The Student experience
At the end of our university exams, we wanted a way to celebrate the end of our undergraduate degrees. What better way than a 6 day road trip around Iceland right?! Once our plane landed, we picked up our camper van and then we were off; the adventure began! Before coming to Iceland we had a vague idea of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see, and this began with an expensive, but very worthwhile trip to the Blue Lagoon. This was a great way to start our trip, both due to its location near the airport, but also as it gave us a short, easy drive to get used to the size and driving of the camper van. We spent a few hours here, making the most of the included face mask and drink, floated around the lagoon and also made a visit to the steam room and the Sauna. Once we were fully relaxed and revitalized from the lagoon, we headed to a supermarket in Grindavík and onward to our first campsite of our trip in Grindavík, ready for a cosy first night’s sleep in our camper!
We rose on the second day to blue skies and set off early towards Hveragerði. Some friends who had visited Iceland previously had recommended a beautiful hike to hot springs, so we packed some snacks, water and plenty of warm layers and headed off on our hike. The hike took approximately 45mins to an hour, being very hilly on the way to the hot springs and gentler on the way back. As we arrived back, we tucked into lunch, topped up on fuel (we had been warned to always get fuel whenever you see a gas station), and started driving along the south coast to the famous waterfalls (pictured). Our favourite was the hidden waterfall by Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which required a balanced step through a little stream but culminated in a powerful, hidden gem! From here, we headed to Vik and set up camp, but not before a trip to one of the most scenic Icelandic churches we had seen.
We awoke on day 3 to heavy rain and strong winds but…it was royal wedding day! We set off further along the south coast with the goal of visiting Jökulsárlón after a late breakfast and a trip to the Vik supermarket. By lunchtime the weather was really quite bad, so we decided to pull over on route 1 into a lunch spot, and live streamed the royal wedding, stopping just in time to see the bride arrive at Windsor Castle in her dress! We headed back on the road after lunch and the main ceremony, with the sun coming out just in time for our arrival at Jökulsárlón, a beautiful glacial lagoon. We all agree that this was our favourite part of Iceland and well worth the trip! As we left, a rainbow came out, leading to this beautiful photo below of our camper van! We headed back along the road we had just come towards Svinafell campsite, our favourite of all we stayed in, due to its peace, good facilities and cheap prices!
Day 4 began with a trip to Skaftafell National Park, just a short drive from Svinafell campsite. After a short and windy, but flat hike to a nearby glacier we got back in the car to head towards Vik for a visit to the black beaches (picture below). After a nice beach walk, we had heard from fellow campers about a plane crash walk which along black sand, but flat. After our hike in the morning and doing this walk to the plane crash our legs were definitely tired and ready for dinner! We ended up stopping in a campsite just outside of Hveragerði and cooking as much food as we had for the three of us!
We rose on day 5 to beautiful weather, perfect for our trip around the Golden Circle and a visit up to Akranes, on the edge of west Iceland. We started at the Geysir, followed by Gullfoss and then the meeting of the two tectonic plates at Þingvellir National Park. Having all just completed Geography degrees, we were in Geography heaven! Our favourite was Þingvellir National Park, as we were able to step between being on the North American and Eurasian plate, seeing tectonic plates in action. We ended the day with a scenic drive to Akranes, with a beautiful beachfront campsite. As the sun set, we toasted the end of our degrees on the beach front and almost the end of our amazing trip!
Our final day was spent roaming Reykjavik, the islands capital city. The driving in our camper van towards Reykjavik was a shock compared to driving around the rest of the island, with a lot more cars and lanes on the road! After finding a spot to park our camper van, we headed to a beautiful church. As we wondered in, the organ was being played and we had a peaceful half an hour exploring and admiring the music. After this we went for coffee in a quirky little coffee shop, which was collecting currency notes from across the globe, and then wandered the city to find the famous hot dog stand visited by George Clooney and pop into some souvenir shops. We then ended our trip where it started: with a night at Grindavík campsite, cooking a large portion of pasta!
Overall, even as students on a budget, we were able to travel Iceland relatively cheaply with some planning and prior thought, and can thoroughly recommend campervanning! Our top five tips for students campervanning:
- Use the Bónus supermarket.
- Bring small bits of food from home, especially if coeliac (gluten free) like one of us.
- Check ahead if campsites have kitchen facilities, such as Grindavík campsite, one of our favourites
- See if showers are included in campsite prices.
- Sometimes for campsites look outside the main towns or tourist areas, for example Svinafell campsite outside of Skaftafell National Park was cheap campsite with great facilities.
Read more: Iceland & back – An unexpected story
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