by Janis / 0 comments

Day Seven, the landscape is so rewarding

Today’s route on our Icelandic Ring Road adventure is actually one of our shortest, so naturally, that means we’ll be taking some detours.

We hopped into our trusty steed and toured around Lake Myvatn (on the 848) as we did the previous evening, now we wanted to catch the lake with the morning light.

The views from Skútustaðagígar were once again incredible, but boy the cold wind had picked up.

For our accommodation in Akureyri; we stayed at Hotel Kea, in the centre of town which was very comfortable and included breakfast.

(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.)

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A view across the icy landscape of Lake Myvatn in Iceland
The view from Skútustaðagígar

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Touring Iceland

The day starts with another waterfall: Goðafoss
Re-joining the Ring Road 1, we head onto to our first waterfall of the day, Goðafoss (you can never have too many waterfalls).
The horseshoe-shaped Goðafoss waterfall against a backdrop of snowy white mountains.
The full force of Goðafoss
You could see it from the road it was so big, once closer, it almost appeared to be a double waterfall.
At the edge of the Goðafos waterfall as the river flows over the edge to the drop below
On top of Goðafoss
It was incredibly icy around the waterfall & what amazes me is that nothing is stopping you going near the edge (not that I would, but some folks may).

Where to stay in Akureyri

In Akureyri we chose to stay at the Hotel Kea.

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

Our Icelandic failure

Aldeyjarfoss or so we thought.
Our next location on our Icelandic road trip we decided to head down the 844/3 towards Aldeyjarfoss. The gravel road had beautiful views as it guided you along the banks of the fast-flowing river next to you.
The gravel road, route 842, running alongside a river in Northern Iceland
The gravel route 842
Unfortunately, the waterfall that we were trying to visit appeared to be down an impassable road. But hey ho, some you win, some you lose.
A turfed shack on the edge of the frozen Svartárvatn lake in Iceland with snow-covered mountains in the background
Looking across Svartárvatn lake
However, we did reach Lake Svartárvatn, and in the distance, you could see the northern tongue of the glacier, Vatnajökull, which we had seen while in the south of the country.

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.

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!

Exploring Iceland

The Mirror Lake

We more or less double-backed on ourselves and headed up the 842, along the other side of the river.

Returning to Iceland's route 1 we are then greeted by Ljósavatn Mirror Lake, another astonishing view.

On the banks of the Ljósavatn Mirror Lake in Iceland, framed against a snow-covered mountain range
Ljósavatn Mirror Lake
Perhaps when the ice has melted, it lives up to its name.

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

    More of Iceland

    A little detour
    It wouldn’t be the same if we stuck to the route. Branching north off the Ring Road we head up a gravel road to Grenivik. The roads are unbelievably quiet and clear of snow.
    The small made-made harbour at Grenivik in Iceland with a handful of small boats moored up and snow-covered mountains in the background.
    The harbour at Grenivik
    Grenivik, is a small working fishing village, with not much evidence of tourism, which makes it appealing.

    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.

    Historic Iceland

    Laufás
    We decided to go a slightly different route back south, heading in the direction of route 1.
    Reconstructed ancient farmhouses covered in turf over the roofs at the Laufás museum in Iceland
    The Laufás ancient farmhouse just outside Grenivik
    However, before getting there, we came across Laufás an ancient manor farm and rectory and now a museum.
    A side profile of a reconstructed ancient farmhouse, covered in turf over the roofs, at the Laufás museum in Iceland
    Laufás, Iceland

    Although the museum was closed, you were still able to wander around the grounds.

    The turf houses were fantastic, the buildings would have been for just one household and included their farmhands.

    The red-roofed, white wooden rectory at Laufás in Iceland
    The rectory at Laufás

    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.

    Preparing for the Northern Lights

    Scoping out
    Back onto Iceland's Ring Road, we travel south to Akureyri. Akureyri is bigger than I anticipated. However, it is Iceland’s second largest town, so it isn’t surprising.
    The stainless steel Solfar sculpture at Akureyri representing an Icelandic longboat
    The Solfar sculpture at Akureyri
    The iconic modern Akureyri church in white high on the hill top
    Akureyrarkirkja
    We’re hoping it’s going to be another good evening for the Northern Lights. So, we pass through Akureyri and head north, to scope out the landscape for later.
    A small red boat moored up in a tiny Hjalteyri harbour in the north of Iceland
    A boat moored up in Hjalteyri harbour
    We find some potential spots, but we also come across another interesting little fishing village of Hjalteyri.
    A collection of bright homes surrounding the tiny harbour at Hjalteyri in Iceland
    Looking across the harbour at Hjalteyri

    In search of the Northern Lights

    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.

    Hoping to catch the Northern Lights

    But it's a no go...

    Unfortunately, clouds came in, and the KP Index for the Northern Lights dropped, so not too lucky this evening.

    Instead, we headed into town and had some freshly cooked fish and chips

    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.

    Our Iceland Road Trip

    The route
    The route that we took today included a mixture of roads, with a few deviations off Route 1, to visit some fishing villages and waterfalls.
    In total, our journey was about 275km (171 miles) and with all the stops took us about 7 1/2 hours.

    Where we stayed in Egilsstaðir

    Our stopover

    For the two nights, we were based in Akureyri; we stayed at Hotel Kea, in the centre of town. The hotel was comfortable and had a broad range of facilities.

    The only issue was that it had limited parking on site and certain areas in town of Akureyri require a parking disc. The hotel gave us a disc; however, it works on time restrictions.

    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 7.
    Janis;  I really enjoyed discovering the little harbour villages, which were off the beaten track.
    Gary; For me; the frozen lakes we say along the route. Looked great under the blue skies.

    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

    Trips to try in Iceland

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