Around Iceland in 8 days
About nine months after the idea of visiting Iceland rose, it was about to become real. Our flight to Keflavik was just after noon, which with the time difference meant we would arrive early afternoon. We didn’t get off without a hitch as we were standing at the wrong car rental place. The people from Rent.is were kind enough to pick us up there, so it wasn’t much of a problem. Great service from them! Getting our camper was easy enough and we were on our way.
Obviously, Reykjavik was the first stop. We found the campsite in the middle of the city, settled in, had some food and then went into the city center. Hallgrimskirkja was the first real sightseeing we did and it is just as seen in any picture of it. It is at the heart of the city, but because of its location on top of the hill, it seems to be there on its own. Up next drinks at The Hard Rock Cafe and some wandering around the streets.
The next day we were up for quite a drive, as we intend to drive all around the island in 6 days. On our way up north, we stopped at the Grábrók crater where there is a trail leading up to the top. We walked all around the crater and enjoyed the lovely view from the top.
Our goal was to get to Akureyri, but when we got there it was still pretty early. Too early to remain for the rest of the day anyway, so we decided to move a little ahead on our route.
The next sight we wanted to see was Goðafoss, which isn’t too far from Akureyri, so that’s where we went. The waterfall is magnificent, so large, so much water. It’s unbelievable how close you can get. After enjoying that view for a while we walked along the path next to the river towards the bridge that crosses it and then the path on the other side that leads to the lookout point. There you’re not as close to the fall, but you do get a great view of the whole waterfall.
Back to Akureyri then, to find a campsite where we could eat and take a nice shower. We went to Hamrar campsite, which was a great site. It was only partially open because it was early season, but the showers were clean and comfortable and they had a common room where you could cook and relax. We found a great spot, with a view of the mountain at the back windows. What a sight to wake up to!
The next morning we were off to Mývatn Lake. As we drove alongside it, we could see that most of the lake was still frozen over. Amazing to see, such a big lake and most of it covered in ice. We decided to make a stop at Dimmuborgir.
You can walk different routes through here, we decided to take the church path (Kirkjuhringurinn) which was about 1 hour of hiking. The lava rock formations are remarkable and definitely not something you can see every day. The path got its name because of where it leads: Kirkja (the church). This is some sort of cave with a high dome-like roof. When I got into the cave I felt so small. It’s hard to see in the pictures, but the formation is really big.
… In the cave we found beds, clothes, flashlights…
On our way back to the parking lot we saw a sign that led to another type of cave. We decided to have a look since it wasn’t too far ahead. In the cave we found beds, clothes, flashlights, and so on. We had no idea what we walked in on. Back home I found out that it is the cave of the Yule Lads. Luckily they weren’t home!
From there on we drove along the east coast towards the south.
After a good night’s rest, we were ready to explore the glacier lake. As we were driving we came past what looked like a small version of a glacier lake. We stopped for a moment, took a few pictures and went on to Jökulsárlón. or so we thought… Checking back on Google Maps I found out we were already past the lake. So we went back and as it turned out our little stop actually was the glacier lake we were looking for, oops!
Since we had already seen part of the lake we decided to go to Diamond Beach first. Once again, what an amazing thing to see. It’s all black sand, which looks wet but is actually dry, covered with chunks of ice. Unfortunately it wasn’t very sunny that day so it was not as shimmering as in some pictures, but still very beautiful.
Now back to Jökulsárlón, this time for real! Walking a bit further on the paths alongside the lake we could now see the actual size of it. It really is a big one, full of icebergs. The glacier in the background completes the image! The clouds were moving away, so now we have blue water, blue skies, and ice in between. No filters needed for these pics. As we were walking by the water there was suddenly a loud noise, almost like a cannon being fired. As it turned out it was a large chunk of ice breaking of an iceberg and falling into the water. I didn’t know it could make so much noise.
From Jökulsárlón we went on to Skaftafell National Park. This national park is basically one giant glacier, but on the south side there are 2 hiking paths. One leads to Svartifoss, a waterfall. To get to it you have to climb up the mountain, which can be a bit of a challenge. Once you get to it, it’s not the fall but the rocks that are most impressive. It’s almost as if someone cut them off to look like square columns, but it’s all natural. Since the sun had come out completely by now the rainbow was also clearly visible. Because of the sun, it was getting pretty warm as well, we were walking around in a t-shirt!
Time to cool off a little, the other hiking path led to the glacier Hvannadalshnúkur. You can walk up to the edge of an actual glacier. We even walked alongside for a bit, coming up to a small stream and being able to touch the ice. On the side the ice was completely black, making it hard to believe it is actually ice. Touching it and seeing rocks locked in it made it believable though.
After all that walking in the warm sunny weather, we really wanted to have a nice shower and a place to relax. Since most campsites were only partially open we decided to stay at a guesthouse that night.
The next morning bright and early we went to Skógafoss. This waterfall can be seen from the ground and from the top. Obviously, it involves climbing to get to the top, so we were glad it was still early. There weren’t many people and the sun was comfortable but not too warm yet. At the bottom of the fall, you can get very close to it. You do get a little wet, but it makes for nice pictures where you can also see how big it really is.
After Skógafoss we went to Dýrhólaey cliff. The drive up was fun, as it is a very winding, climbing, small gravel road. As you get to the top, you can see the lighthouse, which wasn’t as pretty as I thought in real life. It does make for great pictures though, so I guess that’s why expectations were higher.
The cliff itself does look beautiful. It shows the country in yet another light. There are a lot of birds, mainly seagulls, but I do believe I saw an actual Puffin flying around as well.
Off to the next waterfall, Seljalandsfoss. This is the waterfall you can walk behind. You do get quite wet though, but it’s something remarkable. To see the waterfall and the plains behind it, instead of the mountain it is falling from.
A path from the Seljalandsfoss takes you to another fall, enclosed in something like a cave. You can see it through the rocks, but to get to it you have to walk on the rocks in the stream through the crack. Once you get there it looks beautiful. Surrounded by moss-covered peaks seeing and feeling the waterfall.
Read more: Travel Apps for Iceland
We’ve come to our last day of sightseeing. We stayed at a campsite very close to Geysir, so we could start there bright and early. It was very cold outside that morning, but we were also pretty much alone there. When we arrived there were two people, but they left soon after. So we got to enjoy the warmth and power from Strokkur geyser all by ourselves. This was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen! If you stand at the right place you can see the water move and bubble and almost seeming alive just before it burst out. Absolutely amazing!
Up next is Gullfoss, one of the most popular attractions. Since it’s still early morning (and early season) it wasn’t crowded there. There were a few people, but for the most part, it was once again just us standing at the edge of the fall.
From Gullfoss, we went to Kerið, a volcanic crater lake. You can walk all along the top of the crater, but also down to the lake in the middle. We did both of course, first around the top and then around the lake. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you’re walking in a volcano, to fully appreciate the beauty of it and what an amazing thing it is.
Our last sightseeing was done at the Þingvellir national park, where we walked through the gorge to Öxarárfoss. The gorge was beautiful but at the fall it was pretty crowded. We didn’t stay long but walked on to Þingvallakirkja, a small church seemingly in the middle of nowhere. After that, it was back to the camper and find a place to spend the night.
Our last day before going home we went to the Blue Lagoon. It was the perfect thing to do at the end of the holiday. The warm water makes you feel so relaxed, all sore muscles come to rest and the aches disappear. In order to hold on to the warmth and relaxation we spend the last night in a guesthouse again, where we could chill on the couch in the common room and sleep in a bed.
The next morning it was time to return our camper and head to the airport. My brother had a hard time saying goodbye to our Trafic 3, as it was such a great van. From the rental office, we were brought to the airport, again great service!
We had a great time, it was a holiday to never forget! The camper was perfect, the weather was great and the country is amazing!
Thanks for everything! 🙂
Read more: Nine days on the Ring road
Happy Camping! #CamperStories
Iceland Travel Guides
If you like what you see, please subscribe to our YouTube channel!