Day One, Keflavik to Selfoss – And we’re off
All the planning and research for our 12 days Icelandic Ring Road road-trip finally came to fruition.
Gary and I encountered so many incredible highlights and wonders on this fantastic trip that it would not be doing the Ring Road justice by condensing it into a couple of posts.
Therefore, for your enjoyment, I will be posting a day by day breakdown of what we shoehorned into our adventure.
Some of you may be organising your own trip across a various number of days. Hopefully, these posts will give you an insight into travel distances, planning and how you can make the most of each day.
A useful guide to Iceland
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11 years ago
We first visited Iceland back in 2007 for a long weekend in May, and based ourselves in Reykjavik. We hired a car and set out to discover the Golden Circle, geothermal pools, Blue Lagoon and other ‘must sees’ close by.
I know it’s taken us 11 years to return. However, the inspiration we gained from that trip just whetted our appetite for us to discover more.
Now it’s March of 2018, and we’re back, our flight landed early afternoon. This meant we could take our time getting to Selfoss, and stop at plenty of sights along the way.
However, before any of that, we needed to pick up our hire car. We chose to use SIXT, who are just a five-minute shuttle bus journey away from the airport (shuttle bus runs every 15 minutes).
We had a very smooth transition with SIXT. We particularly wanted a 4X4 as we knew this time of the year the weather can be very changeable, blizzard conditions at times and can also be very icy.
SIXT even gave us a vehicle upgrade for free, which included a built-in GPS system and Bluetooth, so we could enjoy our groovy tunes along the way.
We choose to complete the Ring Road (aptly named ‘1’) in an anti-clockwise direction.
Mainly because by heading south first we could make our way to the Golden Circle on day 2 of our trip.
Also, this meant we visited the busier sections of Iceland in the south early in the road trip and gradually worked our way around to the more remote parts until we arrived back in Reykjavik.
So off we head in our trusty chariot, well equipped for the snow that appeared to have settled only hours before.
Stepping Between Two Continents
From the airport, we join the 44 and then the 425 towards the Reykjanes Peninsula in a south-west direction.
Our first stop for the day is at the ‘Bridge Between Continents’ Midlina, also known as ‘Leif the Lucky Bridge’. It is a 15 metre (50 ft) footbridge in that spans a rift between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.
You can stroll across it and step between the European and North American plates, and why wouldn’t you want to do that?
We had only been in the country a short while, and the biting wind was crying out for me to wear my hat, now where did I put it?
What’s that smell?
Continuing along the 425 and soaking up the landscape and far reaching views across the North Atlantic Ocean, we head to Gunnuhver Hot Springs.
These hot springs are certainly not for bathing in. With Reykjanes lighthouse in the distance the geo-thermal pools are spewing gases and gurgling mud all around you.
There are wooden platforms to stroll along that allow you to get very up close and personal with the pools.
As you wander along you are engulfed by the steam and the overriding smell of sulphur. There’s no escaping the distinctive aroma.
We hadn’t been off the plane too long, and we had visited a first geothermal pool, what a way to start.
A few good ideas for your Icelandic trip
Off to Selfoss
Continuing along the 425 you now start to head in an easterly direction, and after passing through Grindavik, you join the 427.
There are some beautiful views to take in, waves crashing against the coastline and frozen lakes and pools along the way.
The journey time from Keflavik Airport to Selfoss on the route that we took is around 1 hour 40 minutes and 124 km (77 miles) by Google Maps. This is obviously dependent on how many times you stop and the road conditions. We took it leisurely and arrived in Selfoss around 5 pm. So, for us it took approximately 3 hours.
The choice is yours
Selfoss is a relatively small town but felt quite busy. It had a range of restaurants from fast food to gourmet, depending on your taste buds and price range.
However, if you have chosen to visit Iceland you know it is going to be expensive to eat, regardless of where you choose.
As a treat for our first night, we dined at Tryggvaskali, which was definitely at the higher end of the scale. The food was amazing and predominantly local produce.
In most restaurants and bars, you will expect to pay ISK 1,000 (£8/$11/€9) for a ½ litre of local Viking lager. Check out the price for a small beer, it’s not normally that much cheaper so it pays to go large.
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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 1.
Janis; Gunnuhver Hot Springs & the gurgling mud pools
Gary; Gunnuhver Hot Springs, the Sulphur smell brought back memories from our first trip.
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Inspired to visit Iceland?
If you’re reading this then you probably already are, but there are so many reasons to. Oh, and don’t forget to pack your thermals – and that’s if it’s the middle of summer!
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