Hi fellow travelers!
In our previous post, we wrote about how to get to Iceland, how to move around and what to put in your luggage. Now it’s time to tell you about the details of the itinerary we followed. If you are organizing a roadtrip to Iceland, this is the most interesting and most delicate part of your planning at the same time. When we prepared our itinerary, we knew we wanted to follow the Hringvegur (also known as Route 1) as a base start (Sigur Rós inspired us), and then travel around the island. We also knew that, due to our time and budget constraints, we could not stay in Iceland for 2 full weeks, so we would not be able to visit every single bit of Iceland. We did our research, and we cut out our itinerary the Highlands (the central part of the island) and, unfortunately, also the western fjords, the twisted coastline that you can see on the north-west of the country. In fact, although fascinating, these are also the areas where it is more difficult to move around. Also, as we needed to leave something out, we now have an excuse to go back to Iceland again!
We calculated that 11 days were enough to drive around the island, seeing everything we wanted to see and spoil ourselves with some (not so) guilty pleasures, such as hot springs and curious food tasting. With regards to the accomodations, we planned to sleep in a different town every night, in order to make the most out of our time. We excluded the camping option because of the unpredictable and cold weather and for all the material needed (that would take lots of space!). Therefore we choose guesthouses and AirBnB accomodations, and most of the times we shared 4-beds rooms with our two friends. Sometimes we were luckier and got bigger apartments. We will try to share as much as possible the details about where we slept, but of course we encourage you to choose on the basis of your preferences and budget. The only thing we recommend (again!) is to book your accomodations months in advance, especially if you are traveling during the summer. And, if you are camping, do it only on authorized sites.
We drove clockwise, mainly because we had read that it is suggested to travel North first, for August roadtrips, as daylight hours tend to reduce as days go by.
So… here is what we did, day by day.
Day 1: Reykjavík. On our first day in Iceland, we arrived in the capital and visited it with no rush. It is a small city and everything is within a short walking distance. You will surely enjoy the view from Hallgrímskirkja, the colorful Laugavegur (the main street), the kaleidoscopic interiors of the ultra-modern Harpa theatre, and the adventurous atmosphere evocated by the Sun Voyager, which is basically the modern sculpture of a viking boat. You can also enjoy the nightlife of the city, eat an hot dog at the famous Bæjarins Beztu kiosk, near the harbor, visit the curious Phallological Museum or enjoy a beer at Reykjavík’s oldest pub, the Prikid.
We booked a flat on AirBnb for our first night in Reykjavík, and would recommend you to do the same. You will have a vast choice of apartments and will be able to find a suitable accomodation. The apartment that we chose was close to the fascinating Tjörning lake and the bus station where buses to and from Keflavík airport arrive.
Day 2: Snæfellsnes, Ólafsvík. On day 2, we got our Dacia Duster and properly started our trip! As we got the car, we were all very excited because it represented the real kick-off of our adventure. As we had decided to spend two days on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, we started driving North and visited Arnastrapi, Hellnar, Djupalon and the national park of Snæfellsjökull, before heading to Ólafsvík, where we spent the night.
Ólafsvík is a fishing town of about 1,000 inhabitants, with a modern, geometric church, a football ground, and a little waterfall. We had dinner and slept at the Við Hafið Guesthouse, which we would recommend as everything was clean and new.
Day 3: Snæfellsnes, Stykkishólmur. Our tour of the Snæfellsnes peninsula continued on day 3. The highlight of the day was certainly our visit to Kirkjufellsfoss, a small waterfall near an iconic pointy mountain. In the afternoon, we visited the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum, where we learned about shark fishing and also tasted the famous kæstur hákarl (treated shark), a national dish that consists of a sleeper shark which has been cured with a particular fermentation process and hung to dry for four to five months. We warn you: it smells of ammonia and the taste is very… weird. It can be tasted with bread or with the local distilled beverage, Brennivín. You will be given a very tiny bite, but, despite the taste, it’s worth trying it because it’s an authentic Icelandic experience!
In Stykkishólmur, another small town with a lovely harbor, we slept at the Harbour Hostel, which is characterized by a particularly vintage style.
Day 4: Hvítserkur, Blönduós. On day 4 we started driving North, towards the Vatnsnes peninsula. Here, we visited Hvítserkur, a 15m basalt stack that looks like a troll that emerges from the sea. The black sand beach that you will walk on to reach it is very photogenic 😀
We slept in Blönduós, booked an apartment at Kiljan Guesthouse. The apartment was big and good value for money. We were positively surprised.
Day 5: Akureyri, Myvatn. On day 5 we did a quick stop-over in Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city, and then started driving towards the Myvatn region, an amazing (can we say it again? amazing) place where you can find all the most beautiful things that Icelandic nature can offer. We could also visit Grjótagjá, a tiny lava cave with a thermal spring inside, which became famous as the location for Jon Snow and Ygritte’s first romantic encounter in Game of Thrones’ third season.
In the evening, we enjoyed the thermal baths of Myvatn hot springs, a less expensive and less touristic version of the Blue Lagoon that we definitely recommend. We slept at Vogahraun Guesthouse, which has cozy common areas.
Day 6: Myvatn, Egilsstaðir. Hverfjall (also known as Hverfell) breathtaking tephra cone, Dimmuborgir lava field and Hverir geothermal mud pools were the highlights of the morning on our Day 6, while in the afternoon we headed back on the Route 1 to drive to Egilsstaðir. Before getting to this small town, we also had the occasion to visit the spectacular Goðafoss waterfall.
In Egilsstaðir we spent the night in the spacious Sámur Bóndi Apartment.
Our road trip goes on… Stay tuned for the second part of the itinerary!
And go Eat the Road! 😉