Iceland -10 day itinerary

Our itinerary below , we did this in June 2018 .Its good for 9-10 days (+2 days to get in and out from India)…

Day 1:Arrive Reyjkavik|Stay:Airbnb|Sights:In flight; half day at Berlin|Main Attraction:Blue Lagoon, Church, Old Harbour, Hotdog, Party

Day 2: Hella|Stay:Stracta|Sights:Golden circle (Þingvellir, Geyser, Gulfoss Waterfall, Kerið) |Activity : Snorkelling

Day 3:Hella|Stay:Stracta|Sights:Landmannalaugar|Main Attraction:Hekla ( active volcano), Lava fields, riodite mountains.

Day 4:Vik|Stay:Stracta|Sights:South coast|Main Attraction:Two waterfalls ( can be done on 2nd day), spend some time on glacier. Eyjafjallajökull, Dyrhólaey natural reserve where you can find one of the best seabird colonies in Iceland., Walk on black beach of VIK

Day 5:Hofn|Stay:Airbnb|Sights:glaciers|Main Attraction:Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park, Jokulsarlon Glacier |Activity : Snowmobile tour, boat tour to glacier lagoon. Glacier walking

Day 6:Egilsstaðir|Stay:Airbnb|Sights : East coast , Seydisfjordur,Take the oxy pass route.

Day 7:Mývatn|Stay:Ytri-Vík cottage|Sights:myntvan lake + husavik|Main Attraction:Start day early. Do Dettifoss, then Husavik, and, start seeing Myvtan by eve. Stay at Myvtan|Activity:Whale watching

Day 8:Skagafjordur|Stay:|Sights:North iceland, Akureyi|Main Attraction:Start day at Myvtan, spend some time there. Famous riding tours available in Skagafjordur|Activity:Lava Cave Exploration

Day 9:Snæfellsnes|Stay:Við Hafið Guesthouse|Sights: Snaefellsnes peninsula, Kikjufell|Main Attraction:Start day early. Long day ahead|Activity:Horse riding on black river. 100 km west of Akureyi. Can target 10 AM slot.

Day 10:take flight in night|Sights:Local sight seeing in Reykjavik city


some points 

1. you need to rent a car. Make sure u rent a 4×4. Many roads in my itinirary are open only to 4×4 cars, and not 2 wheel drive cars. make sure u get a good gps with the car. 

2. dont miss the golden circle. it takes a long time to see it, so should start early that day

3. dont miss Landmanalugar. simply stunning. can stay at Hella and do the day trip there. make sure you take the river-crossing road, and not the easy road

4. when you go to the east, make sure you take the oxy pass road, is stunning. look out for it on the map carefully before hand, else will miss it 

5. Whale watching in akureyi

6. Snow bike in flatey – we really enjoyed it + you get to play in the snow for some time.

Day 0 : Berlin walking tour 

Berlin currywurst 

Free Walking tour

Cut off from the group at concert hall and had a drink at Amici 

Day 1: Golden Circle

Arrived in Reykjavik wearing shorts and Chappal at midnight ! Wondering why we ventured out leaving our sweet angels behind.Our luggage did not arrive on time so started our day with some food and basic clothing / toiletries Shopping at Hagkaup

Þingvellir National Park : Pick up your car and take highway number 1 to the north and west from Reykjavik. After driving throughMosfellsbær town, turn off the main highway 1 and take road number 36 towards the Þingvellir National Park, a unique place from a geological point of view and a place of great beauty. Þingvellir is a natural wonder on an international scale. The faults and fissures of the area are clear evidence of the rifting of the earth’s crust. Þingvellir is also the most historical place in the country and a place of exceptional beauty.


Great Geysir and Strokkur :Next explore the numerous hot springs and see the famous Great Geysir and Strokkur, a very active geyser that spouts every few minutes. The Geysir Service Centre offers a hotel, restaurant, a swimming pool, snack bar, souvenir shop, gas station, a geo-centre multimedia show, horse rental, quad bike tours, and a camping area. From here, drive to the waterfall Gullfoss

Gulfoss waterfall : is one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfall. Turn around at Gullfoss and head back on the same road as before a little further than Geysir.

Faxi waterfall : Take road number 35 south and don´t miss the pretty waterfall Faxi, hidden a short distance from the road on your left hand side. Look for the small “Faxi” sign.

Kerid crater : Continue on road 35 to the volcanic crater Kerið, also on your left a bit further. Stay on 35 to the junction of the main circular highway, number 1 at Selfoss.

We had lunch at Fridheimar farm where they grow tomatoes all year round, despite Iceland’s long, dark winters, under artificial lighting in greenhouses. We loved the cucumber salsa . We ordered the tomato soup , tomato pasta and tortilla with some ice cream to top it off . Dream meal for Shobhit.

Fridheimar farm has a small restaurant is located in the greenhouse surrounded by tomato plants. Visitors enjoy the special experience of entering a greenhouse with its fragrance of tomato plants and sitting down to a feast of the famous Friðheimar tomato soup with fresh baked bread. Some would also like to raise a glass of tomato schnapps!

Stay : Stracta – Hella 

Day 2 — Landmannalaugar

Return to road 1.Take road 1 in the direction towards Hella.  Head inland on road 26 and later take F225 to visit the Landmannalaugar area, only passable by a 4 x 4 vehicle in summer. The track passes through a wide variety of canyons, valleys, over rock ridges and black lava, weird plain of lava rocks surrounded by captivating mountains. The mountain track over Landmannaleið offers some of the finest scenic views available throughout this fascinating region. Off the track there are various trails leading to the volcano Hekla, which is in view on and off to the south of the trail. Come to Landmannahellir, a cave that runs some distance into a hillside. This mountain track, known as Landmannaleið is rugged and rocky in sections. The scenic interest in the area is tremendous. The surrounding mountains are perhaps the most varied and colourful in Iceland. On a clear day you can see the snow covered peak of the great Mt. Hekla crowning the magnificent landscape. This area is highly recommended for nature lovers and those interested in geology. It offers numerous hiking trails for long and short hikes. Lake Frostastaðavatn surrounded by colourful mountains and craters. From a side road near the western end of the lake, a short drive up to the rim of Ljótipollur a lake-filled crater. The trail proceeds cutting across some relatively recent lava streams and through the Dómadalur valley. 


At Landmannalaugar is a warden station, mountain hut and a popular camping site. Near the hut is a warm water pool created by the confluence of natural hot water and cold water springs which issue within a short distance of one another from underneath the edge of the obsidian lava field. Here you can take a relaxing bath in the beautiful and almost surreal surroundings. Take road F208 and F26 to Hrauneyjar and then take road 26 to road 1.

To do in Hella:• Ægisíða Caves• Ægisíða Falls• Horse riding

Day 3 – Hella to Vik

Continue to the east on road 1 along the south shore. Stop at the waterfall Seljalandsfoss where it is possible to walk behind the waterfall in summer. Thanks The waterfall Skógafoss is a little further east and don’t miss the Folk Museum at Skógar, close to the waterfall. The glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull are towering above. 


On March 20th 2010, a volcanic eruption started on Fimmvörðuháls, a mountain ridge between the glaciers, Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. The eruption on Fimmvörðuháls lasted a couple of weeks. After this eruption came to an end a new and bigger eruption started underneath the nearby icecap of Eyjafjallajökull Glacier. This eruption came to an end on 23. May 2010. Underneath the icecap of Mýrdalsjökull is Katla, one of Iceland’s most dangerous volcanoes. Make a short detour on a gravel road 221 from the main highway to the glacier Sólheimajökull (passable only during summer) before continuing to Dyrhólaey 218 natural reserve and a nesting colony of numerous seabirds. Drive to Reynisdrangar, 215 with spectacular coast and beautiful rock formations. The promontory at Dyrhólaey is a massive natural arch carved by the relentless pounding of the winds and surf with rich birdlife in summer. Continue on road 1 across the Mýrdalssandur floodplains and Eldhraun, the largest lava field ever to flow on Earth in historical time and to the small village Kirkjubæjarklaustur. At Kirkjubæjarklaustur, often abbreviated as “Klaustur”, see Kirkjugólfið (the Church Floor), a protected natural monument just east of Klaustur. Kirkjugólfið is columnar basalt, eroded and shaped by wind and water, only a few minutes walk from the road. In the afternoon of 21. May 2011, a sub-glacial eruption started in the Grímsvötn volcanic system underneath VatnajökullGlacier. Later the same day, the eruption broke the ice cover of the glacier and started spewing volcanic ash into the air. The amount of ash fall was the greatest close to the village Kirkjubæjarklaustur. The eruption went on for about a week. It ceased on 28. May 2011.

Drive along the south shore to Dyrhólaey natural reserve where you can find one of the best seabird colonies in Iceland. Dyrhólaey is a 120 meter highheadland into the sea and you definitely should hike on it. We recommend you an evening walk at the black beach of Vík

Note:

A short distance east of Skógar, Rtes. 221 and 222 provide the easiest Ring Road access to Mýrdalsjökull,the country’s fourth-largest glacier. Sólheimajökull, a projectile of Mýrdalsjökull, just 5km (3 miles) from the Ring Road via Route 221, is a worthwhile diversion if you are not bound for greater glories farther east at Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón. Sólheimajökull is retreating up to 100m (328 ft.) every year, a vivid demonstration of the effects of global warming. Some visitors walk atop the glacier, but taking a tour is much safer. Watch out for quicksand at the glacier’s edge.

day 4 – Vik to hofn

Kirkjubæjarklaustur

– small village in a beautiful landscape

– Christian settlement all from the beginning of Icelandic history

– all necessary service available, bank, post office, supermarket, tourist information, fuel station, restaurants, swimming pool 

– leaving Kirkjubæjarklaustur on road no. 1 you can turn left to see Kirkjugólf, follow the signs

Kirkjugólf

– “church floor”

– formation of basalt columns that looks like the floor of a mediaeval church

– nice little walk

Drive road 1 across Skeiðarársandur, vast tracts of black sandy desert washed down by torrential glacial rivers to Skaftafell. Its natural beauty is a result of favourable weather conditions and the interaction of fire and ice. Beneath the Vatnajökull ice cap, towering above Skaftafell is one of Iceland’s most active volcanic system. Stop at the Skaftafell National Park to see the interesting Visitors Centre and for a walk. In the area are many interesting hiking trails. An interesting hiking trail takes you to Svartifoss, one of Icelands most picturesque waterfall, famous for basalt columns which surround it.  A video of a volcanic eruption in the area in 1996 can also be viewed. 

Stop at Svínafellsjökull glacier fall, where the opening sequence of Batman Begins was filmed 

Continue to Jökulsárlón, the Glacial Lagoon where huge icebergs, broken off the Breiðamerkurjökullglacier float and grind together in the deep waters of the lagoon and seals are frequently seen. A cruise among the icebergs on the Lagoon is available in summer. 

Skeiðarársandur

– largest black sand desert, formed by glacial rivers and catastrophic glacial floods coming out from Skeiðarárjökull glacier
– longest bridge in Iceland, 904 m (but in summer 2009 the river disappeared)
– ever changing breathtaking landscape of glaciers, mountains, rivers, black sand and the ocean

Note

The skatefall glacier is best for doing glacier walking tours

Do boat tour at Jukolsarlon

Day 5 – East

Started with the snowmobile tour at Flatey 

Continue on road 1 through Almannaskarð tunnel to Lónsöræfi, a mountainous wilderness ringed by extinct volcanoes and traversed by glacial rivers. Drive past towering mountains with bare rock faces that plunge almost vertically into the sea. Proceed to the magnificent East Fjords, some are now deserted and each a world of its own. An interesting option is taking a boat tour to Papey Island near Djúpivogur where thousands of puffins and other seabirds nest in summer. A short cut is possible here (ONLY in summer), – instead of proceeding along the coast it is now possible to drive across Öxi pass (road 939), a steep and spectacular route. Please see the map. Take road 96 to Fáskrúðsfjörður and further through the tunnel to Reyðarfjörður. From Reyðarfjörður, take 92 across Fagridaur Pass to Egilsstaðir,  a small town on the banks of the river Lagarfljót. Take 1 and later 931 to the south along the lakeshore of Lake Lagarfljót to Hallormasstaður.  

It seems may be a good idea to go to Papey islands by ferry. Available from Djúpivogur. But it seems online that its only at 1 pm, and, lasts 4 hours

In the evening we visited Seydisfjordur a charming little town where time has stopped. Imagine a small fishing town at the end of the world, full of picturesque colourful houses, located in the mouth of a majestic fjord, surrounded by steep, dramatic mountains and waterfalls. We just visited the cozy bistros and walked around , but here are TOP 10 things to do in Seydisfjordur

1. Visit the lovely blue church Bláa Kirkjan

Bláa Kirkjan is the most famous building in Seydisfjordur, and it is well known all around Iceland.

2. Relax in one of the cosy local cafes

We especially recommend Skaftfell Bistro. Apart from delicious coffee, cakes and home-made ginger lemonade, they serve excellent pizza. We like this bistro because of its special atmosphere and the collection of art books. It’s great to seat there for a while chatting or waiting for the aurora to appear in the winter.

3. Check out what contemporary art is all about at Skaftfell Center for Visual Art

Skaftfell Art Centre, located right over the bistro, is the most active contemporary art gallery in East Iceland, and one of the best in the whole country.

4. Try local beer brewed in Kaffi Lara

Café Lara, which you can find very close to the Blue Church, is one of the few places in Iceland, where you can try beer brewed on-spot.

5. Go for a long walk around the town

Since the town is very small, you can discover all of its corners on foot. Every time we go for a walk, we can’t resist choosing our favourite dream house to live. Don’t forget about all the spectacular waterfalls and dramatic mountains. And fill your lungs with the incredibly fresh air.

6. Try your hand at sea kayaking

There’s something special about Seyðisfjörður seen from the water. Don’t worry if you don’t have any experience at sea kayaking. You can go for a kayak adventure with a guide, who knows all the secrets of the fjord. The kayaking season is June 1 – August 31.

7. Visit the local swimming pool

If the weather is bad, apart from relaxing in the cafes, you can also visit the pool. We prefer open-air pools in Iceland, but this one is really nice.

8. Listen to uncanny Tvisongur sound sculpture

In the mountains above Seyðisfjörður, you can find an interesting concrete sculpture called Tvisongur by a German artist Lukas Kühne. When it’s windy, it makes a peculiar sound. It takes around 45 min to get to this spot. Apart from the sculpture, you will have a chance to see a fantastic view over the town.

9. Checkout Seydisfjordur panorama from Mt. Bjólfur viewpoint

To get there you have to drive up Fjarðarheiði pass, where on the right-hand side you will find a gravel road. After around 5 km you will reach the viewpoint. It’s best to have a 4×4 here, but you can also get there in a regular car. The road is usually open from June until September. That’s one of the best fjord views in the whole country. Don’t miss it!

10. Go for a day hike in the mountains around Seydisfjordur

If you have more time, then we definitely recommend going for a hike in the mountains around Seydisfjordur. The fantastic thing is that in the area there are quite a few of rarely visited trails.

Day 6 – Husavik and Myvtan

From Egilsstaðir. Take road 1 from Egilsstaðir along Jökuldalur Valley and across the highland desert of Möðrudalsöræfi , – heading towards Akureyri. Close to the isolated farm Grímsstaðir, take road 864 to the north. The route loosely follows the course of the mighty river Jökulsá á Fjöllum to Öxarfjörður Bay. Continue to the north along a rather rough but scenic route to Dettifoss waterfall, the largest waterfall in Europe. From Dettifoss proceed further to the north and drive to Ásbyrgi canyon, a strange and spectacular horseshoe shaped canyon not to be missed. From Ásbyrgi drive a short distance to the west on 85. Make a detour on F862 to Vesturdalur and Hljóðaklettar, the Echo rocks, an extremely beautiful canyon carved by the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. This area offers many interesting hiking trails to explore the many wonders of the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park. After exploring Hljóðaklettar and Vesturdalur, drive back to 85 and proceed to Húsavík, sometimes called “The Whale Watching Capital of The World”. Húsavík was the first place in the country to offer very successful Whale Watching cruises. The Whale Museum in Húsavík is an educational centre on marine wildlife. Visit the HúsavíkNatural and Maritime Museum, one of the best museums of its kind in the country. Whale watching cruises are available daily from early morning until late at night during summer season.

Note: In case short of time, can try whale watching next day from akureyi / dalvik also

Head on 87 to Lake Mývatn. The Lake Mývatn area is known world wide for the abundance of birdlife and its exceptionally many breeding duck species. The lake’s surroundings show great variety in stunning landscapes and amazing geological formations. Explore the natural beauty of the Lake Mývatn area, the wonderland of strange rock formations. Stop at Dimmuborgir, the “Dark Castles” and see the pseudo craters near Skútustaðir and many other scenic spots in the area surrounding the lake. See Krafla volcanic system where the most recent eruptions took place in 1975 – 1984. In summer visitors can have a guided tour through the Kröfluvirkjun Geothermal Power Station where steam pressure is harnessed for generating electricity. The explosion crater Víti is near Krafla and the MývatnNature Baths are an outstanding attraction too. Stop at the Námaskarð pass where boiling mud pools and flashing colours of the pass merge with lava and ash from the Krafla volcanic system. 

Dimmuborgir

– valley filled up with bizarre lava formations, caves, holes and pillars.

– protected area, very sensible birch growth

– several marked walking paths, do not leave the roped-off routes, you can easily get lost in this labyrinth of dark lava rocks

– newly built service and information centre at the entrance, cafeteria

Skútustaðir

– famous for a number of pseudo craters, formed by gas explosions when hot lava flew into the waters, looking like circular craters or small islands

– protected area, please do not leave the walking paths and close the gates behind you

– service, shop, cafe

Námafjall

– mountain south of the pass Námaskarð, former sulfurmine, the east side of the mountain is all covered by signs of geothermal heat

– impressive bubbling mud pools, steam vents, hot boiling springs and fumaroles, distinctive stench of sulfur everywhere

– there are roped-off paths, please stick to those paths as it is extremely dangerous to walk around in this area; the surface material is fragile and the ground is extremely hot  

Krafla and Víti

– cone-shaped volcano north of Námafjall, but also a system of fissures

– considerable geothermal heat on the west side of Krafla

– Geothermal Power Station, build in 1984, later extended

– The crater Víti is situated nearby Krafla, its name means “hell” in Icelandic

Day 7 – Akureyi

We have 2 options to choose from… or if we have time, then, do a little of both. 

Option 1

Head on road 1 towards Akureyri, the capital of the north.. Stop enroute at the beautiful waterfall Goðafoss, close to Fosshóll, a short distance east of the junction of 1 and 85.  One of the most extraordinary aspects of Akureyri town is its unusually warm climate. Although it is situated only 40 km south of the Arctic Circle, it has some of the best weather in the country. See the famous Botanical Gardens of Akureyri and some of the many museums and art galleries. Also recommended is the Akureyri Church, situated on a hilltop overlooking the centre of the town. After a full day of sightseeing it’s always popular to spend the afternoon in the town’s outdoor geothermal swimming pool & Water Park. Drive road 1 through the majestic mountains surrounding Öxnadalur valley and across the Öxnadalsheiði pass which leads to the Skagafjordurdistrict. Popular horse riding tours for beginners and experienced riders are available here. Here we recommend a visit to the old turf and stone farm / museum at Glaumbær on road 75 and the old tinichurch at Víðimýri is also worth a visit. Take 75 from Varmahlíð to Sauðárkrókur.

Option 2 from hostel.is:

Here, instead of going west, you go north and visit Dalvik and upwards (see map). 
Explore Tröllaskagi Peninsula. Drive north along the western shore of Eyjafjörður Fjord to Dalvík town. A ferry ride is available several times daily during summer from Árskógssandur to the Island Hrísey. Hrísey has earned a reputation as a birdwatching destination. There are no natural predators on the island, making it an ideal bird sanctuary. Drive further to the north to Ólafsfjörður town. Take the Lágheiði Pass, landscape sculpted by ice age glaciers, offering superb alpine views and drvie to Siglufjörður fishing town, a remotely located fishing town that during the herring boom in early 20th century used to be the most prosperous fishing town in Iceland. Visit the award-winning Siglufjörður Herring Era Museum. It charts the rise and decline of the former “Herring Capital of the World” and the great Herring Adventure that lasted until 1968. Continue to the south along the shores of Skagafjörður Fjord to Hofsós town and further to Sauðárkrókur. 

Dalvík:

– former fishing village on the western shores of the fjord Eyjaförður, 1400 inhabitants

– from you have nice views on Hrísey island

– magnificent mountain peaks surround the village

– whale watching, folk museum

– continue on road no. 82, pass Ólafsfjörður, drive the mountain road

– when you reach the coast again, turn right onto road no. 793 to get to Siglufjörður

Siglufjörður:

– fishing town, 1600 inhabitants

– protected against avalanches by two walls (18 and 14 m high)

– The Boat House recreates the town’s bustling harborof the 1950s, with many old fishing boats at the dock. During the years of the so called “herring adventure”, a gold rush-like atmosphere settled over the town, leading to Siglufjördur been dubbed the “Atlantic Klondike”

Hofsós:

– village, situated on the eastern shores of Skagafjörður, pop. 200

– very interesting Icelandic Emigration Centre (Vesturfarasetrið) with exhibitions on emigration to Canada and the USA in the late 19th century, worth a visit

– nice harbor, the exhibition is situated here, as well as Pakkhúsið, a wooden warehouse from the 18th century, now preserved by the National Museum

– continue on road no. 76, turn left onto road no. 767 to get to Hólar

Hólar:

– former bishopric (1106-1998), most important historical site in northern Iceland

– religious and educational centre from the 12th until the 18th century

– the last Catholic bishop, Jón Arason, who resisted the Reformation, was beheaded at Skálholt in fall 1550

– church, built 1763 of local red sand stone, oldest stone building in Iceland

– church tower built in the 1950s

– get a local guide to tell you about the history and all the interesting pieces inside the church as well as the replica of a wooden building, Auðunarstofa, from the Middle Ages

– today home to the Agricultural College and HólarUniversity, teaching aquaculture and fish biology, equine sciences and rural tourism

– nice hiking area

– drive back onto road no. 76, drive south

– when you reach ring road no. 1, turn right in direction to Varmahlíð

– from Varmahlíð drive road no. 75 to get to Glaumbær

Glaumbær:

– very interesting open air and folk museum, former parsonage and wealthy farm

– one of the few remaining Icelandic turf farms, oldest parts of it are from the 18th century

– Beside the turf farm, there are buildings from the 19th and early 20th century, including a church and a former school for housekeepers.

– There is a very nice café in a cozy old-fashioned tearoom where you can get traditional Icelandic cakes and other local snacks.

– drive back on road no. 1, not far from Varmahlíð you will find the church of Víðimýri, left side of road no. 1

day 8 – Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Visit Borgarvirki natural fortress before reaching Snæfellsnes. 

On Snæfellsnes, you can choose from a variety of activities such as horseback riding, hiking, a bird watching-cruise (in summer), or whale watching from Stykkishólmur Village or simply relax and take in the Snæfellsjökull glacier’s alleged supernatural energy. The Snæfellsjökull glacier in the SnæfellsjökullNational Park was the setting for Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. 

Blönduós

– small town, pop, 1000, living on agriculture, transport, trading

– situated at the mouth of the river Blanda built on bothssides of the river

– very insteresting modern church, built in the years 1981-1985

– all necessary service available, bank, shops, gas station, restaurant

– nice recreation area on an island in the glacial river Blanda, worth a stop and walk (you can see it  from the gas station)

– continue on road no. 1, drive through the valley Víðidalur

– turn right onto road no. 716, continue on road no. 717

Borgarvirki

– “citadel”, 177 m high

– group of rocks on the ridges between Vesturhóp and the Víðidalur valley

– basalt columns 10-15 m high, depression on the top and an open to the east

– a big stonewall has been raised in the open, ruins of hut in the depression

– nobody knows for what purpose these walls were raised, but Icelandic Sagas suggest them being defence walls

– turn right onto road no. 711

Hvítserkur

– basalt crag rising from the sea, 15 m high

– erosion formed it looking like some figure of a fairy tale or a monster

– colonies of sea birds and seal breeding grounds

Hvammstangi

– village, pop. 590
– authorized trading place since the late 19th century
– service centre for the surrounding neighborhood
– home to the newly opened Icelandic Seal Center, where you can learn everything about seals and their closest environment
– drive road no. 72, when you reach ring road no. 1, turn right in direction to the fjord Hrútafjörður

Hrútafjörður

– long narrow fjord, the largest in this part of Iceland
– very good agricultural area, many farms
– when you reach the bottom of Hrútafjörður, turn right onto road no. 61
– after passing Borðeyri, turn left onto road no. 59
– drive the mountain road Laxárdalsheiði

Stykkishólmur

– town with 1230 inhabitants, fishing and trading center, school, hospital
– for centuries a focal point for settlement in the Breiðafjörður area
– modern space age looking church, concert hall, art museum on water “Vatnasafnið”
– folk museum close to the harbor in the “Norwegian House”
– super market, great swimming pool
– from here the ferry Baldur goes to Brjánslækur (West fjords)
– light house near the harbor
– several boat trips with bird and whale watching, sea angling etc.
– tourist information centre

Grundarfjörður

– fishing and trading center since the 18th century, named after the fjord Grundarfjörður
– today lovely small town in a great environment, dominated by the mountain Kirkjufell
– population about 850, living on fishing and fish processing
– French fishermen built a church and several houses in the town
– swimming pool, tourist information

Ólafsvík

– small town (900 inhabitans), good harbor facilities, rich offshore fishing grounds
– museum in a 19th century warehouse
– all necessary services

Rif and Hellissandur

– former important fisher villages
– western most settlements on Snæfellsnes peninsula
– maritime museum and fishermen’s cottages at Hellissandur
– large colony of the arctic tern between Rif and Hellissandur

Snæfellsjökull

– The area is dominated by the three peaked volcano and glacier Snæfellsjökull (1446 m high) which is believed to be a place of supernatural power.
– One of the most famous volcanoes in Iceland featured in novels by Jules Verne and Icelandic writer HalldórLaxness.
– today a National Park
– several hiking trails

Borgarnes

– small town, 2.500 inhabitants, living on industry and services
– restaurant, services, shopping center, bank, hospital etc.
– one of the sites of the famous Saga of EgillSkallagrímsson
– interesting botanical garden with a relief sculpture of Egill Skallagrímsson

– drive road no. 1 through the Hvalfjörður tunnel to get to Reykjavík

day 9 – Reyk

Before finishing your ”ring road”, take a look at the highlights of West Iceland. Sights along the way are the volcanic crater Grábrók, Hraunfossar waterfalls, Deildartunguhver (the largest hot spring in Europe) and the settlement center in Borgarnes. 4

Once heading back to Reykjavík, you can either take the scenic Hvalfjörður Fjord route where you can stop and hike up to the famous Glymur waterfall or if you want to return directly to Reyjkavik take the Route 1 underwater tunnel. 

Arrive in Reykjavik, and spend a few hours in the city. 

Iceland is world famous for its diverse and unique geothermal landscape, and one of the greatest things about visiting here is its uniqueness which captures you from all directions.

After arriving in Keflavik ,the nearest Airport to the capital city of Reykjavik, you don’t have to look far to see plumes of smoke rising from the ground, natural hot springs, waterfalls, bubbling mud pots and erupting geysers, in fact you can see all this on the Golden Circle tour. After hiring a car and driving to see and explore its attractions, I couldn’t recommend any visit to Reykjavik without a day or more spent along this driving route. The Golden Circle has many attractions, but the three most famous attractions are:

1. Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
2. The geysers including the Great Geysir and Strokkur Geysir.
3. Gullfoss waterfall

Together, these three areas make up an unrivalled team of intense nature. But as well as these giants, there are also several other places to stop off including Kerid crater, a 3,000 year old volcanic crater lake that was my last stop on the Golden Circle route before heading back to Reykjavik.H

The whole tour requires about 4-hours of driving time and after you add the time which will be needed to enjoy each attraction, you really do need to put aside a full day. To give you an idea of the driving route I’ve created a little map of Southwest Iceland showing the main attractions of the Golden Circle. Some tours only go to Thingvellir, Geyser  and Gullfoss, but for those hiring a car I would definitely suggest making time for Kerid crater, it also means it’s distinctively lacking in large groups of tourists. In fact, Shobhit and I were the only people there!

STOP NO.1: THINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK

As you walk into Thingvellir National Park, you are walking through area that’s part of a fissure zone running through Iceland, being situated on the tectonic plate boundaries of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. You can see the rifting of the earth’s crust through many faults and fissures in the ground’s surface. But Thingvellir is not just a site of geological importance but a cultural and historical one, being the founding home to Althingi, the parliament of Iceland in the year 930AD – for this reason it was inscribed into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1994.

STOP NO.2: GEYSER AREA

“‘Geyser’ from the Icelandic verb geysa, ‘to gush’, the verb itself from Old Norse.

Strokkur Geysir (the Icelandic’s spelt ‘geyser’ with and ‘i’) and The Great Geysir are both located by the Hvítá River in Southwestern Iceland, and is the second location visited on the spectacular Golden Circle Route.

Upon arriving at the Geyser area, the smell of sulphur in the air is what hits you at first! Pong! And multiple bubbling hot pools are in every direction, and a low steam meanders around your feet. Suddenly in the distance, a huge jet of water appears, 20m high spraying upwards, and the sound of gasps and people clapping can be heard – welcome to Strokkur Geyser – the sheer power of nature exposed in all its glory.

Strokkur (Icelandic for ‘churn’) is a fountain geyser, erupting every 4 to 8 minutes, sometimes more frequently. Before Strokkur erupts, the pool of water begins to churn and bubble, turning in and out of itself.

People stand around in great anticipation in silence with their cameras prepared. The pool begins to turn and toil, like the witchescauldron in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and then it erupts, propelling a great jet of water into the air. Sometimes it catches you off guard and shoots out an even bigger jet immediately after shown on this short video clip I managed to capture:

The Great Geyser is located approximately 50m away from Strokkur. The Great Geyser is the first geyser to have been described in printed source and the first known to modern Europeans, and has been active for 10,000 years! Unfortunately, the Great Geyser now remains fairly dormant, and has done since 1916, however, earthquake activity in the area in the year 2000 briefly brought it back to life, but now only erupts every few days or so. Perhaps you’ll be one of the lucky few who see this happen!

 STOP NO.3: GULLLFOSS WATERFALL

Just as I thought seeing Skrokkur Geysir erupting couldn’t be surpassed, then came the almighty Gullfoss. Walking down towards the waterfall, you first hear it before you see it, and watch in wonder as the water vapour floats upwards along the canyons edge.

At first, all that can be made out is the ferocious waters that seemingly disappear into the abyss below, but as you carry on walking, the entirety of the falls comes into view. A huge cavern of water, 61ft wide, engulfs the water from above, as it crashes and churns down into it. To describe the waterfall as powerful would be an understatement!

For the thrill seekers among you, I highly recommend walking down to the viewing platform that runs alongside the waterfall to see the greatest views, but beware, bring waterproofs as you’re going to get wet!

Extreme sheets of ice can be found surrounding Gullfoss during the winter.

STOP NO.4: KERID (OR KERIÐ) CRATER


Kerid is a 55m deep caldera of a volcano that erupted approximately 3000 years ago and is now filled with water. Its appearance of steep circular slopes reminded me of an amphitheatre so when I heard that Iceland’s most well-known musical export, Björk, had once held a concert on a floating raft here my observation was obviously not the first time someone had thought of it!

 BONUS SIGHTING – BEAUTIFUL ICELANDIC HORSES!

 All in all, the Golden Circle tour is not to be missed, the vast tundra, explosive energy and the brute force of Gullfoss really left a lasting impression upon me.Further reading

MYVATN AND KRAFLA

Attractions

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Around Mývatn

The following sights form a clockwise route around the lake, starting in Reykjahlíð. The distance around the lake is 36km (22 miles) by car.

In 1729, at the height of the Krafla eruption, a lava stream gobbled up two farmhouses and was headed straight for Reykjahlíð Church. At the last moment, the stream split and flowed into the lake. The church site is slightly elevated, but prayer was credited for averting disaster. The current church dates from 1962, and the vivid pulpit carving depicts the old church with the eruption in the background and “27 August, 1729” written in psychedelic font. All that remains of the old church is a foundation wall in the graveyard, and menacing heaves of lava are still clearly visible just beyond the graveyard wall.

The road to the church (and campsite and airfield) leads uphill from Hótel Reynihlíð. Near the end of the road, a pleasant trail leads west over the Eldhraun lava field, before crossing Route 87 and heading back to town along the north shore of the lake; allow 2 1/2 to 3 hours round trip.

StoragjáGrjótagjáHverfell, and Dimmuborgir are connected by a recommended and well-marked trail, 7km (4.3 miles) or 2 1/2 to 3 hours in each direction. The trail begins from the Ring Road near Reykjahlíð, a few meters east of the Route 87 junction. Between Grjótagjá and Hverfell, the trail has two marked junctures — one coinciding with the Hverfell parking area — where you can detour to Mývatn Nature Baths.

The Storagjá fissure is not directly on the trail, but it’s only a short detour, right from the trailhead. Partway along Storagjá is a staircase into the narrow fissure, descending about 5m (16 ft.) to a grassy floor. From there, assisted by a chain and rope, you can peer through a crack at a limpid, turquoise geothermal pool. The pool has recently cooled, attracting too much bacteria for safe swimming.

The steamy Grjótagjá fissure is set amid a geothermal valley of red and black gravel. Grjótagjá is 2km (1 1/4 miles) from the Storagjá-Dimmuborgir trailhead, and also reachable by car on Route 860, which connects with the Ring Road at two points. (Approaching from the west requires opening a sheep gate.) Near the parking area, two portals in the heaving lava lead to an enticing hot spring and pool. You can climb down and sit by the water, but it’s too hot for swimming and fogs up camera lenses.

Hverfell — the monolithic, striated black mountain shaped like a dog-bowl — is unmistakable from anywhere in the vicinity. Hverfell — which is often incorrectly identified as “Hverfjall” — is a rare (and particularly enormous) example of a tephra explosion crater. It was formed 2,500 to 2,900 years ago, when rising magma met with groundwater, forcing a massive explosion of steam, ash, and rock. The rim is 1km (1/2 mile) in diameter, and the crater is 140m (459 ft.) deep, with a round nub at the center.

Hverfell’s solemn, elemental grandeur cannot be fully appreciated without walking up to the crater rim. It’s a 3km (1.9-mile) walk south from Grjótagjá, but you can also drive from the Ring Road to a parking area on Hverfell’s north side. From there it’s a 25-minute ascent. The trail loops completely around the rim, and the descent of the southern slope toward Dimmuborgir is steep and more challenging.

Meaning “Dark Castles,” Dimmuborgir is a surreal lava field 1km (1/2 mile) in diameter. Its most distinctive features are the contorted crags and pillars reaching 20m (66 ft.) in height; nothing quite like them exists elsewhere, except on the ocean floor. Dimmuborgir was formed around 2,200 years ago, when molten lava formed a temporary “lava lake” on the site. Eventually the lava found an outlet and drained into Mývatn, but hardened pillars had formed around steam vents (lava finds steam chilling) and were left behind. The surface of the lava lake had half-congealed, and left all kinds of crusty “watermarks” on its way out.

Dimmuborgir is a 2km (1-mile) walk from the southern face of Hverfell, and can also be reached by car off the Ring Road. Plan on walking for an hour or two among the well-marked loop trails. The recommended Kirkjuvegur trail leads to Kirkjan (Church), a lava chute forming an archway. The more hazardous Krókastígur trail cuts through the middle of the site, past some of the most bizarre formations. Take care not to step into a fissure, and keep a close eye on children.

Höfði, a lakeside park on a small promontory, makes for a nice hour-long stroll along its peaceful forested pathways. The fragrant spruce and other trees were planted by Höfði’s former owner. After entering the park, the trail branching off to the right leads to another juncture where you can detour uphill to a fantastic viewpoint. If instead you bear left after the park entrance and circle the promontory clockwise, you’ll pass a clearing that overlooks Kalfarströnd. (The walk at Kalfarströnd farm, below, gives you a far better view.) Near Höfði’s center is a rectangular lawn with benches — a good picnic spot, if the midges aren’t too bothersome.

The name Kalfarströnd refers to a farm on a grassy peninsula extending into Mývatn, and also to a series of lava columns (klasar) rising like strange mushrooms in a cove between the peninsula and Höfði Park. The turnoff from the Ring Road is 1km (1/2 mile) south of Höfði. After parking, pass through the farm gate, and the 30-minute, staked loop trail past the klasar is shortly ahead on the right. Kalfarströnd is sublime on a calm, soft-lit evening, with the klasar looming, the sky reflected in the aquamarine shallows, Höfði’s evergreens in the background, and Mývatn’s trim green islands etched in the distance. Bring your head net.

If Mývatn had a visual trademark, it would be Skútustaðagígar, the cluster of pseudocraters surrounding Stakhólstjörn pond, at the southwest shore of the lake. Pseudocraters, found primarily in Iceland and on Mars, are so named because they were never conduits for emerging lava. They’re formed when lava flowing above ground heats subsurface water, causing explosions from steam and gas buildup. The Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters, each around 20m (66 ft.) deep, are quite striking from the road (or from Vindbelgjarfjall, below); but when viewed from the rims, they’re simply grassy bowls. The walk around Stakhólstjörn takes an hour, or a 30-minute circuit begins opposite the Skútustaðir gas station or from Hótel Gígur.

The best all-around vista of Mývatn is from the top of Vindbelgjarfjall mountain, near the northwest shore. The 2-hour round-trip hike to the summit leaves from Vagnbrekka farm, off Route 848, 4km (2 1/2 miles) from the junction with the Ring Road. From the farm to the base of the mountain, the trail traverses a protected nesting area for waterfowl. The protected area is off limits from May 15 to July 20, but does not extend to the trail. The ascent is all scree and a bit slippery, but manageable.

Bjarnarflag & The Krafla Caldera

The Krafla caldera is the broad crater formed following eruptions of the volcano of the same name. The caldera ring is difficult to discern from the ground because its shape is broken and irregular, and its overall diameter is as large as that of Mývatn. “Krafla” can refer to the volcano cone, the geothermal area within the caldera, or the power plant exploiting that geothermal area. Leirhnjúkurand Stóra-Víti fall within the caldera, while Mývatn Nature Baths, Hverir, and Námafjall Ridge are parts of Bjarnarflag, the geothermal area south of the caldera.

Hverir, a large geothermal field, full of bubbling mud cauldrons and hissing steam vents, is 7km (4 1/4 miles) east of Reykjahlíðand easy to spot from the Ring Road. Walking through Hverirfeels unreal, as minerals and chemicals in the earth form an exotic color spectrum unlike anything normally associated with nature. Some patches of ground are hot enough to cause severe burns, so stick to the paths. From Hverir, an hour-long trail ascends Námafjall, then cuts north to a parking area off the Ring Road at Námaskarð Pass, and then loops back to Hverir. Views are fabulous; but, again, be cautious, stay on the trail, and look out for scalding-hot patches of light-colored earth. The walk can be seriously gloppy after a rain.

Just east of Hverir, Route 863 branches off the Ring Road and leads north into the Krafla caldera. After about 8km (5 miles), the road passes under a pipeline arch at Krafla Geothermal Power Station (Kröflustöð), built in the 1970s. The visitor center (tel. 515-9000; www.landsvirkjun.is; Mon-Fri 12:30-3:30pm; Sat-Sun 1-5pm) has an informative free exhibit for those interested in the process of converting geothermal heat to electricity.

Gritty as burnt toast, Leirhnjúkur lava field is the best place to witness remnants of the 1975 to 1984 eruptions, and may be the most surreal landscape you will ever see. The parking area is clearly marked from Route 863, and from there it’s a 15-minute walk to a geothermal field at the edge. Some visitors make the drastic mistake of looking at the boiling grey mud pots and color-streaked earth, and then heading back to their cars. Allow at least another hour for circling the trails, peering at the subtle range of color, texture, and moss inside each steamy rift. A good way to start is by proceeding from the geothermal field toward a bowl-shaped pseudocrater visible to the north. A recommended trail known as the Krafla Route leads straight from here to Reykjahlíð, and takes 3 to 4 hours one-way. Remember: Stick to the paths, watch your step, and beware of light-colored earth.

Route 863 dead-ends at a parking area by the rim of Stóra-Víti, a steep-sided explosion crater, formed in 1724, with a blue-green lake at the bottom. A trail circles the rim and descends on the far side to an interesting hot spring area. The route, which is worthwhile but not essential, takes about an hour round-trip and is not advised during muddy conditions.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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