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7 Days Road Trip Around Iceland: A Beginner's Guide

There is nothing like the natural beauty of Iceland. A land where my travel fantasies came true.


The moment we arrived in Iceland, it seemed surreal. As we explored the towns and saw the glaciers, I finally realized I was standing on Icelandic soil.


There was mountain after mountain all around us. As we drove across what looked like the highest peak of a mountain covered in snow, a café appeared in the middle of an endless snowy landscape. We drove over a vast field of mossy lava. We saw waterfall after waterfall. The landscapes we saw were unlike anything I had ever imagined. The breathtaking scenery opens up at every turn. Traveling around the country is an adventure in itself, with every stopover only providing an opportunity to relax. It was a time to take in the whole experience and catch our breath.


Apart from Iceland's beautiful landscapes, I will always remember its unpredictable weather, snow, rain, strong winds, the sound of the waves crashing on the shores, and the feeling of the cold breeze touching my skin.


When you're on an adventure in Iceland, you need to embrace both its calm and vicious sides. Only then can you experience the real Iceland.


We visited Iceland in September of 2021. It was in the middle of autumn. There were fewer tourists. The weather was unpredictable, but one thing is certain: it was cold.


Our blog will provide you with insight into our plans and adventures around Iceland. We will also provide tips and advice for what to see and do in Iceland, as well as lessons we learned along the way.


Planning


I began planning the itinerary, the equipment to bring, and the clothing as soon as I got my Iceland flight ticket. Due to the fact that I would be doing a lot of landscape photography, I wanted to make sure I brought all the necessary photography equipment.


We wrote about the things we prepared for our road trip here.


Itinerary


To avoid wasting time on our trip, I planned our daily activities and stopovers. This included booking hotels, and camping vans, where to eat, where to camp, where to buy groceries, where to shower, and what to do during our trip. The destinations were also saved on Google Maps so it was easy to navigate and I could know how long it took to drive to and from each place. Even though I planned this trip meticulously, there were still times when we had to make changes due to unforeseen circumstances.


This itinerary shows the actual events during our trip.


Day 0: Keflavik


On this day, we didn't plan anything in advance. We just explored the sights close to our guesthouse. The B&B Guesthouse Keflavik Center was our choice since it was close to Keflavik airport and they offered free pickup and dropoff. Despite arriving at the airport at midnight, they picked us up. The room where we stayed was clean and well-maintained, which made our stay very enjoyable. We booked a double room with a private bathroom. We liked the bed and the toilet. The staffs were very friendly and accommodating. They provided free self-service breakfast. You can take any food from the kitchen, including bread, oats, instant noodles, cereals, milk, coffee, juice, and so on. You can prepare any easy-to-prepare breakfast in their kitchen. In addition, they have free, fast, and stable internet access.


Although it was cloudy and windy that day, we still explored Keflavik. Our guesthouse is just a short walk from the harbor where you can visit the statue of man and woman, anchor statue, Giantess cave, and hike to Steinhellur, a vantage point over the city and the ocean.


In the afternoon, we ate at the restaurant Polskur Matur located right beside our guesthouse. They offered delicious food in big portions for a reasonable price.


Dinner was enjoyed at Kaffi Duus that evening, a place with a beautiful view and a cozy ambiance. Though the food was delicious, it was a bit pricey, but the quality and the serving were well worth the money.



Day 1: Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Dyrholaey, Rejnisfjara, and Vik


This is the beginning of our road trip adventure. The plan includes picking up our camping van, getting groceries, visiting Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Dyrholaey's viewpoint, Rejnisfjara, and camping in Vik. We drove along Route 1 which was an easy and smooth drive.


Happy Campers


At 8:00 a.m., we checked out of our guesthouse. Happy Campers, the company we rented our camping van from, was supposed to pick us up, but the driver went to the wrong address. As a result, we had to take a taxi to get to Happy Campers' headquarters. Fortunately, the company reimbursed the taxi fare. After arriving at the company's headquarters later than we had planned, we had to wait in a long queue before we finally got our van.


We rented a 5-seater family van. Our van is spacious and equipped with the basic equipment we needed. Happy Campers provided free use of folding chairs, a camping table, cooking wares, and gas for cooking. They also provided a tablet we could use to navigate. While the camping van is okay for the price, its bed is not very soft.


There is an area at Happy Campers' headquarter where guests can leave their surplus food and items after their trip and incoming guests can take any item they will need for their trip. I thought that concept was smart. It helped us save some money.



Grocery at Krónan


Our first stop was the Krónan Supermarket in Selfoss, which is a popular discount supermarket in Iceland. After filling out our stock, we continued on our journey.


Seljalandsfoss


The waterfall is very popular in Iceland. I saw a lot of tourists when we arrived. You only need to hike a short distance from the parking area to reach the waterfalls. Walking behind the waterfalls is possible on a trail. When you get closer to the waterfalls, you will definitely get wet. You can find a cafe right next to the parking lot.



Skógafoss


Another popular tourist destination, it has been used for many films and TV shows, such as Vikings and Thor.


The waterfalls are a short walk from the parking lot. There is a hiking trail that takes you up to the top of the waterfall, but we didn't take it due to our schedule.



Dyrholaey’s Viewpoint


360° views of the surrounding coastline and mountains can be enjoyed from this viewpoint. The road to the viewpoint is rocky and there are no barriers to ensure safety.



Rejnisfjara


There is a large stretch of black sand along its coastline. There is a beautiful basalt column that makes an excellent photoshoot location. There are strong waves here and they can be dangerous. To alert people to sneaky waves that have killed people, a warning sign was placed here. You can find a nice restaurant nearby, as well as a restroom where you can pay a small fee.



Vik


During our night here, we used the campground facilities, which included a dining area, a shower room, and toilets. Several sinks are available in the kitchen for washing cooking utensils. The toilet here is amazing. It has several cubicles, sinks, and mirrors. It is the best toilet I have ever seen on my camping trip in Iceland. Because I didn't have coins to operate the shower, I haven't tried it during our stay.



Day 2: Vik, Fjadrargljufur Canyon, Mulagljufur Canyon, Fjallsarlon, Jokulsarlon, Diamond Beach, and Hofn


It was a day filled with hiking at Fjadrargljufur Canyon and Mulagljufur Canyon, driving through mossy lava fields along Route 1, seeing glaciers at Fjallsarlon and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, and seeing ice scattered at Diamond Beach. The day began with a beautiful sunny sunrise and ended with a windy rainy cold sunset.



Vik


We awoke before sunrise so we could have breakfast and shower before everyone else. Unfortunately, we are without coins, so we can't use the shower. As soon as we finished breakfast, we drove to Myrdal Church, which is located behind the camping site on a mountain. There is no better place to watch the sunrise than up there.



Fjadrargljufur Canyon


It takes a rough drive to get to this canyon. During our trip, we went up and down hills and crossed a river. Parking is available at the canyon's base. Various viewing points are available. As it was a steep hike and very windy, we only hiked up to the first viewpoint. However, the view was incredible.



Mulagljufur Canyon


Getting to this canyon's parking area requires driving off Route 1 and up a rocky road. There were no signs to guide us there, so we had to rely on Google Maps. It was an interesting place because the road disappeared into the mountains.


The hiking trail was pretty confusing. We followed one that was near the edge of the cliff, only gaining support from low-hanging branches of trees and bushes. Nevertheless, the view was spectacular. I saw some hikers already at the top, but we decided to return because we weren't sure whether the trail we followed was safe. We saw another trail earlier, which I thought might be safer, but we decided to end our hike. The hike we took earlier had taken a lot of our time, so we didn't have enough time to go on the second hike.



Fjallsarlon


A stunning glacier lagoon where you can get up close to a big chunk of ice lying by the shore. It was one of my favorite places to visit during my entire Iceland trip. The hike is easy, as you just walk up a hill and you see this beautiful lagoon hidden from view. You can use the bathroom at a restaurant nearby.



Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon


This glacier lagoon is a short drive from Fjallsarlon. The glaciers are a little more distant than those in Fjallsarlon. There were many tourists here during our visit. Because it was raining and so cold, we did not spend much time there. I saw some boat tours that took tourists to the glaciers around the area. This place would have been more enjoyable if it hadn't been so cold at that time. I preferred Fjallsarlon.



Diamond Beach


Diamond Beach lies right across the road from Jökulsárlón. The area was already crowded with tourists when we arrived in the afternoon. A small river separates two areas of the beach where chunks of ice are scattered along the shore. To reach the other area, you'll need to cross a bridge. I find this place quite fascinating.


When we arrived, the weather was cold and windy. It is a bit difficult to walk from the parking lot to the beach on the black sand.



Hofn


A breathtaking view can be seen from this camping site. We got a great spot overlooking the lake and mountains by arriving early. We refilled our food stock at a nearby grocery and got some coins to take a hot shower. The camping site has an indoor kitchen where you can cook and eat. In addition, there is an outdoor sink for washing kitchenware. As far as camping van views go, this one is my favorite.


Day 3: Vestrahorn, East Fjord, Litlanesfoss, and Seydisfjordur


On this day, we drove the longest distance. Our trip included visits to Vestrahorn and the Viking Village, driving along the scenic East Fjord, hiking to Litlanesfoss, driving along the road featured in the longboard scene in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and camping in Seydisfjordur.


Vestrahorn


Vestrahorn is an impressive sight. The mountain is one of Iceland's most photographed. To get here, you must pay an entrance fee at the cottage by the entrance. By the entrance, there is a café called Viking Café with a restroom. It was a cozy cafe.


You can drive straight from the entrance and stop before you reach the lighthouse. On the left, you'll find a beautiful stretch of black sand beach. This is a beautiful place to walk and take pictures.



Viking Village


The village was created as a set for a movie that was never filmed. There is a lot of detail in the village, and it looks very realistic. Visiting this location was a delight for me as a fan of the Viking series.



East Fjord


After driving through a tunnel, we continued driving across the East Fjord. Despite the lack of tourist spots along this route, we enjoyed the drive as we discovered beautiful landscapes at every turn. During the trip, we had to stop twice in the parking area by the side of the road. Few tourists were present. We were often alone with nature most of the time. The atmosphere was so peaceful. The only sound we heard was the sound of birds and waves. We took the long route along Route 1 up to Egilsstaðir because the shorter route leads to a rocky mountain road which is not suitable for our van. On some parts of the route, we drove across snow-covered mountains.



Litlanesfoss


Getting to Litlanesfoss required a steep hike. There is a parking area at the base of the mountain and a toilet available for free. Some parts of the trail leading to the waterfalls were slippery due to the snow. There is a waterfall called Hengifoss higher up the mountain. It is known as the third-highest waterfall in Iceland. As it was already getting dark, we decided not to go any further up Hengifoss.


It was a tough climb, but it was worth it. A breathtaking view awaits you up there.



Seydisfjordur


It is one of Iceland's most picturesque towns. It takes a long drive up a winding mountain road to get here. We drove to Seydisfjordur in the snow at night. While the view on the way up was spectacular due to the fact that you could see down below the town of Egilsstaðir, it was also quite nerve-wracking. Due to low visibility, we had to drive slowly. A layer of snow made the road slippery.


Upon reaching the campsite, there were already many campers. The campsite has an indoor kitchen and dining area, a toilet, and a shower where coins are required for a hot shower.


Our first glimpse of the town was when we woke up before sunrise the next morning. It's surrounded by water and at the innermost point of the fjord. We also saw a Danish commercial vessel.


On the way up the mountain, we can see the entire town down below. There is also a waterfall on the side of the road. On top of the mountain, there is a lake, and everything else is covered with snow.



Day 4: Seydisfjordur, and Husavik


The day when we got stuck on the way up to Stuðlagil Canyon. It snowed the night before so many roads were impassable. We did not check safetravel.is before driving, so we were unaware of the condition of the roads. Our van was trapped along with 7 other vehicles due to the slippery road. We were unable to drive upwards or downwards. If we attempted to do so, we would be at risk of sliding along either side of the road that is positioned on the edge of a cliff.


As we feared our van might slide, we wanted to get out, but it was windy and freezing, so we stayed in our van and waited. A high fee would have been charged for roadside assistance, but we got help for free because many vehicles got stuck on that road. We did not continue our journey to Stuðlagil Canyon after we got our van to safety. All of our tours were canceled that day due to poor road conditions, and we drove directly to our camping site in Husavik. Dettifoss, Viti and Krafla, and Myvatn are all part of our canceled trip.


On the way to Husavik, we visited a cozy and warm cafe nestled in the middle of a snowy landscape. The cafe is even located on a high mountain.



Husavik


This small fishing town in northern Iceland was the filming location for the movie Eurovision. Whale-watching tours are very popular here.


A must-see in Husavik is Geosea's geothermal bath. During sunset, we enjoyed a soothing bath in a hot spring pool overlooking the ocean and mountains at Geosea. Aside from the hot spring, I also liked the interior design and facilities at Geosea. It was a great place to visit after the long drive.


When we reached the camping site in Husavik, we met the caretaker who was checking on the campsite at the last minute before he left for vacation. We were pleased to hear that starting that day, staying at the campsite was free. The campsite is spacious and has a toilet, shower, kitchen, and dining area.



Day 5: Godafoss, Akureyri, Kirkjufellsfoss, and Grundarfjörður


The day we visited the second largest waterfall in Iceland called Godafoss, took a quick break at Akureyri, and drove to Snæfellsnes peninsula in the west of Iceland.


As part of our trip to Grundarfjörur, we visited Kirkjufellsfoss, which is one of the most photographed waterfalls. We also had a delicious dinner at Bjargarsteinn Mathús.


Godafoss


Godafoss is without a doubt one of the most magnificent waterfalls in the world. It is only a 30-minute drive away from Husavik, so we went there at sunrise. Godafoss is easily accessible from the main road and there are two parking areas close to the waterfall.



Akureyri


This is a big town compared to everything else we've seen so far. Getting to Akureyri involved driving through a tunnel called Vadlaheidargong Tunnel, where we had to pay a toll. We paid the fee online through Veggjald.is. There are lots of shops and restaurants here. We only made a quick break to have breakfast before we continued our trip to the Snæfellsnes peninsula. There was a beautiful view of the lake and mountains from the N1 gasoline station where we parked.


Kirkjufellsfoss


A waterfall that is often photographed with Kirkufell mountain in the background. It is about 4 hours and 51 minutes drive from Akureyri. You can get to the waterfall from the main road. Parking is available only a short walk from the waterfall.



Grundarfjörður


This is a small town where Kirkjufellsfoss is located. Only a 4-minute drive from Kirkjufellsfoss is the campsite. The site has only two toilets, a sink, and no showers. Next to the campsite is a swimming pool where you can use the showers or swim.


We had a lovely dinner at Bjargarsteinn Mathús. Besides their delicious seafood meal, they also offer a beautiful view of Kirkufell Mountain. Come here for dinner if you're in the mood for something special. I'm glad we booked a table before arrival since the restaurant filled up quickly.



Day 6: Ytri Tunga, and Reykjavik


Because of the poor weather, most of our planned tours had to be canceled. It was so windy that we could feel our van shaking. So we had to drive slowly. We even considered returning to Grundarfjörður. We had to cancel our visits to Svortuloft Lighthouse, Arnarstapi, and Budir. At least we were able to visit Ytri Tunga before our last stop at Reykjavik.


Ytri Tunga


Due to their wild nature, seals are not always guaranteed to appear at this beach all the time. We took our chance, but we were not fortunate. We strolled by the beach for a few minutes before we left. We found a whalebone lying on the shore. You have to take the rough road to get there, rather than the main road.



Reykjavik


The capital city of Iceland. Also the largest city in the country. I was surprised by the size of the city after traveling from Keflavik to the south, to the east, and up to the north, most of the towns we visited were small or medium-sized. Reykjavik is so different. It’s modern and very busy. There are a lot of buildings and cars in the city. Parking is difficult and, if you do find one, it’s expensive. We found a free parking area at 5322+VP5, 101 Reykjavík close to the harbor.


We visited the popular Hallgrimskirkja church and bought souvenirs. There are so many souvenir shops here but I wanted to get an authentic Icelandic souvenir so I bought a locally made hand-knitted sweater from The Handknitting Association of Iceland. It is pricey but the quality is really good. I also bought a handmade felt puffin doll made by Merikerti at Thorvaldsens Bazar.


We camped at Reykjavík Campsite which has a fee that you can pay on their website. It is a big camping site with lots of toilets, bathrooms with hot showers, dining areas, and sinks to wash your kitchen wares.



Day 7: Blue Lagoon


Last day of our road trip. We traveled back to Keflavik, returned our camping van, checked in at our guesthouse, and relaxed at Blue Lagoon.


We booked at the same guesthouse which is the B&B Guesthouse Keflavik Center. Happy Campers offered free drop-off to our hotel after we returned the camping van.


Blue Lagoon


To get to Blue Lagoon, we booked a taxi. It is a huge lagoon with modern facilities. The ticket to Blue Lagoon includes a silica mud mask, one free drink, and a towel use. We really enjoyed it after our long road trip. It was a good way to end our Iceland adventure.


7 days seemed enough to me to see Iceland, but I was wrong. It was only a glimpse of what Iceland has to offer. It gave me an idea of how to get around Iceland and how to adjust to its weather. At the very least, I will have more to see next time.


For the first time, I went on a road trip in a camper van where we stayed only for one night at each location and were always moving. Even though it wasn't as comfortable as staying in a hotel, we had a lot of freedom. We could stop at any time, and anywhere. We could eat or take a nap wherever we could find parking.


I find camping in Iceland safe. I saw a lot of camping sites along the road and I never had to worry about where to shower because almost every campsite has a bathroom and a toilet. We did not encounter any wild animals on the road, only horses and sheep. I noticed that there are more tourists in places close to the south and the west. There were fewer tourists in the eastern and northern parts. Visiting tourist spots before sunrise allowed us to enjoy the place all to ourselves.



Short Film


The following short films capture our daily adventures during our Iceland trip.




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