If you are looking for a “5* hotel – comfy mattress – drinking cocktails in posh bars” type of holidays, you can stop reading now 🙂
Duration: 11 days. June 2016. Rented a car and travelled clockwise around the island.
- We decided to camp. No, I wasn’t forced, we both love camping. And when I say love, it’s not an understatement, you HAVE TO love camping to camp there as the nights are SO COLD. Like, freezing cold. You have to wear ALL your clothes as a pyjama. Bring really warm sleeping bags. We also had super warm winter jackets (but, during the night, nothing was enough to keep you warm).
- For cooking, a small camping fire stove, a unique simple pot to cook pasta. With tuna (hum . sometimes. Until we finished the stock of cans). We didn’t want to bother with shopping because 1. we found the cities really grim (the game was to try and avoid them as much as possible) and 2. the food is not great (on top of being ridiculously expensive). Not kidding:
- Campings in cities are as grim as the cities themselves. So find a spot somewhere in the middle of nowhere, near a river so you have water for your pasta. Make sure it is so remote that you don’t bother anyone, and take your garbage with you when you leave. “Shower” in the river (coming straight from the glaciers) – water in campsites is cold anyway most of the time, so at least you have the scenery and the peace.
- Oh and, last but not least, the days are really long. We had ~3 hours of dark (hum..grey-dark) per night. So plan a card game, some books. And dont forget to bring a sleeping mask.
- Also, a cable to link your Spotify to the car music system is a nice to have!
- And go with someone you REALLY get on with. Because between the cold, the short nights, the long drives, the freezing showers and the rustic wild camping, there are thousands of reasons to cry! But yes, we LOVED our trip.
- We landed late and picked up the car from the airport at midnight.
- We aimed to drive to Borgarnes but we didn’t make it. Too tired, we stopped the car and slept on the border of the road for a few hours.
Day 2 – A bit of Snæfellsnes Peninsula
- Grundarfjörður, driving around to admire the scenery (this is how you will spend 95% of your time in Iceland!)
- Kirkjufell (we didn’t climb it, we saw it from the distance)
- Night in Stykkishólmur in a quiet camping managed by the gold course (no, you don’t put your tent in the middle of the gold course)
Day 3 – Long drive to Akureyri, through the horses country
- It might sound boring, but I promise it is NOT – you drive on the N1, no one around, you watch the countryside, stop to admire the waterfalls on the way, take pictures..
- Waterfall of Kolugljúfur (it was once home to a beautiful trolless).
- Pass Öxnadalur and Hraundrangi
- We wanted to watch the Iceland – France Euro 2016 game so we stopped in Akureyri for the night, watched the game, ate burgers and drank beers.
Day 4 – Discover beautiful Mývatn
- Goðafoss waterfall
- Grjótagjá (where John Snow did hum-hum with Ygritte)
- Hverfjall volcano
- Hverir laval fields (piping fumaroles smelling old egg)
- Relaxing soak at Myvatn Nature Baths (instead of super touristic Blue Lagoon)
Day 5 – Drive in Jökulsárgljúfur National Park
- From Mývatn (where you would have stopped to camp somewhere), drive to Dettifoss waterfall. You will need to drive away from the Ring road for a few kilometers but it is worth it!
- North of Dettifoss, we went to Jokulsargljufur and this was simply amazing. I wish we could have stayed in this area longer (you have some amazing multi-days walks to do if you have time)
- Start of the drive to reach the East fjords. R901 we needed a break and stopped to camp in Möðrudalur. This is how the village of Möðrudalurlooks like: You can camp in their “campsite” , ie a field with goats and nothing else around you. Magical (and a bit weird, but mainly magical).
Day 6 – Drive to Borgarfjörður Eystri
- Reach Borgarfjörður Eystri
- Go and see the puffins in Hafnarhólmi
- Reach Seyðisfjörður and stopped for a drink or 3 ! This is the liveliest, cutest and friendliest “village” we went to in Iceland (as mentioned previously, we avoided cities so it was like being back to the human world).
- Not for long as we didn’t like the sight of the camping. So we found a beautiful spot in Seydisfjordur peninsula:
Day 7 – Fjords road (the Eastfjords)
- Follow the Ring road and pass by spectacular cliffs and cascading waterfalls. Stop and enjoy!
- Camping near Jökulsárlón – and we spent the evening looking at the ever-changing sculptures of the lagoon. Magical.
Day 8 – Glacier hike at Skaftafell
The south of the island is more touristic and the scenery is not as wild as in the North but we enjoyed the glaciers and it was still possible to find some places without tourists (for example in Pakgil)
- We had organised (that’s a lie – we went to the Icelandic Mountain guides that morning hoping that they would take us) for a glacier walk on Skaftafellsjökull. I really recommend doing it, I found it so cool:
- Drove to Vik and see the black sand beach at Reynisdrangar
- Drove to Maelifell. The campsite at Pakgil is idyllic, “a green bowl among stark mountains”. It is better to have a 4X4 to reach the campsite (we didn’t and I almost die of stress).
Day 9 – We loved this place so much that we stayed forever, end of the story. (I wish)
- We decided to stay there for another night and walked to Mýrdalsjökull glacier. 18km walk through snow, iced waterfalls, and once you reach the glacier.. It is breathtaking. Don’t ask me for the exact path to get there, it was covered by snow so we just went TO it instead of trying to follow directions…
Day 10 – Last drive to Reykjavik
- Skogafoss gigantic waterfall
- Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrafoss waterfalls
- If you have time and energy, you can drive through the Golden Circle – we wanted to have some time in Reykjavik before taking the plane so we didn’t but I wish we had one more day to do it !
- Evening in Reykjavik. We stayed in Reykjavik campsite – huge campsite with all amenities. Walked in old Reykjavik and spent the evening in a cosy pub.