15 days around Iceland
My boyfriend and I have saved money for a while to get the opportunity to truly live the Icelandic experience. We choose to go in April for several reasons. First, there are much less people during that period, even if there’s still quite a lot of tourists (which we are part of ? ). Secondly, the weather/temperatures are getting better as we approach summer… although it wasn’t very warm yet! Finally the prices are lower than in high season.
The trip began on the 18th of April when we landed at Keflavik airport, the time to get the camper from Rent.is and settle down somewhere in Reykjavik for the night, we already were lifted in the elves and trolls’ kingdom.
We decided to do the Ring road, start with the Golden Circle, drive the South Coast to the East Fjords, then the North – to skip the Westfjords – and finish with the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Before going, we wanted to see a few things. One of them was the Northern Lights. We knew that in mid April there isn’t much chance to see one, it gets dark at 10.30 and still it’s not absolute dark. Yet, we saw one!!! The one and only of the trip but what a blast! Dancing green lights with hints of purple just above your head, crazy! What we also were interested in was the fauna of Iceland.
First, the puffins, unfortunately they hadn’t arrived when we were there. Good excuse to come back!! But there is a huge amount of birds in Iceland : wild Goose, Seagulls, Arctic Terns and other Fulmars… They can be seen everywhere and are beautiful as well.
As for the seals they offered us a great show, popping up from the sea or laying on the sand after an exhausting fish hunt. I guess you can see them everywhere, watch the sea and wait for them but a good spot is next to Hvitserkur! We didn’t go on a whale watching tour and knowing that Iceland has started again their hunting, you may find them on your plate… we didn’t want to “bother” them more than they already are.
We saw sheep, lambs and cows. Of course a lot of beautiful Icelandic horses. They are all around Iceland and are one of the great symbol of the country. They perfectly suit those big spaces and seem to come from another time when the vikings started to colonize the island, riding horses, the same ones that are in Iceland today. The well preserved ecosystem prevent other horses species from entering the territory.
What we didn’t expect was a reindeer group crossing the road right in front of us. They were moving from the mountainside to the field on the other side of the road. We could watch them for a while and felt very happy to see them wild and free.
When we started to drive we found out the too crowded Golden Circle didn’t suit us very well, we did it in one day and kept on going east. All along the coast there were waterfalls flowing down from the mountains…Incredible scenery, the landscape was showing us its magic.
Little mounts, craters, roads as far as the eye can see, total absence of trees, zigzag roads, lava fields, waterfalls again and again and actually water everywhere, from the sea to the sky, rivers and lakes… The geology of Iceland is breathtaking.
In fact, Iceland and all islands in general, are volcanoes that erupted quite a long time ago. The land of fire and ice owns the biggest glacier (former volcano) in Europe the Vatnajökull, on which you can hike with professionals or get to the edge on your own.
Iceland is 99% covered with volcanic rocks. Which has transformed into sand by the years, in contact of the sea. That’s why there are those well known black sand beaches, like the famous diamond beach, that offer a beautiful contrast with the icebergs or anywhere else with the golden grass, blue sky, green moss…
The underground is still very active, letting stand out smokes and sweet smells of sulfur. Hverir in Mývatn is particularly stunning: geothermic site where all the colors of the earth spreads in front of you.
The weather won’t disappoint either! you can have a great luminosity and out of the blue appear some threatening clouds and little hailstones; a crazy wind that can carry sand and ashes…as well as your camper door (careful while opening the door ? )
We had -4° Celsius by Dettifoss at the worst, having to cross slightly snowy roads and wore the gloves and socks we thought we wouldn’t use. We also had some sunny days very enjoyable. But in general the weather was clement, changing and offered very nice lights and atmosphere.
The tricky thing in Iceland definitively is the weather. Always have a look on vedur.is, which is the meteorological site of Iceland, before driving. As well as road.is an other site which depicts all the road network in real time. It’s better to check it before leaving. We had two roads closed during our trip which allowed us to do the Snæfellsnes peninsula which wasn’t on our list!
Even on the Ring road there are gravel roads that must be taken carefully, and even by driving slowly we had the camper van totally covered by dirt…just wait for the next rain-shower! Changing weather, changing landscapes. And at any given time, the feeling of being somewhere you’ve never been before. The Land of Ice and Fire fills the expectations.
All along the road, some truly typical little villages show up, with their colorful houses where the gas station is likely to be the meeting point of the inhabitants, as well as the pool which takes a big part in Icelandic people’s life.
It’s well known that Iceland is not only the country of Icelanders BUT ALSO dwarfs, elves and some other kind of magical species too. You can find some funny text panels when you go exploring that explains Elves would live in some lava rocks formations while dwarfs prefer basalt columns to set their home. Roads are easily diverted if it’s supposed to destroy a house of them! Even on beer cans you can read legends, it is to say! By the way they have really good beers over there!
Perfect when you chill in a natural hot spring. You can find those hot springs all around Iceland, a lot are free while some others are a bit expensive. We went in three free and natural and paid for one as we arrived in Myvatn late in the day after a long road and just wanted to lay down into that blue hot water. What a treat in all of them!
The choice of renting a camper made no doubts for us, as we already live in a “truck” all year long in France. We knew that the combo car+house would allow us to freely travel all around Iceland, save money on the accommodation and choose the right speed for us.
The camper is definitively a good option for traveling in Iceland. The one we had was the smaller you can have and good for two. Cooking inside was possible, the little camping gaz worked perfectly and the heating system was efficient.
We went to the restaurant a few times, and have good spots if you want to eat/drink something:
- The Frederiksen bar in Reykjavik large choice of drinks and nice food/snacks.
- The Suður restaurant in Vik, local food very well cooked.
- El Grillo bar in Seydisfjörður, a bar with local food and very friendly staff.
- And the Bjargarsteinn restaurant, in Grundarfjörður for something among the expectations.
Otherwise we went shopping in the supermarkets and cooked in the camper. Almost everything is imported, so are the vegetables and fruits, what we ate the most. Having brought pasta, rice, quinoa, sauces, oil, salt etc… We didn’t pay much for the courses.
What we hold back from our trip are the incredible landscapes, there is something very special about this place, it surprises you as soon as you start driving. And even if it’s expensive we don’t regret a second.
Iceland is truly an amazing country worth visiting it. One of a kind i wish I’ll go back once!!
Read more: 12 days & a whole island to explore
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