Hey fellow travelers!
Two weeks ago I was able to travel around Iceland for 5 days and it was nothing short of extraordinary. I was accompanied by 5 of my dear friends (AP, Zane, Evan, Chris, & Josey), which made the trip even more memorable. We managed to keep our trip’s cost around $800 per person (which included hostel costs, food, transportation, and airfare). I kept a travel diary throughout the trip to record all of our shenanigans and I plan on making a post for each day we were in Iceland. The following is what we did our first day when we explored an area of northwest Iceland.
On Monday at 4:50am we landed at Keflavík International Airport surprisingly awake and eager to start our Icelandic adventures. We picked up our rental car, which was a Ford “van” but it barely fit the 6 of us and our backpacks, and departed from the airport towards Snæfellsnes peninsula. It was a beautifully scenic 3.5 hour drive to our hostel, the Freezer, in Rif. The beginning of the drive was pretty boring since it was dark out, but around 8:30am the sun rose and we saw what seemed to be endless mountains. Once we reached Snæfellsnes, we made a loop around the peninsula on Road 54 to check out some cool sites along the way. Our first stop was at a waterfall called Bjarnarfoss, which was literally right next to someone’s backyard. It was a little bit of a walk up to the water, but the views once you reached it were amazing!
The next destination we stopped by was Raudfeldsgjá Gorge, which was just a few miles away from the waterfall. The gorge is basically what the name depicts because we drove up to what seemed like a crack in the mountains. Just like the waterfall, it was a hike to get up to it, but it was way cooler up close. You can even navigate into the gorge and go inside the mountain by maneuvering over rocks in the stream that runs through it. Beware: the rocks can be real slippery!
After finishing at the gorge, we hopped back on Road 54 and headed towards Snaefellsjoekull National Park that lies on the tip of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. The park itself is gorgeous with lava fields, caves, a glacier, cliffs, and a volcano. Our first stop within the park was at the cliffs near Lóndrangar, which are a pair of rock pinnacles that were formed due to erosion. You can walk all the way down to Lóndrangar from the parking lot by following the cliff’s edge. The views from the cliffs were simply breathtaking, but the views facing away from the cliffs towards the mountains were equally as beautiful. The area is truly 360 degrees of amazing scenery!
We left the cliffs after about an hour of walking around because the wind near the edge had picked up a lot. After heading back to the car, we continued along Road 54 until we caught sight of a huge volcano, Saxholar, in the middle of green fields. Getting to the parking area for it was difficult though because the road was literally filled with ginormous potholes that rocked our van like crazy when we hit them. After we made it through the minefield of potholes, we were greeted by winding stairs that went around the side of the mountain and a surprise hail storm! Luckily for us, the hail subsided when we reached the top of the volcano, which took roughy 5 minutes or so to climb. The view from the top was wonderful because you could see for miles in each direction, plus the volcano itself had a huge crater in the middle that was really neat.
After returning to the van, jet lag and hunger struck the group so we headed to Ólafsvik for lunch. We ate at a nice little restaurant called Haurn, which had wonderful seafood since the town was so close to the water. Once we finished, we left to go to Rif so we could check into our hostel and we could take a quick nap. We ended up napping for 3 hours then driving a couple towns away to Grundarfjördur for dinner. The restaurant we ate at was named Láki Hafnarkaffi and I got a delicious Hawaiian pizza because I wasn’t feeling fish. My friends Zane and Chris ended up getting fish pie though, which they said was pretty tastey. The group also enjoyed some Viking beer, except me because I ended up ordering hot chocolate. After dinner we went back to the hostel and got some much needed sleep to prepare for our second day!
After dinner we went back to the hostel and got some much needed sleep to prepare for our second day! Overall, our first day in Iceland was fun and exciting, but the time difference and lack of sleep definitely had us worn out by the end of the day. Despite being tired, we were all eager to explore and pumped for what adventures the next day had in store.