Day Eleven, Noooo, our Ring Road trip is coming to an end
OK, so a slight play on words, we left Arnarstapi today which is dwarfed by the backdrop of Snæfellsjökull. This is a 700,000-year-old glacier-capped volcano and made famous by Jules Verne in his novel "Journey to the Centre of the Earth".
A signpost monument is dedicated to Jules Verne, showing distances to major cities through the earth's core.
Today, we will be heading along route 54, before rejoining Iceland's Ring Road, Route One.
(You can pick-up any part of our Iceland Road Trip at the bottom of this post, along with a map of our route and the 'Highlight of the Day' for each of us.)
Discovering more of Western IcelandThe Legend of Bárður
However, before we jump into our rental car Etta for the final leg of our Icelandic road trip, we decide to have a better look around.
After a very short (brisk) stroll from the Arnarstapi Hotel and we are at another monument (two in such a small village).
Where to stay in Reykjavik
In Reykjavik we chose to stay at the Skuggi Hotel by Keahotels, located in the city centre, just a short stroll to the main sites.
We had a few essential requirements from each of our overnight stays in Iceland, which were:
Breakfast included or available nearby.
Scooby snacks along the way can be expensive.
Parking is a requirement, as this is a road trip after all.
Nearby cafés/eateries, or onsite restaurant for the evening.
Preferably a close-by fuel station; they can be few and far between en route.
The weather in Iceland in MarchBoy it’s cold
Waves crash through the archway, hell-bent on destruction, but still, the black basalt structure holds fast.
In all this 'chaos', birds nest deep within the rock face, shielded from the worst of the Icelandic weather. Occasionally the birds take to the air, before plummeting into the water and hopefully returning with their breakfast.
Finding the right car for your Icelandic Road Trip
Discover Iceland’s enchanting Ring Road with its rugged landscape or the waterfalls and geysers around the Golden Circle for yourself.
If you want to explore Iceland's F-Roads, you must have a 4x4, but we'd recommend one anyway for the improved driving position, and if the weather turns, you have a touch of added protection.
We recommend Rental Cars as they search multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.
Beautiful sights in IcelandBúðakirkja
This lovely black church was reconstructed in 1987 on the same spot where the first Búðakirkja was built in 1703.
The church also has to be in the top 25 Instagrammed shots in Iceland (There's no science behind that, just a feeling).
If you're tempted to tour the Land of Fire and Ice and would love to discover the whole country, then take a look at this DK Eyewitness book. This Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide is invaluable, I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into searching for more.
You can now grab the revised copy.
Exploring more of IcelandA trip to the beach
It's a relatively short hop from Búðakirkja to our next destination, Ytri Tunga Beach. It's been less than 20 minutes, and we've covered 20km or 12 miles.
It has now started snowing lightly. Is it really beach weather?
Well, we jump out anyway, and we were so pleased we did, as apparently, seals don't care about the weather and they were out and about frolicking and playing in the rough sea.
Spectacular to see; we could watch them for hours. It feels surreal standing on a sandy beach, while it’s snowing, watching seals, but fantastic.
This is a different experience from the seal sanctuary we visited on our journey from Akureyri to Laugarbakki. They were at home in their little inlet, and we sort of expected to see them. This was a complete surprise.
Driving in IcelandDon’t get complacent
As previously mentioned, the weather in Iceland can turn quickly; up until now, we hadn’t experienced anything too bad.
However, we continue to travel along the 54 east, and the snow starts to increase. It was also incredibly windy, making the crosswinds even more hazardous. It’s amazing how rapid the conditions can change.
Useful tips for driving in Iceland
If you are planning a road trip around Iceland particularly over the winter months you need to be very aware of the ever-changing road and weather conditions. During winter, parts of the Ring Road may be impassable, and you may not get to areas of the country you intended to.
Regularly check the conditions by using these useful websites and apps, believe me, they will come in handy.
- Icelandic Met Office
- The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration – Vegagerdin also has an app.
Onto Iceland's Route OneA look at Akranes
We continue on Route 54 until we reach Borgarnes and rejoin the Icelandic ring road - Route One. The weather conditions have been easing, and blue skies are starting to appear. Again, four seasons in one day in Iceland
With the snow behind us, We're heading to our next planned stop in Akranes. It's home to not one, but two lighthouses, and I'm told they are a must see in western Iceland
I’m beginning to think Gary has a bit of an obsession with lighthouses.
The old lighthouse at Akranes
I must admit they are fascinating. The original concrete lighthouse, which was built in 1918, still remains, although it was replaced in 1947 by a larger lighthouse which is regularly open to the public.
As you walk out on the rocky outcrop, on a clear day, I guess you can see Reykjavik; it's less than 12 miles/20km to the southeast. In fact, the views around you extend out over the sea for more than 270 degrees.
The new lighthouse at Akranes
Driving into ReykjavikThe hustle & bustle
An unusual place of interest in ReykjavikDid someone say cemetery?
Ok, so my fascination with cemeteries and the stories that they hold continues.
So heading into the centre of the Reykjavik via Route 49, we detour off on Route 40 to make our way to Reykjavik (Fossvogur) Cemetery. Within a corner, there is the Commonwealth War Graves section.
Places to visit in ReykjavikAnd our final stop
The site was originally the home to a water tower, built in 1939, that fed the city. Over the years, that grew to six. After being replaced in the late eighties, they were converted to become Perlan.
It's time to make the short hop across town to our hotel.
Planning your trip to Iceland
So you're planning a trip to the Land of Fire and Ice? There is so much to see and do in Iceland that you'll wish you were staying longer. To ensure you make the most out of your visit, head over to the official website of Visit Iceland for a little help and guidance.
A must-see in ReykjavikHallgrímskirkja
After checking in and a quick refresh, we head out into . We now have around 24 hours in Reykjavik. And we plan to make the most of our last few hours in Iceland.
We couldn’t resist strolling up to Hallgrímskirkja, the iconic church on a hill at sunset, as this was our final night.
Where we stayed in ReykjavikOur stopover
For the one night, we were based in Reykjavik; we stayed at Skuggi Hotel by Keahotels. The hotel is modern, (you can’t currently find it on street view). It has underground parking, which was our main reason for choosing it and it was in a reasonably central location.
The buffet breakfast was probably one of the best on our trip, had a really wide range of food. I would stay here again.
We are flying out tomorrow, but not until the afternoon, so that gives us 24 hours in Reykjavik.
There are plenty of things to do in Reykjavik, and plenty of places to see in the quirky capital of Iceland. Let's see what we discover?
Highlight of the Day
Our Iceland Road TripThe route
In search of the Northern Lights in Iceland
If you are Northern Light hunting, you need to be aware of the sunset & darkness times and the KP Index for the evening. It also requires dark and partly clear skies.
KP Index scale ranges from 0 to 9;
4-6: A big solar storm is coming
7-9: Highly unusual
You can monitor this via the Icelandic Met Office which is updated around 6 pm.
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