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  • Writer's pictureRoy Thomas

Iceland Road Trip part 1

After completing the Laugavegur Trail we headed back into Reykjavik to pick up a rental car to tour the South Coast and the Westman Islands. This would be the first of two planned road trips during our time in Iceland.

After our bus trip out of the Highlands with Reykjavik Excursions, we overnighted at Reykjavik Campsite, then walked the waterfront over to Blue Car Rental to pick up our car. From there it was off to the Thermal River.

Reykjadalur valley is a special treat. Hot springs bubble up to form a free-flowing river of relaxation. We arrived early before the crowds, but we were met with a steady stream of visitors on our way out. Midges were bad on the walk, not the river, so bug repellent or a head net is recommended


From there we hit the road stopping next at Seljalandsfoss

Back to the road for 325km to get to Svartifoss. This would be our first experience with Icelandic road camping. We were a bit taken aback by the number of campers and tenters on the open fields of this campground.

We finished the evening with a hike up to Svartifoss.

It is said that Svartifoss was the inspiration for Hallgrímskirkja the cathedral in Reykjavik.

The next day we set out early on a hike between glaciers in Skaftafell National Park. This turned out to be one of our favorite day hikes of the whole trip. From the ridge above you could hear the glacier moving and the panoramic views were unending.

Back on the road to Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon and Diamond Beach.

After our time here we returned as far as Vik. We were glad to get this protected camping spot in the trees as the wind was really blowing that night.

The next day we enjoyed a lovely view of the church in Vik, a local black sand beach, and then hit the road again, stopping at Reynisfjara the most famous black sand beach, which has some amazing geological features not to be missed. Please follow the safety warnings at this beach there was another fatality in November of 2021. From there we were off to the Dyrhólaey Lighthouse for more monumental views and great views of puffins.

From this special place, it was off to Skogafoss. That evening we hiked part of Fimmvörðuháls trail from Skogar. You can see that hike at the bottom of our Laugavegur post.

The next day brought more great weather and we headed for a morning swim in Seljavallalaug pool, one of the oldest pools in Iceland

Not sufficiently waterlogged we went for a swim and used the sauna and hot tubs at the Hvolsvöllur public pool. The public pools are a hidden gem in Iceland, with hot tubs, great showers, and saunas. Please be respectful of the locals if you use these facilities. We found that emulating the behavior of the locals allowed us to enjoy these local facilities and have some great conversations with Icelanders.

One more brief stop on our way the the Westman Ilands ferry was the Keldur Turf House.

The Vestmannaeyjar Islands are another "don't miss" spot in Iceland. We took the ferry over and then checked into our little glamping cabin excited about the continued adventure. Our only regret of this visit was not allowing ourselves one more full day here. Walks, puffins, views, history, a great brewery, restaurants, and a wonderful public pool are all available to you here.

From the Islands, we stopped at the active volcano on our way back to Reykjavik. The wind on the trail was intense. On this visit, our first of two, we did not get to see lava from the crater but did enjoy the lava river flowing away. Experiences like this cannot really be captured by an Iphone.

The next two days we stayed in Reykjavik enjoying a wonderful Airbnb. We enjoyed local restaurants and purchased supplies replacing worn-out gear in preparation for our trip to Westfjords and hiking in Hornstrandir.

Follow this page for more Onfoot adventures. Up next, Hornstrandir. Kraig Adams created a marvelous video of Hornstrandir, Enjoy.

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