We’re celebrating Memorial Day this weekend with a first for FromSwamptoSummit – a guest blogger who is none other than A, sometimes referred to as Daughter #1. You’ll recall that in early March 2015 J and I travelled with friends from Florida to Iceland for what we thought was a reasonable long weekend trip. Just over a year later, A made the same decision. Except she departed from Boston; it was May; and the days were almost 24 hours long. Her account follows (with a little bit of commentary from her mother). Compare and contrast to last year’s trip: Iceland Part 1 – A Day in Reykjavik, Iceland Part 2 – The Golden Circle, or All Roads Lead to Fludir, Iceland Summits: A Glacier Melts – Part 3, and Iceland, Land of Tomatoes – The Final Chapter. No, you don’t have to write a 250 word essay in response. Just enjoy.
I got in at 5 AM (WOW airlines) so arriving was really disorienting. We did the Golden Circle first, and rented a car (I’d recommend Blue Car Rental if you rent one – they were reasonably priced and very responsive). If you don’t rent a car, there are a bunch of bus tours you can take, but honestly I think it was cheaper to rent a car than pay for individual trips.
First Day: drove from the airport to Vik (where we spent the night) – this was our longest drive and potentially not the best to do without any sleep, but still very beautiful. We stopped at: Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Dyrhólaey sea cliffs / black sand beaches. (Anything that ends with “foss” is a waterfall.) Spent the night at an airbnb – Vik is a really tiny, very pricey town, but it’s super convenient for that end of the golden circle.
Second Day: we realized we had gone to most of the places featured in Justin Bieber’s video “I’ll show you” so we hiked to the airplane (Sólheimasandur) featured in it. It’s a random stop on the highway and you have to walk a total of about 3.5 miles there and back to see it – there’s literally nothing to see but the crashed airplane. Definitely only worth it for the pictures (but the pictures we took were really cool…) – we went early in the morning and were the only ones there, but it could potentially be super crowded in the summer. Photo at the top of the post.
We stopped by the glacier, but we didn’t do any tours so we couldn’t walk onto it – this is potentially something worth paying for though! [Note from the Mother – yes, it is worth paying for!]
We went to a bunch of places on this day, all very close to each other and fairly short drives: Kerið crater, Gullfoss, Strokkur geyser, Laugarvatn Fontana Hot pool (bring your swimsuit!), Skálholt (interesting old church – probably not worth going too far out of your way for it), lunch at Friðheimar (tomato green house! really delicious), stayed at a hostel in Selfloss: Austurvegur (fairly clean and pretty cheap). Selfloss is not very exciting, but another useful stop from sites on the Golden Circle.
Third Day: Drove to Reykjavik, on the way there: Geothermal Energy Exhibition at Hellisheiði Power Plant (if you’re interested about how geothermal works, really good overview; if you’re not interested, probably skip), Þingvellir park (Iceland’s national park, give yourself plenty of time here – it takes a while to walk everywhere and I was really hangry by the time we left. [Note from the Mother: I wasn’t sure if “hangry” was a typo or was meant to be a combination of hungry and angry, so I left it.]
We didn’t snorkel while we were there, but I’ve heard (and seen) that the snorkeling in Silfra is amazing – it’s pretty expensive, but potentially worth it.
Third/Fourth/Fifth Day in Reykjavik: We returned the car in the city and explored. We gave ourselves about a day and a half (I had about 2 days with the way my flight worked), and that was ample time to visit museums and see things. It’s a really small city! We bought the Reykjavik city card (gets you free access to most of the museums AND the pools), definitely saved us a lot of money. We basically went to all the museums, hung out in the city center, and went to one fancy restaurant: 3 Frakkar. We went to one of the pools close to our airbnb a bunch of times – you can rent towels there. You don’t need a car (or even a bike) in the city because it’s so small. As long as you get an airbnb near museums and the city area, you’ll be fine.
– Look up washing protocol for the pools – they’re very serious about it!
– Food is pretty good, but not amazing and fairly over priced; in some ways I wish we had gone to a grocery store and stocked up on some food to eat for lunch, because we ended up eating a number of subpar pricey meals.
– The days were SO LONG when I was there. It means you can wander around so much longer – we were at one of the waterfalls at like 8 pm and thought it was 5! I saw night one time at 1:30 am.
Lots of great tips! Can’t wait for my own trip coming up. Glad to see you enjoyed it so much.