A post long overdue!! I usually write at least a week after I traveled somewhere. But due to so many excuses, this post has been delayed for months!
Before I start to share our itinerary during our late-summer trip to Iceland. It’s better to check THIS website to make your own itinerary. I found that this website is very useful for my trip, and I hope it would be very useful for you too!
We started our road trip around Iceland from Reykjavik as most of the travelers do as well. Then, we dived in Silfra (Thingvellir national park) and followed by whale watching. If you are not into diving or whale watching, then you can just skip it to #Day 3. Basically, we started from the North and then went back to Reykjavik from the South.
So, let’s get down into the detail directly, shall we?
#Day 1: Explore Reykjavik
We arrived at Reykjavik around 3 pm and directly went to our car rental. We picked our rental based on the cheapest available car on the date we travel via Easy car website
After we got our car and went to our hostel, we explored Reykjavik city. Reykjavik is a pretty and small city which is very easy to explore. I personally think you won’t get lost in here. First, you can go to Hallgrimur church. Just park your car nearby the church (because it’s free of charge!!). This church is beautifully designed which I believed is inspired by a geological pattern which can be seen on most areas in Iceland (such as the Black sand beach), but, to me, it looks like a spaceship as well. It is very futuristic and well-designed. There is no entrance fee (which is good) except if you want to go to the church tower.
From this church, you can just walk down to the street in front of it. There are lots of bars and restaurants which sell typical Icelandic food. We did not eat there cause it’s bloody hell expensive! But there is a very nice Thailand restaurant with an affordable price on that street too! Haha.
If it’s not too late, you can go the geothermal beach. It is a beach with a geothermal pool on it. Too bad it was closed once we got there (It was 9 pm).
#Day 2: Diving at Silfra and Whale watching
There are lots of tours that Iceland’s tour operator can offer. From puffin tour, bike tour, whale watching tour, diving trip, etc. You can choose based on your budget. We chose to have diving and whale watching trips. We booked our trip through a dive operator which can be found in HERE. It was such an amazing experience! Diving in the middle of North American and Eurasian plate was one of our top bucket lists in the last 2 years. We used a dry suit to dive in Silfra due to a very low temperature (it was 0 Celsius in the summer). If you don’t have a dry suit license, it’s OK. But at least, an open water license is required for this trip. What if you are not a diver but you still want to explore Silfra? There is a snorkeling trip too which doesn’t require any license!
If you are in a budget, then you can just skip whatever tours they offered! Trust me, Icelandic natures and landscapes have a lot to offer to you FOR FREE!!
#Day 3: The golden circle
The golden circle is the most well-known, or I would say, the most touristic attraction in Iceland. But, don’t worry, you will still have plenty of spaces for yourself! It’s Iceland where the number of tourists and sheep are higher than the local people.
Thingvellir national park
We departed from Reykjavik in the morning (around 8 am) to Thingvellir national park. In this park, there are lots of things to be explored. This is the place where Icelandic parliament held their first meeting. You can also see the crystal clear water of Silfra from above.
The Golden Falls
From the national park, you can go directly to the golden falls. Along the way, you might spot some horse farms. Park your car safely and don’t forget to take a picture with a pretty Icelandic horse!
The golden circle will include geyser along the way. Watch your step as you might step on one of those hot springs. In front of the geyser, there is a souvenir shop. For those who want to buy some typical Icelandic souvenir, I personally think, this place is the best place to buy a souvenir around Iceland.
We stayed at Hella for a night, but this is not the best option! We chose this hostel simply it has a very nice room and hot tub outside the house. It is also located in a very quiet and nice farm area.
#Day 4 Going up to the North: Seal Centre
Usually, people will start their road trip from the South going up to the North. But we tried it differently due to some circumstances (we schedule it to be matched with the best time to see the seal haha!). So, from the golden circle, we go straight up to the North to the city of Seal, which is Hvammstangi.
As we arrived in this city, we went directly to the seal center to seek information about seal viewing. Turns out, we needed to go around the road to find the seal. It took us about 2 hours to complete the road (and to go back to the main road number 1). We finally found lots of seals chilling out by the beach in one of the viewing spots. We spent about 1 hour or maybe more just to have a close interaction with the seals (neglecting the strong and freezing wind from the north). But, it was totally worth the effort!! BECAUSE THEY’RE SUPER CUTE! They are not easily distracted by the people nearby, they are even curious about us. Such a warm and welcoming creature, indeed.
Along the way, you can stop by Hvitsekur and see the northern part of Iceland. We stopped at Akureyri city for a night. We planned to camp at Akureyri, but it was raining a lot and we decided to just sleep in the car (which is not bad after all).
#Day 5 The North: The land of FIRE
If you do have time 9and money of course), I will strongly recommend you to go to Northern Iceland. Well, the best time to travel to the North might not in the winter except you are an experienced driver on the snow.
Northern Iceland characterized with its unique landscapes. It’s totally different from the one in the South. I might say, It is very different to “ordinary earth” view.
From Akureyri, you can stop by Godafoss (the waterfall of God. It is located in the main route number 1. So it is very easy to access.
Myvatn and around
Myvatn is another national park in Iceland. Just like Thingvellir, there are lots of things to see and visit this national park. If you are coming from Akureyri, just like us, do not follow route number 1 once you arrived in Myvatn. Take the road around the Myvatn Lake and don’t forget to stop by the lake to admire its beauty. The view is much more beautiful from this side of the road.
In Myvatn you can stop by on the – I would say – a volcano park? Well, this place has no name, but if you have time, you can go for a hike around this park. It has unusually shaped rock formation in the lava field. We did some small hiking around but only in the outside of the park (too bad that we have time to catch).
Along the way, you can go hiking in the Hverfjall. It is a volcano ring with a diameter of 1 km. For us, it was like we were landed on the moon. Everything was black and sandy. Once you got there, you need to go up for about 20-30 minutes hiking (really depends on your speed) to see the crater as well as the upper view of the Myvatn national park.
There is also a small lava cave nearby the Myvatn Lake, called Grjotagja. Inside this cave, there is a geothermal spring. However, swimming is prohibited. The eruptions on the 80’s make it dangerous to have a lot of people bathing in the cave.
Before leaving Myvatn national park, you will pass by Hverir or Namajfall. It is a unique landscape which has a Mars-like scenery. It has pools of boiling mud, hot springs, and some hissing chimneys. You might want to enjoy the fresh sulfur which smells like rotten eggs, while you are here!
If you happen to have time, you need to go a bit north from the main route number 1 to see Dettifoss. It was such an unfortunate that have so little time. Thus, we decided to just skip it. Tell us about Dettifoss, once you got there, OK?
We spent the night at the camping site just before Seydisfjordur town.
#Day 6 The East: Take it easy – Hengifoss and Route 939
Since it was such a long drive from the north, we decided to take a little break on the East. We found a very nice camping site just before Seydisfjordur town. It has Wi-Fi, shower, and even a Jacuzzi and hot swimming pool FOR FREE!! In short, we decided to stay a bit longer in the camp and went to the South directly in the afternoon.
However, if you happened to have time, you can go hiking in Eggistaldir town. There are lots of hiking trails with an amazing view which you can explore in this city. This was our first plan. But, because of the very cosy and free Jacuzzi we found along the way, we canceled our plan. Haha! But we did not regret it at all.
Not happened to go hiking in Eggistaldir town, we decided to go hiking to see Hengifoss. It’s a beautiful waterfall in the eastern part of Iceland. To see the waterfall, you need to hike for about 45-60 minutes. It is an easy hike with a very beautiful scenery, so it was all worth the hike, We promise you!
From Hengifoss, along the way to the South, you will find an intersection between route number 1 and number 939. I will recommend you to take route 939! It’s a 2WD route don’t worry! It’s shorter and it has a Jurassic park-like scenery. I could not tell you in writing but you can judge it with the pictures that I took along the way.
And finally, we stayed in the hotel nearby Jokursarlon to continue our journey to the South.
#Day 7 The South: The land of ICE
Once you are in the South, you could see some mountains with glaciers on the top of them.
Jokursarlon and Fjallsarlon
There are several ice lagoons in Iceland. But I believe, the most famous ice lagoon is Jokursarlon. It is a unique and must visit place in Iceland. Try to walk around the lagoon and admire the beauty of it before it’s gone because of THE CLIMATE CHANGE. Yes, since the earth is warmer, the lagoon is getting bigger and bigger each year. I know it’s pretty, but it’s also an indication of a catastrophe.
Just beside Jokursarlon, there is another lagoon called Fjallsarlon. This lagoon is quieter and, for me, it is more beautiful. There are also more ice cubes in this lagoon compared to Jokursarlon. The ice cubes in both lagoons could be at least 1000 years old. So, a bite of ice cubes will make you taste a frozen history!
If you happened to have time, then hiking to Skaftafell is a must!! Too bad we missed it.
The Black beach
The black beach is located in the village of Vik. For us, as Indonesians, it was very uniquely different from the beaches we have known in the tropical country! It has dark black sand as well as very smooth stones. The view is so stunning. And For us, it was the perfect place to have our lunch!
Along the way, you will see a lot of waterfalls. One of them is skogafoss. For us, it is the most beautiful waterfall we have seen in Iceland. Maybe it was because of the perfect timing. Try to go in the sunny day to Skogafoss. Then, you will catch a rainbow (or maybe two) nearby the waterfall, which was so awesome!
Just 10-15 minutes driving from Skogafoss, you will find another waterfall called Seljalandfoss. For us, this is the most unique waterfall in Iceland. It is because you can walk behind it! The best time to visit is during the sunset (while its weather is clearly far away from the clouds of course). You can also spot a rainbow on this waterfall while you have sun!
On the way to the hostel, we stopped by a volcanic crater lake called Kerið (occasionally Anglicized as Kerith or Kerid) along the way.
Then, we stayed at Fludir for a night.
#Day 8 The hot springs
Iceland is famous for its hot spring. There are a lot of natural or man-made hot springs.
In the South, just 45 km away from Reykjavik, there is a geothermal river in the beautiful valley of Reykjadalur. The name of Reykjadalur is derived from the “steam valley’ as the valley is filled with hot springs and mud pools.
To reach this river you need to hike for about 30-45 minutes. Don’t worry, it is an easy hike. Plus, the landscape of this valley is mesmerizing.
The (in)famous blue lagoon
At first, we did not plan to go to the blue lagoon. It is because of a lot of people wrote that it is overrated. Many people think that it is expensive and full of tourist. Besides, there are other man-made hot springs that you can visit, such as the Secret Lagoon nearby the Golden circle, and the Myvatn nature bath in the North.
Yet, finally, we decided to go the Blue lagoon because o its location nearby the airport. It is very convenient for us to spend the last night in Iceland after such a long drive around the country.
We agreed that the blue lagoon is much more expensive than the other man-made lagoon. But, it served a free silica mud mask that is good for your skin! Besides, its location is very strategic makes it very convenient for the travellers to end up the trip by soaking up in the blue and warm water. Although it was a bit crowded when we visited the lagoon, we still had plenty of spaces for just the two of us. So it was not as crowded as we expected!
#Day 9 Back Home
Since we had a very early flight back home to The Netherlands, we decided to go to the airport and sleep there for the night. As a bonus, we saw a glimpse of the Northern light that night before we came back home.
#TYPICAL ICELANDIC THINGS
what I mean the typical Icelandic things here are the things you can easily find along the way when you go for a road trip in Iceland.
Sheeps, and more sheeps
Pretty Icelandic horse
The green moss (do not step on it!)
Typical road trip view
Overall we spent 1780 euro for both of us for the entire trip exclude the flight ticket and food. The cost breakdown is:
- 170 euro for the petrol
- 398 euro for car rental (9 days)
- 840 euro for Diving and whale watching
- 372 euro for hostel/hotel/airbnb
We camped 2 nights, and stayed in the airport on our last night. That is why we did not spend to much money for the hostel. The diving and whale watching trip could be skipped, unless it is on your bucket list! It will reduce your spending a lot!! We did not remember how much we spent our money for food. But in general we cooked a lot. We brought some food from Indonesia and the Netherlands and bought some in local supermarket in Iceland to reduce the cost. I remembered, we only ate outside 6 times to try local and unique food like smoked puffin, lamb, whale, and famous Icelandic lobster!
We spent 890 euro that is about IDR 13,500,000 for each person (exclude food and flight ticket). But if you exclude the diving and whale watching trip, you can reduce the spending up to half of what we spent, which is about 470 euro or about IDR 7,500,000 (exclude food and flight ticket).
Not so cheap I would say, but it is still manageable and totally worth the savings!!!
#DETAILED BUDGET & ITINERARY
Iceland has give us such an unforgettable experience. It has become our most favourite destination so far. We have left our heart in the country. We definitely will come back to explore the highlands anytime soon.
For more info about my budgeting and itinerary, you can download it HERE!! (PDF FILE)
and have look to our short video about our trip to Iceland in HERE.
Have a nice trip and safe drive!! Cheers!