Conquering the Ring road
Conquering the ring road in 8 days in September
Iceland is more than the land of fire and ice. From craters to waterfalls, icebergs to hot springs, geothermal vents to beautiful coastlines – Iceland has so much to offer. I would like to share the journey that my boyfriend and I experienced when traveling this amazing island in a camper van. The beauty of using a camper van in Iceland is that you can go wherever, whenever and see EVERYTHING. We had the freedom to drive (or not drive) as much as we wanted each day. We didn’t worry about hotel reservations or getting to a hotel. We were completely immersed in Iceland and I wouldn’t have done it any other way! Here is our itinerary to help all of you fellow travelers get a sense of all the amazing things Iceland has to offer.
Day 1 – We began our day with the Golden Circle.
This is a series of natural attractions that begin about an hour from Reykjavik. These were our stops:
- Þingvellir National park – You can see waterfalls and walk some beautiful trails. This is also a filming location for Game of Thrones.
- Geysir – There are steam vents and hot springs that are so hot they boil!. Here you can find Stokkur which is a geyser that erupts every few minutes.
- Gullfoss waterfall – Compared in size to Niagara Falls.
- Secret Lagoon hot springs – Less crowds and lower prices compared to the infamous Blue Lagoon hot springs.
- Kerið Crater lake – A short hike with great views
- Seljalandsfoss waterfall – We walked behind the waterfall and took a look at the water from a different perspective.
Every night we cooked dinner with the great appliances that came with our van such as a mini stove, plates and utensils, a dishrag and soap. This was a great way to save some money on eating out at restaurants.
Day 2 – South Iceland
- Skógafoss waterfall – There was a stairway up the side of the mountain that led to a trail on top of the waterfall. This trail had amazing views, wild sheep and small waterfalls everywhere.
- Sólheimasandur plane crash – Along the coast of Iceland there is a plane that crashed in the 1950’s and is now a beautiful spot for photographers to grab an awesome photo. This hike was about 1.5 kilometers each way.
- Svínafellsjökull glacier – We got to take some great pictures. Here you have the option to do a glacier walk with a guide.
- Skaftafell National park – We hiked to an iceberg lagoon and saw the tongue of the Vatnajökull glacier, which is the largest in Europe! This was about a kilometer each way.
- Fjallsárlón lagoon – You can see some more icebergs slowly drifting in the lagoon.
- Hoffell hot pots – Water from a nearby hot spring is pumped into jacuzzi-like tubs.
Day 3 – East Iceland
This day mostly consisted of driving. But due to the Ring road’s natural beauty, we stopped – A LOT. When doing this part of the drive remember to take in the essence of the Ring road and appreciate all that it has to offer. These stops consisted of waterfalls and foggy coastlines blanketed with black sand.
Hverfjall crater and the Hverir steam vents – These two stops give you a sense of the heat coming from the ground in Iceland. We ended the day in Mývatn near the lake.
Day 4 – Lake Mývatn
- Grjótagjá cave – The water in the cave is hot and people used to be allowed to bathe inside, but the water temperature is not constant so it is not safe anymore. This cave has been seen on Game of Thrones.
- Dettifoss and Selfoss waterfalls – A nice pair of waterfalls within walking distance from each other.
- Hverfjall Crater – A nice hike around the crater with amazing views.
- Ostakarið hot pots in Húsavik – This was a nice local hot pot where the water was brought by pipe from a nearby hot spring.
Ending the day with a dip in a hot spring was the best part of our trip. The camper van allowed us to end the day anywhere wanted. That night we saw the Northern lights for the first time! It was an amazing experience to see those dancing green lights above us.
Day 5 – North Iceland
- Whale watching in Húsavik – We took one of the smaller, 12 person rib boats. This was well worth the extra cash because we had the opportunity to move fast and get closer to the humpback whales, while keeping a safe distance away.
- Goðafoss waterfall – Easily one of my favorites. The whole scene of the waterfall was just breathtaking, and it is easily accessible. If you are in in northern Iceland this waterfall is a must!
- Fosslaug hot spring – This one was a little tricky to find but once you get close enough there are signs pointing in the correct direction. This spring was small, built with rocks and had a mud floor. It was big enough to fit about 10 people. Great secluded hot spring with minimal tourists.
Day 6 – West Iceland
- Landbrotalaug hot pot – This was another natural hot spring that was secluded and made of rocks and mud. The pool could only fit 2 people comfortably at a time.
- Deildartunguhver hot spring – The largest hot spring in Iceland. The water here is way too hot to get in for a dip but it is used to create geothermal energy.
- Húnaþing “Land of the Seals” – We went looking for seals but did not succeed. This was a beautiful drive along the coast either way.
- Hraunfossar waterfall – This had a nice Boardwalk trail and gave us some great opportunities to take photos.
Day 7 – Around Reykjavik
- Reykjadalur Valley – Here we hiked to and then took a dip in the hot spring river. This was no easy hike. It was about 1.5 kilometers uphill to the hot spring. The end product was well worth the work!
- Reykjavik – Explored the city and learned about Icelandic culture. It was great to get a chance to tour the big city and see Iceland in a different way.
Day 8 – Brimketill
- Brimketill- On the coast by Reykjavik there are a series of pools surrounded by lava rock. The ocean waves crashed and broke into the rocks, creating these pools. (editor’s note: It is forbidden to swim in Brimketill due to heave surge that washes over the hot spring and the temperature is too low)
From here we dropped off the camper van which was such an easy and smooth process. We were able to see so much of Iceland because of the flexibility the camper van gave us. I think it was the best and most efficient way to see and be a part of Iceland.
Read more: 2 Dope boyz in a camper van
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