Good bye- Bless
Thank you- Pakka per fyrir
Currency- Icelandic Krona
Reykjavik- (March 2016) We flew into Reykjavik from Boston- we did 7 days and drove the whole ring road- the ring road is the main road, route 1, that runs along the entire country- Iceland is like another world! The smell of the volcanic steam, the vastness due to lack of trees, the weather is wild and in one day you see sun, rain, rainbows, wind and snow while also seeing boulders in the road and wild horses- it is truly a magical place. Our plan was a 7 full day drive around the ring road with an extra day at the beginning and end for travel. Joe had just broken his foot two weeks before we were gonna leave so we had to adapt fast. Travel blogs are key! you can even travel blog how to travel with a broken foot. Joe was a trooper and I had to do everything which made me appreciate all that Joe does.
Rent a car- You can book day excursions which in the end will be your most expensive route or you can rent a car. We chose to rent a car. We used SADcars to rent an old Subaru Outback- this company keeps their cost down by renting out older cars. Ours was great but for sure old! I saw that they add studded tires on by request and being March in Iceland it was a good thing I saw that and asked for it. Iceland is no joke when it comes to Mother Nature and weather. They tell you when renting a car to be careful when opening your door that the wind does not rip it off haha! We did not get any extra insurance coverage but the weather is wild. Also gas is interesting. You need to know much gas you want to put in and need a PIN number for your credit card. Or you can buy gas cards. It was confusing and getting our car at 6am and it not full with gas we were tired and confused while pumping and trying to convert into liters. But this is what makes traveling exciting. I am gonna add this travel blog to give you info on car rental and gas stations. https://www.twowanderingsoles.com/blog/ultimate-guide-to-renting-a-car-in-iceland
Places to stay – We used https://www.booking.com/ for booking all our hostels, hotels and guesthouses in Iceland. Back in 2016 there were not a lot of options but looks like there is more now. I recommend booking rooms in advance as some areas you go have limited options. Joe had broke his foot right before we left and from a travel blog we learnt to let all our places know and they put us on the ground floor. You can also rent a camper van which we would have done if it was not March. We did bring our own sleeping bag cause the hostels we booked charged for sheets and blankets.
Vik, Iceland- (March 2016) from Reykjavik we head south going towards Vik on the ring road. Download a map of Iceland on MapsMe- you can use this offline if you do not chose to get an Iceland Sim card. They do not have signs for the waterfalls or any really tourist signs but all waterfalls are right off the road you cant miss them. I loved how the feel of Iceland was so quiet and it didnt look touristy. They didn’t build big hotels for tourist or put up signs everywhere for tourist destinations. I love countries like that. First waterfall stop was Seljalandsfoss- then Skogafoss- then to the town of Vik. We checked into our guesthouse and then went and explored Reynisfjara Beach. This beach was so cool. The onyx black sand, the smooth black stones and the basalt columns- wow! This beach however is dangerous so you don’t want to get to close to the water for the waves can knock you down and sweep you out to sea. When we went the waves were the most powerful and loud i have ever experienced an ocean to feel like. We walked along the beach at the back and was wowed by mother nature. We chose a guesthouse we could stay at that was only 20 mins away so could come back to the beach for sunrise the next morning. We were so exhausted we pasted the guesthouse and went almost 30 miles till we were like wait have we been driving a while? haha so exhausted! and too tired to be mad just happy when we finally made it back and could finally lay flat and sleep!!!! Also we were in the middle of nowhere so the stars were incredible from our window but we were too tired to stay up and look for northern lights.
Jokulsarlon- From Reynisfjara beach we headed to Jokulsarlon for an ice cave tour excursion. I booked for 1pm so that gave us time to drive slow and eat and try to pronounce street signs- that Icelandic language is challenging but beautiful. They say bless when saying bye- i love that! The tales of Trolls are big in Iceland. Looking at the landscape you for sure see why. They are also famous for their hot dogs- Iceland hotdogs are mostly made of lamb meat- they have lots of free roaming sheep. It comes with crispy onions, mustard, raw onion, ketchup and remoulade.
Jokulsarlon– we booked an ice cave excursion here- sadly I had to cancel Joe ahead of time because it clearly states you must be able to walk with 2 feet on the ground to join this tour. I can not remember what company i booked with but looks like there are a lot of great ones to choose from. It about 3 hours and around $150 per person. It is beyond worth it! one of the coolest experiences. There are lots of other tours around this area. You can do a Glacier hike, Zodiac boat lagoon tour, and much more.
Glacier Lagoon & Diamond Beach– After the ice cave we explored Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and across the road is Diamond Beach. We got to see lots of seals in this area and could walk around and explore a lot. I really loved the south section of Iceland a lot and if you dont have time to do the whole ring road i would recommend the golden circle (most popular destination in Iceland) and exploring the south staying in Vik and Jokulsarlon- this recommendation is for winter though- cause all the ice against the black sand is so gorgeous and i dont know the feel of this area in the summer.
We stayed the night around Jokulsarlon and the next morning had a wild drive through the Eastern Fjords. Cause it was winter we had to stay on the Ring Road- we tried taking a short cut and the road was closed. The weather is no joke and the landscape gorgeous. We saw like 20 waterfalls along the side of the road one going under the road and back out to the ocean. The roads were white knuckle driving- boulders fallen onto the road- no guard rails on the side. We thought we were gonna die a couple times but it was also so gorgeous! This was the day we saw blue skies, then rain, then wind, then a rainbow, then snow then blue skies again all in a couple hours! It was a long drive and we were very happy we had studded tires.
Hverarond- After we got past the Eastern Fjords we stopped at Hverarond- a geothermal area. This area has a strong sulfur smell and there are boiling pools and boiling mud pools everywhere! In case you forgot how active Iceland is you will remember here- most of the Iceland is run off Geothermal energy. After Hverarond we stopped at Godafoss Waterfall.
check out Grjotagja Cave, Lake Myvatn & Myvatan Natural Bath- the blue lagoon of the north- if you have time- our road closed detour used up our extra time for stops here but you will drive right by Lake Myvatn on your way to Akureyri.
Akureyri- this town has heart shapes for their red lights. They have slow down speed limit signs that give you a sad face if you are going too fast. They have a ski mountain and whale watching. This town is the second biggest town after Reykjavik in Iceland and where we saw northern lights every night. We went back to Godafoss Waterfall after a day of exploring the town of Akureyri. There we thought we could see some great northern lights at night and we were not wrong! that feeling of seeing northern lights is such a giddy child like feeling. You can see northern lights in the summer as well. Just remember they have less darkness in the summer and less light in the winter. You are looking for a clear night and those cold winter nights are so clear and get dark earlier which means much time for northern light hunting.
From Akureyri our plan was to head back towards Reykavik and do the golden circle. The golden circle is usually what most tourist do if they dont have time or dont want to rent a car. It is a very popular day trip. Highlights include Thingvellir National Park- where you can see tectonic plates slowly splitting apart and can even snorkel here. Geysers at Haukadalur- the two famous geysers here are Geysir and Strokkur. Gullfoss Waterfall- which means gold waterfall. When the sun hits it just right you can see where the name came from. Kerio Crater Lake- hiking down to the bottom only take 5 mins and is well worth the stop. On this trip for us however mother nature decided we needed to meet an amazing german couple and be stuck with them at a gas station between Akureyri and Reykavik- the road was closed to due weather and there was not other road but the ring road. We spent the night with them at a local place in the middle of nowhere. Luckily the road opened the next morning and although we were not able to do the golden circle we still had time for the blue lagoon and to explore Reykavik. The Blue Lagoon does get busy but its such an experience- and if you do it at night your might even get to see northern lights while soaking. The blue lagoon does not have a sulfur smell, does have a swim up bar and you can apply this incredible mud to your face and body. I think the crowds and price was worth it. https://www.bluelagoon.com/day-visit/the-blue-lagoon