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Iceland: 14 days itinerary in September

Looking for quick tips to plan your next trip in Iceland? Check out our itinerary and some practical info that can be useful to inspire you in organize your travel!


An epic roadtrip in the Land of Fire and Ice totally immersed in a breathtaking nature ... waterfalls, glaciers, volcanoes, geothermal areas, lagoons, icebergs, black sand beaches, cliffs, lighthouses, await you!


And then, since in September is dark again for part of the day, it is also a very good month to see the Northern Lights!


Iceland is a paradise for nature lovers and one of few countries in the world where the nature is still so powerful, wild and prevails on the humans.


Check out our 2 weeks itinerary along the entire Ring Road including also the remote Westfjords and some practical info that can be useful to inspire you in organize your travel!


Stokksnes - Iceland
Stokksnes - Iceland
 

Our itinerary in Iceland:


DAY 1 – direct fight (Icelandair) Milano Malpensa -Reykjavik (Keflavik) 15.10- 17.10 (in Iceland we are -2h respect to Italy) - sunset at Garðskagi lighthouse 


Rent a car (KIA SPORTAGE 4WD) at the airport (Europecar) for 2 weeks

Night in Istay Cottages in Sandgerði near Keflavik


DAY 2 – SOUTHERN ICELAND: Reykjanes Peninsula (Hvalneskirkja, Stafnes Lighthouse, Bridge Between two Continents; Reykjajanes lighthouse and cliffs, Gunnuhver geothermal spring) - Reykjanesfolkvangur National Park (Graenavtn;  Seltun Geothermal Area, Kelifarvatn;)  -  Reykjavik (Old Reykjavik, Harpa, Tjörnin lake, Rainbow Street,  Hallgrímskirkja) -approx. 150km 


Night in Viking Hotel in Hafnarfjördur (near Reykjavik)


If the volcano was still active:  instead of visit Reykjavik, we would have done the trekking to the Volcan Litli-Hrùtur  ( Tfor a suggestive view of the crater and lava field from the above: path A from P1; or for a good view of the crater and lava field from the bottom: path E from P2: for both paths consider 18-20km/ 5-6h in total) and we would have visited Reykjavik quickly on day 14 before going to the Blue Lagoon


DAY 3 – SOUTHERN ICELAND:  Golden Circle: Thingvllir National Park – Geyser/Strokkur – Gulfoss waterfall - Southern Waterfalls part I:  Seljalandsfoss& Gljúfrabúi  -approx. 300km


Night in Kvíhólmi Apartments in Hólmabæir (approx. 20km from Skogar)


DAY 4 – SOUTHERN ICELAND: Glacier Sólheimajökull - little church in Vik i Myrdal village- Reynisfjara black beach - Dyrhólaey Promontory and lighthouse - approx. 130km


Night in Kvíhólmi Apartments in Hólmabæir (approx. 20km from Skogar)


If you have more time you can evaluate here also the Mini trekking to Reynisfjall Mt. from Vik or add 1 day to visit Vestmannaeyjar islands


DAY 5 - SOUTHERN ICELAND: – Southern Waterfalls part II: Skógafoss & Kvernufoss -Fjaðrárgljúfur canyonSvinafellsjökull Glacier (part of the Vatnajökull National Park ) -  approx. 280 km


Night in Gerdi Guesthouse near Jökulsárlón lagoon


If you have time, you can evaluate to visit also Skaftafell National Park (part of the Vatnajökull National Park): easy trekkings to Skaftafellsjökull Glacier and to Svartifoss waterfall or in the sunny day to see the sunset at Diamond beach or at Jökulsárlón Lagoon


DAY 6- SOUTHERN ICELAND: -Jökulsárlón and Fjallsárlón Lagoons to see the icebergs  - Diamond Beach - Höfn - Stokksnes  –approx. 150 km


Night in Rauðaberg II Guesthouse inRaudaberg (approx. 25km from Höfn): we have seen a great Northern lights from the guesthouse 


DAY 7 - EASTERN FJORDS : driving from Höfn to Egilsstadir (ring road 1+ panoramic roads 96 and 92)– village of Seyðisfjörður(road 93) – village of BorgarfjörðurEystri and  Hafnarholmi promontory (road 94)–approx. 450km


 Night in Hjartarstaðir Guesthouse in Eidar (20km from Egilsstadir) : we have seen a very strong and dancing Northern lights from the guesthouse


Hafnarholmi promontory is also a perfect place to see the puffins, but only from May to Mid -August


 If you have more time, you can evaluate to see also Hengifoss waterfall in this area


DAY 8 - NORTHERN ICELAND:    Rjukandafoss - Hverir geothermal area - Viti Crater (Krafla Volcan)  – Myvatn Volcanic Lake (Grjótagjá, Hverfjall crater, Dimmobugir lava formations, pseudocraters in Skútustadagigar ) -  Godafoss waterfall (approx. 300km)


Night in Guesthouse Brúnahlíð  (between Myvatn Lake and Husavik) 


If you have more time, you can evaluate to see also Stuðlagil Canyon (the water is turquoise from mid-June to the beginning of August only: otherwise it is grey-brown !)


DAY 9 - NORTHERN ICELAND:  whale watching boat tour in Husavik - Dettifoss Waterfall (West parking - road 862) -approx. 220km


Night in Guesthouse Brúnahlíð  (between Myvatn Lake and Husavik) 


 As alternative or if you have more time, you can visit  the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park ( Asbyrgi Canyon, Vesturdalur, viewpoint on Hafragilsfoss waterfall and  Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon ) and also Dettifoss from the East parking (gravel road 864)


Day 10 - NORTHERN ICELAND : Akureyri -  Tröllaskagi Peninsula: road 82 and 76 with stops in Siglufjörður, Siglunes,  Hofsòs, Grafarkirkja  (approx. 250km)


Night in HellulandGuesthouse in Saudarkrokur


 When passing from Akureyri there is tunnel to be paid on www.tunnel.is (1650kr for car). You can pay 24h before or after the passage


DAY 11: WESTFJORDS: 500km driving to reach the  Westfjord with stops in Vatnsnes Peninsula ( Hvitserkur (dinosaur-shaped stack in the sea) and  Hvammstangi to see to seals) and Isafjordur 


Night in Sudavik Guesthouse in Sudavik (near Isafjordur in the westfjords)


DAY 12 – WESTFJORDS: Dynjandi waterfall –- Latrabjarg  Cliffs – Orlygshöfn white sand beach - Raudasandur sand beach and black church(300 km)


 If you have time, you can visit also Arnafjordur


Night in Raudsdalur Guesthouse in Brjanslaekur (westfjords)


DAY 13 -   WESTERN ICELAND –driving approx. 300 km - Snæfelsness Peninsula: Ytri Tunga Beach (seals) - Budir Black Church – Raudfeldsgja Gorge – Londragar/Malariff cliffs and lighthouse – Djupalonssandur black sand beach - approx. 470 km


Night in Vatnsás 10 Holiday Home in Stykkishólmur


DAY 14 – WESTERN/SOUTHERN ICELAND : Snæfelsness Peninsula : Stykkishólmurvillage and Súgandisey Cliff - Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss – Arnarstapi cliffs and rock arch bridge  -  Blue Lagoon at 5pm – approx. 330km


Night in Istay Cottages in Sandgerði near Keflavik


DAY 15 – direct fight (Icelandair) Reykjavik (Keflavik) - Milano Malpensa -8.30- 14.45


Total: approx. 4000km

 

Place by place


REYKJANES PENINSULA


Iceland welcomes us with a splendid sun and we started our roadtrip exploring the Reykjanes Peninsula .. lighthouses, cliffs, geothermal springs that boil and smoke, lava fields covered with moss and lichens, volcanic lakes ... we could not start better our ontheroad in Iceland !


 Don't miss on the Reykjanes Peninsula:


 • The Gardskagi promontory with its iconic red and white lighthouse

• The black church of Hvalsnes

• The orange lighthouse of Stafnes: very photogenic

• Bridge Between two Continents, the well-known bridge that crosses the rift between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates

• Reykjajanesviti, the oldest lighthouse in Iceland

• Blue Lagoon, the spa with milky blue waters set in a black lava field, which has become the symbol of Iceland (below all the info)

• Reykjanesfolkvangur National Park where you can walk among hot springs, volcanic lakes, lava fields, black beaches and cliffs surrounded by a breathtaking landscape (stops: Kelifarvatn lake, Seltun geothermal springs, Graenavtn lake, Krysuvìkurberg cliffs: below all the info)

• Volcanos in the Reykjanes Peninsula that have been started erupting intermittently since March 2021. The routes change continuously according to the lava flow, but we recommend visiting it only if it is active (below all the info)


REYKJANESFOLKVANGUR NATIONAL PARK


We are still on the Reykjanes Peninsula and here you will found  hot springs, volcanic lakes, lava fields, black beaches and cliffs surrounded by a breathtaking landscape


 The 4 main stops are the following:

-Kelifarvatn: a deep volcanic lake surrounded by black beaches

-Walk on the wooden walkways across the steaming and bubbling geothermal field in Seltun 

- Graenavtn: an ancient crater that forms a turquoise volcanic lake

- The giant black cliffs of Krysuvìkurberg surrounded by lava fields

 

For the visit consider 2-3 hours



VOLCANS IN THE REYKJANES PENINSULA


 After centuries of inactivity, this area has started to erupt again!


-in March 2021 for about 6 months (Fagradalsjall)

-then again in August 2022 (Meradalir) for 1 month

- and again in July 10, 2023 (Litli-Hrùtur) for 1 month

- and a new Volcan very near to the town of Grindavik (that was evacuated since the beginning of Nov)  on Dec 19, 2023 for few days


 How to reach them?

The volcanos are located on the Reykjanes Peninsula about 50km south of Reykjavik, near Grindavík (sadly evacuated in November 2023 due to the risk of a very strong volcanic eruption right under the town and near the Blue Lagoon)



Parking P1 and P2 costs 1000ISK (about 7 euros) and can be paid online at https://parka.is/pay/geldingadalir/


For all the updated info on parking and especially on the paths that change continuously based on the eruption and the weather, visit https://www.visitreykjanes.is/en/volcano-eruption/eruption-information/hiking-and-parking


Before starting the trek, check the  safety conditions/opening of the path on https://safetravel.is/  and follow the instructions of the local authorities.


BLUE LAGOON


But is it worth it?


 It is certainly very touristy, crowded and not cheap .. but we could not miss the most famous Icelandic thermal pool! Set in a black lava field, its milky blue waters create a very scenic view


 Tips :

- to save money, book well in advance,  because the entrance ticket increases near the date and also there is a risk that it will be fully booked!

- avoid pic- hours from 10 to 14

- for all the info on costs and opening hours: www.bluelagoon.com


 As an alternative, slightly cheaper, but in an equally suggestive scenario, you can evaluate the newer SKY LAGOON (www.skylagoon.com)


REYKJAVIK


 Best of Reykjavik in 2-3 hours?


1.       Hallgrímskirkja, the iconinc cathedral of  Reykjavik.

2.       Rainbow Street, the colorful rainbow street symbol of freedom and diversity 

3.       Harpa, the photogenic concert hall in glass reflecting both the sky and the harbour

4.       The Old Harbour

5.       The Old Reykjavik, the heart of the capital with the Tjörnin lake and the City Hall


Practical info: for a good fish&ships and hamburgers at honest price in a lovely place, we suggest you to have dinner at 101 Bistro in the Old Reykjavik


GOLDEN CIRCLE


 we are about 100km from Reykjavik and to visit its 3 famous attractions considered 4-5 hours


1) Thingvellir National Park

 Site of the Iceland's first parliament (the first democratic parliament in the world).


The park is a UNESCO heritage site and here you can see the Óxarárfoss waterfall, the rock of the law (Logberg), one of the first Icelandic churches (Thngvallakirkja), the largest lake in Iceland (Thingvallavatn).


Last but non least,  do not miss the Hakid Viewpoint, the park's main viewpoint near the visitors center.


We advise you to choose a starting point and make a circular walk (about 2h)


2) Geyser/Strokkur

that erupts every 5-10 minutes with a powerful jet 15-30m high (Geysir, in fact it is now dormant)


3) Gullfoss

one of the most famous and powerful waterfalls in Iceland, which creates wonderful rainbows in the sunny days


Practical info: These attractions are free, but to visit the Thingvellir National Park, you need to pay the Parking using a QRcode (approx 5,5 euro)

 

THE 4 SOUTHERN WATERFALLS 


Seljalandsfoss: one of the most famous and unique waterfalls, as a path allows you to walk behind it! Avoid going early in the morning because Seljandfoss is in the shade!


Gljúfrabúi: a waterfall located inside a cave a few steps from the famous Seljalandsfoss ... you will take a shower  to see it, but don't miss it, because the wow effect is guaranteed!


Skógafoss: a spectacular waterfall with a jump of 60 meters that forms giant rainbows on sunny days. Do not miss also to climb the steep staircase near the waterfall for a panoramic view from above!


Kvernufoss :  after visiting Skogafoss , arrive to the near Skogar Museum, leave there your car and after a short walk into a canyon you will find in front of you this spectacular lesser-known waterfall set in a gorge and behind which you can walk!


Recommended clothing: waterproof! Because especially for Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi it is impossible not to wet! For the same reason we advise you to visit them at the end of the day or to bring with you some dry clothings


GLACIER SÓLHEIMAJÖKULL


 It is part of the larger Mýrdalsjökull glacier and this is one of the most easily accessible glacial tongues in southern Iceland


From the Parking a 1km path will take you to the foot of the glacier tongue and to a lagoon with icebergs: the view is truly spectacular!

 

But why the Glacier is black? Because it is covered by ash and volcanic sand…. only in Iceland the combination of Ice and Fire reach these levels of perfection


VÍK AND ITS SURROUNDINGS

what to do if you have half a day?


1)Vík í Mýrdal, the southernmost village of Iceland characterized by an iconic red and white church and bordered by Mount Reynisfjall on one side and the black sand beach with the sea stacks on the other side


2) Mini trek to Mt Reynisfjall, for a spectacular view on the black sand beach, the sea stacks, Vik and the Dyrhólaey promontory. It can be reached with an easy hike that starts from the village of Vik


3) Dyrhólaey Promontory, the panorama on the black sand beach, the lighthouse and the huge arch lashed by the sea is amazing from here! Ideal at sunset


4) Reynisfjara Beach: the famous black sand beach, with its iconic wall of basalt columns and the majestic Reynisdrangur stacks.


From mid-May to mid/late August, this is also a great spot to see puffins...so keep your eyes well opened and watch above the basalt columns!


WARNING: avoid getting too close to the shore because it is very dangerous due to sudden abnormal waves and very strong currents.


While we were there we saw stupid persons putting their feet in the sea or walking very close to the shore to take a shot or a video like-grabbing for IG ... but, don't do this, because you mustn’t joke with nature in Iceland and especially in this beach which over the years has been sadly famous for the several victims, so that it  is known also as  Death’s Beach.


So enjoy the wild beauty of this beach, but never turn your back on the sea and don't challenge it, because here the so-called snake waves are suddenly arised and unfortunately it's quick to turn into a tragedy


FJAÐRÁRGLJÚFUR CANYON

A majestic canyon in the southern Iceland with sheer walls that are  the result of erosion caused by the melting of glaciers thousands of years ago


A panoramic path starts from the parking lot along the entire length of the gorge: follow it all and get ready to take lots of amazing photos! 

SKAFTAFELL NATIONAL PARK


It is part of the larger Vatnajökull, one of the biggest  glacier in Europe


 Not to be missed in this area:

 1) Skaftafellsjökull glacier: from the Skaftafell visitor center, with a short and easy trekking (approx.  4km) you can arrive to the glacier


2) the ice caves: the most suggestive?  the Crystal Ice Cave! Obviously, they can only be visited in winter...so we'll be back to see this wonder of the nature!


3) the Svartifoss waterfall, surrounded by black basalt columns that resemble the pipes of a church organ. To reach it, you have to walk a 90-minute panoramic circular path



GLACIER SVINAFELLSJÖKULL


Svifellsjökull is part of the Vatnajökull too


How to get there? 

Near the Skaftafell National Park visitor center, you will find the detour that leads to the parking lot and in 10/15min a path will take you to the front of the glacier immersed in a glacial lagoon where icebergs float: from here the view is truly spectacular!

JÖKULSÁRLÓN AND FJALLSÁRLÓN LAGOONS   


To see icebergs, there are no better places than these 2 blue glacier lagoons at the foot of the Vatnajökull Glacier in southern Iceland!


We have seen them in a cloudy day that give us a suggestive atmosphere and the reflections ... but these are one of those places that are fascinating in practically any light, so

if you can, visit them at different times to enjoy them in different versions!


The Jökulsárlón lagoon is also a very good place to see the seals!

DIAMOND BEACH


A black beach studded with fragments of brillant blocks of ice of various sizes and shapes, coming  from the nearby glaciers and  brought by the sea on the shore, creating a very special effect… these are the “diamonds” that nature gives us: with the global warming, even more  precious!


This is the ideal place to express your creativity with the photos !!

STOKKSNES


For photos lovers, do not miss a photo stop (ideally at sunset) at the black beach of Stokksnes dominated by Mount Vestrahorn which offers postcard views


If you are particularly lucky, you will be able to catch the reflection of Mount Vestrahorn on the black beach !


To enter in the area, you need to pay a ticket of 1000 isk/per person at the nearby Viking Cafè


SEYÐISFJÖRÐUR AND THE EASTERN FJORDS        


The eastern fjords offer beautiful views at every turn…mountains falling down into the sea, picturesque fishing villages, cliffs, lighthouses…


Drive slowly and be prepared to stop often … namely, don't miss:

-the panoramic roads 92, 93, 94 and 96

- the village of BorgarfjordurEystri and Hafnarholmi promontory where you can see hundreds of puffins from May to mid- August

-Seydisfjördur , a picturesque village famous for its iconic little church at the end of a rainbow street


It is also one of the main ports to arrive in Iceland by sea: in particular, the Smyril Line ferries arrive here, departing from Hirtshals in Denmark, with the possibility of also stopping in the Faroe Islands. Sooner or later we will come back in Iceland in this way!!!


STUÐLAGIL CANYON


Stuðlagil Canyon: East or West? and then, wasn't the river water supposed to be emerald?


The color of the water actually depends on the period! In fact, the contrast of the basaltic columns on the emerald water can only be seen from mid-June to mid-August; in the rest of the year instead you have to settle for the always fascinating, but certainly less photogenic version of gray brown water


Why this color change?

Because from the end of August the Vatnajokull glacier releases  debris into the river and it loses its emerald color


The canyon can be visited from two sides: the east side or the west side

Here are the differences:


-EAST SIDE: you have to walk, but the view is undoubtedly more scenic as you get very close to the basaltic columns

How to get there: from the Ring Road take the dirt road n. 923 and follow the signs for KLAUSTURSEL.

Before the bridge, you will find a first car park, but if you have a 4X4, cross the bridge and immediately turn right, continuing by car for 2km on the slightly bumpy dirt road up to the second car park. From here it's about a 3km walk each way (on flat ground) and consider a couple of hours with the return (in fact, from the second parking lot you save 4km in total!)


-WEST SIDE: more easily accessible, but the view is very limited and not very scenic since it takes place from a platform from above

How to get there: from the Ring Road take the dirt road n. 923 and follow the signs for GRUND. At the end of the road you will find a parkin about 200 m from the panoramic platform which can be reached with a steep stair.


HVERIR GEOTHERMAL AREA  


Hverir is a geothermal area  near Mytvatn lake where you will see smoking fumaroles, large and boiling mud pools, surrounded by colorful sulphur crystals, all immersed in an ocher landscape: Very suggestive!


 Be prepared: this place is really scenic,  but the sulphur gives the area a not very pleasant smell ! Also put on a neck protector and sunglasses to shield your face from the annoying midges that infest the Myvatn area


MYTVAN LAKE


A volcanic lake in Northern Iceland and one of the largest in the whole country


Don't miss around the lake:

-Hverfjall crater: one of the largest and most symmetrical craters in the world. With a 15-minute walk uphill you can get to the top and from them  admire also the panorama of the lake from above!

-Grjótagjá, a lava cave with blue water

-Dimmobugir: a series of lava formations with bizarre shapes among which it is possible to walk!

-The pseudocraters of Skutsustadagigar


Nearby, visit  also the spectacular geothermal area of Hverir (see above info) and if you have time, go to the nearby Viti Crater Krafla, a blue lake inside a very photogenic and easily accessible crater!


 Curiosity: do you know what Myvatn means?

Lake of midges ... therefore we recommend wearing a hairnet or at least a neck protector and sunglasses to protect your face from the annoying midges that infest the area


THE NORTHERN WATERFALLS


1)Dettifoss,monumental, majestict, a true force of the nature


 But is it better to visit the west side or the east side? There is no bridge between the 2 entrances.


1.       East side: you have to drive on a dirt road, the n. 864. Choose this entrance for a closer view. From here you can also continue a couple of km to the fabulous viewpoint on the Hafragilsfoss waterfall and the Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon


2.       West side: it is easier to get there as the road is paved (no. 862) and here too the wow effect is guaranteed.


These indications are valid whether you are coming from the south from Lake Mytvan or from the north from Asbyrgi.

From both sides with a short walk you can also see the nearby Selfoss waterfall.


2) Godafoss: with the arched shape and the lake below it offers a postcard setting! Also called the "waterfall of the gods", because according to the  legend, the orator of the law Lagosumatur, returning from Þingvellir after converting to Christianity, threw pagan idols into its waters.


3) Rjukandafoss: 139 m high, this is one of the many waterfall that you can see from road 1 …a lovely stop driving from Egilsstadir to Myvatn Lake


HUSAVIK


One of the best places to see whales in Iceland is Husavik and so since the sea was calm, we have decided to try the 3-hour boat tour at the cost of 11300isk per person (about 80 euros) with North Sailing which organizes various tours every day (in a speed boat the tour is 2 hours and the cost is 19700isk per person). In September when we were there, there is no need to book in advance and we bought the tickets directly at the ticket office at the port. As an alternative, you can book the tour on getyourguide https://gyg.me/frJUerNI


We weren't very lucky because we only saw a couple of whales and not too close, but nature is also this - otherwise you have to go to the aquarium - so that's fine!


 TRÖLLASKAGI PENINSULA


The so-called Troll Peninsula with its mountains overlooking the sea, cliffs, fjords, lighthouses, little churches, fishing villages is a spectacle for the eyes!


For an off-the-beaten very scenic itinerary with breathtaking views of the north coast, take road 82 and 76!


 Must-see stops: the picturesque fishing village of Siglufjörður, the orange lighthouse of Siglunes, the small blue-roofed church and cliffs of Hofsòs, the small grass-roofed church of Grafarkirkja


 If you have time, arrive also to Reykir and take part to a boat tour to the islet of Drangey in the middle of Skagafjörður to see many seabirds on its 180m high cliffs (puffins until mid-August)


 WESTFJORDS


We have finally arrived in the remote Westfjords (only very little % of travelers get there)…… here you will find imposing cliffs, fjords, beaches, tiny villages, waterfalls….


 If you have a couple of days, here are the unmissable stops:


• Dynjandi waterfall

• The red beach of Raudasandur and the nearby black church

• The imposing cliffs of Latrabjarg 440m high and 14km long (populated by puffins until mid-August)

• the white beach of Orlygshöfn bathed by the turquoise sea overlooking the cliffs of Patreksfjordur, as well as the nearby lighthouse


 If you have more time, visit  the village of Bíldudalur arrive on the Arnafjordur point as well as up to Isafjordur in the north of the westfjords

 

Practical info:

-the roads are mainly gravels, full of potholes and therefore a 4x4 is needed

-Refuel whenever you can, because there are few petrol pumps

-If you have to choose, choose the southern part of the Westfjord which is  more beautiful


 SNÆFELLSNESS PENINSULA


cliffs overlooking the sea, lighthouses, beaches, fjords, volcanoes, lava fields, a glacier, fishing villages… the Snæfelsness Peninsula is a must-see!


 Highlights

-the iconic Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall

-  Budir’s black church immersed in the lava fields

- Ytri Tunga Beach populated by seals

- the black sand beach of Djúpalòn and its spectacular rocks formations

- The Malariff lighthouse and the nearby awesome Púfubjarg cliffs

- the Snæfelsjokull Glacier where Jules Verne set his novel "Journey to the Center of the Earth"

- the 2.5km coastal walk from Hellnar to Arnarstapi along a stunning coastline and lava fields

 - The picturesque village of Stykkishólmur and the Súgandisey lighthouse on the cliff overlooking Breidasfjörður



 

Other Practical info


FLEXIBILITY


When planning your itinerary, we recommend not being too tight with the days/things to see each day and if you have the possibility, add a buffer day here and there, so that you can have more than one opportunity to see especially those things that you are more interested in.


WHERE TO SLEEP


We suggest opting for guesthouses, cottages, farms to be more in contact with nature and in places with no light pollution and thus have a better chance of seeing the aurora in the evening, without moving your car. Furthermore, these types of structures are more characteristic than hotels!

Especially in the pic season (July - August) and in the South of Iceland, it is essential to book where to sleep well in advance (at least 6 months before the departure), because there is a lot of demand, the accommodation are few and the costs are high, especially near the date. So the only way to save moneys, it is to book in advance!

 

Important: preferably choose accommodation with kitchen facilities because eating out in Iceland is quite expensive and you will often be in the middle of nowhere in the evening, so you will be very happy to have the possibility of cooking your own meals!

 

We have been in Iceland at the end of August andwe fixed all our guesthouses in February, with Booking.com, with free cancellation (until a few days before departure) and we alternated guesthouses with shared bathroom and kitchen, with accommodation with private bedroom and kitchenette.

The level of cleanliness of the accommodation is very high in Iceland and they are often houses with few rooms, so sharing the bathroom and kitchen is also an experience that we recommend


EAT AND MEALS


Go to the supermarkets and prepare your meals!

 

Because eating out in Iceland is  - with few exceptions - very expensive and in any case finding a restaurant/bar is often not easy, especially outside the (few) town.

 

We also recommend preparing sandwiches for lunch, because you will spend 90% of your day in the nature, with nothing around you for km and km.

Furthermore, bring with you a thermos with hot coffee or tea, because often during the day you won't find nothing to buy it and we assure you that drinking something hot, after perhaps having caught the wind and rain, is a great pleasure!

 

Among the supermarkets, perhaps the best-stocked and with the cheapest prices is Bonus. Outside the larger centers, such as Reykjavik and Akureyri, be prepared to find few food shops and in any case they are always quite small and not well stocked.

Obviously, compared to Italy, the prices in Icelandic supermarkets are much higher.

 

CAR& CAMPER


4WD: yes or no?

 

In summer, if you staying on the most popular routes ( ring road and only seeing the main attractions), a car 4WD is not essential, but a medium-sized car will suffice (we do not recommend small cars because in any case there are many km to cover and some gravel roads should be done, even to visit the most popular places)

 

If you want to visit the Westfjords or venture onto the secondary roads (the F roads), a car 4WD is necessary. To be kept in mind that  if you go on F roads with normal cars (2WD), the insurance often does not cover in case of damages: so read carefully the rental conditions  to avoid unpleasant and expensive surprises

 

Since we also planned to do some F roads and go to the Westfjords, we opted for a car 4WD. We had booked a Suziki Vitara or Dacia Duster and then they upgraded us to a Kia Sportage. Anyway, these models are all good and are the ones you see around the most.

 

The cost of car rental is very high in Iceland especially in summer, so the only way to save a little is to book well in advance (at least 5-6 months before your departure).

 

In winter and late autumn, always remember to take a car with studded tires, otherwise driving on ice and snow is practically impossible

 

In Iceland, pay close attention to the wind that blows away/overturns the car doors...when you get out of the car, therefore, it is always good practice to hold the car door with your hand

 

Especially in the Westfjords and in general in the north, get gasoline whenever you can because there aren't many petrol pumps.

 

Is Iceland recommended for the camper or van?

 

Absolutely yes, in the summer it is an excellent way to travel around Iceland in freedom, keeping costs lower. There are in fact many campsites and if you stay on the ring road and visit the most popular attractions there are no problems. Obviously in a camper (if not 4WD) the F roads, the Westfjords and the central highlands should be avoided and when there is strong wind you need to be a little more careful.


PARKINGS AND TUNNEL


To visit the natural beauties in Iceland there is no entrance fee, but it often happens - especially in the Southern Iceland - that you have to pay for parking (usually with the PARKA app, or with Easy Park app or with App dedicated/QR codes to scan). The cost is fixed and usually varies between 750 – 1000 ISK (about 5-7 euros)

 

If you pass through Akureyri, remember to pay the tunnel toll on Tunnel.is (1650 ISK for cars). You can pay 24 hours before or after the passage.

 

APP THAT YOU NEED IN ICELAND


SAFETRAVEL.is and ROAD.is: to keep you updated in real time on any road closures, volcanic eruptions and weather warnings in general

 

VEDUR: a guarantee to check the weather forecast

 

MY AURORA FORECAST: to check the solar wind index (KP), cloud cover and the probability of seeing the Northern lights. Set the position you are to get the most accurate information and enable notifications so that the app warns you if the conditions for seeing the aurora are particularly favorable

 

Furthermore, especially when we are at home and we are abstinent from Aurora (because we assure you that once seen, it is addictive), we console ourselves with the webcams of the best places in the North to see the Northern Lights (mainly in Sweden and Norway)

 

PARKA: essential for paying the parking at the main naturalistic attractions, especially in Southern Iceland


NORTHERN LIGHTS


As soon as the darkness returns (so from the end of August until April), if the sky is clear and there is a sufficient KP index (at least 2-3), in Iceland there is the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights!

 

September and March tend to be the best months to see the Aurora because the sky tends to be less cloudy and on the occasion of the equinoxes the KP index (i.e. the solar wind) tends to be higher. Indeed, wesaw our best auroras at the beginning of September in Iceland this year and in Norway last year.

 

To check the KP index and cloud forecast, we recommend the "My Aurora Forecast" app

In general, there is not a specific place to see the Northern Lights, but it is sufficient that you look towards the Northas soon as it gets dark in any place with few lights (obviously when there is sufficient solar activity (KP index 2-3) and if the sky is clear ! For this reason, we recommend that in the evening, you opt foraccommodation immersed in the nature, so you can see the Aurora directly from there without having to move your by car.

 

But how do you photograph the Aurora?

 

You need a tripod and ideally a reflex or mirrorless camera with a lens with an F no higher  than 2.8 (we have a 1.8). You need to shoot in manual settings which however change every time depending on various factors... brightness of the aurora, presence or absence of the moon, light pollution...

 

In short, in our experience you have to manually focus the camera at infinity (pointing at something bright and distant: for example, a star). Then shoot with F on 1.8/2 (max 2.8), shutter speed (S) between 6 and 8 seconds and ISO approx 1600

Also don't forget to take the self-timer to avoid camera shake

 

But as we said, they are not fixed rules, they must be adapted to the evening and to each Aurora

 

When the Northern lights is particularly strong, you can even photograph it with your cell phone, if you need to have a good phone.

 

Finally, you need to know that the camera is able to capture more vivid green than the human eye so it is normal that with the naked eye you see a less intense green.

 

Sometimes the aurora is seen for a few minutes, other times it dances powerful in the sky all night long and when it happens it is truly a very strong emotion that we hope everyone will experience at least once in their lives!

 

INTERNAL HIGHLANDS


To also see the internal highlands - which from the photos we have seen must be of extraordinary beauty - it is necessary to have a third week and to rent a superior category 4WD, because the roads are all unpaved and you often have to cross rivers. As an alternative you can consider going with organized tours


WHEN TO GO


We went at the beginning of September and it is definitely a good time, because you can see Iceland as in summer, but the darkness has returned, so you can also see the Aurora.


Furthermore, in this period the number of travelers also decreases a little bit and therefore costs also reduce slightly


To see the midnight sun and puffins instead, we recommend June, July up to the beginning of August.


July and August are certainly the months in which there are more people and consequently the costs are also higher, especially in the south which is the most visited area


We have fallen madly in love with this country, as has happened to us so far only with Norway and we will certainly return there in winter to see it whitened and go to the ice caves which can only be seen approximately from December to mid-April.


COST


Iceland is an expensive country, especially in summer, but to save a little:


- Book flights, cars and accomodations well in advance (at least 6 months in advance)


- Book accommodations with a kitchenette or shared kitchen so you can prepare your meals (if you have room in your suitcase, bring some basic items from home, as even the prices in supermarkets are not exactly cheap)


- If you plan not to leave road 1 (from which you can visit almost all the main attractions) and not to visit the Westfjords, in summer you can also avoid a 4WD  car which is more expensive. But keep in mind that without a 4WD car you cannot take the secondary roads (so-called F roads) and if you do, be aware that eventual damages to the car are not covered by the insurance


- If you want to go to the Blue Lagoon, book it a few months in advance as prices increase near that date


OTHER CURIOSITIES AND UTILITIES

You can safely drink tap water which is the purest in the world and therefore not buy plastic bottles


The hot water from the shower often smells of sulfur because it comes from thermal springs: the smell does not remain on the skin and  after the shower your skin will be very soft

There are very few Icelanders (around 390,000 and half of them live in Reykjavik) and they tend to be a fairly shy population. It is said that before starting a relationship they must even check the family tree


You don't need cash, you pay for everything with your card


Plan a flexible itinerary because you may have to change the order of places for the weather conditions


Recommended reading: Iceland is famous for its myths and legends, we therefore recommend "The legendary Atlas of the Icelandic roads" which collects 60 legends about ghosts, wizards and Trolls


 

To discover more about our travel in Icelandhave a look to our posts and stories dedicated to Iceland on our Instagram page @2intourdated  September -December 2023

 

Did you enjoy our article? Read the other articles and for more photos and videos follow our IG page @2intour

 


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