This blogpost follows our 2 week Iceland trip! In case you have not seen our drone video about Icelands waterfalls check it out now.
When to go ?
- Main season is from June until end of September.
- Warmer temperatures (mean 10°C)
- You can access the highlands
- Puffin season!
- A lot of tourists
- No northern-lights (because there is no real dark night)
- Midsommar, extreme long days, short nights
- Winter season from late November until end of February
- Spring from March until May
- Fewer tourists
- Not that cold (mean 0°)
- Still good chances to see the aurora
- Still heaps of snow
How to get around ?
The best way to explore Iceland is by car. The cheapest and most flexible way is by camping. You can ether rent a camping-van or bring your tent. Nearly all campgrounds are open only from april or may to september. If you want to explore the inland (highlands) you need a 4W drive car (including Landmannalauga!). These F-roads (=inland roads) are mostly closed until end/mid June due to snow or water and are not that easy to drive. You can also take a scenic-flight over icelands inlands. We rented a small camper van and were able to most places we wanted to go.
For road conditions check the website of the islandic road service:
What to do in Iceland?
The geothermal area is located in the golden circle and is known for its geysir, called Strokkur. It erupts about every 4 to 8 minutes, so you don't have to wait long if you didn't catch a photo the first time it spewed water into the sky. Everything there looks pretty otherworldly with all the steam everywhere and the fuming earth (and be prepared for the smell of rotten eggs).
This geothermal area was my favorite. But it also had the worst smell. Typical for the geothermal field are its fumaroles wich are steam blowing holes, that look like the nostrils of dragons. The area near Lake Myvatn is the most volcanic in Iceland. Thats why you find many thermal springs here, too. The ground has a great variety of colors which can be seen better in summer when there is less snow.
The geothermal area is not big and does not offer geysirs or steam blowing holes but the ground is beautifully colored. From red to yellow to blue-grey and white. You will smell the typical sulphuric scent here, too. It's close to the blue lagoon and the airport in the south of Reykjavik.
There are many little or big hot springs all over Iceland. Here are four of the big ones.
The blue lagoon is the biggest and most touristic one. We didn't go inside because its very expensive. But you can take a look at some blue water pools outside and take some photos.
This might be a cheaper alternative to the Blue Lagoon and is also not far from Reykjavik in the golden circle. We didn't catch this one so if you can tell us about your experience just write a comment or an e-mail!
Lake MYvatn nature baths
We were here at sunset and it was really romantic with the red and orange sky in contrast to the blue steaming water. It was also really crazy because temperatures were dropping to -20°C in the evening and when we were in the water our wet hair froze. That was really cool and a wonderful experience.
Landbrotalaug Hot Spring
This little hot spring lays north from Eldborg where a small dirt road leads to it. From where you can park your car its only a few minutes to walk but bring good shoes. The road was muddy as fuck when we were there. The hot spring is just big enough for two people to fit in and has about 44°C. This was by far one of the coolest experiences of the vacation. There was no one else around and you have an incredible panorama of the snowy mountains while bathing.
These houses with there roofs covered in gras are typical for Iceland and Norway.
This is an outdoor museum near Skogafoss. They have some cute and photogenic turf houses there.
This little church is really cute with its grass roff and the gras covered hilly graves around. It looks like out of Hobbit world. The church lays in a village called Hof a few kilometers from Skaftafell.
It is said that this is the most beautiful of the eastern fjords. We were only abled to visit this one because of the snow situation on the roads. But we have to agree that it is a really nice town with the sweet colorful houses.
In summer this is a good spot to get sight of some puffins! In winter you won't find any because they leave for warmer spots.
The main attraction of Mjoifjördur is a rusty shipwreck which looks cool and is a good scene for photos. We weren't abled to go there but I was told that the road is a bit rough so be careful!
From this viewpoint you have a nice look over the river of Markarfljót wich looks really surreal from above. We didn't have time to go up but I've seen plenty of nice photos.
Vik and Reynisfjara
These two black-sand beaches are next to each other just divided by a basaltic stone cliff. From each of them you can see the Reynisdrangar rocks formations in the water. At Reynisfjara beach you can also see the stone formation Dyrhólaey in the East and a basalt cave. The weather can be really stormy on the coast, we had a little snow storm there and the waves were really high. Although it is worth a stopover in good weather.
This is the biggest glacier in Europe! You can see the glacier arms when you drive along the south coast. If you want to take a walk or take a snowmobil tour - there are plenty of opportunities. I recommend to book a trip before your visit. We were lucky to get two spare places at a tour because some people didn´t show up (visited in low season). If you have enough time and average fitness I would recommend to do a full day tour where you get a better experience of the glacier. It's a bit expensive but worth it. Don't walk on the glacier by yourself (except you are experienced) as there can be crevasses and falling ice rocks.
Jökulsarlon - GLACIER LAGOON
Must of you have probably already heard about the glacier lagoon or at least seen some photos of swimming ice rocks in the magical sunset light. Best daytime to come here is indeed sunset when the red light of the fading daylight sets the whole scenery in its magical atmosphere. This is truly a photographers paradise, as some of the ice rocks look like giant diamonds. You get the most swimming ice bergs at the parking lot at the right side of the lagoon river. This is also the best spot for sunset (so there will be many other people, too) . When you take a walk to the beach near Jökullsarlon you will find many icebergs there, which make a great photo spot, too.
In my opinion Stokksnes was one of the most beautiful landscapes on the whole Island. The mirroring of the surreal peaky mountains is epic. And we were nearly alone there, too! You have to pay an entry fee as the area is private ground The guy will follow you in his car to get his money but he is actually nice. You can drive down to the end of the road where you get to wonderful black sand dunes with the great backgound of the Stokksnes mountains. You can also visit the little viking village he build (but it looked pretty demolished when we were there). We had a wonderful time walking along the beach and through the sand dunes. After that you can enjoy a hot chocolate if the small restaurant.
Dimmuborgir lava fields
As we had about -15°C and lots of snow when we visited Myvatn lake (where you find the lava fields) we weren't sure if we would see much of the lava formations or if they would be covered in snow. We arrived there early in the morning and we were the first ones at this day. It was a total winter wonderland. The back lava formations looked even cooler covered in half a meter of snow! The branches of the bushes were covered in snow as well which made them sparkling in the morning sun. The real attraction is Dimmuborgir a tunnel rock formation.
There are so many waterfalls, we have written a separate post about the best waterfalls of Iceland.