Short but Sweet: Our 4-day road trip in Iceland
When we departed from an unusually hot London we were all excitement, except from an inkling sense of sadness about the weather apparently looming ahead of us in Iceland. We had pictured ourselves plodding around in just t-shirts and shorts and drying off in the sunshine, however we clearly were not prepared for the wild nature of Iceland. While we may have initially been disappointed about the gloomy weather, I now would say the ongoing and unpredictable rain made our trip more entertaining and enjoyable. Neither of us are big campers usually, but our decision to rent a van through Rent.is was unquestionably brilliant.
The van we rented was for 2 people, and came with a comfortable and surprisingly large bed and all the necessary equipment, including WiFi on board! It was everything we had hoped for and more, and made us all the more exited to embark on our little adventure. While 7-days is probably a more favorable amount of time to have in Iceland, our trip was still perfect, and I would highly recommend road-tripping around this otherworldly island, and renting a camper van if you do.
Although this blog will mostly discuss the events of our trip, the general feel of Iceland was what really made our visit so special. Driving around Iceland is like driving around a dream-land, where every ten minute’s the landscape completely changes and surprises you. There were times on the road where we would look out one window to see baron and black landscapes that had an apocalyptic feel, then we would turn our heads to the other side to be faced with an ongoing green and flowery landscape. The almost 24 hours of sunlight means you can make the most of all your days and nights. Half the joy of visiting Iceland is just being on the road and experiencing the sublime views as you drive.
Day 1: Reykjavik & Southern Waterfalls
Our flight to Iceland was sadly delayed, meaning that we were later than expected to pick up our van. This was not a problem, and the people at Rent.is were very helpful and understanding. As soon as we saw our van we knew we had made a good decision, as we instantly fell in love with our little friend!
After picking up our van we went straight to the supermarket, which I would recommend as it saves you money during your stay. The van was equipped with a cooker and kitchen appliances, so we could cook all our meals! We brought ourselves some pasta, pesto, bacon and some other essential bits and we were on our way.
Our first stop was Reykjavik, where we headed down to the old harbor and parked up for an epic whale watching! We suited up and grabbed some googles and began our very fast and exiting boat trip out to see the whales. While tours on bigger boats may be cheaper, we would recommend doing the speed boat trips as this was lots more fun and exciting in our opinion.
The speed boat whizzed us out to ‘Puffin island’ where we saw lots and lots of super cute puffins flying around – and even a puffin airport! (A stick which the puffins queued up to climb and fly off the top). We then ventured out further towards circling birds which were looking for some grub – a great place to catch those whales who have the same diet. In that area our boat became surrounded by very friendly dolphins, which was our favorite part of the whale watching, as they were not afraid to swim very close to our boat. We also saw magnificent Minke whales, a once in a lifetime opportunity which we would certainly recommend when in Iceland (see video below).
After a fun afternoon whale watching, we made our way down south towards the Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls. The drive down was immensely beautiful, and we couldn’t quite believe our surroundings. We arrived at Seljalandsfoss quite late, but this luckily worked in our favor as there were very few tourists there, even on a July weekend. Seljalandsfoss was so powerful and beautiful, and a must-see.
We then drove down the road to the equally beautiful Skógafoss waterfall, where we set up camp for the night. I cannot recommend Skógar campsite more as it is right next to the waterfall meaning that you sleep next to a beautiful stream and can have a late night walk around the waterfall – something we really enjoyed! This camping spot was a great find and we had a very fun first night there with some wine and a beautiful view.
Day 2: Seljavallalaug pool, the Black beach, Secret lagoon & Geysir
We managed to squeeze quite a lot on our second day, rising early..ish so that we could make our way to Iceland’s first ever outdoor pool, which is naturally heated. The pool was secluded and you must walk a little way to find it, over rocks and by a stream. We arrived at this completely secluded and unexpected location, to see an algae-green, steaming pool. Do not let the color of the water put you off, as the pool is magnificent and has the most amazing view. Do not pass up the unforgettable experience of bathing outdoors while facing the most beautiful winding waterfalls and hills – it was truly magical! When we arrived at the pool there were only 2 others there. More tourists soon started coming, but it was not crowded at any point.
We then hopped into our little van and drove further round towards the Reynisfjara black sand beach. This beach is breath taking, and has an extra-terrestrial feel to it. It is a lava beach and the sand is completely black making the sea look so blue. It is supposed to be one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world, and it does live up to its reputation.
We then drove back towards Reykjavik, admittedly our route didn’t make much sense but we didn’t mind. We wanted to see the famous Geyser’s, and so headed towards the campsite there. After our drive there we decided to go to the Secret lagoon, a hot spring very near the Geysers, before we settled in for the night, which was very relaxing and beautiful despite being a very touristy spot. We then hopped back into the van and made our way into Geyser, which was nearby, east of Reykjavik.
When we drove into Geyser, we were overwhelmed by smell of eggs, coming from the Sulphur. Try not to let the eggy smell put you off, as the Geysers were epic and there is one that shoots up to unbelievable heights every 5 minutes or so. The majesty and extravagance of Iceland’s natural wonders continuously surprised us. We then settled into the small Geyser campsite for the evening. This campsite is very easy as it is right next to the must-see Geysers, but it has little to offer for campers and is right next to the road. There was heavy rain so we played cards in the back of our van and drank some wine named Geyser Creek that we had picked up in Duty Free in London – what a coincidence!
Campsite: Geyser Camping Ground
Day 3: Snæfellsnes Peninsula
We awoke on our final full day to rays of sunshine, which after days of rain made us very excited for the day ahead. We rather spontaneously decided to make our way towards the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. This was our best drive yet, with winding roads taking us through all kinds of landscapes and weather changes, I cannot even describe the unusual beauty we experienced during our journey there. As we didn’t have much time, we decided to take the toll road and tunnel to get there rather than to take the windy more scenic route, but this took a lot of time off our journey and we saw many beautiful things along the way. We even stopped to make a bacon sandwich in a beautiful campsite on the beach in Borgarnes.
When we got to Snæfellsnes we decided to go to this concealed and less touristy natural hot tub called Landbrotalaug. The lake they are next to is just north of Eldborg but is hard to find without GPS co-ordinates. There was a little sign indicating where it was which we saw during our walk.
This was by far the highlight of our trip, as the sun was out but the air was still chilly, making it perfect weather for a visit to a hot spring. There are two hot springs there, one which is larger but shallow and another which is small and personal and only fits two people in it, but is very deep and the water almost reaches your neck. When we arrived we were the only people there, which meant we could test out both of them and we had a very fun morning there. The hot tub isn’t completely secluded and there was a steady stream of hikers that came through as well but this did not take away from its beauty. This was the highlight of our holiday as the view was amazing, it was the most incredible experience!
After a very relaxing morning we reluctantly moved on to Ytri-Tunga beach, where seals are often found. This was also amazing, as it was a picturesque day and the beach was stunning. We walked along the beach then hopped down the rocks to sit further in the sea and right next to the seals. We were sure to be silent and not move too much as we did not want to scare them off. It was such a calming evening and we could have sat there for hours just watching the seals.
After leaving the beach, we drove back a little way towards Reykjavik as our flight was the next morning. We drove down to Akranes, but decided not to camp at Akranes campsite but at the war and peace museum which was close by. The camping ground was basically empty and had the most incredible view. We parked our van behind a bush to break the wind and settled in for the evening. Half an hour after we arrived the most beautiful rainbow appeared and the landscape looked breathtaking – we would highly recommend! We made some pasta and sat outside our van for hours enjoying the convenient 24-hour sunlight.
Campsite: War & Peace Museum, Akranes
Day 4: Blue Lagoon & Home
We woke up on our last morning feeling slightly hungover and a little worse for wear, and we started our drive down towards the airport. We had planned to go to the Blue Lagoon, one of the 25 wonders of the world, which is a 15-minute drive from Keflavik airport and so very convenient for us. We knew the Blue lagoon was a must-do. Sadly, due to our classic lack of planning and common sense we did not realize you had to book so ended up being told we could not enter. If you are going to Iceland you must go to the Blue lagoon – just make sure you book! We walked around the amazing baby blue waters outside the lagoon and went inside to see the steaming pools which seemed to be from another planet! We still really enjoyed just seeing the blue lagoon although we were disappointed we never got to go in!
- Try to plan before you go – we sort of spontaneously planned each step in the morning which was very exciting and worked for us, but meant we spent a lot more time driving
- It’s hard to buy alcohol in Iceland, and it’s very expensive! If you want to drink make sure you pick up a few beers or bottles at Duty Free before you leave the airport.
- Make sure you book the Blue lagoon!
Read more: Áfram Ísland!
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