Trip of a Lifetime
Iceland had been on our minds for a few years and this Spring we decided to book flights for 12 days in Iceland and just go for it! After talking to a few friends, one recommended renting a campervan, something they had loved when they traveled through Scotland. We looked into it and decided that a camper van was perfect for our itinerary. We knew we wanted to see Southern Iceland, and the Westfjords, but didn’t want to be stuck to a set schedule. The camper van let us stop and stay wherever we wanted!
We were so excited to find out the camper van not only had free WiFi, a mini refrigerator, and a bed for someone as tall as me (188cm / 6ft 2in), but also had a heater that could be turned on when the car was off! We set off down the southern coast on a rainy Monday and stopped at Sellfoss for some groceries, snacks, and a nap to recover from our flight.
Our first official stop was the beautiful Seljalandsfoss. The rain stopped just in time for us to take in the first of countless waterfalls of our trip. We spent the night camping in Vik, which might be our favorite little town of the trip!
Over the next few days we experienced the unique beauty of Iceland. We started by stopping at Fjarðrárgljúfur, a short canyon tucked just off the ring road that has a spectacular short hike.
Then we traveled to Skaftafell, hiking up to the delicate gem Svartifoss. We got on the trail early and were the only people at the waterfall when we got there! We drove up to Jökulsarlón, a bay of Icebergs. It was very rainy, but it created an almost ghost-like atmosphere that really made the icebergs seem large and mysterious.
We headed back to Vik and the sun came out right as we walked up to see Dyrhólaey, a massive sea arch. It was so fascinating to see the violent waves crashing on Vik’s shore when just down the road, the water had been so calm.
We stopped to see the giant basalt columns on one of Vik’s other beaches, Reynisfjara, before heading to spend the night at Skógafoss. And we spent the night AT the waterfall enjoying a bottle of wine with the spectacular view.
We spent the next day hiking Waterfall Way, part of the Fimmvörðuháls trail. There were more waterfalls and amazing views than we could count! It was the single most amazing hike I have ever been on in my life. And that’s not an exaggeration!
Next, we took in all of the standard Golden Circle sites: Geysir, Gullfoss, and Þingvellir. Þingvellir had a majestic beauty that was completely different from what we saw on the southern coast.
Read more: What’s included in the Camper van rental
We headed to the Western peninsula for a nice scenic drive in our comfortable camper van, taking in views of the Volcano Snæfellsjökull, and the iconic Kirkjufell.
It was late August, but we still caught a glimpse of the northern lights while we spent the night in the lovely fishing town of Ólafsvík. We made our way along the coast, stopping at the gorgeous coastal town of Stykkishólmur.
Read more: Where to camp in Iceland
As we made our way North, we saw on the map there was a hot spring at Laugar, so we pulled over, grabbed our swimsuits, and walked up to a private natural hot springs! There was a small cabin for changing and the only other people there left very soon after we arrived, so we had it all to ourselves!
We ended up in Hólmavik and took advantage of their new town pool and camp area before heading into the Westfjords. We awoke to find that the sky was very cloudy and foggy. We were going to be very disappointed if the Westfjords were cloud covered and we couldn’t take in the mighty views we had heard so much about!
As we made our way over the pass, the clouds got thicker and thicker until we could barely see, then suddenly, as we reached the summit, we came out of the clouds into perfectly blue skies as far as the eye could see! There were wildflowers lining the road, water dribbling down the mountain, and the fjords were coming into view.
The road went in and out of the long, narrow fjords, each one getting taller and skinnier than the last! The water was so still that the mountains were reflecting perfectly in them. We pulled over to see some Seals hanging out on the rocks, and stopped in Súðavik to see some cute foxes at the Arctic fox research center.
Read more: Camp like a boss
Then we came to Ísafjörður: a town in the middle of a fjord. The town was much larger than expected, and we stopped and had a beer, enjoying the views of the two fjord walls that guard the town. Where the South was spectacular and triumphant with crashing waterfalls everywhere to be seen, the Westfjords so far were on a very different spectrum, they were majestic and calming in the most beautiful of ways.
The plan was to go back the way we came, but on a whim, we decided to head back another way, using a dirt road that went straight over the fjords. It started with a three-way tunnel. That’s right, a tunnel that actually has a fork in it! It was the craziest tunnel I’ve ever been in, it went on for many kilometers, and a good stretch of it was only wide enough for one car, so you had to use the small pull offs to let people by!
We were soooo happy we decided to take the less traveled dirt road. It was one of the highlights of our trip. The road takes you straight up to the top of the fjords, giving way to some of the most amazing and spectacular views I’ve ever seen: massive fjordal valleys sprawling for miles! It also allowed us to stop at Dynjandi. We would have thought we saw enough waterfalls to last a lifetime on the southern coast, but this one was completely different. It spreads out like a chandelier as it flows over the fjord, almost as wide as it is tall!
After the Westfjords, we headed back towards Keflavík, and spent the night in the lava field at Grindavík. We finally made it to the Blue Lagoon, which was a relaxing way to spend the day before returning our camper van and spending our last 2 days in Reykjavik.
We knew that Iceland was going to be a beautiful trip, but we had no idea how much of an adventure it would be. We felt like explorers with the freedom our camper van gave us. We could sleep wherever we wanted, eat at a restaurant, or make some food on the side of the road with our little picnic table. We loved every second of the trip and didn’t even see half of the country! We already want to go back so we can see the North, East, and the Highlands! Until next time Iceland!
Read more: Morgan & Cody’s Iceland road trip
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