Iceland – The Planning Begins!

Why Iceland?

We have always talked about going to Iceland. Everything thing we’ve heard and seen online has been great but we hadn’t really thought about doing anything other than the standard touristy blue lagoon and northern lights etc. With just a few weeks off during the summer we had been weighing up whether or not to go to the east coast of the USA or visit Siem Reap in Cambodia but then one day we stumbled upon this blog…

The idea of a road trip is something completely different to anything we have ever done, especially the fact that the ring road is almost 1500km long! This hasn’t put us off, we read a few other blogs and did a small amount of research and booked up for an 11 day trip.

Original Source (https://paulweeksphotography.smugmug.com/)
Original Source (https://paulweeksphotography.smugmug.com/)

When?

We are limited to the summer due to our jobs which means we will be visiting in July/August so unfortunately we will not be able to see the northern lights! We are gutted about this but no reason why we can’t go back for a weekend at some point. One advantage of the summer apparently however is that it is peak whale watching season in Husevik.

Whale Watching in Husavik - Original Source (http://www.ttv.is/static/files/Myndir1/Humpback_near_Husavik_06-1.jpg)
Whale Watching in Husavik – Original Source (http://www.ttv.is/static/files/Myndir1/Humpback_near_Husavik_06-1.jpg)

How?

We have rented a camper van from Happy Campers and will drive anti-clockwise around the ring road. We plan to sleep at the roadside most nights but pop into campsites along the way to get showered.

Happy Campers - Orginal Source http://www.icelandexplorer.se/happy3-12.jpg)
Happy Campers – Orginal Source http://www.icelandexplorer.se/happy3-12.jpg)

What now?

We have now started putting together an itinerary. We have bought a lonely planet guide and have begun dropping a few pins into google maps. The only issue that we are having at the moment is prioritising what to do as there is just so much! A few things that have already made it onto a ‘definitely do’ list are:

  • Geysers at Geysir
  • Gulfoss waterfall
  • Skógafoss waterfall
  • Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
  • Fjaðrárgljúfur where the mid Atlantic ridge is visible.
  • Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon
  • Kirkjufellsfoss
    http://imgur.com/uuWq3Ou
    Kirkjufell mountain – original Source (http://imgur.com/uuWq3Ou)

    FullSizeRender

If you have been to Iceland for a road trip or just a normal trip and have any suggestions then please leave a comment below!

 

47 thoughts on “Iceland – The Planning Begins!

  1. If i have time to visit Iceland again, I will go for whale watching tour one more time. It’s hard to describe when u see the super nature creature and mid night sun in the summer.
    For first time visit, u may consider join the free walking tour in the town when the first few day touch down the capital. Let the local brief you their story before u begin ur ring road tour.
    Good day 🙂
    From Kate

    Liked by 1 person

  2. No problem. Hope u both have a good trip.
    I have experienced polar night during winter at north of Norway for the northern light
    But I think as a traveller with time limited , I prefer mid night sun more, I can hang out and move around and see the sky & scene clear . So Iceland in summer is a wonderful experience for me .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey guys! Thank you for your comment at my blog about Iceland. You will love it! Its amazing and there are tons of things to do! Don’t worry about going during the summer, its actually an overall better season for Iceland to travel even at the cost of the lights. During the winter roads get very tricky and if you’re not experienced with snow or have a big car driving around can be risky a lot and you don’t want to waste your time waiting for the weather. Iceland has a crazy amount of festivals all around during the summer. Lookout for the festival at Vestmannaeyjar, its one of the largest. It last about a week or so and there are so many people and the entertainment is awesome! I haven’t been there myself but during my time in Iceland I stayed with locals and told me about this festival. I am not very familiar with the exact dates but here’s a website https://www.fest300.com/festivals/westman-islands-festival with information on it!

    A good thing about Iceland is that most things are somewhat close together like the golden circle, they are all gathered around the south. The summers in Iceland are kind of interesting, when the north is having good weather the south is not and vice versa and it switches every 4 years or so. This summer the south side has the good summer so I would stick around there especially since you are limited on time. There is plenty to see in the south!

    I see on your list of “definitely do” you has a lot of waterfalls, which is great because they are beautiful but make sure you add more variety. For exmple Vik, its about 2 hours more or less from Reykjavik and it had the famous black sand beaches which in the winter were gorgeous so during the summer with the green I can’t imagine how beautiful they would look. Also there is Hveragerdhi with some awesome hot springs and a river that you can go in the water at the top. If you are interested also in cool things there is a plane crash near Vik (no one got hurt) and its is very cool thing to see up close. Its a little tricky to find it but here’s a blog about it http://expertvagabond.com/airplane-crash-wreckage-iceland/. Then, there is Hekla, the volcano that erupts every 15 years which is very cool.

    When you’re in Reykjavik you’ll just feel like time’s going by so fast because there are so many awesome things to see. If you noticed on my blog I have a few links and the first one is about the first tour I took there, they were great and it was very affordable for a traveling recent graduate. The tour guides are college graduates and the main tour is free and works only on tips at the ends. I learned so much on that tour, I can’t believe that paying for a big expensive tour would have told me more about Reykjavik and Iceland, I strongly suggest them.

    It is such a great country and the people are GREAT! Hope you guys love it!!!

    An Adventuress Abroad 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for all of this information! We’re glad somebody else thinks that it is a good idea to go in the summer, the timing of our trip is the only thing so far that we’ve been a bit unsure of. The crashed plane wreckage looks really interesting, we’ve just purchased a new camera so we are looking for ample opportunities to test it out!

      You are also the second person to suggest using local guides, that is definitely something that we will look in to if we get to spend enough time in Reykjavik.

      Thanks again for all of your help!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey guys! This sounds like a fun trip! You asked on my blog post about Iceland https://thegabspot.wordpress.com/2016/02/06/icelandic-adventures/ if I had any more information about where you can see the two tectonic plates meet up… It is in an area along the Golden Circle called Þingvellir Park. Here is a link to more information that I think you guys will find useful: http://gobackpacking.com/golden-circle-thingvellir-park-gullfoss-waterfall-geysers/
    Enjoy your travels!!

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  5. Hi Natalie and Daniel,
    here are some additional ideas for your ‘definately do’ list in Iceland:
    – Vestrahorn/Stokksnes (spectacular landscape)
    – Reynisfjara and Dyrholaey near Vik i Myrdal (fantastic coastline and lava beaches)
    – Jökulsárgljúfur National Park and the Dettifoss (one of favorite places in Iceland but be carefull with your van, the road is rough)
    – Hveravellir (on the highland road 35, same warning as above regarding the road, but both are doable with a 2WD van)
    – Þingvellir with the Silfra rift (snorkeling there is an absolutely fantastic experience, see http://www.dive.is)
    – Goðafoss (my favorite waterfall in Iceland)
    – Menningarnótt (a great culture event in Reykjavik, usually on the first Saturday after the 18th of August, I was there three times and it is one of my favorite events in Europe)

    I wish you a nice trip to Iceland and if you have any further questions just contact me on my blog.

    Boris

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Blue Lagoon is a must! Also, the Reykjavik Grapevine has published several articles about tourists getting lost/straying from the road, so I’d recommend checking out the mistakes of fellow tourists. Cheers, and enjoy your trip!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I spent an afternoon there. Basically, the prime times to go are when you first arrive and as you’re leaving Iceland. Buses can take you there straight from Keflavik.

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  7. Definitely a good time to go snorkeling at Silfra! The only place you can swim through tectonic plates. The waters are so crisp and clear and gorgeous! You’re going in summer but I am particularly fond of solheilmajokull glacier of you get a chance to see that! Try as much of the local food as possible. It’s delicious (except the shark but eat that anyway haha). I’m excited for your trip!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was honestly expecting it to be a lot worse so I look forward to hearing your feedback on your experience!! Who knows maybe you’ll actually like it 🙂

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  8. Hi again!!

    Here is a small sumary of my trip, I hope it gives you some tips for planning yours!

    I went 14 days, last week of July and first of August, so I missed also the Northern lights… But the trip was worth it! I rented a small car and travel all the road 1, plus Reykjanes, Sneafellness and the Westfjods. Summer is supposed to be the high season in Iceland, but most of the times you travel almost alone 🙂 I tried to avoid the crowds, so I didn’t visit the Blue Lagoon. The only exceptions were the Golden Ring (Gulfoss, Geyser Thingvellir are must see, but go early in the morning!!) and Jokulsarlon… You have to go there… Otherwise, for nice baths try to find natural hot-springs… They are the best, probably you’ll have them just for you 🙂

    I started the trip in Reykjavik (half day). The days are very long, so you can enjoy the city until late.
    Next day, I visited Reykjanes. It’s not a long trip in km, but there are many things to see (geothermal areas, cliffs, seabirds, lighthouses, beaches and lakes…)
    Then I started to travel north. Third day I visited Sneafelness peninsula, except the glacier. I slept in Budardalur, so it was a very long trip from Reykjavik, but the landscapes are just gorgeous. There you’ll see the black church, the glacier (famous for the book Travel to the center of the Earth), black peebles beaches, volcanic caves and volcanic calderas, horse farms… and the famous Kirkjufell and Stykkiholmur, the town of the film of Walter Mitty 😛
    I headed then to Westfjords: first day I went to Latrabjarg (https://mercedescatalan.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/latrabjarg/), Dyndandi and Isafjordur. Next day, back to Budardalur. Don’t miss the Westfjords, the landscapes are the most stunning you’ll see!
    I spent the next days in the north, visiting the waterfalls (here are two not very known https://mercedescatalan.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/the-icelandic-waterfalls-part-i/), Husavik, Akureiry, lake Myvath, Hvitserkur… There are so many things to see there!!!!
    Next, East Iceland. I visited the puffins in Borgardjordur, the lake of Egilstadir and the waterfall Hengifoss. I slept in Reydarfjordur. If you’re lucky, you can even see reinders there 😉
    Next, South Iceland: the trip is long, but is magical: ice lakes (https://mercedescatalan.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/jokulsarlon/), volcanos, waterfalls (https://mercedescatalan.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/the-icelandic-waterfalls-part-ii/)… It’s amazing!!!
    Don’t miss a trip to the Highlands!!! You can’t go in a normal car. I went with Trex (bus) and spent a day in Landmannalaugar (https://mercedescatalan.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/a-land-of-colours/)… It’s a magical place!
    The last two days I went to the golden Circle and Reykjavik again.

    My recommendations: hire a car, a small one is enough to travel through almost all the island, except the Highlands. They are ok for most unpavel roads 🙂
    I found all the accomodations in Airbnb and it’s not very expensive. Icelandic people is in general really nice and welcoming!! I really enjoyed the airbnb experience there!
    Don’t miss the Westfjords and the Highlands!

    Hope this helps you!

    Cheers!!! And enjoy your trip!!! I’m looking forward to go to Iceland again, it’s incredible!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Summer is a great season to explore Iceland! You won’t see the northern lights but you’ll have light from 3 am to 11 pm… That’s a lot of hours to explore!! (Also be careful…. Because you’re not really aware of the time and you can be driving more tired than you think… :s )
        Just one more thing: remember that it’s totally forbidden to drive out of the roads… But there are a lot of camping sites in the most famous places (like in skogafoss waterfall, dynjandi, Garður, and so on…) and I think they aren’t expensive at all!

        Like

  9. Hey Im going to Iceland in about 9 days. Will tell you all about my experiences there when I come back. Maybe with pictures to share as well. I have a separate page for that. Good luck with your planning!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We were just in Iceland in January and it was great. And I am sure it is just as good in the summer. I recommend renting a car as we did. There was a lot to see on the south coast and I wouldn’t try to see too much. We stayed a couple of days in Reykjavik and the rest of the time drove around the south. If you want to do something active, I would recommend a tour on the glacier. We did this tour and it was great: http://www.glacierguides.is/GlacierTripsFromSkaftafell/GlacierExplorer
    We would have wanted to climb the highest peak in Iceland, but it’s only available in the summer. http://www.glacierguides.is/MountainHikes/WhiteGiantHvannadalshnukur
    By far our best meal was in a the small town of Stokkseyri in the lobster restaurant: http://www.fjorubordid.is/english-2/
    And also recommend spending some time in Vik and the area. The beach was really impressive.
    I will write a few more updates in my blog about our trip end the coming weeks: http://homeinthewild.com/

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love the idea of the camper! If we go back when the kids are older we might try that. Thanks for your comment on my blog https://buehlerdm.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/moving-beyond-survival-in-iceland/. I went with young kids (4 and 8) but even so we were able to see a lot. I would echo that Þingvellir Park within the Golden Circle is a must see for both its natural and its cultural history. I would also suggest checking out some smaller locales like the smaller public museums and geothermal swimming pools in towns. We loved the Lagafellslaug Swimming Pool in Mosfellsbaer.
    Enjoy your travels!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi guys, I ´ve been living in Iceland since July and I´ve travelled a lot here. I haven´t seen only Nort- East part of the island…it doesnt seem to be so big but really is. You´ve got a lot of tips of very popular places but I am more fan of ” hidden places” with less tourist. Here is the list with photos of my blog – https://chipsycrispy.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/seals/ and https://chipsycrispy.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/hvitserkur-dragon-in-the-sea/ in the North Vatnsness peninsula.
    https://chipsycrispy.wordpress.com/2015/08/29/natural-hot-spring-at-5-am/ – Snaefellsnes peninsula
    https://chipsycrispy.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/the-most-beautiful-swimming-pool-in-iceland/ in Hofsos – North
    https://chipsycrispy.wordpress.com/2015/10/03/the-most-beautiful-place-for-5-minutes/ and https://chipsycrispy.wordpress.com/2015/10/17/reunion-shledani/ – called Hjalparfoss in South
    https://chipsycrispy.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/last-chance-to-see-landmannalaugar/ – if you have enough time, good car and are you up for walk or hiking.
    https://chipsycrispy.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/westman-island-heimaey-and-puffins/ – South, but dont go there during the summer music festival-probably first weekend in August.

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  13. Hi guys! You’re going to have the best time in Iceland, it is a truly magical country, otherworldly. I second all the info above about going to Thingvellir and Gullfoss is breathtaking! Vik is a great choice too, I know I keep saying otherworldly, but it truly is. On your way to/from Vik, stop at Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls.

    Try an Into The Glacier tour, MAGICAL! http://intotheglacier.is

    In Reykjavík, make sure you eat tons of hot dogs from the most famous restaurant in Iceland! The self guided walk along the waterfront in Reyk is so pretty, and the Sun Voyager sculpture is a must see, as is the Harpa. Icelanders love their music and partying, so if there are any live shows when you’re there, that would be a really great place to meet Icelanders!

    One thing I’ve heard about the whale watching tours, is make sure you take the sea-sickness pills! And you have to go to the Blue Lagoon, we spent an entire day there and didn’t run out of things to do. It’s so relaxing and calming, especially since you can cover yourself in mud to soften your skin. If you’re feeling really splurge-y, try a massage while floating in the Lagoon! Take a waterproof camera/GoPro!

    I would also recommend stopping anytime you see the Icelandic horses, they are SO cute and fluffy. We rode them through the lava fields with Hestar Tours and it was incredibly picturesque! When you’re on the southern coast, spend time in the Jokularson Glacial Lagoon, OH MY GOD. Take a boat out if you can!

    Hope some of this helps! Have the best time and I can’t wait to read about your trip!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Kudos to you for planning and researching everything so well in advance! My trip to Iceland was much more spur of the moment and I’m already planning to go back for a more in depth adventure trip as it seems your trip will be. I went in feb and didn’t catch the northern lights, it’s hit or miss depending on weather so don’t be dismayed about going in the summer; you’ll still have an amazing experience (plus it’ll be a bit warmer!). I’d definitely recommend trying the local cuisine in Reykjavik (cafe Loki is a great place to get a small sample of everything). Definitely go to the famous hot dog stand too! Oh and the Lebowski bar has like 20 different versions of a White Russian and they are delicious!

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  15. Nice Post! I havent been in isceland yet but is definately on my list, I want to see the Northen lights but also strugle with cold weather (Like now in England haha), so its a good idea to go in Summer plus if I can watch the Whales that only will make my trip worth! Thanks for all the info

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  16. I was in Iceland for a month in Autumn 2013, first going round the coast and then the highlands. Your vehicle is more practical than the one I used to go round the coast, which was too big and unwieldy. However if I were to do it again I would get a 4WD, even for the ring road because there are many even short diversions where four wheel drive can be useful, in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and north west fjords for example.

    I don’t know anything about your car hire company and I hope you’ve done your homework on that. I don’t remember the names now but one is notorious for hiring poorly maintained vehicles and leaving you on your own if you break down. At one place in Iceland I saw a very trendy camper (with attitude) pull up beside me with bald tyres.

    I’m not sure how much value there is in trying to pull out a few highlights because what can attract different people can vary greatly. For example, I had no interest at the time or in retrospect in Blue Lagoon. To me, it’s just the effluent of a geothermal plant and a tourist trap. A natural thermal pool in the highlands was another matter. I also didn’t bother much with Reykjavik which no doubt has its attractions because it was the wild and historic zones that interested me.

    The most useful information I will be able to give you is what I post in my Blog which as you are aware, is happening as I write. Not counting the highland posts that will follow, I will have finished publishing the posts relevant to you in about two weeks (the last one of those being Thingvellir). There will be 32 posts in all, including 550 images and 11,000 words.

    The only thing I can add to that is the places I would have liked to visit but was unable to. I would have like to explore more of the side roads in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and the north-west fjords but lacked a 4wd vehicle. I would have liked to visit Hornstrandir Nature reserve and also to visit and ascend the island of Drangey. I would have liked to visit the north-east coast and more of the fjords of the south east. I would have liked to visit the Westermann Islands and take a boat tour to Surtsey. I would have liked to visit the Kaldur Turf House, the Gjain Valley and a few Saga sites. And I would have liked to explore much more of the highlands which to me is the essence of Iceland (though not without its traps for the unwary and even the wary).

    Of course, you will have to be selective. One could spend a lifetime exploring Iceland and there is no point spending your time racing from one destination to the next and never really seeing or experiencing anything.

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  17. I highly recommend you check out the Blue Lagoon too! Ya, it is very touristy and expensive, but I think it is worth a look! If you are just looking for hot waters on the cheap, Laugardalslaug in Reykjavik in really neat! Also, check out Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur right in the heart of town. Some people say they have the best hot dogs in all of Europe.

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  18. We did a road trip in winter. The roads were hell, but it was worth seeing the snowy landscape. I loved trying out ice climbing, hiking on a glacier, snorkeling in Silfra, eating lobster sandwiches on the cheap in Vik, driving the fjords, hiking in the incredible landscape, bathing in Myvatn, and seeing the wildlife. I hope you have enough time to see the puffins, which I didn’t get to see! My favorite part was the Eastern part.

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  19. Hi! Thanks for commenting on my blog post. I’m slowly exploring Iceland as I study abroad here for the year!
    I definitely suggest fitting in some hikes. There’s one near Reykjavik up Mt. Esja, which gives you amazing views over Reykjavik on a clear day. On my to-do list are Landmannalaugar and Thorsmork, which are located on the south coast. Thorsmork is hidden between Eyjafjallajokull and Hekla, and apparently there is an amazing hike to get there between Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull called Fimmvörðuháls. You could also hike up Hekla, but it is well overdue an eruption so I probably wouldn’t risk it!
    My friends have told me that diving in Silfra is really good; the water is very clear though a bit cold! There’s also a geothermal pool in Fludir (near the Golden Circle) called the Secret Lagoon. It looks amazing and is believed to be the first outdoor swimming pool in Iceland. It’s been restored and is outside in nature and with great views. I think it is a bit less touristy as well.
    If I think of anything else during the remainder of my stay here, I’ll let you know. I’ve got 3 months left to finish my exploration of this beautiful country 🙂

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  20. Hey! Thanks for stopping by!
    Get ready to fall in love with Iceland because we still talk about our trip almost every day since we’ve been back. It looks like y’all have done some really good research and everyone has posted really good suggestions. We stayed for only two days in Iceland, which didn’t really allow us to explore as much as we wanted so you guys are definately doing it right with renting a camper and exploring at your leisure. We have just a few practical tips you may find helpful (pardon any of these that may be repeats):

    1) The tap water is safe to drink and is so fresh. If you buy a bottle of water(which is also really good), save the bottle and refill if you can. The hot water on the other hand…still safe but smells like rotten eggs.
    2) If you see people who are semi drenched walking out from behind Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, don’t let that deter you from doing the same. IT’S. WORTH. IT. The view is breath taking and it’s a really cool experience. Just have water proof jackets and hiking shoes or anything non slip (it’s kind of a rocky path exiting the waterfall).
    3) If you’re looking for vegetarian/raw friendly dishes and you’re in Reykjavik, try Glo. They change out their menus daily and it’s really delicious. Most of what they make is in house. If you’re flying Iceland Air, you may even see a few items from this restaurant for purchase on their menu. (only on the return flight)
    4) To make things speedy, if you’re bringing a credit card/ debit card, having one with a chip really helps. Most businesses in European countries only have terminals that have chip readers.

    Hopefully some of this is helpful.
    You guys are going to have the trip of a lifetime!

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