Prolog:

I show you a 12 day self drive iternity around Iceland.

  • The entire Trip is planned as a non hectic slow travel and enjoy trip.
  • This is a non Backpack Trip. So you have good accommodations.
  • The focus is on Nature and Adventure.

If you want to experience Iceland as you see it on Instagram and YouTube you only need to visit the East and South of Iceland.

But if you like to see the more unpopular Regions and not so crowded places you should go for a trip around Iceland.

Car

Car:

We picked up a 4×4 Mazda CX3 which is a good Car for overland tracks. But not for driving F-Roads.
Room is a bit tight. So it´s made for two people with two large suitcases and two backpacks.

If you drive with more people try to get a Mazda CX5 or an equivalent car.
But if you have the money, we talk about 4000€, you could get a nice Land Rover Defender for F-Roads and lots of Action.

Day 1: Reykjavik

We decided just to stay over night in Reykjavik and do a bit of sightseeing on Day 2. It´s because Reykjavik is too overhyped in my opinion and there is not much to see.

If you arrive at Keflavik Airport and grab your rental Car from one of the located Stations you need to drive about 45 minutes to Reykjavik.

As we arrived to Reykjavik we took a walk to the Harbor and enjoyed the whole scenery. We had some coffee and a lunch in one of the coffees in the center of Reykjavik. Afterwards we picked up some food and drinks for tomorrow at Bonus Supermarket.

That’s it for today. 

Hotel:
22 Hill Hotel Reykjavik (about 112€/Night)
A simple 2-3 star hotel with good breakfast.
Free coffee in the hallway (good coffee!). The TV channels do not all work. 

Day 2: Golden Circle & Vik i Myrdal

Day 2 – Golden Circle Tour + continue to Vik i Myrdal

Duration: 3-4 Hours including Photostops and breaks + 2 Hours driving to Vik

Thingvellir National Park

The park holds geological significance. Þingvellir is positioned on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, meaning the area is susceptible to the shifting tectonic plates of Europe and North-America, opening large holes and cracks in the earth’s crust. Þingvellir is one of the only locations on earth where it is possible to see the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates standing exposed above the surface.

Tip:
There is a parking fee from 5€. The parking lot is video monitored. If you don´t pay it now, you get the bill later plus a fee. 

Geysir National Park

As the name suggests, there are hot springs and geysers here. The biggest of iceland’s geysers, the Geyser, which gives its name to all geysers in the world, can only be seen slumbering and steaming. But when it breaks out then it does. However, this happens only every few years. His smaller brother next door, breaks out every 5 minutes. 35 meter high fountains splash enormously into the air. A great spectacle.

Tip: There is a wet and a dry spectator side. It is up to you which side you choose.

Tip: Opposite the Geysirpark is a delicious coffee with good cake and coffee. Toilets and souvenir shop included.

Gullfoss Waterfall

A force of waterfall. I was hardly amazed when I saw the Gullfoss for the first time. A whole 32 meters deep, the water falls at 140 cubic meters per second.

Tip: No Drone Zone applies here. And there are actually park guards who monitor this.

End of the Golden Circle – continue to Vik i Myrdal

Seljalandsfoss

Further south and about 120km later we arrived at one of the most beautiful waterfalls – the Seljalandsfoss. Later in the evening we were here about 7pm. This is worth it, because there are less tourists and the waterfall falls in the evening hours in great light. 

Those who are courageous walk behind the waterfall and marvel at the view to the outside. But without waterproof clothes it will be difficult – unless you want to drip with water. 

Those who want to go for a walk can walk in the direction of Thörsmörk and have a look at the many small waterfalls. The only way to continue is by Superjeep.

Tip: Pay parking lot which is not monitored in the evening.

After about one hour stay we drive on to Vik, past the many sights we have planned the next day.

Vik and Icelands South


We’ve been here three nights, and you need those, too.
I don’t think it’s worth it for a quick drive through. There is simply too much to see.
And as you can remember, I want a relaxed journey without hectic rush. We were there at the end of May.  Ergo still in the low season, in which the highlands around Landmannalaugar are not yet open for tourists. There the melting is still in full swing and the danger of flooded river beds is very high. If you want to see the Landmannalaugar you have to come here in July.

Vik i Myrdal:

The small town with 300 inhabitants is designed for tourism: Supermarket, Gas stations and Cafés/Bars are sufficient. 

Otherwise, Vik offers its famous church on the hill in the north, where you have a wonderful view of the city and the beach.

Food:
Smidjan Brewery. Best burgers in Iceland in my opinion. Delicious beers, partly home-brewed. 

IcelandAir Hotel. A bit pricy but delicious

Accommodation:

Vik Cottages – Price: about 140€/Night
Nice wooden cabin freshly renovated next to the IcelandAir Hotel. The same is true for keys and food. The view is wonderful – on a hill you can see the sea, the black sandy beach and the cliffs with the Reynisdrangar behind.

In the evening there are also puffins on the cliffs.

Bonus: Smart TV with Netflix and fast Internet

Day 3: Vik & South - Skogafoss - Kap Dyrholaey - Reynisfjara

Day 3 

On the 3rd day we started the adventure south and set off with our 4×4 car.

The advantage of the summer are the endless long days thanks to the only 2 hours lasting twilight from 2am.

Therefore we could confidently take our time with everything.

Skogafoss:
It is best to start at the very back, thus at the furthest point from the accommodation. This led us to Skogafoss. About 40min from Vik to the west. One of many breathtaking waterfalls that are heavily frequented. But we noticed that if there are still so many travel groups on the spot, the people rather stand to the right to the edge and we have a free path in the middle next to the small river. In fact, I have been able to make many long exposures without great disturbances. You can also walk up to the waterfall, which requires moderate effort. At the top you have a beautiful view of the river Skogar and can even make a hiking deposit which ends with several day runs in Landmannalagar. 

Tip: Here is a No Drone Zone. Free parking. 

Solheimsandur Plane Wreck:
The famous plane wreck, approx. 10min drive from Skogafoss to the east. Arrived at the parking lot (very inconspicuous). You can either walk a good 45min each way, or take one of the latest buses which cost 18EUR. Now this is up to you. Those who want to be away from the tourist streams have to visit this spot from 8pm. Even then, there are still many other photo enthusiasts on the spot. 

Cape Dyrholaey:
With the 4×4 it goes the first turn-off right high on a narrow adventurous path directly to the cliffs. If you don’t have a 4×4 you should continue on the road, park at the free parking lot with toilet and walk the way up.

At the top you can see from the cliffs directly into the sea and even further. Along the cliffs you can see here and there Puffins and Seagulls diving for food in the open sea.
A little further you arrive at the lighthouse. From here you walk for about 10 minutes on unpaved paths in the direction of large rock formations in the sea.

Back at the 4×4 you leave again and turn right to the parking lot mentioned above. From here, one has again many views of cliffs, birds and a black sand line with the big Arnardrangur rock. A great photo motive.

Reynisfjara Sandy Beach:
About 10 minutes drive east. One of the most beautiful black sandy beaches in the world.
Here you feel the unruly and superior power of nature which is radiated by the waves and by the huge basalt rock formations.

At the beginning there is a large well visited parking lot with a delicious bistro and toilet. One has arrived here at a tourist hotspot.

Everywhere tourists, photographers and not infrequently photo shootings of Asian travel groups who actually arrive with flash equipment, costume and assistants.
Once you have found a relaxed place you can enjoy the sound of the sea by looking at the three huge rock formations of Reynisdrangar.

Day 4: Vik & South - Thakgil Highlands

Day 4 – Thakgil

An insider tip for all who want to see tranquility, remoteness and the Highlands in a normal 4×4 car.

This is Thakgil.

Shortly after Vik in an easterly direction, on the ring road, turn left at junction 214, pass Hotel Katla and continue into a small valley with farms. Then the road ends and there is a gravel road with many big potholes, narrow serpentine sections, hills and who would have thought it – waterfalls.

The ride is an adventure full of surreal landscapes in lush green, orange, brown and grey. 

You need about 45 Minutes including photo stops to arrive at the river bed with the wonderful view of the Katla and its glacier Myrdalsjökull with the huge Mýrdalssandur surface. A little further on there is a camping site where some breathtaking hikes start.

Facts: Among others Beowulf and Game of Thrones were shot here.

Tips: Take good shoes with you, not so much jumping around on the moss because of the regeneration, No WC.

We spent a whole day there. In the evening we went back to Vik to have dinner.

Day 5: Borgarhöfen - Skaftafellsjökull - Svartifoss - Fjallsarlon

Today we go to the next hotel. On the way there we have a few stops scheduled

Skaftafellsjökull

A beautiful giant glacier foothill to which one can walk directly. Arrived at the official parking lot with WC, one walks approximately 20min up to the glacier foothills at ground level. Those who prefer to walk up the mountain at the side should plan about 1 hour and have good shoes with them.

Breathtaking with every view. Pictures say more than a thousand words.

Tip: There is a parking fee from 5€. The parking lot is video monitored. If you don´t pay it now, you get the bill later plus a fee. 

Svartifoss

Those who have time walk back to the parking lot and treat themselves to the 20 minute walk to Svartifoss. Small but very aesthetic waterfall embedded in a narrow volcanic basalt gorge. 

Fjallsarlon

The glacier lake and little brother of Jökulsarlon comes after about 25km on the left side and is definitely worth a visit. There are much less tourists here than at the Jökulsarlon which we will visit tomorrow.

Accommodation:
Vagnsstadir Hostel (about 120€/Night)

Based on the equipment of the hostel it is more like a modern hotel. There is a lack of good coffee, a hairdryer and a TV. But good WiFi and modern facilities make it possible to stay here for one night. For us, the strategically correct position to the Jökulsarlon and to the next stop, Eglisstadir, was important.

Essen:
Aus dem Supermarkt mitgebracht, da hier die Infrastruktur eher schlecht ist.

Day 6: Jökulsarlon - Stokksnes - Egilsstaðir

Tag 6 Borgarhöfn nach Egilsstadir

We have planned extra time for the Jökulsarlon and Stokksnes and then the long way to Egilsstadir. 

Jökulsarlon

The most famous glacier lagoon of Iceland with the Diamond Beach.

We made a lagoon trip in an amphibian vehicle for 41EUR per person and spent one hour with pure amazement. The guide on the boat talks about the background of the glacier, the lagoon and the Diamond Beach. Animals such as seals and rare birds can also be seen. 

Those who want to see seals at close range should do a kayak tour for 130EUR per person. These often play with the kayaks when approaching the popular seal sites.

The Diamond Beach extends in front of the lagoon opposite the road. Here you can see icebergs that are small enough to drift into the open sea. A huge spectacle.

Tip: Here is a coffee shop with food and souvenirs, as well as toilet. 

The journey continues to Stokksnes, about 90km east.

Stokksnes

An incredibly photogenic place like no other. Black fine volcanic sandy beach with small dunes covered with grass and in the background the mountain Vestrahorn.

To get there you have to pay a passage fee of 6EUR per person at the Vikings Café just before the beach.

Next we leave for today’s hotel in Egilsstadir. 180km and about 3 hours drive lie ahead of us. At the end it will be a little more than 4 hours, finally we will stop for photos in the many fjords.

You can choose between an infinite number of fjords on road 1 or cross less fjords on road 939.

We decided to go for action. So the 939.

With the 4×4, the bumpy and steep, not yet finished Öxi Pass makes a lot of fun. Little traffic and a lot of views, strong wind and sometimes minus degrees are to be expected above. Untrained drivers should rather choose the road 1.

Food:
Salt Café & Bistro. High prices for average food.

Accommodation:
Iceland Air Hotel Herad
Delicious breakfast, friendly staff, good facilities, the smell of sulphur when showering and brushing your teeth comes from the nearby lake. The employees told us that everything is ok with that. 

Day 7: Egilsstaðir to Akureyri - Hverarönd

Today we sit in the car for a long time. To Akureyri it is 360km and we will drive a good 4 to 5 hours incl. break and photo stops. One photo stop is the Hverarönd Sulfur Field. A photo stop is the Hverarönd Sulfur Field.

You will smell it when you arrive.

In the large geothermal area there are bubbling mud basins and steaming fumaroles from which sulphur gas ejects. If you drive further behind the mountain towards Myvatn, you will see a thermal bath on your left.
On the further way you pass the Myvatn region which we will visit the next day.

Tip: Attention the Vaðlaheiðartunnel tunnels in the direction of Akureyri is a toll. Who does not pay gets the bill from the rental car company with a penalty duty. You pay by credit card on the website of the tunnel.

Hotel:
Iceland Air Hotel Akureyri . Beautiful, well equipped hotel.  Breakfast is plentiful. The restaurant offers delicious food, but costs a lot. Curious was the bathroom door which was completely made of glass. Adios privacy.

Food: 

Bryggjan – very good restaurant directly at the harbour. Offers pizza, pasta, burgers and more. Price/performance good.

Day 8: Akureyri - Diamond Circle - Krafla Vulkan Region

Today we drive the Diamond Circle. Husavik, Asbyrgi, Dettifoss, Sellfoss, Krafla, Leirhnjukur, Viti, Myvatn, Akureyri. 360km and a good 6-7 hours we are on our way.

Husavik: 

Small and tranquil fishing village. Many whale watching tours start from here. It really didn’t blew us away here.

Asbyrgi:

The 25 meter high gorge, which was created by the godfather Odin and his horse Horseshoe imprint, is a popular region for hikers.  

Dettifoss and Sellfoss: 

The Dettifoss can be reached within 10 minutes after the car park. We enjoy the sight of this monstrous natural spectacle. Who knows the opening scene of the Hollywood movie Prometheus, knows how energetic it looks.  When it has rained, one often gets to see a rainbow that bends over the whole gorge. 

Sellfoss:

Situated next to the Dettifoss and a little smaller but not less beautiful is the Sellfoss.

Krafla Volcano Region

Viti: 

A volcanic crater lake with turquoise shimmering water. A great sight. One can drive here directly with the car and look after good 5-10 minutes walk directly into the crater.

Leirhnjukur:

The 592m high volcano can be reached with a hike of about 5km. Directly from the parking lot. Here you can see even more clearly what it means to have a magma chamber under you – the ground is very warm in some places, it steams and bubbles. There is a lot of lava stone to see. Good shoes are a must.

Myvatn

The huge lake gave the region its name. Here the landscape is dotted with so-called pseudocrats. A great experience to stand directly in front of it and to recognize how small man is towards nature. 

We drive once around it. Stop here and there. We liked the south-west region of Myvatn the best because of the pseudocrats. 

Who wants can be impressed especially in June/July by the massive swarms of mosquitoes that gave the lake its name. 

Day 9: Akureyri to Snaefellsness

430km and about 7 hours drive lie ahead of us. There will be few attractions on the route. Many untouched and few inhabitants and farms. Which is why we drive mercilessly through. 

Hotel: Foss Hotel Hellnar. Good modern facilities. Restaurant in the hotel is highly recommended. Staff is very friendly and courteous. Slightly more expensive than the standard in Iceland. 

Located directly on a cliff, the hotel offers a very good view of the sea. 

After such a long drive we let the day end relaxed and will continue our tour the next day. 

Day 10: Snaefellsnes National Park - Kirkjufell

Those who have little time in Iceland should concentrate only on Snaefellsnes, as almost everything is served here compressed from Iceland on a small peninsula. 

Today we drive through the Snaefellsnes National Park, on to Olfsvik and back again. 

Snaefellsnes National Park. 

The passage is 45 km long, the NP has an area of 170 square kilometers. 

The main attraction is Snaefellsjökull, a stratovolcano covered with a glacier. 

Arnastapi

Small settlement with a pyramid-shaped mountain and view of the sea with fascinating rocks in the surf (Gatklettur)

If you want to see more surf and coast, you should stop at the Londrangar peaks.

Saxholar Crater 

A small old crater worth seeing on which one has a very good overview of the national park and the sea. The ascent is no problem with many steps. Directly at the road there is a turn-off rich in pot holes. 

Skarosvik Beach

Shortly before the end of the national park and only a few minutes after the Saxholar Crater a small road leads to one of the few brown sandy beaches of Iceland. Here there is a brown sandy beach in the middle of lava rocks. This is a change of pace. Skarosvik is also photogenic. 

Öndenveedarnes and Svörtuloft Lighthouses

The bumpy road now forks – we decided on the more beautiful lighthouse: Svörtuloft and turn left. Here it becomes very uneven and our small 4×4 has to fight with the potholes. The reward is however worth seeing. An orange lighthouse directly at the coast with rugged rock walls and lots of birds. 

Back we go the same way. So hold on and buckle up. 

Continue east to Grundarfjördur. 

The way is peppered with beautiful views and photo stops. 

Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss

Probably the most photographed mountain of Iceland and scene of Game of Thrones, the Kirkjufell captivates with its conical appearance and easy accessibility. 

The best pictures and the best view are from the small waterfall Kirkjufellsfoss. But hundreds of tourists also know this. So rather come here in the evening or early in the morning if you want to have a picture with a waterfall. 

 Parking places are public and free of charge. No Drone Zone at the waterfall. A little further away nobody complains anymore. 

We drive the way back to Hellnar. Take road 54, a mountain pass that was still half a gravel road in May 2019. 

Here there are some great drone positions. 

Back at the hotel we relax and enjoy the last evening in Snaefellsnes. 

Day 11: Snaefellsnes - Reykjavik

We drive the good 4 hours back to Reykjavik and pass once again beautiful landscapes on the route road 1. 

The toll tunnel was opened recently. The refinancing has been completed and is therefore free of charge. 

Today we go back to the centre of Reykjavik to have a good meal. 

Tomorrow morning our plane goes to Germany.

Day 12: Reykjavik and fly home

We just had some coffee and a good breakfast and then we fly home.

Hotel:
22 Hill Hotel Reykjavik (about 112€/Night)
A simple 2-3 star hotel with good breakfast.
Free coffee in the hallway (good coffee!). The TV channels do not all work. 

TIPS

Planning tips:

  • Finding petrol stations and planning tank stops in advance www.tankstellen-Island.de
  • Check your credit card. Check if you have a prepaid or a free credit card. The second is a must have in Iceland. 
  • Increase credit card limit. For rental cars increase up to 3000€/day (amount will be blocked as deposit). Increase to 5000€ per week. So nothing can happen to you on the way. 
  • Debit card/bank card only works in restaurants and shops. Only credit cards at gas stations
  • Cash is useless from my point of view. Card payment is the order of the day everywhere. 
  • Take speed limits seriously. I was fined 350€ for driving too fast (125km/h instead of 90km/h). Here is measured from the police car. 
  • In the evening from 6 p.m. sheep and lambs from the farms come on the road. Please drive more cautiously.
  • Do not stop at the roadside if a motive results. It´s very danger
Travel Expenses

We booked everything ourselves, except the rental car. For the purpose of insurance it is cheaper from the travel agency in Germany.

For two persons:

  • Flight: 1100€
  • Car: 850€
  • Accommodation incl. breakfast: 1775€
  • petrol, food, drinks, provisions, activities: 1000€
  • Total: 4775€ for two persons 
  • Petrol price: between 1,60€-1,85€
  • Food: per day approx. 40€/person 

Conclusion:

Again and again gladly to Iceland. Next time I’ll only need the south around Vik. The northeast was not mine. 

If you like Slow Travel and don’t necessarily have to do backpacking, you’ll also have „normal“ prices for such a holiday here. Of course Iceland is damn expensive compared to other destinations. 

Detailes Map of where to find Puffins

Puffins are very common in Iceland and a major tourist attraction.
But please pay attention to nature and keep enough distance to the sweet birds.

Tip: Puffins have opening hours – they can be seen until 9am and from 7pm at the cliffs. Otherwise they are to be found in the sea where they get food.

Best Travel Guides

The best travel guides for your Iceland trip: 

In my opinion the Stefan Loose Travel Guide is by far the best for German travelers.
For english travelers I recommend the one from Lonely Planet.

 

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Thank you very much.

WiFi and Mobile Phones

For European travellers (EU) there are no restrictions by the roaming laws of the EU. You can use your contracts in Iceland.

Network
The networks are very well developed throughout Iceland. Even in the Highlands you have LTE.

WiFi
Free WiFi connections can be found in every accommodation and in public places.