8-day road trip through Iceland – Part 1
I just came back from a two-week trip through Kerala in India and just have one day to repack everything before heading to Berlin from where I will travel to Reykjavik in Iceland. My friend Franzi is already waiting at the airport. As we are landing I already get the first quick impression of this beautiful island when I look out of that airplane window: Wow – what a view!
Just picking up our rental car at the international airport in Keflavik and off we go. An eight-day road trip through this magical island is about to start. We are a staying at Viking Village – a lovely Viking themed hotel near Reykjavik and later in the luxury Start Hostel which is perfectly situated not too far from the airport in Keflavik. From here we do our daily car rallies which you can read about in my next article, 12 Highlights in Southern and Eastern Iceland`. But for now I will show you which great unique things you can experience in and around Reykjavik.
My first impression of Reykjavik is like: Oh, that’s a small city! Europe´s eighth smallest country only has around 120,000 people living here out of around 330,000 in Iceland all together. Yep, not a lot. Your advantage: Everything is within walking distance in Reykjavik. The atmosphere in the colourful pedestrian area with its iconic pubs and cafes reminds me style wise of a mixture of Norway and the US. Architectural highlights in Reykjavik are the church Hallgrímskirkja as well as the concert hall called Harpa which is situated directly at the harbour. The enjoyable city walk starting from Sonvoyager and leading to Hljómskálagarður park will take you around three hours.
1. Relax in a hot spring
My second impression: Uff, freaking cold here and a huge difference to what I was used to in India just two days ago. For that reason I do as the locals do and go to a hot spring. The geothermal Spa Blue Lagoon is only a 45-minute car ride away. In the 39 degrees hot spring water I enjoy myself and the idyllic view of mountains covered in snow. Thanks to very good visitor management it is not crowded at all. This has a further positive effect on my happiness and well-being. Where else do you still find tourist places like this?
2. Experience a cave of a very special kind
Ever been to a cave before!? Maybe, but probably not in the Raufarholshellir. I need to squeeze through a tiny and inconspicuous whole in the snow from where I climb down into the dark. I would have never expected what I was about to see. Huge rocks with crystals and dripstone formations which on first sight look like dinosaur eggs. And this is also how I feel, like being in a big dinosaur´s nest in Jurassic Park. Scary but adventurous. So mousey from the outside so stunning from the inside.
3. Watch whales and dolphins
You will find a couple of whale watching operators at the harbour in Reykjavik. I was on board Elding Whale Watching Tours and was totally amazed. Why? They took us to a new spot where a lot of whales had been spotted in the previous days. The sun was shining brightly and I was happy enough to see five hump back whales but what is more our boat was also accompanied by numerous schools (pods) of dolphins. Woow, what a relaxed and eventful day at sea.
4. Learn about the greenest energy provision worldwide
Just a 20-minute ride away from Reykjavik you will find the Hellisheiði Power Plant which creates energy from a volcano. Thanks to numerous volcanos in Iceland it has the greenest energy in the world. At the geothermal exhibition visitor centre you will learn everything about this method.
5. Drive a super jeep through the Icelandic hinterland
At the arctic trucks experience you will drive a super jeep yourself. I get behind the wheel and am blown away. Driving through the deep snow of the Icelandic hinterland with a snowstorm going on at the same time is super amazing. It’s hard to see but good fun I tell you. Here I also met the two cool and funny Icelanders Árný and Aron. It was by far the most adventurous day of the entire trip.
6. Diving between continents
Australia, Malta and Egypt are beautiful diving spots – that’s for sure. However, in Iceland you will find the ultimate underwater experience: Swimming, diving or snorkelling between two continents. You can do that in the so-called Silfra. It’s a rift in Pingvellir-Nationalpark where you can dive in crystal clear water between the tectonic plates of North America and Europe.
7. Gaze at the Northern Lights
Of course, this was the most spectacular highlight of my trip. After coming back at 1 am from one of our day tours I get out of the car and can’t believe my eyes. There they are. Those – the ones which I´d longed to see for so long. The ones I was never quite sure when I would see. The Northern Lights. What a magical moment it is to finally see them in the sky – what an ongoing dance of colours. That’s so distinctively unique.
The next article will be about the 12 highlights of our road trip along Iceland’s South and East-Coast. With one experience which was very special to me. Stay tuned!
Many thanks to the operators who have invited us. As usual, the opinions are my own.