Even though I didn’t take my RV with me, a trip to Iceland is part of my digital nomad lifestyle. I found an extremely good flight deal by the Icelandic WOW airlines and I’ve decided to do a road trip around the island. I rented a car and reserved places through Airbnb.
I must admit, I regretted my decision… Iceland is the perfect country to use an RV instead of hotels, there are so many RVs and sleeping vans on the road, many rental companies offer them for the price of car rental + hotel. It’s basically the same price but you can spend your nights anywhere. Besides the cheap campground prices in towns, I saw RVs parking overnight in many other rural areas, parking places. It’s free and considering the fact that Iceland is the safest country in the World, you would have worry-free nights. I would highly recommend renting an RV.
I arrived at Keflavik airport at around 5 AM local time, with the 7 hours difference it was just time for me to go to bed. I’ve rented the car and decided to skip the night to get used to the time change. I drove around Reykjavik, discovered the city.
I walked around Hallgrímskirkja, which is a simple Lutheran church downtown, drove by the boat sculpture on the coast, discovered Tjornin which is a lake in the middle of Reykjavik. Around the lake, you can find important buildings like the City Hall, museums, the city library, theater, and the Parliament. I am not so much into museums, I prefer nature. After seeing many beautiful cities, I would not consider Reykjavik spectacularly pretty, it’s nothing special. I would not recommend spending too much time there.
Then it was time to check in to my first Airbnb place. I was very tired, it was a very long day. The place in Hafnarfjordur I found for my first two nights was close to the capital city. It had THE view of the Ocean. Finally, about 7 PM I fell asleep. You will find more pictures in the video above.
First I was thinking to go back to Reykjavik but I’ve decided it’s time to see nature. I saw brochures about the Golden Circle (a very popular tourist excursion) and decided to follow the route. The golden circle is the perfect introduction to what Iceland has to offer. First I visited the Pingvellir National Park. In the center of the beautiful landscape, you can see the Althing which was Iceland’s parliament up till 1798. Now it is a National Heritage site.
The second stop of the Golden Circle was Geysir. Eruptions at Geysir can hurl boiling water up to 70 meters in the air. I just finished a 10-day road trip to Yellowstone, the geysers here reminded me of that. You can see many little hot water pools in the area but be careful, the nearest hospital is 60KM away!
Then the third stop was the Gulfoss Waterfall. When you first approach the falls, the edge is obscured from view, so that it appears that the river simply vanishes into the earth.
You don’t have to drive alone. There are hitch-hikers on the roads. I picked up a young girl who was from Belgium and we had a nice time on our way back to Reykjavik.
It was time to leave Reykjavik and start my way on the Ring Road, clock-wise. I drove through a tunnel but I couldn’t understand the signs asking to pay the toll. I ended up in the fast lane with cars behind me, so I just drove through. It would be nice if they would consider putting up English signs for this reason. I didn’t know that I have to pay any tolls. After investigating, later I had to find a bank and wire the toll which cost way more this way with all the fees.
I drove around the Snæfellsjökull National Park. There are caves, cliffs with lots of wildlife and beautiful views. The mountain is one of the most famous sites of Iceland, due to the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth by Verne, in which the protagonists find the entrance to a passage leading to the center of the earth on Snæfellsjökull.
An interesting fact I’ve noticed: the parking lot is always a five minutes walk from the point of interest. Sometimes this is troublesome because of cold winds and rain.
It was a long day and I’ve arrived at the farmhouse late that I found on Airbnb. I didn’t have any cell reception and wifi only at gas stations, so I was really cut off from the World. I just had to make sure I notified my host of my ETA each day.
The farmhouse was small and it was full of other guests and family members. They offered breakfast which was plenty and I got to talk to some other guests.
This was a very nice, eventful day with waterfalls, lakes, geysers, and lots of driving. First I hit Akurey which is the second-largest city in Iceland and the first place I saw traffic lights since I left Reykjavik. But what traffic lights! I loved them! (You can see it changing colors in the video above). What a great idea! I wish they had smiley faces and hearts in LA too. It would make people smile and less agitated sitting in the traffic.
Next, I decided to drive around lake Myvatn. The lake was created by volcanic eruptions about 2300 years ago. It is a protected area. You will find different wildlife, volcanic rock formations in the area. I stopped at Höfði which is on the East end. It is popular because of the several small lava formations on the lake. You will probably encounter lots of bugs, sometimes they can be really annoying. The only reason I found this place is because I saw cars parking in front of the entrance. When I walked into the preserve I was mesmerized by the enchanted forest feeling I got. I was surrounded by wildflowers and trees. You don’t see many trees in Iceland! I followed the signs called “footpath” and I ended up with a beautiful view. After taking some selfies, I finished my circle around the lake.
My next stop was the hot spring area named Hverarond, which is one of the largest sulfur spring areas in Iceland. The whole area smells rather strongly of Sulphur and the landscape looks like you are walking on the moon. The water is so hot that it makes the mud boil.
A girl told me the previous day to take Road 864 but I forgot why. When I got there, I saw that it is a gravel road. I don’t like the idea of driving on gravel for a long period of time. It took me an hour to drive on this awful road and I didn’t know what to look for. It was late, I was tired, I was just hoping my tires will survive the potholes and bumps. Another interesting fact I’ve noticed, that even if you think you are alone, you are not alone for long. Even in the most remote places, there were cars passing me sooner or later. This gave me some more confidence.
My night was spent at a guest house in the Northern Most Point of Iceland called Raufarhöfn. It is very small, less than 200 people live in the area. The weather was cloudy and wet, I never met the host just a couple of other guests which was kind of a bummer. I like Airbnb because of the connections I can make with locals. This place was just a motel.
I left the house early, there was no breakfast or any hot drinks offered. Nobody was around to ask where I can find anything open on a Sunday morning in rural Iceland… It was foggy, cold, rainy outside. The previous night I was talking with a couple from Holland, they enlightened me of what I’ve missed yesterday by the gravel road. I missed the most powerful waterfall in Europe, the Dettifoss waterfall. I can’t miss that, so I decided to drive back to the gravel road. Considering the fact how much I hated it the previous night, it was a big deal! But I am glad I did. Even though the area looked like I am on Mars, rocky and bumpy, the waterfall was really impressive.
Dettifoss can be reached by the newer Route 862 or the older gravel Route 864. Even though the drive is easier on 862 your view is way better from the 864. Just pay attention to the signs, because it is easy to miss. Your view from the west is blocked by the waterfall’s spray. If you want to get closer and take pictures, you can climb down on the rocks. It is a good exercise.
After leaving the Ring road to get on 92 I was amazed by the view I had all around me. I was driving through the Fjords passing a few cute little fishing towns. You will also never get enough of the one-lane bridges and tunnels. Of course, the traffic is low but you have to be extra careful.
I spent this night in Neskaupstaður which was a very cute little town. My hosts lived in a condo, they were a young couple using Airbnb as one source of their income.
I started my mornings pretty late, I was still not accustomed to the time change. I usually left the places around 10 AM and discovered till late night, midnight. Since I love green, I must admit, this area was my favorite to drive across. Those fjords, curvy roads were insanely beautiful.
I was continuing my way on the Ring road. I was surprised to find that some parts of the Ring road is a gravel road. It wasn’t that bad, though. By now I was used to driving on gravel. I used road 939 to cut a corner which turned out to be a very good choice with a nice view.
I only found a last-minute hostel deal in Hofn in which I spent my night. The southern part of Iceland doesn’t allow homeowners to use Airbnb which is why the area is pretty much booked for the summer in advance. I don’t particularly like hostels and the room I stayed at, had 6 beds, 5 of them which were reserved for a group and they woke up at 6 AM… so guess who also woke up at 6 AM? Yes! Me… It was funny though, I got out of bed half an hour later, got dressed, and ate and when I left, they were still sitting in the breakfast area eating breakfast. This is why I don’t travel with groups. So much time wasted waiting for others.
I spent my day in the Southern Part of Iceland. I had a long drive ahead. I saw Jökulsárlón which is a large glacial lake in southeast Iceland. There are many boat tours if you’d like to see the glacier from closer.
Then I went to see Seljalandsfoss, the best-known waterfall in Iceland. One of the interesting things about this waterfall is the fact that there is a trail going behind the fall, into a small cave. It was raining, so I didn’t do this hike, only enjoyed it from the front. Probably it is my favorite waterfall because of the green rolling hills surrounding it.
I spent my night in Reykjavik.
My last day was only a half-day, I had to be at the airport around 3. I was planning to visit the Blue Lagoon which, was close to the airport. The spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík. It is the most popular tourist place. When I got there, I was told I needed to reserve online in advance or I cannot go in. I asked them to let me go in to take a few pictures if I am already there, which they allowed. The whole area was full of tourists coming by buses, large groups of people. Ticket prices were expensive so I’ve decided to skip this one. After all, it looked like an over-commercialized man-made warm water lake. Pretty, but I saw other pools on my way through Iceland which were cheaper and less touristy.
Instead, I’ve decided to drive around Grindavík and the Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station which is the second-largest geothermal power station in Iceland. Because of this and other smaller power plants, Iceland runs almost completely on renewable energy.
My trip ended by dropping my rental car off, heading to the airport where I got on a 4-hour flight to Budapest, Hungary.
Overall, it was an awesome trip, I am not sure if I will ever return to Iceland, but it is a place that you must see at least once.