I traveled to Iceland with my brother and his friend for a week in June of 2017. We rented a car and camping gear and sought adventure on the Ring Road! Read about our itineraries and travel tips below!
1:35pm Arrive in Reykjavik/Pick Up Rental Car
2:30pm Pick Up Camping Gear
3:30pm National Museum of Iceland (open until 5pm)
5:00pm Reykjavik Settlement Exhibition (open until 8pm)
7:00pm Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral Tower Climb (open until 9pm)
9:00pm Set up camp at Reykjavik Campsite
I flew into Reykjavik from a week long trip in Scotland with my mother and my brother was coming from California, so we tried to get flights that arrived around the same time.
Once we arrived, we picked up a rental car and headed to pick up rental camping gear in town.
My flight was slightly delayed, so by the time I arrived and we got everything sorted, most museums were closed, so we “climbed” (there’s only an elevator) the Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral for views of the city.
Next, we wandered around on foot for grub and beverages.
After dinner, we set off for the local campsite, which is really quite nice with many amenities!
The boys are still adjusting to the temperature and light changes, but I think they’ll be alright in a couple of days. We played hearts and drank whiskey with a new friend from Montreal while waiting for our tech to charge in the common area.
Now it’s time for sleep. Tomorrow we are river rafting on the Gullfoss!
8:00am Drive 1.5 Hours to Gullfoss Falls
10:00am Gullfoss Canyon River Rafting
2:00pm See Geysir
4:00pm Pizza at Skjòl Hostel
5:00pm Camping/Hiking in Fludir
Oh man what a day! We started early with packing our tents/gear and a breakfast at the hostel next to our campground (which also encouraged lunch packing btw).
We then headed about 1.5 hours east to river raft on the Hvati/Gullfoss Canyon.
The water was spectacular! About halfway through, we stopped to do a cliff jump and other games ensued. John and I had a raft spinning standoff and then I was lowered towards the water by webbing to get a drink (spoiler: I fell into the icy icy icy arctic water!).
After, we showered/saunaed (on site) and drove to visit the Strokur Geysir and Gullfoss falls, both beautiful and easily accessible sites.
Next we headed to the hostel we originally planned to stay in, but it was still so early with this light that we just had pizza and decided to try and get to the only Grocery store in a 30 km radius before it closed so “raced” down the gravel road just in time to get some breakfast and lunch for tomorrow.
After loading up on resources, we checked out the town of Fludir and saw a big peak and cars parked, so we voted on climbing it. It was a truly rewarding experience! There was a lake (and fantastic views) at the top. Our adventure gave us a view of the surrounding area, including a campsite that we chose to stay tonight (condo style).
Before readying for bed, we continued our ritual of hearts and beverages.
Tomorrow we climb Mt. Hekla, an active volcano that the Vikings considered the entrance to hell.
6:30am Drive 1.5 Hours to Begin Hekla Summit
8:00am Mt. Hekla Volcano Summit (7-8 hours)
4:00pm Drive 52 minutes Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
6:00pm Check in at North Star Cottage
Whew! Started this morning with a grocery breakfast and tent packing to get ready for a Mt. Hekla climb, where the Vikings considered the entrance to the underworld.
However, when we got there, the road was blocked off and the trail directions I had were inaccurate :(.
Regardless, we hitched a ride from some intrepid Spaniards with 4 wheel drive willing to go down the “impassable” road to get us at least closer to the trailhead.
The lava fields were pretty spectacular but most amazing was how remote we were… It was almost a little scary/eerie to hike in the middle of no where!
Afterwards, Timothy found us a waterfall on Google called Aeissioufoss which also felt remote because we were the only visitors.
In sharp contrast, we next hit up the touristy Seljalandsfoss waterfall next. However, we all agreed it was the highlight of our day to climb the cliff to the top and see the incredible falls from above. I admit to being spooked by the height and lack of footing, but John talked me up past the hard part. To get down, Tim and I both wanted to find an easier way and did… through a farmer’s field.
Next we drove about 20 minutes to our lodging for the evening, a cottage at the base of Eyjafjallajökull Mountain/volcano, which last erupted in 2010. We couldn’t ask for a more dramatic backdrop!
For dinner, we ate at pretty much the only restaurant in “town” then returned to the cottage to play cards until bedtime. We are all quite tuckered and happy to have real beds and heat for the evening.
9:00am Long Slow Drive to Vik/Stops At:
- Skógafoss Waterfall
- Sólheimasandur Plane Crash
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
2:00pm Glacier Snowmobile Riding
4:00pm Explore Vik/Eat Dinner
6:00pm Set up camp at Vik Camping
Another very long but fantastic day in Iceland! John started us off with some eggs for breakfast with incredible views from our cottage.
Then he and I climbed the hill/outcrop behind the cottage for some even better views!
Next we headed to Skogafoss, a touristy but OMG waterfall on the ring road. It was like there were a million rainbows everywhere and all it took was a bit of spray to light them up. So many rainbows!
After Skogafoss hiking, we headed to the famous plane crash site on the coast, which was a surprising distance from the parking lot (roughly 5 miles round trip).
After returning to our car, we had just enough time for packed lunches before riding snowmobiles on a volcano glacier! It was very fun, and a little frightening, to ride across the incredible landscape of a giant moving ice floor that may explode.
Next, we stopped at the Reynasfjara Black Beach for more incredible views and a little mayhem…
By the end of the day, we were very hungry, so we drove to Vik and set up camp quickly to explore dinner options (which were limited but good).
As per custom, we finished the evening with some cards (I finally won!) and beverages amid the very full common area of the campground.
6:00am Breakfast/Pack Up
7:00am Drive 1.5 Hours to Skaftafell
9:15am Skaftafell Ice Climbing/Hiking
4:15pm Drive 44 minutes to Glacier Lagoon
5:40pm Zodiac Glacier Boat Tour
6:40pm Drive 3 Hours to Sandfell/Buy Breakfast Food
9:30pm Check in at Stora Sandfell Cottages
After rising early and packing up, we drove to Skaftafell National Park for a full day of ice climbing and glacier hiking.
To our pleasant surprise, we were the only three on the “extreme” tour with our delightful guide Hurley, who spent 7 hours with us exploring and setting up climbs on the Vatnojokull Glacier. We had a great, but exhausting, time hiking up the beautiful glacier and completing 4 climbs requiring totally cool looking crampons and ice axes. Luckily we had pretty good weather, though it did start to rain on us a bit at the top. Apologies for the WAY too many pictures. It was just so awesome!
Once down, we warmed up and drove on to the Glacier Lagoon, where we had reserved spots on a high speed Zodiac Boat to take us around the huge lagoon full of icebergs created by a melting glacier (no one in Iceland doubts global warming and I fully recognize the hypocrisy of being a tour-ass-t boating around in its evidence).
After the long day, we still needed to get some miles in to make it to our current destination where we had reserved a fabulous cottage for the evening. John and I split up the 3 hours of beautiful coastal and mountain gravel road driving.
We ended up getting in by about 11pm, at which point it looked like 3pm because the sun never goes down, so we played cards until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.
10:00am Drive 2.5 Hours to Lake Myvatn/Stop to Visit Detifoss and Selfoss Waterfalls
2:00pm Visit Hvavir and Lake Myvatn Thermal Spa
4:00pm Drive to Akureyi/Camp
We slept as long as needed in our cottage this morning on the east coast of Iceland, an idyllic spot with more trees than we’ve seen the entire trip! After an exhausting few days, we threw out our previously planned itinerary today!
Our only goal was to see more falls and take the waters at a geothermal springs, which we found! First, we headed towards Lake Myvatn, planning to drive up to see Dettifoss (Waterfall) on the way. Dettifoss is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe!
We also hiked up a bit further to see Selfoss, an even more beautiful waterfall that was almost 270 degrees.
After that we drove back out to the ring road from the gravel detour to view the sulphuric smelly scenery of Hvavir, where the Earth is literally boiling.
Right next door is a geothermal bath in Myvatn, which was incredibly relaxing after our long days in Iceland.
Following our thermal bath, we drove about another 1.5 hours to Akureyi, the second biggest city in Iceland, to set up for our last night of camp, dinner, and a bit of laundry.
Tomorrow is our last day in this glorious country of fire and ice, so we’ll be heading back to Reykjavik tomorrow for flights home!
5:00am Breakfast/Pack Up/Shower
6:00am Return to Reykjavik/Return Rental Car (4.5 hour drive)
2:00pm Flights Home!
Today was predominantly an uneventful travel day. We packed up gear early in Akureyi and alternated driving the 4.5 hours back to Reykjavik.
Once there, we returned our camping gear and enjoyed the best meal we had on the island. In addition to the food in Iceland being expensive as heck, it also lacks sophistication and variety (but the scenery more than makes up for it!).
Next we seamlessly returned the rental car and booked it to the most inefficient airport in the world for our flights. My experience in airports wasn’t great today, but I won’t linger on details because I arrived safe and sound at home with wonderful memories of my time in a wonderful country!