I went on a 9 day trip to Iceland around end of august. I choose this time because there’ll be a higher chance of seeing the Aurora while the weather is not too cold yet. The temperature was around middle 50’s. I choose 4 main areas of Iceland to see: the Golden Circle, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, South Coast, and the Glacier Lagoons.
Our 9 days Iceland itinerary:
Day 1: Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik
Day 2-3: Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Day 4: Golden Circle
Day 5: Landmannalaugar
Day 6: South Coast
Day 7: Glacier Lagoons
Day 8: South Coast & Reykjavik
Day 9: Reykjavik
Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik
Bridge Between Continents, Brimketill lava rock pool, Blue Lagoon.
We arrived at the Iceland airport at 9:30am in the morning. We still haven’t decided if we wanted to go to the Blue Lagoon the first day or last day lol. It was all booked up for this day before we got on the flight, so I thought we would need to do it the last day then, but I checked again after we arrived in Iceland and a spot opened up at 2pm, so I booked it immediately. Since we had time to kill before 2pm, I found we can drive down the west side visiting a few sites before we hit Blue Lagoon. We grabbed lunch at Issi Fish and Chips before we headed to our next stop. The food was good! We re-filled our water at this location.
So we visited the Bridge Between Continents, which is a small bridge over the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
Our next stop was the Brimketill lava rock pool which had pretty amazing view!
The Blue Lagoon, some people loved it and some people didn’t, from what I read online. I figured we should try it out anyway, since it is the most popular hot spring spa in Iceland I think? Well, I really enjoyed it, it was really nice to be in the warm water. The drink and mask is a plus, you get something to do there lol. The only thing I did not like was the busy locker room, seems chaotic. We had a hard time figuring out how the locker room lock worked too. The staff had to show us many times, until it finally clicked how it works lol.
After that we drove to Reykjavik city, checked into our accommodation at Guesthouse Galtafell. We choose this place since it had free street parking around and it’s pretty close to the main area in the city. We grabbed dinner at Cafe Loki. It is right across from Hallgrímskirkja church, so we visited after dinner.
Accommodation: Guesthouse Galtafell
Food: Issi Fish and Chips, Cafe Loki
Places visited: Bridge Between Continents, Brimketill lava rock pool, Blue Lagoon.
Kirkjufell, Hellisandur, Saxhóll Crater, Bjarnafoss, Buoakirkja Budir Black Church, Raudfeldsgjá Ravine, Ytri Tunga Beach
There was a bunch of places I had listed to go today, but we were running out of time, so we didn’t get to see a few spots! Original itinerary was: Stykkisholmur > Berserkjahraun Lava Field > Kirkjufell > Hellisandur > Saxhóll Crater > Djúpalónssandur Beach > Vatnshellir Cave tour (the cave we decided not to go beforehand). We ended up for the day just having enough time to visit 3 locations 😂. Partly our own fault since we started the day at 11am lol.
We headed to Bonus grocery in the morning in Reykjavik to grab some breakfast and lunch food. The grocery store was a lot smaller than I imagined lol. Then we started our drive up toward Snaefellsnes Peninsula. We grabbed lunch at Geirabakarí Kaffihús. I highly recommend this cafe! The sandwich was good and their sweets/breads are good! One of them is a bestseller item which I recommend people try, it’s good! I forgot the name of the item.
Our next stop was Berserkjahraun Lava Field, but it seems like the road to the road to the spot was a unpaved very narrow road, so we didn’t turn into it. So we just skipped it lol. So we headed to our next stop Kirkjufell, which is the most photographed mountain in Iceland. We thought about hiking up there, but didn’t end up doing that. The cloud cover over it that day was pretty cool.
We saw it from 2 locations, one in a small beach area which had a small free parking lot, and then also saw it from the official parking lot (paid) where you can see the 2 small waterfalls with the Kirkjufell in the background. It was our first time seeing a paid parking lot, so we weren’t sure how it worked. Once you pay for it, it’s covered for the whole day (around $6-7 dollars). The message on the screen said something like you’re covered for 24hrs now, so we were wondering if that means if we come back the next day is it still covered? We tested it the next day and turns out we were wrong 😂. We had to pay again lol.
Continuing on the route, we stopped in a small town called Hellisandur and saw some street art.
Then continued to Saxhóll Crater. I couldn’t walk up to the top since the stairs going up did not have railings and I’m scared of heights 😂.
After that we checked into our accommodation at Kirkjufell Guesthouse & Apartments in Grundarfjörður, then went to look for dinner food. Turns out we had to reserve a seat at the restaurant we choose, Bjargarsteinn, and it wasn’t available until a later time, so we went for a little walk to Grundarfoss that was near our accommodation.
From the parking lot, there was a gate with a sign that said something like you can’t enter in, but we were confused if that sign was meant for a car or people walking through as well. We saw several people far on the other side of the gate though, so we were wondering if these people were all trespassing, because the gate had a lock on it. We saw a couple walking towards the gate thinking they’ll probably like go over the fence, but turns out the door handle was on the side of the gate 🤣😅. We felt very stupid lol. After hiking in and seeing the the waterfall somewhat close up, we went back to get dinner at Bjargarsteinn, which was fancy food. It was good, and expensive lol.
A little adventure happened that night at our accommodation 😂. The room was too warm, and there was no control in the room to lower the temperature. So at like 4am, my cousin opened the window to let the cold air in, but then a fly came in. Since we’re in another country, we weren’t sure if it was a normal fly, so we spent like a while trying to catch it – at 4am in the morning….😂. I felt like I was in a fly horror story 🤣.
On our next day, our original itinerary was: Londrangar Cliffs viewpoint > Hellnar View Point, > Arnarstapi Coastal Cliffs and Port Arnarstapi > Raudfeldsgjá ravine > Buoakirkja Budir Black Church > Bjarnafoss > Ytri Tunga Beach. But we also had to skip some because there weren’t enough time 😂. Think this day we also started out late too, around 11am 😅. In the morning we went to a cool little coffee cafe called Valeria.
We decided to skip Londrangar Cliffs and Hellnar since we didn’t want to drive through the same route we did yesterday to get there (which was toward the west coast from the north), instead, we drove down south the middle-ish road, route 54, which is actually an amazing drive! It seems like we were driving through the tops of the mountain, with misty clouds and passing through mountain top ponds/river? It must be really fresh water I bet.
Our first stop was Bjarnafoss, a waterfall. It took a little bit of walking. You can hike up really close to the waterfall, but it’s not an easy hike if you want to get really close, you’ll need to do some climbing.
Then we went to the Búðakirkja Budir Black Church, and took some pics. This one was a pretty quick stop.
Next stop was at Raudfeldsgjá ravine, which I also couldn’t walk till the end because it seemed too high up towards the end… The view is really nice though.
Then we to Arnarstapi Coastal Cliffs, which is a amazing location. It has multiple view points.
We ordered fried fish with french fries from FRISTA Food Truck there for dinner. The fried fish is good, really crispy.
Then our last stop of the day was to Ytri Tunga Beach (paid parking) and saw like 4 seals sunbathing on the rocks lol. I wasn’t able to get a close pic of them as the path to the shore was really rocky.
I kind of wished we had booked the 2nd night in Snaefellsnes Peninsula, so we could see more places. We booked the night at Arkanes. Though it did help cut down our drive the next day to start from Arkanes to the Golden Circle.
Accommodation: Kirkjufell Guesthouse & apartments, Hotel laxarbakki
Food: Geirabakarí Kaffihús, Bjargarsteinn, FRISTA Food Truck
Places visited: Kirkjufell, Hellisandur, Saxhóll Crater, Bjarnafoss, Buoakirkja Budir Black Church, Raudfeldsgjá Ravine, Ytri Tunga Beach
See all my photos of Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Thingvellir National Park (Oxararfoss), Laugarvatn Fontana, Brúarfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss
In the morning we left around 10:40am, first stop at Thingvellir National Park the GPS led us past the visitor center parking lot, and before we realized, we missed the visitor center parking lot and ended up at the parking lot (Oxararfoss P3 Parking Trailhead) where we could walk all the way through the canyon to Oxararfoss waterfall, which ended up working great for us. This trail to the waterfall is really nice!
We went back and drove to the visitor center (need to pay parking) and looked at some of the views. We didn’t walk the path in the lower open area. Figured it was going be similar to the one at Oxararfoss. I would’ve wanted to hike that part too, but with yesterday’s experience of not being able to do all the stops in our itinerary, we didn’t spend any more time here lol.
Next stop was at Laugarvatn – Fontana Geothermal Baths. I think we could’ve skip this one, since it’s more for if you want to go to the hot spring there. I bought the tomato soup and bread, which was expensive….. $20? We figured that’ll be our lunch….
Then we almost lost our way to Brúarfoss waterfall. The GPS took us to someone’s private road entrance, which seems like many people had this issue (saw other cars after us turning into the driveway and backing out lol). I saw a big sign for something en-route, but didn’t look closely at the name lol. So it was the big direction sign for Bruarfoss lol. This short waterfall was pretty amazing, the water color is blue at the bottom, because the water came from the Glacier. The road to the waterfall was pretty rough though, not a paved road. Need to pay parking for this one.
Next we headed to the Geysir where we saw it erupt every 5-7min. It was pretty cool! We spent a bit too much time at the gift shop there afterward lol.
Next stop was Gullfoss waterfall, which was an amazing gigantic waterfall! It’s a really easy walk to the waterfall too.
There was also a gift shop and found their items are a bit cheaper. We also spent a little too much time there so we had to take out our dinner sandwiches since we had to head back to our accommodation by 8:30pm so we can get back before sunset. The only stop we missed today was the Kerid Crater.
We booked 2 nights for this location, at Loa’s Nest, which I really enjoyed, because of the host. She was really nice and talked to the guests every morning when she or her husband made waffles for the guests!
Accommodation: Loa’s Nest
Food: Laugarvatn – Fontana, Gullfoss Cafe
Places visited: Thingvellir National Park (Oxararfoss), Laugarvatn Fontana, Brúarfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss.
See all my photos of Golden Circle.
Landmannalaugar was a highly recommended place based on what I researched online. But the road to it is not that easy, it’s a unpaved bumpy road. There’s 3 options you can do to get there. Go with a tour, ride on a bus, or drive your own car. Originally I thought to just go with a tour, but the ones I found all requires hiking to the mountain top, which from what I’ve read seems it’s not recommended for people scared of heights. So that’s out. 2nd option is a bus. The bus you’d need to wake up pretty early and have to follow their schedule of how long we can stay there before we need to get on bus to head back. The road is really bumpy so staying 2-3 hours on a bus ride I thought I’ll probably get nauseous. So the last option is driving our car. We booked a 4×4 car so we could drive on F-roads if we ever encounter it on our trip. I looked up the routes we can take to the Landmannalaugar, and there’s basically 3 routes, from the north, west and south. The easiest route is from the north since that one has no river crossings on the route, except at the entrance, but you an park your car in the parking lot before the entrance. I wasn’t sure if the route has cliffy areas. So even though I had planned originally to go there, I thought maybe we skip it and just have a relaxing day around our hotel area. Maybe hang out with horses or sheeps? lol.
So in the morning we had homemade waffles from our host and she asked us what our plans for today was. I said we don’t know yet, and guess where she recommended we go? To Landmannalaugar lol. She took out a map and showed us the easiest route to get there and she was like oh the road is easy, no problem! lol. With her assurance, we decided to go there lol. She also recommended we go to Haifoss, it’s a spot pretty close to the route that we’re driving to go into Landmannalaugar. She said we can drive there on the way back.
This is the route we took. First on route 26, then to 208 down from the north. The GPS might try to route you turning east into Landmannalaugar instead of driving all the way north and down south. Don’t go on that route because I think that route has river crossings.
We drove like over an hour of unpaved road, going at like 20-30km/hr 😂. It seemed like it was going to take forever to get there. After we got there we didn’t follow a official hiking trail and just wondered around the main area and took some pictures 😂. A lot of the hikes involve going to high cliffy area I think so had to skip that.
After that we drove to Haifoss waterfall which had amazing views but I was unable to see the bottom because I was afraid to go to the edge 😭. It was really high up with no railings near the edge. My cousin helped me took some pics.
See all my photos of Landmannalaugar.
Seljalandsfoss, Dyrholaey Lighthouse and Arch, Reynisfjara black sand beach, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Skaftafell National Park
Today we woke up early, at 8am, because we thought there was going to be super strong winds and rain on the route we were going today. There were warnings from safetravel.is of hurricane strength winds 😱. We were pretty worried about it, and thinking if we needed to change our plan and not head east to our next destination because our next accommodation is right at the edge of where they said the wind and rain will be. We thought about just skipping the south coast and heading straight to our next hotel at Skaftafell, so we can arrive before noon. We talked to our host and she said not to worry at all, the wind and rain will come at night, so just do our stops along the way like what we had planned lol. Good thing we followed her advice! because the weather was totally fine during the day lol.
We first stopped at Seljalandsfoss waterfall, where you can walk behind the waterfall and get somewhat drenched. This is a really popular spot it seems like. Saw a lot of tour buses and there was a lot of people there. I just walked to the side and then back down, I didn’t go behind the waterfall lol.
Then we headed to Dyrholaey Lighthouse and Arch view point, and ended up taking some pics at the Reynisfjara viewpoint, which was close to where the parking lot was.
Then we headed to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, which is also a popular area. I grabbed some rocks with me lol.
After that we went to Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. This is a nice short walk and the view is amazing!
After that we headed to the hotel, arriving at 4pm. After we checked in to our accommodation, we went to Skaftafell National Park and hiked there (about 1.3hr roundtrip). We didn’t go really close to the ice, the trail wasn’t really clearly marked, so I think we went the wrong way lol. We already booked dinner at the hotel restaurant so we didn’t have enough time to go back and try another direction. So we just took some pics of the Skaftafell glaciers from afar and then headed back to our hotel.
We had a fancy dinner at the restaurant inside the hotel.
Acommodation: Hotel Skaftafell
Food: Black Beach Restaurant, Hotel Skaftafell restaurant,
Places visited: Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Dyrholaey Lighthouse and Arch/Reynisfjara viewpoint, Reynisfjara black sand beach, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Skaftafell.
See all my photos of the South Coast.
Fjallsarlon Lagoon, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach
It rained overnight with strong wind. The forecast for today was like raining all day. The night before we got notification that our Glacier walking tour in the morning is cancelled due to the weather 🙁.
In the morning we got breakfast at the hotel. it was included which is great! Then we drove to Fjallsarlon Lagoon, arriving around 12pm. It was still raining and windy. The rain stopped after like 10 minutes, so we headed down the short trail and saw a rainbow! It was a nice view of the glacier.
Then we headed to the Diamond Beach, but it was windy and rainy again. The Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon across from the bridge looked less cloudy so we drove across there and after waiting for a bit the sun came out and it was no longer raining! We walked around and took lots of pictures.
We grabbed lobster roll and lobster soup lunch from the food truck.
Then we headed back to the Diamond Beach.
It started raining again after a bit so we got back to the car. We got notification that our boat tour was cancelled for the 5pm 🙁 , so we just headed back to our hotel.
We grabbed hamburger for dinner at the gas station across our accommodation. It was good, but expensive for a hamburger… but there weren’t much options around this area.
Acommodation: Hotel Skaftafell
Food: Food truck Lobster Roll, Hotel Skaftafell Restaurant, Veitingasala Restaurant
Places visited: Fjallsarlon Lagoon, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach.
See all my photos of Glacier Lagoons.
South Coast & Reykjavik
Gönguleið um Eldhraun, Skógafoss, Reykjavik
Today is a long drive back to the city, at about 4 hours. The weather today was with rain on and off. We listed these locations as places we can stop at on the way: Gönguleið um Eldhraun (mossy lava field), Solheimasandur Plane Wreck, Rutshellir Caves, Skógafoss. We ended up going to just 2 sights on South Coast.
Gönguleið um Eldhraun, the mossy lava field, was a quick easy stop on the side of the road.
We went to Vik for lunch, first stopping at a school bus that sells coffee & hot drinks inside!
Then we grabbed lunch at The Soup Company which had soup inside a black color bread, the red hot lava soup. One order of the soup will give you 1 free soup refill. We ordered one and also a speghetti dish. Both were good, super full afterward lol.
Once we got to Reykjavik, we went to the downtown rainbow area and got dinner at La Poblana Mexican restaurant, the food was good!
Then we shopped around the rainbow street area, I got 2 chocolate bars for souvenir.
Later at 10pm we drove to the Grótta Island lighthouse beach area hoping to see the Aurora (the forecast was “Active”), but it was too cloudy 🙁, and rained too. We stayed there until 11pm before heading back to our hotel.
Acommodation: Guesthouse Galtafell
Food: Skool Beans Coffee, The Soup Company, La Poblana
Places visited: Gönguleið um Eldhraun, Skógafoss, Rainbow street in Reykjavik
This morning we did the city walking tour. It was very informative, I liked it. The tour guide said the sheep owners let out the sheep in the summer and the sheep can roam free until October! Then the owners and family members will ride horses to get the sheep back to their owners. Also Iceland used to be a poor country until they made use of their natural resources, clean water, and with the volcano eruption came tourists.
For lunch we went to the post office building that the tour guide had mentioned and had sushi there. It was expensive sushi, but I’d say it was good.
We were going to try the famous hotdog, but after lunch we were too full. Then we walked around the main center street and bought souvenirs before we needed to head to the airport and back home.
Food: Sushi restaurant inside Pósthús Food Hall & Bar
Tips/things to know for Iceland Trip
- When inputting the location to a sight, always look around the area and find the parking lot on the map and route the direction to the parking lot instead.
- Bring waterproof jackets/coats and pants.
- Bring re-fillable water bottle.
- Bring debit card to pay for gas at gas stations.
- Need to rent a 4×4 car if you plan to drive through F-roads (unpaved roads).
- Download safetravel.is app so you’re aware of road conditions.
COST OF TRIP
Here’s a breakdown of the cost of our 9 day Iceland trip per person in USD (excluding flight). It is based on a 2-person share.
Activities & Food: $440
Total Cost: $2,300 USD