Iceland in Five Nights: From Reykjavík to Jökulsárlón

Iceland is a beautiful, charming and very chilly country. My partner Sheila and I went over there in April 2016 for 5 nights, travelling from Reykjavík down to the glacial lagoon Jökulsárlón, heading back up to the Blue Lagoon via a few waterfalls and an aeroplane wreckage at Sólheimasandur.

Four of the five nights were spent at Island Apartments in Reykjavík (the first two nights and the last two). I really recommend having somewhere where you can keep some food in a fridge and make up some packed lunches, as Iceland is generally quite expensive for food and drink. In saying that, I didn’t find this holiday to be expensive overall,  as the majority of places you’ll visit are free so it balances out pretty well.

Arriving in Reykjavík
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On our first full day, we checked out the city as well as visiting the Golden Circle (the 300km route which includes stops at Gullfoss, Haukadalur and the Kerið volcanic crater). If you’re renting a car, this tourist route is really easy to fit into a day, and you can tick of some really amazing landmarks from your list in one fell swoop.

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On our second day, we said goodbye to Reykjavík and ventured southeast towards Hali, where we’d booked to stay one night at the Skyrhúsid Guest House. If you’re wanting to visit the glacial lagoon of Jökulsárlón, you can do it in a day, however it will pretty much take up the entire day. Booking a guesthouse splits up the 9 hour round trip nicely, allowing you to take your time to make a few pit stops at Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss.

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Also along this route is Sólheimasandur, the vast beach that hold the wreckage of a 1973 DC 3 plane crash. The plane lies around a 4km walk from the road, so be prepared for a bit of a trek to actually get to the site. You’ll probably feel like you’re going in the wrong direction after about 30 minutes, but bear with it!

This is slowly becoming a staple visiting point for tourists, and despite what these pictures show, it was actually really busy with people climbing over the wreckage and taking about 4,000 selfies for what seemed like forever. I had to patiently set up camp with my camera and wait for a break in the people to get these shots.

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After taking in the sights on the drive down to our guesthouse at Hali, we spent the next morning admiring the alluring glacial lagoon at Jökulsárlón. Only a short drive from where we were staying, the large blocks of ice float along the coast of a black sand beach, slowly making their way into the ocean. A beautiful, scenic place which almost forces you into a sort of quiet meditation which is only slightly ruined when a busload of tourists unloads and their behaviour is really inappropriate for the surroundings. Now, I’m not in any way saying I wasn’t a typical tourist there, as clearly I was, but a little bit of “travellers etiquette” is required when you’re taking in some of nature’s most beautiful sites. All I’m saying is: don’t be one of those people who ruins it by chucking ice in a lake or leaving your medium mocha cortado on top of a glacier, alright? Alright.

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On the drive back toward Reykjavík, we stopped off at Vatnajökull National Park and took a walk up to Svartifoss, a waterfall almost cathedral-like in its geology. We then continued our drive up route one to stop off at Reynisfjara, a black sand beach not far from the town of Vik, before a last-minute decision to go to Seljavallalaug, and outdoor geothermal swimming pool at the base of Eyjafjallajökull (yeah, the same volcano that stopped you getting your flight in 2010). We were debating not going as it was beginning to get around sunset, but I’m glad we did. Being in the pool in the valley at sunset is a wonderful experience, but you probably want to head shortly after as the trek back to the car could be a little bit of a pain in the dark.

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Our last two days were spent back at Island Apartments in Reykjaík. We used this time to explore the capital and take a ride up to the Blue Lagoon for a more relaxing time. We visited the Hallgrímskirkja, walked down to the Solfar sculpture, enjoyed the architecture of the Harpa (where we met a wee dog called Frimann, pictured) and visited a few places to eat and drink. A few places of note were Reyjkjavik Fish (with its vinegar in a spray bottle) and Cafe Babulu (for its vast collection of Flintstones memorabilia).
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And that was it! We handed the car back in the afternoon of the final day and jumped on the bus back to the airport. We had a fantastic time, and I’m really looking forward to going back in a few weeks. I’ll leave you with a little holiday video I took while out there. Thanks for reading!

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