Whoa, it’s so cool.
Whoa, it’s so amazing.
Whoa, it’s so magnificent. Incredible. Breathtaking. Unbelievable.
I ran out of adjectives trying to describe the sights of Iceland. Sometimes when you travel, you become numb to the sights. Meh, another waterfall. I’ve seen plenty of those. But in Iceland, I was blown away every single day.
But whoa, it’s also so expensive.
I had this vision of me hitchhiking and camping around Iceland, living extremely cheaply. But then I came to the conclusion that I’m actually not that kind of person. I need human interaction and a certain level of comfort.
But what about going on a road trip with four strangers from around the world? Hell yeah, I’m that kind of person!
I got in contact with my travel companions through Couchsurfing. They had arrived in Reykjavik before me and were already waiting for me with the rental car when I arrived from the airport to the city centre. All I had to do was to rent a sleeping bag from Iceland Camping Equipment Rental and we were off!
There is only one highway in Iceland, Route 1. It’s also called the Ring Road as it travels around Iceland. Our route was counter clockwise along the Ring Road, occasionally taking smaller roads to see some sights.
I have to admit I was a bit worried how five strangers would get along in a cramped car and two tents. But these people were so easygoing, I felt I had made four new friends the moment I met them. Couldn’t have asked for better road trip companions!
Ready to hit the road!
Already within a few minutes from the nation’s capital we started seeing amazing sights.
The water was unbelievably clear.
Many of the sights, including this wall, were featured in some show called Game of Thrones… :)
We walked back to the car on this pathway.
The Silfra fissure, located in Þingvellir National Park, is a rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
Silfra has been said to have the clearest water on Earth and is therefore a popular place for divers. Plus you can literally swim between two continents!
The geothermal area of Haukadalur is the home of several geysers, mud pots and hot springs.
Litli Geysir (The Little Geyser) in Haukadalur geothermal area.
Lupines where brought to Iceland from Alaska to combat soil erosion. The plant spreads like a wildfire and has actually become a bit of a problem since it’s taking over natural vegetation’s soil.
Even in rugged areas, you can see lupines growing everywhere.
The steaming waters of Haukadalur.
Our last stop of the first day was Gullfoss. This waterfall is one of Iceland’s most famous tourist attractions.
We spent the night camping near Seljalandsfoss, one of the best known waterfalls of Iceland. The following morning we explored the waterfall and its surroundings.
The first waterfall we saw was inside a cave — magnificient!
Upon exciting the cave we explored the nearby area, home of gorgeous mountains and waterfalls.
Sheep run freely all over Iceland and these sheep almost ran us over while we were climbing the mountain!
The area on top of the mountain is quite flat, making it easy to walk around and admire the views.
And what views they were!
…and great company! Couldn’t have asked for more.
The water from the top of the mountain runs over the cliff creating a waterfall called Seljalandsfoss.
The waterfall was huge.
You can walk behind Seljalandsfoss waterfall, thus seeing it from all possible angles!
The 65 meter waterfall is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions for a reason. The sun creates beautiful rainbows around the majestic waterfall.
The best thing about traveling around Iceland is that you don’t really need a map or a guide book. Everywhere you look you can see amazing landscapes. And the sights are so varied!
First you climb a glacier…
…next, you visit a black sand beach…
…and then you’re surrounded by lupines again.
While driving, we stumbled upon a massive area covered in moss. The place had an eerie feel to it. No people around, no animals, just moss as far as the eye could see. In that moment I realized why most of the locals believe in fairies and trolls.
You’re just waiting for a troll to appear!
One more glacier for the day. Do you understand why I ran out of adjectives?
I can warmly recommend camping in Iceland. Waking up to fresh air and magnificent views made me feel grateful every single morning.
We started the next day by visiting Icelands deepest lake, Jökulsárlón. The lake has formed from melted glaciers. The blue icebergs in the middle of the lake are much bigger than what they appear in the photo.
We stopped at one of the beautiful black sand beaches.
So many colourful rocks!
Perfect for throwing into the ocean!
The obligatory band photo.
Again, another gorgeous waterfall we just stumbled upon without needing any map whatsoever.
We continued our trip north towards Lake Mývatn. Our first stop was Námaskarð, a geothermal area known for its sulphuric soil and mud pools. The colourful minerals in the Earth make you feel like you’re on Mars.
After sitting in a car and sleeping in a tent for nearly a week, going to Myvatn Nature Baths felt like such luxury! Entry is 3500-4300 ISK per person depending on the season. Not only are you surrounded by majestic mountains, you can also order snacks and drinks right into the pools!
After soaking in the hot waters until we were more wrinkly than 100-year-olds, we continued our trip towards Akureyri, Iceland’s second biggest city.
My road trip ended in Akureyri, the city with heart-shaped traffic lights, while my travel companions continued back to Reykjavik.
Iceland easily became one of my favorite countries in Europe. Everything truly is like from a fairytale: the nature is diverse, the history is interesting and the culture is rich. Even their language sounds like something fairies might speak!
Seeing a puffin was one of my goals and on my last day in Iceland, I joined an expensive cruise that took me next to an island where these birds live. Look closely, it’s there. I saw the puffin!
Iceland is a cold country, even in summer. It was between 10 and 15 degrees when I visited in June. Summer might be the best time to visit since the nature is more diverse (in winter you’ll only see snow) — unless you want to try your luck hunting the Northern Lights!
And yes, Iceland is expensive, but as with everything, budget travel is always possible.
A one way flight from Helsinki to Reykjavik with SAS cost me 116 €. And since we were five people traveling together, we could divide the cost of car rental, gas and food. Ultimately, the total cost of our road trip was approximately 40 € / day per person.
And I did end up hitchhiking. I had heard that Iceland is one of the best places to do it and if I can base my opinion on the sole experience I had, I agree. After Couchsurfing in Akureyri a couple of nights, I just walked from my accommodation to the edge of a large road. After four minutes I was picked up by another traveler who drove me all the way back to Reykjavik.
Of course you’ll use a lot of money in Iceland, compared to many other countries in the world, but it’s worth every penny. Travel always is.