Like Mother, Like Daughter – A’s Excursion to Iceland


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 ReykjavikIceland 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.

Here’s what A missed on the glacier

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.

General notes:
– 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.

One thought on “Like Mother, Like Daughter – A’s Excursion to Iceland

  1. nvk2 May 29, 2016 / 1:46 am

    Lots of great tips! Can’t wait for my own trip coming up. Glad to see you enjoyed it so much.


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