For all the adventure lovers, here are the trip details to the land of fire & ice, mecca of steamy geysers and engine of cold winds… Iceland!!! This is a place where confluence of nature can be witnessed at its best.
Best time to Visit Iceland
Since Iceland is located close to the North Pole, the best time to visit Iceland to witness Northern Lights is from late August (July and August being the warmest months) to mid-April. And there is a very high likelihood of viewing the lights again in a period starting late September to late March. We visited Iceland in the first week of October when the temperatures were ranging from a low of about 2 degrees Celsius to a high of 7 degrees. The time we started from London showed wet days coming ahead in October.
We travelled with our 4-year-old daughter, Smaira and had pre-arranged for a rental car from Avis through rentalcars.com. The pickup and drop locations we selected were the airport itself. The booking was done well in advance for a hatchback car with Full Protection, considering gravel stones that fly up on the roads. It was mentioned by many blogs/websites to go for a 4-wheel drive car, but we booked a 2-wheel drive car considering the availability. The decision was a great one and we did not face any trouble driving the car.
Our journey plan was to start from Keflavik Airport –> Eyrarbakki –>Reykjevik –> Skogafoss as our final point. Please see the map below:
Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport
We boarded flight from London to Keflavik International Airport (KEF). At airport, we picked up our car.
Tip: Considering tough weather conditions, many highland tracks are open for a short part of summer. For driving to a little difficult areas/remote area it is advisable to check with the Icelandic Road Administration (Vegagerdin) – telephone +354 522 1000 – before you leave. They provide up to date information on all roads in the country and will also advise you on weather conditions as well.
At the airport, after checking out, we had to wade through a heavy storm to the car park. The car was just 50meters away from the exit door but with every two steps forward, we were pushed back one step and it was scary. This was a moment of freezing limbs especially for our four-year-old daughter, Smaira. We gathered courage, reached the spot after having beaten the winds, and heaved a sigh of relief once we were inside the car. What a start!!! But to our surprise, the weather changed dramatically in 30 minutes of drive. So, don’t be fooled by weather in Iceland, it changes quite quickly and the change in delightful.
Tip: Driving in Iceland is on the right-hand side of road. This information is particularly important for visitors from London, India!!!
We bypassed Reykjavik as we planned to not visit the city but to see the countryside in Iceland. We moved towards Eyrarbakki, South, Iceland where we had booked a deluxe Studio on the seaside, 10minutes from Selfoss Waterfalls link (we totally recommend this place)
Since we had the whole day with us, we stopped at so many places to click pictures before checking in at our accommodation.
Tip: Use WAZE app, much better than Google maps to locate and reach your destinations.
Here are the pics of our journey:
On the way, we stopped at Bonus (supermarket chain) to stock up on groceries for preparing food at night. We reached the apartment late in the evening (it was already dark by then) and had a lovely time cooking. After dinner, we decided to stroll by the seaside and we desperately wished to see the Aurora Lights but it was hard luck on the first night. In fact, after Minal & Smaira slept, I continued to stroll outside the apartment and later sit by the window till 2A.M. to see if I can get a glimpse of the Northern lights but to no avail.
Day 2: Spend entire day in Hella/Eyrabakki & sight-seeing:
We started early in the morning to check out Kirid crater. Here are the pics:
From there on, we halted at many places to click few pictures and moved to the next place:
Thingvellir National Park
The Park has many highlights of its own with my favorite being walk through a rift valley that will have the North American tectonic plates on one side and the Eurasian plates on the other; and this was the place where Game of Thrones Season was also shot (for all GoT fans).
Tip: There are many entry points for you to reach to the Park. Explore well on Google maps before going to one point as each point would offer a different scenic view and would be connected by a walkway to every other point. Payment is a must once you drive through an entry point and make sure you carry a credit card for making the payment at the vending machines.
Points to consider:
- There’s a restaurant and a souvenir shop at the top of the cliff at national park. Do visit the same.
The next stop for us was to visit the Geysirs. Here are the pics:
Right across the road there was a souvenir shop with very good quality and ample choice of options were available.
The final stop for the day was Gulfoss waterfalls. Here follow the maps again and though there are two entry points (no payment to be made here), use the one that comes first which helps you in two ways:
- It allows you to drive your vehicle closest to the waterfalls.
- It avoids the unnecessary steps/trek to reach closest to the waterfalls.
By the time, we reached here , it was already dark. So we could not manage to take many pics. But nevertheless , this place is beautiful.
After having enjoyed the day to the fullest, we came back home and Voila, were lucky enough to see the Northern lights in their full glory. It was a serpentine dance of the energy (lights) that created a path of its own in the dark sky and hypnotised us to follow as if taking us to the heavenly abode. We did not click the pictures since we were driving and after a while we decided to park and enjoy the beauty of the lights.
Day 3: To Skogafoss:
Kledur Turf Houses
Early morning, after having checked-out, we decided to visit Kledur Turf Houses. This was a place where the turf houses are set against a beautiful farm backdrop, adjacent river, a church at the top. This was literally a no-man’s land. Here are the pics:
Tip: Make sure the drive here is slow on account of flying gravel/stones.
Next stop was the Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. This place is worth a visit. While from a distance , the waterfall looks quite ordinary, but if you go closer, you can literally walk behind the waterfall. The views from behind are breath taking. Here are the pics:
This waterfall is 1.2 mile easy trail walk from Seljalandsfoss waterfalls . This is quite a hidden waterfall and not many people visit there. Totally recommend this place. Its a beautiful waterfall and in order to visit the same you have to walk in running water and pass a rock to get in. One needs to have waterproof shoes and gear to get in. While I could capture the view from outside, I couldn’t visit inside. Minal being more sporty, went inside and she totally loved the fall (but sadly didn’t take any pic).
From here we moved to Skogafoss waterfall in the evening. Adjacent to the waterfall, there are stairs (430 steps) and you can get to the top of the waterfalls and enjoy the beautiful picturesque here. Also, you can walk along the river at the top. We just walked for a little while, may be 300-400 meters and you would feel like being a part of the nature’s design!!! But Smaira was tired by now so we had to turn around. Do explore more if you can!!! We strolled a little more before checking in at our accommodation in Skogafoss. This was again Airbnb reservation with the following views:
The apartment was cosy & petite, and Smaira looked for an early sleep considering she was really tired. After Smaira had slept, at around 1 AM, we wrapped her around in warm clothes/blankets and made her sleep in the car seat, and decided to drive to Seljalandsfoss waterfalls and nearby areas to see if we could witness the Northern Lights again. Luck wasn’t really on our side and we ended up seeing a very low intensity Northern lights while waiting for almost an hour in the car.
Tip: Entire Iceland is very safe even during nights. Sometimes, our own insecurities ought to get the better of us, so don’t worry, explore and enjoy the place to the fullest!!!
Day 4: Returning back to Keflavik International Airport:
Next day, early morning we visited Seljalandsfoss waterfalls once more. With fewer tourists, it was a treat to view the waterfalls early mornng.
Now, we drove back to Keflavik International Airport for our flights back home and halted the car at various points (we had extra time considering the drive was nearly 2.5 hours and our flights were in afternoon).
Hope you enjoyed reading and all the best for your Iceland Voyage.
Point to consider:
- No need to carry International Driving Permit in case you already have a valid UK License.
- Please do make sure you carry your credit card used for online bookings and few entry points as mentioned above.
- Carry as many extra layers of clothing; highly recommended especially for kids. Carry waterproof shoes, especially waterproof boots for kids and caps, scarves, and sweaters/jackets.
As usual, I would like to highlight how important it is for all of us to take along nice, sturdy camera that makes the whole experience life lasting in form of lovable memories!!! And here I post this amazing piece of device from Canon which I very strongly believe stands true to its name and lineage. Canon DSLR