Self drive golden circle tour in Iceland

This was our first trip with Nordic Visitor and it was indeed a wonderful experience. After arriving at the Keflavík International Airport, a driver dropped us to our hotel. Once in Reykjavik a walk down the street of Laugavegur and a meal at one of the city’s best restaurants gives a feel of the city. The stays arranged by the company were exotic, each different from the other. Some overlooked lakes and some open farms, some were close to the harbor while some faced golf courses. One needs to carry waterproof clothes and several layers as the weather in Iceland is unpredictable. In the month of September, it could be sunny one moment and cloudy the other. Temperatures could go under zero degree and it could rain non-stop on some days. The drive is on the right side of the roads and the steering wheel is on the left. An all-wheel-drive (AWD) is the best for these roads as the terrain keeps changing. It is tough to remember the names of all the places at the end of the trip. Iceland is an expensive country and you must carry some Icelandic Kronas though debit and credit cards work at most places.

Day 1: After a comfortable night’s rest we were picked up at the hotel by our agent who took us to a car rental agency from where we picked up our car after limited paper work. The day starts with a stop at UNESCO’s world heritage site Þingvellir National Park. Snorkelling at the Silfra ravine is an out-of-the-world experience as it is one of the most beautiful underwater sites. Next on the route is the Geysir geothermal area and the last stop is at the Gulfoss waterfall. Photographs clicked here can be your wallpaper for a lifetime.

Gulfoss Waterfall

Day 2 : The first stop of the day is at the Seljalandsfoss waterfall which is one of its kind in Iceland as one can walk behind the cascade on a footpath. We had booked a glacier walk on the Sólheimajökull glacier as this has an amazing terrain consisting of crevasses, sink holes and ice ridges. Along the drive there are restaurants at the gas stations where you can get a quick bite. If you are vegetarian, soup and bread is the best option for you.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall  
Sólheimajökull glacier   

Day 3 : Skaftafell, a part of Vatnajökull National Park, is a region with many waterfalls, streams and lagoons. There are many hiking trails to the Svartifoss waterfall. A must do in this region is a boat ride among the floating icebergs at the Jokulsárlón Ice Lagoon.                                                                    

Svartifoss waterfall 
Fjallsárlón Ice Lagoon

Day 4 : Drive in East Iceland is along the fjords, fishing villages and changing landscapes. Visit to Petra’s Mineral collection in Stöðvarfjörður and the Seyðisfjarðarkirkja blue church in Seyðisfjörður gives a feel of the towns in East Iceland.

Peaceful town of Seydisfjordur
Fjords in East Iceland
Petra’s Mineral collection in Stöðvarfjörður  

Day 5 : This day starts with a visit to Lake Mývatn and Dettifoss waterfall and ends with the geothermal area in Krafla. Detifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Lake Mývatn and Krafla volcano are not far from each other. The lake has a rich population of water birds and is surrounded by lava pillars. Krafla is an area with bubbling mud springs and is a must visit on the trip.  

Day 6 : A day at the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park and the city of Húsavík can be spent by visiting Ásbyrgi Canyon, Hljóðaklettar rock formations and whale watching. Húsavík is known as the ‘Whale watching capital of Europe’.

Whale watching in Husavik
Whale museum in Husavik

Day 7 : This day is spent in North Iceland. Goðafoss waterfall is divided into two horse-shaped falls and is very unique and powerful. Next is a stop in the town of Akureyri that has many museums and botanical gardens. It is very relaxing to stop at the thermal pools in Hofsós before heading to Skagafjörur to see the Icelandic horses and end the day at the Grettir’s Pool that enjoys the view of snow peaked mountains.

Goðafoss waterfall

Day 8 : The drive along west Iceland is picturesque. A visit is planned to Deildartunguhver which is Iceland’s geothermal power. Close to this are two waterfalls where water spills from the lava field.

Hverfjall volcano

Day 9 : This day starts early with a drive to the Snæfellsnes peninsula. This is one of Earth’s seven major energy centres. A visit to the beautiful city of Stykkishólmur and a sumptuous meal will make you content. You can also visit the Helgafell or the Holy Mountain and the beautiful city of Arnarstapi.

Hraunfossar waterfall
Barnafoss waterfall
Northern Lights

Day 10-12 : We completed the loop around Iceland and returned to Reykjavik where we returned our rental car and stayed an extra day to explore the city. There are a number of museums in the city that can be explored. We did a day’s hike to mount Esja and visited the Blue Lagoon at night where we managed to see the northern lights. The next morning we took a flight back to India via Copenhagen.

‘If there’s any place we’d go back, it would be Iceland with our pack’

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