Laugarbakki to Arnarstapi, Iceland – We climbed a crater!

In En-Route, Europe, Iceland, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

Day Ten, We’re heading to our furthest point west.

OK, so today we toured west, and to be honest, we didn’t really touch much of the Ring Road at all. Just a few miles of route 1 at the beginning of the day and the rest was going to be smaller roads.

Búðardalur harbour, Iceland

We made a little detour along route 54, to the village Búðardalur, as the harbour looked attractive. However, when we pulled up in the harbour car park, next to us was a deep pool with a couple of seals, how cute!

A seal at Búðardalur harbour. Iceland

We watched for a while, and they were quite inquisitive about us.

Horsing about!!

We continue along route 54, on a mixture of gravel and tarmac, but we had to pull over as the view, and the wildlife was not to be missed.

Frolicking horses, Iceland

The horses just trotted towards us and started rolling around on the ground.

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Point to note

Although the sides of the roads may look ok, they can sink beneath your feet or wheels. Just be careful, you don’t want to be towed out.

We launch the drone

Wind in Iceland has been a bit of an issue, so opportunities to launch the drone have been few and far between.

So, we take the chance while we can, to get an aerial view of the river.

Our Advice

Go for a 4×4 for the reasonable ground clearance it affords you. You can, of course, hire a 2-wheel drive vehicle, but you are not permitted to drive on ‘F’ roads and other tracks.

Our experience was that even access to certain Points of Interest along roads a regular 2-wheel drive wouldn’t get you there. Trust us.

Route 54

We journeyed along some beautiful coastline, stopping when and where we could, however, there was a lot more to see ahead of us today.

Along route 54 on Western Iceland

A useful guide to Iceland

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.

DK Iceland Cover


As we needed to top up with fuel, we thought why not head up north to Stykkishólmur, a little bit larger than other villages we had visited and it has a ferry port out to remoter parts of Iceland.

A sailing monument in Stykkishólmur, Iceland

It was an attractive town and very proud of its fishing roots.

I said we keep stopping

All fuelled up our next stop was to be Kirkjufellsfoss, yes, a waterfall, but best-laid plans (and all that) we couldn’t resist a quick stop at Kolgrafafjödur.

The view over Kolgrafafjödur, Iceland

So, now we head for the waterfall of Kirkjufellsfoss and Kirkjufell mountain, and it has decided to rain – ho hum.

The attractive double waterfall is a relatively short walk from the road, and with the bridge at the top, you are able to walk over it.

Kirkjufellsfoss, Iceland

However, directly opposite the waterfall is its namesake, Kirkjufell mountain, Game of Thrones fans amongst you may recognise it from season 6 & 7 as Arrowhead Mountain.

Kirkjufell Mountain, Iceland
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On a need to know basis

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.

Yellow Sandy Beach

We continue our adventure hugging the coastline on one side, and snowy mountains on the other, along route 54, onto the 574.

The golden sands of Skarðsvík Beach, Iceland

We then veer off and head to Skarðsvík Beach & Öndverðarnes lighthouse, along the 579. My advice here is that you should be in a 4x4, particularly heading to the lighthouse.

Across Skarðsvík Beach, Iceland

It was great seeing a beach with yellow sand; our previous ones had been black. Although I still wasn’t tempted to dip my toes in the water in March.

Why not?

Start creating your own Icelandic adventure and discover the Northern Lights yourself, easyJet & British Airways are just a couple of options.

Öndverðarnes lighthouse

The gravel track now turned extremely bumpy to the lighthouse, but the views were incredible and certainly worth it, with the waves crashing next to us.

Öndverðarnes lighthouse, Iceland

The rugged shoreline was unforgiving along here, but it didn’t seem to deter gulls nesting in the rock crevices.

Birds nesting by Öndverðarnes lighthouse, Iceland

A few good ideas for your Icelandic trip

Here's a few things we picked up ahead of our trip to make things a little smoother for us.

From the low tech traditional foldout paper map, a cigarette USB charger, and a USB chargeable torch.  

All simple stuff that may be helpful on your travels.

  • Fold-out paper map

  • Mini Dual USB Car Adapter

  • USB rechargeable LED Flashlight

Saxholl Crater

Back on the 574 and we head for Saxholl crater. As this volcano erupted around 3 - 4,000 years ago I think we were pretty safe to head up.

Saxholl - Saxhólar Crater from the road, Iceland

Ok, so they made it a bit easier for us and installed some iron steps. The views of the mountains and the skyline were wonderful. Bizarre to think that this volcano was once active.

The view from Saxholl - Saxhólar Crater, Iceland
All points from Saxholl - Saxhólar Crater, Iceland

Tempted to?

Discover Iceland’s enchanting Ring Road with its rugged landscape or the waterfalls and geysers around the Golden Circle for yourself.

You can do it all on a road trip, Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.

In search of

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;
0-2: Low
2-3: Moderate
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.

Final stop

Back in the car and we head to our last stop at Londrangar Cliffs before we reach the hotel in Arnarstapi. The terrain around here is amazing, huge rocks of lava scattered from previously erupted volcanoes.

The walk along Londrangar, Iceland

To see the rock formation, it’s around a 1km walk.

The shoreline at Londrangar, Iceland

Our route

The route that we took today included a mixture of roads, smooth tarmac, gravel & extremely rutted gravel roads. We travelled along route 1, 59, 54, 574 & 579.

In total, our journey was about 282km (176 miles), and as we were jumping in and out of the car a lot today, it took us about 9 hours.

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Where we stayed

For the one night, we were based in Arnarstapi; we stayed at Arnastapi Hotel. The rooms were separate from the reception and the restaurant, but that was quite pleasant, as you felt more secluded, the views from the room were out across the sea.

The menu wasn’t extensive; however, the food was fresh and really good. The staff were very friendly and once again plenty of parking.

Highlight of the Day

Every trip Gary and I go on, whether it’s a mini-break near or far or a road trip we chose a ‘Highlight of the Day’, here they are for day 10.

Janis; Today my highlight was climbing the crater and enjoying the stunning views from the top.

Gary; The seals had me first, but the view of the coastline at the Öndverðarnes lighthouse was stunning, and well worth the drive along the bumpiest road ever!

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Inspired to visit Arnarstapi?

Tour the west of Iceland along the rugged coastline, and climb a crater? It’s not too far from Reykjavik.

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Laugarbakki to Arnarstapi, Iceland

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