Iceland: Ultimate 8 Day Road Trip Itinerary

8 days in Iceland
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by @willtang

Will Tang

4th May 2018
Here's my interactive itinerary for an unforgettable 8 days in most beautiful Iceland - the land of Fire and Ice, and (winter) Northern Lights. Looking for more key essentials and plenty of awesome details? See my full original article * ICELAND TRAVEL GUIDE: THE ULTIMATE 8 DAY ROAD TRIP ITINERARY * at Going Awesome Places: http://goingawesomeplaces.com/iceland-travel-guide-the-ultimate-8-day-road-trip-itinerary (clickable link in my Bio section below).
Keflavik International Airport
Touchdown at Keflavík International Airport (KEF).
Grab your rental car and head into the capital and largest city of Iceland, Reykjavík - urban area population = ~200,000 people (or two-thirds of Iceland's population). This place is the centre of culture and life of the Icelandic people, and is definitely one of the focal points of tourism in Iceland. The city centre, however, is a very small area characterised by eclectic and colourful houses, with good shopping, dining and drinking. Reykjavik has the distinction of being the northernmost capital city in the world, though its winters are surprisingly mild for a city of its latitude.
Black and Blue Tour
An adrenaline-filled excursion like Black and Blue which combines lava tube caves with snorkelling! Inside the Thingvellir National Park into the Gjábakkahellir cave system, and then snorkelling in the Silfra.
Hilton Reykjavik Nordica
Surprisingly good Indian masala and kurma here.
Laugavegur Shopping Street
Laugavegur is the main street in downtown Reykjavík. It is also one of the oldest shopping streets in Iceland. There are plenty of shops, exclusive stores, bars, nightclubs and restaurants on this charming historic street.
Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran (Church of Iceland) parish church. It is the largest church in Iceland and one of the tallest structures (74.5 metres/244 ft high) in the country. The church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614–1674), author of the Passion Hymns.
Free Walking tour with CityWalk
Nice 2km walk. Pay as you please. Meeting point is the main square Austurvöllur, in front of the House of Parliament (Alþingi). Find the group next to a statue of the national hero, Jón Sigurðsson. Bookings required.
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
Look for the booth with the red and white signs. Enjoy the Town's Best Sausages.
Sólfar - Sun Voyager
Sólfar (aka Sun Voyager) is a sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason. This outdoor sculpture is described as a dreamboat. An ode to the sun, conveying the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom. (wikipedia)
Bónus Reykjavík
Place to buy supplies.
Tryggvaskáli Restaurant
Delicious scallops and fish here.
Valdis (Buubble Hotel)
(secret location!) Sleep in a transparent bubble and see the northern lights (in winter).
Secret Lagoon Hot Spring
Strokkur Geysir
Strokkur is a geothermal fountain geyser. It is one of Iceland's most famous geysers, erupting random and frequent.
Gullfoss Falls
Gullfoss Falls is a hugely popular attraction of Iceland. Coming off the Hvítá river, water curves across a 3-step drop then straight into the bowels of the earth. This waterfall has a total height of 32m with average flow speeds of 140 cubic meters per second.
Þingvellir (Thingvellir National Park)
Þingvellir (aka Thingvellir National Park) is one of the most popular tourist destinations. It is a site of historical, cultural, and geological significance. The park lies in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian. It (the park) was designated as a World Heritage Site in 2004. To its south lies Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland.
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula region has some spectacularly dramatic landscapes.
Búðir (Budir)
Búðir is the home of the popular country inn and restaurant Hotel Búðir and a very old small church.
Hotel Búdir
Arnarstapi (aka Stapi) is a small fishing village at the foot of Mt. Stapafell. Today Arnarstapi is still a somewhat busy harbor during the summer and is a popular destination of tourists during that time of the year. There is a variety of natural and culinary attractions here. There is much beauty to be found in nearby attractions, and an old horse trail past Neðstavatn is now a popular hiking trail across the lava and along the beach between Arnarstapi and Hellnar. This walk is about one hour. The lava field is called Hellnahraun, and its coast where at its westernmost edge can be found the ancient small village of Hellnar is a natural preserve. Along the coast there are some unique rock formations to be seen. (wikipedia)
The Lóndrangar are a pair of rock pinnacles (volcanic plugs of basalt) that have been hewn out from softer surrounding rock by erosion. At 75 and 61 m tall, they are a singular sight, rising above and outside the ocean front. History has it that the taller of the cliffs was ascended in 1735, while the smaller one was not climbed until 1938. The Lóndrangar are remnants from a bigger crater which has mostly eroded away. There are many bird nests in the steep slopes of the twin towers. Birds which can be observed are black-legged kittiwake, common murre, puffin and northern fulmar. At one time the coastal area around Lóndrangar, Drangsvogur, was used for the landing of fishing vessels with up to 12 fishing boats making use of it as a natural harbor.
Djúpalónssandur beach
Djúpalónssandur beach is a beautiful black lava beach. It was once home to the peninsula's most prolific fishing villages on the Snæfellsnes peninsula but today the bay is uninhabited.
Kirkjufell (Church mountain) is a 463 m high mountain. This place was one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones season 6 and 7, featuring as the "arrowhead mountain" that the Hound and the company north of the Wall see when capturing a wight.
Try the lamb here - which is only served it in the winter!
Explore this small colourful town of Stykkishólmur. This "gateway to the islands" of Breiðafjörður has a population of a little over 1,200. (Wikipedia)
Drive to Hella
Hella is a village in South Iceland, located 97 km east of the capital city of Reykjavík. It's an important base for adventures into the highlands, to places such as Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk. Hella is a very tranquil village of only approx. 750 inhabitants, situated on the South Iceland's interior lowlands. It was blessed with a beautiful setting, like a green oasis in the desert with the calm and beautiful Rangá river passing through and the stunning view to the surrounding highlands all around. Hella's economy relies on tourism, as well as the chicken factory, slaughter house, glass factory and horse breeding. The volcano Hekla is in the vicinity. Public transportation has always been controversial subject in South Iceland. Currently, Bílar og Fólk is the company offering bus trips in South Iceland, passing through Hella. Timetables can be found at their website http://www.bogf.is/is
The Seljalandsfoss waterfall comes from the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull through the Seljalands River, and drops 60 m (197 ft). Walk behind the falls into a small cave.
The Skógafoss waterfall comes off the Skógá River. Since the coastline had receded seaward, the former sea cliffs remain. These cliffs run parallel to the coast over hundreds of kilometres, creating together with some mountains a clear border between the coastal lowlands and the Highlands of Iceland. These falls drop a height of 60 m (200 ft).
AirBnB in Hvolsvöllur
Hvolsvöllur is a small town in the south of Iceland about 106 km to the east of Reykjavík. It is situated in the inland swamps of Landeyjar, in the municipality of Rangárþing eystra and has, as of January 2015, 934 inhabitants.
Seljavallalaug (Geothermal Pool)
The Seljavallalaug pool, near Seljavellir, was built back in the 1920's. This pools is cleaned every summer and is free to use - at one's own risk.
Dyrhólaey Lighthouse
First built in 1910, this lighthouse is an interesting square concrete tower, painted white with red trim. It stands at 13m (43 ft) tall.
Reynisdrangar Cliffs
Reynisdrangar are basalt sea stacks situated under the mountain Reynisfjall. These stacks are framed by a black sand beach that was ranked in 1991 as one of the ten most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world. Legend says that the stacks originated when two trolls dragged a three-masted ship to land unsuccessfully and when daylight broke they became needles of rock. Contemporary legends note the story of a husband who found his wife taken by the two trolls, frozen at night. The husband made the two trolls swear to never kill anyone ever again. His wife was the love of his life, whose free spirit he was unable to provide a home for; she found her fate out among the trolls, rocks, and sea at Reynisfjara. (wikipedia)
Fjaðrárgljúfur (Canyon)
Fjaðrárgljúfur is a canyon almost 100 m deep and 2 kilometers long. The Fjaðrá river flows through it. The origins of this canyon dates back to the cold periods of the Ice Age, about two million years ago. It was created by progressive erosion by flowing water from glaciers through the rocks and palagonite over millennia. A one-mile hike up the eastern edge brings you to an observation platform. From which you can see the waterfall which flows down the western side of the canyon.
Svartifoss (Black Falls) is one of the most popular sights in Vatnajökull National Park. It is surrounded by dark lava columns, and at its base are sharp rocks. New hexagonal column sections break off faster than the falling water wears down the edges. These basalt columns have provided inspiration for Icelandic architects, most visibly in the Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík, and also the National Theatre. (wikivoyage)
Hof 1 Hotel
The scenery around Skaftafell is full of stark contrasts. The various glacial tongues are flanked by jagged mountains, with the glacier-topped peak of Hvannadalshnjúkur rising highest. Evidence abounds of the erosive forces exerted by glacial ice and rivers. From the time of the first sagas, this ice has variously advanced or retreated, reaching farthest around 1890, since when it has retreated. View from Kristínartindar mountain peaks towards Morsárjökull glacier. The rivers running from it have flowed back and forth over the lowlands, depositing the material that forms the wide sands of Skeiðarársandur. (Wikipedia)
Glacier Guides: Glacier Extreme
Glacier Xtreme was hands down the best experience of the trip.
Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoon)
Jökulsárlón (glacier lagoon) is a large glacial lake in southeast Iceland, on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. Situated at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, it developed into a lake after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Large blocks of ice break off the edge of the glacier, which is about 30m high, keeping the lagoon stocked with icebergs. Jökulsárlón has been a setting for four Hollywood movies: A View to a Kill, Die Another Day (BMW chase scene), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Batman Begins, as well as the reality TV series Amazing Race. (Wikipedia)
Höfn Guesthouse
Pakkhús Restaurant
Svartifoss (take #2)
Chance to visit this place if you missed it the first time on Day #6.
Vík is a very small village, with about 300 inhabitants and a very photogenic church with a pointy red top.
Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
(optional) Here lies the remains of a classic 1973 United States Navy DC-3 plane which ran out of fuel and crashed on the black beach at Sólheimasandur. It's a 45 minute walk to the wreck from the main road. Photographers love this place.
Mossy Lava Rocks
Blue Lagoon
This is one of the most popular attractions. If you visit Iceland, you will have to get your bathing suit on and soak in the warm healing waters rich in minerals silica and sulfur. Water is heated and piped in from the nearby geothermal power plant Svartsengi - the largest in the world. Various pools provide a range of water temperatures from warm to hot(er). Do note the strict code of hygiene. Guests are required to thoroughly shower prior to entering the geothermal spa. Get your wrist band on (for payments within the spa area) and enjoy this real Icelandic treat.
Chief of awesome - Travel writer, photographer and social media expert, specializing in off-the-beaten path and experiential travel.
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