In Reykjavik we got the rental car we had booked for a week and got the hell out of the city to where you want to go when you travel Iceland – the countryside.
We drove close to 300 km north, through stunning scenery, and arrived on a horse farm close to Saudarkrokur. A German-Islandic Couple runs this place, they have roundabout 70 friendly Islandic horses. Time for horsebackriding! But the next morning the weather had turned, it was drizzling rain and grey instead of sunny. So instead of going for a ride we decided to explore the northern part of Iceland by car.
We drove up through more stunning landscapes, all the way to Siglufjördur, a small fishing village. There we had the best Icelandic Fish n’ Chips up to now. Maybe the best ever, it was really really good. Cod, very fresh, the day’s catch. No Malt-vinegar, but that wasn’t a big deal.
The day ended with a beautiful sunset, promising nice weather for the next morning. And we were lucky, it was sunny the next day. Also quite windy, but this didn’t stop us from finally taking our horseback riding tip. For two hours we roamed around the backcountry, through the hills and enjoyed the wonderful views.
When we came back it was time to say goodbye and head on, back south, to the Snaefellsnes Peninsular. It was the beginning of a new era for us – the next week we were going to camp in our tent, thanks to Icelandic accommodation prices, they really drained our travel budget. We had bought a camping card in the tourist office in Reykjavik, cost us 150 Euros for two, and allowed us to stay on camp sites throughout the country for 28 days. Didn’t plan to use all the days, a week should be enough. However, in retrospect, for a week there was probably no need to get this card, a night on a campsite usually would have cost us something between 20 and 30 Euros, so we just broke even.
After another wonderfully scenic drive we arrived on a campsite next to the Hotel Eldborg, southern part of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. It was storming by now. We found a place where the wind wouldn’t blow away our tent at once, so we pitched it up there. Well, to some it up, it wasn’t exactly a nice experience. It felt freezing cold, and inside the tent it felt like the wind was ripping it apart every moment (which it didn’t, watching it from the outside the tent barely moved at all…). Needless to say, we didn’t get a lot of sleep.
The next moring it was still considerably windy, but the sun was shining bright. We packed our stuff and got back on the road again. We had planed to stay for two nights but the campsite was kinda crappy so we moved on. Destination Sneafellsjökull National Park. A beatilful road trip again. We drove up to Hellnar and did the short hike to Arnastapi – beautilful coast line, but quite crowded, since it is the one dayhike Lonelyplanet recommends every one to do.
Along the way we had found a beautiful campsite in the little town of Olafsvik, great, clean facilities and close to the town center. The weather had also calmed down, so we pitched our tent and spent the night there. Another cold one of more to come…
After a not so good night’s sleep we hit the road again – back to Reykjavik. Well not quite, we passed the capital to get on the so-called „Golden Circle“ – a ring road with some of the major attractions of the country along the way: the Geysir, the roaring waterfall Gullfoss and the Pingvellir National Park – that’s where the European and American continental plates drift apart.
Well, all of these places are quite overrun by tourists and in the end didn’t impress us too much. Instead of staying two days in that region (the camping site we stayed on was quite nice, by the way, they have an on-site bistro where you get great pizza), we could have easily done this programm in one day and continued our journey.
So after that, the first chapter of our visit in Iceland is closed and our travel mode changes again dramatically – for the next couple of days we would have no car and travel the south by bus.
Iceland is beautiful and scenic and perfect for roadtrips. You can easily skip the guidebook’s main attractions and just enjoy all the great scenery you get to see along the way!
Iceland is fraking expensive. Camping is a great way to save some money, but be prepared for cold nights, even in summer.