It’s our last night in Iceland, and it’s been an amazing trip. Hard to believe it’s only our first week on the road.
On our first day, we headed out in our rental car to drive the Ring Road. We only had a week, and wanted to see as much of Iceland as we could as we’re not sure we’ll ever make it back.
We drove north of Reykjavik to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which is sometimes ignored by tourists, but was well worth it. Great hiking, great scenery, and overall a great way to start our trip.
From there, we drove across the north of Iceland to Akureyri, which is the second biggest “city” with a population of about 17,000. Trevor’s aunt and uncle happened to be doing a bus tour of Iceland at the same time, and I think we must have passed their bus going in the opposite direction that day. Small world.
Akureyri is a cute, small town with plenty of restaurants and some decent accommodations. We continue to be amazed at the cost of, well, everything. Obviously, many things need to be imported to Iceland, which increases their costs vs what we enjoy in North America. But even things that are produced locally, like lamb for the restaurants, wool anything etc. is at least 50% more expensive here. And accommodations will run C$150+/night for the most basic of rooms with shared washrooms etc. with proper hotels costing much more than that. Not sure if that’s a function of high operating costs, a short high season to earn profits, or just pure price gouging. It’s tough to believe that locals pay any of the posted prices.
From Akureyri, we had a full day exploring the Myvatn region. Hiking around a volcanic crater, exploring lava fields and bubbling mud, it was a busy day. We continued on to Eglisstadir where we had rented an apartment for the night, glad to have a bit of space after several very basic guesthouses.
From Eglisstadir, we drove down the east coast of Iceland, choosing to go off the main Ring Road to drive along the coast. It was well worth it for the many fjords and great scenery. We spent the night near Hofn, a cute smaller town surrounded by snow-capped mountains and the ocean.
From Hofn, we continued along the south coast. A highlight of our trip was the Glacier Lagoon, where icebergs broke off the nearby glacier and drifted out to sea. Rather than pay the $100+ each for a boat trip, we opted to hike for free and check out the icebergs from shore.
The south coast was generally less scenic than other parts of the island, with long sections of flat, barren land covered in lava fields and sand. A highlight was spotting the large, ominous Hekla volcano (the Hooded One), which is the most famous and active volcano in Iceland and overdue for a major eruption (we were thankful it waited until we left the area).
By the next day, we’d made it to the famous “Golden Circle”. While often considered a “must do”, the Golden Circle definitely gives you a snapshot of the island. Geysers (including the original “geysir” that the word is based on), volcanic craters, and waterfalls can all be seen in a short loop, but with the close proximity to Reykjavik, we were back into the tourist crowds. And after all the amazing things we’d seen in our trip, it was a bit underwhelming for us.
Our final day was spent in Reykjavik, just to check out the town.
It was nice to have a day not spent driving for hours, and Reykjavik has its charms. But at this point, we’re looking forward to our next stop: Helsinki.
To visit our full gallery of Iceland (Click Here)
For our post on our first impressions of Iceland (Click Here)