12 days & a whole island to explore

Oh Iceland. A destination on the bucket list for way too long already.

I am Isabella from Austria, Dirk is from the Netherlands and the last winter we spent together in the Austrian alps. While thinking about traveling, making plans, checking flights to different destinations – at one point we stumbled unexpectedly over pretty cheap flights from Amsterdam to Reykjavik. So we just decided to go ahead, book the flights, rent a camper and explore the island on a little home on wheels.

Our excitement grew from one day to another and at some point it was finally time to pack, take the car to the Netherlands and start our trip to that pretty island in the North Atlantic.

1st day: 4th May

Curious and with excitement we boarded a plane from WOWair in Amsterdam, flew north-west and 3 hours and a 2 hour time difference later we arrived in Reykjavik at 8 pm. After the first few peeks out of the airplane window I was relieved that we packed with the mindset “layers are your friend “. On that day Iceland really did its name a favor – it was freezing cold and snowing. For a second we regret not bringing our snowboard gear 😉 . After we collected our baggage, we got picked up by the Rent.is team right away and brought to their camper rental place (where they had free coffee – heaven!!!). The staff was super friendly and we got our camper at around 10 pm. We were so stoked about all the cool gadgets and equipment we had. I mean we knew what we booked but our minds were blown. We took off and spent the first night on a campground close to KEF.

Living in a camper van in Iceland

2nd day: 5th May

First thing to say (it’s the beginning of May) – Man, does it ever get dark? And why did I bring a headlamp? Good for us though, longer days mean more time to explore and discover. On top of our list of the day was getting groceries. We got all the necessary things to survive and were pretty shocked, when we saw out total at the cash point. Yes – we knew Iceland is expensive. But not like that thought?! The Bónus super market really became our friend throughout our trip!

The rest of the day we spent in Reykjavik. We were just strolling around in the city, checking out the little boutiques, bars and of course all the sights. Now that we will not be able to see the Northern Lights, we also decided to at least go to Aurora Museum Reykjavik. To be honest, it really motivated us to come back one more time in winter, to see this amazing natural phenomenon! We spent the night on the campground Reykjavik.

The Sun Voyager sculpture in Reykjavik Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik

3rd day: 6th May

Plan of the day: Golden Circle

Weather: Rain, snow & wind (COLD!!)

We left Reykjavik pretty early – first stop was Þingvellir national park. After we wandered around for a bit in the area we headed to Brúarfoss. The waterfall is a (so said) hidden gem of Iceland and a 3 km trail led us to it. Also the sun decided to show her face and we really had a good time and nice weather while hiking. Keeping our fingers crossed on the way to the parking lot apparently helped! The water itself was crystal blue in some parts, it reminded me of the Caribbean. But wow, this trail was suuuuper muddy – and I swear, afterwards we looked like we took a bath in the mud.

Nevertheless, the hike and the views we got to see were totally worth it. After we enjoyed the time alone at the waterfall, it took us some time to get used to the mass of tourists we shared the views of our next stops with: Geysir, Gullfoss, Faxi waterfall and Kerið. We wrapped it up with Urriðafoss. We were just heading to the campground for the night when suddenly the clutch disappeared under my foot. Something was wrong with the car and I was so close to a panic attack! We called the car rental office right away and they talked us through a „what to do – how to fix” on the phone. Within 5 minutes we were back on the road, thanks to their great service.

Öxará - Þingvellir Brúarfoss waterfall

4th day: 7th May

We’re headed south!

First stop: Seljalandsfoss

How many waterfalls do you guys even have? Is there a number? Do they just get more? Do they appear out of nowhere?

Focus – and now imagine: swimming in a pool in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by snowy mountains, heated just by nature.  That’s actually what we did at Seljavellir. A pool that was built by a local youth club in the 1920s. The views were stunning and the atmosphere was just amazing. We got there early and so were the only people – yay!

On today’s itinerary were also Skógafoss, Dýrhólaey, Reynisfjara Beach and Vik. Surrounded by glacier tongues from the impressive Vatnajökull glacier we closed our eyes in our cozy, warm camper at the Skaftafell campground.

The Waterfall Skógafoss

5th day: 8th May

The early bird catches the worm!

We got up at 7 and hiked to Svartifoss, and again we managed to be there before all the other people. In the morning everything is still so calm, in my opinion you can’t start your day in a better way, than with a hike to one of Iceland’s stunning waterfalls. The actual reason for the early action was a glacier hike on the Svinafellsjökull glacier tongue we booked for 10 am. Crampons and an ice axe.  We got all our gear at the “Icelandic Mountain Guides” company’s office and headed to the glacier tongue, where we spent 2 hours learning about the glacier, the way it is moving and what global warming does to it. Every day, Svinafellsjökull loses 15-17 cm of ice. Now calculate that through and add it up.. Massive amounts that are melting, which is just mind blowing and so sad at the same time. I have to say – I’d recommend the hike 100%.

The further road took us to the glacier lagoon and to diamond beach. Both places just left us speechless. I mean, normally people go and collect shells on the beach, this time the huge, blue bricks of glacier ice totally had our focus! After a pretty long drive and a pasta-pesto-dinner we stayed at the Reyðarfjörður campground.

Hiking on Svinafellsjökull On the Crystal beach

6th day: 9th May

We stared our day pretty “late“. At 10 am we left the campground, fueled up and headed in the direction of Seyðisfjörður. On the way to the little city we spotted a ski resort, which seemed to only have one lift, or the fog was just hiding everything else. We also came across the stunning Gufufoss waterfall – the attempt of getting on a rock in the middle of the river to get a nice picture taken cost me 15 minutes and one wet shoe (was worth it though!).

Seyðisfjörður – I have to admit, this little artsy town won my heart with its rainbow colored path to its adorable pale blue church. We also checked out the sound sculpture “Tvísöngur” from the German artist Lukas Kühne, which was hiding above the town in the mountains. Afterwards we started our trip in the westward direction, stopped at Möðrudalur and Dettifoss and then headed to Mývatn where we spent the night on a campground, accompanied by the nice rotten-egg-smell.

Gufufoss waterfall

7th day: 10th May

We got up pretty early. Our plan was to drive through a part of the Diamond Circle. Mývatn is a stunning area with so many different facets. We passed steaming rivers, craters and hot springs – and it felt like not a single moment was without smelling the rotten egg. After we explored the area we headed further westward. We stopped at the Goðafoss waterfall, which was one of our favorites and then ended up at Akureyri, the biggest city in the north.

We have to say that Akureyri, with the most famous ski resort of Iceland smiling down on the city, the variety of art and amount museums, its great views and outdoor activities just amazed us. With eyes wide open, strolling along the harbor, hoping to get a glimpse of a whale, and exploring loads of different plants in the wonderful botanical garden we came to the conclusion: Akureyri is a town, where we could imagine staying for longer – no wonder it is so popular among travelers.

8th day: 11th May

Driving, driving and even more driving was the motto of the day. The road took us further westward and on one of the fjords we stopped for lunch. Dirk read on a travel blog that this place is supposed to have the best seafood soup of Iceland – so it was literally our duty to figure out if the rumor was true. The place is called Geitafell and I swear, they REALLY have the best seafood soup AND delicious cake. We were also pretty lucky because they just ran out of their sweet desserts and baked new ones (just for us 😉 ). Warm chocolate cake with whipped cream. HEAVEN! Not only the food, but also the building itself with its tower is worth a visit for sure. We would recommend 100% if you are in the area!!

Our destination for the night was a campground in Reykhólar in the Westfjords. While we explored the surrounding area, we spotted some hot springs in the nearby fields, which we got really excited about!

Hvitserkur from above

9th day: 12th May

Mother nature blessed us with sunshine!!

Our first sunny day on the trip and we started heading northwards in the morning. fist stop: Dynjandi. A waterfall which turned out to be (in our opinion) the prettiest, most stunning and most unique one we’ve seen so far. Because we liked the place a lot and enjoyed the sun so much we had a little snack break on the bottom of the waterfall.

Next stop on our way was the Reykjafjarðarlaug hot pool. A pretty swimming pool in the middle of nowhere, filled with water from a hot spring nearby, which you could already spot from far away due to its steam. We were the only people and went for a dip right away. A little while later we realized, that there was a hotpot close by, and of course we decided to relaxed there for a little longer. After we soaked up all the good vibes and enjoyed the stunningly pretty place by ourselves, the road took us back southwards to a campground in Búðardalur, where we spent the night after a day just too good to be true!

The waterfall Dynjandi Reykjafjarðarlaug Hot Spring

10th day: 13th May

The Snæfellsnes peninsula in the west!

Chartered by its craters, valleys, mountains and the glacier it has so many different facets.  Before we actually started in the morning I made an itinerary for the day – the list was looong. So we tried to not lose any time, cooked some water for tea and coffee and hit the road.

People say you should always take the scenic rout, and I promise, the route to our first stop in Stykkishólmur really made this task easy for us. The sun was shining and the snow from the tops of the mountains smiled down at the ocean. We checked out the city, and the church (which was – like so many other churches in our opinion – reeeally fancy built). After fueling up we continued the journey to the next stop – Kirkjufell – the pointy mountain Dirk couldn’t wait to see. The excitement was big and the mountain itself impressive. Even the cute little waterfall on the opposite side showed us a little rainbow in its water steam (just as Iceland wanted us to enjoy the spot even more). In the hope to spot a puffin, the road took us to Skarðsvik Beach, Svörtuloft Lighthouse, Djúpalónssandur and Lónsdrangar – without any luck. But we checked out the Saxhólar Crater, which was also pretty exciting.

In Hellnar we decided to go for coffee and cake at the little Café by the ocean. Not only the cake was delicious, but we were also lucky – a choir was singing Icelandic songs just right next to the water. Food and entertainment, what else could you wish for?

We could spot the Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge from the road already from pretty far away and got super excited when we parked the camper and saw people disappearing into that narrow crack in the face of the wall. Steep is not even the right word for that snowy path in the gorge that took us further in it and after a few hundred meters we decided to turn around (mostly because I was really scared to slip, because if you would slip and start sliding there was no stopping possible). It was a really cool experience though. Afterwards we drove further southwards, stopped at the Gerðuberg Cliffs and stayed in Akranes for the night.

Kirkjufell & Kirkjufoss

11th day: 14th May

The breakfast was served at around 10 am. Afterwards we packed our stuff and the Hvalfjörður tunnel took us from Akranes in the direction of Reykjavik. We were pretty stoked that we got another day to spend in this city. It was raining, so the weather was perfect for some exhibitions. Since we are both into art, we checked out the art museum in the harbor, which we liked a lot. Afterwards we strolled through the streets of Reykjavik and I have to say – on this day there was way more life in city and we liked it a lot more than on our fist day. In a cute little shop we got some souvenirs (actually just chocolate haha) and I got myself a wonderful, handmade silver ring which I’m very proud of.

With mixed feelings we made ourselves on the way to the campground – knowing that the following day would be our last in Iceland. We cooked our last soup dinner on our handy stove at the Sandgerdi campground and had a toast with delicious Icelandic beer.

12th day: 15th May

How can you end a trip proper!?

Exactly – with a visit at the BLUE LAGOON

We had our tickets booked for 12 pm and were super stoked all morning. The steam of the lagoon, that led us in the right direction, showed itself from many many kilometers away already. In the middle of a pretty volcanic area, mostly covered in moss, the blue steaming puddle showed itself in its best way. We went in, got our towels, changed really quick – just to take that first dip as soon as possible.

We soaked in the water for a really long time, checked out the steam baths, got the silica mud mask and treated ourselves with some sushi. Super relaxed and pretty tired we left this magical place. Back at the car we organized all our luggage and returned (with a heavy heart) our comfy camper at the rental place. Everything went super smooth, the guys from Rent.is took us back to the airport and we found ourselves at the end of our trip at 10 pm at the Reykjavik airport. Waiting for a flight back to Amsterdam at 6 am.

Beer in the Blue Lagoon

So after a pretty long day or short night or whatever you want to call it we boarded the plane back home, with memories full of laughter, fun and love.

This trip really showed us once more, how stunning mother nature is. It for sure was a trip of a lifetime and I can just hope everybody who is lucky enough to go to Iceland will have the same awesome experiences as we had.

Thank you Iceland, it was a real pleasure!

Most useless item I brought with me: A head lamp
Most used item we brought with us: Rain jackets
Distance we drive: Around 2800km
Number of the usage of the word „wow“ during the trip: Approximately 68.249.346
Number of happy faces: Endless

Our travel video from the Ring road


Read more: Adventure trip to Iceland

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