I read so much about Iceland and it was exactly as described: beautiful and shocking landscapes. We chose to travel during the month of May which is shoulder season. It is a great month to visit, just before the tourist season begins.
Prices were correct and the long day length was also very enjoyable. You might pick this month for spring wildflowers and first-rate birdwatching. We took some pleasure in identifying all the birds that crossed our path with the help of this webpage.
Day 1: Blue lagoon and Reykjavik.
For our first day, we rented a car directly at the airport, we went with Sadcars. Then we drove to the Blue Lagoon, about 20 minutes away. Book in advance and plan for 2 hours inside at least. Bring a water resistant case for your phone so you can take some great pictures inside. We enjoyed the large geothermal waters and got our silica mask inside the lagoon. The water’s milky blue shade is due to its high silica content. After exploring the entire lagoon, we drove to Reykjavik and explored the city with a stop at the Sun voyager statue and Hallgrímskirkja church. We stayed at the KEX Hostel.
Day 2: The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is the classic route that most people do. It began with Thingvellir. When Viking settlers arrived in the 10th century it was the site they chose as the meeting place of Althingi, the world’s oldest parliament. Second stop was the Strokkur geyser. It is one of Iceland’s most famous geysers, erupting once or twice every 10 minutes. Its usual height is 15 to 20 metres, although it can sometimes erupt up to 40 metres high. Gullfoss Waterfall came next and we were very impressed with this massive waterfall with wide curved three-step “staircase” and a very large crevice. Lunch was particularly excellent in the Fridheiman Farm, a tomato farm using the natural hot water. After that, we went to the Kerid Crater and passed Flúðir but decided that we had spent enough time in the geothermal waters. We stayed at the Héradsskólinn Guesthouse.
Day 3 – The South Coast
There are a few words to remember for the Icelandic explorer: jökull for glacier, foss for waterfall, gljúfur for canyon, fjara for beach/coast. We started the day with my favorite waterfall Seljalandsfoss. It is very easy to access and you can walk behind the waterfall. A second waterfall inside a small cave is also available a few meters right after. Skogafoss is the second must see waterfall, larger and very impressive. Ideal spot to use your wide angle lens. We stopped randomly for a fish and chips at “Nailed it” just after and it was just perfect. If you want to relax a bit more Seljavallalaug Zwembad pool is also a great thing to do on your way to Vik.
If you have time continue to the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. We choose to continue with Reynisfjara beach, the world-famous black-sand beach. Be careful over there with the deadly waves while you admire the enormous basalt stacks and turn your back on the ocean. We picked the Vik Farmhouse Lodge as our base camp for the 2 nights as it was ideally located for all the things we wanted to explore. We would recommend only two things in Vik for the evening: a restaurant Sudur Vik and a bar with a great selection of beers Smiðjan Brugghús.
Day 4 – Glaciers and Hiking
One thing about Iceland is that even if you have a perfect itinerary you will be tempted to stop in front of all the beautiful landscapes along the way. Glaciers, mountains, waterfalls are everywhere and they are just incredible. Our day consisted of Jokulsarlon and Vatnajokull National Park. You can find some of the trails here. Svartifoss was beautiful inside the park, its basalt columns have provided inspiration for Icelandic architects, most visibly in the Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík. Don’t forget to check all the trails available near Skaftafell and Svínafellsjökull. We spent quite some time at Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon looking at the procession of luminous blue icebergs. As everything is melting and moving to the ocean, the panorama is always unique. It is the deepest lake of Iceland with its 248m.
Day 5 – On the road again
Our return flight was in the morning so it was already time to drive back to Reykjavik from Vik and drop off the rental car at the airport. Surely we will come back!