Iceland is like a different planet: the black rocks, the hot springs and the glaciers. We wanted to see whales and the Aurora Borealis – but we saw neither! Still it was one of the best travels ever. Here are the top sites for a small round trip.
We stayed for a week in Reykjavik and drove around on day trips. This was fine as long you only aim for the Golden Circle. Next time I will go further away from the capital, even though it’s nice and there’s a few thing to see.
Reykjavik has an interesting story, and the museums will tell you more. Also bring the Saga’s and really get into the spirit of the Vikings. Another sight you can’t miss is the church. Is it a LEGO church or a spaceship? It is Hallgrimskirkja! In front of the church is a statue of Leif Eiriksson, who “discovered” Vinland – also known as USA.
HOW TO GET AROUND
The best way to get around is to rent a car. It wasn’t that expensive. I am so glad we opted for a for 4 wheel drive – the road are not good! We also had a gps, but we still got lost. But you can easily drive from Reykjavik to the most important sites in the so called Golden Circle. We rented a car with Procar Rental,which seemed to cheap, but it was great. We got a huge new 4 wheeler and free gps and no complaints about the mud on the car afterwards.
THE GOLDEN CIRCLE TOUR
The Golden Circle is main tourist trip on Iceland. It consists of Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Hot Spring and Gullfoss Waterfall. Read more in Driving the Golden Circle in Iceland is a tour of Viking history & natural wonders !
Iceland is a the least populated country in Europe, so there is plenty of space – especially off season. We went in February and it rained, was foggy and the sky was constantly grey. But somehow this just added to the mysterious atmosphere of the island. But be dressed for rapid weather changes.
We drove several hours to find the glacier close to Eyjafjallajokul, but we never did and in the end we had to give up because of time and road conditions. Apparently, we drove around the volcano and the glacier is right by the road, we later discovered. Instead, we did see this nice waterfall Seljalandsfoss which you can walk behind. It is one of the highest waterfalls with 63 meters.
WHERE TO STAY & EAT
In Reykjavik we stayed in Centerhotel Arnarhvoll. It was very good location and a small hot spring pool in the basement, but unfortunately they made a booking mistake, so we spent the first night somewhere else on the main street, and it was very noisy! My husband has just visited Reykjavik again on a business trip, and this time stayed at Loft Hostels and highly recommends it.
There is good food in Reykjvaik. The first night we ate at Dill at the Nordic House, It is really good and uses anly Nordic ingredients. Again we were the only ones with a child. Also beacuse of the change with out hotel we didn’t have time to shower or change so we definitely stood out amung the few tables. Another great place was Grillmarkadurinn which served whale (not an endangered one!). It looks a little brown, but it was really good.
Somehow we manage to plan museum trips on the one day they were all closed- which of course heartbreaking for a museumlover like me.
The influence of the Viking age can still be seen in the traditional turf houses and the Icelandic horse, which was brought here by the Vikings. Read The Sagas for great stories about love, war and Ragnar Lodbrok.
We went to many hot spring spots. The common swimming house in Reykjavik is quite fantastic with everyday Icelanders coming after work or young people for some couple time. We also went to a very small but so colol place Laugarvatn, and there was just us in the hot pools and in the sauna looking out on a lake. But of course the most famous one is Blue Lagoon and for good reason.
Just driving around in the surreal landscape is enough reason to go back!
What’s you favorite place in Iceland?