Our Iceland Honeymoon Adventure!
To celebrate the start of married life, what could be better than 8 days together in a camper van? Our drive around the Ring Road was packed full of stunning sights, awesome food, and some of the best hikes we’ve ever done. Coming from California, we’re obnoxiously hard to “wow” — we see beautiful scenery every day. But Iceland took it to a whole new level.
And doing it all in a camper van is THE way to go. We were able to change our itinerary at the last minute based on weather, tuck in for a quick afternoon nap to recover from a tough morning hike, and yet still drive these crazy roads as easily as we would have in a car (those big RVs in that wind?!?… yikes!). It was a truly amazing trip.
Here’s our trip overview, some highlights, and tips for the road:
Day 1: Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Day 2: Vatnsnes Peninsula & Akureyri
Day 3: Lake Mývatn
Day 4: East Fjords
Day 5: Skaftafell National Park
Day 6: Vik
Day 7: Reykjavik
A few tips:
- After picking up our van, our first stop was IKEA! We had a fantastic (and relatively cheap!) breakfast of meatballs, potatoes, and fresh-squeezed OJ, and we also picked up some camper van comforts to feel truly at home — some nice coffee mugs (which became our favorite souvenirs), a giant blanket (did we mention we’re coming from Southern California?), and two towels (the pools and baths charge a ton to rent them… $7 at IKEA!). Our camper van was very well stocked and wonderfully outfitted, but this stop let us really make it our own.
- We decided to drive north into Reykjavik and go clockwise on the Ring Road. The weather looked better in the North… and this let us drive on the inside lane on some crazy cliff-side twists and turns! It also meant we got to enjoy the southern highlights as a final leg of our journey, a nice reward after the rugged, sometimes desolate North.
- Finding campsites was SO EASY! We used tjalda.is — an easy-to-use and info-packed resource for campgrounds all around the country. Campgrounds never fill up, and you can’t drive through a town without seeing the ubiquitous blue triangle sign. We were grateful for our on-board WiFi, though, as this let us plan ahead and find really cool sites.
- We planned based on WEATHER! If it looked bad in the northeast, we got on the road and took off. We didn’t come with too many “must-see” or “must-do” items, which left us really flexible. We still hit some rain and high winds, but watching the weather maps closely helped us have a pleasant trip.
- BÓNUS and other grocery stores are awesome! We cooked almost all of our meals with the excellent equipment that came with the camper van. We did have to get more camp stove fuel, but that was available at every grocery store and gas station.
- When we weren’t cooking, we had some incredible meals out. We enjoyed Hraun in Ólafsvik, Kaffi Lára (aka El Grillo) in Seyðisfjörður, and Skál at Hlemmur Food Hall in Reykjavik.
- We were very glad we brought eye masks for sleeping. We didn’t see darkness once. The camper van has very nice privacy curtains, but they are far from being “blackout.” Sleeping masks helped a lot.
- We loved the Nature Baths at Mývatn. We didn’t go to the Blue Lagoon, but we hear the Mývatn baths are much less crowded and way cheaper. They were absolutely delightful, a great way to relax. This was also a nice place to take a shower. Most campgrounds have showers, either free or for a small fee, but this was a great two-fer, and with really pleasant, clean facilities.
- The Glaumbær Folk Museum was a great way to get a sense for life in historic Iceland. Their authentically preserved sod roof compound is open for public exploration — very neat!
- World Cup Fever!! The Iceland team was battling mightily against Nigeria and Croatia while we were there, and we loved getting into the action. The local bars were packed! It gave us a great sense of the patriotism and good sportsmanship of this country.
- We geeked out about the sunset/sunrise times in late June and tried to get as close as we could to the Arctic Circle — Raufarhöfn boasts a new attraction, Arctic Henge, and is about 800 meters from the Arctic Circle. This picture was taken at midnight!
- We absolutely loved Seyðisfjörður. It’s a quaint, lovely town in the East Fjords. If it weren’t for the high winds when we woke up there, we would have stayed quite a while. The main port for ferries from Denmark, Seyðisfjörður has wonderful shops and restaurants, and an in-town campground. We weren’t able to hike there due to the winds, but we could tell from the views in town that hiking there would be stunning. A recent popular TV drama, Trapped, was filmed in Seyðisfjörður; it’s a murder mystery that unfolds as the town gets socked in by storms and avalanches. Since returning from Iceland, we’ve gotten hooked! What a nice way to remember our trip. Well… not really, because it’s a terribly dark and creepy show, but it’s superbly made, totally riveting, and it does feature the beauty of Seyðisfjörður, which makes us nostalgic.
- While we loved driving in the North (Akureyri was one of our favorite towns), we could see why the South is so well traveled. The sights are incredible! We explored Jökulsárlón Lagoon and did some awesome hiking in Skaftafell National Park.
- We’ll put this at the very end in secret hopes that not too many people read this far so it remains a well-hidden gem… but the Þakgil campground outside Vik was FREAKING INCREDIBLE. After a 14 kilometer drive that made us feel like we were headed deep into the backcountry, we arrived at a hidden gully with cabins and campers. Tucked into bright green, dramatically rugged mountains, the campground is totally otherworldly. The coolest part is their communal dining cave. A CAVE. For DINING. They’ve installed a small chimney so campers can cook in there, and there are welcoming picnic tables and votive candles along the walls. It was bustling when we arrived around 09:00 PM, and we absolutely loved joining our fellow hobbits to cook, eat, and share some bourbon. We did a super cool waterfall hike around there the next day.
There’s no way to go wrong with a camper van trip to Iceland! We loved and will never forget our honeymoon journey around this uniquely beautiful country.
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