Iceland has been on our travel bucket list for a long time. The other worldly looking landscapes and iconic photos of the indescribably beautiful waterfalls and other scenery that I see other travel buddies taking have stirred our pot of wanderlust more than once.
Iceland is beautiful, but Iceland has always been one of those destinations that for us has seemed prohibitively expensive. Recent economic shifts have made the value of the Icelandic Kronor come down a bit closer to the value of the dollar, making this one of the best times in recent history to plan an Iceland road trip.
“A road trip?” you ask. Yes. After research and debate, we decided that when we do get to visit Iceland, renting a camper and taking an Iceland self drive tour is the most economical way for us to visit with the kiddos. Having hotel and transportation in one package make this a great option for us, given our proclivity towards getting “off the beaten path”.
A great stop on your Iceland road trip is Seljavallalaug pool. You must have a car to get to this somewhat remote destination and take a short 15-20 minute hike, but your efforts will be rewarded by the opportunity to soak your sore, car weary muscles in a remote hot spring with postcard perfect Iceland scenery. Combine the hot springs with a visit to Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls (which are popular destinations on the Iceland tourist circuit) for a picture perfect day trip from Reykjavik!
If you are looking for a visit to a quintessential small, Icelandic village plan a trip to the Island of Flatey. Located on Iceland’s west coast, this small island is known for an abundance of birds and other wildlife and for the iconic old village featuring colorful painted houses. A five hour ferry ride will afford you only a few hours to visit the island, so I suggest planning to stay overnight to get a real taste of true Icelandic life and culture.
A drive up to the North east end of Iceland could afford intrepid travelers a visit to the largest waterfall in Europe. To describe the Detifoss waterfall using mundane words like “spectacular” or “jaw dropping” would be an insult. The force of the water careening over the edge of this massive waterfall creates huge clouds of mist which on sunny days often make beautiful double rainbows. Combine your visit to the waterfall with a stop at the Myvatn Nature baths (a natural hotsprings nearby, the Blue Lagoon of the north) for a satisfying day of beauty and relaxation.
The Jokulsarlon Lagoon is a bit of a drive from Reykjavik (about 5 hours) but it might prove to be the crowning jewel of a trip already filled to the brim with stunning scenery. Blue glaciers dot the lagoon which is frequented by seals. Glacier pieces the color of the blue sky float in the lagoon out in front of your waiting camera lens as you walk along the black sand beach. Take one of the boat tours offered here for a different perspective on the otherworldly landscape.
Iceland itself is somewhat “off the beaten path” compared to many of the more popular tourist countries in nearby Europe and elsewhere. The “off season” for visiting Iceland is arguably anytime other than June, July and August, when tourists reach their maximum (still tame as far as crowds go compared to Rome or Paris in the summer!) If you get anywhere out of Reykjavik and just a little bit off of the Golden Circle route on your Iceland road trip, you are almost guaranteed to have the scenery almost all to yourself for 2/3rd’s of the year.