My boyfriend and I recently went on a trip to Iceland which was filled with tons of unique adventures. Here, I’d like to share with you our route around Iceland and travel tips.
Some interesting facts about Iceland you may not know:
Recently, Iceland is getting more and more media attention and pictures of the amazing nature are popping up here and there on the internet. The low-cost airline WOW definitely contributes a fair share to it. Luckily, tourism is thriving and helping the local economy. The financial crisis 2008 hit Iceland hard and a lot of Icelanders had to leave downtown Reykjavik as they couldn’t afford living there anymore. People moved back out to the countryside and opened up their doors on Airbnb hoping to earn some extra money from tourists. This is not only a great way for travelers to peek into some Icelandic homes, but it also provides alternatives to the very few guesthouses which may be packed in the summer. Booking your accommodation in Iceland is a must, if you don’t want to risk sleeping in your car or camp somewhere. Don’t expect many fancy hotels out in the country; most houses are more than 100 years old and haven’t been renovated much. In some houses you really feel like stepping back into another century.
Having been at one of the world’s biggest glacier Vatnajökull and talking to locals, the climate change takes its toll on the once massive ice formations. Within the last 25 years, the melting rate has increased enormously, which is very alarming. On one side, more and more tourists are flocking into Iceland to see the most of the glaciers, which keeps the tour guides busy, but on the other side, the more people that walk on the glacier the faster it will disappear.
Icelanders have a distinct look, most very pale, blonde or reddish hair, some similarities to Scandinavian people. They are very friendly but it takes a while for them to open up. Apparently the social meeting points are not bars and clubs but the baths and hot springs. Iceland’s bathing culture is very known and you can find a pool in every small village. Most of them speak perfect English, even the older generation. Some Icelanders fear that the locals will soon lose their own language as the youth is focusing on English. There are hardly any websites or movies in Icelandic, which is why they get very proficient in English at a young age by watching YouTube videos and movies.
Life in general is more expensive than on mainland Europe, especially groceries cost significantly more due to the import. Iceland’s specialties include lamb head, whale, puffin, black licorice with chocolate, hot dogs, and the infamous rotten shark (of course we had to try but it was truly disgusting). We weren’t very fond of the Icelandic cuisine but the geyser bread with smoked trout was ok and I absolutely crave Skyr, a high protein joghurt which you can get in all sorts of flavors at the supermarkets like Bonus!
Some short facts to our trip:
Duration: 10 days (if you really want to enjoy it and don’t rush through it, plan around 6 days for the Ring Road, excluding the “Golden Circle”)
Total Distance: 2150km
Costs: ~800 € (300€ special tours, 200€ Procar rental, 140€ gas, 210€ Food and Misc.) excl. flights
Definitely not a cheap destination even if you do it on a budget but we splurged a bit on some special trips which were totally worth the money.
Season: Late Winter, early spring (March) with mild climate
Our sample journey for you to copy if you like (or send me a message, I can help you plan):
Day 1 (80km): Arrival at Reykjavik and tour Reykjavik for a bit – Accommodation tip: Igdlo Guesthouse
Day 2 (190km): Golden Circle (see the Strokkur geysir erupting!)and Snorkeling at Silfra, lava caves – Accommodation tip Selfoss: Selfoss Hostel (best stay of the trip, awesome hostel with whirlpool)
Day 3 (160km): Hike to the natural hot springs at the Valley of Reykjadalur, and also to Seljavallalaug, waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, Reynisfjara beach and the cave at “Black Beach”, Village Vik – Accommodation tip Vik: Puffin Hostel (tiny, over 100 year old home, you will go back in time)
Day 4 (275km): Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Foss a Sidu (inspiration of Reykjavik’s outstanding church), get up close the glacier of Skaftafellsjokull/Vatnajökull, admire the icebergs at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon – Accommodation tip Hofn: spacious Airbnb house in the center
Day 5 (350km): Crystal Caving Tour, scenic east fjords – Accommodation tip Seyðisfjörður: cute village where the ferry from Denmark arrives/departs; stay with Johanna through Airbnb
Day 6 (290km): Longer ride today to Dettifoss waterfall, power plants, Lake Myvatn, “Blue Lagoon” of the north – Accommodation tip Laugar – stay here and have the best breakfast of Iceland
Day 7 (110km): Tour around Myvatn, enjoy more hot springs, check out the movie location of the Fast & Furious, Godafoss, Akureyri (capital of the north), also check out the original houses of Laufas – we couchsurfed here, best way to really get in touch with the locals
Day 8 (430km): long driving day back to Reykjavik, not many places to stop on the way, also check out Seltjarnarnes for sunset and Norther Lights – Accommodation tip Reykjavik: whole, spacious apartment in walking distance to downtown via Airbnb
Day 9 and 10: Relax at the harbour, get a souvenir at one of the many shops, check out Hallgrimskirkja chruch and have a drink or two 😉
For Airbnb bookings use my referral code to receive 17€ (25$) off your next stay!
Our packing list:
- Backpack and small sling bag for the day
- Sturdy shoes, preferably water proof
- Warm, waterproof jacket and pants (we took skiing gear)
- Jeans for Reykjavik
- Comfortable pants, leggings for the roadtrip
- Gloves, scarf, and hat
- Warm wool socks
- A few warm upper layers
- Travel towel (will come handy for those natural hot springs along the road)
- Swimwear (this is essential – if you don’t know already, Iceland is known for its bathing culture)
Love to hear from you and your Icelandic trip!