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 –¬†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 ūüôā

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 –¬†This is the official app for emergency service in Iceland. With¬†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¬†– 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 ūüôā

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.  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 ūüôā 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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Camping & Hiking in Cheddar Gorge

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Cheddar Gorge – A beautiful country side not very far from Bristol City. As the name suggests Cheddar originated from here and Gorge means beautiful limestone cliffs and caves. If you are looking for a quiet, unspoilt place – Cheddar Gorge is for you.

Our (me and Ash) first proper camping holiday. I will be writing another post on Camping essentials that can be used as a checklist. But just to name few essentials –¬†a water proof tent, good sleeping bags, camping mats, bbq or stove to cook food, water.

This village has got couple of good camping sites with good basic amenities like shared bathrooms, toilets, washing place and a communal fridge. We stayed at – Cheddar Bridge Touring ParK (http://www.cheddarbridge.co.uk/), the owners are really helpful and friendly. It’s adult only park offering a relaxing atmosphere, not ideal location for family holiday.

We were lucky to have a sunny weekend with temperature up to 22 degrees. So we could relax in the campsite, cooked, played cards, went for hiking and not to forget cheese tasting & shopping ¬†ūüôā

If anyone interested to spend a weekend here, I am listing down few activities that one can try-

1. Hike to Gorge РCheddar Gorge is one of the most famous natural features in Britain. Carved out of the limestone by rivers that now pass deep underground, and left is series of vertical cliffs.  It is a medium gradient hike with quite a few steep climbs. But we tried making it a challenging hike so we did a circular route РStart from Cheddar Gorge village to Black Rock reserve and from here hike to Long Wood Farm, Manor Farm and then to Velvet Bottom Farm. This route will bring you  back to Black Rock Reserve, from here start your hike to clifftop. In total 11Kms Hike, but views from top are breathtaking.

2.The¬†Cheddar Gorge¬†Cheese Co¬†-Huge collection of cheese, jams, chutneys. For cheese lovers it’s a paradise.

3.Cheddar Gorge РThis tour starts near Information Centre. Perfect for a family outing.

4. Local Cider –¬†Try some local cider which are made only in Cheddar. They come in varieties and are popular as Scrumpy .

5. Rock/Cliff ¬†Climbing – I have not done it. But there are companies organizing these sports for¬†enthusiast climbers. For more details –¬†http://www.cheddargorge.co.uk/x-treme/rock-climbing ¬† Couple of pictures from the trip:

Cheddar Gorge Clifftop

Cheddar Gorge Clifftop

 

Cheddar Caves

Cheddar Caves

Before you leave , a stroll in the town is a good idea. They have got some good shops and pubs around.

Cheddar Village

Cheddar Village

It was a well spent weekend!! Living in the nature, food, walk, a good tent and Sun ūüôā