Road Trip Iceland
Kimberly Lagaisse & Bjorn De Winter
May 5th 2018 – May 13th 2018
Last year in September, we went on a road trip to Canada. It was a wonderful trip where we have seen a lot of animals. The last animal we had seen there was the puffin. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in wildlife but in the zoo in Montreal. We decided to look for the puffins in wildlife and which country is better to look for them than the land of fire and ice, Iceland. We planned a 7-day trip and made a bucket list we wanted to do in this inspiring country. We decided that the best way to discover as much as possible would be by travelling with a camper van and we rented one for two at Rent.is.
Spot Puffins (+ as much as other animals that you can see in Iceland)
Our first goal was to see the beautiful and most precious bird in Iceland, the puffin. Also called the ‘provost’ according to an article on ‘What’s on’ after the senior church officials (since the puffins have a black coat and pompous-looking walk). On the fifth day of our trip, we arrived at the Vík í Mýrdal which is the southernmost village in Iceland. We did a very nice, a little bit windy hike to the top of the sea cliffs in the evening. Apparently, the best time to see the puffins are in the evening and between April and August, because they are out on the sea during the day and they only return to their holes at land to breed. On top of the cliffs, we were able to see the puffins! Woohoo! There were a lot of them flying around. One puffin was very close and didn’t mind posing in front of the camera.
Wild reindeer, seals, horses, sheep’s and little lambs were other animals we were able to spot during our trip. There was even a cat who wanted to join us during our trip ?.
Drive the Golden Circle.
Since the Golden Circle is one of the main things you need to do when you visit Iceland for the first time, we couldn’t miss this. We drove the Golden Circle in one day and discovered the main items and some hidden gems. Our first stop was the Kerið crater, a colorful volcanic crater lake. The church in Skálholt and the Faxifoss waterfall were our next stops. We stopped at Friðheimar to have a good and fresh tomato soup, it was delicious. Next items on our plan of the day were Gullfoss and Geysir. The waterfalls of Gullfoss were very impressive and we looked repeatedly to the fascinating eruption of the Strokkur.
We went for a burger and homemade ice-cream to Efsti-dalur II, a farm located on the Golden Circle. It was a very cosy place with good local food. With new energy, we started the muddy hike to the Brúarfoss Waterfall. This waterfall is one of the most beautiful once we have seen in Iceland, it differs from the others with the clear blue water. Next stop: one of the four national parks in Iceland, the national park of Þingvellir. We explored there the Öxarárfoss waterfall, the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, the Þingvallavatn (largest natural lake in Iceland) and the Silfra fissure. We finished the day with some relaxing at the Icelandic Spa Laugarvatn Fontana.
Enjoy the hot tubs and nature baths in Iceland.
We definitely enjoyed the hot tubs and nature baths in Iceland. We explored 4 of the many that you can find in Iceland. First off all we visited the Mývatn Nature Baths, where we had a swim in the geothermal blue water that contains a unique blend of minerals, silicates and geothermal micro-organisms which benefits the skin. It also offers you a great view on the Mývatn lake while bathing. We also discovered the geothermal hot tubes in Hoffell, you can find here 5 separate hot tubes with different temperatures that all have a great view on the mountains.
The third swimming pool that we visited was the pool of Seljavallalaug. The water wasn’t that warm in this pool, but it was so epic because it is located in a valley with a beautiful view and is one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland. Apparently, it is filled with hot spring water from the Eyjafjallajökull. The last spa that we visited was the one located at the Golden Circle, the Laugarvatn Fontana. A very clean and good spa that wasn’t crowded, which is ideal to have a quiet and relaxing evening after a busy day.
Discover local food and beverage.
It is always nice to discover the local food and beverage when you are visiting a new country. We absolutely didn’t want to miss this during our trip to Iceland. On different places during our journey we were able to try the soup of the day with the fresh homemade bread. We can say all the homemade bread we have eaten was so delicious, but the one in ‘Systrakaffi’ in Kirkjubæjarklaustur was excellent! The best soup we have eaten was the fresh fish soup in the Fjöruhúsið in Hellnar, the soup was excellent.
At the Brauð & Co. in Reykjavík we had some delightful cinnamon roll with caramel and granola, it came right out the oven which made it even better. The Hjónabandssæla, the traditional Icelandic happy marriage cake or also rhubarb tart was another item we definitely needed to try. We have eaten it at the Við Voginn in Djúpivogur. We tried the local meat and fish at the Efsti-dalur II on the golden circle and Íslenski barinn in Reykjavik. The last item we absolutely wanted to try was the hot-dog in Reykjavik, we tried one at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur and they really were delicious. Do you know that even Bill Clinton has eaten a hot-dog there?
See as many waterfalls as possible.
There is no better place to go chasing waterfalls as there are so many spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. We were able to see many small waterfalls when driving through the country and visited the following waterfalls:
|o Bæjarfoss||o Dettifoss||o Goðafoss|
|o Brúarfoss||o Kirkjufellfoss||o Seljalandsfoss|
|o Faxafoss||o Selfoss||o Öxarárfoss|
|o Gullfoss||o Skógafoss||o Svartifoss|
Explore Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
During our trip we explored a part of Snæfellsnes on our first day. We were immediately in love with Iceland when we saw this magical peninsula. It is located in the west of Iceland and has many amazing sights and picturesque places. Snæfellsnes is sometimes called ‘Iceland in miniature’ because of the diversity, you can find there most of the national sights. It has a volcano, glacier, lava fields, waterfalls, beautiful beaches, a coastline with uniquely formed basalt cliffs, Icelandic horses and small fisher villages.
We’ve visited the fisher villages Arnarstapi, Hellnar, Grundarfjörður, Ólafsvík and Stykkishólmur. In Arnarstapi, you can find the big stone structure of Bárður Snæfellsás who was half-human and half-troll and is a legendary icon in my Icelandic Sagas. Grundarfjörður has one of the most famous and beautiful mountains in Iceland: the Kirkjufell Mountain. The mount Kirkjufell and the Kirkjufellsfoss have become a prominent stop for pictures, we definitely couldn’t miss this view. during our road trip. (please refer to a picture of the mountain and waterfall in ‘See as many waterfalls as possible’).
Take a walk on one of the many black beaches.
Reynisfjara: the black-sand beach in the south of Iceland we absolutely wanted to visit during our trip in Iceland. This volcanic beach with view on the Reynisdrangar basalt sea cliff and the Arch of Dýrhólaey; is a unique place to visit. And I must say it was amazing. On this beach, you can find a basalt columned wall with the naturally formed Hálsanefshellir cave within this wall. This black sand is definitely worth a visit.
Discover the glacier lagoons.
On our way from Höfn to Vík í Mýrdal, we visited two glacier lagoons: Jökulsárlón and Fjallsárlón. The glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón, filled with broken icebergs, is one of Iceland’s national jewels. It is a paradise for photographers and in that way also the ideal location for your wedding pictures. As a huge fan of the James Bond movies, this place was even more special. Jökulsárlón was used as film location in two James Bond movies: ‘Die Another Day’ and ‘A View to Kill’.
Explore some unique hiking trials.
‘In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks’ – John Muir.
We discovered the magical beauty of Iceland multiple times during the several hikes we did in this country. Hallormsstaður National Forest, Grjótagjá, Hverfjall, Hverir, Brúarfoss Waterfall, Reynisfjall cliffs were some natural wonders we explored by hiking. One of our favorite hikes during the trip was the one from Arnarstapi to Hellnar. It is a short hike along the beautiful coastline, that is shaped by lava flows.
Take a picture on top of the wrecked airplane in Sólheimasandur.
Somewhere between Dýrhólaey and the Skógafoss Waterfall, you can find the famous desolated plane wreck on the black sand beach of Sólheimasandur. It is a walk of around 45 minutes to have a glimpse of the crashed plane but is definitely worth it. We were able to take some picture on top of the plan. However not with a skateboard as Justin Bieber did in his video clip of his song ‘I’ll show you’.
Find what’s on in the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state.
There are many things to do in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. We were in Reykjavik for one day and we’ve visited the famous Hallgrímskirkja, discovered Sólfarið, explored Harpa, tried some local dishes and strolled along the streets with beautiful colored houses.
See the Aurora Borealis.
Unfortunately, we were not able to see the Aurora Borealis during our trip. But because we couldn’t check this off from our bucket list, we have a good reason to come back to Iceland and discover the other parts of this wonderful country.
Tot weerziens! Sjáumst síðar!
‘Travel. It’s good for your heart.’
Read more: Around Iceland with Dani & Emily
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