Catherine and I spent 8 days in Iceland, driving about 1400 miles on and around the Ring Road. We did some great sightseeing, hiking, and had time to unwind, all while enduring the unseasonably cold temps and winds. Catherine put together a video of the trip here. I took way too many photos, some of which I’ve put up here.
I’ll try to describe the trip from my journal notes while abroad. I’ve included a few highlight photos for your viewing pleasure.
Day 1 – Keflavik to Selfoss
After worrying about our plane tickets, our flight went smoothly. Then, disaster struck when we arrived at 6:30am. It took us nearly two hours to track down the company in charge of our car rental, since our rental agency was actually a booking agency, but they’d never told us which company had our car.
Things started to turn around after we left the airport. We drove close to the city and had no issues buying groceries. We doubled back and were able up move up our Blue Lagoon reservation. Though man-made, it was unique and relaxing. We napped after a dip for a few hours, until we could check in at our hostel. On our way to Selfoss we saw our first sights, with Catherine in the driver’s seat. Iceland is barren! Lots of snow and rocky carved cliffs. Our guesthouse in Selfoss was well equipped and provided a great base to catch up on sleep.
Day 2 – Selfoss to Höfn
It was a big day. We started early around 7:30. First stop, Skogafoss, pictured above. It was icy and roaring. I ran to the top for some more photos. It’s also the start of a big hiking trail to Porsmork. Next was Vik and the black beaches. It reminded my of our first PNW trip. Afterwards came mountains. And more and more, endlessly. We skipped Svartifoss because the trail looked lame, and we’ve seemed a lot of falls, and instead drove to the glacier nearby. It was hidden just off rt. 1 behind a hill. I took over driving there. Onward to Jökulsárlón! I was rusty at manual, but no stalling, despite limited previous practice. At the lake we saw Marcus and his brother, who’d sat next to us on to plane, on a random embankment. Crazy huh? Our hostel was perfect. Very private and we were the first guests ever in a new addition. Our hostess helped us with laundry and we had a big breakfast!
Day 3 – Höfn to Berunes
We went into town for the morning. Then, nothing but mountains and coast on our drive along the fjords. We also found moon-like terrain. Very cold and windy all day. We stopped a lot and listened to powerful surf. Before Berunes we drove into town and found a store with dragon bones out front. There we played fetch, heard stories, and bought handmade souvenirs. The hostel had been run by the same family for 300 years. The old guy running it was awesome. We went for a frigid walk in the evening to the beach. In the morning we were served breakfast at our host’s house.
Day 4 – Berunes to Akureyri
Catherine’s birthday! Also, a long, snowy, whiteout drive. We passed Dettifoss and Mývatn since the visibility was so bad, but stopped at Godafoss. Akureyri was crowded, but our Airbnb was awesome. Lamb, Einstök beer, and Toblerone cake for dinner.
Day 5 – Akureyri to Reykholt
We headed to our last minute booking at Hotel A. The drive took us longer than we expected. We found Catherine’s mountain spire and a new falls. Lot’s of roadside photos. Hotel A was quaint and quiet. A herding dog befriended us and we spent hours by the fire sipping beer and reading.
Day 6 – Reykholt to Hellnar
We slept in, got breakfast and headed out. The assistant at the hotel pointed out some nearby landmarks and we were off. First to Barnafossar, above, then past a hot springs, and back to 1 and Arnarstapi. Great views on the way. We stopped at the black church in Búðir. We were relocated from Snjofells to Hotel Hellnar. After this discovery we drove down the coast to Lóndrangar, a sea stack alone on the shore that had drawn some climbers. We took a long walk there and in Arnarstapi. Mussels for dinner were delicious, and after we smuggled beer into our room while we played Rummy and read.
Day 7 & 8 – Snæfellsnes Peninusula to Keflavik
We had two nights in Hellnar, so the second day we drove the peninsula, soaking up views of the Snæfellsnesjökull, pictured above, which dominated the area. The glacier is said to be one of the seven power sources of the world. We climbed a volcano, walked around an ancient viking village, and found yet more waterfalls. The wind whipped at us in the open spaces, threatening to knock us over at times. We drove to Grundarfjordur and snacked there, before doubling back over the lower mountain pass. On our last day we tried to make it to an archway between Hellnar and Arnarstapi, but needed to hit the road to make our afternoon flight.
Iceland was stunning, and varied. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but it felt like the opposite of a tropical volcanic jungle. Iceland had the beaches, and active volcanoes but was certainly no tropical paradise. Our only regret was not seeing the green pastures and spring growth delayed by the cold.
See many more photos here! Thanks for reading.