Iceland 9 day Itinerary

Iceland 9 Day Itinerary 
I’m writing this post for planners and non-planners alike! Since it took Katie and I months to fully develop our Iceland itenerary, I’ll offer you the short cut of all the things you can do with a 9 day road trip of the ring road in Iceland including how much you can expect to spend, how long some activities will take you, and a map for each day. Let this blog post be your guide and enjoy one fabulous trip to one of the most beautiful and epic countries I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.


Key for time: != at least hour hour. If no exclamation mark, assume short stop

Main Tips for visiting Iceland
1) Prepare yourself for rain. I mean a LOT of rain. I plan on writing a separate “packing for Iceland” post but cover your bases and bring a long RAIN COAT and water proof shoes. (DO NOT plan on buying these items once you’re there, the cheapest rain jacket I saw was in the $150-$200 range)
2) Rent CAR WIFI with your rental car. It’s the greatest thing ever. We paid $100 for 9.5 days and the signal was strong enough to cover all 4 of our phones going at the same time. It’s also a portable device you can bring in restaurants or around town to have service if you need. (For comparison, big cell phone companies like AT&T and Verizon offer international plans for $10/day meaning I would’ve spent $100 for JUST MY PHONE and we paid that for 4 people. SO WORTH IT.
3) Get ALL the car insurances available. In some countries we rely on our credit card for rental insurance but in Iceland… your credit card is not going to cover ASH, and SAND, and GRAVEL. I read so many horror stories about cars getting Sand blasted which cost the renters 1,000s. Just get the insurance.
4) Go in the shoulder season. (Spring/ Fall) I’m partial to Fall since you still have Summer greens hanging around and the fall colors were AWESOME) As you will see in the below posts, guest houses and hotels are VERY expensive and they are even more so in the Summer. You’ll also be able to find some solitude in the shoulder season… so go then!
5) Grocery stores are your new best friend. Seriously we didn’t see anywhere that an entree cost less than like $20 so eating out 3 meals a day in Iceland… will seriously break the bank. Plan on grabbing some breakfast snacks and lunch materials in the store and then potentially eat dinner out. Look for guesthouses/ airbnbs that provide kitchens where you can cook your own meals. The 2 major grocery stores (with the most options/ best prices) are BONUS/ Krónan.  oh, and bring some re-usable grocery bags… as all the stores will charge you for bags ( like 0.25 – $3.00 depending on the bag)
6) Get at least one N1 gast station card. For some reason, out of all of us on this trip with debit cards with pin numbers.. only 1 card worked. (and we tried a variety of gas stations) so you will want the gift card that doesn’t require a pin  (or human interaction at all) for when you get to unmanned gas stations. This is especially important if you plan on driving the ring road. 

Major Costs Breakdown
Rental car – roughly $1195 for 9 days split between 4 people, so per day for 2 people: $66.40
Gas total – $321 for entire trip split evenly and spread out over 9 days = $18/day for 2 people
I’ve wrapped up these costs into each of my daily costs.


Day 1: Exploring Reykjavik

Parking is free on Sundays in the city.. for all the other days of the week, here’s a great blog post that describes the parking zones and info on parking in the city.
If you’re looking for drinks, make sure to look up the different Happy Hours around town.


Hallgrímskirkja : Free to enter, going to the top of the tower is about $8.50/adult
Harpa Concert Hall
The Solfar (sun voyager) statue and coastal walk
The National Museum of Iceland !!: $9.50 student/ $19 adult
The Cultural House museum (skippable if you’re short on time but included in Museum ticket) !
Horse back riding tour !!! where we went Ishestar horseback riding tour $109/pp
Take a walk and enjoy this colorful city!
Blue Lagoon (if you so desire, we skipped to save on time/money)

Airbnb apartment split with another couple, $115

Breakfast: on the plane
Lunch: Hot dogs at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur about $4/ hotdog
Dinner: groceries/ dinner cooked at airbnb for $28

Day 1 Costs: $350 for 2 people



Day 2: The Golden Circle (Reyk-Selfoss)
Start early!! With the proximity of these spots to Reyk, they will get busy fast with tours. Stay ahead of the tours by getting there early!
Pack a lunch… there aren’t much but expensive cafes with limited options along the golden circle route.
As long as it isn’t torrentially raining, visit Haifoss. Yes there is a dirt road, but you can make it in a 2 wheel drive car if you take it nice and easy. This was my favorite spot of the day!

Thingvillir National Park !: Parking is $6.50 for all day pass
Háifoss !!
Kerið Crater admission ! : $3.80pp
Selfoss town

Garun Guesthouse $113/ room

Breakfast and lunch – groceries from previous day
Gulfoss shop sandwich $7
Dinner at Yellow $36.20  
Groceries again for potentially next couple of days: $21.86



Day 2 Costs: $276 for 2 people
Driving Distance/Time:300 km 4hr,45 min


Day 3: Southern Iceland (Selfoss- Vik)
Again the earlier you start the better. You’re still within tour bus range so to beat the hordes of people, I’d try to get out early.
Seljavallaug Pool is still a VERY cool visit even if you don’t plan on swimming.
Skógafoss is worth exploring at the top. Plan on more than an hour here so you have time to hike around and explore the upper cascades without the tourists. It is beautiful up there.
The plane crash…. if you REALLY want to see it, go for it. It had literally the most full parking lot of our trip, meaning the chances of getting actual good photos of it were slim to none… so we skipped it.

Seljalandsfoss: ! parking was $6.50/ car
Seljavallalaug Pool !
Skógafoss !
Sólheimasandur Plane Crash !!
Dyrhólaey !
Reynisfjara Beach
Vik town

Giljur Guesthouse: $177/ room

Breakfast and lunch were again taken care of by previous groceries
Groceries from Vik Kronan: $20.50
Dinner at Sudur Vik: $34


Day 3 Costs: $322 for 2 people
Driving Distance/Time: 170 km at 2.5 hours



Day 4: EPIC Vik- Höfn
In Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, explore to the last viewpoint of the canyon for a beautiful waterfall and if you have time, take a walk along the base of the narrow canyon.
If you aren’t in stellar hiking shape, you can park closer to Svartifoss waterfall than the visitor center. See my post on the hike for a map and directions. It’s worth seeing!
Shop around for glacier hikes and if you have the time/money, maybe book a climbing tour. I was satisfied with our shorter tour but we didn’t go very far out on the glacier.
Check out BOTH Glacier lagoons. The smaller one has less icebergs but is amazing to see the glacial tongue right on the lagoon! Also make sure to stop at the pull outs between the two lagoons for amazing views and a LOT less crowds.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon !
Kirkjugólf basalt tiles
Svartifoss Waterfall hike !
Glacier hike in Vatnajökull national park with Extreme Iceland !! : $ varies, we paid $94.85 pp
Fjallsárlón Iceber Lagoon
Jökulsárlón Lagoon !
Diamond Beach
Sefdalur guesthouse for 4 people: $325, so $162.50 if you split with another couple

Breakfast/ lunch: Previous groceries
Coffee at Glacier lagoon: $4 Dinner at Z bistro $45 (Try the Lobster Pizza!)

Day 4 Costs: $485 for 2 people
Total Driving: Roughly 400 km and 5 hours



Day 5: The Eastern fjords: Höfn- Mývatn
MOST importantly, DO NOT drive Road 939 of Oxi Pass if it is raining or otherwise inclement weather. This is a very scary, DANGEROUS road that the gps/ google maps will likely direct you down. It definitely will save you time in nice weather.. but in anything but nice… just stay on the ring road.
My other major suggestion here is consider staying in the town Seydisjordur. It was easily my favorite town in Iceland and it’s spot on a fjord is SO beautiful. Not to mention there are tons of beautiful hikes in the area… See if there’s availability, stay here… otherwise the next spot with available hotels is in Myvatn.
For an excellent blog post to help you decide which bank of Dettifoss to visit, check this one out.
It’s next to impossible to find accurate information on hikes in Seydisfjordur… so visit the tourism center at the ferry terminal to get a more accurate idea before heading out.


Hengifoss waterfall ! : 2 waterfalls with cool basalt features, but DEFINITELY a hike
Egilsstaðir for your grocery refill mostly.
Gufufoss : Small waterfall right off the road into Seydisfjordur
Seydisfjordur !! The town itself is charming. Walk the rainbow brick road, explore the cafes and shops, visit the tourism center for hiking info, and check out the little blue church.
Mt. BJÓLFUR !! Supposedly a 5 km hike (but double check at tourist center) and on a beautiful day offers the most killer views down the Fjord.
Monument to Þorbjörn Arnoddsson : If hiking is out, definitely check out this monument which is a quick stop and provides the best views of the town/ fjord combo.
Dettifoss/ Selfoss ! save some driving the next day by hitting up Dettifoss on your way to Myvatn.

Skútustadir Guesthouse: $294 for 4 people so $147 for 2

Breakfast/ lunch: previous groceries Groceries in Egilsstaðir: $35 Hotel Aldan 2 coffees and Date cake: $16 Dinner was 2 freezer pizzas for $4 (included in grocery cost but hey we live on the cheap side sometimes!)
Day 5 Costs: $283/ 2 people
Total Driving: 524 km/ 7 hr, 45 min




Day 6: Northern Iceland: Mývatn
If you’re trying to save money… skip the blue lagoon and nature baths or pick ONE of them. Unfortunately the “little blue lagoon” of Myvatn was not very warm for us… It was cool… but not $80 cool.
Get off the beaten track and visit the Husavik Whale Museum… it was such a neat little museum and the drive out there doesn’t add THAT much time.
Most of the stops around Myvatn lake DO NOT have toilets available… The Nature Baths and Dimmuborgir were the only 2 with obvious ones and the both cost… unless you pay for the baths of course.
Beware in the SUMMER months, the flies around the lake area are said to be terrible… In late September we didn’t see any… but we also didn’t see any sun either haha


Dimmuborgir !
Hverfjall !
Myvatn nature baths ! : EXPENSIVE, we spent $80 for 1 adult, 1 student, and 2 towel rentals
Húsavík Whale Museum ! : $28.20 for 2 students
Húsavík Whale watching tours !! We didn’t get to due to weather but the variety of whales seen in this bay is incredible.
Goðafoss waterfall

Kidagil Guesthouse: $220/ 4 people so $110 for Braden and I

Breakfast- included in night stay Fish Soup and Date cake at Naustiq for $30 Fish n chips in Husavik $16.00
Dinner: Grocery snacks
Day 6 Costs: $350/ 2 people
Total Driving: 184 km/ 3 hours


Day 7: Northern Iceland: Mývatn- Gauksmyri
This day is pretty straight forward. Check out Akureyri’s cool stuff… You could potentially drive further than Gauksymri, especially if you have 10 days and want to try to make it out into the Western Fjords… otherwise if you stay at the Gauksymri lodge, the restaurant in town gives you a 10% discount.
*note Parking in Akureyri is VERY confusing and unlike any other parking system I’ve seen… but it is FREE. Here’s the deets:

Parking is free but you need a clock-card where you set the time of arrival. Parking areas have maximum parking times displayed. You set the clock to show your time of arrival and if you exceed the maximum parking (or try to cheat by setting the clock ahead of the actual time) you run the risk of a fine. The clock-cards are available for free in banks, info-centers, hotels, petrol-stations and many shops in Akureyri. In case you don’t find a clock-card, write the time of parking on a piece of paper and display it in the front window of the car

Akureyri botanical gardens !
Akureyri city center !
The Christmas House $
Glaumbær Turf Farm ( Free to walk around, however there’s also a museum INSIDE the turf farm for a cost)
Hvítserkur Rock Formation !
Hvammstangi/ Seal Center ! *note the seal center closes at 5 so we didn’t get there in time to really check it out


Gauksmyri Lodge: $215 for 4 people, $54/pp

Breakfast: included in night stay Backpackers snack and drink in Akureyri: $12 Donuts: $4 Dinner at Sjavarborg Restaurant with 10% discount for 2 burgers $43.50
Day 7 Costs: $197.50/ 2 people
Total Driving: 272 km/ 3.5 hours


Day 8: The Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Stop in Grundarfjörður just before Kirkjufell for toilets, snacks, etc… There are a few towns past here but they were very small and didn’t seem to have many food or toilet options.
Kirkjufell WILL be busy… While enjoying the main view, don’t neglect the surrounding area and view back toward Grundarfjörður where the surrounding mountains reflect beautifully on the water.
If you want to see the main arch you can walk on at Port Arnastapi, park at the Bárðar Saga Snæfellsáss Statue and follow the path left. This will take you to Gatklettur arch and the “stone bridge”

Dritvik Djúpalónssandur Beach !
Snæfellsjökull National Park Visitor Center
Port Arnastapi !

airbnb cabin: $170 for all 4 of us, so $85 for us 2 (BEST NIGHT OF THE TRIP)

Breakfast: included in night stay Lunch: picnic’d with groceries $10 Dinner: a giant filet of arctic char for $21
Day 8 Costs: $200/2 people
Total Driving: 400 km/ 5h 30min



Day 9: Take a hike (and return to Reyk)
Try to start Glymur as early as you can.. We actually skipped Barnafoss and drove staight to the TH. We got there between 8-9 and were maybe the 3rd car in the lot so we mostly hiked up without seeing too many others. When we finished, the lot was FULL!
TAKE A PICTURE of the Glymur trail head sign. There are 3 trails and while the main one going UP is easy to follow, if you loop it, coming down was hard to follow.
Most importantly BRING WATERSHOES. I can’t stress this enough, in order to hike up the main trail (the side of the canyon where you can actually see Glymur) you will have to cross the creek at least once… and while there’s a log, there’s a good chance you will still have to wade a bit. AND IF YOU WANT TO LOOP, the crossing at the top is ROCKY, WIDE, AND VERY COLD. I’ve never cursed so much in my life as crossing that part of the river. Water shoes will help save your feet.

Barnafoss/ Hraunfossar
Glymur !!!
Mount Esja (if you still have energy for more hiking, this area has the next best hiking after Glymur and offers nice views of the bay and Reyk)
Reykjavik stops that you still need to check out (We did the church tower this day since the sky was more clear)

Airbnb apartment(with 1st time user of airbnb discount): $184 for 4, or $92 for 2

Large shared plate at Ali Baba’s – $17 Lebowski Bar fries and 1 drink at happy hour– $14.50 The Laundromat cafe (coffee and chai tea)- $10
Day 9 Costs: $235.50/ 2 people
Total Driving: 135km and 2 hours




TOTAL TRIP COST for 9 days/ 2 people: $2,697 (not including flights) or $4,210 with flights Driving Totals for the Ring ROAD: 2,355 km and around 33 hours in the car

Pin me:

Iceland: Hiking Glymur

Day 9: Last day of our trip! so we had to make it EPIC. Thankfully the weather held out for us today as well so we got to do an actual legit hike to Iceland’s tallest waterfall

The hike is only about an hour away from Reykjavik and was right about half way back in our case. You follow more stunning Fjords along the drive like the one above! 
We got there bright and early to beat any possible crowds so we were briefly in the shade but not for long! 
The start of the hike had excellent well marked signs! 
Trail stats: around 7.5 km RT (depending on route) and plan for 3-4 hours
Elevation gain: 245 m or around 800 feet 
Parking is free and there are NO FACILITIES at the trail head.
 or really any close by for that matter 
There are 2 routes, I would HIGHLY recommend going up the “normal” marked way as A. it is easier to follow and B. you’ll want to experience this side of the canyon no matter what and it would truly be more terrifying coming down than going up.. you’ll see what I mean. 
After not too long you’ll come to this cave/ tunnel overlook which is actually where the trail passes through! 
The view through the other side of the tunnel. 

There are 2 large cave openings here. You can see the trail continues from the one on the left 
10 minutes into the hike and already loving it! 
The view once you emerge from the cave. A little further down you’ll have to cross the river and start your uphill trek. The narrow canyon up there is where Glymur is!!! 
A waterfall you pass along the way. 
The RAGING river crossing we were holy unprepared for! We had read that there is a log crossing.. which there is but as you can see it only covers about HALF the river. Apparently you can normally have a dry crossing but not us! NOPE round 1 of taking our shoes off, strapping them to our bags, and wading across. This actually turned out to be fairly EASY and crossing the log was infinitely easier barefoot than with clunky boots on.. so maybe a blessing none of us slipped and fell off the log! haha 
First look looking back towards the caves and initial overlook 
You can see the log crossing up ahead! EEEEEE
Starting the climb up post log crossing
And a little higher. I must say that the next part after the log crossing was pretty CHALLENGING. There were parts that were so STEEP we had to cling to a rope to pull ourselves up. The ground was muddy and wet and needless to say, I did not look forward to coming back down this way. 
Braden looking down the canyon 
Risking my life to go stand out on that ledge… to look absolutely tiny in this amazing landscape! 
(jk mom… it wasn’t THAT dangerous)
You can see the big amazing fjord we drove along to get to the parking area! 
Our first glimpse of the waterfall! Along with all the other waterfalls emptying down into the same canyon! 
And another viewpoint a little bit closer up. The waterfall is TALLER than what you see as it has a few ledges that are above the narrow canyon walls. 
Continuing to climb up along the edges and passing may more waterfalls 
Blue sky graced us with its presence again today! 
Waterfall facts: 193m(643 feet) tall
I loved how the canyon narrowed and is covered with moss ! So pretty! 
Looking back down along the canyon. We’d come a long way! 
The top of this magnificent waterfall! So big, there’s no way to even fit it all in one photo! 
We’d read that there is another trail on the opposite side of the canyon and waterfall and had SEEN people hiking up it across the way. Since it was SO STEEP and scary at times the way we came up, we figured we’d attempt to LOOP hike it and go down the other trail. 
A peaceful river flows directly toward a 645 foot drop of a waterfall… 
Looking upstream at the river
The loop requires a SECOND river crossing, 1 much more challenging than the first. 
The river is thankfully fairly shallow and gentle, but extremely WIDE and ROCKY. With chacos or water-shoes, this would probably be a cinch. But wading across barefoot (water wasn’t that deep but DEF too deep for all our boots) with $1000 worth of camera equipment around your neck was definitely NOT my cup of tea. 
But we all made it across and have never been so happy to put warm dry boots back on my feet while hiking. haha 
The reward was a view from the opposite side to see the water as it serenely falls off a steep cliff. 

It was worth the pain of 1,000 sharp rocks under my feet to see the top of these falls from both sides! 
Serene indeed. Look out below! 
2nd reward: getting a bigger picture of the top of these falls 
So keep in mind future wanderers, if you choose to go up the easy side and avoid all river crossings, this is the most of the waterfall you’ll see as all of the other shots can only be seen from the OTHER side. Considering the steep climbs and mud, I would DEF recommend coming up the other way and down the more gradual sloping way if you want to loop like we did. 
Both sides of the canyon definitely have beautiful perspectives of the waterfall! 
Looking out toward the fjord and amazing fall colors! 
This is where this trail gets TRICKY. There are 2 routes and several foot paths that are NOT trails. If you follow the CAIRN towers, this will be a LONG route as it winds itself over beyond the car park and has to back track back. The other trail I believe starts right around this area and follows the canyon cliffs back down. 
Unfortunately we did a sort of… combo. We followed the cairns until we saw how far it was going out of the way, then we followed a spur trail that very much looked LEGIT, but took us to NO WHERE. Begin out time being absolutely LOST in Iceland. haha We spent quite a lot of time bush whacking, getting excited thinking we found THE trail when really…. it wasn’t and having our hopes dashed SEVERAL times. It probably took us twice as long as it would’ve to get back down but eventually… we found the actual trail… several muddy boots later. (I think I was the only one who didn’t fully douse my foot in a mud pit.. and that my friends is why I am a slow hiker haha) 
Ah, a welcome site the car park which had seriously filled up while we were hiking. (There were only like 4 cars when we started)
And can you guess which vehicle is ours? lol We conquered quite a lot of mud and dirt roads on our round trip ring road drive. 
Continuing our drive back to Reykjavik we were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow over the fjord!
We finished in the afternoon and just had a short 1 hourish drive back into Reyk! Awesome and the sun was still out 😀 
Considering the misery rain we faced on day 1, this is my follow up for what Reykjavik looks like in the sun.. not too mention a few more stops. Since it was our last night in Iceland, we had to make the most of it! 
Starting with the maybe overly touristy, AWESOME
While certainly not the oldest church I’ve been to in Europe (not even close) I have to say the Hallgrímskirkj church is beautiful! It’s free to visit and located pretty close to the city center and other fun places you’d go anyway! 
It took 41 years to build this church with it being completed in 1986. The recognizable tower is 74.5m (244 ft) high making it among the tallest structures in Iceland. 
Unlike other European church in France/ Italy, this cathedral wasn’t boasting in stained glass and ornate details however I loved the clean lines and light that was let in. The 5275 pipe organ was also an impressive site in the back of the church. 
Decorative design on the metal front doors of the church 
Also unlike the older churches of Europe, this modern building has ELEVATOR access to the observation tower. What an idea! Then again… It somewhat took away from my experience to not have to climb a million stair to get a view. You puchase tickets for the tower in the small store at the entrance to the church, then join the line waiting for the elevator. It’s a small elevator that only allows 6 people at a time so depending on how long the line is.. may take a while. We hit it at a slow point so we were up in a matter of minutes! 
View of the rest of the church from the tower 
If you want any sort of view of Reykjavik then I highly recommend forking over the money to ride the elevator to the top. It was worth it to take in the coastal views and colorful buildings from above in my book. It’s a quick stop depending on how long it takes you to walk around 4 corners but if you love a city view, don’t miss it. 
Panorama of the city 
Braden snapped a shot of me gazing out the window at the city. 
*The top of the tower is NOT insulated… which is great since you don’t want foggy glass mussing up your photos, but… dress accordingly. 

Last view of the city with Mt. Esjan (another popular hiking destination) is the mountain shrouded in clouds across the way there

Hallgrímskirkj Observation tower Practical Information:
Winter Opening Hours
October – April: 09:00 – 16:30
Summer Opening Hours
May – September: 09:00 – 20:30
*Services: The tower is closed on Sundays from 10:30 – 12:15 during mass at 11:00
Cost: Entry to the tower, adults: ISK 900
 Children 7-14 years old: ISK 100

Clock in the tower as you wait for the elevator to go back down
All in all we were up and down in 20 minutes and waiting for our friends to meet back up
I pose for a photo outside the church.  
More fun building architecture to photograph! 
The statue of  Leif Eriksson (c. 970 – c. 1020) by Alexander Stirling Calder in front of the church. This statue was actually a gift from the United States in honor of the 1930 Alþingi Millennial Festival, commemorating the 1000th anniversary of Iceland’s parliament at Þingvellir in 930 AD
For those of you who DON’T know who Leif Eriksson, he is credited with being the first explored to DISCOVER NORTH AMERICA. (Right?! What about Columbus…?) That’s what I said… ANYWHO he was a Norse settler from Iceland/ Greenland and he is credited with beginning a settlement in Newfoundland, Canada. 
More of the DOORIIEEE details
(See what I did there?) 
After our visit to the church we explored a bit more of the city (in the not warm but at least DRY weather) and it was off to a much better start than our previous Reykjavik day. 
One of the restaurants/ bars in the city 
First up we visited the Iconic Lebowski Bar for Happy Hour. 
I was in it for the French fries personally which were delicious I’m happy to report. 
Details of the Lebowski bar bathrooms 
If you’re wanting to enjoy all Iceland has to offer in way of beverages, your most affordable way is to definitely explore during Happy hour! 
Sign above the Lebowki bar. I loved the patio sign haha (steaming 5 degrees Celsius…)
Bowling alley on the wall 
Next up we visited the Laundromat cafe
This place does NOT offer a happy hour and serves hot Chai tea in a very inappropriate (soda?) glass but otherwise was pretty good! It boasts loads of books!, coffee/drinks/food, a children’s play area, and of course… a laundromat. 
The play area/ children’s books were downstairs next to the laundry facilities but all in all I thought it was a fun idea and the Chai I had was pretty good. (Just not served in an insulated cup!… like it should be) 
We ended the night at a cheap shawerma place called Ali Babba that was on the same street as the other cafes/ restaurants. Braden and I were still living somewhat off the giant thing of fries from earlier so we easily shared a plate. All in all the meat and rice here were delicious and MUCH more affordable than city restaurants. 
And then it was like returning home as we stayed in the same Airbnb our last night as our first night. 
We liked it THAT much. 
Link to where we stayed
Then the next morning we were up an out by 6AM to catch our flight home

Day 9 Total driving distance and time: 135km and 2 hours

Day 9 Costs:
Rental Car breakdown for 1 day/2 people: $66
Gas breakdown average/ day for 2 people: $18/ day
Airbnb apartment (with 1st time user of airbnb discount): $184 for 4, or $92 for 2 
Chuch tower – $17
Large shared plate at Ali Baba’s – $17
Lebowski Bar fries and 1 drink at happy hour– $14.50
The Laundromat cafe (coffee and chai tea)- $10
Total Cost for Day 9: $235.50 for 2 people

TOTAL TRIP COST for 9 days/ 2 people: $2,697 (not including flights) or $4,210 with flights 

Driving Totals for the Ring ROAD: 2,355 km and around 33 hours in the car 

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Day 8: Our journey to the center of the Earth 
Just kidding, but also not really because those of you who know your Jules Verne, know that one of the supposed lava tubes that gain access to the center of the Earth is actually located in a volcano on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. 
So that is what today is about! Discovering waterfalls (surprised?) volcanoes!, oh and some incredible fjords along out drive! 
I literally took all 3 of the above photos from a moving car, half crushing Braden as I had to lean over him to get the shots. (He lucked out and was on the right side of the car this day for driving…)
Though we definitely had to stop a few times to admire the incredible coastline and fjord views. 
Also I was super stoked to FINALLY have weather dry/ warm enough to wear the dress I brought along! 
Troll land again! 
Our first stop as we haeded SE, was the overly famous:
We drove through the town Grundarfjörður, shown above is the incredible view from Kirkufell.
The town has a small grocery store and tourist office and after that is just a short drive to the Kirkufellfoss!
The foss is beautiful but after all the other incredible waterfalls we saw in Iceland… it was kind of meh. Especially considering the hordes of people around it! 
Kirkufell mountain on the other hand, was awesome to see in person! It has such a cool shape and sits like a peninsula out on the water. The mountain is 463 m high (just over 1,500 feet) and has been featured in dozens of outdoor catalogs not to mention the latest season of Game Of Thrones! 
The iconic short of the waterfall and mountain together
There is a large free parking lot but otherwise no facilities at this site so you’ll want to stop in the town for lunch foods/ toilets before continuing on around the Snæfellsnes peninsula. 
And the sun has finally emerged! Look at that! BLUE SKY!
We immediately knew we had to take advantage of this sun shine and scenic drive, and what better way than with a picnic (which luckily we had the supplies since we’d essentially been doing this everyday IN the car so far) There we lots of pretty pull outs but a sad lack of picnic tables. We drove a little ways along and ended up at a nice picnic area with rubbish bins in the small harbor town of Ólafsvík, about 20 minutes further along Rt. 54.
The town was small but cute with a waterfall and cool looking church 
Next stop: Dritvik Djúpalónssandur
About another 30 minutes along the circuit and on right about the SW tip of the peninsula is a national park with cool beaches and a lovely walk. See that line of rust colored fragments on the beach? Those are actually oxidized fragments of a ship wrecked British fishing trawler that was wrecked back in 1948. 
The parking is FREE and there were decent free toilets at this stop as well. The trail to the viewpoint of the beach is very quick and short but to go down onto the beach expect to walk an easy 1.5 miles RT. That being said the trails runs along this really cool rock formation which would be fun to take a look at on your way. Unfortunately this was the coldest and WINDIEST stop of our day so we just got out to take a quick look around and continued on our merry way. 
Remember that story about lava tubes to the center of the Earth? Well you’re looking at one ! The Snæfellsjökull volcano is the setting for Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth and this volcano definitely dominates the SW tip of the Snæfellsnes peninsula.
The Snæfellsjökull is 700,000-year-old with its last eruption taking place all the way back in 200 AD ( give or take150 years)
The national park is actually named after this mountain/glacier and there is a nice FREE visitor center for the park just past Dritvik. (I took this photo of the volcano from the parking lot) There is a lot of good information about the volcano and the history of the area as well as free toilets! You also have a nice view of a lighthouse from here. 
And then another short drive to our last anticipated spectacle of the day: Port Arnastapi.
There are a couple places to park and get out to stretch your legs. We drove all the way to the end first where we got this iconic Iceland shot. Then we back tracked to the sculpture of Bardur Snaefellsas statue parking lot to see some Sea arches!
This first one was just past the statue and an easy walk! 
Mind where you walk and try to stay on trails… you never know when the ground might just… open up to a giant pit like the one below! 
But look at all the Basalt!!! AHHH
Photo taken from a spot STANDING on an arch. 
The most Instagram worthy arch in the business! Such an incredible geological feature! albeit a little scary to think of falling off… That being said IF you want to find this spot, go LEFT at the statue. It is a pretty short and easy walk along to find this arch and definitely recommend it! 
Continuing along the peninsula the clouds were rolling in over the top of the mountain ridge. So I give you another moving car window pic. 
And of course another roadside waterfall!
We headed into Borgarnes to pick up some groceries for dinner and then headed out to what is probably the BEST AIRBNB EVER. 
Just 10-15 minutes off the main road 54 is this Airbnb CABIN. It had room to sleep 6 with 2 bedrooms and an upstairs loft. The kitchen and space were amazing and having the private rooms again was nice after our previous 2 nights of bunking. 
And the best part? The amazing views from our front door! Fall colors GALORE and a stunning sunset! 
Fall colors and one of the few other cabins close by 
Amazing porch AND A HOT TUB!!! We loved this Airbnb!
Amazing sunset, amazing cabin
We got ourselves one giant filet of arctic char and some yummy veggies from the store so not only as it one of our fav lodgings of the trip, but just may have been one of my favorite meals as well! This is one place I could’ve stayed longer! 
Total Driving time and distance: 5h 30min, 400 km
Day 8 Costs:
Breakfast: included again! 
Lunch: picnic’d with groceries (about $10)
Dinner: a giant filet of arctic char for $21
Night 8 airbnb cabin: $170 for all 4 of us, so $85 for us 2

Rental Car breakdown for 1 day/2 people: $66
Gas breakdown average/ day for 2 people: $18/ day
Day 8 Total Costs: $200 for 2 people 

Exploring Northern Iceland

Day 7: Again breakfast was excellent and included and we had quite the day planned (one where maybe, just maybe- we would get a glimmer of sunshine on the activities of the day including Godafoss waterfall, Akureyri, Galumber farm, and ending at the beautiful Gauksymri lodge on the coast. 
We just had a short 20 minute drive to our first stop: Goðafoss

There are 2 viewing banks for this waterfall, both however easy to reach and with different perspectives so we visited both. I particularly liked how close you could get to the falls on this side, however it was also quite a bit more busy. 
Standing on the edge! Unfortunately all of the recent rain made Goðafoss quite… brown. 
Goðafoss is about 12 m (40 ft) high and 30 m (98 ft) wide! 
It got its name in the year 1000 when the lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði made Christianity the official religion of Iceland. According to myth, it is said that upon returning from the assembly, Þorgeir threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall making it the waterfall of the gods. 

Selfie from the other bank of Goðafoss. 
Waterfall of the gods 
Parking is free and easily accessibly from the ring road on both banks. There is also a pedestrian bridge and a short walk if you would rather walk between the banks. Facilities are on one bank including a small cafe, souvenir shop, and toilets. 
Up next we headed into Iceland’s largest city in the North: Akureyri
The town sits on the SE corner of a giant Fjord which made for impressive views as we drove the ring road down into town. The history of the town shows that it took quite some time to develop despite some Norse settlements in the 9th century, no permanent settlements were established until 1778. Even then it would be another 100 years before the city became established as a city. 
That being said the city is only second is urban space to Reyk, and has a fun culture about it with many restaurants and even a botanical garden. 
Exploring some souvenir shops in downtown. We didn’t make it out of there without some cool things including the warmest pair of gloves I’ve ever owned! 
The troll child beckons you in to spend money. 
We explored the main part of town and stopped in at the Backpackers cafe for a light lunch/ snack. 
The church/ cathedral is an easy walk from the main city thoroughfare and has great views of the city.
Looking down into the town from the church 
Note* Parking is Akureyri is VERY confusing and unlike any other parking system I’ve seen… but it is FREE. Here’s the deets:
Parking is free but you need a clock-card where you set the time of arrival. Parking areas have maximum parking times displayed. You set the clock to show your time of arrival and if you exceed the maximum parking (or try to cheat by setting the clock ahead of the actual time) you run the risk of a fine. The clock-cards are available for free in banks, info-centers, hotels, petrol-stations and many shops in Akureyri. In case you don’t find a clock-card, write the time of parking on a piece of paper and display it in the front window of the car. 
*We actually saw a parking (police?) walking around inspecting clock cards so they do check. 
*Note that clock-cards only apply for the town center. The free parking time is different according to each area ranging from 15 minutes up to several hours.
The view of the fjord from town
The top things to do in Akureyri are an aviation museum, botanical garden, oh and Santa’s House! Unfortunately we were museum’d out and Santa’s House had weird hours only in the late afternoon. So Botanical Gaden it was! 
We loved the magical feel of the gardens with the lights strung all around. 
Akureyri actually has a very interesting climate that allows for this botanical garden (without greenhouses). As it is quite a bit inland and protected on all sides by mountains, the winds are kept very calm. The harbor is also one of the calmest in Iceland and one of the few in the north that doesn’t have issues freezing. Akureyri has a subpolar oceanic climate bordering a subarctic climate with cold though not severe winters and mild summers. The snow cover starts forming in late October and melts in April. Akureyri is also a very cloudy town (if you couldn’t tell from my pictures haha) averaging only 1047 sunshine hours annually, with barely any sunshine between November and February. Precipitation on the other hand is much lower than in southern Iceland: as little as a fifth as much rain as in Vík. 
Wandering Iceland’s version of a garden 
The botanical gardens are free to walk around and there is a cool cafe located in the middle that had some pretty stellar looking desserts. (We’d JUST eaten donuts from a bakery however so we missed out on that) 
Berries on trees making up some of the color in the garden
Paths through the garden 
The cool cafe located in the gardens 
After the city, we headed on towards our next destination: 
Glaumbær Turf House
Another decently short drive and we started to see some blue skies! Glaumbær is about 20 minutes each way of the ring road but definitely a must see when in the area… for the scenery if nothing else. 
Though I may be biased by the final blue skies and horses in the area…. 
There are 2 timber buildings on the grounds that house a gift shop/ tea house and administration offices for the museum. Parking is FREE and there are even free toilets. 
A farm has stood on this site since the settlement of Iceland in ca 874 – give or take a few years with people still living in Glaumbær turf house until 1947. The present farmhouse consists of 13 buildings and the “newest” addition to the turf house was built in 1876-1879. The oldest parts of the turf house are from the mid 18th century! In 1947 Glaumbær was declared as a conserved site and is now owned by the National Museum of Iceland. There is even a small museum inside the farm that depicts what life was like to live in turf homes in the 18th/ early 19th centuries. 
The site is FREE to park and walk around, an easy spot, and quite scenic! The museum definitely looked interesting but was a bit on the pricey side. If you are interested in going inside here is the practical information:
Hours: Sept 21-Oct 20 April 1 – May 19: 10.00 – 16.00, mon-fri
May 20 – September 20:  9.00 – 18.00, daily.
October 21 – March 31: Open mon-fri by request.
Cost: 1700 ISK per person (age 18+)
1500 ISK for groups (6+) and students
Free for children (age 0-17)
It also happened to be out near Glaumbær that we finally happened upon a great horse farm for Katie and I to fulfill our insatiable (to this point) desire to take photos of the Icelandic horses! There was a farm with loads of them and an easy pull off for us to park! Score! 
Granted when we first stopped, the horses were VERY far away and it took at least 10-15 minutes for them to get interested in us and wander closer. It seemed to help whenever we started walking back to the car they would come closer. haha They just about came right up to the fence in droves!
And bonus there were MANY COLTS! The colts were SO CUTE to photograph. Scroll all the way to the bottom to see a a bunch more photos of these magnificent horses! 
Photo taken during our drive from Akureyri on to Gauksymri. 
Interesting mountain peaks out near Glaumbær
And no road trip day of Iceland is complete without a good roadside waterfall
Last interesting drive pic! 
And another decently priced night in a bunk room all together! We had actually no idea that the Gauksymri lodge was on a horse farm… complete with horse trails and race track otherwise we may have saved out riding tour! haha The land was beautiful and the place was a great price and location to break up our drive from Northern Iceland and launch us to the Sneafellsnes peninsula the next day. 
View from our window of some horse fields and the horse track 
To find more information about room options at this lodge, click HERE
We really enjoyed our stay as the beds were comfortable and the breakfast the next morning was fantastic! 
The bonus is that this lodge is just a few minutes outside the small coastal town of Hvammstangi and the owners of the lodge own a great restaurant right down on the water. And since if you bring your key for your room along with you they give you a 10% discount, there was little competition in our minds for dinner. 
View from outside the restaurant 
Sjavarborg Restaurant actually sits above the Icelandic Seal Center which was on our minds of visiting but unfortunately closes early around 5 PM. 
The restaurant was very nice with decent prices (burgers around 20-25) and super delicious curly fries. We also lucked out with seats right by the window so got to enjoy ocean views as well. 
Sjavarborg Restaurant inside 
Outside the restaurant and Icelandic Seal Center. After our fantastic dinner we headed back to the lodge where I promptly entered into a food coma. haha It was so nice to be warm and dry and well fed! All in all…. highlights of the day were 1. horses and 2. turf houses. haha 
Total driving distance and time: 300 Km and 3 hr. 45 min
Day 7 Cost:
Breakfast: gloriously included in night stay
Backpackers snack and coke: $12
Donuts: $4
Dinner at Sjavarborg Restaurant with 10% discount for 2 burgers $43.50
Rental Car breakdown for 1 day/2 people: $66
Gas breakdown average/ day for 2 people: $18/ day
Gauksmyri Lodge: $215 for 4 people, $54/pp
Day 7 Total Cost: $197.50

And as promised, scroll down for more pictures of the beautiful Icelandic horses

Exploring the volcanic area that is North Iceland

Welcome to the North! Day 6 started out strong with our first included breakfast of the trip. (So long yogurts that have been riding around in the trunk for a day or 2…) HELLOOOO Smörgåsbord!
There were some fruits, various breads, crackers, cold meats and cheeses, yogurts (skyr) with cereal toppings, juices, teas, coffees, and the truly interesting breakfast option of SMOKED TROUT. (good but for me… just not a breakfast food)

Our first stop of the day: Skútustaðagígar
which was LITERALLY right next to the guesthouse we stayed in… Like we could’ve walked over! The map above shows various great walking paths around the cones with a couple loops (Small and large!) depending on your time. It was cold and raining (typical) so we opted for a shorter loop. 
The Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters were formed when molten lava flowed into Mývatn lake, triggering a series of gas/steam explosions. These dramatic green dimples then came into being when trapped subsurface water boiled and popped, forming small scoria cones and craters.
The cones can be found all around Myvatn lake but the largest collection (and thus easiest to see) are at Skútustaðagígar in the southern region of Myvatn. 
Sheep roam all around the pseudo craters! 
Iceland sheep! 
The parking area and walking paths are FREE to visit and didn’t appear to have any hours posted. There weren’t any toilet facilities in the parking area but there is a gift shop/ cafe across the road from the main parking area that may have facilities. 
The coolest part for me was how the lake was so immense and filled in a bunch of the gaps between the craters. This was definitely a cool and unique landscape that can take you anywhere from 10 minutes for a quick stretch of the legs or a few hours walking the paths on a nice day. 
Next up: Dimmuborgir: A land rich with both cultural and geological oddities! But first the culture and thoughts on this sign above: 
According to Icelandic folklore, Dimmuborgir is the home of a homicidal troll named Grýla, her third husband Leppalúði and their sons The Yule Lads. Though Grýla has psychopathic tendencies, the children aren’t quite so murderous, and are more mischievous than anything. Originally told as a scary story to stop children misbehaving, the Yule Lads have now been merged with the idea of Santa Claus. Children either get gifts or rotten potatoes in their shoes at Christmas depending on whether they’ve behaved well or not.There are 13 Yule Lads in all, each with their own mischievous plans. 
Favorite Yulelads: Doorway-Sniffer (Gáttaþefur), Window-Peeper (Gluggagægir), Sausage-Swiper (Bjúgnakrækir), Door-Slammer (Hurðaskellir), and Spoon-Licker (Þvörusleikir)
Beyond the interesting culture of trolls and yule lads, Dimmuborgir has incredible rock formations that you can’t really see anywhere else! The only other similar land mass known to exist is beneath the sea, off the coast of Mexico. 
The Dimmuborgir area consists of a massive, collapsed lava tube formed by a lava lake flowing in from a large eruption about 2300 years ago. The lava pooled here, over a small lake and as the lava flowed across the wet sod, the water of the marsh started to boil. The vapor rose through the lava forming pillars from drainpipe size up to several meters in diameter.
The Fall colors in the moss and brush made this place seem even more mystical when combined with the fog and rain. 
Braden being sneaky as he came down from inspecting a yule lad cave! 
There are miles of paved walking paths, with many loops and options. In fact, the park is very large making it VERY easy to get lost. We didn’t explore for too long but from where we did walk, we came across at least 4 or 5 intersections of paths. 
*Tip: Take a picture of the trail map at the entrance that way you know where all the various trails (and their names) lead. 
 Language time! Dimmuborgir literally means Dark Castle!
 (dimmu “dark”, borgir “forts”, “castles)
Detail shot of moss growing on a lava pillar.
Let’s not forget to mention a very REAL reason we visited here… 3 words:
Game. Of. Thrones.
While most of the filming scenes look quite different, it’s not because of CGI but because of winter! They primarily filming the wildling camp north of the wall here, and everything is just about covered in snow. 
A Yule lad cave/ lodging? 
 Really cool entrance to the yule lad cave! 
View of he lake and fall colors from the Dimmuborgir parking area. 
Practical information:
Parking is for SURE free
Entrance… We had read that there was a fee if you didn’t purchase a meal at the cafe, however when we got there, the gate was just open with NO signs saying anything like that… so going to say entrance is ALSO FREE
*Though give the cafe a thought as the lamb stew and rye bread (that is actually cooked in local geothermal ovens) have amazing reviews and we would’ve loved to try it… if it wasn’t before 10 AM. haha
There are toilet facilities in addition to the cafe that are 200 ISK (around $2) for entrance. 
As the sign above says, our next stop was a mere 10 minute drive from Dimmuborgir and mostly made it only the list as it was a more recognizable… filming location… 
for Game of Thrones…
So of you avid fans like myself may recall a scene in season 3 with John Snow north of the wall.. you know what I’m saying… 😉 but Game of Thrones location aside, the cave spring is actually a pretty cool visit. Here’s a blurb about it: In early 18th century the outlaw Jón Markússon lived there and used the cave for bathing and until the 1970s Grjótagjá was a popular bathing site. However during the eruptions from 1975 to 1984, the temperature of the water rose to more than 50 °C (122 °F), and while the temperature is slowly decreasing and has fallen below 50 °C again the cave is owned privately and swimming is still not permitted.
*Note: The nearby lava cave of Stóragjá is supposedly available for swimming but not as hot.. and potentially bacteria infested. Basically I just wouldn’t plan on swimming! haha but they are fun to walk around and check out! 
Beautiful HOT!! water at Grjótagjá cave
From outside the cave parking area you could see the incredible Hverfjall volcano. 
This site was actually on my wish list but as it was cold and rainy and supposedly takes a LONG time to walk the rim (which I believe the thing looked massive!) it wasn’t in the cards for us.
However if you want to plan a trip, the all black volcanic cone DOES look really cool, is less than 10 minutes away from this other spots, and FREE to visit as well. Just know that if you want to walk the rim, it will likely take a while. The diameter of the cone is 1 KM! So the walk around is over 3 km. There are 2 paths up to the top that are steep but should only take 10-15 minutes if you just want to hike up for the view. 
Back over by the Myvatn Nature baths (again a short drive away) lies the Námaskarð geothermal area. The mud pits. 
Again a little Yellowstone like, but this steaming piles of rock that were quite loud were a site to see, and the boardwalk is a fun short venture to walk around. 
All in all another short, FREE, stop. (No facilities here however with the last toilet available being back at Dimmuborgir. 
The sign at the parking area for the geothermal area.
Then it was a slight reroute back East to check out my most anticipated stop in Northern Iceland yet.
Europe’s most POWERFUL waterfall. There are 2 access points with 2 completely different views. I had originally gunned for the EAST side as you can get CLOSER to the waterfall and actually SEE the entire thing from top to bottom. However the road is said to be horribly bumpy and on a wet day.. probably not the best idea.
The WEST side however is a smooth easy, paved road with still great views, just expect a 10-15 minute walk from the parking area to the falls vs a short <5 minute walk on the Eastern approach. 
For a better explanation for the pros and cons of each side, I found this post to be VERY helpful. 
Needless to say, the weather really only permitted us to visit the West side… and what a view we had!
lol glad we didn’t torture ourselves with the bumpy scary road out to the East bank when you could hardly see the falls through the mist and clouds! That being said, the falls had quite the roar and were still amazing to see! Just hard to photograph! 
Not to mention FREEZING. There is actually a nice walking path to another set of beautiful falls further up river called Selfoss. (the previous link will give more info on that) as our walk out to the falls and 5 minutes of picture taking left us THOROUGHLY drenched… we hit a new low point and decided against walking out to Selfoss. lol 
Rain clothes and all couldn’t protect you from the heavy wet rain of this day. The water just clung to everything and like I said.. new low. We were ready to get back to the warm car. 
The most clear shot (without mist) I got of the falls.
Dettifoss is actually run off flowing down from Vatnajökull glacier and collects water as it goes from a large area in Northeast Iceland. The falls are 100 m (330 ft) wide and have a drop of 44 m (144 ft).
So with our actual planned items all done for the day early, and with us desperately in want of drier activities… we headed into a whaling town for some unplanned adventure. 
Up next: Húsavík: Whale Watching Capitol of the North
The biggest draw to this sleepy little town are Whale watching tours… which are outside. We happened to want to be INSIDE, so best option? Husavik’s whale museum! While Iceland museums aren’t the cheapest, I would actually consider this a solid museum for someone with medium interest in whales to start with! 
The Whale Museum offers two stories of exhibition area with special attention given to the manner in which information is presented. Exhibits were very creative while also being super informative! Lots of fun whale facts throughout! The lower floor hosts a  main section on marine ecosystems (above photo), and additional exhibits describe the cetacean species in the North Atlantic and their natural history, strandings, whale watching and past/present Icelandic whaling.
The skeleton and incredible tooth of a unicorn whale Narwhal
One of the biggest selling points on this museum for me was the “whale gallery” with authentic skeletons of 9 species. (multiples of some skeletons)
Fun facts: 1.The horn on a Narwhal is actually a tooth that “erupts” in the adolescent years. The whales all have 2 teeth and it us not unheard of for both teeth to erupt forming 2 large tusks.
2. The tooth can grow up to 10 feet long!
3. It is the only STRAIGHT tusk known, and ONLY spirals to the left.
4. It’s tooth is incredibly FLEXIBLE and can bend up to 1 foot without breaking.
5. Only males and about 15% of females tooth erupts into a tusk.

A smaller whale skeleton
Braden admiring a sperm whale skeleton. 
Each skeleton has information about the type of whale and how/ when the museum acquired it. 
Looking down the whale gallery
At the end is a small seal skeleton as well! 
The real crowning glory of the museum: a skeleton of the LARGEST animal to EVER live: The 
The skeleton at this museum is almost the length of the main gallery! There are many photos and plaques explaining where they found the carcass and how they managed to move it. 
Click Here to see photos and read a bit about it. It’s also interesting to note that Iceland is one of the few places in the world you can actually SEE this incredible animals. 
Me standing next to and being dwarfed by just the head!
Blue whale fun facts:
1. Blue whales belong to the Baleen family of whales which get their names from how many “Baleen” plates (sort of their teeth) are in their mouth.
2. They can hold their breath for 20 min or longer.
3. They eat up to 5 tons of krill per day. 
4. They do not reach full size until about 50 years of age.
5. Blue whales sleep while swimming and only with one half of their brain at a time.
6. They can range up to 110 feet long (33 meters) in size making them larger even than the largest dinosaur that ever existed. They can weigh up to 200 tons (181,437 kilograms).
7. Their mouths, when fully open, can take in approximately 90 tons 
8. Their tongues alone can weigh as much as an average adult elephant.
9. Both the blowhole and the arteries of the blue whale are large enough to fit a baby through.
10. Baby blue whales weigh approximately four tons at birth or the equivalent of two large cars. They then grow at a rate of about 200 pounds per day.
And of course, our other favorite aspect of this museum: The Whales, Books, and Coffee nook! They had a range of books about whales and even a small child play area. The coffee was a wonderful way to warm up and sit down at the beginning of our museum tour. (Of course I read the section about Narwhals! in the book pictured below) 
Free coffee and some books about whales to enjoy! 
And the last picture from the museum, a whale carved into a WHALE JAWBONE. 
Húsavík Whale Museum Practical Information:
Hours: June, July, August:08:30–18:30 daily
May and September 9:00–18:00 daily
October:10–16 daily
November–April:10–16 weekdays
Cost: Adults:ISK 1900
Adults(with whale watching discount):ISK1500
Children:ISK 500 
Seniors, students, or disabled:ISK 1500 
Family price (2 adults, 1-5 children):ISK 4000
After some time in the museum we walked around the pier for a bit and witnessed a small group come back from a whaling tour. (They looked SO miserable… 1 person actually was limping off with help and looked near frozen to death) Needless to say, we were pleased enough with our whale experience in the museum. haha
Besides whales, Húsavík actually has another claim to fame as it was the first place in Iceland to be settled by a Norse man. The Swedish Viking Garðar Svavarsson stayed there for one winter around 870 A.D. When he left the island in spring of 870, he left behind a man named Nattfari and two slaves, a man and a woman, and they established a farm here. The name of the town means “bay of houses”, probably referring to Garðar’s homestead, which may have been the only houses then in Iceland.
After walking around the harbor, we had a travelling lunch. We grabbed some fish soup and dessert at a recommended location in town, but after spotting this joint on our walk around the harbor, our hearts called for Fish and chips. So we headed back and I can’t recommend this spot MORE! It was FABULOUS, FAST, and AFFORDABLE. For $16 we got enough fish and chips to easily split between the two of us and if you wanted you could add more fish or chips a la cart. It had restrooms and a small eating area upstairs. 
View out of 1 of our windows at Kidagil Guesthouse 
After the excitement of Husavik, we headed to our stop for the night quite a bit off the beaten track of the ring road but one of the cheapest nights of our trip! Kidagil Guesthouse was HUGE and the best part was we were the ONLY guests that night. haha and it happened to be a night all 4 of us bunked in the same room. Hilarious! It was originally built as a boarding school and still in a way felt like a museum. There were lots of informational banners about Icelandic outlaws living off the land and even a few “artifacts.” Loads of fun! Anyways we drank lots of tea and had a relaxing evening inside.. and DRY. Solid day DESPITE the weather. 
Total Car driving distance and time: 230 km and around 3 hr. 15 min
Day 6 Costs:
Rental Car breakdown for 1 day/2 people: $66
Gas breakdown average/ day for 2 people: $18/ day
Breakfast- wonderfully included in hotel 
Husavik Whaling museum $28.20 (with student discounts for 2 people)
Fish Soup and Date cake at Naustiq for around $30 
Fish n chips $16.00
Kidagil Guesthouse: $220/ 4 people so $110 for Braden and I
Day 6 Total Cost: $268 for 2 people

Driving from Höfn to Mývatn – fjords and blue lagoons

Day 5: Our longest and SCARIEST drive of the trip: Höfn to Mývatn. We knew the weather was going to be crummy… but we didn’t realize just HOW crummy it would be. We headed N following the ring road around some of the Eastern fjords where the waterfalls continued to be a plenty but the road was beginning to wash out. A couple times the drain from the falls on the inland side of the road was overflowing the road and on the right was a drop off into the ocean.

See that folks? The most waterfalls in a picture you could get and the whole road was like this on BOTH sides for a while.. and our rental car was NOT insured for river crossings! haha
So when google maps had us turn off the ring road onto national road 939, I thought we’d be avoiding the bad parts. (especially considering how the road was flooded already for much of our drive) 
To give you an idea, if you take this road 939, it saves you 60 km of driving at around 45 minutes…. in good weather.
As it turns out… Rd 939 also referred to as Öxi, is a mountain road that is VERY dangerous in severe weather conditions and outside of the summer season due to icy road, steep grades (sections up to 17% grade), and many MANY blind corners on a narrow road. To put this in persective, the Going to the Sun Road in Glaicer NP is averaged at 5.7% grade and it’s PAVED! We found out the hard way. As we headed up this “shortcut” of the ring road visibility was very low as a cloud sat right on top of the mountain making the blind corners even more BLIND. We even passed one car that was stopped although we didn’t see anyone in it. Finally the 18.5 km of DEATH dirt road was at an end and we saw pavement ahead! 
We stopped for some groceries at a rather large and nice Bonus in Egilsstaðir before heading onto our main event of the day: 
As we didn’t have a ton of time to explore the Eastern fjords, we figured we better at least check out one and Seyðisfjörður was said to be one of the best. After our trek out there, I’m a believer! It is only 17 miles (27km) off the ring road and a pretty cool drive right over a mountain pass. (thankfully paved this time!) This town is well known as being one of the larger towns with a ferry port, booming (for the area) art scene, and well… the nature! 
The town has viking connections that date back to the 8th century with the first known settler: Bjólfur. The main town was started in 1848 and was the site of the first world’s first industrialized whaling station. In 1906, the first telegraph cable connecting Iceland to Europe was also located here making it a crucial town for international communications. 
Today, this town has the only 2 cinemas in Eastern Iceland, an arts centre, a Technical Museum and local heritage museum, not too mention the adorable cafes and older hotels. It’s also the site of the ferry terminal for the Smyril line connection Iceland to the Faroe Islands and Denmark. 
While we were disappointed the weather was keeping us from the amazing hiking trails in the area, it couldn’t stop us from enjoying the rainbow brick road and warming up in a cafe. 
Views of the rainy fjord out the cafe window 
For some seriously good coffee and the most AMAZING date cake with homemade whipped cream, check out hotel Aldan while in the area! Seriously worth the Iceland prices, it was SO good. 
Also fun fact: Hotel Aldan and the road that takes you from Egilsstaðir to here was used in the long-board scene in the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. 
(not my photo)
I had somewhat had my heart set on hiking MT. BJÓLFUR one of the 7 peaks around the town and with an incredible view looking down the fjord. It was hard to get any information about this hike online however, with some sites saying it was a quick hike while others making it seem larger. There is a visitor center at the port in town where you can ask about trails and when we did… we were told it was 2ish hours each way of hiking! Yikes. Would be worth it on a beautiful day but we weren’t blessed with good weather so we missed out on some incredible hiking. 
Instead we went to the best view of the town we could drive to at the monument to Þorbjörn Arnoddsson. Considering the view we had here, we ruled out the hike even more. haha 
The clouds were so thick and the wind was so strong, it was hard to even pose for a picture. Needless to say, the stop at the monument was short lived. haha 
 So as we didn’t get to hike, we ended up having plenty of evening left as we drove into Mývatn, so we figured… may as well cross something off the next day’s list. Solution: Mývatn Nature baths. 
 Said to be the little blue lagoon, reviews were all amazing for this spot in northern Iceland… well here’s MY review: The cost is outrageous (all the reviewers that said this seemed like a local spot completely blows my mind) while some have said the water is hot, the water was basically luke-warm for us. Occasionally we’d find hot currents but they would disappear and leave you feeling colder than you were before. The changing rooms were a nightmare…. dirty and too small. They instruct you and have signs saying to shower IN THE NUDE yet only have 3 shower stalls that are private meaning no one really listens to the rules and showers in the their swim wear… and occasionally it gets awkward with people actually following the rules. 
 Of course the views were beautiful, and the color of the water very cool… but otherwise I’d say this would be a skipable thing for the price if nothing else. And with that, let’s take a look at those prices:
Mývatn Nature Baths Practical Information:
Hours: Summertime(15 May – 30 September): 09:00 – 24:00 
Wintertime(1 October – 14 May):  12:00 – 22:00 
 Prices: Adult 
3800 ISK (01/01 – 05/14 and 10/01-12/31)
4300 ISK (05/15 – 09/30)
Teenagers, 13-15 years
1200 ISK (01/01 – 05/14 and 10/01-12/31)
1600 ISK (05/15 – 09/30)
Handicapped, Senior citizens, Students
2400 ISK (01/01 – 05/14 and 10/01-12/31)
2700 ISK (05/15 – 09/30)
*Towel rentals are an additional 700 ISK pp. 
 Luckily Braden had his student ID but unluckily… we forgot towels and so had to rent those still so our total cost was right around $80… for an hour of swimming around trying to find warm currents. 
*The one positive was the steam rooms. They had 2 large geothermal steam rooms that were LEGIT hot where we spent the remaining 15 minutes or so of our time trying to regain heat lost. 
 But hey, made for good photos right? Save your money and visit  any one of the MANY swimming pools in Iceland (1 in just about every town) and then you’ll really be swimming like the “locals.” 
 Sign in front of the Nature Baths building. 
 The actual HOT looking blue lagoon was steaming next door.. unfortunately I think this one really is TOO hot. haha but didn’t stop us from walking around and admiring the color. 
Luckily after this stop, our guesthouse for the night was a mere 45 minutes away (short in comparison to the rest of our drive) so we got in, unloaded, and headed to cook our grocery dinner. And lo and surprise! While the place advertised a beautiful kitchen, the one that is supplied was horribly small and lacking equipment… especially considering how many people were trying to use it. It was in this small kitchen, I microwaved our $2 oven pizzas and then fried them into a calzone… Most interesting travel dinner I’ve had yet but hey, only cost $4! 
That being said, location was great and room was comfortable enough, especially considering ours had a private bathroom…. But note: the FAMILY ROOM which we shared had 2 pretty small bunkbeds… that were a little scary with 2 adults sleeping on them but hey, we made do! haha 
Link to where we stayed: Skútustadir Guesthouse
Total driving time: 6 hours, 420 km
Day 5 Costs: 
Breakfast/ lunch: previous groceries

Groceries in Egilsstaðir: $35
Hotel Aldan 2 coffees and Date cake: $16
Myvatn nature baths: $81
Dinner was 2 freezer pizzas for $4 (included in grocery cost but hey we live on the cheap side sometimes!)
Rental Car breakdown for 1 day/2 people: $66
Gas breakdown average/ day for 2 people: $18/ day
Skútustadir Guesthouse: $294 for 4 people so $147 for 2
Total costs for day: $363 for 2 people

Vik to Höfn and everywhere in between

Day 4: Vik to Höfn and everywhere in between
Starting with Fjaðrárgljúfur (Troll land) Try pronouncing that one
Fjaðrárgljúfur is a short canyon about 2 km long and 100 m deep but stunning all around. There are 3 viewing areas with the last being the largest and also the BEST as you can see this near waterfall and have the “iconic” shot of the canyon.

The moss covering mostly black rock was seriously cool, and some of the rock formations were unreal. There’s an arch in this picture.. can you spot it? 
Looking down at the beautiful Fjaðrár river that flows through the canyon 
There is no food facility but there were surprisingly decent bathrooms with flushing toilets. We suspect it is because tour buses stop here. It is is also a short dirt road to get here, but fear not. Conditions were fine so any car should be able to do it. 
The iconic spot
Then we were on our way to our next spot just down the road: Kirkjugólf. Above is another moving car window photo through the rain but that waterfall was just too cool NOT to photograph!
Kirkjugólf is an 80 square meter expanse of columnar basalt stone slabs which have eroded over time. It is an easy pull out off the ring road, taking you less then 2 minutes out of your way. The parking area is well marked and then it is a quick 5 minute walk about to the stone slabs. Along the way you will pass this cool burial mound. 
There basalt tiles are definitely cool and a little bit off the typical “do when in Iceland” track. Considering it is a 10-15 minute stop, it’s a pretty easy thing to squeeze in and break up your drive as you head to the glaciers. 
Certainly makes for cool pictures at least 
More stunning waterfalls that you will just pass on your drive… Legit took these from a moving car…. Sometimes there’s places to pull over and other times not. Driving in this country was NEVER a dull moment. 
More roadside waterfalls. 
Entering glacier territory. Both of the two glacial tongues belong to Vatnajökull, the largest glacier ice cap (*by volume) in all of Europe! We would be later walking on the tongue to the right, so keep on reading! 
A rainbow touched down on one of the outlets as we drove by
Fall colors with the glacier shrouded in clouds 
As we had a tight timeline for the day considering a tour at 4:00 PM, we headed past Skaftafell and straight on to Jökulsárlón. 
A large tourism boat being dwarfed by the GIANT icebergs in the distance 
As you drive NE on the ring road, there are several pullouts in between the smaller glacier lagoon known as Fjallsárlón, and the main Jökulsárlón parking area. HIGHLY recommend stopping at one of them as they are way less crowded and you can still get amazing shots of the glaciers from these beaches. 
Then continue on toward Jökulsárlón. There are parking areas on either side of the bridge from which to watch the REALLY GIANT icebergs be pushed out of the bay and into the sea. 
When we got to Jökulsárlón, the lake was VERY misty making the icebergs seem to just appear out of the clouds. It was VERY surreal, and maybe the coolest thing I laid eyes on in all of Iceland. We were finally understanding what the “big deal” was about these glacier lakes. 
Tiny boat. BIG Icebergs
Unedited, UNREAL landscape 
Jökulsárlón developed as a lake as the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier receeded from the Atlantic Ocean. It was first created post the Little Ice Age (1600-1900), when the temperatures rose and the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier tongue rapidly retreated, continually creating icebergs of varying size, thus creating a lagoon in its wake around 1934.
The size of the lake has increased 4X since the 1970s and is now the DEEPEST lake in all of Iceland with it’s deepest points reaching a depth of 248 m (814 ft) deep. 
On a clear day, you can see the Vatnajökull Ice cap in all it’s glory, as well as a potential to see seals swimming or actually lounging on some of the icebergs. Of all the potential reasons to go back to Iceland, that is probably the biggest draw. I don’t regret seeing these incredible icebergs shrouded in in mist, but what I wouldn’t give to also see them on clear sunny day! 
There are many walking paths along the lake. If you have time, you can walk along where all of the parking areas are. We probably passed a few before we ran short on time and had to move on. 
A cool boulder along the walking path with icebergs in the background
Last iceberg from Jökulsárlón
Just on the North side of the scary 1 way bridge at Jökulsárlón, there is a parking area on the right. If you park there, you can walk out to what is called Diamond Beach and another DO NOT MISS spot. 
Pieces that break off the icebergs from Jökulsárlón as they float out to sea get pushed back by the waves and end up on a volcanic black beach so they really sparkle in contrast.

There is a range from opaque white to crystalline blue and from small fragments to giant thrones! Unfortunately it started really coming down on us just as we got here so it was hard to keep our lens dry and even harder to really want to stay and enjoy. We walked around for a bit and once we were thoroughly soaked, we headed back to the car. 

Next stop as we head back to Skaftafell: Fjallsárlón. In other words, the OTHER iceberg lagoon. This one is just south of Jökulsárlón and a bit smaller of a lagoon. So the question is… which one do you visit? 
And the answer is definitely BOTH! While there were less icebergs in Fjallsárlón, the cool part about this lagoon is being able to SEE the Vatnajökull glacier tongue where the icebergs break off from making the overall backdrop of this lagoon a bit more stunning. 
It is definitely a quicker stop, but definitely worth doing. There’s also a small bistro here that you can grab a quick coffee or snack to warm up before heading on to your next destination. In our case, we were headed BACK to Vatnajökull national park. 
Candid “hipster” photo with the Vatnajökull National Park sign (we seriously didn’t pose like this!)
Some may be confused when they here all these national park terms thrown around like “Skaftafell” and “Jökulsárgljúfur” so to clear it up…. both of these national parks are part of Vatnajökull with Skaftafell being the more Southern region. 
Vatnajökull National Park was established on 7 June 2008. When established, the park covered an area of 12,000 km2, but with recent additions of Lakagígar, Langisjór, Krepputunga and Jökulsárlón  it now covers 14,141 km2 or approximately 14% of Iceland, making it Europe’s second largest national park in terms of area after Yugyd Va in Russia.
As far as our research goes, the 2 most popular things to do in the “Skaftefell” region are glacier walk tours, and Svartifoss. Our tour wasn’t until 4 PM and we got to the park approximately 2:30 PM. Plenty of time. 
The hike to Svartifoss is a climb, but relatively short and beautiful! Most of the review on tripadvisor were saying you need 2 hours as the hike is quite steep… but we really only had an hour before we needed to show up for our tour and get fitted for crampons and so on. So we hauled ourselves up the path as fast as we could knowing we had really less than an hour once we were on the trail. 
Trail deets:
Length: 3.4 km RT
Parking: There is a large but free parking area at the visitor center with free toilets
Begins at the Visitor center parking lot. You will head South through a lovely campground and follow a very well marked trail as it will take you up the hill. On the way there are 1 or 2 smaller falls and a larger one called Hundafoss that are beautiful stops to take a break (if you have time) and catch your breath. 
Time: It took us just about 20 minutes to get to the first overlook but we didn’t stop at all on the way up
Admiring the fall colors and amazing waterfall while catching my breath at the top
Looking out toward the sea and black sands of the coast from the top of the hill. Loved all the Fall colors on this hike! 
From the top of the hill, there is a nice path down to a beautiful bridge and then another path to a viewing platform closer to the falls. I read that some would hike right up to the base but the foot path was blocked off so they definitely do not want you going closer. No matter because this was the view I came for. I just LOVE Basalt columns and the rainbow on the right made an awesome addition to photos. 
We took a little bit more time hiking down to appreciate the views of Hundafoss 
Fall colors around the beautiful Hundafoss
So I have since learned there is a SHORTER and somewhat easier option for this hike where you can drive to a higher elevation and park closer. Here are the details for that:
Continue driving on the park road west past the Visitor Center. The road narrows into an almost single-lane road and climbs steeply up until reaching a small car park. From here the trail is easy to follow and will take you out on the other side of the waterfall from where the longer trail takes you. (meaning you will have different far away views and will NOT see Hundafoss) The beginning is easy but at the end to get closer there are many steps. Steps are large and well maintain but there are no rails so use caution.
Distance for this route is only 1.5 km RT. 
A map showing the small road that continues past the visitor center and up some short switchbacks. 
The waterfall was great and we were feeling even better about the sunny weather we were experiencing so far in Vatnajökull national park. We made it down just in time to get fitted for our boots and crampons, refill our waterbottles, grab as snack, bundle up with more layers, and board the bus. 
Our guide shows us a deep crevasse and a line in the ice where very dense ice meets less dense ice
We booked a tour with Extreme Iceland for their competitive pricing, all around good reviews, and one of the longest times on the ice for a shorter tour. The bus ride over was a quick ride and then they split our large group into 3 with less around 10 people per guide. We walked through some pretty colorful rock (red and black) before finally reaching the ice and donning our crampons. Overall the tour length was solid, but moving pace fairly slow. Of course this glacier is IMMENSE and the further along you go, the more danger and crevasses there are but it would have been nice to go a bit further out. Overall however the views can’t be beat and I would highly recommending taking a tour out onto one of these incredible glaciers. To see the tour we used click here: Extreme Iceland
Selfie as we start out on the dirty ice of the end of the glacier. While the ice cap that connects all of these glaciers is Vatnajökull (the largest ice cap in Europe) most of the tongues have different names. The one we toured on was called: Svinafellsjokull
Looking at the very cool mix of glacier ice and Volcanic rock from where the glacier tongue is currently retreating.
Once we had our crampons we headed out over deeper ice sticking close to our guide to avoid any of the crevasses. We would occassionally stop for photo ops, information, or to keep the group together. One of the stops gave us a cool look at the people learning to ice climb 
The Svinafellsjokull glacier outlet with the incredible Vatnajökull ice cap in the background
Fun fact: The Icelandic word jökull means glacier and Vatnajökull National Park happens to contain the largest glacier in the world outside the Arctics.
Group photo 
While I have previously seen and walked on glacier before (thanks Canada!) there is something truly special about these glaciers in Vatnajökull. The Volcanic black sand and rock that gets trapped in the ice as the glacier flows, creates an incredible landscape of contrast between blue, white, and black. 
Several films and shows have been filmed on this glacier including the most recognizable (to me at least) Interstellar and Game of Thrones. 
A closer up view of the ice cap! Amazing! 
Our tour concluded right around 7:00 and not only were we starving but we faced about a 2 hour drive to our lodging (and really the next town) to grab some grub. We hopped in the car and drove straight to our apartment for the night to check in (before it got to late)  Luckily we did to since the restaurant we had our eyes on closed at 9 (right when we got to town) so our host recommended another great affordable option that was open until 10. 
Introducing the Lobster pizza. Hofn is actually famous for their lobster (which is normally very expensive like everything in Iceland) so I was thrilled to not only find it available for under $25 but in pizza form! Braden also ordered a burger at Z bistro which was amazing and delicious for right around $20. The apartment/ guesthouse we stayed the night in was just outside of the town attached to the host’s home. It was very clean and nice and had another excellent kitchen, teas, and coffee! I would definitely recommend it as well, especially if you have 4 people to split the cost among. Click here to check out Sefdalur Studio Apartment. 
Total drive time day 4: Roughly 400 km and 5 hours

Day 4 Costs:

Rental Car breakdown for 2 people per day cost: $66
Total gas breakdown for 2 people/ day: $18
Sefdalur guesthouse for 4 people: $325, so $162.50 for Braden and I
Coffee at Glacier lagoon: $4
Glacier hikes $94.85 pp
Dinner at Z bistro $45
Day 4 Total: $485 

Exploring Southern Iceland

Day 3: The epicness that is Southern Iceland: 2 spectacular and unique waterfalls, an old hot pool in the mountains, rugged cliffs, basalt columns, and black sand. This drive is a MUST when visiting Iceland.
First stop: Seljalandsfoss. Best known as the waterfall you can walk behind.

This foss is about as epic as everyone has said, but consequently also as busy… as everyone has said. There’s a large parking area right off the ring road however this parking lot DOES COST. 700 isk (so just under $7) but there is a small café shop and free toilets.
If you plan on walking behind (which I highly recommend) then you’ll want to wear your rain jacket and really any other rain gear you have if you aren’t wearing it already. Once you are behind the waterfall it actually isn’t too wet, but just walking around the sides as it turns out will soak you.
And from the side is the shot you want!
Ladies and gentlemen! I give you the 8th wonder of the world… the backside of water!!!
*Disney jungle cruise joke.. it’s ok if you don’t get it. 
The epitome of Iceland waterfall posing shots
Seljalandsfoss may not be the tallest but it sure is unique! It stands at 60 m (197 ft) tall and the origin of the water flow for the river that feeds this foss is the  volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull. (which is famous for it’s most recent eruption in 2010)

A couple experimental long exposure shots

 After you circle the main event, Seljalandsfoss, there’s a pleasant walking trail down to view the 3-4 other small falls. I did a quick jaunt down there to see them but after the main fall, they weren’t quite as incredible.
The walk to the end of the path is maybe 15 minutes easy walking each way and if you don’t do it for the other small falls, walk a little ways this way to see how this waterfall fits in with the majestic mountain it is running off of. 
As you continue your drive along the southern coast of Iceland you’ll pass SO many dramatic cliffs and more amazing waterfalls. One of my favorites was this small fall that was falling “up” as it was being blown so strongly by the wind, that it wasn’t allow to fall. 
*and yes I did take many of these random photos from the window of a moving car… 
Next time I go to Iceland, I’m going to just explore all the amazing little known places like this spot. Someone tell me there’s a hike around there! 
More moving car window photos 
Another one… 
last one! Sheep! But seriously even though we spent anywhere from 3-6 hours/ day in the car I hardly minded as the views were almost always incredible! 
We next stopped at the equally famous: 
Best known for rainbows and for well… being able to walk right up to the base of it just about
Skógafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland with a width of 15 metres (49 feet) and a drop of 60 m (200 ft).  
And here we have said rainbow… along with dozens of tourists 
The parking area for this waterfall is easy and amazingly FREE and there is a small cafe in the parking area. 
Here is where I tell you THOSE STAIRS ARE WORTH IT. Climb them, just take your time. Were they easy? Not really especially in full rain/ winterish gear but so worth it. It’s a lot of stairs, just pace yourself. 
The reward yourself for climbing the stairs with a fairly easy walk/ hike up further to see some amazing cascades! 
This was about at the top and if we didn’t have so much to do, I could’ve gone on forever! It just kept getting more and more beautiful. I definitely recommend hiking around and exploring the hills above Skógafoss.
Braden and I at our turn around spot 
Some of these views were unreal. 
Standing looking out over the very top of the waterfall 
Goofy long exposure shot 
Another view of the first set of falls above Skógafoss. We hiked to the 2nd set of falls that are nestled back in the back part of the canyon in this photo 
Islands in the river
Next stop is just 10 minutes drive WEST of Skógafoss: the
 Seljavallalaug swimming pool.
The first thing to know about this pool is that you do have to HIKE in a bit to it. It’s 20-30 minutes depending on how fast you are, you could potentially go faster… Considering the time it takes me to fully oggle and photograph places… I was at least 20 minutes. haha Also even though it was showing up JUST FINE on Google maps before our trip…. it wouldn’t pull up while we were there. So here’s some driving instructions:
1. Basic instructions are that you turn of the ring road onto road 242 about 10 km before Skogafoss. 
BUT if you need better directions than that also try:
2. Search for Guesthouse Edinborg and if it will find THAT, then go to it, and continue on down the dirt road it is off of, Seljavellir, to the end where you will park and then proceed to hike
2. If it wont find that guesthouse either, it WILL pull up the Eyjafjallajökull Erupts exhibit (what we used). The left turn will be appox. 1.8 km past this exhibition on your left. At the pull off there will be a blue map sign with Seljavallalaug somewhat marked off. Basically you will continue straight onto a dirt road, drive to the end of that, park, and stretch your legs on a beautiful walk. 
The trail is pretty clear to follow as it heads back into the mountains. Note you will face a few shallow stream crossings. Waterproof shoes aren’t necessarily needed, but general hiking boots with a good sole would be recommended if not. This isn’t a walk to do in flip flops.. 
Incredible rock formations will greet you as you walk to the swimming pool. I’m 98.5% trolls live up there 
As you come around the corner you will start seeing some piping and the top of the white house. The house is technically a changing room but honestly… looked sketchy in there so you may just want to wear your bathing suit under your clothes to be ready to go when you get there. 
That is… if you plan to swim. I was undecided on the matter so I wore my bathing suit just in case… The water was warmish and when we got there, there actually was a couple swimming around. I put my feet and legs in to test it and temperature wise… I think it would actually be nice but note*
The pool is very algae…y It seemed to coat just about everything so I don’t know how much standing, sitting, or relaxing it would be. 
To Swim or not to swim… that is the question
Regardless if you plan to swim or not, the area surrounding this incredible pool is stunning and worth a trek out to see. 
Practical Information:
The pool is unmanned, and minorly maintained but is free to use.
Short interesting historical tidbit: 
Seljavallalaug pool is a protected outdoor pool as it is one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland; built in 1923.
When the pool was first built, courses in the pool were initiated as part of a compulsory education in 1927. The pool is 25 metres long and 10 metres wide and was the largest pool in Iceland until 1936.
Again we hit up Skogafoss before this (although we had to back track 10 min to visit here, I’d definitely say it was worth it.)
So there we were…. finished with some of the big stuff fairly early in the day and ready to trek out to a plane crash. We headed to the parking lot at the start of what sounded like a 1.5 hourish walk to find probably THE BIGGEST AND MOST FULL PARKING LOT. While I had expected this activity to be popular, I figured some would be put off by the extensive walk. NOT SO. So with the impending rain clouds rolling in to the area and the ZERO CHANCE to actually get cool photos with the plane, we headed on towards Vik, with black sand on our minds. 
Next destination: Dyrhólaey 
Dyrhólaey is an amazing volcanic peninsula that stands out along the Southern coast of Iceland. Not only are the views of the surrounding black sand beaches incredible, but there’s a lighthouse and a giant sea arch to add to the drama! This place is NOT to be missed. 
The name Dyrhólaey covers the entire peninsula but came from this arch which literally means: “The Hill island with the door hole.” There are 2 stops once you turn off the ring road, the first is to head up the switch backs to the lighthouse… That’s where you’ll be able to see this beauty and if you happen to visit in the summer time, you’ll be rewarded with the sigh of many a puffins! 
The wind was SO intense up on the hill that it was hard to even enjoy the view that long… though we certainly tried. Here the boys took off and left us to go explore. 
The view looking inland at the volcanic region of Iceland. The views on a clear day will let you gaze clear down the coast to Selfoss, to the west the black basalt region of Vik, and inland… a giant GLACIER. 
The 2nd stop is the end of the line for this road and where facilities if you need them can be found. It’s a very cool small building that is typically 200 isk for toilet use but was FREE the day we were there! At this stopping point you’ll get an even greater view of the black sand… 
And this crazy beauty. Which I didn’t even know about beforehand! I legit had never seen a photo of this or known it was on Dyrhólaey. WHY DOES NO ONE TALK ABOUT THIS AMAZING THING?! Granted I know I’m a tiny bit obsessed with basalt… as you’ll soon find out but the twisted basalt that makes us this BLACK arch with the waves intermittenly splashing up through it is just the coolest thing ever. Definitely check this spot out. End rant. 
We had basically completed all of our mission by 2ish and had a few hours to spare before we could check in to our guesthouse so into Vik we went. We drove up to the cute little church for this view looking back south west. The Dyrhólaey peninsula is just on the other side of those cliffs. 
The small church of Vik up on the hilltop 
More blue skies YES! We toured around town for a bit, picked up some more groceries, and then headed over to check in to Giljur Guesthouse which was just outside Vik but in an awesome spot! We cleaned up and relaxed for a bit before rememembering… oh ya we do have 1 more COOL stop for the day. So over to Reynisfjara beach we went to see… 
Basalt Columns!!!
Reynisdrangar is the name actually given to the basalt columns but the incredible beach around is beautiful as well. So beautiful, that this beach was named one of the top 10 non-exotic beaches in the world! 
Unfortunately the sun was setting and the rain was on and off again coming down so we didn’t explore long. We even attempted to take shelter under that incredible cave though with Iceland’s famous side ways rain coming at us… it didn’t help much. 
*Note: The water and waves at Reynisfjara beach are VERY dangerous. There are several signs posted around the beach about SNEAKER waves. Where the waves lure you into a false sense of security, and then pounce! There have been people who were VERY far up on the beach but unaware of their surroundings and fell victim to Mother Nature here. Always read the safety information plagues and be aware of your surroundings. In this case, keep you eye on the water line and don’t stray close to the water’s edge. 
There are some facilities at the beach including a cafe which we had read some poor reviews about. So back into Vik we headed for dinner at one of the very few restaurants. From our research, Suður-Vík was the best option for good reviews as well as cost. When we got there we realized what everyone had been telling us… MAKE A RESERVATION. People have few places to go to eat, so make a reservation or prepare to wait. We waited appox: 30 minutes (not bad) and the food was amazing! I’m sure it didn’t help it was like 8:30 at night but Braden and I split their bread sticks and pizza for an affordable and delicious dinner! 
Then it was back to Giljur Guesthouse to get some sleep because the 3rd day was only going to get busier. 
The next few photos were taken around our guesthouse! There was a small turf shed and back in that canyon raged a decent sized waterfall which you could see from the road! 
No I’m not walking like a zombie on purpose, I was just getting pushed over by the wind! 
Sort of obsessed with both basalt columns and turf homes after this stay! 
As far as reviews go, the guesthouse was another great stay! We had smaller comfortable rooms and shared 2 bathrooms with a few rooms. Again there was a nice shared living space and kitchen that was open to any of the guests. This place would be our most expensive stop of the night so prepare yourself, Vik isn’t cheap… but it’s definitely a good stopping point in your drive from Selfoss and on up to the Eastern Fjords. Link to where we stayed: Giljur Guesthouse

Total drive time day 3: Roughly 170 km at 2.5 hours 

Day 3 Costs:
Breakfast and lunch were again taken care of by previous groceries
Seljalandsfoss parking: $6.50
All the other stops were free!
Groceries from Vik Kronan:$20.50
Dinner at Sudur Vik: $34
Giljur Guesthouse: $177
Rental Car breakdown for 1 day/2 people: $66
Gas breakdown average/ day for 2 people: $18/ day
Day 3 total: $322 for 2 people

The Golden Circle

Day 2: Waterfalls and rainbows as we drove the famous Golden Circle
Up and early we had breakfast and were out by 8 with our first stop: Þingvellir (Thingvellir in English) National Park, just a short drive away.

When most people hear about this national park they automatically think of Silfra, the popular diving spot where you can actually swim or snorkel between the Eurasian and North American Tectonic plates. We weren’t brave enough to don the dry suit for a swim in there but we didn’t want to miss out on not only the cool geology of this national park but also the HISTORY. 
Þingvellir is the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Iceland, and that isn’t due to geology folks! This place has some rad history to it since it was the seat of Iceland’s parliament since its establishment in 930 AD all the way until 1798. 
The settlement of Iceland began in AD 874 when the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfur Arnarson became the first permanent Norwegian settler on the island. Early on, district assemblies were formed, but as the population grew, there was a need for a general assembly to limit the more powerful families in SW Iceland. 
Grímur Geitskör was allotted the role of rallying support and finding a suitable location for the assembly. At about the same time, the owner of the Þingvellir region was found guilty of murder. His land was declared public, and then obligated to be used for assembly proceedings. The Þingvellir area was chosen for this reason and for its accessibility to the most populous regions of the north, south and west. The foundation of the Icelandic parliament is said to be the founding of the nation of Iceland, and the first parliamentary proceedings in the summer of 930 laid the ground for a common cultural heritage and national identity.
Katie and Braden walking through a fissure down into the park
History of the park:
The Alþingi (assembly) at Þingvellir was Iceland’s supreme legislative and judicial authority from its establishment in 930 until 1271. The Lögberg or Law Rock was the focal point of the assembly and a natural platform for holding speeches. The Lawspeaker, elected for three years at a time, presided over the assembly and recited the law of the land.Inauguration and dissolution of the assembly took place at the law rock, where rulings made by the Law Council were announced, the calendar was confirmed, legal actions were brought and other announcements made which concerned the entire nation. Anyone attending the assembly was entitled to present his case on important issues from the law rock. 
The Law Council served as both parliament and supreme court. Laws were passed and approved there, and rulings made on points of law. The Assembly was Iceland’s legislative and chief judicial authority for the duration of the Commonwealth, until 1271. Executive power was in the hands of the chieftains and parties to individual cases. 
In the final decades of the Commonwealth, there were clashes between chieftain families, which resulted in Iceland coming under the Norwegian crown. Executive power was strengthened under this new order, while legislative and judicial authority at first remained in the hands of the original assembly, but even that was gradually transferred to the Norwegian and later the Danish rulers, until in 1662, the King of Denmark became the absolute monarch of Iceland.
The continental drift between the North American and Eurasian Plates can be clearly seen in the cracks or faults which traverse the region. The largest one, Almannagjá, you walk through after the main parking area into the trail system. (what all the pictures above are of) This also causes the often measurable earthquakes in the area. Some of the rifts are also full of clear water like the Silfra, but not all of them can you dive. Several of the bridges in the park traverse the fissures so if you too do not wish to go for a swim, just cross a bridge and look down and you’ll be looking down between 2 Tectonic plates. The park also borders Iceland’s largest natural lake Þingvallavatn. 
Looking out over the old parliament buildings that are still standing in the park
Moss covering some of the cool rock. There is moss EVERYWHERE in Iceland. 
New travel head shot! Thanks Braden 😀 
Looking at the walls formed by the Almannagjá crack with the Öxará river flowing through
The  Öxaráfoss (waterfall of the aforementioned river) 
Looking at the  Öxará river as it flows down into the Almannagjá crack
Iceland’s flag at the site of the Law Rock where parliament met each year 
All in all an easy, quick stop with great paved trails to stretch your legs and learn some history! The Visitor center also has multi media and a video that is 40 min long if you watch the whole thing, but you can select specific parts for whatever interests you. 
Practical Information:
The park and Visitor Center are FREE
Parking however costs 500 ISK ($5) for a day pass that you must display in your car window at all times. The machines on site were pretty easy to use. 
Hours for Visitor center: June – August 31:  09:00 – 19:00
September – May 31 09:00 – 18:30
WC: The Toilets cost 200 ISK and are open available from 09:00-18:00 daily
Next up on the Golden Circle route was Geysir… which I’ll be honest, I’ve been to Yellowstone so this was a quick stop for us. (Didn’t help that it was FREEZING at this stop) We explored the massive gift shop on site here and looked longingly at the over priced $20 bowls of soup before heading out to see some boiling water. 
Nothing like some steaming hot pots and the smell of sulfur to get you excited for a GEYSER
Little Geysir… though we never actually saw this one go off 
The large Strokkur Geysir reaches height of around 30 m and goes off every 6- 10 minutes. We saw it twice though the first time was very small. I didn’t get any great shots of it erupting but Braden got a video of it for me. 
The area Geysir is named after the original Geyser that erupted there, consequently the FIRST geyser described in a printed source and the first known to modern Europeans. Incidentally the English word Geyser derives from the name Geysir which itself is derived from the Icelandic verb geysa, “to gush.”
The geysers in this region have been very affected by earthquakes over the centuries with Geysir once being the 2nd largest geyser to ever erupt and erupting every 30 minutes or so. Now Geysir rarely erupts but luckily there is Strokkur to keep us all entertained. Visiting Geysir was easy as the car park is free, and it is just a short walk over to view the hot pots and geyser going off. 
Then 5 minutes down the road is the crowning jewel of the golden Circle: GULFOSS
Yay WATERFALLS! One of the main things that brought me to Iceland in the first place and even though the rain was coming down again and we were definitely cold, Gulfoss did not disappoint. There are 2 parking lots to visit this waterfall (both free) one that is more level with where I’m standing and with no facilities. The other one is at the top of the hill where there is a gift shop, snack bar and other facilities. We went where the GPS took us which was the top lot which meant quite a few stairs up and down.
*which careful they’re slick when wet! Braden slipped and about lost our car keys as they fell out of his pocket when he caught himself and went under the stairs. Luckily they were at an easy spot on te hill to trek up to and recover them. 
Following the crowds, we walked along the narrow path in the mist to get to the center point of the falls and boy were we soaked when we did! We didn’t last too much longer after that. haha 
Photo of the rushing water of the upper falls 
Another photo looking at the intense mist spray coming up from the base of the falls. This was definitely one powerful waterfall! All the mist made we wish even more for a bit of sun just to get a rainbow! 
Next stop was a bit off the golden circle route but easily my favorite part of the day: Háifoss.
There’s loads of debate about there on the Iceland forums… about whether Haifoss is worth the extra car time, worth the bumpy dirt road, etc… and the answer to all of this is YES. IT IS. 

Not only is the one waterfall worth it on it’s own, but there’s a score of waterfalls and a STUNNING canyon to photograph and explore at the same time. It’s a win all around. We had a 4 wheel drive vehicle but not necessarily high clearance, and I don’t think we even had the 4X turned on. So even if you don’t splurge for a 4×4 car, just go slow. It’s only 7 km of dirt road, will probably take you 20 minutes and you can DO IT. 
When we first got there, all of these beauties were shrouded in mist and the waterfall was very ghostly all around. Haifoss is Iceland’s 3rd tallest waterfall at just over 400 feet (122 m) of straight drop. 
Within minutes, the clouds began to clear and we could get a better shot of this waterfall alley 
Still a lot of mist at the bottom there. Even though it was cold, wet, and extremely windy at first, I’m glad we stuck around to experience this stunning waterfall with a bit of clear skies even if it was for only 10 min. 
A shot looking down at the incredible boulders at the bottom of Haifoss
Travel shot
Haifoss and the incredible valley/ canyon it flows into
Note: Visiting Haifoss is both out of the way a bit and free but because of that it lacks 2 things: facilities and tourists. Better make use of some facilities at your prior destination as you’ve got bumpy roads and no facilities for miles around once you get out here. 
I had read on some reviews that there is a trail to the bottom of these falls that was only 10-15 minutes so even with the iffy weather, we headed out to explore. The trail is pretty easy to follow as you stick closer to the cliff and head out toward the valley. There are periodic orange flags that mark the way. 

There was one fence we had to climb over using this ladder as we followed the trail to the bottom of Haifoss. 
Since so many tourists stick to the standard Golden Circle, you won’t encounter too many people at the top and you really won’t encounter anyone hiking around. We had this incredible hills to ourselves as we walked, hiked, heck even ran with the wind feeling free as ever.
But turns out the trail was quite a bit longer than expected as it took us at least 15 minutes to get to this spot where you loop back toward the base… but the clouds were rolling back in. 
So we posed for a photo op at our turn around spot with the waterfalls in the distant and prepared to hike back up the hill to rejoin our friends and the warm car that awaited us. 
And apparently the weather agreed with us turning around because I kid you not, there was maybe a 1 minute between when my photo was taken… and Braden’s photo above. haha The weather can change on you VERY fast. ALWAYS bring a rain jacket. 
Our last stop of the day before reaching our hotel in Selfoss was the Kerið Crater which is back right on the Golden Circle. 
The Kerið crater is a 3,000 year old volcanic caldera that is approximately 55 m (180 ft) deep, 170 m (560 ft) wide, and 270 m (890 ft) across. The lake itself is fairly shallow (7–14 metres, depending on rainfall and other factors), but due to minerals from the soil, is an opaque and strikingly vivid aquamarine. Also interestingly enough, the majority of the water in the crater is NOT from rainfall but the water table as the base of the crater is on level with it. 
Our 2nd complete rainbow of the day
Some theorized that like most volcanic craters, the Kerið crater was formed by a huge explosion as the volcano erupted. However, there’s a large lack of evidence of a large lava explosion so the more likely theory is that a Cone volcano formed and a smaller eruption drained the magma reserve. Once the magma was emptied, the top of the cone caved in on itself into what would’ve been the magma chamber. 
Either way what was left is steep red rock walls covered in moss making this one colorful crater you don’t want to miss.  
There’s an easy walking path on the more sloped side that allows you to walk up to the water’s edge, relax on the VERY dirty bench that’s half sunk and you have to climb onto, or take a short walk around the lake. Once again there are no facilities at this crater’s parking area but you are very close to Selfoss (10 min away). Also important to note is the owner’s of the land charge a 400 isk (about $4) pp charge to enter. It takes maybe 20 minutes to walk around the top and another 20 minutes to go down and walk around the lake. 
Unfortunately a don’t quite recall when we drove over this bridge (especially seeing the blue sky accompanying it since we didn’t see much of that on our first day) but including it since it is such a striking bridge. It also shows one of the most EXCITING driving challenges in Iceland: 1 way bridges. The roads are narrow and 2 way everywhere but 95% of the bridges you will cross (varying fro short to pretty long like this one) are 1 way with no lights and only 1 sign or indicate the road narrows. Be aware as you enter these areas to keep an eye on incoming traffic. Basically whoever is closer and will likely get to the bridge first gets to cross first. The other car will need to stop and wait their turn. 
Selfoss as we rolled in. We stayed this time in an adorable guesthouse that was one of our cheaper stays on the trip. Guesthouse Garun Skolavellir which was right in town. We had a seperate room from our friends and from what I could tell really only shared the bathroom with them as the 3rd room on our landing had their own. There was also a great little kitchen for preparing your own meals and a hot tub which we didn’t make use of on this night but I imagine would be really nice. Def. recommend this place: Guesthouse Garun
After washing up and putting on clean clothes, we walked the short distance to the main town where we checked out their charming church and ate at a great (affordable!) restaurant called Yellow. This place had amazing Asian style bowls where you could choose a base from rice &beans, noodles, or sweet potato mash. Then a protein of chicken or beef. And lastly a sauce between green Thai curry, a peanuty sauce, or Indian style curry. It was pretty delicious and probably the cheapest night eating out we had. Last stop of the night we grabbed some groceries for sandwiches the next day. 
All in all our Golden Circle was less golden and more rainy but some major highlights of the who trip for me still happened. Haifoss captured my heart with it’s incredible beauty. 
Total Drive Time Day 2: Roughly 300 km at 4 hr 45 min. 
Day 2 costs:
Breakfast and lunch for the most part- groceries from previous day
Parking at Thingvillir National Park $6.50 for all day pass
Gulfoss shop sandwich $7
Kerið Crater admission: $7.50
Dinner at Yellow $36.20  
Groceries again for potentially next couple of days: $21.86  
Garun Guesthouse $113
Rental Car breakdown for 2 people per day cost: $66
Total gas breakdown for 2 people/ day: $18
Day 2 Total: $276 for 2 people

Checking out Reykjavík

Ok so here we go with Iceland blog posts! One trip directly to another, but I promise I will do a few summary posts from previous trips one of these days so the actual itinerary is easier to see. But for now, I can’t wait to share our amazing experience in Iceland! We met up with our 2 friends Katie and Thatcher at a bright and early 6:45 AM (12:45 our time) and hit the ground running exploring Iceland’s capital city Reykjavik. 
First stop: The Harpa Concert Hall.

As far as is this a MUST SEE? for the city… probably not, but for the 2 photographers in our group, this place was Heaven as far as architecture goes! So many fun places to take photos and we were there early enough to grab an easy parking spot right out front. (There were no signs but now I’m learning those are only for quick drop offs… oops) 
The concert hall took a few years to build (from 2007-2011) but officially opened and had it’s first concert in 2011. It is obviously known for the incredible windows that were inspired by the basalt landscape of Iceland. 
The area of the concert hall that is open to the general public includes a gift shop and free toilets (though you have to really look for those) however most of halls are closed off. There are tours available to learn more about construction and events as well as see the closed areas of the concert hall for around $15 pp.
There is also a parking garage for the concert hall that costs 2.50 an hour from 7AM to 2AM. 
From the concert hall, it is a short and easy walk to the next stop on our list: The Sun Voyager Sculpture or Sólfar in Icelandic. Above photo: The cairns that sit right next to the concert hall and mark the way. 
After a short, but need I say, COLD walk we reached the Sun Voyager. I only got 2 photos in before my lens had water spots on it and the group was chilled to the bone and ready to run back to our car. Let’s just say after this short walk, we were ready for some INDOOR activities. 
BUT I will say seeing this sculpture was very cool for me and I do recommend the short walk to see it. The sculpture was presented to the city on August 18,1990 to commemorate Reykjavik’s 200th birthday. 
So as far as indoor activities, there are a few museums in Reykjavik, with the Culture House being a top recommended item. So without even knowing what this museum was about, we paid it a visit…. And an interesting visit it was indeed. Let’s just say the above photo is the only picture I took in the museum as the art was fairly abstract… The description for the museum: “The exhibition gives visitors the chance to delve into the collections of six different cultural institutions: from thousand-year-old treasures to the latest in Icelandic art. Its focus is on the visual expression of the ideas we have about the world, our environment and ourselves. The materials and techniques may change over the years, but the viewpoints remain the same. This is a unique journey through Iceland’s visual legacy, offering an innovative guide to a nation’s cultural history.”
In short, NOT my favorite museum, especially considering the cost for an adult 
Luckily the expensive price tag that came with the admission to the Culture House also got us into the National Museum of Iceland. (The admission goes both ways) and we were much more appeased with the National Museum’s displays! Loads of history, information on the culture, and even bones! I enjoyed watching a film on how they constructed the turf homes and navigated the seas back in the day. If you were to pick a museum DEFINITELY pick this one and go here first… then use any left over time to visit the Culture House. Unfortunately we were all tired out of walking and starving for lunch once we got here… so we didn’t stay too long. 
Practical Information for BOTH museums: 
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday from 10-5
Cost: $20 for adults (at the Culture House they had a student discount for $10)
*Children 18 and under are free 
Following our cultural house experience we went for the next big cultural experience: eating. A hot dog to be exact from the most popular stand in Reyk: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur in downtown. While these dogs WERE on the cheap end at $4, they didn’t exactly blow my mind. (likely because I hate all condiments and so eat them plain) but since it’s a thing here, do as the Icelanders do and get yours with a mixture of onion, fried onion, mustard, and a mayo type sauce. We ate ours while wandering the close by market (inside YES!). Then it was a quick stop to get groceries from a BONUS grocery store and it was off to our next big experience:
Typically riding on a tour is less than exciting as most tour groups ride nose to tail and you wind up in groups with people who’ve never ridden before (heck I’ve been that person!) But as Katie is a seasoned rider, and I love horses to the point that falling off one twice  over the course of a year of lessons has yet to deter me, we both conceded that lame tour or not, we HAD to try out this Icelandic Horse TOLT. 
But… what is the tolt you might ask? 
The Icelandic horse is a VERY special breed of horse as it has FIVE natural gaits. (other horses typically only have 4: the walk, trot, canter, and gallop) The Icelandic horse has the walk, trot, TOLT, canter, and Flying Pace. For those who have ridden horses before at a trot, the tolt is most similar to that, only it is supposed to be very smooth and comfortable to ride in comparison. The Icelandic horse is also known as the most PURE breed of horse in the world. The horse was introduced to Iceland by the vikings and in 982 AD Iceland banned the importation of horses, meaning they would have to do all their breeding and horse raising within country. Thus 1000 years of being isolated in Iceland with no other horse breed gives us the most PURE breed. It also makes disease control imperative, so any horse that is exported to another country, can NEVER return to Iceland. 
Last fun fact of the day is the sheer NUMBER of horses in Iceland today. There are 80,000 horses, an incredible number for a nation that counts only 330.000 people.
So we signed up using Viator for a ride that was the cheapest while giving us the longest ride time and we ended up with Ishestar for our riding tours. There are MANY riding tours available all over Iceland (later we even stayed at a lodge situated on a horse track) but in the interest of scheduling, this place fit best and would give the boys traveling with us a chance to rest while we braved the cold elements to ride. 
The overall property you ride on for Ishestar is beautiful. Amazing views of lava fields, lakes, and hills. Our big group of about 15 people was split up into 2 groups after about 30 minutes of riding. One group would walk the entire time, and the other group would get to tolt. We obviously went with the faster group… along with another 10 people who had never ridden before… Oh boy. All in all it was a good ride and the weather actually held off  raining on us until the last bit. The tolt was nice when my horse would do it but for the most part I got a lazy horse who wanted to go as slow as he wanted and would trot to catch back up to the group. TROTTING on an Icelandic horse, in full rain gear, and with an odd saddle wasn’t the most pleasant, not going to lie. It was very bouncy and if I didn’t have some training on how to hold myself on with my legs, I imagine I’d have fallen off pretty easily. It also would’ve been nice to try another of the gaits like the canter, but I digress… next trip to Iceland I’ll do a more intense trekking tour (and hopefully be even more prepared for it by then)
To check out the barn and tour we took, visit Ishestar horseback riding tour
So after something like 1.5 hours of riding we ended at the barn with some hot cocoa/ coffee provided by the tour and boarded our bus to take us back into the city. We arranged to be dropped off just next to our Airbnb spot for the night where the boys had already checked in and crashed. We were lucky enough to snag this stunning apartment for our first night in Iceland. It had 1 bedroom with a double bed, a pull out couch, and great little kitchen with lots of light. Both Katie and I relished a hot shower and some dry clothes for a bit and then made dinner with the groceries from the store (ground pork, spaghetti sauce, and pasta!) 
And even though some of us had no sleep or naps for over 24 hours we couldn’t end the last day without a quick trip to explore the city at night. (though with how cold it was and how tired we were, we didn’t last long) All in all a rough first day weather wise, but a great first day for ADVENTURE.
To stay in THIS stunning apartment in Reykjavik, follow this link: Airbnb
and for a $40 off your first stay, you can sign up HERE

Day 1 Costs:
Rental car breakdown: Roughly $1195 for 9 days split between 4 people, so per day for Braden and I: $66.4
Gas cost breakdown: $321 for entire trip split between 2 couples and spread out over 9 days = $18/day for Braden and I
Airbnb night 1: $117.50 for Braden and I 
Breakfast on plane free 
Lunch was hotdogs at stand for $10
Dinner+ groceries: $28 Cooked that night  
Parking on street in Reyk- $2.00
Horseback riding $109.41 pp
Day 1 total: $349.31