Iceland, the land of Ice and Fire. In September of 2018 we took a spontaneous 5 day trip around Iceland in our Kuku Camper exploring the west and south side of the island. Here is a breakdown of our itinerary and some tips for those thinking of traveling here.
Day 1: Arrive at 8am Pick up camper van and explore the town of Reykjavik.
Day 2: Skogafoss waterfall, Dyrholaey cliff
Day 3: Explore Snæfellsjökull National Park: Kirkjufell Mountain, Londrangar, Mosskogar, Landbrotalaug hot pot
Day 4: DIVE.IS snorkel tour, Golden circle
Day 5: Diamond beach, Fjallsarlon glacier
Day 6: 9am at the Blue Lagoon and head to airport at 2pm
We jumped around a little due to booking a photoshoot with Cara Mia Photography in Iceland for our 3 year wedding anniversary!
We arrived in Iceland at 7am on Thursday and went from the airport to pick up our camper van from Kuku Campers. Kuku offers complimentary airport pickups and is a short 30 minute drive away. Once we arrived, there was a short line, a few papers to sign, and then we were shown our vehicle. We inspected it and then made sure we had all the needed supplies and then we were on our way!
A cool feature KuKu had was that clients can leave items they did not use at the Kuku office and these supplies are offered to new clients for free. This was a great feature to not waste things and to save some money before going to buy all new items.
For our first day we decided to explore Reykjavik since we were so close to town already and we did not feel the need for a full day to see all the sights in the city. Some spots we hit were the Sólfarið Sculpture (Sun Voyager), Hallgrímskirkja Church and got hot dogs at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. Of course we also had to find a bar that had Harkarl and brennivin which is a traditional Icelandic dish of fermented shark and a vodka like spirit nicknamed The Black Death for those of you wanting to be adventurous.
Staying in a camper van we came prepared with some easy meals from Backpackers Pantry. These freeze dried meals just needed hot water to cook making it super quick and easy for us to eat on the road. We heard food was expensive in Iceland so this was a way to cut down on the price of meals. Of course there was always the gas station hot dog which we grew to love. The camper van also came with a small cooler which we were able to store some breakfast items like eggs and potatoes we bought at the grocery store.
Day 2 we had booked a photography session with the amazing Cara Mia Photography. We headed out and explored Skogafoss waterfall first. My tip is to arrive early, like sunrise early to avoid the crowds and get some pictures without others in the background. We then headed to Dyrholaey Cliff where you can climb to the top and see the famous arch (which they have roped off and signs to not walk over to it). Nearby is the Seljavallalaug swimming pool which we were going to visit but decided against due to time and not wanting to swim in the luke warm, slimy moss water, but it was a beautiful location.
Day 3 we headed up to Snæfellsjökull National Park. We saw as much as we could in one day but two days would have left us not feeling as rushed. We stayed the night before at Hellissandur camping site which was about $13/night. A guard comes by 2x/day to collect the fee. Bathrooms had two stalls and one shower with hot water.
First we checked out Saxholl mountain which is a crater offering 360 views of the ocean and dried lava fields. There are very nice stairs to walk up the crater and then you can walk down into the crater. Next we explored Londranger which has beautiful basalt cliffs with views of the ocean. The landscape here was so lush with lava rocks covered with green moss.
We kept on driving east around the peninsula and made a stop in Hellnar at the Fjöruhúsið café for some Skyr cake (Icelandic cheesecake)! It was so good and the only place we found the Skyr cake at on our trip. As we continued we stopped at Port Arnarstapi and Gatklettur. Gatkelettur has a rock arch you can walk across and get cool pictures at. Port Arnarstapi is a small town/port. Here you can walk around to explore the bridge arch and lighthouse. Then we headed to Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall. Very busy attraction but still beautiful.
We hit Landbrotalaug hot pot on our way to our next campsite. This was actually fairly hard to find even with the coordinates. N64 49.933 W22 19.110 Look for signs and turn by the Skjalg farm. You will be following a dirt road and its unclear if your on private property or not. You know you have arrived when you find the parking lot with porta-pottie. There are actually two hot pots here, one bigger one and one smaller that can only fit 2 people and is very deep. The small one was taken so we went to the larger one. Its more shallow but still had warm water.
We continued south to our campsite for the night, Mosskogar camping. This was by far the best and coolest campsite we stayed at. The owner was so cool, he took his bicycle and escorted us to our campsite upon arrival in the middle of the night. Christmas lights lined the path to the bathroom which was great for nighttime. The only downside, but was actually a very cool experience, were the outdoor showers. This is the one spot we saw the northern lights at on our trip so it is a very special place for us. The host even gave us info that we would be seeing them tonight and what time to look out for them. I am so happy he informed us of that otherwise we would have slept through them.
Early morning on Day 4 we did our Snorkel Tour of the Silfra! This tour has you snorkel through a fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It was so cool to be swimming through where two continents meet in the crystal clear freezing water. We booked ours through DIVE.IS. We did the snorkeling silfra day tour which was 35,980 isk for 2 people (about $300). We chose this because they were rated #1 on Trip Advisor and had great reviews. This experience was one of the coolest things I have done. The water was freezing cold, so clear and so serene as we floated down the crack between the two continents. I really liked our tour guide, Fabienne, she was so knowledgeable and a great guide. Afterwards we were given hot cocoa and cookies and then we headed around the golden circle onto our next stop.
Day 5 we explored the south island and glacier areas. First we explored Diamond Beach. This black sand beach was sprinkled with beautiful clear/blue glacier chunks. There was a mixture of large and small glaciers floating out in the ocean and you could see glaciers being drawn out to the sea from the lagoon. On our way to Geyser Geothermal Field we made a few random stops. We stopped at Skógafoss waterfall and Seljavallalaug (Iceland’s oldest man-made pool). We decided not to swim in the Seljavallalaug pool because of the algae and it had just hailed. Next we stopped at Gullfoss falls. This waterfall had a lot of tourists probably because the paths are easy to get to the waterfall. It was huge and beautiful.
Our last day we hit up the Blue Lagoon at 9am and soaked for a few hours before our flight home. I got mixed reviews is this was worth it to come see. I really enjoyed it and thought it was a nice way to relax before our flight home. The water was warm and it was fun to put on the face masks while enjoying an alcoholic drink in hand. It did not feel too crowded and there were corners of the lagoon that were more secluded. Plus, once it hailed any crowd cleared out.
This trip was by far too quick but we got a little taste of this gorgeous country and an itch to come back one day to further explore. Any questions? Ask away! Any tips for when we return? Please share!