Iceland in 7 days
Once we decided Iceland was the country to visit, we booked our flights and started to gather insider information on how best to concur the country’s beauty and uniqueness in just 7 days. Hiring a camper van seemed to be the only and best option to fulfil our Icelandic adventures, and to drive the Ring Road – we got recommended by a mate to hire a camper van from Rent.is suitable for 2 passengers. We read travel blogs and talked to friends who have visited, creating our own 7-day itinerary.
Pictures of our van along our 7 days
Day 1: Layers? We need more of those.
Landed in Reykjavik and caught the shuttle bus to collect our van that was to become our home for the next week. We then made our first stop at the local supermarket ‘Bónus’ where we stocked up on supplies that we hoped would last us for our journey around Iceland’s ring road – we can cook pasta on a mini gas stove right? (yes, we did).
First stop, after getting petrol, was the iconic Seljalandsfoss Waterfall – absolutely breathtaking. However, only wearing the same amount of layers of when we flew from the UK, we shortly found that Iceland required a couple more, especially when we were able to walk around the back of the waterfall where you get a bit wet.
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Nevertheless, our first stop was one to remember, and we couldn’t help but to think our Iceland trip was going to be one of our best adventures yet.
Our mate gave us a recommendation and directions for Seljavallalaug, a hot swimming pool in between two canyons (take exit 242 and it is only 5 minutes down the road). People had beers and were enjoying the warm springs – definitely a unique experience if you can find it!
Read more: Top ten swimming pools in Iceland
Next stop, Skógafoss Waterfall, a few kilometers away on Route 1. This is where we camped up for the night and with the combination of a 2am wake up to catch our flight and being wet from the waterfall and rain, we were both freezing cold and ready for some warmth. Snug in our sleeping bags and van, Day 1 Iceland was a success.
Day 2: Canyons and Lagoons
Waking up with the view of Skógafoss Waterfall, we ate breakfast and got our morning wake up by walking the 400 steps to a birds-eye view of the waterfall- magnificent! Our next stop was Reynisfjara, the black beach west of Vik. A spectacular, unique part of nature – definitely recommend taking a stop here.
We continued our drive along Route 1, with our next point of call at Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. Here we filled up our water container from the stream which was close to being the freshest, purest water I have ever tasted, and it was cold too! Despite the rain, we ventured around the Canyon, yet another unbelievable sight. DIY hot water to cook noodles and have a coffee before we ventured to Jökusárlón lagoon.
We didn’t know what to expect, but wow it was incredible – we didn’t see any seals, but there is always hope as we had 5 days of exploring to go! We camped in Höfn and cooked soup for dinner.
Day 3: Drive Day!
Another warm sleep, ready for a day of driving to Lake Mývatn! Stopped off at the recommended service station, grabbed our free coffee and on our way! Not to forget eating breakfast overlooking mountains in Höfn!
The drive was wet, but the scenery didn’t stop being fantastic…the adventure continues.
Driving along Route 1, we came across Petra’s Stone Collection, one of the biggest mineral collections in Europe. Petra spent her whole life searching the Icelandic island for minerals and rocks. Her granddaughter was working in the shop which was previously Petra’s home; it was amazing and extremely insightful to hear local stories. She gave us a tip of visiting the local swimming pools in towns, as they are warm and have shower facilities, a common outing for many.
Closer to Lake Mývatn, we stopped at Geothermal Geysirs (Mývatn geothermal Vents) which was just off Route 1. This was something I definitely recommend stopping to see as it is amazing to see all the different sights offered by Iceland.
Once we found our campsite, another closed site, we went to the Nature Baths just outside Mývatn. It was around 2 degrees outside which made the water feel especially nice and warm, our skin went slimy and the smell of Sulfur was in the air.
Day 4: Canyon, Waterfalls and … Northern Lights!
Following our itinerary we drove to Húsavik and onto Ásbyrgi Canyon, the drive wasn’t difficult using the GPS. There was a short walk up to the Canyon which gave you a fantastic photo opportunity capturing the vast array of colors, the Canyon was peaceful and silent with only a few birds chirping.
From Ásbyrgi Canyon, we drove to Dettifoss Waterfall, around 25km on a dirt road, however it was achievable in our van with only pot holes to avoid. Dettifoss Waterfall is the biggest in Europe and you could walk up close to it, providing some great photo opportunities. The walking path to Selfoss waterfall is outlined by yellow pegs and around 1.5km from Dettifoss Waterfall, definitely a recommended walk.
Following our itinerary, we had no planned destination to reach that evening. Looking at the Northern Lights forecast, it was cloudy around Húsavik so we decided to travel further west to hunt for clear skies. We ate dinner at a local restaurant in Húsavik, both choosing fish of the day, (considering how close we are to the water we knew it would be fresh) followed by a local fruit beer. We then drove to Akureyri, the second biggest city in Iceland, noticing it was too bright to see any Northern lights, we kept driving and ended up in a small town, Varmahlið!
Along the way we saw a few shooting stars, drove through a mini snow storm, to finally see clear skies and stars! Here we chose a campsite around 11km from the town center, met some fellow travelers, exchanged stories, and our thoughts on Aurora Borealis sighting. Around 11.45pm, a fellow traveler did one last lap of the building to check the sky to see if there were any movements, as he had previously seen the lights on a clear night around 11pm. The lights were out!!
He came knocking on our van we threw on layers and off we went to see the beauty of the Northern Lights! How amazing! The lights finished around 1.30pm. Note: you need a good quality camera with shutter speed at least 20 secs to capture them! Lucky we were with travelers who had a quality camera and could take photos for us! This night was the coldest we had, minus 6 degrees!
Aurora Borealis – Northern Lights
Day 5: Clear Skies!
Starting the day off, wow we saw the Northern Lights last night! But finally we had clear skies and could appreciate the sunrise. As the morning got on, the sky stayed clear and the sun glistened on the mountains. Our mate gave us the coordinates of a hot swimming pool which was only 4km from our campsite near a waterfall. This was pretty impressive, and we found it by walking through icy fields after parking on the side of the road.
We continued to drive west and it was a beautiful sunny day, which really showed Iceland at its purest form. We stopped in Bordeyri and parked there for the afternoon, using the guest house for bathroom facilities and hot water. We walked along the water and watched the sunset.
Day 6: Mother Nature at its finest
Raining! Today our plan was to drive to the Western Fjords. It was very windy, overcast, rain, fog and you could barely see anything ahead of you!!! We turned around, changed our itinerary as we thought the coast would be more sensitive to the wind. We drove to the Peninsula also known as little Iceland, hoping to see some more sights. However the weather continued, rain and fog all day! We stopped at Hellnar, near Snæfellsjökull National Park and enjoyed the warmth of the café there.
I looked online to try find an activity so we didn’t get our too disappointed after such a contrast in weather– I guess this is true mother nature for you! I soon found a lava cave tour which was impressive, the guide was amazing and talked about the history of the cave and lava formation.
Day 7: Another rainy day
All we can say is, we are lucky to have seen so much in our first 5 days! I guess next time we would stay off the coast line in bad weather to try avoid the nasty wind! We made our way through the Peninsula with aim of seeing the Geysir’s along the Golden Circle. After around 3 hours of driving, stopped in Borgarnes along the way, we made it to the Geysir. We saw two small and two bigger eruptions, had a browse of the information tourist center and then made our way to Reykjavik. Once in Reykjavik we found a 2 for 1 deal on beers at a local pub, and ate dinner out to celebrate our 7 day Iceland adventure. Rain still present, we decided not to pack our bags until the morning with a 10am flight. Parked our van at the Lava hostel campsite with only a 30/40 min drive to the airport tomorrow, where we say goodbye to our beloved camper van.
Iceland side of road selfie
Day 8: Home time
As it was still raining, we made our way to a service station to pack our things and drop the van off! All well and good, giving our few left over cans of food to another couple about to leave.
What an amazing trip – Iceland is a pure, impressive, extravagant country that is and should be appreciated for its natural glory. Having the van enabled my brother and I to explore parts of Iceland that wouldn’t be possible on a tour bus. We could stop at any location, take photos on the side of the road, and try find the little swimming pools that we heard about. Next time, we would both definitely tackle Iceland for at least 10 days, which would give more leeway for bad weather and time to explore more aspects of Iceland that we didn’t get to this time. We’ll be back.
• Travel mugs, they are amazing and most service stations gave us hot water.
• Thick socks, if your feet are cold your whole body is cold!
• Most campsites are closed during the winter months, we still parked there but remember to bring baby wipes and toilet paper!
• Waterproof coat and shoes are helpful
• We had a laptop where we watched TV shows each night before bed.
Read more: Surfing in Iceland
Happy Camping! #CamperStories
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