I have visited Iceland once before, back in September 2012, but only stayed in the capital and didn’t venture far out of the city. Undoubtedly, the best way to visit this island in the Atlantic would be to rent a car and drive around the island and get out into the wilderness that makes this place so special. I don’t know when it’ll happen, but some day, I’ll take about two weeks and do just that, and this would be my dream itinerary to follow with Zab.
Obviously, Reykjavík is the place it makes sense to begin and end any trip to Iceland, as it’s the only city with an international airport. Also, being the only place on the island that I’ve been before, I can say that I would definitely like to go back and experience more of this cool (and very small) city. I wasn’t vegan when I last visited, so I would definitely take the chance to explore the growing vegan scene there.
Heading north out of Reykjavík on the Route 1 and turning off onto the Route 54, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula has been called Iceland in miniature due to it having many different types of landscape typical of Iceland in a relatively small area. The highest peak, Snæfellsjökull, is a symbol of the country, and is actually a volcano with a glacier sitting on its peak!
The quickest way to get here from Snæfellsnes is to take the ferry across the Breiðafjörður from the charming fishing village of Stykkishólmur to Brjánslækur. This part of Iceland is actually one of the most remote and least visited parts of the country, with only around 14% of visitors making the trip here. It has some spectacular landscapes and is home to a large population of puffins, another national symbol. It’s also home to Europe’s western-most building: Bjargtangar lighthouse!
Iceland’s second largest city, even though it only has a population of 18,000, looks like a cute town worth exploring in its own right, with a botanical garden and art museum among a few other attractions. From here, it’s also possible to drive a little further north to the coast and take a whale watching tour, which is something I might consider if I can be sure they are done with respect for the whales and I can overcome my seasickness!
Perhaps it’s the name of this place more than anything that has attracted me to it. I just like the way it sounds! This is a very tiny town in eastern Iceland (population 660!), and it seems like a sensible place to stop going round the island. It has a few sights of interest, including the Technical Museum of East Iceland, and is home to the only two cinemas in the eastern part of the island!
Heading back east along the southern coast of Iceland, Jökulsárlón is one of the most popular sights in this part of the country, and is often made as a daytrip from the capital, albeit a pretty long one. It’s a glacial lagoon, and is actually getting bigger because of melting ice. It’s now the deepest lake in Iceland.
Just before returning to Reykjavík, stopping off to see a few of the spots which consist of the Golden Circle, including Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir, and Þingvellir National Park would make a lot of sense. I actually went for an afternoon to Þingvellir, the place where the North American and European tectonic plates meet, last time I was in Iceland, so would likely make Gullfoss a higher priority this time.
This, then, is the route in full, plotted out on a map. Turns out to be just over 2,000km of driving in total!
Have you been to Iceland? What other places would you add to this itinerary?