We went on an Iceland road trip in October 2015, which is a great time to visit Iceland. It is not yet super cold, it doesn’t ran every day and it is just outside the peak tourist seasons which means everything is a little quieter – perfect! There will be a number of posts about this trip split in to single days in most cases, however we started the trip with a few days in Reykjavik, using it as a base for the capital area, so some of those days are grouped together here… Everything in this post is in easy driving distance from Reykjavik (or in many cases there is no self driving involved as tour companies can come and pick you up).
The first day was taken up by travelling from the UK with Iceland Air and the only reason I have included it is to give 2 bits of advice. The first is that you can take some evening flights from London which get you to Iceland fairly late. These are great flights because (especially if you’ve never driven there before) you get a chance to get used to the roads and car when its quiet on the roads, but also for the cost of a single night in a hotel extra you get an entire day extra to enjoy this beautiful country. This leads me to advice number 2! Don’t bother getting an airport hotel – Reykjavik is just over 30 minutes drive, and definitely don’t make my rookie mistake of searching for an airport hotel on expedia and not double checking the distance (it was only 10 minutes further to Reykjavik)!
Originally we were going to spend this day with Iceland Riverjet – the only commercial jet boat tour operator in Europe as far as I can tell, but they cancelled the day before our flight, which is a HUGE shame. Instead we took this opportunity to wander around Reykjavik and take in some sights. We visited the Saga museum which is a great snapshot of the countries history, and at the other end of the scale checked out the phallological museum – that’s right a museum whose motto is “it’s all about dicks”. This place takes a lot of flack on trip advisor, but check it out… its got to be a tongue in cheek visit to make sure you enjoy it!
Reykjavik is a really easy place to explore by foot with a number of parking options. The main car park we used was right next to the marina, but be careful… this can get very busy early in the day and on weekends. Another fairly big parking option is at Harpa (the concert hall), but being a big tourist attraction in itself as well as having very good security this is a more expensive option – although one thing I must say is that the machines would not take my UK debit or credit cards, and on our first day I had no coins for these coin (or card) only machines.
After a little exploration we drove just outside the city center to the Reykjavik Lights Hotel, which makes a nice and quiet base for a trip of the local area – although it’s not great if you like to go out and drink in the evenings without a big taxi bill!
On this day we did our first real bit of driving – and oh my god is it beautiful once you get about 20 minutes out of Reykjavik! The purpose of todays drive was to take a drive to an activity which many people would expect from Iceland but which only one company actually offers… Dog sledding. This is a practice which comes from Russia, Greenland, Canada and USA mainly, but Iceland lends itself fairly well to the sport thanks to the fairly cool temperatures (although for these dogs, the colder – the better). The company which runs these tours is great and they have lovely people working for them – not to mention having a great tea of dogs. We did the more expensive package which involved getting the dogs and setting up the sled – I really recommend this as it gives you a great insight in to how strong they are… They will almost pull you off your feet!
Half way through the tour you get to have a good cuddle with the dogs so really one for dog lovers, but beware that if helping set the dogs up you will get a bit dirty and smelly! Also during the summer when there’s no snow its a cart with wheels which you get pulled along in, which is ok but I think the tour would have been much better on snow!
After the tour we were given some advice to not head back the way we came but go the other way coming out near Selfoss by heading back towards road 1… The reason behind this was to get to Urridafoss which I a beautiful hidden gem of a waterfall. Having taken the morning tour we had plenty of time to enjoy this stop-off and then to grab some lunch in Selfoss on our way back in to Reykjavik to relax for the evening and taking in the little zoo near our hotel.
One thing which Iceland is famous for is its horses – and even though they are small you really offend the people who keep this breed by calling them Icelandic ponies.
I have never been horse riding and so we went with Ishester as they do a tour suitable for beginners. The track is through beautiful terrain, the staff are really friendly and the horses are gorgeous, but I must say that now that I have been horse riding, it’s really not for me so there won’t be much information here! All I will say is that they chose the perfect horse for me – it stopped to poo once, peed 3 times, stopped for food twice and even at the end decided that he wanted to go a different direction… and all that in the space of about 40 minutes!
This was a morning tour so we used the afternoon to have dinner but on either side we visited the Aurora museum which is a really interesting place, and then went to the volcano house, which is basically a documentary cinema, but well worth a look… some advice for them however would be to sell some popcorn! We were really in the mood for some.