…and wide open spaces, and very changeable weather, and Einstok, and hot rivers, and horses upon horses, and waterfalls, and the Aurora (sometimes)…
We spent a few days in Iceland, and since we’ve come back, a number of people have been asking for advice on things to do and see, so I thought I’d write down some thoughts to share.
Hire A Car – We hired a car rather than relying on organised tours. We did this so that we could do our own thing, and with an 18 month old in tow it just made things a whole lot easier. We used Hasso rentals, who are based in a small town near Keflavik airport. They are a little bit cheaper than the airport car hire companies. Just remember that if you do hire your own car, check the rental conditions with regards to taking it off road, or on F roads.
Rent an apartment – renting apartments has always been our preferred method of accommodation, even more so with a toddler. AirBnB has made that process even easer, so I’d recommend using something like AirBnb to find a great spot to stay.
Get out of Reykjavik – More on Reykjavik in a bit, but out of our 4 full days, we spent 3 out and around the countryside. It really is beautiful, with an abundance of things to see (and to stop to take photos of every few minutes). Waterfalls, Mountains, Glaciers, Small Towns, Farms, Beaches, Rivers.
Some of the places we visited were,
- Raufharholshellir – These are caves that we had planned to have a quick walk in, but they were full of snow at the time and not really a good idea with a little one, so we just had a quick look, but if you had the right equipment you could definitely do some caving here
- Reykjadalur Valley – This geothermal valley was really cool, with rivers of hot water running down the valley, pits of boiling bubbling mud and steam rising from random cracks in the ground. If you hike about 3-4 kms up the valley you will get to a bathing area in the naturally hot river. We didn’t make it this far however because the weather took a turn for the worse.
- Seljalandsfoss – A waterfall that you can walk behind, need I say any more? Make sure you have waterproofs though
- DC3 Wreckage – The wreckage of the US Navy DC-3 that crash landed on Sólheimasandur beach in 1973 is definitely worth seeing if you have the time. You used to be able to drive down to it, but due to people not following the markers, and instead driving over the farmer’s land, the landowner has closed vehicle access. You can still walk to the plane, but it is a 4km walk there, and 4km back again. It took us about 45 mins each way. We were lucky as it wasn’t windy or wet that day. It would be a really unpleasant walk if the weather was bad, as the 8km round trip is on a completely exposed beach, with absolutely zero shelter anywhere.
- Skogafoss – another huge waterfall that you can get really close to
- Seljavallalaug – I’m sure the blue lagoon is awesome, but with a lower age limit, it meant that it wasn’t for us this time. However I did take a dip in a pool at Seljavallalaug. It is set in the valley along the side of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, and is filled with hot spring water that comes down off the volcano.
- Gulfoss – Another really unusual waterfall, that, ice/snow dependant, you can get quite close to.
- Geysir/Strokkur – The Geysir geothermal area is full of dormant geysers, steaming pools of water and mud, and one active geyser – Strokkur – which erupts every 10 minutes or so.
- Thingvellier National Park – We hadn’t planned to stop long here, and that was a mistake. This national park is really incredible and you could easily spend a full day here seeing all the cool sights. I wish we had factored in more time to explore this park. If any of you watched Dan Snow’s documentary on Vikings, it featured this park (we actually saw the documentary about 2 hours after visiting the park).
We arrived into Reykjavik in the middle of the largest protest the country has ever seen, calling for the resignation of the prime minister, so that was interesting. It didn’t deter us from exploring the city however. I reckon that you can see most of Reykjavik in a day, 2 at the most. Some highlights:
- Good Coffee everywhere – Kaffitar and Reykjavik Roasters were where we visited (and Pallet Kaffikompaní on our way in from the airport earlier in the week)
- Hallgrímskirkja lutheran church has a great view over the city
- Harpa Music Hall
- Reykjavik Museum of Photography
- Sun Voyager Sculpture
- The pizza place with no name (same building as Mikkeller and friends)
You can’t control nature, and unfortunately the lights were only on display one night when we were there and it was too cloudy to see them. Maybe next time.
I would love to do some wedding photography, or shoot some portrait sessions in Iceland. That would be incredible!
I’ve posted a few photos below. These are my digital shots, I will, as always post some film when I get it processed.