A 38-hour road trip in Iceland
Because of some visa issues (in our way between France and Mexico) and without knowing about it, we ended up having a 38 hours layout in Iceland, and instead of staying at the airport and get bored to death, we decided to rent a car, and spend our time exploring around as much as we could. The plan was to follow the road 1 until Vik and to explore all what we could in between. That’s how we arrived at midnight, rented a car and headed to the blue lagoon, to sleep around there (did we mention we slept in the rental car, in the little Renault Clio ?) and enjoy the first turn/booking in the morning.
The Blue Lagoon
The now world famous spa, the blue lagoon is a must do if you are just spending a few hours/days in Iceland.We had booked our entrance beforehand, we recommend doing that, because it is usually completely booked and full, you don’t want to miss this just because you didn’t prevent. You will have all the commodities at your disposition, but think about taking with you a towel and a swimsuit so you don’t have to rent it there. We know it is really expensive and apparently there is alternatives to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. But, we are happy to have done it. It was totally worth it. A very relaxing experience.
→ The minimum price is 6690 ISK (around $55) depends the season and the moment of the day for the basic (but great) experience.
→ Situated at 20 minutes drive from the airport. You can even go spend an hour instead of staying at the airport during your few hours stopover.
The road 427 along the coast
We drove along the coast following the road 427 to Selfoss. A volcanic and desertic road. We were not in the tourist season and there was nobody, we like this feeling of having some places just for ourselves. We took a little road to our right to see the cute church Strandarkirkja. It was as well our first encounter with the icelandic horses, we fell in love with this beautiful and friendly animals.
After the city of Selfoss, we joined the road 1 (the big highway that goes all around Iceland). We saw from the road a huge waterfall, we decided to turn left on the 249 to see it from close. When we arrived in the car park we understood it was a very famous place! The parking spot costed $7 USD, so we had our doubts about paying for that, but in the end we were on a rush so we did it. The are lots of waterfalls in Iceland and on this one you can walk behind the water. Be sure to bring your waterproof clothes !
Keeping the road to see the interest points, our next stop was the viewpoint of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. The one which paralyzed Europe for a few weeks back in 2010. And it was because of that eruption that Iceland became a popular spot to visit.
That one we wanted to visit! That huge waterfall. Apparently in winter its beauty is unbelievable, half of the water is frozen, half is still falling. We climbed up to the top. The place was a little crowded. Of course, that part of Iceland, is the one that people visit the most.
The Solheimajokull glacier
On the left, we chose to follow the road 221 and see what was at the end of it. A glacier. Lots of people coming down from whole day experiences exploring the area. The landscapes and the colors of this place amazed us.
On our road to Vik we saw a sign of a little loop around an hill, the road 219. Between farms and littles houses, we saw cows, horses and farm dogs, we enjoyed a lot that deviation. We later arrived to Vik and found the little church with the red roof. So cute. So exotic. We took some pictures and rushed back on the road as time was running and we wanted to go watch the sunset from the famous plane wreckage.
Sunset by the plane
There we were, on the car park “next” to the plane that is now very famous on instagram and we wanted to see so bad. We were about to see a plane crashed in 1973. For a little history lesson: during the cold War, the plane (a Douglas DC-3) of the US Navy crashed on the Sólheimasandur beach because he has not enough petrol. Everybody survived but the plane’s fuselage stayed there all this time, becoming a huge tourist attraction. A little more alm trees and warm weather and we could be Kate and Jack in Lost !We parked, puted three coats on us because of the cold, we were ready ! Let’s get up that plane. What we didn’t know was that there were almost 4 km between the car park and the plane, and we had to walk them! In a straight line, a one hour walk, watching our perfect light disappear and the night arrive it was a long way.Finally, we arrived. Gorgeous. We have no the words, how it was so different, so unreal, so special, so perfect with the pink colors of the sunset. We did the way back in the dark (yes we forgot our headlamps in the car!).
We slept along the road 215 to be close from the beach and the cliffs for the sunrise. When you travel a lot, you develop the skill to be able to sleep everywhere. One on the passenger seat and one on the back. Inside a sleeping bag and under a safety blanket we were well protected from the cold. Well, it’s not the best way to sleep but for 2 nights in one of the most beautiful places in the world it is completely OK ! At 6:30 am we were on the black sand beach taking pictures and admiring the colors of the sunrise, we spent a few hours enjoying that wonderful and incredible place.
It was time to go back to Reykjavik to take our plane in the afternoon. One last stop, at the end of the road 218 to see cliffs and huge waves.We took back the road 1 to the capital, and really the part between Selfoss and Reykjavik is lovely, between mountains, volcanos, and vapor coming from holes in the ground.
ven if we spent just few hours in the city, we had a nice impression with all the colorful houses and the street art. We will definitely spend more time next time we visit, to enjoy the nightlife and try more of the food. We went to see the concrete architecture of the Hallgrimskirkja church. We climbed up (for 900 ISK) to see the view from the top. We hanged around the city center, took the street Skólavörðustígur with shops, cafes, galleries and full of life.
We grabbed a famous hot dog at Baejarins and a coffee at Fish and More, by then it was time to finish our loop to the airport.
Iceland practical tips
Iceland is part of Schengen Space, they use the Icelandic Krona (1€ = 123 ISK / 1$ = 103 ISK). There is an ATM at the airport and you can pay by credit card everywhere. It is a really safe country.
How to get there ?
We took the low cost company: Wow Air, from Paris CDC (3 hours plane). The prices are really low. The perfect place for a stop between Europe and Canada/United States !
How to move on Iceland ?
We rented a car with Budget, but we don’t recommend it, it is pretty pricy and they have not the best costumer service, but when you arrive at the airport at midnight, you have not a lot of options.
We have friends who moved around doing hitchhiking and during winter. It was ok !
Where to sleep ?
To save money we slept in the car, parked where we found a nice spot. Not really comfortable but ok for two nights ! You can camp all around the country, be sure to leave nothing behind you and to be carefull with the nature. All the hotel/hostel are expensive and you have to pay the linen as a supplement. Take your sleeping bag with you. In Reykjavik we recommend you to rent a flat with Airbnb.
Where to eat ?
Food (and everything anyway) is really expensive, plan to have some pasta, cans, noodles, or coffee/tea with you ! We did not eat very well, on the road it can be complicated to find place to buy food. We have just three addresses to share with you :
(Between road 43 and the road of the coast 427) :
Café Bryggjan, Miðgarður (front of the sea).
A charming place where we had a coffee and a lobster soup for one,
a coffee and a lamb soup for the other.
Sudur Vik, Suðurvegur
(first street on the left when you arrive in Vik from Reykjavik).
A trendy and crowded place where you can have a drink and a meal. Nice mood, decent food.
Fish & More, Skólavörðustígur
(front of Hallgrimskirkja, on the right on the way down).
The kind of trendy place as we like with good coffee.
Don’t get lost !
We use everywhere we go the application Maps me. You can download the maps pf the area you are visiting and use them offline.
The budget ?
We are not gonna lie, it is a really expensive country. For example, a full tank for a little car is around 9500 ISK! ($90). After it is a country to enjoy the nature, so to hike is free !
When to organize a trip ?
All year! In summer you will see lots of tourists but you can experience the midnight sun. The rest of the year you have less tourist and you can see the colors of the different seasons. From October to April you can see Aurora Borealis!
The shower before going in the swimming pools and water springs, has to be naked!
Share with us in comment your favorite places of Iceland we will go back for sure.