our car rental agency under the rain, and they take us to pick up our car & tent at Faircar!
At the rental, they warn us about the very bad weather and tell us there are even sandstorms in the south (where we are heading to in a few days). Apparently, the forecast is really bad… !
The manager even tells us she does not recommend sleeping in a tent in these conditions. Well for this night we have a guesthouse in Reykjavik so we are safe for now!
Well we have been warned, but now we are too excited about our adventure to care! We leave for Reykjavik directly to our guesthouse. It’s very well organized; we drop our suitcases and go out to explore the city.
Very similar to Copenhagen, the city is small, 2 main streets with shops, colorful houses, a stark church, all in concrete. It’s fascinating how it stands out among the city colors. Very paradoxical.
The shops are so beautiful, refined design very common to Scandinavian countries, I love it. We buy some souvenirs: gloves for me (I forgot mine, not my best idea), and a Viking T-shirt for him!
Then, we walk in direction of the Sea Baron, a small restaurant wich does not seem like much from outside. I spotted this one on internet. We have dinner there, delicious fish, schrimps skewers and a lobster soup.
The place must be well-known because we had to wait 30min surrounded by Chinese people!
This was our first experience of Icelandic prices… 15€ for a skewer. It is excellent and the restaurant atmosphere is cosy. We’ve only been to the restaurant twice during the trip, for the first night and the last night.
Then, it is still daylight (in May it never really goes full dark, and the sun goes down around 10.30 pm) so we go visit Harpa, the famous concert hall. It has a fully glazed façade, very impressive and beautiful! When you move you can see different colors.
After that we walked to the Sun Voyageur or Solfar in Icelandic, which is described as a dreamboat or Viking boat, or an ode to the sun. We watched the sunset; there was no one around, just us to admire it.
To end this great first afternoon/night on the Island, we decide to have a drink in a nice bar we passed by earlier: The Lebowski. The experience of Icelandic prices continue: 13€ for a beer.
The bar is really nice, well decorated vintage style. When we got back to the guesthouse around midnight the sky is still not dark, this is really weird! We go to sleep to be well prepared for our road-trip that starts the following morning!!
Nordurey guesthouse: (we booked via booking a few month before the trip: 90€ for a night)
Snorrabraut 71, 101 Reykjavík (64.138359; -21.923800)
May 11, 2017: Day 2 // Reykjavik & the Golden Circle
Wake up at 7.30, and that’s what we’ll do during the all trip! So many things to do!
We wander in the city for a while, because I absolutely want to eat a famous hot dog (the little hut on a parking near the harbor) before leaving, but it is not open yet we have to wait.
Then, grocery shopping at Bonus (less expensive than Netto and I love their logo) to complement what we already brought with us. Then, we drive in the direction of the GOLDEN CIRCLE: famous area of attractions around Reykjavik. We are stopping at Bruarfoss Waterfall, Strokkur Geysir, Gullfoss Waterfall.
Itinerary from Reykjavik: take road F36 – 1h35 drive from Reykjavik to Gulfoss.
We experience our first road-trip problem… Our GPS is in Icelandic and there were a lot of propositions for « Bruarfoss » and obviously, I chose the wrong one… So we lose like an hour and a half directly at the beginning of the trip.
We finally find Bruarfoss Waterfall, we saw more than one car giving up, we were all driving around, and trying to find the way according to descriptions we saw in guides, articles.
We park and start walking randomly in the nature, and then we found the path. We walk about 10-15 minutes and we discover our first (and not last!!) Icelandic waterfalls!
Then we head to Strokkur Geysir, well-known geyser that makes water gush every 10 minutes.
The land is smoking, you can smell sulfur. There are mini geysers everywhere, but they are not in activity, only the big one makes water gush. It seems like we are on another planet. 100°C water everywhere…!!
There are a lot of tourists in this spot…
To finish, we head to Gullfoss, huge waterfall very different from the first one we saw. The wind is so strong I feel like I could fly away! And with the wind comes the water, we are soaked to the skin in a few minutes.
Lucky for us, the sun came back quickly and it felt really nice. We had a very good visibility.
After this half a day full of discoveries, we hit the road again to Snaefellsnes Peninsula, where we are planning to stay in a camping there for the night and climb to the Eldborg crater. We also have our first hot pot to discover!
When we arrive at Snorrastadir farm holidays (camping spot), we are suddenly surrounded by a herd of Icelandic horses on the road. We stop the car and go to them, they are not afraid at all this is incredible, we take some pictures and we stay for a long time with them. It was at sunset, a very magical moment!
After this we pay our camping night and start setting the tent in a spot sheltered from wind. The plan is to do it fast to then go for a hike to the Eldborg crater and to the hot pot.
This is complicated; we don’t really have instructions so it gets annoying really fast. Two Americans come to help up, and suddenly… the tent’s pole breaks. We don’t panic, we’ll sleep in the car, it is big… no hard feelings. The truth is I am almost relieved by this solution because the wind was really strong!
There is no shared kitchen so we cook outside, but the wind is too strong and our stove keeps on burning out. We move to the pretty big shower area, in a corridor.
After dinner we arrange the car for the night, and decide to postpone our hike and our swim to the following morning!
SNORRASTADIR farm holiday:
GPS POINTS N64° 46′ 23.302″ W22° 18′ 1.906″
May 12, 2017 : Day 3 // West, Snaefellsnes peninsula & the North
We wake up very early and leave for the Eldborg crater hike, our first hike (there will be others!!). The hike is signposted from the campground, from a small bridge. There is a wood sign with “Eldborg” on it.
This is amazing, we are alone in the nature, with a very small path to show the way. The weather is incredible.
We walk for about an hour. Arrived at the top, we have an incredible 360° view on the peninsula and the sun is shinning. We can see the sea, the mountains, lava fields… we see some birds on the way back and hikers. This is a good thing we woke up early, we had the opportunity to enjoy the hike and the view all alone.
Back to the campground, we pack and leave for our first hot spring. This will be the most hazardous hike of the trip. I’ve twisted my ankle a hundred times!
We cross a river twice, we climb on hollows, we try to find the place we saw on an Instagram picture and try to know where to go from articles instructions.
We finally arrive at a similar place. There is a huge pipe from where hot water is coming from, in a basin full of black sans and rocks around. It was not that hot and the wind was terribly cold. Not the best swim of the trip, I was freezing when we got out!!
Then we realized that the basin on the picture was a one a bit further. There were already people in it so we left. You have to accept a fail !
Landbrotalaug: GPS coordinates: lat: 64.832216670 LONG : -22.318500000
Then, as we have a long road to the North to head to Husavik (with several points of interest), we drive in direction of Hvammstangi, a small fishing village, very cute.
We visit a wool factory and its shop, and we drink a tea in a beautiful and design restaurant, Sjavarborg, recommended by the saleswoman of the wool shop.
After this nice stop, we go for food shopping and we call Faircar for the tent. If we want another one, we have to go back to Reykjavik and this is not the plan at all! So we give up, we’ll sleep in the car for the entire trip, no choice!
We head to Akureyri to find a campground.
We found one with a nice sea view located above town. It’s raining a lot when we arrive, we take a hot shower after a not so hot spring! No common kitchen so we cook outside again!!
May 13, 2017 : Day 4 // The North
We wake up in Akureyri, we visit the city a little bit, very cute.
Then we drive to Godafoss Waterfalls. These are among the most beautiful falls I’ve seen during this trip. The landscape is incredible, there is a little bit of snow everywhere on the rocks, near the water (welcome to the North!), this is spectacular!
We stayed for a long time, admiring the landscape, wandering around; it was really great to see the waterfalls with a little bit of snow.
Then, we take the direction of Husavik for our first activity! We are going whales watching! We find an agency with a 3 hours formula on a boat.
The boat is quite big, we are about 20 people on it, and they give us some suits for the cold, in addition with everything they advise us to wear to resist the cold!
Just out of the harbor we see one, a humpback whale!
The view is outstanding. We are in the sea, surrounded by snowy mountains. We follow 5 or 6 whales during the 3 hours with the company Northsaling. We even get really close of one of them; everyone on the boat is so excited! We also see a lot of puffins, the famous Icelandic bird! They swim around in the sea!
On the way back to the harbor, we drink some hot chocolate with cinnamon cakes, delicious to warm up because it’s very cold.
After the wales, we head to Myvatn Nature Bath, to warm up even more and chill after this very difficult day ! This is an alternative to the Blue Lagoon and was on our way during the trip so we figured it would be better to go there! Myvatn Nature Bath are less known so less expensive. The Blue Lagoon is around Reykjavik and Keflavik, so not the best spot for us.
Off season we paid 30-35€ each, and it’s almost the double for the Blue Lagoon.
This is awesome. The sun even comes out from the clouds during the two hours we spend there. The sulfur smell is strong and the water is hot ! There is even a small basin at 42°C, too hot for me!
We have a lot of space, we can swim, chill out and have a drink.
When we get out, we start looking for a campground (we are ahead of our schedule so we need to improvise) and we find one really close, 5 min drive from where we are.
It’s 7pm and still daylight so we decide, on the way to the campground to stop one last time to see the famous Game of Thrones Cave, Grjótagjá. The start of the hike to go there is really close. It’s a mini hike of 2km. Given the light at this hour and the landscape around us, it feels really strange. We walk between grey trees without leaves, it is complete silence except from some crows that craw. Very special!!
There is not enought light inside the Cave to see the incredible blue of the water. It’s smoking and we touch it, it must be 50°C! With the atmosphere it really feels like in GOT.
After this last experience of the day, we head back to the campground. Very pretty and with a common kitchen, great!
May 14, 2017 : DAY 5 // Between Husavik and the West Fjords
We have breakfast in the common kitchen and plan our day. It’s good to have time and a place to go in the morning because usually we just pack up our things and leave.
Our program: Hverir (“Hell’s doors”), Viti crater (old volacano), and Detifoss (yes, more waterfalls!)
But before, we go back to see Grjótagjá Cave in daylight, and we were right! The water color is amazing.
So we drive to Hverir. The landscape change is impressive: natural chimneys smoking, bubbling craters, fawn colored sand and the sulfur smell is almost unbearable.
Paradoxically, it is VERY cold, so we don’t stay for hours!
Next stop,Viti crater. Again really quick, it is not long to get to the top and it’s freezing. The crater is frozen.
And then we drive to Detifoss, impressive waterfalls. Some path are closed because of the bad windy weather. In Iceland, the nature is so impressive it slaps you in the face. There are so many incredible things to see, different landscapes and wildlife it makes you feel so tiny.
Then, in our itinerary we are supposed to stop at Eglisstadir to buy food and spend the night, but we arrive earlier.
The city is very small and there is nothing to do for us for the rest of the day. We find the campground but we don’t feel like sleeping there, it is next to a big road, not so charming.
We decide to stop for a snack & tea in a café and review our itinerary. We’ll go directly to the Western Fjords, it’s decided !
Seyðisfjörður (one of the Fjords), our next stop is an hour away from here so we get back in the car and continue the adventure !
On the road, we see a herd of reindeer, there are like 20 ! We stop to watch them and take some pictures (you stop a lot in Iceland).
It will be longer than planned to get to Seyðisfjörður . Suddenly, it starts snowing and in a few minutes we have no visibility at all we are in a climbing turn and it feels like we are in Narnia. We barely see the yellow posts of the road.
After 30 min in Narnia, everything is back to normal and we reach our destination without any problem !
When people say about Iceland that you can experience the 4 seasons in a day, I could not agree more!
Just before the village we stop to watch a beautiful waterfall.
Once arrived in Seyðisfjörður, we fall in love in the village, with good reasons. What’s not to like ?! Small colorful and arty houses, cool and quiet atmosphere, the most cute church I’ve ever seen and seafront. It’s like a village at the end of the world.
Small change compared to the plan… We look for a guesthouse after 3 nights in the car. We find a really cute one: Nord Marina Guesthouse, at the end of the village! 90€ for the night but this is last minute and we really want a real bed.
we drop our stuffs and go visit the village, wander, take pictures. We think briefly about going to the restaurant but the last couple of days have been expensive! We had to make choices and we did, so we wisely go back to eat our pasta in the shared kitchen of the guesthouse. At least we have Icelandic beers!
May 15, 2017 : DAY 6 // Western Fjords
We get up and go have breakfast in the shared kitchen, waiting for a dense fog to lift in the fjord. A very sunny weather is waiting for us! We take the car and go explore around and the upper part of Seyðisfjörður. We are all alone on the small roads, and we begin a real safari !
We even saw a whale diving in the Fjord!
There are departures for hikes everywhere so as we are early we decide to take 2 hours to try one, the weather is really good.
After this, we leave for another fjord, Mjóafjarðarvegur (route 953), it’s really wild, there is nothing except a beach. We drive a little bit more and discover a village where we eat sandwiches.
Then we take a beautiful road that along the coast and fjords, driving south.
We are heading to Djupivogur (near Framtíð hotel), where we should find a hot tube!
We stop the car, walk a little bit and YES, we find it! A huge bathtube in the middle of nowhere. We can see the sea from here! It’s raining when we arrive but it doesn’t stop us! The water is perfect, about 37-38°. There is so much wind we are worried about our clothes flying away. But not for long, we have better things to do like having a beer!
After this great moment, we go to the Framtíð hotel, in charge of the campground check in. For the first time of the trip we have to pay to take a shower. I maybe think this is because we are in a more touristic place, near the south…
From this moment of the trip, we kept on seeing the same people on all the campgrounds we where going to. Once in the south, the points of interest follow one after another.
May 16, 2017: DAY 7 // South West
Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, here we go!!
This is so awesome: the turquoise sea with icebergs floating and the black sand beach. The place is very touristic, this is the first time of the trip I’ve seen so many bus parked. There are seals swimming around and we even sea reindeer when we park the car.
The glaciers are melting more and more every year, some have blacken over the years, I guess it might be because of the boats taking tourists on the lagoon, even if they may be careful.
Across the road, there is a black sand beach with small icebergs and small pan of ice. We take a walk there for a while. Soon we are alone on the beach. It is so beautiful.
We take the car again and stop at other spots around the glacier lagoon after leaving.
Then we head to Skaftafell National park, where we’ll hike to a new waterfall, Svartifoss. We are tired but it’s worth it, and it’s almost hot, we are now in the south. But still wearing a polar jacket, just no hat and gloves!
The path is beautiful and we have a great view on the sea and the green mountains.
The waterfall has a very particular structure, it is dried lava!!
Back to the car we look for a guesthouse for the night (yes, again!), we have a 6 hours hike the next day and we are getting tired.
We find one in a nice spot, closer to where we want to go the next day before the hike (Vik, black sand beaches) it’s perfect !
When we arrive at the guesthouse, we are told that a beautiful lake is at 15 min climbing from where we are. It’s almost sunset, we are exhausted but we go with some beers! And it’s worth the hike!
We cook outside in the sun, in front of our room and prepare sandwiches for our hike. We will leave from Skogafoss, the well known waterfall to Thorsmork. But we’ll have to stop at some point to go back to the car.
May 17, 2017 : DAY 8 // Vik black sand beach & Skogafoss hike
We slept well, we are ready for this day! We head to the black sand beaches and stop several times. The first one is Reynisdrangar, Vik’s beach.
The weather is terrible, we hope we are a bit concerned about our following program.
Fortunately, the weather changes when we arrive at Skogar, it is sunny and almost hot. We leave the car and climb via the path next to Skogafoss, our hike departure. We’ll see about 20 different waterfalls during this hike and walk between two glacier, where we will turn around and retrace our steps to the car. Due to the season, it was too complicated to go to Thorsmork.
Wonderful landscapes during this hike, no word to describe… and the arrival between the two glacier is impressive.
We saw green lanscapes, waterfalls, rivers, snow, ice.
At the top several signs “danger crevasse”. We are alone.
There were some difficult steps, a lot of mud, but everything went well ! Usually most of people do it in summer with a good weather, but we were lucky the weather was good ! In May the nature is so green it is beautiful! It took us about 6 hours as planned.
After this, we drive to the departure for Seljavallalaug pool, a well known geothermal pool in the south, spotted on Instagram. You have to walk 10-15 minutes to reach it.
And… surprise, it is full of people! Looks like it is very popular. There are even changing rooms (very dirty I have to say, only time I can say this is in Iceland…). The water is green this is surprising but normal !
Then, we go to our camping spot between two well-known waterfalls: gljufrabui& seljalandsfoss. We find a spot for the car and then pay a 3 min (not more, no kidding) shower 300ISK !
The common area of the camping is nice, and there is a kitchen with everything we need so no need to use our stove. We have dinner and prepare our picnic basket for our day in Vestmann Island!
- May 18, 2017: DAY 9 // 2 waterfall and Vestmann Island
We get up, have breakfast in the nice common area and get ready. The weather is sunny and we walk a little bit from the campground to see both waterfall, they are close to each other.
The first one, Gljufrabui, we have to climb a little bit to see better. It’s really nice.
The second one, seljalandsfoss is amazing, you can go behind but not without being soaking wet ! The view is totally worth it!
Then we take the car to Landeyjahöfn where we’ll take the ferryboat to Vestmannaeyjar (Icelandic). We looked on this website. We leave the car, we don’t need it on the island. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the island by boat. We look for whales and killer whales but without any luck.
Honestly, everything was magical during this trip but I had a real crush for Vestmann Islands. This is to me one of the most beautiful place on earth.
The arrival is outstanding, the red soil, the blue sea, the green nature… And it’s like they don’t have the same weather there, it’s hot! Like at least 15°C! First and only time we’ll wear only T-shirts.
Once we are out of the boat, we directly start the hike to Eldfell Volcano (about 2h30 round trip). We cross the little city and start the climbing. We stop to have a pic-nic with an amazing view.
The hike is not long but you have to walk in small volcanic rocks so you cannot go very fast, like in the sand.
At the top, you have a 360°C view on the moutains, the sea, the lava flow, the archipelago. The soil is smoking and the colors are intense! The Eldfell is the youngest volcano in the world!
Below some pictures but they don’t do any justice to the view…
After the hike we wander near the sea, explore the island and go back to the village and the harbor. A little stop at Bonus our favorite grocery store to buy a cake for our last camping night!
On the way back, on the boat, we are so amazed about everything we saw.
We take the car and head to a new hot tube we spotted a few hours ago.
We stop a lot on the road, so many incredible landscapes to capture, sheeps, horses.
It was pretty difficult to find the hot tube, we walked for a long time before taking the car again and finding the parking (there was a sign for it in the village we stopped the car to early at first). We were following the GPS coordinates and a sign was there waiting for us… nervermind!
It’s called “Hruni”. We arrive just for the sunset, magical…
Then we hit the road again and arrive at 11pm at the campground. Very nice spot ! Find more about it in my article here.
May 19, 2017 : DAY 10// Reykjadalur, Þingvellir National Park & Ion Adventure hotel
We leave the campground around 9am to start with a 7km hike to Reykjadalur! It takes us about an hour to get there, the famous “smokey valley”. The landscape is wonferful, green and brown.
Reykjadalur is located near to the town of Hveragerði.
Once again, the weather is very sunny, this is a perfect day to have swim in a hot river! For the first time of the trip, it was very easy to change to our bathing suits !
There is a wooden path all around the river, with places to chill. This is incredible, the whole river is 37-38°, and there is room for everyone!
Then we head with the car to Thingvellir and wander. We go till silfra fissure, we raised the possibility of diving at the beginning of the trip but the cost is 163€ per person and at the end of the trip, a bit complicated givent the fact we were heading to a luxury hotel for the night!
Once last visit, Kerið crater which is part of the golden circle.
At the end of the afternoon, we decide to go discover Ion Adventure Hotel (Nesjavellir), to make the most of it and enjoy the short stay ! For more details go to the article on my experience there!
May 20, 2017 : DAY 11 // Ion, pool & lava spa
We enjoy our last morning. Once again, the weather is sunny and this is perfect.
We have a breakfast/ brunch before leaving, everything is delicious ! Then with regret we head to the airport.
This parenthesis was a perfect end to an amazing trip full of emotions and discoveries ….
“Capturing the true essence of place is what travelling is all about, it’s what Iceland is all about” Sverrisdottir