When the my Wow Air flight touched down in Reykjavik last September, I honestly felt like the luckiest person in the world. The fact that I was in a country I had dreamed of travelling to for years, one that is pretty much on everyone’s bucket list and even better one of my best friends and loyal travel buddies had come with me, was almost overwhelming.
We had only spent a few weeks planning our trip, dreaming up our road trip itinerary for Iceland, ensuring we would get to see all the main spots despite our very limited time in the country. To plan our trip we mainly did all our research online, checking out sites such as the Iceland Guide to give us a little inspiration as well as talking to friends who had already being there to see which places they would recommend. Don’y know what to wear? Read my Iceland packing list!
With less than 4 full days to see as much of Iceland as possible, here’s what we got up to on our short but sweet Iceland road trip last September. Looking for more ideas. Check out this guide to travelling Iceland on a budget.
Stop 1: The Blue Lagoon
I swear I have never been so excited to get to attraction which I was slightly scared would be a huge disappointment. So many people dream of visiting The Blue Lagoon, and being Iceland’s biggest tourist attraction, it was inevitable that it would be over flowing with camera and selfie stick-toting tourists looking for that perfect shot. I knew this, and yet Lauren and I were still ecstatic about the idea that we had finally made it to a ‘bucket list destination’.
The truth? It was not a disappointment at all, despite what some others bloggers my believe. It was actually an incredible experience and wasn’t even that busy, on that beautifully sunny Thursday afternoon in late September that I remember so well! We were upgraded to the best package they have, which means we were treated to big bath towels, dressing gowns and a free glass of Prosecco! We spent the afternoon in a dreamlike state, wondering how we managed to get from Dublin Airport to sitting in this magical lagoon sipping Prosecco in less than three hours total! The perfect place to for your first stop on the perfect Iceland road trip…especially as it was less than a 20 minute drive from the airport!
Stop 2: Reykjavik
While we did end up staying in Reykjavik for two nights, we didn’t really see too much of the city as we spent the two entire days visiting the remainder of destinations on this list and the second night involved about 3 hours of sleep followed by a rushed drive to the airport to make our 6am flight back to Dublin. On our first night, we explored the city (which is actually more like a town it’s so small!) and watched the sunset down by the water which was beautiful.
The city was so peaceful and there really wasn’t too many people around. Essentially there is just one main street that has shops and restaurants and that is where most tourists congregate, which is where we decided to hang out on our first night treating ourselves to a giant burger and ridiculously overpriced beer! It’s a nice place to walk around and explore but don’t waste too much time here or stay up too late…there are just too many beautiful places to see to be allowing yourself to spend the morning in bed!
Stop 3: The Golden Circle
Anyone who has been to Iceland already will probably argue that The Golden Circle is not ‘one stop’ but rather many on a one day tour. While they would be correct, it’s pretty much a straight forward loop that every tourist that has ever been to Iceland has driven and no doubt knows about so I decided to keep it short and sweet. I also wrote a whole blog post about road tripping around The Golden Circle already which you should check out.
In short, it involves either a one or two day tour around an area just outside of Reykjavik which allows you to visit Iceland’s most famous historic, cultural, geological and natural sites of interest in one easy drive. Most bus tours only stop at the three main sites (Pingvellir National Park, Gullfoss and Geyser), if you have the freedom of your own car you can visit a total of 3 incredible destinations which include the three previously mentioned as well as Nesjavellir Power Station and surrounding area, Kerid Crater Lake and Laugarvatn Natural Hot Springs. You can also check out some of these amazing waterfalls en route.
Stop 4: Seljelandsfoss
This was in fact our second stop on day three of our road trip, with most of the above being visited on day one and two except Kerid Crater Lake. It is the first major stop long Iceland’s ring road, which is the main road that loops its way around the entire country, hugging the coast. All the stops listed below are all on the ring road so there is absolutely no chance of yu getting lost on this particular road trip!!
You will see from my Iceland travel video how impressive it is up close…and how you will get very wet so bring some waterproof clothes and protection for your camera! I believe Seljelandsfoss waterfall is the only waterfall in Iceland where you can actually walk being the water and look out from the other side. It was such a magical place…you will have to visit for your self to appreciate its true beauty!
Stop 5: Skogafoss
Skogafoss is one of the biggest and most powerful waterfalls in Iceland. There are many more powerful, but it can take up to a week to reach them as they are located on the other side of Iceland. When it comes to accessibility, this one beats the rest. You can actually hear it before you see it, which is incredible seeing as how freaking large it is!!
One of the things I loved the most was the fact that you can also climb right to the top and look down on it from various view points. If you are super adventurous you can actual do a multi day hike or mountain bike trail while starts at the top of this waterfall and goes further up into the surrounding mountains.
Stop 6: Vik Black Sand Beach
This was a quick stop for us but was still very cool. It was only the second time in my life that I have seen a black sand beach so it was really cool to walk on it and take some photos. The cliffs nearby Vik or incredible and sort of remind me of being in a horror movie for some reason. The waves bashing against the cliffs, the wind howling and the entire area is very eerie, with no other people around. Be careful when visiting here as the waves and tide come in very fast and could easily sweep you out to sea! Be sure to dive all the way up to the top of the cliffs (it’s a one way system and a bit of a scary drive!!) as the view from the top looking down at the beach is phenomenal.
Stop 7: Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon
The last stop on our Iceland road trip also happened to be the most impressive! I’m not sure if it was was because it was unlike anywhere I have ever been in my life, or because it really did look in real life just as it did in the photos I had seen, but Jokulsarlon Glacial Lake totally took my breath away. Admittedly, it is quite the drive and I would seriously not recommend trying to drive there and back in once day like we stupidly did!! It can take up to 5 hours straight driving fro Reykjavik, and when it gets dark and starts to rain you really need to look out for animals and cars with broken head lights!!
The lagoon was formed due to ice melting fro the glacier upstream, breaking off and eventually flowing downstream and melting once it hits the ocean. The lagoon is where much of the ice gets stuck before it hits the sea. You can do boat tours around the large chunks of ice but sadly we did not have time so we decided to be (super) brave and go for a swim instead!!
When I look back on this trip, I still can’t believe we saw all of this in less than 4 days. It just goes to show how much more you could see if you had a week or longer.
It is such an incredible country, the more time you can dedicate to your perfect Iceland road trip, the better!
Looking for more inspiration? Check out this post by Like Riding a Bicycle about searching for the Midnight Sun in Iceland.
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