We decided to take a 4-days-trip to Iceland in 2017. Iceland has so much to offer and we had a hard time figuring out what to prioritize of all the different nature attractions. We did a lot of research in advance, and figured out that we wanted to discover as much as we could of the south part of Iceland for this trip. There is so much to see up north as well, but we figured out that we needed more than 4 days to be able to see everything. Shorter distances between the natural wonders in the south also made this our choice.
We made an estimated plan on where to go on our trip, and we made it to all of the destinations, and even got a few surprises on the road! We decided to have a base in Reykjavik and stayed there at an apartment through Airbnb.
Our route looked like this:
- Day 1: Kirkjufell mountain and Stóra Grábrók
- Day 2: Skogafoss, seljalandsfoss and the wreckage of the famous airplane
- Day 3: Black sand beach, Dyrhoalaey and Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
- Day 4: Reykjavik and Blue lagoon
1.0 Kirkjufell mountain
Kirkjufell is located in Snaefellsnes, close to Grundarfjordur town, which is compared to google maps a two-hour drive from Reykjavik, but I would rather say a three-hour drive, as the road is narrow and winding further north. This is the only location we got to see that’s north of Reykjavik. Just the road going up there was a sight in itself, and parking was both easy and free of charge. We met a few other tourists there, but I think we were lucky, as it is a very popular place to visit.
We didn’t have any other places on our list to see in the same area, so it was long drive only to see one attraction. But it was a beautiful sight and worth the drive for sure!
1.2 Stóra Grábrók
On our way back to Reykjavik from Kirkjufell we stopped by a friend of mine who at the time lived in Borgarnes. She took us to a crater named Stóra Grábrók in Borgarbyggð. We hadn’t heard of it, but it was quite a sight! There were stairs all the way up to the volcano and a path around the top so that we could walk around what once has been an active volcano. If your passing Borgarnes I defiantly recommend finding this place. We barely got to see the sunset on top of the volcano before the fog covered most of the view. A really unique experience!
What a day! On day two of our trip we really got to see a lot, and that because all of the destinations planned were so close to each other! It took roughly 25 minutes to drive from Seljalandsfoss to Skogafoss, and about 12 minutes from Skogafoss to the crashed airplane. So this is a perfect plan for a day trip!
The first waterfall we got to was Seljalandsfoss. And its breathtakingly beautiful. Visiting the waterfalls are a must when discovering the south-coast of Iceland.
A path led us behind the waterfall, and in the rays of sunlight a bright rainbow appeared in the fall. But do bring a raincoat as you will get soaking wet from the drizzle.
In walking distance, you will find Gljúfrabúi waterfall. We almost missed it as its very well hidden in a almost cave-like formation. Due to the amount of water, we weren’t able to walk inside to see the waterfall, so we climbed to the top. Such a sight, but difficult to get good pictures.
Skógafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland, with a drop of 60 meters and a width of 25 meters, and you can walk right up to the top on the sides. This is definitely my favorite waterfall of all time. Insane.
If you are going to Skógafoss, you should definitely save some time to go on top. We were lucky enough to catch the sunset up there providing an unforgettable moment of a breathtaking view. So moody.
1.5 The wreckage of the crashed airplane in Vik
We were so fascinated by Skogafoss that we completely forgot about the time, but luckily the airplane wasn’t far from our current location. I believe it only took us about 12 minutes to get there. (11km) But we were in for a surprise..
We found it hard to find information about it online, and the road leading to the plane is now permanently closed as it is on private ground and the sand can be pretty soft. You really don’t want to be stuck there with your rental car, because normally there are not many people around.
On the other hand, we were able to park our car at a parking lot near the road and started walking. Little did we know that it would take us over an hour to get there from the ring road. It was starting to get dark, but we still went for it, hoping we would make it in time to get a few photos. And it turned out we actually were really lucky as when we got there, it was only us and the airplane, all alone. We met many tourists on the way, that was going back to their cars. During daytime, it may be crowded with tourists, so if you want to take a lot of pictures, it might be an idea to either go early or late as we did.
The epic plane wreck is located in the middle of nowhere on the Black sand beach in South Island, making it look unearthly. It’s one of Iceland’s most iconic & haunting photography locations.
If you don’t know where to look, it can be a difficult place to find, as the plane cannot be seen from the road. If you’re driving in direction from Reykjavik, you will find a parking lot on your right about 11 km from Skogafoss. There are no road sign, so keep your eyes open.
Here are also the coordinates to the exact location (63 27.546-19 21.887) and here is a map showing the directions from Skogafoss to the airplane.
1.6. Black sand beach
When we got back to the car after seeing the airplane it was suddenly 1AM and I was way to tired to start drive back to Reykjavik which was a 2 –hour drive. Especially since we would have to drive the same way back early the next morning as the destinations planned for day three only were 25 minutes from our current position (Airplane). So we decided to drive back to Skogafoss to sleep in the car for a few hours. The waterfall was beautifully lit up with blue lights, but due to the cold, we didn’t sleep for very long.
5AM I drove to Back sand beach and parked on top of a mountain view, and I’ve never seen anything this beautiful in my life. It was a pink sunrise in a foggy morning, no tourists and beautiful rock formations all around. It was defiantly worth the cold night in the car. If you’re considering going to black sand beach I highly recommend to do it early in the morning or stay in a car, motorhome or tent, because the sunrise is breathtaking.
We didn’t have to drive far to get down to the beach itself, and in the same area you’ll find Dyrhólaey which is a view point that gives you a sweeping view of the south Icelandic coastline and the unique mountains. The road up there is rocky and narrow, but worth the run. I recommend everyone to spend a whole day driving around Vik, as it is a lot to see around.
1.7 Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
Fjaðrárgljúfur lies about an hour away from Vik further west. (good luck pronouncing that!) The direct translation for it in English is ‘Feather River Canyon’ and is one of Iceland’s most visited canyons. It is a nice hike around it, and possibility to walk very close to the edges. We also took a walk along the river in the bottom. Really recommend taking this trip and enjoy the stunning scenery.
1.8 The blue lagoon
The Blue Lagoon, is a geothermal spa, filled with seawater, which is said to have natural healing powers. The water which is rich in silica and minerals, have a special milky blue tone to it and is very good for your skin. There is also plenty of Silica Mud to put on your face and body in the natural pool.
After some very intense days of driving and hiking it felt really good to finish the trip with a spa experience in the most beautiful Icelandic landscape.
The spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík, approximately 20 km from Keflavík International Airport and 39 km from the capital city of Reykjavík. (Roughly a 20-minute drive from the airport and a 50-minute drive from Reykjavík.)
Should you rent a car?
I would say that renting a car in Iceland is the best way to get around. There are plenty of tour-buses to choose from, but then you have to stick to a timeframe at every attraction. We couldn’t see any bus stations around out on the countryside either, so not sure how it is to get around everywhere using public transportation.
We used lagooncarrentals.com, where we went for their cheapest model. We paid 90$ each day. A bit pricey, but if you travel in pair or with others its ok. And for us, essential to go where we wanted to. The company did to our pleasant surprise upgrade our car without charge, so we got a much better car to drive around with as well!
And a significant tip to others driving in Iceland: there are speeding controls everywhere! And yes, I had to pay for it.. Got a speeding ticket at about 230 $..
Where to stay
Well I have to be honest here.. we decided, due to our tight budget, to only stay in Reykjavik through Airbnb, as all of our destinations of choice where within a range of 4 hours from the city. (or as we thought) I do believe that google maps should reconsider some of its time-estimations in Iceland, because we were driving for hooouuurss more than what google told us.
So. Imagine finally coming “home” to an apartment after a whole day of hiking and driving and then to realize the bedroom only had a tiny single bed for two people. Haha. That’s probably the biggest but only disappointment of the trip, but we made it out. Other than that, the owner was really nice, and we got to use the kitchen to make food at home.
Anyway, what I wanted to say was that driving back and forth to Reykjavik was really exhausting. Especially when I was the only one driving. We spent whole days out exploring and hiking. I deeply recommend doing some more planning on where to stay, so that you will have more time to explore this beautiful country. Or rent a van or motorhome during the summer months so that you can stay wherever whenever you want!
Next post up will be – How we travelled Lofoten in 4 days!