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.
Returning to Iceland11 years later
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.
Where to stay in Selfoss
In Selfoss we chose to stay at the Bella apartments & rooms.
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.
Ready to explore IcelandFast Forward
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, one of the brands covered by Rental Cars, which 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.
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.
Discovering IcelandWhich Direction?
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.
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.
Our first stop in IcelandStepping 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?
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.
Experiencing IcelandWhat’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 our first geothermal pool, what a way to start.
We have created a little YouTube video of Gunnuhver Hot Springs. Why not take a look?
Also, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and get the latest clips as we post them?
Free in Iceland
Our first night in IcelandOff 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.
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.
Where to stay in IcelandThe choice is yours
Selfoss is a relatively small town but felt quite busy. We chose to stay at the Bella apartments & rooms, which was comfy, had plenty of parking and included breakfast.
Selfoss 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.
Tomorrow we will be heading out to discover the Golden Circle, or most of it, plus a few other places we have researched.
We will be returning back to the Bella apartments & rooms at the end of the day.
Highlight of the Day
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.
Trips to try in IcelandSomething from Get Your Guide?
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