Last month I went to Iceland with my brother for 3 days from 8-11 August 2016. I was visiting him in UK and with it only being a 3 hour flight, we decided it would be a great break away. But with just 3 days, we knew we were going to have to pack in as much as possible within such a short time frame. I did a lot of research to find out what there was to actually see in the country and so I’ve written this post below for those of you thinking about going there.
After picking up our hire car from Green Motion at the airport, we knew we’d be able to see and do whatever we liked rather than spend a lot of money doing a tour and being told when to get on and off the bus.
With only 3 days, I decided it would be best to base ourselves in Reykjavik. We stayed in the most beautiful airbnb here. We planned to spend our first full day driving down to Vik on the South Coast before spending day 2 and 3 in and around Reykjavik, the Golden Circle and The Blue lagoon. We flew with Wow Air, a great plane but we were delayed both on the way there and back. It unfortunately ruined our first day as we didn’t get to our airbnb until 9pm instead of 3pm so that cancels out the first day.
I found this awesome map which made it really easy to plan the day trips.
Here’s what we did the rest of the trip…
Driving down to Vik and Back to Reykjavik (13 hours for a 2.5hour journey)
Even though it should only take 2.5 hours to drive to Vik, we stopped off loads on the way to visit all of the tourist sites although we weren’t taking our time with the sites. First up we went to Bonus supermarket and picked up our food supplies for the day. You’ll be paying 13 pounds for a burger and chips at the tourist sites otherwise.
Walk behind Seljalandsfoss Waterfall – one of the top waterfalls in the world
Our first stop was the famous Seljalandsfoss waterfall. It’s easy to find as you’ll see it from the road and it’s about an hour and a half drive from Reykjavik. We pulled up to be greeted by a lot of other tourists all kitted out head to toe in hiking gear. This waterfall has often made it to the best waterfalls in the world list and it’s not hard to see why. With a walking track that runs all the way around the waterfall meaning you can walk right behind it is pretty spectacular. I’d advise wearing a good pair of grip shoes and a waterproof jacket when walking around it.
We then made a beeline for Vik, drove up to the church there which has a good view of the town, then down to the black sand beach before checking out their famous gift shop. Then on the drive back we then visited a few more sites below.
We then went to the photographed beach which has been often named as the best black sand beach in Iceland. But what we really wanted to see were the amazing basalt columns which were jaw dropping amazing!
Unfortunately there were huge amounts of tourists there which did ruin the spectacular beach for us but nonetheless it was absolutely stunning.
About 15 minutes drive later, we went to Dyholaey to stand right on the famous rock formation. The black sand beach there is absolutely stunning and definitely worth visiting.
DC Plane on Solheimasandur
We then drove to our next destination, the one I was looking forward to visiting the most – the plane wreck which is about another 10 minutes drive from Dryholaey back towards Reykjavik. You’ll find a lot of cars all parked up but you’ll be wondering why because it looks as though there is nothing there. Once parked, you’ll be setting off on a little hike down the straight path which will take around 45 minutes. It seriously looks like it’s a lot closer than it really is. You’ll then find the plane which is down a hill of black sand hence why it’s not visible from the road. In 1973 a US Navy plane ran out of fuel and crashed on the beach although everyone survived, it was never removed. This is an unbelievable site which is magnificent to photograph. You can even go inside the plane as well.
Top Tip – we went there at 7pm and by the time we got to the plane there weren’t many tourists there. We just waited it out until everyone left so we could capture the plane without tourists in shot.
We left Skogafoss until the end of the day because after going to Seljalandsfoss and seeing the huge amount of tourists there, we decided it would be best to visit later on. You’ll see this waterfall from the road, it’s just a few minutes drive away from Seljalandsfoss. When we arrived at 9pm people had set up camp – who knew you could camp right next to the waterfall? But it was absolutely stunning!
Exploring Golden Circle, Reykjavik and The Blue Lagoon
Pingvellir National Park
Pingvellir National Park
After our mammoth day driving down the coast, we decided to spend the morning at Pingvellir National Park (1 hour drive northeast of Reykjavik).
Pingvellir lies in a valley that marks the crest of the mid-atlantic ridge and the boundary between the North American and Eurasan tectonic plates. The world’s first parliament was also founded there in 930 and held its sessions until 1798.
The location of where the world’s first parliament took place
There’s a nice walkway that’s formed in a loop and you’ll find a waterfall, the plates and the spot where parliament was first held. It’s actually not that exciting and personally I wouldn’t be jumping on the rooftops to tell you all to visit. We unfortunately didn’t have time to see the other two tourist sites, Geysir or Gullfoss which I do sort of regret now looking back.
In the heart of the city – you’ll notice a lot of awesome street art everywhere
Even though we had only been in Iceland for less than 48 hours, I felt like we hadn’t seen much of the capital city so after an uneventful time at Pingvellir we headed into the capital city to explore. The city itself is based around the main street, Laugavegur. You’ll find many hiking shops, pubs and restaurants including a lot of very cool street art. Everywhere is in walking distance as it’s quite small.
First up was the Penis museum. Yes, there is a penis museum in Reykjavik and for a museum so random, we couldn’t miss this!
We then headed over to the famous Cathedral and ventured inside. The queue to go to the top of the tower was quite big so we decided to skip it.
We then ventured into the Art Museum which was really cool. It started off with modern art and every floor you went up aged in art. We loved how creative the city was. So much amazing street art everywhere – it was beautiful.
It must be the first time I’ve been somewhere where I didn’t eat out all the time. We didn’t have a lot of money and seeing as it was expensive – at least $60 Aus dollars for main meal in a nice restaurant. The only place we really wanted to try out was Glo – a vegan friendly, healthy restaurant located right in the middle of town. I had the raw lasagna and it was really good.
The Blue lagoon
The only time we could go to The Blue Lagoon was either late at night or on the way to the airport on our last day. Seeing as our flight wasn’t until 3pm, we knew it would be so busy so we opted for our last night. It stays open until 12am during the summer months so when we got there (it’s about a 50 minute drive out of the city) it was in fact pouring with rain and it was freezing. We thought no one would be there but we were wrong. I only learnt when we arrived that you need to pre-book and therefore they were fully booked meaning I couldn’t get in. For $100 I’m not too sure what you get but what I did learn after I had read this in a few blogs was the geo thermal pools at The Blue Lagoon are much bigger than the man made built tourist centre. Right outside of The Blue lagoon is a much bigger pool, its like they just cornered off part of it. So technically there’s no need to pay to use the pool. You could even get changed in their toilets which are right next to the front door, then use the pools right outside. It’s incredible – I didn’t realise how bizarre it is that people are paying someone to use a natural pool! I didn’t go in because it was pouring with rain and I was happy I just got to see the pools to be honest as it is absolutely stunning. Because of the sulphur, it does smell like rotten eggs in the air FYI!
I took a quick video outside of The Blue Lagoon showing you that you don’t need to pay to experience the geo thermal pools. It was heavily raining at the time.
The Rest of Reykjavik, Art Museum, Photography Museum and Harpa
We only had a couple of hours spare before we had to return our car and get a shuttle bus back to the airport so we decided to spend our time at the Reykjavik Art Museum, The Photography Museum next door and recommendation from our airbnb hosts was to visit Harpa – the exhibition and concert hall. Harpa was absolutely stunning, a very innovative and inspiring piece of architecture. It was definitely a highlight for us.
We absolutely loved Iceland. What a very cool country!! It was not only creative with it’s art scene, it was vegan friendly, and the landscapes were out of this world. I’d love to go back and spend more time travelling around the country and visiting the not so touristy sites next time. It’s a proper gem!!
Have you been to Iceland? If so, what was your favourite part?
Thanks for reading!