How to beat the odds & drive around Iceland in a week & enjoy it!
We had book our flight tickets with Wow Air at least four months ago, and never looked back at scheduling our Iceland trip before the 2 weeks prior we left. All we knew was that we wanted to rent a camper and go with the flow. That’s what we did with Rent.Is! We chose the second cheaper camper for 2 person, all that mattered, was that there was a heater (god knows I’m ALWAYS freezing my ass off- imagine in Iceland, camping for a week!). Anyways, here is our recap of our fabulous week living the #VanLife!
6 AM Arrival at Keflavik International Airport and pick up camper van, damn they say Iceland is expensive, but here they’re giving away free coffee and hot chocolate with a cleaner bathroom than what I have at home #score!
We took the Kangoo, it included a small heater for cold nights! Much needed as the nights are rather cold (in mid-May the mercury dropped to 2-4 degrees Celsius), sleeping bag, pillows, blankets, pots and pans, cutlery, table, chairs, USB plug and stove included. The WiFi was supposed to be included, but the battery connection was damaged, so we could enjoy it in a very limited way (30 min in about 1 week), they charge $ 5 per day for unlimited data usage, and do not reimburse easily. Think twice. But in the end the landscapes of the country makes your forget you need your daily social media fix ?.
The Golden Circle is a loop of attractions to see on the outskirts of Reykjavik. Details and inspiration of the way we took: The Golden Circle
- Kerið Crater: We first saw a crater filled with a lake. One of the only places, we had to pay to access it (about $ 5).
- Strokkur Geyser: Mini trail where we saw 3 or 4 major geysers explode high enough. Awesome, but filled with tourists. Do not be fooled by the cafeteria, it’s super cute but very expensive.
- Gullfoss: Not far from the geyser, another cafeteria space is waiting for you, but here the lamb soup is all you can eat for the same price as the Geyser, so enjoy and lick your lips ?. The waterfall itself is picturesque, especially the part with the river in which it falls between the black cliffs.
- Þingvellir National Park: We wanted to go but the red-eye caught up with us and we paid the $ 5 access to take a nap in the parking lot of 2 hours. It was raining and windy, so we never went in the end, the nap won! I mean look at this comfort calling us !
Vik is a small town on the water’s edge in the south. There’s a beautiful church perched on a hill unmissable upon arrival. Our first camping site is right below the church! The campsite offers a communal yurt where you can cook with your stove in the shelter away form the wind and rain, without heating though.
Dýrhólaey is the most southern point of the country. Breathtaking views of the seaside, black cliffs, green fields and royal blue water. Magnificent. Coming from Vik, you backtrack a little, but it’s worth it, the road is dotted with mountains of hay looking too smooth to be real.
Then, returning to Jökulsárlón, we spend long moments in an old lava desert covered with precious moss.
Skaftárhreppur & Systrafoss: Stop at the tourist center for a short film about the history of volcanic eruptions that decimated half of the Icelandic population. Short hike to Systrafoss Falls for a view of the fields.
Svartifoss: The falls, surrounded by very rectangular knife-cutting rocks, are part of the Skaftafell / Vatnajökull National Park. The view of the glacier mountains beyond the falls is really impressive. 2 stops at the foot of the glaciers of Jökulsárlón. Very majestic. At Lagoon Glacier, icebergs float all year around in the lake. Their blue windshield washer color is surprising.
We spend our second night camping in Höfn with a splendid view of the lands, surrounded by mountains and on a clear day, we must see the water.
We tried one of the best restaurant of Iceland according to our travel guide, and the best according to us ? Pakkhús! Not given, but how delicious, and warm! Note that despite the light 24/7 the shops close early, plan ahead!
Driving through the many fjords of the East, to Egilsstaðir. If the sky is clear it probably is breathtaking. But if it’s cloudy like it was for us, it’s a lot of zig zag between each fjord getting a little long, but still very relaxing: the cliffs, the ocean and the flat calm despite the raging wind .
Seyðisfjörður was my favorite. A mini village in a fjord where you have to cross the ski mountains to get there. Full of little pastel-colored painted houses. This is the terminal to get to Faroe Islands. 2 or 3 shops including a café / hotel ADORABLE.
Egilsstaðir is the 3rd biggest city we saw in Iceland (like there is a Subway … and a Vínbúðin-wine outlet). Our campsite is OK, we enjoy a wonderful sunset on the cliffs over there!
We leave early for Lake Mývatn, the sun is finally shining! We stopped at most of the attractions in the area:
- The geothermal power station,
- Hot springs similar to Blue Lagoon (Jarðböðin nature baths),
- Krafla: a crater that is supposed to contain very turquoise water, but it was still frozen at the end of May
- Hverfall: very windy little hike on the rim of this mountain / crater, very nice view. Black ash powder.
- Dimmuborgir: not the most fascinating one according to me, you walk in a mini path with piles of rocks that are supposed to be quite unique …
- The lake itself: quite large and visible of several points of view, very turquoise
Húsavík is small mountain town on the north coast, several whale cruises leave from there. The mountains beyond are unique, snowy and isolated. Magnificent! Small cozy street with church, café, restaurants and a great harbor.
Akureyri is the second largest city in Iceland after Reykjavik. We had a beer in a bar there, the most expensive of the trip! $ 36 CAD for 2! City not very busy, cute but not much to do. We camped at the most beautiful campsite.
The longest driving day! We go to the Snæfellsjökull peninsula! About 4 hours or 5 hours drive to get there. The view on the road was the rainiest since the beginning of the trip.
Kirkjufell is a surprising mountain, on one side we see it low and wide, and on the other much steeper. Covered with a beautiful layer of moss, we do not walk there. It is observed rather on the other side of the street next to another beautiful foss (fall).
Arnarstapi is a mini (really tiny) little village with restaurant, food truck, hotels and harbour, but the important point of the area are the cliffs. So rich, massive and wonderful on the ocean. Several seagulls stay there.
Akranes: As the rain did not stop and there was not much camping in the peninsula, we went to Borgarnes for a pizza dinner. No chance of dining outside in the rain. Then we continue our road to get closer to Reykjavik, camping in Akranes. Super camping overlooking the sea. There is even a small beach to watch the rain fall haha! By the way, those Hraun chocolate cookies became an obsession during this week, they are AH-MA-ZING!
We go to Reykyavik in less than an hour from Akranes. Note that the tunnel to take on Route 1 costs about $ 10 CAD. It is easy to park in town for free (it’s Sunday). Then we walk the whole city, the main attractions are pretty much all within walking distance. Happy hour at prices similar to what we are used, at Kaldi’s on a street perpendicular to the 2 most touristy streets (Skólavörðustígur and Laugavegur). The cozy and welcoming ambiance catches you as soon as you enter the small bar, where you find a a good mix of tourists and locals. The evening we were there, a group of old men met for happy hour. Dressed in their best clothes, they share smoked fish and an Aperol Spritz #cute. We had dinner at Salt in the port, but I do not recommend it at all, too expensive and not as tasty as Pakkhús.
We slept in Grindavik to get closer to the Blue Lagoon! The camping was great, heated common area, where you must remove your shoes. And if you are just starting your week in Iceland, this is a gold mine of food and alcohol leftover from other campers. Bonus: we hear the sheep bellowed next door!
We did nothing but relax in salt water, mineral?, turquoise?, not quite sure what makes the Blue Lagoon water this way. Note that you must ABSOLUTELY book in advance, otherwise no way to access it. Not given, a hefty $ 130 per person to access the baths, a drink and a mask of silica, but it’s worth the cost. Unique experience of its kind, and the water is at the perfect temperature. Then we already leave to the airport and drop the camper that had become our little nest for the week.
Overall, I recommend it. The camper experience made me want to travel this way more often! You feel so independent driving everywhere you want, sleeping wherever you feel like, cooking the meal of your choice whenever! Really an awesome little car, well organized to get your through all situations.
Read more: A tale of two frozen Kiwis
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