Personal Memories: 5 Days in Iceland

August 27, 2019

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I recently took a 5 day trip to Iceland in June and it was the most incredible place! The food, the people, the landscapes, and the ease of travel made it the perfect getaway. Amazingly, this is one destination that you could do in under a week (although I could spend a lot more time in this beautiful country)! Below is a jam-packed 5 day itinerary to inspire your travels.

Day 1:
Arrive in Reykjavik around 10AM and take the shuttle to pick up the rental car. If you have the option to get a portable WiFi instead of GPS I would do that- it worked great and allowed us to use the google maps on our phone, which pulled up more of the locations than the car GPS.

Drive to the Blue Lagoon– it’s on the way to Reykjavík from the airport and a nice thing to do before check-in time. We purchased entrance tickets before hand to make sure we could get in at the right time (this was recommended), but I’m pretty sure you could get tickets when you arrive. The silica in the lagoon was harsh on my swimsuit and hair. I would not wear a new/favorite suit and would not get my hair wet at all. Overall, I thought it was neat to see, but would not go back a second time. It was pricey for what it was, but a nice stop to kill time and help with jet lag (and honestly if you go to Iceland it is one of those must-see touristy things).

Next, drive into Reykjavík and get checked into your hotel. We walked down town to get dinner and found a cute place with an outdoor patio called Saeta Svinid. Fish soup on any menu is delicious. I think I had fish soup for all but a couple of meals in Iceland and each was different and very good. Bonus: It comes served with the best bread and fresh Icelandic butter! This is where I picked up the habit of salting my butter (If you haven’t made fresh sourdough and slathered it in butter and then topped it with Maldon salt you’re missing out). The walk downtown is a nice stretch for your legs and you will get a feel for the lively streets of Reykjavik.

If traveling in the summer (we went in early June) be prepared for it to be light out at all hours of the day. I woke a few times around 1AM and 2AM a couple of nights and it seemed as though it could have been the late afternoon! Most accommodations will have excellent blackout curtains, but if planning on camping at all be aware of the light situation.

View from Fjöruhúsið café
My dad and stepmom at Fjöruhúsið café

Day 2: (left around 9am, back around 9pm)
Take off for Snaefellsnes Peninsula (Tunnel is supposedly $9 bucks each way, but we never saw a place to pay so this might not be a thing anymore).

Stop at Geirabakari Kaffihus for pastry & coffee (just a nice stopping point about an hour into the drive).
Our first stop was at the Basalt Columns. They did not pop up on our GPS and are off the road to the right on a gravel path- so keep an eye out for them. They are neat to walk around on.

A little further on the drive was Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge – Hiking to the gorge and peeking in is fun. There’s a river inside of it and a waterfall if you choose to hike further.

Next we drove on to Hellnar, which is a small fishing village. We had an awesome lunch of fish soup at Fjöruhúsið café. This is a tiny spot on the beach that you have to walk down to – hard to see from the road, so keep your eyes peeled for the sign.

Driving around to the tip of the peninsula you can see Londrangar – rock formations by the coast. You can drive out to them or just see them from the road.

Also right near the rock formations, on the other side of the road, is Vatnshellir Cave- you can pop off the road to go walk in the cave if you want- it does cost money.

Just a bit further is Djúpalónssandur Black Sand Beach. There are restrooms here. It is a short walk down to the beach. There are other, longer hiking options (shown on signs) if you want more.

After driving around the tip off the peninsula a ways you will come to Kirkjufell mountain & it’s waterfalls. Just stopped for a quick photo (if you’re a Game of Thrones fan like me you will recognize this).

Just past Kirkjufell is Grundarfjörður – A small town. We didn’t stop here, but it was cute to drive through.

Next you’ll drive through Kolgrafarfjördur – a fjord known for lots of birds.

Somewhere around here is the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum, but we opted not to go see this.

Shortly after the fjord you will drive through the Berserk Lava Field.

Our next stop was Mt. Helgafell. More of a large mound, this is a place where we hiked up to see the view from the top. It does cost money, but it is a short hike and you get three wishes for climbing it. Legend says that if you hike Mt. Helgafell in complete silence and do not look back the entire time, then at the top of the mountain you can face east and make 3 wishes. These three wishes must not cause harm to anyone and you can never tell anyone what you wished.

After making your wishes, stop for dinner at Narfeyrarstofa. They are known for their blue mussels.

On the way back to Reykjavík we pulled off at Suigandisey Lookout point to see the view and then headed back to our hotel.

Day 3: (left 10am, back by 7/8pm)

This day we self drove the Golden Circle Tour. We started by putting Kerið Crater into our GPS. Kerið is a volcanic crater that cost money to see, but it is neat to walk around and you can walk down to the water in the base.

Next we went to Skálholt Cathedral, which is a historic site. I would skip this, and head straight to lunch.

For lunch we went to Friðheimar – a Greenhouse and restaurant. It was a short walk back to the restaurant from the road, and there are horses on the way. The restaurant is known for all things tomato and have an all-you-can-eat lunch of tomato soup and bread- which was amazing. We didn’t make reservations and waited at the cute bar for 20 minutes and had tomato tea, beer and a Bloody Mary. You could make reservations if you are good at estimating your timing.

Next we saw the geyser. It is a big stop along the road- you can’t miss it. It goes off quite often. There are other pools nearby and a short hike to the top of the “mountain” that is really nice. There are gift shops and bathrooms across the street.

Next we stopped a Bru- which is just a little pull off stop to pet horses.

Then we went to Gullfoss- which was busy but very beautiful.

After the waterfall we stopped for ice cream at Efsti-Dalur II which is a dairy farm and restaurant. It was really cute.

For our last stop, we went to Öxarárfoss Waterfall and hiked down to Flosagjá fissure.

Then we went back to Reyjkavik.

Walked back down town for a late dinner- we always just wandered and found a place that looked good. There are tons of restaurants and we were never disappointed in any of them.


Day 4:

We did a horseback riding tour at 9:30 AM through Wake Up Reykjavík tours. The tour was great and the guide was awesome. If you’re interested in horses this is a great tour. It was fun to learn about tolting.

We were back in Reykjavík by 12:20 and went down town to have lunch.

We had coffee at a shop near the boat dock so we could catch our Puffin Tour at 3:30PM. It was an hour tour in a boat to go see puffins on the islands nearby. Again, we booked through Wake Up Reykjavík tours and it was excellent. Wake up Reykjavik has tons of tours on their website that all look fantastic, so if horseback riding and puffin tours aren’t your thing, check out the plethora of options to fit into your trip. I would love to go scuba diving in the fissure on a future trip.

After our tour we went to the concert hall and watched the 10 minute movie about Iceland in the 360 degree movie theatre. It was kind of neat if you’re looking to kill some time.

Again, we found a delicious spot downtown to have dinner before returning to our hotel.

Day 5: (left around 8:30, back just before midnight)

On our last day we tried to do the South Coast Tour in one day. It was a long day in the car but we saw some beautiful places. If you have more time you could stay one night near the glacier lagoon and then return to Reykjavik the next day, however if you avoid some of our mistakes I think you could do this day quicker than we did.

The first stop was Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. This is a huge waterfall that you can walk behind. You could also do this on the way back, when the sun is shining on the waterfall, which might be warmer since you will get wet walking behind it.

Then we attempted to find the Seljavallalaug pool, but after a 10 minute drive down a super bumpy gravel road and our GPS losing connection we turned around. If you want to see this I would plan your route on a map before hand just in case.

Skógafoss Waterfall is next and was a quick walk to up see it and then back to the car- very pretty!

Our next stop is what threw our timing off for the whole day- so I would skip this. The Plane DC 3 Sólheimasandur Iceland is an American Army plane that crashed in the 70’s that you can go see. However, you can’t drive to it so you either have to walk (which was a 40 minute walk in brutal wind) or wait for the giant bus thing to take you (which costs money and only comes every 30 or 45 minutes). In the end it was just okay and we could have saved an hour in a half or more if we skipped it.

Then we drove on to Vik where we had lunch at Sudur Vik. It was quaint and had good food.

After lunch we drove to the glacier lagoon. On the way you can see Hjörleifshöfði (a big acropolis looking island off the road where an old Viking tomb is- also used in filming Star Wars Rogue One).

The drive to the glacier lagoon from Vik is a little over 2 hours. The first lagoon you’ll pass is Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon, which is smaller and doesn’t have much going on there, but worth a stop to look. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon (most popular) offers boat tours and has fish and chips food trucks.

Driving back you can also stop to see Kirkjugolf – An odd rock formation just outside of Kirkjubæjarklaustur village. Kirkjugólf means Church floor but it’s named that because the basalt columns look like a floor of a church even though it’s a natural phenomenon. You will also drive by Eldhraun Lava Field.

On the way back to Reykjavík we stopped to see the Basalt sea stack rock formations and beach near Vik called Reynisdrangar. Legend says that the stacks originated when two trolls dragged a three-masted ship to land unsuccessfully and when daylight broke they became needles of rock. We also briefly stopped to see Dyrhólaey – which is a beach with great views and puffins.

We should probably have stopped for dinner in Vik because it was getting late and things close earlier outside of Reykjavík. But we didn’t and managed to find a spot just after Skogafoss that I think stayed open late for us (it was very good), but if we hadn’t found that we would have been starving because there wasn’t anything the rest of the way back to Reykjavik.

We finally got back to Reykjavík just before midnight, although it was still very light out and the streets were lively. We headed straight to bed as we had to pack up and catch a plane the next morning.

Skógafoss Waterfall

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