Iceland - Part 1 (first 7 days) of our 14 day whirlwind adventure! Our road-trip itinerary!
We are lucky enough to be spending a full 14 days travelling around Iceland, however due to high-demand for information of the places that we have visited, we will be releasing our first 7 day Itinerary (below), and then complete our last 7 days once we have finished our trip.
This below 7 day blog outlines all of the waterfalls, hot springs, and photography spots that we have stopped at starting from Reykjavik all the way towards the North coast of Iceland.. Let us know if you have any other questions by simply sending us an email to WeLiveWeExplore@outlook.com - and watch for our Part 2 blog coming soon! Subscribe to our mailing list so that you’re the first to be notified once it goes live :) Happy reading & travel planning guys!
We arrived in Keflavik airport at around 8.30am - the moment we set foot off the plane we were instantly WOW’ed with this place! Even the airport is voted the #1 airport in all of Europe and when you come here, you will see why!
We jumped on the Fly Bus which is a shuttle that takes you directly to the bus-station near Reykjavik, or Reykjavik itself. We were picking up our camper-van that morning through Campeasy, which includes the direct transfer to their office (Fly Bus ticket + taxi ride), but generally you are looking at around $30 USD each way (still much much cheaper than the taxi services), and the bus even includes information brochures and wifi!
We arrived to the Campeasy office where we were greeted by the incredibly friendly Yoann - he went through lots of helpful information with us about Iceland, hot tips of where we should visit, gave us lots of useful website links to check road conditions, aurora forecast etc, and of course gave us a full run-down of our new camper home for the next 14 days!
We had THE most incredible and positive experience with our Campeasy van, the company have thought of absolutely everything when setting up their vans to make travel around Iceland enjoyable - even including things like guitars, speakers, and frisbees as part of your rental if you wish!
The vehicles are very recent new models that are spacious and comfortable, two very important things when this is your home for 14 days! Fully equipped with cooking gear, utensils, towels, heater, GPS, BBQ, discount gas card, bedding, coffee plunger.. even unlimited wifi!
If you are planning a trip to Iceland, there truly is no better way to experience it all than in a camper, and Campeasy made things exactly that, simply easy! Check them out to make a booking for sure guys - their website can be found at www.campeasy.com
We were lucky enough to spend a full 14 days travelling around this incredible island, and found so many amazing spots along the way! Here is our 14 day itinerary of our entire loop around Iceland, and some of the must-see spots that we would recommend!
All of these names can be found using Google Maps or maps.me unless we specify otherwise. All sights are also free of charge unless we advise otherwise.
Day 1 - Reykjavik
Bonus Supermarket: If you are like us and on a budget, or simply don’t want to pay for over-priced food, then Bonus is the supermarket for you! It was a two minute drive from where we picked up our camper van in Reykjavik, however there are many of them in Reykjavik and even a few more sprinkled around the island. Here we stocked up on a whole lot of pasta, rice, eggs, bread, vegetables, cereals, and anything that wasn’t going to cost us an arm and a leg! Iceland can be VERY expensive so even in places like Bonus, just check the price of what you’re about to purchase before putting it in your basket - odd things like slices of cheese can end up setting you back $24USD, or $12 for a carton of eggs!
Grótta Lighthouse: We had a few hours to spare in Reykjavik, so we checked out the Grótta lighthouse which is an iconic and impressive sight to see on the north-westernmost point in Reykjavik, only around a 10 minute drive from the city centre (you are also able to walk here if you’re feeling like a long stroll!) This seemed to be a very popular spot for sunset, but we found our own little sunset spot to enjoy as you’ll read below ;)
Kvika Hot Spring: We came across this little spot by using the website hotpoticleand.com which is how we found most of the hot springs during our trip! This one though was probably the smallest hot-spring that we visited, only suitable for 1-2 people max, but it was perfectly positioned on the coastline of the ocean, a little rock-pool heated by the geothermal activity nearby - the most beautiful spot for enjoying the sunsetting & not to be missed if you have a spare hour or so in Reykjavik!
Reykjavik Campsite: after four days of plane flights and sleeping in airports we were pretty keen for a shower! So we checked into Reykjavik Campsite (one of the only ones open in the area during the winter), where we paid around $20USD per person for a tent site (where we were able to sleep in our camper). The campsite was fully equipped with a kitchen, shower facilities, and wifi.
Driving distance: 30km’s
Day 2 - Golden Circle
This was a big day for us! Only around a 300km loop, you need to allow yourself at least 6 hours to complete the entire circle as there will be LOTS of places that you will want to stop-off for the day! Here’s a list of a few must-see’s:
Drive through Thingvellir National Park: the first section of the loop from Reykjavik will see you driving through Thingvellir National Park, here you will more than likely pull off the side of the road many times to take gorgeous snaps of the landscapes beyond.
Bruarfoss waterfall: This was our first photographed waterfall in Iceland, and a beautiful one! We read about it in a blog, a hidden spot that most people miss when doing the Golden Circle as it involves a slight detour and around a 15 minute walk - but certainly a must-see! The exact location of the waterfall can be found by using Google Maps or the maps.me application on your phone
Strokkur Geiser: The famous Strokkur geyser! Erupting on average every 6 minutes, this geyser is a large and impressive one! It’s worth staying here for at least 20 minutes or so, as each time the size of the eruption can be slightly different, but eventually you will see (and hopefully photograph) a big one! The crowd cheering it along :)
Gulfoss Waterfall: WOW - this waterfall was a great one to visit as there are accessible viewpoints from a range of different spots - to the side, above, and right up close. But make sure that you bring yourself a rain jacket because you WILL get wet from the powerful spray!
Faxi Waterfall: Again, this is a waterfall that many miss when travelling the Golden Circle and one that we only found out about by reading somebody else’s blog post. This waterfall is like a mini Gulfoss Waterfall, just without the crazy crowds!! It’s along the HWY 35 and just a small turn-off to the waterfall
Kerid Crater: A very popular spot along the Golden Circle, but one that we decided to give a miss. Entrance is approximately $4 USD per person, and from the photos we’ve seen, at particular times of the year this can be a really impressive spot to stop!
Seljalandfoss Waterfall: Another waterfall where you will defiantly have to pack that rain jacket - we loved this waterfall for the fact that you are actually able to walk all the way around and behind it via a walking trail. I don’t know about you, but we had never had the opportunity to photograph a waterfall from behind before! Despite getting completely drenched in doing so, and making sure our camera was covered with a plastic bag the entire time, it was an awesome experience and sight to see :)
Driving distance: 350km’s
Day 3 - South Coast
Day 3 was another long day, full of a range of different landscapes and of course, lots more impressive waterfalls.
Seljavallaug Hot Spring: We started our day off by enjoying a relaxing hot-spring. This one involves parking your car about 1km away from the spring, and walking through a valley of mountains. After around 10 minutes you will see the steam and spot Seljavallaug - this was certainly one of the larger springs that we visited, where a man-made swimming pool around 20 metres x 8 metres has been built to pump the geothermal water for lots to enjoy. There were even changing room facilities here, great for getting back into your hiking boots and warm jackets for the walk back to your car!
Skogafoss Waterfall: Incase you haven’t noticed, we never get sick of seeing new waterfalls, and in Iceland, you won’t either because each are so different and diverse from the last! Skogafoss is a gorgeous waterfall as it’s both extremely wide, and tall! You can get as close as you wish to, and there’s also the option of climbing up the hundreds of stairs to the right of the waterfall, which will take you literally all the way up to the top! A little gate at the top allows you to walk even further along the waterfall which we highly recommend! Here we found some even more beautiful views of rivers, waterfalls, and a much quieter atmosphere, so ensure you allow at least an hour or so for visiting Skogafoss as there is so much more than initially meets the eye to explore.
DC-3 Plane Crash Wreckage: Previously tourists were able to drive their car pretty much all the way up to the wreckage, however now this road is closed off and if you want to see it, you will need to put your sneakers or hiking boots on and go for a walk. There is a large car-parking pull-off to the right of the HWY1, around 9km’s after Skogafoss Waterfall, once you pass road 221, about 1 km past this you will see a number of other cars parked here, and that’s how you will know it’s the spot as otherwise there aren’t any other signs! The walk to the plane wreckage is 4.5km’s one-way and is a flat and easy one, you feel as though you are in the middle of no-where and you can’t see the plane at all until the last 500 metres. When we arrived there were lots of people crowded around the plane, some even had jumped on the top and were walking on top of the wreckage, but after waiting patiently for around 20 minutes we finally got a quiet window to get some photographs.
Vík Black Sand Beach: A quick little stop-off on the HWY 1 is Vik’s black sand beach. Although many of Iceland’s beaches have black sand, this one is iconic for the rock formations that also emerge from the ocean - a pretty impressive landscape!
Fjadrargljufur Canyon: A short detour from the HWY 1, you can basically drive all the way up the mouth of the canyon and the walk to the viewpoint is only a few minutes. But what a gorgeous sight to see! If you have some extra time, you can also continue to walk along the canyon’s edge, where there are continuous views of the flowing river below. If you are game enough to brace the cold water, it is also possible to walk along the bottom of the canyon - we met two guys with drysuits who were about to venture off exploring the canyon from below!
Svartifoss Waterfall: Hands down one of our favourite waterfalls that we have seen in Iceland. Svartifoss waterfall is a little hidden, and we met a few people who unfortunately did not find their way here! But we found it with no problems using our maps.me application. Your arrive at a large parking area, and here is where the trailhead to Svartifoss (and a range of other waterfalls if you have the extra time!) begins. The walk was around 2km’s each way, and the way up is a little steep (enough to build up a sweat even in Iceland!). Once you start the hike there are lots of little signs that direct you the right way. Once you can see the waterfall, continue on the trail towards the right of the waterfall where you will find another little path that takes you down all the way to the bottom. We dd the hike at around 8.30pm at night and were the only ones there the entire time!
Travel distance: 280km’s
Day 4 - South Coast continued
Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon: A water outlet filled with hundreds of enormous icebergs, you can drive your car right up to the bank and watch as they float in and out depending on the tide direction, as well as flip and emerge suddenly from the water beneath. When we visited, there were also a few adorable seal’s swimming around - a perfect little lunch spot with a view.
Glacier Hiking with Glacier Adventures: this activity was a true true highlight of our time in Iceland. We have put together an entirely seperate blog post dedicated to our morning with Glacier Adventures full of information and photos from our half-day activity. But WOW - what an experience! You travel by 4x4 to the glaciers edge where we then jumped on a small boat to access the glacier. With crampons, helmets, ice-axe’s, and harness’s, our wonderful guide Stone took us to so many gorgeous places along the glacier that you wouldn’t’ even know existed! Ice caves, spots to fill up our water bottles with fresh glacier water, and we learnt so much about the development and evolvement also. We were in a small group of only 7 people, which meant that there were lots of opportunities for photographs, and stops wherever we pleased. Read more about our glacier hiking experience at the link here!
Hoffell Hot Tubs: After a morning of hiking, it was perfect to soak our bodies in the hot springs at Hoffell - here there are five different tubs all ranging in different temperatures. One of them was much too hot to jump in, but the others were beautiful. There is a cost of around $4 USD at these springs based on an honesty system with a donation box - but wiht gorgeous mountain views this is one to stop in at for sure
Nettó Supermarket: As we needed to stock up on things like bread and milk, we came across a discount supermarket called Nettó, with similar priced goods as Bonus. Another great one to stop at for reasonable priced food during your travels.
Driving distance: 130km’s
Day 5 - East Coast
Day 5 was completely dedicated to exploring the east coast, instantly we noticed the landscapes changing - the mountains still covered in so much snow, but lots of greenery from the recent sunshine.
Djúpivogur Hot Tub: We started our morning with a relaxing hot-tub soak along the coast - with views of the ocean in a tub that could comfortable sit around 10 people, we had it all to ourselves!
Fossardalur Waterfall: This was our favourite waterfall along the east coast - if you drive up to the top you can walk through a little gate which will take you right up to the edge. You can then walk around the waterfall edges, and if the water wasn’t absolutely freezing cold, we would have even gone jumping from here, right into the basin of the fall where you can then swim to the shore.
Mjoeyri Travel: After a long day with lots of photo stops along the East coast of Iceland, we stopped in at Mjoeyri Travel & Guest Houses - here we stayed the night in the campsite area. Mjoeyri is a family-run business and they specialise in their 10 little red cottages that are spread amongst the property. The guest-houses are located on a beautiful peninsula in the town of Eskifjörður, right on the water’s edge! The cottages can sleep anywhere from 1 - 7 people, so there is accomodation here to suit everyone’s situation! With shower, toilet, and even jacuzzi & sauna facilities, it’s a great spot to come and enjoy the scenery of the East Fjords and soak in the mountainous landscapes on the water. We spent the afternoon skipping stones on the water, playing with the family dog, and soaking up the sunshine. There are also boat’s available at Mjoeyri that can also be rented straight from here and taken out on the water only metres away from the cottages, as well as a nearby restaurant for all meals of the day. There are truly beautiful views to wake up to in the morning & if you are travelling along the east coast, making a stop here is a must do! You can find more informant about bookings and location at their website - http://mjoeyri.is/en/
Driving distance: 210km’s
Day 6 - North-East Coast
The drive from the East towards the North is full of such difference scenery than what we have experienced so far in Iceland - volcanic as though you are on another planet, causing on mars.
Dettifoss & Selfoss Waterfalls: These waterfalls can both be accessed from the same parking lot. Allow yourself around 1 hour to see both as a little bit of walking is required (around 3km’s in total for both). Dettifoss personally was the most impressive of the two, the power of the fall spraying water on your face as you walked along the cliff edge. We were lucky enough to be there when a big rainbow was shining just next to the waterfall & capture this on camera. A gorgeous introduction to Northern Iceland.
Grjótagjá Canyon: Just before you approach Lake Mtyvatn on HWY 1 you will see a pull-off for this canyon. There are two cave entrances right outside the parking area, where you climb down a few rocks and are instantly in a natural hot-spring cave! There are lots of signs outside advising that swimming in here is not permitted, we put our hands in the water and it was a perfectly warm temperature for swimming! But understand the importance of being respectful of the private farm’s wishes where the cave is located. Afterwards we went exploring along the edge of the crack of the cave where you can see that it just continues for kilometres and kilometres, steam coming out at the top! The water so brilliant and blue, this was a super cool spot for a quick stop-off!
Stóragjá Canyon: This canyon is only a few minutes drive from Grjótagjá and we only came across it as we saw it labelled on our maps.me application - there are no real signs indicating that it’s here! The parking area can only fit around 2 cars, and the walking trail to the canyon cave entrance is only a few minutes from here. There are stairs that take you down into the canyon and this looks a little different to the last as the water presence is not as obvious. But if you look behind a few rocks around one of the corners, you will see a rope and even a ladder which you can use to access the hot springs below in the dark cave. There were no signs indicating that swimming isn’t allowed here so we would suggest to bring your swimwear with you if you wanted a cool cave dipping experience! Just be careful making your way down, as some parts do look rather deep.
Lake Myvatn: What a gorgeous lake! With lots of different outlets, the lake is surrounded by snowcapped mountains and rolling volcanic hills. We went to enjoy sunset right by the lake, popped the back of the doors open and enjoyed the peaceful serenity that we were graced with.
Vogar Travel Service Camping: We found this camp-spot online and were pleasantly surprised once we arrived to realise that it is right near the water of Lake Myvatn! Vogar Travel Camping was probably the most well set-up campground that we had been to in our first week in Iceland. The check-in/reception is actually also a pizza bar, and as you walk in you can smell the delicious fresh dough cooking in the back - we found it impossible not to be tempted to look at the menu and come back here for dinner! The incredibly friendly girl at reception gave us all the information we needed to make sure we have a comfortable stay, and welcomed us back with any questions we may have.
At an affordable price of 1500ISK per person (a lot cheaper than other places!) this included hot indoor showers, toilets, kitchen usage, and optional electricity for plug-in’s. There were adorable sheep and lambs right across the road, and the camping area is so spacious that you have lots of room to kick a football, through a frisbee, put your feet up, and soak up the sun! As the area is so large no bookings are necessary - so roll up and check it out for yourself!
NB: Vogar not only offer a campground and facilities, but also cottages and guest houses - check out their website at http://vogahraun.is for more information!
Driving distance: 220km’s
Day 7 - North Coast
WOW - we can’t believe it’s already been an entire week in Iceland, the last 6 days have gone so quickly, and at this point we have been pretty flat out so today we enjoyed a sleep-in at our campsite, and spent some time transferring our photos and writing this blog!
Goðafoss Waterfall: First stop for the day! We are loving how much quieter these spots are as we make our way through the east and up to the North of Iceland - not as many tourists unfortunately explore Iceland for this amount of time, but we are so stoked that we have the opportunity to make the entire loop around Iceland and see some of the more untouched areas. Goðafoss is definitely a popular spot, and the moment we stepped foot out of the car we understood why! The official carpark for the waterfall is on the right hand side, however Goðafoss is accessible from both the left and right side of the waterfall, and we opted to go for a bit of a walk and explore around the left side - boy are we glad that we did! Much quieter as not many people come around this way, and we personally think the views are 2984723 times better as you are more-so facing the front of Goðafoss rather than viewing it from side-on. Just a little tip!
Fosslaug Hot Spring: We absolutely loved this hot spring as it was as au natural as you can get. Built from stones, and with gorgeous views of the nearby waterfall Reykjafoss, it was so relaxing to be out in the middle of nowhere, cold wind on your face but warm water surrounding your entire body.. an absolutely blissful way to end our relaxing day.
Hvítserkur: Hvítserkur is a 15 metre high rock formation along the eastern shore of the Vatnsnes peninsula, in northwest Iceland. The rock has two holes at the base, which gives it the appearance of a dragon who is drinking. Only a slight detour from HWY 1, the coast-line around here is absolutely gorgeous and this natural rock sculpture is pretty cool to photograph!
Driving distance: 300km’s
General Iceland tips & recommendations:
Getting around: We couldn’t recommend enough hiring a camper van for your time in Iceland and travelling around this way. It makes life so easy, and you have the ability to perch up at a campground for the night, fall asleep in the comfort of your van, and get going again early the next morning. You will save a lot of money this way rather than having to pay for a car / accomodation (accomodation can be very very pricy in Iceland) and it will also give you the opportunity to be more flexible with your days. You don’t need to book campsites in advance so if you decide to spend an extra night somewhere, you have the ability to do this with no fuss. We loved that we were able to perch up anywhere and cook ourselves a meal in the warmth of our vehicle while also enjoying the gorgeous Iceland views from right outside our window. We travelled around with a Camp Easy (Easy Fun) camper and it couldn’t have been more perfect. Check them out online at www.campeasy.com for more information or to make a booking!
Food: Eating out in Iceland is VERY expensive (we’re talking $40USD for a small 9 inch pizza & $20 for a subway sandwich!), thankfully we had a cooker in the back of our van which meant that we were able to save a lot of money by cooking our own meals. We were in the USA prior to flying into Iceland so we even stocked up on a whole heap of noodles, pasta, sauces, and anything and everything that we were able to pack in our bags and bring along with us to save some extra pennies. We have only shopped at 2 x discount supermarkets while we have been here, Bonus & Netto, both of these stores have reasonable priced food goods, but there are some items that we think are just going to be overpriced wherever you try to buy them!
Gas: We made the terrible mistake of going to an N1 gas station and pressing the “fill tank” option - whatever you do, do NOT do this as the gas station will instantly put a 25,000 ISK hold on your card ($330 AUD) and for Mish it’s still been 4 days with no release & they’ve advised us that we will need to contact our bank to release the money, all a bit frustrating when you are travelling without a phone. Compare the prices at different gas stations as we’ve found them to be very different even when on the same street.
Camping: Earlier this year the Iceland government introduced a law stating that it is illegal for people to camp anywhere other than at a designated campground, as thousands of tourists were doing the wrong thing by leaving rubbish behind and going to the toilet where they please. Iceland is very well set-up with campgrounds and you will never have any problems locating a place to stay for the night, but this can also become quite pricey with campgrounds charging anywhere between $20 - $30USD per person for a simple campsite with toilets / showers. The other option that you have is to locate a spot to camp and just check-in with the owner of the property to confirm that they’re okay with you staying the night - we have done this a couple of times and had no problem or disturbances by the police through the night, just ensure you’re not on a main HWY etc and be respectful by packing up your trash!
What to bring:
WARM CLOTHES! Whether you are visiting in winter or summer, Iceland is renown for it’s crazy weather. Sunshine one second, snow storms the next. The days may be warm, but the nights can get really chilly, so make sure you bring lots and lots of LAYERS, including a raincoat because you are definitely bound to get wet at each waterfall you visit!
Swimwear: The natural hot-pools in Iceland are endless, you will be sure to want to stop off at these and put your feet up after a full day of exploring so be sure to pack your swimmers!
Hiking Boots: Even if you don’t intend on doing any hikes, sneakers are not going to cut it in Iceland - lots of trails to the waterfalls and look-out spots are very wet and muddy
Camera: You will want to take photographs of everything and anything, a camera is a must! If you’re pretty into your photography be sure to bring along a tripod also to capture some awesome long-exposure shots of the endless waterfalls, or if you’re lucky enough - maybe even the Northern Lights!
Websites that we are finding useful:
For finding all of the hot spring locations that we have named above: http://hotpoticeland.com
Current road conditions: http://www.road.is
Weather updates & Aurora forecasts: http://en.vedur.is
We have another jam-packed 7 days left exploring the North and Western Fjords of Iceland, one we are finished adventuring here we will be releasing Part 2 of our Iceland itinerary blog as well as putting together a YouTube video of our incredible time here. Subscribe to our mailing list online now so that you’er the first to be notified as soon as they go live :)
We always love hearing form you guys so if you have any questions or comments feel free to send an email our way to WeLiveWeExplore@outlook.com !
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