by Janis / 0 comments

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 Iceland's Ring Road at all. Just a few miles of Iceland's Route One at the beginning of the day, and the rest would be more minor roads as we headed deeper into north west Iceland.

As always, we start the day by checking the conditions. The weather in Iceland in March can be pretty changeable, so we will get an indication of how the journey would be and how many stopovers we could fit in. The weather didn't look too bad, so we had a little time in hand.

We made a little detour along Route 54 to the village of 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!

(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.)

The pin image of our post - 'Outside the Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavik, Iceland'
Why not Pin it for later?
For our accommodation in Arnarstapi; we stayed at Arnastapi Hotel.
A young rescued seal pup in an outside pool in the town of Búðardalur in northwest Iceland
A rescued seal pup

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Icelandic Horses

Another brush with this iconic creature
As we continue on with our Icelandic road trip adventure we head along Route 54, on a mixture of gravel and tarmac, but we had to pull over as the views and the wildlife was not to be missed.
Three chestnut coloured Icelandic horses, one rolling in the dark gravel in the rugged landscape of western Iceland
Frolicking horses

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

On this stretch of our Iceland road trip, we felt like we had the country to ourselves.

Also a 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.

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.

An alternative view of Iceland

We launch the drone

We had planned to take to the air more often, but wind in Iceland has been a bit of an issue; any gusts of over 10 metres per second and you will have problems.

However, today the weather seems calm, so we take the chance to get an aerial view of the northwest Icelandic landscape.

Where to stay in Arnastapi

In Arnastapi we chose to stay at the Arnastapi Hotel, the rooms were individual pods with incredible views out across the sea.

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.
Booking.com

Discovering Western Iceland

Route 54

We journeyed along some beautiful Icelandic coastline, stopping when and where we could.

When you plan your perfect Icelandic road trip itinerary, you need to factor in time for those stops to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Iceland.

The gold dried grasses merging with the rocky landscape at the fjords edge just off Route 54 in Western Iceland
Along route 54 in western Iceland

For major points of interest along the way, allow between 15 - 45 minutes, but also 10 - 15 to enjoy the views over Iceland.

Also, your average speed whilst driving in Iceland will be much slower than you expect. That's okay; if you plan for it, you will be okay, and won't need to rush, and you will have the best of experiences.

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.

Exploring more of Iceland

Stykkishólmur
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 was a ferry port out to remoter parts of Iceland.
A stainless steel art installation in the town of Stykkishólmur in northwestern Iceland of a sailing boat in front of a red lighthouse atop a rock face in the background.
A sailing monument in Stykkishólmur

Stykkishólmur was an attractive town and proud of its fishing roots. It would have also made a great alternative stopover with a few places to eat out of an evening.

It was also home to another beautiful church, the Stykkishólmskirkja. A relatively new church, inaugurated in 1990, but again a symbol of modern Icelandic culture.

A stylish, white, modernist church in Stykkishólmur
Stykkishólmskirkja Church
Another little detour, driven by our need to get fuel on this Icelandic road trip, but one that had been a pleasant surprise.

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.

We have also written a post packed with tips for driving in Iceland based on our research and experience than may be worth checking out.

It's our Icelandic Road trip

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 the fast-flowing waters of Kolgrafafjödur fjord, in northwest Iceland, next to Route 54, with the mountains in the background
The view over Kolgrafafjödur

A chance to breathe in that pure Icelandic air. You certainly feel at one with nature with just the sound of the water flowing past.

We seemed to be having four seasons in a single day, touches of blue skies, and then it darkens and looks a little more foreboding. I guess that's Icelandic weather for you.

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

It's worth noting that in the car park for Kirkjufellsfoss is a sign prohibiting drones. We have seen this a few times on our road trip around Iceland. Perhaps this has become an issue for landowners?

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.

Water cascading over the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall in the damp and dramatic landscape of northwest Iceland
The Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall
Directly opposite the waterfall is its namesake, Kirkjufell mountain, Game of Throne fans amongst you may recognise it from season 6 & 7 as Arrowhead Mountain.
The dramatic, lone, peak of the Kirkjufell Mountain in the bleak landscape of northwestern Iceland
The Kirkjufell Mountain
The rain is getting worse, so perhaps we don't spend as much time here as we would have, and we miss the iconic shot of Kirkjufellsfoss with the mountain in the background. Oh well, some you win some you lose.

A few good ideas for your Icelandic trip

Here are a few things we picked up ahead of our trip to make things a little smoother for us.  Simple stuff that may be helpful on your travels.  All from Amazon.
A good old paper map
A USB car charger
A USB rechargable tourch
A USB power bank
A water bottle

    The unexpected side of Iceland

    A yellow sandy beach

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

    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.

    If it wasn't for the planning we had put into our Icelandic road trip, we would not believe our next stop; a golden sandy beach!

    Waves lapping up on the golden yellow sands of Skarðsvík Beach on Iceland's north west peninsula.
    The golden sands of Skarðsvík Beach

    This is a first, we have now travelled clockwise on our 2 week Iceland itinerary, and we have seen so many, almost alien, landscapes.

    There's no mistaking it's Iceland though; it's bitterly cold, but for now, the weather is with us. How long will that last?

    The golden yellow sands of Skarðsvík Beach nestle between basalt rocks in Iceland's north west peninsula.
    Across Skarðsvík Beach
    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.

    The stunning landscape of Western Iceland

    Öndverðarnes lighthouse
    The gravel track now turned extremely bumpy to the lighthouse, poor little Etta was being challenged, but the views were incredible and certainly worth it, with the waves crashing next to us.
    The orange Öndverðarnes lighthouse atop the jet black volcanic rock of Iceland's north west peninsula
    The Svörtuloft Lighthouse at Öndverðarnes

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

    It is incredible how the wildlife in Iceland adapts to the most extreme of environments and thrives. The sound of the birds calling pierced the deep resonating sound of the waves crashing against the rocky coast, a western Icelandic symphony if you like.

    Bird nesting the in rock basalt rock face of Iceland's north west peninsula
    Birds nesting on Öndverðarnes

    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.

    Have fun!

    Iceland; The land of Fire & Ice

    The Saxholl Crater
    Back on the 574 and we head for the Saxholl crater. There is a free car park at the base of the peak. Like all the Icelandic attractions we have visited to day, there is no charge for parking or visiting the crater.
    The roadway leading to the remains of Iceland's Saxhólar volcano with a footpath to the top. It seems to be a one of northwest Iceland's attractions
    Saxhólar Crater from the road
    The Saxholl crater was created by a volcano that erupted around 3 - 4,000 years ago. I think we were pretty safe to head up.
    The Saxhólar Crater, from the top of the mountain the volcano created, and the view of the mountains behind it.
    The view from Saxhólar Crater

    Ok, so they made it a bit easier for us and installed some iron steps. It is still a climb though, but worth it as the views of the mountains and the skyline were terrific.

    It is bizarre to think that this volcano was once active, and we are standing in what would have once been a pool of molten lava.

    A stainless steel disk here allows you to identify the nearby mountains, their names and heights.

    A circular stainless steel map indicating the points of interest in view in the north west icelandic landscape on top of the Saxhólar Crater.
    All points of the compass from Saxhólar Crater
    Now, all we have to do is descend via the staircase, and the journey continues.

    Wild Iceland

    Our final stop
    Back in the car and we head to our last stop at Londrangar Cliffs, our final destination before we reach our accommodation at the Arnastapi Hotel.
    A path leading to the Londrangar rock formation, across a dried grassy field on the north west coast of Iceland
    The walk along to Londrangar

    However, the terrain around here is fantastic, with huge rocks of lava scattered from previously erupted volcanoes and dried grasses in the Iceland winter. I suspect that later in the year, this will become a lush landscape.

    You will reach the Londrangar rock formation on the Icelandic coast with waves crashing against a black beach. Those golden sands didn't last for long.

    The Londrangar rock formation on the north west coast of Iceland
    Londrangar
    A walk back to the car, and we have a relatively short 6 mile/10 km drive to Arnstappi and the end of today's adventure in Iceland.

    Where we stayed in Arnarstapi

    Our stopover

    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.

    When we awake in the morning, it will be our last day on Iceland's Ring Road and will bring us into Iceland's capital Reykjavik.

    Of course, that day will not be without adventure and one where we learn the truth about the Weather in Iceland in March.

    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!

    Our Iceland Road Trip

    The 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.

    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;
    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.

    Experiences to try in Iceland

    Something from Get Your Guide?
    Why not check out what else is on offer through Get Your Guide.

    The Complete Icelandic Journey

    Why not take a look through our entire 12-day Iceland tour? Staring as we left Kevflavik and continued anti-clockwise around Iceland

    * This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

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