Wow, there are so many!
After visiting Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik and the Golden Circle for a long weekend back in 2007. Gary and I always had an inkling that we would return. And return we did, this time exploring more of the country, so we hired a 4x4 and headed off to tour Iceland’s Ring Road.
Route One just outside Egilsstaðir
We love reminiscing about our trips as they bring back so many memories. With Iceland words like amazing, incredible, stunning just don’t do it justice at times, seeing really is believing.
We ventured off mid-March and with me being slightly cautious (fretting) at times and like to have things planned out, it did concern me that the weather may scupper our plans.
Driving Etta in Iceland
Iceland was such an unforgettable adventure for us in so many ways, and it could be for you too.
It was just the two of us on the, trip and the driving was very manageable between us.
So, grab your passport and driving licence for a taster of what you’ll see.
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.
Northern Lights – It goes without saying that this would be at the top of our list. For the 11 nights we were in Iceland we only saw them one evening. In hindsight, we should have been slightly more clued up on what we were looking for. We’d prep’d ourselves each day, as to where we would head of an evening. However, persistence is the name of the game, and often the Aurora Borealis looks like clouds, but if you watch closely, you can see them pulsating in the night sky.
The Northern Lights outside Reykjahlíð
When they did come out to play, I was like a big kid as the Northern Lights was something Gary and I had wanted to see for years.
Northern Lights trailing across the sky at Reykjahlíð
Glacier – My next breath-taking moment was coming face to face with a glacier. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would see such an incredible sight. Amazingly, it wasn’t too difficult to get to, although, we were pleased we had a 4X4, as the terrain was a bit uneven, to say the least.
The layers of ice and ash trapped within the Svínafellsjökull glacier
Waterfalls – You may already know that Iceland is renowned for its waterfalls. I feel a bit bad bulking them together as some of these natural wonders are magnificent. The crashing noise of Gullfoss as the water flows over the top is a sight & sound to behold.
Gullfoss with Ice and snow
In the north of Iceland, there are Dettifoss and Selfoss waterfalls. These are often inaccessible during the winter months, as the roads are impassable. However, luck was on our side, and one of the roads had been cleared. These were a little hike to get to, but certainly worth it.
The impressive Dettifoss
Geysers – Wow, another incredible sight and once again free of charge. The most active geyser at Haukadalur is Strokkur and erupts every 5-10 minutes. You don’t get a lot of warning when it’s about to erupt, so you need to be poised with your camera.
The Black Beaches – When I say beaches, don’t rush to grab your sun-cream and bikini. These are a little different, to say the least, Reynisfjara Beach also has an amazing rock formation.
The shoreline at Reynisfjara Beach
Then there’s Diamond Beach (Jökulsárlón ice beach), where parts of the glaciers break off from Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, flow out to sea and then wash back in onto the shore. These ice cubes are little too big even for my Gin & Tonic.
Janis with a big diamond on the beach
Incredible Scenery – The landscape and scenery in Iceland has undoubtedly got to be the main draw for so many people. Around every single turn it’s beautiful, I don’t think you could ever take it for granted. Although you do need to be respectful, this landscape doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
The south-east coast of Iceland
Fishing Villages – There are some picturesque villages dotted around Iceland, and one of my favourites was Seyðisfjörður. Nestled on the eastern side of the country in the mouth of a fjord.
Reflections at Seydisfjordur
Lighthouses & Coastline – I had noticed before how fascinated Gary was with lighthouses. However, on this trip, he took it to another level. I’d lost count how many we detoured to, but it must have been close to double figures..
Turf covered homes – We took a little detour on the way to Akureyri via Laufás. Where there’s a charming museum which consists of an ancient manor farm and rectory. It was closed at the time, although you are free to wander around.
Don’t think I could live in one, a little bit too rustic for me!
The Laufás ancient farmouse just outside Grenivik
Hallgrímskirkja - Reykjavik Church on the hill is quite an icon to its skyline. To get a rooftop view across the city for around €8, you can take an elevator to the top of the spire (they’ve made it easy).
The Hallgrímskirkja at dusk, Reykjavik
Inside the Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavik
The view over Reykjavik
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.
Seals – We were ticking all the boxes, now we got to see Grey and Harbour seals frolicking in the wild at Illugastadhir. This trip was full of so many highs.
Seals just laying around
Geothermal Pools – There are a few places to see the bubbling mud pots in Iceland, we visited a site on the south-west coast at Gunnuhver. Also, one at Námafjall Hverir near Lake Myvatn. With the gases surging from the earth’s crust, you feel like you could be walking on Mars.
Although, be warned the smell of sulphur is a little strong, but this all adds to the surreal landscape.
A fumarole at Námafjall Hverir
Bridge Between Continents – This a 15 metre (50 ft) footbridge that spans a rift between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. You can stroll across the bridge and step between the European and North American plates, and why wouldn’t you want to do that?
Janis on the bridge between continents, Miðlína
Icelandic Horses – During a tour of the Ring Road we spotted a few reindeer, but mostly dotted around were the very hardy Icelandic ponies. Slightly small in stature but they made up for it in toughness, boy it was cold.
Rugged Icelandic hourses in the rain
What I would do differently
A Funny Moment
Enjoying an ice-cream in the middle of March, in Akureyri. To be perfectly honest there’s never a wrong time to have an ice-cream.
Enjoying a Brynja Ice-cream, Akureyri
A slight disappointment
Points of Note
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Inspired to visit Iceland?
Don’t just take our word for it, head over to this incredibly picturesque country, enjoying everything Iceland has to offer.
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