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All you need to know to plan your trip to the land of fire and ice

Iceland map

Iceland Landscape

Iceland, also known as the Land of fire and Ice, is one of the most beautiful countries on this planet.

5 reasons why you should visit Iceland?

  • A variety of landscapes between glaciers, mountains, fjords and volcanoes.
  • The Northern Lights.
  • The Puffins (Cute little birds).
  • Rough Nature.
  • The waterfalls.

Plan your road trip in Iceland

Let me start by sharing a few tips to keep in mind when planning your trip to Iceland:

Tip #1: Travel Time

In order to get from point A to point B, always allow yourself more time. I can tell you that you would want to stop and enjoy the scenery all the time!!!

Tip #2: Roads Conditions

Be mindful that conditions can change unexpectedly in winter, even with snowstorms. I highly recommend that you book an organized tour if you are not prepared to drive under such conditions.

Tip #3: Choosing the right Car

Consider carefully the roads you are going to take: Do you want to take Route 1 (Ring Road), unpaved roads, or F roads? – This will allow you to determine your vehicle accordingly.

Personally, to be able to take all the roads without asking myself any questions, I prefer to hire a standard 4wd. For the F roads, you would need a big 4wd).

Tip #4: Budget

Scandinavia is very expensive, and Iceland is no exception to the rule. Food wise, consider a daily budget of $30, and another $30 on local transportation.

Tip #5: How long should I go to Iceland for?

Iceland is beautiful all over (in my opinion). But it’s very easy to see a lot of beautiful scenery even iceland is b days.

My ideal period is between 4 to 10 days for a road trip. This will allow you to cover many of the regions. It is important to plan longer stays if you want to visit more remote areas such as the western coast or the highlands.

Welcome to Iceland - Keflavik Airport

London to Iceland

  • Booked on eDreams a £360 package ( Return Flights London to Reykjavik + Hostel).
  • Stayed at the Galaxy Pod Hostel – It has a good location.
  • Hired a car 4WD from the City Car Rental agency. I hired a DACIA Duster. Price wise, I paid ISK 27.800 for 4 days (ISK 11.111 for the cart, ISK 14700 for the insurance and ISK 2000 per additional driver). I visited in December, so all hired vehicles are equipped with snow tires.
  • I landed at Keflavik Airport. I took a fly bus to BSI TERMINAL – City center (45 minutes to reach Reykjavik). It costs $28 one way or $50 return. It is a fast bus where you can use Wi-Fi.
Puffin gift idea

Day 1 - Reykjavik

When visiting Reykjavik, you will not feel like visiting a big city. A few buildings are present, everything remains on a human scale. With its 200,000 inhabitants, the metropolitan area of ​​Reykjavik concentrates almost two-thirds of the island’s population.

And put simply, Reykjavik is built like any Scandinavian city. In other words, the city center concentrates all the tourist points of interest, the rest being basically residential.

Hallgrímskirkja Church

Hallgrímskirkja Church Reykjavik

My first visit was to the Hallgrímskirkja Church and for logistical reason, my accommodation was located on a walking distance from it.

You can’t miss it. With its spire culminating at 75m, it is visible for 20 kilometers around. At the architectural level, we are far from the cliché of the small wooden church. It looks more like a concrete rocket than a place of worship. But I was impressed by its originality.

Large LED Christmas Cat (Jólakötturinn) on Lækjartorg Square

Reykjavik City Centre

I went down Skólavörðustígur street and got to Hverfisgata street. You can find a huge range of stores, in all kinds. There, you will be able to sit down and mingle with the locals in several bars and restaurants.

I did continue my walk to Lækjartorg Square, where I foud a huge Christmas cat called Jólakötturinn. This cat is legendary in Iceland.

Before finishing this very short day, I went  down to the seaside. I have therefore walked by the Harpa, a concert hall and a conference centre, covered completely with glass.

SunVoyager

Continuing along the seafront, you can marvel at the bay that is offered to you, with the mountains in the background.

A little further, I reached a spot, called Sólfar (The Sun Voyager). This is a sculpture created in 1990 by Jón Gunnar Árnason. This steel sculpture depicts a Viking ship that heads toward the sun as it sets. A must do.

Walk from Sun Voyager to Laugarnes

If you like to walk, I suggest a scenic coast walk to Laugarnes peninsula, a historical site where the ruins of a settlement dating from the Viking period have been identified.

It’s a half an hour walk, where you’ll have the sea on the left hand side and Road 41 on the right. The view of Videy and Engey islands is fantastic.

Perlan

One location I would recommend if you want to see the northern lights in Rejkyavik is Perlan. It offers one of the best views over Rejkyavik.

Watching-the-Northern-Lights-in-Reykjavik

I drove to Perlan from my hostel, and despite the aurora geometric activity (KP index) was just above 2, I was lucky enough to see them.  

Day 2 - Road trip to Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss and Sûlheimasandur Plane wreck

Skogafoss

On this day, we drove for 2 hours from Reykjavic to Skogafoss. It is a famous waterfall, 62 meters high and 25 meters wide. The site is therefore very impressive.

Skogafoss is an Icelandic masterpiece. Its authority, its aesthetics, its geology. Unfortunately, it suffers from exceptional road traffic, which is again very easy to reach from Road 1.

Skogafoss waterfall

Another similarly impressive view is offered by a long staircase to the right of the waterfall. It’s a position of great intensity for the photographer’s senses and emotions.

Skogafoss impresses with this 60-meter-high curtain; it inspires a Certain dizziness, water logic that makes the body vibrate. It’s just a gorgeous place!

Seljalandsfoss

We then drove to Seljalandsfoss. Located near Route 1, 120 km from Reykjavik, the waterfall is therefore very easy to access. Just after the bridge that crosses the Markarfljót estuary, take the 249 for a few meters.

The water here falls over a chasm into the gap for approximately 65 metres, turning the place very green. In addition, you can admire many rainbows in the afternoon.

Seljalandsfoss

We then drove to Seljalandsfoss. Located near Route 1, 120 km from Reykjavik, the waterfall is therefore very easy to access. Just after the bridge that crosses the Markarfljót estuary, take the 249 for a few meters.

The water here falls over a chasm into the gap for approximately 65 metres, turning the place very green. In addition, you can admire many rainbows in the afternoon.

Seljalandsfoss

Sûlheimasandur Plane Wreck

Last stop of the day, we headed towards Sûlheimasandur Plane wreck parking lot. This is the starting point to get to the wreckage of a crashed plane.

For the record, in the midst of the Cold War, a US Army DC3 was forced to crash land for lack of fuel. Fortunately, in this crash, no casualties were to be recorded. But one can easily imagine the surprise of the soldiers after having landed in the middle of nowhere.

But to find this plane, some effort must be done. After parking the car, you take what appears to be the path to the plane, marked with a few yellow stakes.

The plane used to be accessible by car a few months ago, but now you have to walk. So it is in a fine rain that we begin our walk.

Sûlheimasandur Plane Wreck
A road in the middle of Nowhere

The place is rather unsettling, as the road is straight, with a lunar landscape all around. The black sand at loss of sight does not give the impression of advancing. Although the totally flat path does not present any difficulties, the walk is quite long.

Also, the plane still does not show itself on the horizon. After 45 minutes of walking, the wreck of the aircraft is eventually reached.

Walk to Sûlheimasandur Plane Wreck

The site is really far from any civilization and the black sand as far as the eye can see, adds a mystical side to the place. The beach is a short distance away, and behind the wreckage, you can find the sea.

Ultimately, the distance allows for some skimming and only the bravest venture there. No tourist coaches will ever waste so much time on this path.

During our walk, the rain which fell added a certain gloomy aspect. We were alone with this plane, without any apparent sign of life around, not even a blade of grass. Time seemed to have stood still.

Sûlheimasandur Plane Wreck site

Once you have seen the plane wreck, make sure you walk down the the hill to the black sand beach. Once done, it was time to take the opposite way to get back to our car, and we drove back to Reykjavik.

Day 3 - The Golden Circle: Kerid crater, Geysir and Gullfoss

It takes about an hour drive from Reykjavik to get to Kerid crater using Route 1 and Route 35. You will have to pay an entry fee of around 4 euros. When I was there, the crater was covered in snow.

If you do visit the crater in similar weather conditions, I highly recommend going down the stairs to the frozen lake. Be careful as the stairs can be very sliperry.  

Kerid Crater

Iceland’s volcanoes are some of the components that give this magnificent northern island its character. Although visiting an erupting volcano is neither feasible nor practical, it is almost as exciting (and less dangerous) to go and see an extinct volcano.

You will definitely be amazed by mother Nature when you stand next to Kerid.

Geysir

We drove half an hour into the island to Geysir. The site offers several geysers. In the Icelandic language, Geysir means “to gush”. You can reach one of them after just three minutes of walking.

You can see, logically, a little crowd around that blow hole, secured by a simple rope. Even if the site is safe, note that at a temperature between 80 and 100 ° C, the water comes out of the earth.

Geysir

The most active is the first geyser. Every five minutes or so, it gives us a short show. You’ll have to be very keen if you want to take a photograph. The water explosion only lasts for a few seconds, in a din that shocks for the first time.

A little farther down, other geysers are visible. If you are fortunate, you may see one of them, but their frequency is far more unpredictable than the first one. But it is time to resume the road, other natural beauties awaits us.

Gullfoss

This was the final stop of the day. Here we are, after just a 10 minutes drive from Geysir, at our third stop of the day: Gullfoss. Water reigns supreme here, and Gullfoss means Golden water in Icelandic language.

But if we’re fortunate enough to be able to enjoy these two waterfalls today, the place was once endangered.

In fact, a dam project was studied, but luckily, thanks in particular to the bravery of the Landlord’s daughter, who fought hard to protect the place, it never succeeded.

Gullfoss waterfall Iceland

There are two viewpoints. The first, by walking behind the shop, will allow you to overlook the two falls. Or, you also have the option to go down the stairs and thus find yourself at the level of the first waterfall, which will allow you to be as close as possible to the falls.

Add a few splashes to this and you feel in harmony with nature. Yet, daytime keeps flying and the beginning of the evening is already on the horizon. We decided to take the road again and go back to Reykjavik.

Day 4: Reykjavik to Kirkjufellsfoss

For this last day, we left to visit the iconic and isolated Mount Kirkjufell, considered one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Near the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, The word “Kirk” means church in the local language.

We spent most of our day driving but it might have been my favorite day as we witnessed the most beautiful and long-lasting sunset. The sky was purple.

Road Trip Iceland

On our way to Grundarfjörður, we stopped a couple of times to admire the amasing islandic landscapes and pet the cutest horses.

Icelandic horses

We eventually stopped at the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall. The mountain was covered in snow. It was very windy and cold. I recommend wearing gloves, winter jackets and having hot drinks.

Getting closer to the mountain from the parking area, the path was very slippery, but we have managed to find the perfect viewpoint, having the waterfall on the left and the mountain on the right.

Kirkjufellsfoss

After sunset, we decided to treat ourselves to a dinner at the Láki Hafnarkaffi restaurant in the little town (Grundarfjörður) located 15 minutes drive from the waterfalls.

We have tried to chase the Northern Lights during this day but due to bad wather conditions, we were not able to see them.

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