Iceland, Travel Diary

Iceland Road Trip Part 1 – Reykjavik to Vik in 5 Days

I first came across Iceland after researching weekend city breaks. Reykjavik came onto my radar for the first time.

As I knew absolutely nothing about Reykjavik I started researching things to do. I soon came to realise however that there was so much more to Iceland than Reykjavik.

After finally convincing hubby and a lot of late night searching and pinning onto google maps, our 2 week road trip around Iceland was born.

Fast forward to April 2017 and the adventure finally begins!

iceland road trip expenses - flights

We had an evening flight from London so we didn’t land until about 11pm. A quick ride on the shuttle bus dropped us right outside the Thrifty rental car depot and we collected our car.

We had hired a Ford Fiesta but they instead gave us a Peugeot 2008 which was a blessing as it had a bigger boot!

Off into the night we drove, in manual automatic mode (!) without realising, which meant our car groaned a hell of a lot until we worked out what was going on!

READ MORE: Driving in Iceland

As you can imagine it was pitch black so we wouldn’t have our first glimpse of Iceland until the next morning.

We arrived at our hotel Icelandair Marina around midnight’ish where we checked in quickly. I then proceeded to make Liam wait out of the way so I could take photos of the room!

A recurring theme from the holiday, he absolutely loves it!

 

Day 1 – Reykjavik’ing

After a much-needed sleep we were eager to explore Reykjavik. We only had one day so we started early.

Reykjavik

Turning right out of the hotel we walked along the water front until we reached the Harpa concert hall.  We went inside simply to ogle the beautiful glass windows from various angles.

Harpa Concert Hall

Harpa Concert Hall

Harpa Concert Hall

Once we had had our fill, and finished stroking the cutest Chihuahua, we continued walking along the waterfront to the Sólfarið sun voyager sculpture.

This is where well timed photography comes in as there were many people trying to pose with the giant Viking ship.

Solfarid Sun Voyager Sculpture

We decided to cross the road right behind us and head towards Hallgrímskirkja church which we could see in the distance.

We got sidetracked by a delicious smell and stopped at a bakery called Braud to grab some cinnamon rolls, cookies and chocolate milk.

They were absolutely delightful, get your butt here if you are ever in Reykjavik.

Braud Bakery Reykjavik

Once we were stuffed to bursting we continued on to Hallgrímskirkja. We posed for some photos outside before heading inside and paying to take the lift to the top.

The view from the top is amazing. Reykjavik looks like a colourful lego town.

Hallgrímskirkja

We decided to wander around town for a bit enjoying the shops. We came across the soup place Svarta Kaffið we wanted to eat at later so went in to find out their flavours of the day.

After a bit of wandering we were feeling a bit tired so we headed back to our hotel for a quick nap and change before dinner.

Liam eventually forced me to get out of bed, where I could easily spend my life, to head back into town. Dinner was lovely though, worth getting up for. We both had the vegetable soup in a giant bread bowl.

Svarta Kaffid

When we returned to our hotel we didn’t feel like heading to bed so decided to splurge on (really expensive) drinks from the bar. 3 cocktails, 1 wine and 1 weird jar of liquorice popcorn later, we retreated to our room.

Tomorrow begins the road trip, the whole reason we came to Iceland!

 

Day 2 – Waterfalls, Wet Butts and Tomatoes Galore

We awoke early and headed into town to the Dunkin Donuts we had seen the day before.

Much to our disappointment it wasn’t open yet so we instead went to the Laundromat Cafe, which I had heard good things about.

It was rather busy but we managed to grab seats up the bar which was fine for us. I chose English breakfast tea and a stack of pancakes, delicious!

Laundromat cafe

Laundromat cafe

Once we had packed up and checked out of our hotel we headed off to begin the road trip! We were headed to the Golden Circle today.

Our first stop was Þórufoss, not technically part of the Golden Circle, but on the way.

We encountered our first gravel road which was not fun. I was glad when we found the parking spot (2 spaces!).

You can’t actually see the waterfall when you pull up so we headed off towards the edge to have a peek.

Although not massive it was our first waterfall and there was no other bugger in sight, so I was pretty impressed.

Our next stop was Þingvellir so we found the visitor centre on the Sat Nav and off we went.

We parked up and walked to the visitor centre but once we got there we realised the walk down through the gorge was going to be longggggg.

Instead we decided to drive down to save time and our little legs.

We followed signs down towards Öxarárfoss and found ourselves in the carpark where we had to pay 500ISK.

The walk up was quick and has been boarded so it didn’t feel as authentic and untouched as Þórufoss.

I don’t like to remember this waterfall because it’s the one where I decided in my wisdom to step off the boardwalk. Karma then smacked me round the face.

I tripped backwards over a rock and landed on my butt in the water! It was only day 2 and I had a wet backpack and butt already! Not looking promising.

Onwards we went, wet butt and all, to visit Þingvallakirkja. The cutest little church you will ever see!

There is a row of 4 houses and a graveyard. I’m assuming they get pretty fed up of tourists.

On the way back to the car we had a quick peek at the Silfra fissure. This is where you can snorkel between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

Unfortunately this wasn’t in the budget for us, maybe next time. The water was absolutely crystal clear, although I bet it was freezing!

We made a quick pit stop so I could change my wet thermals before we headed to Friðheimar Farm for lunch.

You have to book this in advance.  On our first night hubby had emailed them enquiring about availability and we got lucky!

At Friðheimar they grow tomato’s year-round in their giant greenhouse. You can dine in the greenhouse and experience lots of tomato goodness from their unique menu.

We decided on the tomato soup and bread buffet followed by delicious tomato ice cream.

iceland road trip expenses - food

Once we had our fill we made a quick stop at Faxi waterfall before heading to see the spectacle that is Strokkur Geyser.

I won’t lie we stood for ages trying to get a shot of it shooting in the air because we kept missing it on camera!

Our final stop of the day was Gulfoss, a magnificent double drop waterfall. You will get wet and very cold if you go down to the lower viewing platform!

I dont know if you can see on the second photo but my lens was covered in water spots!

There were a few other stops on today’s original itinerary but we had had enough for today so headed to our accommodation in Selfoss instead.

We picked up some groceries from Bonus in Selfoss and cooked ourselves some pasta for dinner before settling in for the night.

 

Day 3 – There is a waterfall here somewhere!

This morning we decided to go back and visit the places we missed yesterday.

First stop was the town of Skálholt. It was eerily quiet. There was a massive car park but we were the only car.

We wandered around the church and a turf house before heading off.

Next on our itinerary was Brúarfoss. It was pretty elusive, the Sat Nav kept trying to take us down single track private roads.

We came to what looked like a residential area which was gated off so we decided in our wisdom to park outside the gate and walk!

It must have taken about 45 minutes and paying for data so we could check google maps!

It wasn’t signposted at all. Once you get out of the house maze, turn left and walk forever on the stones until you get to a grassy area.

Then head across the grass until you come to a small bridge over a river. Cross that, climb the very muddy bank and continue through what looked like a field. Or perhaps a bog is a better way to describe it!

We were following an American guy’s directions who was on his way back from the falls.

There wasn’t really a path as such but eventually we found it. You are looking for another bridge but this time over a beautiful blue waterfall.

Whilst we were photographing the waterfall the American guy returned and asked us to watch him whilst he waded into the waterfall!!!

He had dropped some camera equipment and the crazy guy wanted to try and find it. He didn’t, needless to say.

We wandered back the way we came, the walk back took less time as we knew where we were going.

Turns out American guy had parked right near the first bridge, how he got on that road still baffles me. Mares (our Sat Nav) couldn’t seem to work it out.

We had a quick horse petting break before we reached Urriðafoss and then onwards to Hjálparfoss.

We had planned to visit Gjáin and Háifoss but the road going up was single track, gravel and steep and I pretty much chickened out thinking our 2WD couldn’t handle it. Oh well, maybe next time!

We decided to call it a day and drove the hour or so back to Selfoss to our apartment.

 

Day 4 – Getting Drenched, Vik and Black Sand Beaches

Day 4 and we were up early as we had booked the Secret Lagoon at 11am.

We arrived early about half hour before it opened but they let us in anyway. We had the whole lagoon mostly to ourselves for a while.

After we had pruned up for a couple of hours we showered and changed back into our thermal gear and headed to Seljalandsfoss waterfall.

I was particularly excited about this one because you can walk behind it. I tucked my camera inside my waterproof jacket before we climbed the steps.

I won’t lie to you, you don’t just get a little sprayed, you get drenched through. Make sure you have waterproofs on or you will regret it. Soggy jeans are no fun.

We saw a couple of people wearing jeans and just rolled our eyes at them. Newbs!

iceland waterfalls

iceland road trip expenses

Dripping wet we jumped back in the car and headed for Eyjafjallajökull volcano visitor centre.

It was pretty lame, just a tiny little building which housed a ‘museum’ which you had to pay to enter. We didn’t bother! We just tried to spot the volcano in the distance.

Next stop was Skógafoss which is a pretty impressive sight! You can walk right up to it as close as you want.

We dove right in and got drenched from the spray again. So much fun!

There is also a path up to the top which we climbed and had a little peek of the water flowing over the edge.

We decided it was time to check in to our hotel – Volcano Hotel. We were soaked through to the bone so wanted to get changed and dry our clothes and hiking boots.

Luckily they had a little heater in the room so we gathered all the wet things around it.

A quick change later and we were on our way to the town of Vik.

We went up to the church and enjoyed the view over the town before heading down to find food. The restaurant was called Víkurskáli. Although I just had a BBQ burger it was delicious.

We ventured onto the beach which had this amazing black sand. The views are incredible, must be amazing to live next to such beauty.

We decided we had time to tackle one off tomorrow’s agenda – Reynisfjara black sand beach. So we jumped back in the car and headed back the way we came.

You have to be careful on this beach because the waves are really strong and can sneak up on you and drag you away!

We decided not to get too close! Ha! The basalt columns were so fun though, we took lots of photos on them. There is also a cave which is pretty amazing.

what to pack for iceland

Having had enough fun for one day we ventured back to the hotel for an early night.

 

Day 5 –  Arches, Planes and Secret Waterfalls

First stop today was Dyrhólaey Arch. There were amazing views over the black beaches and I had fun posing for photos, as usual!

A word of warning, it is very windy up here. So windy it nearly blew me over, hubby was literally holding onto me.

After quickly checking out the arch we retreated back to the car away from the wind.

We knew it was a long walk but we still wanted to visit the plane crash site, Sólheimasandur.

We entered it into the Sat Nav and it directed us near to a picnic stopping spot which we assumed was the start point.

I don’t remember seeing any signs saying what was here though, we just went with the crowd.

The walk to the plane was looooooong, 4km to be exact. There is nothing to look at, it’s just gravel fields as far as the eye can see.

You will feel like giving up before the plane jumps out at you from behind a sand dune!

It’s a pretty strange site seeing a crashed plane, gutted, on the middle of a beach.

We wondered why they never cleared it up! No way in England would they let people climb all over a wrecked plane.

Health and safety issues aside, it is pretty fun!

We psyched ourselves up for the walk back which was equally as boring but with the added benefit of being able to see the car park (and it never gets any closer!)

Obviously we made it eventually but we were starving. We headed back to Skógafoss to grab some food at the restaurant there.

Once our bellies were full we headed off to find the ‘secret waterfall’.

It does have a name as I found out but I’ll save that for a future post!

For now I’ll just share some photos of this little beauty.

You can walk behind this one too, but I decided I didn’t want to get soaked through today. Liam did however, can you see him in the third photo? 🙂

After enjoying the peace and quiet at this beautiful waterfall we headed back to our hotel to make tea and snuggle down in the fluffiest duvets ever!

What do you think of our first 5 days?

Keep an eye out for part 2 (days 6-10) and part 3 (days 7-14) coming soon!

 

In the meantime why not check out my other Iceland posts?

Packing for Iceland

How much does it cost to road trip Iceland for 2 weeks?

A comprehensive guide to driving in Iceland

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