We spent 6 days, and 5 nights in Iceland. Neither one of us were really keen with the true down-to-ground camper lifestyle but with an adventure seeking, as well as budgeting, mentality, we managed to put together a plan that worked fantastically. Our goal was to see as many things as we can, as we took the drive around Iceland’s infamous Ring Road, and I hope this guide will serve as some sort of motivation for those who are looking to make a trip to one of the most scenic country that this world has to offer. We started in the south, and drove east on the road until it brought us back to Reykjavik.
We ran into a bit of a traveling debacle and ended up landing a lot later than we had anticipated. By the time we got our jeep, and picked up our camping gear, we decided it would be best to give our bodies a rest. There’s this restaurant in Reykjavik, called “Matur og Drykkur” I found it on instagram and thought it would be a great place to try some true Icelandic cuisine. I was really hoping that we would be able to try the lamb head but unfortunately it was out of season. However, the fish and the bits of lamb were still just as good. This place lives up the Icelandic tradition of being on the pricey side. I would highly recommend the “Kleina” which are twisted doughnuts with cardamom sugar with a caramelized glaze on top. Of course it wouldn’t be a vacation without some form of ice cream. Be sure to check out Joyalato! Before heading out towards the cabin, we made a stop at “Baejarins Bestu Pylsur” which literally translate to “best hot dogs in town.” This place has been open since 1937, and if you’re going to go to Iceland then eating an Icelandic hot dog is a must.
Started our morning with a dip at the Secret Lagoon. The temperature was about 31 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a lot smaller than the blue lagoon and certainly not as glowy but it was a nice way to start a day.
The Great Geysir. Everyone had their cameras out, watching the bubbles build, waiting for an explosion. There a mini splurt of water that we had wrongfully mistaken to be an eruption. I’m glad we didn’t leave because the real eruption was massive!
We were on our way to another waterfall when we came across Seljalandsfoss. You can see it from the road. I learned that you’re able to walk behind the waterfall but we were only able to catch it from the front because they roped off the path.
You can walk up pretty close. One search tag on instagram will show you all the different ways that you can take photos of this gorgeous waterfall. Skógafoss is pretty packed with tourists though.
Kvernufoss Waterfall. While it’s sister waterfall was packed with tourists, we had this gem to ourselves. A short hike through a valley way and you reach this gorgeous spot. There is something particularly awesome about having the ability to see a waterfall from behind.
Dyrholaey, Vik. The drive up was a bit scary. The sun was setting, and the gravel roads were very narrow as you were circling up a cliff. The view was spectacular. It should be noted that the wind was also crazy up there and you should be very careful when opening the car door.
We had rented a jeep and brought sleeping bags and mats with us. The sleep was surprisingly comfortable and the sleeping bags kept us very warm at night. We did not have a heater, and we did not have the car running at night. We parked at the rest stop at the bottom of Dryholaey, luckily there was a public restroom that we were able to use to freshen up.
Prior to coming to Iceland, I had never seen a waterfall in real life. While road tripping around the country, we must’ve seen 60.
Being on the road, we made sure that we had the equipment to make coffee! It was too windy to get the little stove to start outside so we ended up boiling water in the car, haha. Another hilarious side note, we made scramble eggs in the rain. Budget traveling is not always glamorous but it is memorable.
Vatnajökull National Park. Saw the blue glaciers from the road, and we decided to take a turn towards it. I was a hesitant about driving over this wooden bridge, and I felt intensely stupid when I watched a bus casually drive over it as we were leaving.
Diamond Beach – it was foggy and a good spot to get your hands in the black sand. The waves are intense but if you have children, then it’s a good place to have them run wild.
Across the street from Diamond Beach is a lot more calm. When I visited Jökulsárlón last year, the lagoon was filled with glaciers just floating and flipping around. I noticed a large decrease in the amount of glaciers. While I’m sure some of that had to do with the time of year, I am also not silly enough believe that it’s just that. Global Warming is real whether the US believes it or not.
The ride to east Iceland was perhaps the most scenic. It was layered with mountain upon mountains, and the evening light was beautiful. We stayed in an airbnb in a small town.
We loaded up with groceries before heading back on the road to go towards the highlands. Of course it had to be a store that was on the highway because all the local town stores were closed with it being Sunday.
Grjótagiá Cave. A lava cave with a thermal spring inside. The water was much too hot to dive in but it was nice to soak our feet for a while. I’m not familiar with Games of Thrones but I read that this is where a very big scene had happened. We ran into a few other tourist but the amount is significantly different in comparison to when we were in Southern Iceland.
What I found to be the best aspect of road tripping through Iceland was the different landscape. You go from wet, rainy southern weather, to then ice filled northern highlands. A mixture of all the worlds!
You can’t help but feel small when you’re surrounded by big nature like this. Goðafoss waterfall is about 12 meters high, and 30 meters wide. Again, this place was not crowded at all.
Another night sleeping in the jeep. We were just settling in when there was sliver of green that appeared in the sky. Shrilling with excitement, we tried our best to capture the photos but couldn’t get the camera setting right. These photos were off my boyfriend’s phone. Seeing the Aurora Borealis is something truly indescribable. It’s as if the sky suddenly exploded with dancing colors. I kept saying to my son, “people go their entire lives without seeing the Northern lights.” I don’t think he quite grasped the magnitude of this but it was such an incredible experience. Some things you’ve just got to witness yourself to truly understand.
The road that would normally lead up Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall was much too icy, even for a 4×4 to drive through. That didn’t stop us from making the hike out there on foot.
Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall. What a beauty! We climbed down the cliff to get a closer look. The intensity strong. Another breathtaking spot, and I’m glad that we ended Iceland with such a bang.
From this area, it took us 6 hours to get back to Reykjavik. Our aux cord decided to break down on us, so we literally drove without any music. Surprisingly, we did not kill one another. I guess that’s love.
Camp gear returned, and had to separate from this guy because his flight left hours before ours. I could not have asked for a better person to join us on this fantastic, photo worthy trip than him. Travel partner that you get to make out with is the best 😉 Soon we’ll be reunited and taking over the States together.
There was enough time to walk the city, buy a few souvenirs, and grab a coffee. It’s tough to enjoy a city when you’ve been exposed such natural beauties for several day. Everything else seems a tad mediocre, ha. The only complaint I really have is that food was WAY too expensive here. I cannot get over the fact that we spent 12 USD on a milkshake. A small milkshake.
It was such a great trip. Looking back, I realize that we did so much in such a small amount of time. We budget the best we could with alternating days sleeping in an airbnb and our jeep. We also mostly ate sandwiches, and the snacks that we brought with us from home. We were comfortable, and we get to say that we saw the ENTIRE country which is amazing in and itself. I jokingly said that I won’t be back to Iceland for another 20 years because we have other spots of the world that we’d like to walk on, but I must admit that I already miss it immensely. I have serious FOMO whenever I see photos of Iceland all over Instagram.
I really hope sharing this photo itinerary will entice some of you to venture out to Iceland. If you can, I would recommend renting a 4×4 and road tripping around the country. It’s money well spent. Make a list of your stops and map it out before you go. Another tip, don’t ever choose the option to fill your tank til full because it puts an 80 dollar block on your guard for several days!