The Perfect 1-Week Roadtrip Through Iceland

A day at Jokulsaron ice lagoon

To kick off this year's travels in style, little bro and I booked a road trip through 2017's most sought after destination: Iceland. Though we only had six days, we managed to cover the south of the island at a relaxed but comprehensive pace. If you're keen to explore this beautiful pocket of Iceland, here's our highly recommended itinerary. 

Pre-planning

Given the country's notoriously high prices, we booked everything four months in advance to save ourselves money and stress. We found a cheap Easyjet flight after browsing both Kayak and Skyscanner. We booked three quirky guesthouses (much cheaper than hotels) via Booking.com. And we hired an inexpensive car with Flizzr, which we picked up upon arrival just near Keflavik airport. Unfortunately, we were also tricked into every auto insurance under the sun + GPS + wifi, which in hindsight we didn't really need. Don't get upsold on all the extras. If you've got a good smartphone, just get wifi and stick to the basic insurance; this will more than suffice. 

Day 1

Given our 3am start, we decided to treat ourselves with good Icelandic food and strong coffee in one of the Reykjavik's coolest cafes, Cafe Laudromat.

Laundromat Cafe, Reykjavik

Fresh meatballs 

Fully fuelled, we braced ourselves for our long journey east, defeating rain, snow, hail and sleet to arrive at Brunholl Guesthouse and Dairy Farm late into the night.

Our first scenic pitstop - Seljalandsfoss

Though we'd aimed to arrive before dark, with all the photogenic views to tempt us along the way, we failed miserably. The Seljalandsfoss waterfall (see above), which you can walk behind and get drowned in its mist, was our first and favourite pitstop. 

Of course, this meant our five hour trip quickly turned into eight hours. We survived (barely) to advise all future travellers: avoid driving at night on your first day in Iceland. The weather's too unpredictable and it's simply too dark. Get your bearings first and save yourself the worry.

Day 2 

Revitalised after a good night's sleep, we drove to one of Iceland's absolute must-sees (and my highlight of the trip) - the Jokulsaron ice lagoon. And it certainly did not disappoint. Despite the icy breeze, we explored every last inch of the lagoon, watching the ice drift by whilst breathing in that pristine Icelandic air. 

Jolkarsaron ice lagoon. Is this real life?!

When we'd had our fill, we wandered over to the nearby beach only to be utterly mesmerised by the ice shards drifting in from the sea and onto the pitch-black volcanic sand. Don't rush this bit. Give yourself enough time to watch the ice change shape and colour with every wave that crashes in. 

 Natural ice shards on a black beach 

Natural ice shards on a black beach 

Playing with ice 

Day 3

With Ariel officially over his jetlag, we decided to go on a hike. We wrapped up warm, strapped on our hiking boots and headed up Skaftafell National Park for a day of fitness and flora. Oh, and some cute Icelandic horses too! 

Beautiful Icelandic horses

Our backpacks filled with sandwiches (and beer), we headed up the hills. Along the way, we spotted the Svartifoss waterfall, its beautiful cascades crashing against this stunning rock formation.

Skafatell waterfall 

We finished the day with a long soak in Hotel Lambafell's jacuzzi to ease our tired muscles. Most hotels in Iceland will have access to a hot tub, so do your research and ensure you can unwind after a long chilly day exploring the island.

Our beautiful log cabin with accompanying hot tub

Day 4

Feeling sore but fresh, we aimed for a more relaxed day in Vik, with a stop at the stunning Skogafoss to get the day started. We braved it and ran under the heavy mist before climbing to the top to peak over the edge at the eye-watering drop. 

The Skogafoss waterfall "drop"

Then we headed to the infamous black beach, known not just for its astonishing beauty but also for knocking a tourist or two into the sea. We crawled into caves, attempted to climb the rocks and fought sleet and snow during our long wander along beach. 

Black sands at Vik beach 

Day 5

We worked our way back west and through the Golden Circle for three essential pitstops - the Geysir, Gullfoss and Pingvellir National Park in search of the Sifra fissure. This place marks the spot where the tectonic plates divide North America and Europe. We loved all three, but the hordes of tourists (and buses) came as a shock after having spent a few days in more rural Iceland. If you've got the time the spare be sure to explore well beyond this famous trio.

Nevertheless, the Geyser is a must-see. It erupts every few minutes and if you're patient enough (and can tolerate the strong smell of sulphur) you can watch it explode again and again. Or at least until you've got your perfect photo.

Geysir in its full glory 

But it was Gullfoss that left me speechless. With the sun on its best behaviour, we spotted a double rainbow alongside frozen cascades. To think developers nearly knocked this natural wonder down to replace it with a dam. We very nearly froze our ears off, but it was well worth it.

Gullfoss and its double rainbow

We finished the day by warming up with some Reyka vodka before heading out to party like the locals in Reykjavik's city centre. 

Day 6

We awoke to some gorgeous sunshine and spent the day exploring Reykjavik's quaint city centre. We grabbed a hearty breakfast in the beautiful Bergsson Mathus restaurant, shopped the high street (beauty for me of course) and dropped into the exotic Hallgrimskirkja church.  

Colourful Reykjavik

Interiors at Bergsson Mathus

Hallgrimskirkja church

In the late afternoon we headed out to the Blue Lagoon to finish our trip on a high. We enjoyed every last minute of our pamper in the lagoon and its countless steam rooms and saunas. Read more about our lagoon experience. And why I love Icelandic hot tubs so much. 

Chiling in the Blue Lagoon

After a few blissful hours we very reluctantly jumped back into the cold to grab our things and head back to Keflavik for our late night flight.

[N]iceland, we've fallen in love and we'll be back very soon!


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