Travel to Iceland : how to make the most of 4 days

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This year we set off to Iceland for a long weekend. With such limited time we needed to squeeze as much into four days as we possibly could. I spent a lot of time researching and piecing together the best possible itinerary. In the end it was a well rounded trip, and we felt like we really got a good dose of the best the country has to offer. If you are planning or considering a quick trip to the land of fire and ice, it is totally doable. Here is what we did:

First of all we went in the summer, which means 24 hours of daylight. This played a huge part in making the most of our trip. I would definitely recommend going during this time of year, especially for a short trip.

Day 1: We arrived at the International Airport and picked up our bags and rental car. We opted for a 4×4, and signed up for all the insurance. Renting a car can be pricey, but when split four ways it’s actually less than doing tours plus we can work on our own schedule. They picked us up right outside the airport. We signed papers right there at the car, were handed the keys, and on our way. First stop, the Blue Lagoon. This was the perfect way to relax after the long flight. (I would also recommend stopping here if you have time on your way to the airport, unwind before the long trip home.) We spent a good three hours here, relaxing and exploring the lagoon, enjoying some facial masks and drinks. And afternoon well spent. We then headed to Reykjavík to check into the apartment we rented. We found the place on airbnb. It was clean and we had a kitchen, and a lot more room than staying in a hotel. Plus when split four ways, the price was about the same as staying at a hostel! And with the kitchen we were able to have food on hand for breakfast and supplies to pack sandwiches for lunches. We got settled, and then went to explore the city a bit. We ended up at the Sea Baron for dinner. Yuuummm! One of the best meals we had the whole trip! We also managed to make it to Hressingarskálinn for a couple beers. They had a live band which was a lot of fun.

Day 2: The second day we headed off to tour the Golden Circle. We first stopped off at Kerio volcano crater. Then to Geysir and Strokkur, two must see geysers. After spending some time there we headed to the impressive waterfall, Gullfoss. After taking in the views, we checked out the gift shop and the cafeteria. We grabbed lunch, and must recommend the lamb soup. Delicious. And even better, when you get the soup it comes with unlimited refills! All warmed up and tummies full we made our way to the last stop, Thingvellir (Þingvellir). It was an easy hike, and when we arrived at Oxarárfoss we were the only ones there. Hard to believe, especially at a national park. It was great to sit and enjoy the falls on our own schedule.
With it being the Iceland’s Independence Day, we headed back to the city to enjoy the festivities. People flooded the streets, all drinking and having a good time. It was tough to get into a restaurant, so we just stopped into the first place that wasn’t packed. Grabbed some fish and chips, and some Viking beers. Then we took to the streets, beers in hand, to join the locals. We also checked out a place which is a coffee house by day and bar by night. Its called Prikið. Very cool place to grab a drink. Before turning in for the night, we went down to the water and enjoyed what was either the midnight sunset or sunrise. Beautiful!

Day 3: We headed inland on the third day. We set off for Landmannalaugar. Getting there was an adventure in itself. I am not sure if there is any way to prepare for driving Iceland’s f roads. At times we felt as if we were on the moon. And crossing the river… well you just have to go for it! Of course, always check the river depth and you have to get wet in order to map out the best path for the car. Unfortunately, we hit a part of the road that was closed due to flooding and ice. However, we had made it to Landmannhellir. So we hiked there. Amazing. We were the only people around for miles and miles and miles… A short hike in over the rocky ridge and the land opened up to us. And ahead lay a pristine glacial lagoon. Breathtaking. We explored and hiked for the afternoon, and then headed back to the city. We enjoyed Icelandic Fish & Chips for dinner that night. Quite delicious.

Day 4: Our last full day. We went all out this day, and were on the road by 4 am, headed clear across the country for Skaftafell. We scheduled the Glacier Grand Slam tour with Glacier Guides. Sigurlína was our guide, and we loved her. We arrived at Falljokull and hiked up the glacier tongue. All together it took about 4 hrs. What an amazing experience. After the hike they took us to Jokulsárlón glacier lagoon. We loaded onto a  boat, and explored the iceberg packed lagoon. It was like something right out of a movie.
On our drive back to the city, about 4hrs, we stopped at a couple impressive waterfalls. (Another advantage to having rented a car.) We saw both Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. And again, we were the only ones there! There were a few other people in the area, but no one actually standing at the falls. I have never been anywhere else where we were the only people admiring a beautiful waterfall.
Back in the city we had our final meal at 3 Frakkar, which came highly recommended. It was an ok meal. We learned that the more expensive restaurants in Iceland are not necessarily the best.

And there you have it. We left for the airport early in the morning on day 5. And the rental car agent was waiting for us right out front of the airport. It couldn’t have been any easier!
A few things we made sure to try while there: Whale. Puffin. Hákarl. Brennivín.

Here are some clips from a photo book we made using Booksmart.

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