Icelandic road trip
Finally made it! Iceland has always been on my list of top countries to visit. And finally, I can say: “been there – done that”.
It`s been already a while since we got back from the Land of Fire and Ice, but planning our wedding consumed most of my free time. So I was not able to write anything worth reading or even look through my photos … I took thousands of them – I think it’s time to share! And since it is really a lot, I will be throwing them systematically in separate posts. So keep calm and stay tuned!
Let`s start with some general information – maybe something will come in handy!
Located in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean, idyllic Iceland, is often called a bridge between two continents. A beautiful land of contrasts, where fire and ice interact with each other. A paradise for people who love nature and for those looking for adventures. No wonder, that it attracts more and more tourists every single year. During the high season there are 3 times more tourists than Iceland has residents. The south of the island is definitely more crowded than the north, due to the fact, that there`s supposedly more “top” and “well known” attractions there. Therefore, when creating your own itinerary, you need to be aware of that, and things like car, accommodations and any guided tours you should book well in advance. Thank God, there are still lots of places in Iceland, that are hard to reach, where you can contemplate this mesmerizing beauty in peace, with no tourists in sight. Let`s hope it will stay like that!
Not without a reason for our first trip to Iceland, we went in summer – mid-July. You can expect best weather conditions then: higher temperatures and the midnight sun, so you will have even more time to explore. Road conditions are also incomparably better. Not to mention the fact, that during the summer almost all roads are open (especially those minor roads, leading to the center of the island). For us – it was very important.
The direct flight from Copenhagen took around 3 hours. With no clouds, you can see Iceland from above!
At Keflavik airport, I would recommend doing first shopping – alcohol in duty free! Icelanders drink – a lot. This is maybe one of the reasons why alcohol is not easily accessible. You won`t find anything stronger than 2.25% in any supermarket except the state-run shop Vínbúðin. They are often open only a few hours during the day and probably I don`t have to mention that the prices are very high! After shopping, we went for a meeting with the guys from ICEPOL, from whom we rented a car for 16 days of our trip.
I can totally recommend ICEPOL company! Problem-free guys and a very good contact – in case of some unpredictable things (yay, that`s us), they will get to you and repair the car on the spot. They even helped another couple to cross the river! Most importantly – they have the lowest prices! No bureaucracy, no deposit – just pay and go! Cars may be a little bit old, but they definitely know how to survive in Icelandic conditions. Our Mitsubishi Pajero did a great job and it was not only a perfect transportation, but also our home for most of the trip! And someone who came up with an idea of mattress instead of a back seat should get a reward. For us, it was so much better option than doing tents every day. Besides – more comfortable, warmer, quieter and faster – you wake up and simply continue your journey.
We`ve talked a bit with the guys, did a quick shopping. Time to go!
Iceland has one main road. Route No. 1, is a picturesque ring road with a length of 1332 km. It takes less than 16 hours to drive it without stops, but probably that`s not the point. To visit the whole island in summer, you will need at least a week. There are many top tourist attractions along the way, which are definitely worth checking out on your map, but in my opinion the most important thing is to stay flexible and not stick to a hard itinerary ! You’ll want to stop every 10 minutes anyway to take some pictures.
The weather conditions in Iceland are unpredictable and change quite often. Due to a rain or strong winds, some routes may be closed. So check the weather forecast and road condition. We used www.road.is. Even when open, remember, that you still need a 4WD for most of mountains roads. Wherever you find yourself, be careful and watch out for SHEEPS! If something can kill you on the road, it`s them.
Same as the weather, landscape on your way changes non-stop. The beginning of the route (from Reykjavik) is not very interesting, especially if someone has already crossed Norway. The farther you get in to the wilderness, the more beautiful places appear on every corner. So turn at least a little bit from the main road and explore something new. Just remember that off-road driving is forbidden!
For us, the most beautiful parts of the island were in the middle of nowhere, away from anything.