Iceland: trip + preparations

I get a lot of questions about the itinerary / preparations / not to be missed spots in Iceland… In my quest to create world peace; here is the extensive report of my 10 day road trip to/through Iceland. Enjoy!

ICELAND PREPARATIONS

1. The plan

A road trip through Iceland by car sounded to me as the first time I heard the Backstreet Boys on the radio; more than fine! 3 weeks before taking off we thought of a plan and we arranged everything.
The plan: 2 days to fly back and forth, 8 days roadtripping around the island and 1 day in Reykjavik to relax. During the day we would travel by car & at night we would camp (you can camp wherever you want in Iceland except in natural parks) except for Reykjavik.  Before heading to Reykjavik we would drop off the car, take a bus and stay in a hotel.

2. DRIVER / COMPANIONSHIP

If you want to see the entire island, you’ll spend a lot of time in the car. If you want to see Iceland as it really is, it means you’ll need to get off the Ringroad (the only ‘official’ road) and explore gravel roads, roads in the mountains… Make sure you have an experienced driver with you or you are an experienced driver! I had the luck of travelling with an excellent driver!

You should also keep in mind that most places in Iceland are no man’s land. The country is pretty big but has only 300 000 inhabitants. Make sure your driver is good companionship as it will be the only person you’ll see on some days!

3. CAR

We rented a car from Sadcars. It is a cheap rental car service. They rent old cars, but you get the lowest price compared to other rental car services on the island. When we arrived, the car we originally wanted to rent was no longer available, so they gave us a cheaper 4X4 Subaru (group F) with a big trunk. In the end we were very  happy with this piece of old crap; the trunk was big enough to sleep in ànd the car was so old, we didn’t have to mind stone chipping damage. On gravel roads we could easily drive 50km/h.
Another plus of renting with Sadcars; they come & pick you up for free at the airport or at any ho(s)tel in the area of Keflavik (the town where the main airport is).

4. FLIGHT

There are direct flights from Bxl to Reykjavik (Keflavik airport), however when we booked our flight we only had the possibility to fly from Düsseldorf – Reykjavik (to get to Düsseldorf we took a train; a way more comfortable solution that taking a plane) & Reykjavik – Copenhagen – Brussels.
Later we heard from an Islandic taxidriver that you could also take a plane/bus/carride to Denmark and ship to Iceland.

5. MATERIALS

These are the things we took with us:

To camp

  • 1 big sport bag on wheels with a handles
  • sleeping bag 0°C
  • 1 small tent for 2 people (with extra tent pegs)
  • 1 extra waterproof sail to put under the tent
  • 1 inflatable mattress 140 cm ( a pretty thick one) + electrical pump
  • Camp lights

Shoes & clothes

  • Mountain boots with a high shaft & strong soles
  • A pair of normal All-Stars & a pair of fake fur lining All-Stars
  • Good socks
  • Windstopper jacket with a fake fur lining (highly necessary as there is a lot of wind!)
  • Good waterproof jacket & pair of pants
  • Fleece sweater
  • 2 pair of jeans
  • A hoodie with fake fur lining & a woolen sweater
  • 5 T-shirts (way too many)
  • Thermal underwear

If you’re not planning on hiking or discovering ‘unexplored’ terrains in Iceland, you don’t need mountain boots. My warm All-Stars did fine most of the time. All the other clothes did the job! Pack light and do not take too much stuff with you!

Extra tools

  • The North Face – Isabella small backpack (thanks to @Sanssoucicrea)
  • Washing powder
  • Unlimited offline Spotify subscription + headphones
  • Book to read
  • VISA / MasterCard / Maestro (you can pay everywhere by card)
  • The Rough Guide to Iceland

6. ITINERARY PLANNING

I got some great tips from people who’ve already been to Iceland. Special thanks to @tomcole who shared a lot of tips with us. Before leaving to Iceland we kept a special Google Map with hot spots we definitely had to check out.
Before leaving I bought a Rough Guide to Iceland. This guide is pretty amazing! Along the way we decided (thanks to the guide) where to go. We didn’t use the Google Map, as it really is a pain in the ass to use Google Maps on your smartphone / iPad. I would not use Google Maps again as itinerary planner. Rough Guides on the other hand.. They share a lot of hidden gems & good restaurants if you have the latest edition.

7. ACCOMMODATION

Before leaving we booked 2 hotel accommodations. As we flew in at 23h, we booked a hostel room nearby the airport. Especially since we had to pick up the rental car the day after. Motel Alex was quite expensive though very handy if you start discovering Iceland the next day. As they claim themselves; ‘Motel Alex for your first or last night in Iceland’.

In Reykjavik we booked a fully equipped Studio Apartment in Apartment K. Definitely worth visiting!

ICELAND TRIP

Roadtrip itinerary Iceland

(click to enlarge)

Below you’ll find our itinerary. The bullets are the very highlights of the trip;  the things that were really worth visiting. Things I would recommend everybody!

*= No tourists  / hidden gem
** = Very touristic places

Day 1: Bxl – Düsseldorf – Reykjavik (Keflavik)

Train – Flight – Arrival – Stay in Motel Alex

DAY 2: KEfLAVIK – BrU

  • Pingvellir: witness the result of 2 tectonic plates drifting apart. Take some time to walk around!**
  • Take Route 52 & go off road
  • Visit the hot pots of Reykholt. Between sea & mountains you can relax in a hot tub.*
  • Braunfossar waterfall
  • Grabok Crater

Day 3: Bru – Godafoss

DAY 4: GODAFOSS – DORSHOFN

DAY 5: DorsHofn – DJUPIVOGUR

  • Visit Selarfoss waterfall early in the morning. Walk around the private fishing lodge & go swimming in the public swimming pool.*
  • Drive along Route 917 and enjoy the stunning views!
  • Drive along route 1 & enjoy the views!

DAY 6: DJUPIVOGUR – VIK

  • Bathe in the Hoffell Hot pots with great views on the mountains*
  • Watch the amazing Jokulsarlon ice blocks & wander around to spot seals**
  • Stay in Aralis guesthouse in Vik. It’s like your grandmothers place!*

DAY 7: VIK – LANDMANNELAUGAR – SELFOSS

  • Wander around Landmannalaugar. Go hiking! It is an amazing place between mountains!

DAY 8: SELFOSS – STRANDARKIRKJA

  • Visit Strokkur geyser and watch it explode every 5 minutes**
  • Go to Hveraghardi geothermal park and boil eggs in a hot pot
  • Go for a swim in Hveraghardi indoor swimming pool for the elderly people (behind the campsite)*
  • Treat yourself in Stokkseyri – go to Fjorubordio lobster restaurant and definitely try the lobster soup!**
  • Drive to Strandarkirkja and use the free camping site. The accommodations are incredible and you can buy fresh duck eggs!*

DAY 9: STRANDARKIRKJA – KEfLAVIK (drop off car) – rEYKJAVIK

DAY 10: REYKJAVIK

  • Visit Laundromat café & drink coffee**
  • Go shopping in accessory shop Tiger.dk @ Laugavegur shopping street
  • Wander around in the city
  • Visit the concert building Harpa**
  • Eat a hot dog from the famous stand near the seaside
  • Have beers @ KaffiBarinn

DAY 11: REYKJAVIK – COPENHAGEN – HOME

  • Have a fun person to come and pick you up at the airport to tell are your great adventures to!

2. Icelandic weather

We had an average of 10° C during the day and little rain. When there is a lot of wind it feels colder though. At night you can get cold as temperatures sink quickly. Take care when camping! We had the luck we (almost) didn’t have to use our rain clothes. I think September is a great month to travel to Iceland! Although it’s very hard to see the northern lights that month.

3. CAMPING

You can definitely camp in Iceland. However I was very happy to be able to sleep in the car. There is a lot of wind in Iceland and it gets quite cold. If it drizzles, setting up/tearing down a tent is a shitty job. Sleeping in the trunk of a car is a great alternative!

4. Inhabitants

The Icelandic people are very friendly. I’ve never experienced anything like it. They help tourists whenever they can, they talk to strangers at gas stations, they drop prices if you don’t have enough cash (and if you show your biggest smile)…

For all the people that told me & all the others who are thinking ‘Iceland, I should visit it someday!’. Don’t doubt, just go!

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