Howdy Folks. So today I’m presenting a hypothetical journey to you, travel to a destination in the middle of the northern Atlantic Ocean, the enigmatic country of Iceland. You may recall I have visited this Scandinavian island before, in 1999. I didn’t have a great time to say the least, but I do put that down almost entirely as my own fault. I think that it holds a lot as a destination for the visitor, almost completely the attractions are natural from geysers to waterfalls and the rugged coastline, mountains and the sort of scenery that is reminiscent of ‘north of the wall’ in Game of Thrones.
If you are a fan of ‘Game of Thrones’, you’ll know the main reason it’s reminiscent of that part of Westeros is because, well, they filmed in Iceland! Which is no doubt a new reason that loads of people come to visit these days. Well, not right ‘now’ of course. But in general, these days.
Before I/You Go
Okay, so now I’m going to have to plan a few things before I go. Flights, obviously. Most countries enter visa-free, and there are quite a few connections. I would no doubt fly through Europe to get to Iceland, which actually if you look at a map of the world must one of the furthest countries from Australia that there is! In terms of time needed to get there I would estimate around thirty hours, but it could be more. The number of choices to fly to Europe is pretty long, and will be again no doubt once life returns to normal.
I would probably look to fly through Stockholm, where I flew in from last time 1999 with SAS (Scandinavian Air Service), Icelandic Airlines were a decent choice before Corona, let’s hope they remain so, lots of people used them to cross the Atlantic and take a few days in Iceland. But hey – this is a proper visit, 30 days.
So I need to be prepared. Luckily, you can get by with English and only English as most people Icelandic speak very good English. I am going to have to be careful about when I go. Last time was mid-July, which is the middle of Summer, which means we’re basically in the land of the ‘midnight sun’. The sun didn’t really go down once whilst I was in Iceland. The daytime max never exceeded 18 or 19 degrees Celsius.
This time I would shoot for around the same time. Summer for sure, June to August. Although it is probably interesting to see Iceland in the middle of winter, it also would mean that it’s the exact opposite of July, the sun basically barely rises. That’s no good for exploring a place. Whereas Spring and Autumn are usually my go-to times to visit a place, this time I think it’s going to be too cold, wet and probably ‘slushy’ on the ground.
Okay so folks, buckle up because this is the painful part of travel to Iceland. Be aware that Iceland is no budget destination. No sir. Presently one USD is equal to around 135 Icelandic Kronor. You may think that this makes Iceland a cheap place to visit. A few years it was quite decent value for money, after the GFC, but today it’s back to what it was in 1999 – a very expensive country to visit even if you are self-catering. And I would be on this trip a lot! And that leads us into transport and accommodation. Iceland is well enough served with ATMs so I would mostly rely on them for my money as they are generally internationally connected. Always a good idea though to have a little cash (Euros) on you just in case.
Transport & Accommodation
Okay, so one thing I have never done when I’ve been overseas is hire a car. Okay, that’s a complete LIE, but never when ‘travelling’. I leased a car in Japan for two years whilst living and working there. Anyways, I would definitely be hiring a car in Iceland. The only real public transport is the bus, and it won’t take you everywhere, it won’t allow you freedom to find out what’s down this or that deserted road, so basically… what’s the point right?
30 days in Iceland, I wouldn’t necessarily hire a car for the whole time I was in Iceland, if I allow a few days in Reykjavik at the start and end of the trip, I may only need a car for around 3 and a bit weeks. I just did a quick search through Kayak which starts car hire for three weeks in Iceland at around $1100USD. Presumably there are more charges in there, there always are but that’s maybe $400 a week.
Now accommodation. Even though I’m not really looking at hostels as an option these days, I would definitely be considering hostels in Iceland. This is because I’ve already been to a few and I know what they are like, and they are pretty darn nice. Some will have single or double rooms, all of them seem to have great facilities for cooking, and they appear in some out of the way places. They are comfortable and clean as well.
Perhaps a night or two in a hotel of guesthouse/Bed and Breakfast will be needed, and then there is the times I end up really far away from it all, in the middle of the country. Iceland is a great country for camping. So one of the main things I’d want to grab before leaving Reykjavik is a tent (hired if it works out cheaper). I’d also want a little stove too. This will ultimately actually keep costs down somewhat.
So, most of the planning is out of the way. It’s time to look at the actual itinerary!
Day One to Five
It’s a 30-day itinerary, and Iceland’s not a huge place. So I can afford four days here at the start. This allows time to
So Reykjavik is the place to first explore, and then second to organise what’s needed for the tour around this amazing island. So as far as sights go, Reykjavik is (perhaps not surprisingly) not full of things to see. It’s not a busy bustling place by any means, the country’s total population is a little over 300,000 and around a third live in Reykjavik or the surrounding suburbs.
Check out all the waterfront spots, they are quite beautiful. The Hallgrimskirkja is the most notable church in the city and probably all of Iceland. There are a number of interesting buildings in the capital, oh and there is a PENIS Museum, so if you’re into your weird museum the Icelandic Phallogical Museum might just be for you. The Sun Voyager sculpture is nice and makes for a good photo. Check the Laugavegur area for the best nightlife in town.
A day trip is not a bad idea, and it’s not hard to get a tour to see Gulfoss – a pretty nice waterfall, and Geyser, which is, you know, a geyser. Actually there are a few geysers surrounding it but’s the big one. Also, you could spend a few hours at the ‘Blue Lagoon’, which is actually a spa. Iceland is volcanic land, and so this is another reason to visit the country.
After all the sight-seeing is done, make sure we are ready with our car, tent and stove because we are going to drive around the country of Iceland!
Day Six to Eleven
We are heading in a clockwise direction. So when you look at a map directly, from Reykjavik we are turning left. Snæfellsnes is this peninsula in the west which has a lot of rugged scenery, with lakes and hills and coastline dotted with rocks and arches and so forth.
Above this section, to the north west is this strange part of Iceland which looks really cool from above on Google Maps. It looks really remote, and I can’t even find a name for it. It’s not really on any sort of tourist trail, and no doubt the towns that dot these sort of ‘fingers’ that jut out from the land are really small, often with less than 100 people. Have car, will explore!
Day Twelve to Fifteen
Akureyri is the main town in the north of the country. It’s great spot for a night out, preparing to head out into the wilderness or interior, and if there at the right time of year (which summer is sadly not) a great place to see the Aurora Borealis. I visited in 1999 and played golf, only the second time in my life (and I think thus far, the last!) and my game finished at 11pm, still in plenty of light! Also some lovely little ‘mini-horses’ in the area. The previous five days have been really out there in the wilderness, time to recharge and get ready to go again!
Day Sixteen to Nineteen
Foshall, Laugar, Reykjalid – continuing on bit by bit eastward over these four days, possibly camping quite a bit here. We’re not following the full coastal road but if we find ourselves ahead of schedule, we could give it a go. Sometimes it’s best not to know everything about a place before you get there. But topographically this looks like a really beautiful and green part of the country. Small towns like the three I mentioned dot the road. Some may only be a petrol stop. But this is the joy of Iceland! Spend a day or two near the Myvatn Lake. You’ve also got the Godafoss Waterfall in this region too, and this crater lake which looks pretty amazeballs. And you know what, Word doesn’t even try to correct ‘amazeballs’, it’s officially a real word.
Day Twenty – Twenty-one
Borgarfjörður eystri is right out far east in Iceland, and there’s one good reason to go there – the puffins! I never got to see this unique birds when I was in Iceland the first time, so a couple of nights here to make sure we don’t miss them is of upmost importance!
Day Twenty-Two – Twenty-Four
Eglisstadir is the largest town in Eastern Iceland, and so it’s the place to stock up and chill out for a couple of days before the roads turn back towards Reykjavik. It’s quite a pretty little village as far as I can tell from the interweb, on a wide river and not too far from a waterfall.
Days Twenty-five – Twenty-Seven
Vatnajokul is a national park and Europe’s second biggest glacier. It’s truly epic from all accounts, and even has ice caves and takes up a very large area (7900km squared in fact). Exploring and camping here look the go!
A stop in Vik to catch your breath if you can’t make it all the way to Reykjavik in a day, which would be a push.
Day Twenty-nine – Thirty
And back to Reykjavik. Recover, relax and then flying out on day thirty!
Folks, this itinerary was done with just a couple of days research only on the interweb about the amazing country of Iceland. I think it’s great that thanks to technology I can find enough out about a country to do this. I do have my memories of 1999 also to fall back on, I know, but genuinely I remember very little apart from not having enough money to really explore the place or the wheels to do it either which was very limiting. I’ve always wanted to go back and hire a car so that so much more of the country is accessible. Perhaps one day I’ll make this one happen, who knows? Right now I have some serious plans in the works though, but I’m going to hold right off on announcing them because they are a long way away as of now.
Have you been to Iceland? And how have I done? What have I missed out that simply MUST be included? Please do comment and let me know!
Thanks as always for reading and for your support. May the Journey Never End!