Summer is the ideal season for exploring Iceland, not only to avoid snowstorms during winter but also because the summer weather in Iceland is pleasantly cool. It provides a welcome escape from the scorching summer temperatures on the European mainland, which can reach up to 35 degrees Celsius.
Since Iceland lacks efficient public transportation between cities, renting a car and embarking on a road trip is the most sensible choice. The cost of renting a vehicle is around 300-400 Euros per day for a 4-passenger car. You can rent a vehicle through the Hertz or Avis websites. To drive in Iceland, it’s advisable to have an international driver’s license, and the person making the vehicle reservation should be the designated driver, with a credit card matching the driver’s license (ID).
Don’t worry; the rental car agencies I mentioned are located at Reykjavik Airport, so you can pick up your reserved vehicle as soon as you land.
In my opinion, besides the breathtaking landscapes, Airbnb accommodations are one of the most attractive aspects of visiting Iceland. During my stay here, I had the opportunity to stay in an Airbnb with a Jacuzzi, on a horse farm, and on a hilltop.
Scenery during the road trip
During 5 days here, here are the areas we covered, with a total distance of approximately 1000 km:
Location of one of our Airbnb reservations
Staying on a horse farm can be a unique experience in Iceland
View from one of the Airbnb accommodations we stayed at
During 5 days in Iceland, I will try to describe the places we visited in this land of ice, hoping to assist fellow travelers planning to visit this country.
Day 1: Reykjavik
Reykjavik was our first stop, not only because we had just landed but also to stock up on supplies. During our time in Iceland, we tried to cook our meals in our Airbnb to save on dining expenses.
After finishing our grocery shopping, we took some time to explore Reykjavik. The city isn’t very grand; it doesn’t have skyscrapers and is far less developed compared to cities like Jakarta. It’s understandable, given that Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, has a population of only 300,000 people compared to Jakarta’s 9 million.
One of Reykjavik’s iconic landmarks is Hallgrimskirkja, a church that took approximately 41 years to build and was completed in around 1986. It stands at a height of about 74.5 meters, making it the tallest church in Iceland.
Reykjavik city view
Day 2: Skógafoss and Jökulsárlón
On the second day, we decided to visit Skógafoss and Jökulsárlón.
Skógafoss is located in the south of Iceland, and it takes about 2 hours from Reykjavik to reach this waterfall. The impressive thing about this large waterfall is that you can easily approach it, and you can even hike up to the top for a fantastic view.
View from the top of Skógafoss
What’s intriguing about a road trip in Iceland is the many hidden gems you can discover along the way, not included in the itinerary. One such gem is this unnamed river, and we decided to stop and capture the beauty of this roadside river.
Beautiful roadside river
The last place we visited on the second day was Jökulsárlón, also known as the glacier lagoon. However, when we reached here, we couldn’t get close to the glacier because it’s located at the end of a lake. To approach the glacier, we had to take a glacier tour provided at the information center.
Visiting Jökulsárlón to see the glacier
Day 3: Reykjadalur and Snæfellsjökull National Park
Since we didn’t have the budget to pay for entry to the Blue Lagoon hot spring, we decided to visit its free alternative called Reykjadalur. Reykjadalur, or the steam valley, is located about 45 minutes from Reykjavik. As soon as we arrived, we could see plenty of hot steam rising from the ground, forming hot springs.
Reykjadalur, a free alternative for hot spring bathing
However, to reach the free hot spring baths, we had to walk 3 kilometers. Due to time constraints, we decided to continue our journey.
Hot spring pools in Reykjadalur
Our journey continued to the western part of Iceland. Before entering Snæfellsjökull National Park, we made a stop at Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge. This place is part of local folklore. The gap between two rocks can be entered, and inside, there’s a small flowing river.
Finally, we entered Snæfellsjökull National Park. Unlike other national parks with lots of trees, this one was mostly barren land as far as the eye could see. With the prohibition of buildings inside the national park, the journey here felt like being on another planet.
Londrangar, one of the attractions in Snæfellsjökull National Park
Day 4: Stykkishólmur, Kirkjufell, Þingvellir National Park, and Kerið
On the fourth day, we started by visiting Stykkishólmur, a town in western Iceland. This town was one of the filming locations for “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”
While heading to the next destination, we accidentally stumbled upon a place that would become a highlight of our trip. Without knowing its name, we stopped the car and enjoyed the breathtaking view.
It turns out that the pointed mountain is called Kirkjufell Mountain, and right across the road is a small waterfall with the mountain as its backdrop, called Kirkjufellsfoss.
Kirkjufellsfoss, the waterfall in front of Kirkjufell Mountain
Once again, unexpectedly, we found a hidden gem that wasn’t on our itinerary.
Our next stop was Þingvellir National Park. This place was formed due to the meeting of two tectonic plates, Eurasia and North America. Additionally, the first Icelandic parliament was established in this area in the 900s.
Entrance to Þingvellir
It’s said that some scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed here
Two continental plates meet here
As a bonus, we ended the day with a visit to Kerið, a dormant volcano that left behind a crater filled with water.
Day 5: Gullfoss and Geysir
On our last day in Iceland, we spent our time on the Golden Circle route, which is the most popular route for tourists visiting Iceland.
Unlike the places we visited earlier, which had fewer tourists, this time we noticed a substantial number of visitors. One of the attractions drawing their attention was Gullfoss, a large waterfall that can be admired up close.
A significant number of visitors at Gullfoss waterfall
Viewing the waterfall up close at Gullfoss
The last place we visited was Geysir. When we arrived, we discovered multiple geysers with different eruption intervals—some erupting every 5 minutes, some every hour, and some once every 20 years.
Geysir spouting water from the depths of the Earth
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