Southern Iceland

We’ve visited Southern Iceland in October 2017 in a 5 days trip. Although Iceland is not a cheap country at all, most of the open-air natural landmarks are free to visit, thus you can easily create your own budget itinerary. Everybody speaks English, so you should not worry about the language barrier. The only regret we had in this trip, however, was that we did not get the chance to witness the Northern Lights, although it was their season.

You can find below some information on our self-drive itinerary:

Day 1&2:

We used the first two days of our trip (1.5 days actually) to get to know Reykjavik and its people. Although it was quite cold, the weather was great for sightseeing. Among the places we visited:

  • Hallgrimskirkja: beautiful cathedral located in the heart of the city and one of its most well-known landmarks. You can also climb to its top for an amazing view over the city;
  • The Icelandic Phallological Museum(link here): the ticket price is around 13 Euros, and the collection you will find inside has over 200 phaluses;
  • Sun Voyager: visit this beautiful sculpture at sunset in order to get the best views over the sea;
  • Tjornin lake: here you can enjoy the peacefull fife of swans and geese right in the city center;
  • Imagine Peace Tower (at night);
  • At night you can try one of Reykjavik’s thermal pools. We tried Laugardalslaug and it was amazing.

Other places to visit here:

  • Videy Island;
  • Arbaer Open Air Museum;
  • Grotta Island LightHouse;
  • Perlan Museum.
View over the city from Hallgrimskirkja’s top
Reykjavik’s surroundings

Day 3:

We used this day for the Golden Circle Route, which includes most must-see places in Southern Iceland. Below you can find our itinerary:

  • Thingvellir National Park: this is the place for you if you want to dive between two continents, witness some amazing views and hike towards beautiful Oxararfoss waterfall. You can find Silfra diving/snorkelling experiences for around 100 Euros here . The parking price per day is around 700 ISK;
  • Geysir (free entry);
  • Gullfoss waterall (free entry);
  • Kerid Volcano: the price for entering this inactive volcano crater is 2-3 Euros, but the views are priceless;

On the way you can also visit the Secret Lagoon Hot Spring (more info here) and the Reykjadalur Thermal River for an Icelandic style bath.

We spent this night near Hella, in an amazing log cabin located in a nice forest. Although it was a great place to catch the Northern Lights, we did not get lucky this time.

Silfra
Kerid Volcano – the crater from above
Gulfoss waterfall
Gulfoss Waterfall

Day 4:

We left Hella in the morning towards Vik, our home for the next night. On the road we stopped for:

  • Seljalandsfoss waterfall (free entry): go behind it for an amazing experience;
  • Skogafoss waterfall (free entry): amazing place, both from down and from above. Follow the stairway trail to its top in order to witness a wonderful view. Near the waterfall you will find a great restaurant with convenient prices (based on general Icelandic prices), where you can have your meal with a view;
  • Mýrdalsjökull glacier (free entry if you do not plan to hike on it): up to a point you can climb on your own, but after that you need special equipment and a guide;
  • Sólheimasandur plane wreckage (free to visit): here you can see the abandoned plane which crashed on the beach in the 1970s. From the main road you will need to walk for around 40 minutes(4 km) to the beach;
  • Go on the beach near the Landeyjahöfn ferry station and if you get lucky you might meet some seals. Although she tried to bite us, it was an encounter to remember <3;
  • Reynisfjara black sand beach (free entry);

We spent this night in Vik (link to our accommodation included below), where you can also find some natural thermal pools if you go off the beaten track. Ask the locals about them and you will be able to see the Northern Lights from an outdoor hot pool.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall
Glacier view
Skogafoss waterfall
Into the Mýrdalsjökull glacier
Reynisfjara black sand beach

Day 5:

We left Vik very early in the morning in order to get to the hike on Vatnajokkul glacier we scheduled 2 days before:

  • Vatnajokkul Glacier: we booked this ‘Into the Glacier’ tour via http://www.icelandadvice.is/&nbsp; for 145 Euros/person. The starting point was the Glacier Guides Booking Hut at the Skaftafell National Park , near the parking lot, and lasted for around 4 hours roundtrip. They offered the protection equipment, ice spikes and an ice axe, but be careful to bring good hiking shoes (high-rise ones, not the sneakers-like ones) for this experience. This glacier is definitely worth a visit, and while exploring it you will become more aware about the global warming effects;
  • Diamond Beach (free entry): this is a must see if you plan to visit the south of the island. From here you can also have an amazing view over the Jokulsarlon Glacier;
  • The Blue Lagoon: after driving all the way from the Diamond Beach back to Reykjavik, spending some hours at the Blue Lagoon by night was exactly what we needed. Ticket price: 50 Euros.
Into the Vatnajokkul Glacier
Into the Vatnajokkul Glacier
Diamond Beach
Jokulsarlon Glacier
Jokulsarlon Glacier

Accommodation costs:

– Reykjavik: 230 Euros/2 nights/4 persons ( Airbnb link )

– Hella: 110 Euros/night/4 persons ( Booking link )

– Vik: 250 Euros/night/4 persons ( Booking link )

These prices might seem high, but one should take into account that Iceland is not a cheap country to visit if you take as a base European prices. Moreover, if you secure your accommodation some time in advance (1-2 months) you might get better prices. This time we booked the accommodation only 2-3 weeks in advance.

Transportation costs:

  • Plane tickets:
  • Bucharest-Brussels Airport-Bucharest: 100 Euros/person (operated by BlueAir). We initially found cheaper tickets with RyanAir, but 1 month before the trip they cancelled our flights, so we had to choose the only other option;
  • Brussels Airport-Reykjavik-Brussels Airport: 117 Euros/person (operated by WOWAir);
  • Car: we rented a 4X4 Dacia Duster (almost new) through Lava Car Rental (https://www.lavacarrental.is/) with full insurance, second driver and GPS for 5 days. Pick-up and drop-off location set as Keflavik Airport. Although they do not have an office in the airport, they are close and will take you from and to the airport. They did not charge any credit card depozit and the payment was processed from a debit card (they still need an imprint of your credit card though);

Final price: 405 Euros.

Other costs:

  • Gas prices: around 1.9 USD/litre;
  • Restaurant prices: burger with fries: around 20 Euros; vegetable soup: around 15 Euros; french fries: around 10 Euros.

Good to know:

  • Going off-road by car is forbidden and fines are quite high, so try to stick to the paved/gravel roads;
  • Throughout the south of the island, and except for Reykjavik, villages and towns are small, thus it might be wise to check for accommodation options some weeks/months in advance in order to be sure you have a place to sleep;
  • The itinerary we took was toll-free, but it might be wise to check if anything changed meanwhile.

Useful links:

https://www.lavacarrental.is/

https://www.bluelagoon.com

www.icelandadvice.is

http://www.guidetoicenad.is

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