7 day tour of South Iceland
22-29 October 2006
I've added some extra place names to this map, so you can follow our route in the journal. The first seven days are the colours of the rainbow (Sun - red, Mon - orange, etc.) and the last day is pink. Click the map for more detail.
For our honeymoon, Mike and I visited Iceland in October 2006.
We saw every kind of scenery - lakes, tectonic rift, volcanoes, geysers, waterfalls, lava plains and mountains - and experienced almost every type of weather! We were also lucky to see a great display of the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) on our last night.
The annual average temperature is 5C, but according to the roadside displays, we experienced daytime temperatures from 1C to 7C during our trip - quite mild! However, I wore thermal under-trousers throughout, and usually fleece, jacket, hat and gloves too.
It is also worth noting that I am both vegetarian, and disabled (mobility impaired), so my journal comments will reflect that.
The places we visited are as follows:
- Sunday 22
- Monday 23
Golden Circle - Geysir, Strokkur, Gullfoss, Thingvellir
- Tuesday 24
Reykjavik - Duck Pond, Town Hall, Concrete Church (Hallsgrimskirkja), Harbour, Sun Voyager - Lava Fields - Blue Lagoon - Grindavik
- Wednesday 25
Grindavik - Borgarholl - Selfoss - Seljalandsfoss - Skogafoss - Vik - Reynisdrangur
- Thursday 26
Kirkjubaejarklaustur - Skeidararsandur - Skaftafell - Jokulsarlon - Thorbergssetur - Myrar - Hofn
- Friday 27
Jokulsarlon - Skaftafell - Svartifoss - Kirkjubaejarklaustur - Vik - Reynisdrangar
- Saturday 28
Vik - Arnes - Selfoss - Hveragerdi - Kerid - Aurorae
- Sunday 29
Hveragerdi - Keflavik
However, you can just start with the first day and be led through the trip in order.
While staying, we discovered that the following facts I had read were indeed truisms:
- The Icelandic people can seem a little brusque. They are not being rude, but this is their way - they don't make much small talk, particularly those who are middle aged or older.
- Everyone speaks excellent English, even in more remote areas. Many signs and labels are also in English, or a passerby will be happy to translate if asked. But we tried to remember to say "Takk" (thank you) too.
- The saying "if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes" is very true - the weather can change very quickly.
- It almost always rains in Vik. It's beautiful, but you will need waterproofs.
- There is a culture of not littering. This means that the landscape is really unspoilt, and the city streets clean. Carry a rubbish bag with you, and be aware that small pieces can blow out of the car as you open the door...
- Things are more expensive than the UK - petrol is about the same, but a bottle of lager is 500 kronur (£4) and you are lucky to find a meal for under 1000 kronur that isn't soup! If you want to save money, use the duty free at the airport, take a stove and buy camping gas at a petrol station, and shop at local grocery stores along the way (open until 6pm on weekdays).
- Double beds will invariably be twins pushed together. There might be one sheet across them both, but you'll have separate duvets.
- Iceland is good for internet access. Some of the hotels and B&Bs provided free broadband, and Reykjavik City Hall also offers free wi-fi access.
We also discovered the following:
- It is perfectly possible to park in Reykjavik. The meter or pay and display parking is around 150 kronur per hour, simply feed in the coins until you have enough time showing, then press for a ticket.
- Many places close for winter. Even if your hotel advertises a restaurant, do not expect to be offered dinner outside the summer months! However, most small museums will open for anyone with advance notice, petrol stations often have cafes attached to them, and the best sights are natural anyway, which of course have no opening hours.
- There are no kettles in bedrooms. We had brought coffee and hot chocolate for the road, and wished we had taken a travel kettle - instead, we had to ask for hot water every morning and do without at other times.
- As well as snacks, take a change of trousers in the car... and perhaps a towel. Keep hat and gloves in your jacket pockets, and take your jacket everywhere with you!
- The beauty spots, and tourist spots, are very understated. Sometimes there is just some space to park, and a sign telling you about the area. Don't expect to be guided around, or told where to go and what to do - look it up, and then go look for it!
- Near many beautiful views, there are car parks (and even picnic tables). It follows that if you see a layby, especially one with a picnic or "site of interest" sign by it, it's often worth stopping and getting your camera out.
I have broken the journal down into each day, with thumbnail photos. The pictures really don't do the landscape justice - check out the full size images, or even better - go to Iceland!
The panorama images are rather untidy, and are being worked on (thanks to the kind assistance of my friend Ian McAulay) - much improved images will be placed on the site in due course.
I have used English spellings throughout, and have not linked to all the places named (feel free to use Google), but I have marked all the places named on the route map above. We spent the first two nights in Hotel Bjork, the third at Northern Light Inn (whose website offers a great FAQ) and the last four in guesthouses 635, 590, 638 and 725 via Iceland Farm Holidays.
Enjoy reading about our trip!
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