Shortly before every country imposed travel restrictions in the course of the COVID‑19 pandemic, we visited Iceland for an ample week. We travelled around the entire island by car and drove over 2.500 kilometers.
Day 1: Reykjavík – Mosfellsbær
After arriving at Keflavik Airport, we rented our car and visited an old friend of mine whom I first met in Kenya, while volunteering in a school in a slum. We also quickly had to get used to the Icelandic traffic rules, for example the somewhat different way of driving in a roundabout (very adventurous indeed).
Day 2: Mosfellsbær – Hraunháls
The next day we already got up at sunrise and saw beautiful birds on the route along the Westfjords. After passing the waterfalls Hraunfossar and Barnafoss we came to an absolute highlight – abandoned hot springs! We ignored the sign “springs closed” on the intersection and drove on a gravel road (on which we were afraid to get stuck) and saw the first spring: a pipe with steaming water. We walked around a bit, had to balance on stones over an icy creek and then found the real hot spring: a deep warm water hole surrounded by rocks. Since it started to rain, it was a welcome warm-up and we did not want to come out for quite a while. As we were all alone there, we were able to enjoy the endless peace, the silence and the view of the surrounding snow-covered mountains. After we finally did manage to get out of the relaxing warmth, we had some difficulties finding our accommodation and were eyed a bit suspiciously by dogs when we came out about 20 km north of our intended destination on a small farm. Nice Icelanders then helped us to get to the farm we actually wanted to go.
Day 3: Around Hraunháls
First stop: Kirkjufjell – after that always along the coast through the national park.
On the way we took a side road and discovered a secluded resting place with a small waterhole in a very beautiful landscape.
Further along the coast we came to Arnastapi, admiring the rock-formations along the shore and the waves breaking on them. We continued to Budhir, where we walked down the beach until sunset and had the best view of a nice church.
Day 4: Hraunháls – Múlavegur
We got stuck in a snowdrift in the middle of a snowy bridge, but luckily after 10 minutes an Icelander in a rusty old Skoda came along and helped us to push the car out of the snow saying: “I’ll show you how it’s done, you follow my lead. If something goes wrong, I’ll wait and help you. With dash and in 2nd gear he slithered over the bridge more than he drove. Now it was our turn. We accelerated, closed our eyes and just drove – for a short time we had the feeling of sliding out of the tracks off the bridge, but luckily all went well. This was good training, as continuing to Hvítserkur we had to drive 19km along roads of the same condition: only two ruts in the middle, left and right 50cm deep snow. Why exactly did we NOT rent a 4×4 again? 😀
But it was worth it: we were able to watch seals and had a breathtaking view of the sunlit mountains around. And unlike others, who overestimated their off-road cars, we did not end up in a ditch – yeah! ^^
Around 7 o’clock in the evening, we arrived at Godafoss and had it almost for ourselves (except for a couple of … other Germans :D). It was a starry night. Venus and the Moon were standing low above the horizon and directly above the waterfall. Not everyone has such a beautiful view.
Day 5: Múlavegur – Fjarðarbraut
On the next morning we had a drive around Lake Mývatn. The view from the accommodation of the rising sun behind the vapours above the craters was so breathtaking that the temperatures of -16°C didn’t bother us much.
You should definitely take the warnings of road.is seriously – blizzards, icy and snowy roads have not allowed us to get to the lighthouse we originally wanted to visit. Instead we were confronted with an incredible snowstorm. As a reward we got to see a horde of reindeer. At first my eyes only fell on a herd resting on the wide snowy plane next to the road, but as I looked ahead, I had to hit the brakes as fast as I could (which is not so easy on icy roads) because hundreds of reindeer were suddenly running across the road in a row and felt not disturbed by the car in any way. We shouldn’t have made fun of the road sign with “Attention Reindeer” beforehand. 😀
Day 6: Fjarðarbraut – Meðallandsvegur
The weather on this day was much better than the previous day and we were able to admire a stunning sunrise. Along the coastal road we saw lighthouses, reindeer and seagulls and – as always – beautiful landscapes.
On the way we stopped at Jökulsárlón (also known as “diamond beach”, because of ice chunks scattered on the black sand). We didn’t stay that long though, as it was overflowing with people.
In the evening we visited the Skaftafell National Park with the stunning Svartifoss.
That night, for the first time, we were able to observe the northern lights!
Day 7: Meðallandsvegur – Sólheimavegur
The next day, we visited the canyon Fjaðrárgljúfur and afterwards the beach around Vík í Mýrdal (with black, volcanic sand!).
Unfortunately it was very busy at the basalt columns, so we left after a short time and went to cuddle with very tame Icelandic horses at the roadside instead. 😉
Finally, we drove to the spectacular Skógafoss. On the way to the accommodation we saw the aurora by chance, so we stopped briefly at the roadside to enjoy the view.
Later at night, we saw the most impressive northern lights of our vacation.
Day 8: Around Sólheimavegur
Since we would be staying at the same place for the night again, our upcoming day was more relaxed. As we got up about every two hours during the night to look at the sky (aurora are not always visible at the same place at the same time; you have to pay attention to the official aurora forecast, be patient and of course lucky) we slept well into the day and then took a trip to Gullfoss about noon.
After that, we went to Seljalandsfoss (it was so icy, that my tripod and jacket got frozen). In the evening we bathed in a cozy hot spring under the stars well into the night.
Day 9: Sólheimavegur – Reykjavík
We used the last day in Iceland (how could time go by so fast?) mainly to relax. We took a bath in the Bláa Lónið (without taking Instagram-pictures inside like most other visitors – we took some after the visit, outside of the bath) and ate at Papas’ Restaurant, which we had read of, stating that it was the best pizzeria in Iceland (it was really very good and they also had local beer 😋).
Afterwards spent the evening at the cliffs around the lighthouse Reykjanesviti.
Although we had to leave the next day we take a lot of nice memories with us. And: from our Boeing 757-200 (with motif!) we could see the Faeroe Islands in the rising sun on the return flight.