Having visited Ladakh and Siberia in winters, it was only natural that we should visit Iceland, the land of Ice and Fire in winters to experience it how it is supposed to be, frozen! Initially, when Pavan asked me to find out cheap tickets to visit Iceland I had not even thought that I would be visiting Iceland in such a short time during my one year stay in Paris. But as fate would have it, once his tickets were done for a super cheap price, and the plan started to be put in place, I realised that this one week in Iceland is going to be an unmissable trip, and I tried every trick to join him for the trip.
We did a one week trip of Iceland where we rented out a 4×4 car and drove across the famous ring-road doing a full circle of Iceland. Amazing landscapes, glacier lagoons, frozen waterfalls, howling winds, blizzards, cooking own food in BnB’s, entering Ice caves, seeing icy mountains merge with ocean full of glaciers was a magical experience that cannot be captured in words. Hence I would detail out my day-by-day itinerary so that it can help others to do the same trip.
Visas : Iceland is a part of Schengen zone, hence any Schengen visa given from any other Schengen country would also do. Otherwise if you want to take a visa just to visit Iceland, or Iceland is your major destination (longest time duration) in the whole trip, Danish Consulate handles Schengen visa applications in that case.
Iceland has its own currency, ISK. It doesn’t make sense to get it before hand as exchange rates with Euros dont vary much and you can even pay in Euros at most of the places. Still I would recommend that if you want to exchange currency, get Euros and have it exchanged into SEK once you are here in Iceland. Also try to finish all the currency as it would be quite difficult to get it exchanged back at any other place outside Iceland.
Flights : From Delhi/Bangalore flights could be purchased for as cheap as 45-50k returns with a changeover in Paris/Amsterdam. If you are planning a longer trip in other schengen countries then Geneva, Copenhagen have cheaper flights to Reykjavik as well. Check out offers on Wow Air which is a budget carrier connecting Iceland to several destinations in Europe and North Americas.
Map: Here is an amazing day-by-day plan made by Pavan, on the map as we did [link]
Day by Day plan:
Day 0 – flying from India to stopover point, stay at airport
Day 1 – morning flight from stopover point to Reykjavik. we reached by 11am. We had booked a car rental already (got a good discounted price!) with Blue car rental agency. There are several others that are located in the arrivals hall itself but its better to book it online before you arrive to get the best deals and be sure to get the car you want.
It was five of us, an ideal number for a long road trip. After picking the car we drove directly (as it is much closer to airport and comes on the way to Reykjavik) to Blue Lagoon – a hot water pool that is more like a resort spa. Again it would be better to book the slots and package online to avoid queues. We stayed there till 4pm, did food shopping at a supermarket on our way back and reached our AirBnB house in Reykjavik at close to 6PM. night stay in Reykjavik.
Day 2 – We prepared breakfast as well as packed lunch for the day and left home after having breakfast. Today we first visited Thingvellir national park with huge arches and frozen waterfalls, also saw the Silfra continental rift. Then we drove to visit Geyser, had our lunch there, drove down to visit Gulfoss waterfall, seeing Seljalandfoss on our way, and finally reaching our AirBnB house which was actually a farmhouse on the side by E15 road. This was also one of the best places to catch Northern lights, but unfortunately we couldn’t see anything due to cloud cover.
Day 3 – Our house was 10 kms away from Skogafoss which we visited first. Then we drove down to Reynisfjara (black beack) with its basaltic rocks formations on one side, followed by driving up a cliff to see some water chimneys, followed by visiting the plane crash site off a detour on E15.
Finally we drove down to Vik and stayed there for the night. night stay at Vik. Tonight also there were high Northern lights activity predicted but weather was still bad and we couldn’t see a thing in the sky. 🙁
Day 4 – We started early and drove from Vik, continuing east, past a large extension of black lava sand plains. This area has one of the largest pseudo-crater areas in the world. Reached Hof early before 11am as we had booked a slot for Ice cave tour.
We parked our car there and they took us, and many others in a Monster truck (which had permits and capabilities to be taken off road) inside a glacier field in the Eyejaffjalljokull ranges. After driving for 40 mins we reached the opening of the Ice Cave. They mentioned that they search for these ice caves in this area in September, make the entrance and reinforce it so that people can visit it safely. By March end most of the Ice caves close down or become too unsafe to be visited. We got back from there by 1pm, had our packed lunch and drove off to Jokursalon glacier lagoon. Then we drove towards Hofn, watching sunset at Vestrahorn mountain plains. Finally we picked food supplies from a local supermarket in Hofn and checked in our hostel. Night stay at Hofn.
Day 5 – Today was the longest day in terms of driving. We started with a heavy breakfast and kept packed lunch as well. The drive towards Akureyri is a 6 hour long drive without stops. We drove on the coastal highwa till Reyðarfjörður and then went inward mainland crossing Egilsstaðir, and reaching Myvatn sulphur fields and visited Grjótagjá cave.
Although we were tempted for a swim inside, the water was quite hot. We then drove further and visited Godafoss waterfall, which was also semi frozen and looked magical. As the sun was setting we drove into Akureyri and checked into our hostel. Later in the night after having dinner we went out to remote viewpoints near Akureyri in hopes of catching Auroras but they still eluded us.
Day 6 – Today we drove back from Akyreyri to Reykjavik, stopping at few points in the middle. We reached Reykjavik by 5pm so we visited the old town also a bit before heading back to our AirBnB place.
Day 7 – morning flight from Reykjavik to Europe/stopover point and then back to India
Our trip was an amazing one with such magical sights to behold. The only thing that we missed, the biggest draw of the region and cold season – Northern Lights. We were unlucky in the sense that it was continuously bad weather at nights wherever we stayed. Sometimes when we had moved away from a place we would find out about Aurora sightings the next day. But still Iceland was worth the while and it would be tough to find another better destination for adventure travel lovers.
Reykjavik – AirBnB
House by E15 – AirBnB
Vik – Guesthouse Arsalir
Hofn – AirBnB
Akureyri – Akureyri Hosteling International Hostel
Albums: Iceland – land of Ice and Fire