Iceland Road Trip – Tips on Planning

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What is Iceland for us? Iceland is for us is like entering to into another planet. It is far by the most beautiful place I have ever seen, and I am sure it will always remain no1 on my favourites list. The beautiful landscapes, magnificent mountains, amazing waterfalls and so much more. If you love being around nature, believe me you will not find a perfect setting like this.

So in this post I am going to delve into a bit of tips on planning your trip. If you are coming to Iceland just to visit Reykjavik, then planning is quite straight forward but if you are planning to drive around island then there are few things which you might want to consider or plan well ahead.

When to Visit Iceland

I have visited Iceland in Summers and Winters, and frankly I will not be able to pick my favourite time. It displays a different landscape in both the seasons, and some options for you to choose. Summers will give you the opportunity to see midnight sun as it never really gets dark and winters will show you the amazing Northern Lights. So if you have a bucket list with both of these items, I will suggest to make two trips to Iceland to see the beauty it offers.

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Iceland in Winters

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Iceland in Summers

To give you an idea on weather, here is what I read and saw for myself.

May to June – It is spring time, it will be cold, less crowd, snow still at some places and might be inaccessible as well.

July to August – Summers time, tourist season, pleasant weather and almost all of the country accessible.

September to October – Autumn time, a shoulder time with still pleasant weather and winters coming up. Few parts of the country might start to get accessible only by mountain vehicles and 4wd cars.

November to April –聽Winters time, snow snow snow and chance to see Northern Lights.

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What Must/Should go in a Packing List

When in Iceland, you could see a lot of variation in weather in a single day. When you went out it might be sunny, but within few hours its heavy rains, strong winds and by evening it could be again calm. So be prepared and bring layers with you to dress up accordingly.

Clothes – You must bring a a thermal vest, rain jacket & water proof trousers, along with a cap and gloves. Rest of the list I will leave for you to decide 馃檪

Navigation – It is always helpful to have a Sat-Nav or Tom-Tom with you. Driving in Iceland is easy as there is no complicated road network. But it always added an advantage to your journey, for an instance to look for the nearest gas station or a grocery shop.

Road Map – If possible, get an Iceland road map. Sometimes Sat Nav will try to take you to the shortest route or fastest route via a impassable route or a route fit for only large vehicle. At those times, basic knowledge of ideas will come to great help.

Phones – Download a couple of useful apps on your phone to get to know the weather and road conditions while you are driving across Iceland.

  1. 112 –聽This is the official app for emergency service in Iceland. With聽this app, you can send an SMS to Icelandic emergency services while using the GPS location before dialing 112.
  2. Vedur – Best Icelandic weather app. It helped us a lot in planning our day in both of our visits.
  3. Iceland Road Guide – Gives you a very good ideas on the roads in Iceland.

 

Money/Credit Cards – Get some Icelandic currency as well as enable your cards for foreign transactions. If you are out of cash, one can always use a credit card even in remote parts of this island.

Camera Equipment聽– I am sure you will not forget it, but should go in the list anyways. Carry all your favourite lenses as well as tripod to capture the beauty of the place and bring it with you back home. A pack of extra battery may be 馃檪

Where to Stay in Iceland

If you are touring around the island then you will be driving every other day to a new place. Around Reyjkavik , you will not fall short of options. But as you start moving away from the capital, options are a little lesser. But locations of most of the places is awesome. During our stay, we stayed in hotel, hostels as well as Air BnB in some of the awestruck settings. 聽If you want to stay close to the nature, I will advise you to book well in advance, as accommodations like the ones below does really get booked fast.

  1. Foss Hotel, Nupar Near Skaftafell
  2. Berunes Hostel
  3. Mjonaes Accomodation, Egilsstadir
  4. Akureryi Air BnB options
  5. Hvammstangi Seaside Cottage
  6. Bryggjukafi Hostel or Sima Hostel, Flateryi
  7. A seaside cottage, Talknafjordur

 

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Food/Grocery Shopping & Fuel

Like any other country, Iceland does not fall in the options of restaurants and grocery shop. But eating out everyday on a long trip might burn a hole in your pocket.If you are travelling on budget ( like us ) and having a self catered stay, I have listed out few super market names for your grocery shopping.

  1. Bonus – Cheapest Option
  2. Netto
  3. Kronan

Fuel – No problem in finding a fuel station in Iceland, they accept foreign cards as well as cash. When you are driving away from Reykjavik, be vary of the fact that sometimes the distance between fuel stations can go upto 100KM, so just keep an eye on the fuel tank and keep tanking it up.

Things To Do

Iceland is like Santa’s Christmas Sack which never falls short of options 馃檪 There is something for everyone, whether you choose organised tours or self planned trip. And if you love hiking/walking, it will be a paradise for you. Nevertheless, I have mentioned few activites below:

  1. Hiking/Walking
  2. River Rafting
  3. Helicopter Tours
  4. Glacier Hike
  5. Rock Climbing
  6. Cave Tours
  7. Ice Climbing
  8. Horseback Riding
  9. ATV Tours
  10. Northern Lights in Winters

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Stykkisholmur – Secret Walter Mitty Town

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Stykkisolmur – The Walter Mitty Town was a must visit place during our self drive Icelandic Trip. And the reason of putting the place in the list was due to the fact like many others I had also fallen in love with the place while I watched the movie. And then I started reading more about the place and got to know it’s importance in Iceland and in the tourism. How this smallest town of Iceland got the title of European destination of Excellence.

This beautiful town is located in the northern part of the Snaefellsness peninsula. You can combine it with your drive to south west part of the Iceland.

We visited this place during the winters and it was so deserted and yet so idyllic and peaceful. I am not sure whether I was in the love with the seashore, empty roads, colourful houses, still boats or I was just Happy to be here.

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There are many reasons for visiting this beautiful town like the conservation of cultural heritage & history as well as its environmental awareness.

The town was also the first municipality in Iceland to start fully sorting its waste as well as the first town in Iceland to receive the prestigious Blue flag eco-label for its harbour.

The hot water used in Stykkisholmur is completely sustainable as it is reinjected into the ground when it has been used for heating purposes. The town has on top of all this started a project eliminating invasive plants from its land.
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Oh yes the road you see in the above picture, is exactly the one when Walter Mitty ran to get into the helicopter. I was so delighted to be standing here.

Fishing and tourism are the bread butter of this town.

You can walk upto an adjacent island which showcase an old red light house. It is a small walk from the town. The view from the top is worth it.

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Wondering how does the scenery looks like while driving towards Stykkisholmur during the winter months, the picture below is a snap shot of the same. It looked more heavenly than this.

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S贸lheimaj枚kull Glacier – A Small Walk

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Until we visited Iceland, the only times I saw glaciers were in the movies or national geographic documentaries. It always made me wonder, how it would feel to be standing near to one. How the place around will look like covered with ice and all you see is Ice and Ice and Frozen Ice.

So me and Ash decided to visit one of the glacier in Iceland from much closer distance. We did not go for glacier hike, but we want for a small walk on top of it and to feel the aura around it. We decided to visit聽S贸lheimaj枚kull Glacier on the south coast, and just 2 hours drive away for Reykjavik.


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S贸lheimaj枚kull, a glacier outlet from the fourth largest glacier in Iceland, M媒rdalsj枚kull. I can not express in words how beautiful that sight was. Cold, yes freezing cold but a sight that will remain in your memories forever. Those different formations of Ice clinging to one another, caresses that it was forming one after another, it looked like you are standing in a land of crystals. And the roughness of black volcanic sand adds so much beauty to the landscape.

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Happy us trying to walk over the glacier with our hiking boots.

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Golden Circle – Geysir

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While driving on Golden Circle Route of Iceland, another popular attraction or stop over is to watch out for Geysirs.聽The hot springs are located to the east of a little mountain called Laugafell. This place is another wonder of nature where in you see huge springs spurting out of earth, roaring into steam and then disappearing into air.

I still remember that cold afternoon, temp was just around -10 degrees but it felt like -20. But nonetheless even though we could stand outside only for 10-15 mins at stretch, it was worth every second. And I would not mind visiting this place over and over again 馃檪

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Strokkur (the churn) is currently the most energetic spouting spring in Iceland. It spouts every few minutes, sometimes to a height of 40 m, yet generally less than 10-20 m.

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Golden Circle – 脼ingvellir National Park

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Morning of another colder day in Iceland, we decided to go for Golden Circle Tour. The most popular destination in the Iceland, almost everyone who visits Iceland heads off to the golden circle, whether it is just a lay over in Iceland or a long trip. There is a well established road network on the golden circle which makes it easier聽to drive in summer months and聽a bit comfortable in the winter months as well.

We were happy looking at the weather from the window of our Air B&B accommodation, it was a bright & sunny day and were very excited to head out on to the roads. But as soon as we came out of the room reality hit us hard, it was sunny but it was freezing cold. Temperature was -5 degrees and winds were chilled as ice. We knew we might have to spend a lot of day in the car today.

Our first stop on the golden circle was one of the Iceland’s most popular park i.e.聽脼ingvellir National Park. This park does not only have geological significance but it plays an important role in the history of Iceland. It is situated on the northern shore of lake 脼ingvallavatn, 脼ingvellir is the national shrine of Iceland. It is the oldest existing parliament in the world first assembled there in 930 AD. 脼ingvellir has for this reason been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.聽Over two weeks a year, the assembly set laws – seen as a covenant between free men – and settled disputes. You can still see the fragments of booths where assembly was held.聽聽It also have a 脼ingvellir Church and adjacent farm.

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Another popular destination in the park is a聽major rift, which has produced dramatic fissures and cliffs demonstrating inter-continental drifting is聽spectacular. People flock to this point to see a continental drift between the continents. The water is so clear between the drifts that it has become a hot spot for scuba dive and you can always show off that you swam or dived between the continents. I did not swim or dive in there, I could not have in freezing temperatures, but I did threw a coin between the rift making a wish to come back to Iceland and another one that actually came true 馃檪

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Me and Ash are wanderers and do not know how we managed to walk all the famous parts of walk. I can still feel the cold winds slapping my face and knocking me off the ground. I think the urge to travel and see more just makes you do anything. Oh!! I miss Iceland now.

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