We’ve divided the Iceland road trip guide into two parts and here is Iceland Part One! The first three days of our trip we explored Reykjavík, did part of the Golden Circle and made it all the way to Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon in the southeast. Below is a day by day breakdown of what we saw, where we stayed, and how we got there. As we mentioned in our last post, we used Google Maps and Google Sheets to plan our itinerary flexibly and between multiple people. This method worked really well for us. We were all able to check and update it at night, as well as link to our accommodations and other attractions. Here is a screenshot of what the first three days looked like planned out in our Google Sheet and a screenshot of a map with all of our destinations starred.
Day One (Reykjavik)
We arrived at 5am at Keflavik Airport and took a shuttle to pick up our car from the Sixt Car Rental. You can read more about our great experience with Sixt in the last post. We then drove to Reykjavik where we stocked up on groceries for the rest of our trip.
We were so excited to stay at Kex Hostel because of the pictures we saw online. We definitely recommend stopping by for breakfast or getting a drink at night. The lobby has such awesome decor and the hostel is always bustling. The accommodations themselves were perfectly nice but nothing out of the ordinary.
Jet lagged as we were, we made the most of our one day in Reykjavik and walked all over town. We were eager to check out Hallgrímskirkja, a famous church in Reykjavik designed by Gudjon Samuelsson. We saw a ton of cool murals and street art, poked in a bunch of cute shops in town, and avoided a downpour at the National Gallery of Iceland (which was unfortunately mostly closed until the summer season). For dinner, we went to the famous Bæjarins Bestu hot dog stand, and then had coffee and dessert at a cute coffee shop near by. After dinner, we walked down to the water (which Kex Hostel has wonderful views of), to see the Sun Voyager Sculpture. Later that night, we ventured out for drinks at the Lebowski Bar – it’s actually modeled after the movie. We wanted to check out the Kolaportið Market, a flea market, but it is unfortunately only open on Saturdays and Sundays.
Day Two (The Golden Circle)
Our first day out on the Ring Road! We started the morning with breakfast at Kex Hostel, which has a delicious buffet style meal. We drove to Þingvellir National Park where we walked through the continental drift and saw the beautiful Öxarárfoss waterfall.
After we finished that walk, we piled back in the car heading to Strokkur Geysir. This was one of the more touristy attractions we visited, but as people who don’t see geysers often, we thought it was really cool and totally worth the crowds.
Although we didn’t initially plan to see Gullfoss, it was so much closer to Strokkur than we realized, that we quickly drove up to see it. We definitely recommend doing both. They’re only a few minutes apart and both are stunning!
Back in the car and off to see Tara’s favorite destination, Seljalandsfoss and the neighboring Gljúfrafoss. These two waterfalls are right next to each other and SO cool. You can explore these falls freely by walking around them, in them, and even behind them – be prepared to get wet! After this full day, we drove to our beautiful guesthouse, Fagrahlíd Guesthouse. We really can’t say enough great things about this place. The woman who owned it was sweet, helpful, and knowledgeable. She told us about a few great walks right around the property and shared some interesting history about the area. The surroundings are stunning, there were horses right in her front yard, even more just a short walk away (which you can see on Sarah’s Instagram), and views of the mountains and volcano.
Day Three (Vik and Skaftafell National Park)
We woke up early on day three and headed to Seljavallalaug, Iceland’s oldest geothermal pool that our hostess at the guesthouse had told us about. You have to do a short hike in order to get to the pool. This place is gorgeous. The weather that day was freezing so getting out of the water and hiking back to car was pretty intense but well worth it!
From there, we drove to Vík to visit the Black Sand Beaches. We walked down to Reynisdrangar Beach, where you can see the crazy the rock formations in the water. We took a lot of photos here, walked all around the beach, climbed on the rocks, and had a great time exploring this area.
Next, we got back in the car and drove west to Skaftafell National Park. It was incredibly foggy when we arrived so we could not see any of our surroundings. We got advice from the friendly people who worked there about which hike to take. We chose to do a medium length hike that would bring us past Svartifoss, the Black Waterfalls, and then up to see a view of the glacier tongue. The view from above was incredible! When we got back to the parking lot, we laughed because the fog had cleared and there was an amazing view of the glacier right from the parking lot – ha! Regardless, the hike was really fun and the terrain alone was worth it.
We planned to drive straight to our hostel and backtrack to the glacial lagoon in the morning but as we drove by, we couldn’t resist stopping at least quickly. Our minds were completely blown by this place. Something about the 8pm sun hitting the lake was breathtaking beyond words. We took a few photos and walked around and agreed to come back again the next morning. The area surrounding our hostel was so beautiful, with tons of sheep close by to look at and play with, and a gorgeous dining area with views of the whole property and nearby mountains. The accommodations themselves were certainly not luxurious, but it was a good stay overall. Stay tuned for the next post about our Iceland Road Trip!