With only one week in Iceland and most of that being spent on the Laugavegur Trail, I was in a bit of a pickle on how to spend my last 24 hours as there was still so much to see!
So I hired a small car in Reykjavik and returned it the following day to the airport before flying out to London. I hit the road straight away for 24 hours of mayhem. Come follow me on this crazy journey (These are ordered west to east from Reykjavik):
Reykjadalur Hot Springs – this hot spring creek is located just outside the small town of Hveragerði. You drive north through town, past the golf course and end up at the carpark. It is then about a 3km hike through the hills to get to the springs. There are small shelters to get changed behind before picking a spot for a soak in the warm water with a view of the mountains. Pure bliss! There are also other hiking options in the area to make a day of it.
Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi – these two waterfalls are located very close to each other. Seljalandsfoss can be seen from the main road and is considered one of the most popular waterfalls in the south-west (read: very busy!). The great thing about this 65m waterfall is that you can walk behind it! But don’t forget to walk a little further up the road to it’s lesser known counterpart Gljúfrabúi. Hidden behind rock, you can rock-hop along the water’s edge and stand in the spray of this cascade of water (this is also the reason I don’t have any photos of this waterfall!).
Seljavallalaug Pool – this is actually one of the oldest swimming pools built in the country and is filled by a natural hot spring. Built into the mountainside in 1923 it is still open to the public and is only a 15 minute walk including some stream hopping from the carpark at the end of the 242 road heading towards Seljavellir. There is a changeroom there to slip into your swimmers before sliding into the pool and enjoying the mountain views.
Skógafoss – located near the town of Skógar this waterfall rivals Gullfoss as one the most famous waterfalls in Iceland. At 25m wide and 60m tall it is a very attention demanding. If the light is right you will see a rainbow or two in the mist from the falls. There is a campsite there and if I had more time I would have camped there to see it in the first light of the day without the masses of tourists around.
DC-3 Aeroplane – in November of 1973 this United States Navy Douglas Super DC-3 airplane was forced to land on the black beach of Sólheimasandur. All the crew members survived the crash, but the fuselage was abandoned. You used to be able to drive out to the plane, but now you have to walk the 4km to the crash site. As you drive east from Skogafoss you will see a parking area on your right about 2 kilometers after road 221. You then follow the path/road in the sand towards the sea and the plane. If the ground is snow-covered you will need to follow these GPS co-ordinates to get to the plane: (63 27.546-19 21.887).
Along the way – there are so many places to stop and take in the beauty of Iceland just off the main road. There are Icelandic ponies (the only breed of horse in Iceland), small huts built into rockfaces, fields and mountains!
This finishes off what I did along the ring road. I then headed inland to Gulfoss, one of the other famous waterfalls. I got there just as the last light was disappearing from the sky, quickly rushed down to see this massive waterfall and then scuttled back to the car as it was starting to rain.
The Northern Lights!!
I’d already been lucky enough to see the Northern Lights (Aurora borealis) while I was hiking the Laugavegur Trail, but I was hooked and wanted to see them again if I could. So after Gulfoss I drove further inland, chasing clear skies using this website that shows the cloud cover over the country and also gives the aurora forecast. I found my location, bunkered down in the car, ate some tuna and crackers and waited. I snoozed for a while before stepping outside to examine the black sky. A few streaks of colour were starting to show. I stood back and watched in complete awe when the sky just exploded with this ribbon of light dancing through the sky. Wishing there was someone else there to share this child-like excitement with, I had to settle with dancing around with joy at what I just witnessed. After about 5 minutes the sky returned to some subtle glowing and I couldn’t believe my luck at what I had just seen! I then drove the couple of hours to the airport where I had a quick nap before I unfortunately had to leave this incredible country!
The Nitty Gritty:
- I visited Iceland in the first week of September.
- The international airport, Keflavik, is situated approximatly a 40 minute drive from the city of Reykjavik. There are airport buses that run to and from the city. Most car hire companies allow pick-up and drop-off in either the city or at the airport.
- Ideally, to avoid the crowds, I would advise you visit these sites as early in the morning as possible.
- Most of these places were just off the ‘Ring Road’ (highway 1). All I had was a small 2 wheel drive car and it was fine to get to all of these places.
- Keep in mind that if it has snowed alot of these trails will be harder to find/follow! Make sure to seek advice from experts or locals so you don’t get lost!
- This a great site for general weather forecasts even in very small towns of Iceland. https://www.yr.no/
If you have any questions or comments about my trip to Iceland or any of my other adventures please feel free to shoot me an email:
January 10, 2017 at 7:31 pm
Exceptional photos ! I have been to most of South-west Iceland last July. I was mad enough to step under the water in Skogafoss, got absolutely soaked XD
But unfortunately I missed the Northern lights. Must have been so nice for you to experience it right in front of your eyes.