Iceland - April 2019
One of the most common question we get about travel is, "how do you decide where you are going next?" It's pretty simple actually, we want a different experience with each adventure. Whether it be scenic, cultural, or a bucket-list adventure. We try to mix it up as much as we can. Iceland was unique in the sense that this would be our first "colder" country. We traded in shorts, sunscreen and swimsuits for thermals, jackets and waterproof boots.
We arrived at Keflavík Airport early in the day on Easter morning. We picked up our rental car and made our way to our AirBnB in Reykjavik. We were located right next to the famous Hallgrimskirkja Church. We were fortunate to enjoy a beautiful Easter service to start our next adventure. The remainder of the day we strolled downtown Reykyavik, tried local cuisine, and adjusted to the time difference. Being so close to the Arctic Circle, we experienced the extended daylight. In mid-April, sunset didn’t happen until 9:30pm.
We went to bed as early as possible because tomorrow, our journey starts!
We said goodbye to Reykjavik early in the morning and made our way onto Iceland Route 1, famously known as The Ring Road. Our first destination was the small town of Vik. On our way, we had multiple stops planned.
First along our journey was Seljalandsfoss. This is a well-known waterfall along the Ring Road. You can actually see the waterfall right from the highway as you drive by. Parking is easy and you do not have to hike to get to it. You do have to pay for parking at this site (this was the only location we had to pay for parking). Fortunately, we got to the location early in the morning before the tourist arrived. But by the time we left, there were no less than 5 large tour buses in the parking lot. That was our cue to leave.
Next was one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland, Skogafoss. By the time we arrived, this area was overflowing with tourist and the weather had turned for the worse. We decided to pass by and try another time. Fortunately, our AirBnB was not far from Skogafoss. We made our way into Vik to pick up groceries for lunch and dinner for the rest of our trip. Kronan was our one stop shop for groceries throughout our time in Iceland.
Vik itself, is a quaint fishing town in southern Iceland nestled between beautiful mountain ranges. The drive through is absolutely picturesque. Vik is also famous for Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach along its coast.
We turned around to make our way back to our AirBnB. By this time, it was getting late in the day but the sun had barely set on the horizon. We parked at the entrance of the Sólheimasandur DC Plane Wreck on the black sand beaches. We were here at sunset. Its about 1.5 mile hike one way. It seem endless but sooner or later you will arrive to the crash site. The path to the plane is marked and easy to get too.
We started our morning early and made our way to Skogafoss. We had the entire waterfall to yourselves. We got to enjoy and bask in the beauty of the mighty waterfall in peace and at our pace.
Our journey today will take us from the southern coast of Iceland to the east, a town known as Höfn. The first stop along the way was Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, but unfortunately, the canyon was closed. The canyon has experienced high levels of foot traffic the past few years. This has caused havoc in the local vegetation. Next on the way was Svartifoss located in Vatnajokull National Park. It is quite the uphill hike to the waterfall. The waterfall is beautiful and unique with its hanging hexagonal basalt columns.
rom here it was straight drive to Höfn. Today was a cold and rainy day overall so it was the perfect day primarily for travel. We stayed at the cozy yet comfortable hostel called Milk Factory. The rain did not let up today, so we stayed in, relaxed, rested and recovered.
DAY 4: Plans this morning was the visit the Vestrahorn Mountains in Stokksnes. The rain had not settled from the day before and the mountains were covered in fog. It was unfortunate because this was the primary reason we travelled to Höfn.
Our journey today was to make our way back to Vik. On the returned trip, we had scheduled a glacier hike on largest Icelandic glacier, Falljokull. This was an awesome experience, and something we would highly recommend. Our guides provided us with ice picks and crampons for our journey. It was a 5 mile round trip hike.
After our hike, we had lunch. We drove our way to Vik, along the way we stopped at Diamond Beach. This beach is famous for large pieces of icebergs which have broken from the glacier. These icebergs float down the rivers and into the south Icelandic sea.
We made it back to Vik and rested for the night.
DAY 5: With all the driving from the south, to east and back to south, we planned for relaxing and unplanned day. We slept in, spent to morning relaxing and getting to know some of the other travels at our hostel. We got some great recommendations from travelers and locals. Our first stop was Dyrhólaey Lighthousesitting high upon the rocky cliffs of the southern peninsula of Vik. The views overlook the beautiful outstretched black beaches of the southern coast. We could have sat up here for hours.
We were told of another waterfall, known as Kvernufoss, is nestled down from Skogafoss. It is not well known and a short hike is required. We travelled to Kvernufoss mid day and what the waterfall to ourselves. It located in a beautiful canyon which twist and turns, but when you get to the end, the waterfall is there waiting for you.
Lastly we were told of the locally known hot pot (hot spring). We hiked further along into the mountain. We planned to enter but the water was colder then we expected for a hot spring.
We decided not to go in, knowing we had to hike back, we didn’t want to be cold or take the chance of getting sick.
DAY 6: Today was our travel day to the West. From Vik, our journey took us to Arnarstapi. The drive was long but beautiful. We only had a few stops planned for today but we found many impromptu stops. We met some locals along a stop and they recommended Ytri Tunga, which is a beach that is famous for wild seals.
Along Route 1, we found Bjarnafoss, another beautiful waterfall. Right down the road was Budakirkja, a picturesque black church sitting on the costal cliffs. Lastly, we stumbled upon Raudfeldsgja Gorge which was an unexpected hike and enjoyable experience.
For the night, we stayed at Arnarstapi Cottages, which are these quant self sufficient eco cottages along the Arnarstapi coast in front of you and towering mountain ranges behind. The weather turned for the worse that evening so we stayed in and rested.
Starting to realize that our trip will be coming to an end soon. We explored the Arnarstapi peninsula today. Close to our cottage was the Gatklettur Stone Bridge. A natural stone arch high above the cold Icelandic Sea. This arch is well known because the arch is actually cracked through and you can stand on both halves over the ocean.
We continues our way around the peninsula with no particular destination in mind. We made random stop along the way to take in the world around us. We stopped at Kirkjufell Mountain, well known if you are a Game Of Thrones fan.
We ventured back to Reykjavík that afternoon. We met some great people at our AirBnB. We all decided to go out for the night, bar hopping in downtown Reykjavík. He had a great time and we ended the night with the must have Icelandic Hotdogs at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur. I would say these hotdogs are better than NYC hotdogs! We all stumbled our way back to our AirBnB for the night.
DAY 8: Last day in Iceland. Our flight wasn’t until later in the evening so we had the morning to ourselves. We wanted to make sure we visited the Blue Lagoon Hot Springs. We saved the lagoon to the end of the trip to have some R&R and time to reminisce on our journey. We schedule for the earliest visit so that we could spend as much time as possible, but to also beat the rush.
We made our way back to Keflavík Airport after another great trip and forever memories.