Two Weeks in Iceland
A photographer’s dream, a land of ice and fire, one of the oldest democracies on earth, Geysers, waterfalls and hot blue lagoons… no need to explain why Iceland had been on our bucket list for so long!
This trip was a present from Alex for my 30th birthday, and it was probably the best birthday present I’ve ever had!
Watch us bathe in golden light, hike up glaciers, walk behind water curtains and drive across some of the most scenic landscapes on earth!
DECISION MAKING. When and how long?
There are two main decisions to be made when you decide to travel to Iceland: what time of the year suits you best, and how long will the trip be. The answers to these will dictate very effectively your route.
Regarding the time of the year, you can either go in summer and enjoy a nicer weather and the possibility to explore almost the whole island, or you can get ready for the winter climate and experience the country at its iciest and most authentic!
We don’t enjoy big crowds, so we decided the best time would be something in between the high and low seasons. Early November was our pick, and despite having shorter days and not being able to visit some places in the heart of the island, we don’t regret it! The light is awesome (golden hour becomes golden hourS), snow makes its first appearances, the crowds have migrated south to warmer latitudes, and you increase your chances of seeing the Northern lights. Perfect!
«And don’t forget! Winter = Ice caves, don’t miss them!»
And how long should the trip be? Well, from our point of view, there are three options:
– Five days to one week: enough to visit the south area, where the most known tourist attractions are. The Golden Circle is worth a trip itself, Reykjavik is full of life, and if you go a bit further East, you can feast your eyes on glacier lagoons and black sand beaches.
– Two weeks: perfect if you want to drive around the island and complete the Ring Road. 1332km of breath-taking landscapes. You’ll also have time for some detours and excursions into the highlands, as long as the conditions allow for it.
– More than two weeks: Lucky you! It’s time to get intimate with Iceland. You’ll be able to visit the West Fjords, where most tourist don’t set foot, go whale watching, venture into the highlands… The perfect trip in our opinion!
However, we only had two weeks, which means we’ll have to go back to visit what we couldn’t fit in our first time there!
As usual, we use skyscanner to book our flights. Outside the high season, it’s not crazy expensive to fly to Iceland; we spent 444€ per person to fly with VUELING from Madrid to Keflavik International Airport. Go to our post about flights and transportation to learn more.
Once there, given we wanted to go around the island using the one and only road available to do so (the Ring Road), and knowing that road and weather conditions may vary, we decided to rent a 4×4 car that could get us out of trouble if necessary. We found a pretty good deal for two weeks. Details here.
If you want to venture into the highlands outside of summer time, you’ll need to book excursion packages that use special vehicles. This can be the only way to get to certain spots.
We had many of our nights booked in advance using booking.com, but since we weren’t 100% certain of our itinerary (we didn’t know if we could reach certain spots by ourselves or if we would end up needing to book excursions and day-trips), we decided to leave some nights open, and try to find accommodation once we were there.
This is risky in winter, as you may reach a village where no guesthouses or hotels are open during these months, and we didn’t have any camping gear with us. At worst, we’d have had to sleep in the car a few nights, but luckily it didn’t come to that!
We ended up sleeping in very different places: guesthouses (our favourite, as you get to know the super friendly locals), hostels and hotels. Find all about our accommodation choices here!
So without further introduction, here is the two-week itinerary of one of our favourite trips so far. We decided to do it counter clockwise starting from Keflavik Airport and ending in Reykjavik.
We’ll upload detailed posts about each area, so feel free to dive in!
Day 1. Flights: Madrid – Barcelona – Keflavik
Day 2. Golden Circle
Keflavik – Thingvellir and Thinvallavatn – Laugarvatn – Geysir – Gulfoss – Kerid – Selfoss
Day 3. South: Selfoss – Kalfafell
Selfoss – Urridafoss – Keldur – Hvolsvollur – Selljalandsfoss and Gljufrafoss – Skogafoss – Solheimajokull glacier – Reynisfjara (black beacj) – Vik – Kalfafell
Trekking: Svartifoss – Sjonarsker – Sjonarnipa (skaftafelljokull glacier views) – Glacier trekking: Svinafellsjokull
Day 5. Southeast (glacier lagoons): Kalfafell – Hofn
Kalfafell – Foss a Sidu and Nupstadur – Kirkjubaejarklaustur (Systrafoss waterfall and Kirkjugolf) – Fjadrargljufur – Kviarmyrarkambur – Fjallsarlon – Jokulsarlon – Hofn
Day 6. East Fjords: Hofn – Egilsstadir
Hofn – Hornafjordur – Berufjordur – Djupivogur – Eyjolfsstadir valley and Sveinsstekkfoss – Eskifjordur – Borgarfjordur – Breiddalsvik – Lagarfljot – Gufufoss – Seydisfjordur – Egilsstadir
Day 7. Northeast: Egilsstadir – Husavik
Jokulsa a Fjollum river – Dettifoss and Selfoss waterfalls – Trekking: Sanddalur, Fosshraun, Hafragil and Hafragilfoss – Vesturdalur and Hljodhaklettar – Husavik
Day 8. North: Husavik – Myvatn – Laugar
Husavik – Mt. Vindbelgur – Skutustadagigar and Stakholstjorn lake – Hofdi – Dimmuborgir – Hverfjall – Grjotagja – Hverir and Namafjall – Myvatn Nature Baths – Laugar
Day 9. North: Krafla – Reykir (Svinavatn)
Krafla, Viti and Leirnhjukur – Godafoss – Akureyri – Svinavatn
Day 10. Northwest: Reykir (Svinavatn) – Snaefellsnes
Svinavatn – Hvitserkur – Stykkisholmur – Mt. Helgasveit – Barnarhof shark museum
Day 11. West: Snaefellsnes Peninsula – Borgarnes
Budir – Raudsfelgja – Arnarstapi and Gastklettur – Hellnar – Londrangar – Vatnshellir cave – Djupalonssandur and Dritvik – Hellisandur, Rif and Olafsvik – Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss – Grundarfjordur – Berserkjahraun lava fields – Borgarnes
Day 12. West: Borgarnes – Reykjavik
Grabrok – Paradisarlaut – Deildartunguhver – Reykholt – Hraunfossar and Barnafoss – Vidgelmir and Surtshellir Caves – Reykjavik
Day 13. Reykjavik (Golden Circle again)
Reykjadalur – Kerid – Skalholt – Fridheimar – Fludir secret baths – Thjorsurdalur and Hjalparfoss waterfall – Thjodveldisbaerinn and local history museum – Reykjavik
Day 14. Reykjavik (city)
Be aware that travelling in autumn and winter means there are less hours of sunlight (although the light is beautiful all day in months like November). Don’t try to fit in one day more thatn the sun will allow you too! This happened to us notoriously on day 3 of our itinerary, with lots of highlights along the way. We regret not seeing the plane wreck, or having more time to enjoy the black sand beach. Read all about it in this post.
Despite being so close to the Arctic, the weather in Iceland is not too harsh, as it sits in the way of the Gulf Stream, which keeps it a few degrees warmer than the northeast side of the Atlantic Ocean. However, be prepared for quick climate changes and all kind of conditions!
When travelling to Iceland in winter or low season, be aware that many places in the less visited areas will be closed, so finding accommodation can get a little tricky. But on the other hand, it’s also tricky (and expensive!) to find a room during high season!
Iceland is a pretty expensive country for us southern Europeans, so if you are on a tight budget, perhaps you’d want to fit some food in your baggage. We did that and it saved our lives, not just because we didn’t spend that much but because in some places it can be hard to find a place to have dinner!