I LEFT MY HEART IN ICELAND
I’m currently sitting in the airport literally crying as I write this, thinking about how I’m going to be leaving this beautiful country in just a couple hours..
It’s crazy how at one point I had only seen photos and videos of all the beautiful places I was just now running through. Wanting to be there and making my own memories and photos.. And then 6 years later I made it happen. It all felt like a blink of an eye but when my eyes shut in between - it was a dream. Iceland has this crazy way of making you feel like you’re running through your own imagination. Where the coast meets mountains around every corner, being able to stand at the foot of a glacier casually, seeing waterfalls that spray a mist on you from the second you step foot out of your car.
Iceland is just a crazy vast dreamland of every nature scene you could ever come up with.
Living out of a van for 12 days was nothing short of perfect and honestly the only way I saw myself doing it - so I’m here to encourage you to do the same thing!
You might have a lot of questions on where to even get started, what to see, how much it costs, what van to go with. Well I’m here to help you answer all of that.. (I won’t be giving out my full route because a lot of places were out of spontaneity or some that locals gave me - but keep reading to find out my favorite ones and a little info about them)
I flew in to Reykjavík the main airport in Iceland and where all the fun began.. I personally bought a one way ticket as I had just been in London before this - so I spent $60 on a ticket from London to Iceland. And only $180 on a flight from Seattle to London.. Yup you read that right - ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY DOLLRS. How could I have passed both of those offers up? Then from there I bought another ticket to connect to Ireland from Iceland for I think like $80.. So for a total of $320 I got to see London, Iceland and Ireland. But I’ll talk more about that in another blog post! Why am I telling you this? Because everyone’s biggest concern and first stray away from Iceland is finding a good ticket there! So my advice to you is see if there’s some way you can buy 2 different flights and make your own connection - with a layover in between for a day or two or something, do it. OR be accepting on the layovers you’re provided with for a cheap option!
I love using Kayak.
Once I landed in Reykjavik it was about 9AM at that time and I was exhausted as my flight left at 6AM from the UK. Luckily, I had booked my campervan with Lagoon Car Rental. Where they take care of everything for you - when I say everything I really mean it. I waited for only 10 minutes and then the shuttle driver arrived with a big ol’ sign and their name on it so it wasn’t hard to miss. I was so relieved that it was really that simple to get picked up from the airport and the best part? The shuttle is complimentary! That being because their office is only 10 minutes away - SCORE. Makes your road trip start that much faster..
We waited for another couple people to fill up the shuttle and then we were on our way to their office. It’s such a welcoming environment.. A coffee machine free of charge, nice cold water, couches to relax on as other people check in, WiFi and tons of Iceland photos to get you excited! It just felt so cozy.
Also fun fact: Lagoon Car Rental is a family ran business so that means they’re going to look after you just as if you’re apart of it as well.
From the second I walked in I knew I made the best choice of going with them. It can get really hard deciding who to rent with since there’s so many options and so many things that could potentially go wrong. So that’s why I’m so happy I was able to rent with them with how easy everything was.
For a car rental place, they have several different options of choice but I obviously went with the campervan as I wanted to call it home and not stay in hostels/hotels. But they do have a big selection for whatever suits your needs - a 4x4 for off roading excursions (also another option of a 4x4 but with a roof top tent), a small car for better gas mileage and more!
Like I said they plan mostly everything for you and think about the things you probably don’t want to on top of all the other planning. So they offer a variety of extras you can add on that you’ll probably need for your trip: a cooking stove with utensils, a fold out table, small camping chairs, bedding for the van or roof top tent camper, a mobile hotspot (this saved my life), tons of storage space, a full size bed, they have an aux cord or Bluetooth option when it comes to music AND they even include a gas discount card for 2 different stations.
Everything and more you need.
So once we got the inspection done on the van, filling out any small scratches or dents prior to us driving it and got our stuff thrown in the van. We were on our way to our first destination.. Bonus - the most affordable grocery store in Iceland. Picking up the bare necessities and groceries that could make an abundance of meals for our 2 weeks. Because of course when it comes to van life - you’re living on a budget. We spent about an hour shopping and then a half an hour just getting the van together and feeling all cozy and homey. But after that was all taken care of we were fully ready to hit the road and start the trip, which began with..
Kerid Crater: Only about an hour and a half away from Lagoon Car Rental.
And wow.. I don’t think any amount of information I read about this place could have prepared me for what I was going to see . The water was such a Gatorade blue color filled in a huge crater below, wrapped around red walls. The perfect contrast of all colors. I was standing there - just crying knowing that Iceland would have a lot of moments like that for me. A lot of “Wow I can’t believe this place is real and I’m right here” moments. The crater is legit only a 5 minute walk from the parking lot but please note there is a small fee (they do accept cards though which is nice since I wasn’t prepared!) Definitely worth the money, especially since you don’t have to pay for hardly any other places. You can walk all along the walls of the canyon and get different views of the lake - we didn’t walk down to the base of it though so you definitely should!
After spending an hour or so here we started to make our way to the second stop of the day and our trip.
Gullfoss: This waterfall is seriously ENORMOUS. To the point that when you step out of the car (in the bottom parking lot) you already feel the mist hitting you. Tons of people are in rain ponchos and at first I was making it a laughing matter but trust me you might want one. My camera got completely soaked when walking around the waterfall at the bottom and even when I made the journey to the top. Again this is another place you can just pull into the parking lot to, grab your camera and you’re right there. Something I really love about Iceland because there’s always so much to do and makes you feel like you won’t run out of time for it all. A must see!
It was about 5PM at this time now when we decided to make it to our last stop of the day..
Seljalandsfoss: It took us probably 4 hours total to get there due to the fact we wanted to pull over everywhere - the waterfalls that flow right into the highway almost, all the Mountain View’s that feel so close you could reach out and touch them. We just needed to capture it all and remember that first feeling of stepping foot into wild Iceland.
Seljalandsfoss is in the most beautiful area of Iceland though because there’s so much to access within 20 to 30 minutes of there. We actually ended up going to that waterfall twice - once at the beginning of our trip and another at the end. I’m sure you’ve seen those photos of a waterfall in Iceland that is pink and you’re always wondering how it happens. Well it’s this one and it happens just at sunset because the way the sun aligns it casts its beautiful rays on the 196 foot waterfall. Something you NEED to witness while in Iceland. It’s a short walk from the parking lot and there’s about 3 other waterfalls to visit right on the same pathway that not many people talk about, as Sljevaddadoss is the star of the show.
(Sadly our first time here it was stormy so we didn’t see it light up - keep reading though)
Our first night and first time at this beautiful waterfall we ended up camping right in the parking lot down the street. There is designated tent sites usually up on the grass and if you’re in a van like we are you can park up there. Sadly this area wasn’t open for us when we went - but on a positive note we didn’t have to pay! They have bathrooms, showers, a small kitchen with all sorts of cooking utensils and stoves, also some free food to grab or leave for others, washers and dryers. The whole sha-bang it was a perfect campsite for our first night. I fell asleep listening to all the different waterfalls wondering what our second day would consist of.
We woke up at about 7AM and it was so nice being able to sleep in a bit instead of 4 or 5AM when sunrise is. So we cooked up some oatmeal and coffee discussing what to do that day.. We both looked at each other knowing we needed to visit the most famous hot spring pool. An hour later of driving we were walking through what felt like a dream. A short 30 or 40 minute walk from the parking lot brings you to..
Seljavellir geothermal pool: A place definitely worth visiting! Even if you want to take a dip or not it’s situated in the most beautiful scenery. Vivid green hills with snow capped mountains, rivers flowing everywhere and waterfalls every which way you look. I don’t know how else to describe it other than “a dream”
Please note that the road is sort of rough and to take it slow as there’s lots of potholes!
We were lucky enough to share the pool with only one couple so it felt like it was really ours.. I would definitely recommend going in the rain just for that reason.
There’s no fee and changing rooms with an area to hang up your clothes - so with that being said: leave it better than you found it and pack in what you pack out!
This pool isn’t the warmest hot spring I’ve been to but c’mon you’re in Iceland.. You need to visit. It’s a perfect way to start off a morning! We soaked here for about two hours.
Like I said earlier this area is my favorite part of Iceland because of all the accessible places -
So within 30 minutes we were at
Skógafoss: The next waterfall you see on every single postcard of Iceland. But there’s a reason why.. All the seagulls flying above it, the way the black rocks and green moss contrast with the fresh white glacier water. Let me just say it’s definitely a busy place for a reason. This waterfall is literally only a couple steps away from the parking lot which makes it easily accessible to everyone. So if you’re able to get there early morning, do it! Having that gigantic waterfall to what feels like yourself is amazing. It just feels like it’s you and it, by how big it is and how insignificant you’re left feeling.. There’s also an option to walk up the stairs and get an overlook view of it - I personally was there when it was pouring down rain and windy so I opted out to try and keep my one jacket as dry as possible.
If I could though, I would go back and climb the stairs since I know it’s worth it!
It was only probably about 3PM at this time now so next on the list was the famous
Solheimasandur plane wreck: To be honest with you, I wouldn’t mark it as one of the top places on MY list. But it is definitely a site worth seeing once in your life. Learning about how the plane crash happened, seeing it completely destroyed and in the middle of nowhere.. it leaves you with some sort of feeling.
The reason why it wasn’t in my top 5 places of Iceland is just because of how touristy it is. There’s literally people coming on tours that get dropped off in a bus and if you’re not one of them you have to walk 4 miles round trip just through mars basically.
Again, still an experience I would recommend but if you don’t have a lot of time I’d maybe head straight to the next place we went..
Reynisfjara: The black sand beach.
When I first saw photos of this place the only thought I had was “That can’t be real”.. Someone has to be just turning down the saturation on their photo and adding blacks to it. But nope. I’m here to confirm it is just like how you see in the photos. A beautiful balance between black and blue.
The sand and rocks fill your shoes as a reminder that you’re really there - even a week after visiting I would slip my boots on like wow there’s still sand. Leaving me with all the memories there. The black rock walls that surround you are as high as you can see and the structure on them is so rugged, I saw people climbing them like stairs. And when you’re not looking that way you’re greeted with huge black rocks that stand out in the beautiful blue ocean. Every way you look, you want to photograph. It’s just a truly magical place.. I would visit during sunset because I can only imagine how the beach looks with a pink hue added. Sadly we didn’t catch much of one due to the rain. But it was still dreamy.
After running around here for a couple hours and then about 20 minutes of trying to get the sand out of our boots. We started just driving until we felt like we were home.. Right next to a waterfall and huge cliffs we saw another campervan in the distance down a short gravel road. So we decided to become neighbors with them.
One thing I’d like to note though - I’m not too sure on the laws of wild camping through Iceland now. I’ve read multiple blog posts and all of them are very unclear on whether it’s legal or not. But my personal advice is: don’t camp on someone’s property, try to find another van so you’re not alone, always look for “no camping” signs, pack in what you pack out and don’t be disrupting the nature or peace of the place you’re at. (I also do use an app called iOverlander which has some wild campsites that other people have used so try that out as well!)
With that being said, we pulled into home for the night and started cooking up some dinner. Spaghetti and toast. Our go to dinner since it was so cheap to buy and the noodles and sauce lasted us a couple nights.
We checked the clock and it was already 12:30AM at that point. One thing I leaned about Iceland in spring/summer.. It never sleeps. This resulted in us always eating dinner late and going to bed even later. But even then the sun really never sets, it just stays right above the horizon for it to come back up within 4 hours. But hey, I’m not complaining at all it left us with so much time to explore each day.
After a great night sleep in our van from Lagoon Car Rental, we took off the window shades and realized we were actually in Iceland. It never really hits you when you’re somewhere that beautiful until days in I feel like.. Just because you’re so lost in the moment and running around everywhere, you don’t get that second to breathe and take it all in. That morning was just a slow wake up full of realization that, we really made it.
We cooked up some eggs, bell peppers and bacon; sat in our camping chairs that we were provided with and looked around at our back porch. Completely amazed at all that Iceland is. After eating and cleaning up, we turned on the mobile hotspot and started planning our route for that day.
Starting off with Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon/ Diamond beach: And wow. This place I think was one of my favorites. Mostly because I was so blown away at what I was seeing. The road leading up to this area is so unreal.. You can see the glaciers from miles and miles away to the point it looks like clouds are covering the road. But nope it’s just the glaciers getting closer and closer as you drive.
Mountain View’s this time in are literally 365 so there’s photo opportunities everywhere. We stayed on this stretch of the road probably for 30 minutes just in awe of what we were standing in front of.
Our van from Lagoon Car Rental that took us all around Iceland for 12 or 13 days!
Little did I know I was going to be completely speechless when we arrived to the real Glacier Lagoon.. The area at which you can actually hike up to the foot of the glacier. I had never seen anything like this so my jaw was to the ground the whole time. The hike to it is probably only 10 minutes or so, the longest trek is the road getting there so just make sure to take your time on it!
Right in this area too is Diamond Beach. It’s about 10 or 15 minutes down the road and there’s a reason they call it that. Little bits of glacier that rip off float through the ocean and onto the black sand beach. I couldn’t even believe my eyes at all on what was going on. The beach, the glaciers, the mountains, the ocean. Iceland has it all, but in this spot exactly you see it all. It was just such an experience and something I’d never see back in the states.
After a hard goodbye from this area we started heading more South to the town of Vik. Probably my favorite village we encountered.
Stokksness / Vestrahorn: A beautiful still beach with the most constructed mountain I’ve seen. It is so photo worthy and at sunset it looks like a painting the way it so gracefully stands. Sadly we missed it when the sky was at its all time high but we were 15 minutes away at a lake on the drive up.. So it made up for it. This was our real first sunset here that was changing the whole sky before us. And wow - Iceland put on a show that night that’s all I have to say.
Vestrahorn is so photo worthy that there is a small fee of $7 to drive the road or even climb up on the hills to capture it. So make sure you know that ahead of time! Right next to it there’s camping so that’s a great option for if you hit this place for sunset!
We had a great night sleep in the van so waking up the next morning was really hard.. I remember just laying there and saying “Okay the only way we can do this is if we hit hot springs” Cierra being like “Luckily Iceland has them EVERYWHERE”
So we did just that - I won’t give out the name to this one just because a local we met had given it to us. It was the perfect way to get the start on the day. After soaking for a good hour or so we just explored the south side of Iceland, a lot of places not knowing the name to before or even after. We just had no plans at this point and wanted to take it slow, sort of go off the beaten path and see what we could find. So it was a lot of exploring unknown roads and talking to locals about some of their favorite spots.
2 days passed or so of just having no plan which was really refreshing. You see I came to Iceland with all sorts of plans, the whole route to a T. But once I got there I threw it all out the door.. Because Iceland has something better for you than you could ever plan. The little stop offs you see from when you are driving from point A to B. Singing throwback songs at the top of your lungs with your best friend down a long dirt road. When you see steam coming from down a road and you turn down it to discover a hot spring. THOSE, those moments.. they can’t ever be planned. Those feelings can’t ever be planned. So we did a lot of just spontaneous stops for over the course of those two days..
Knowing we wanted to head to the eastern side eventually to
Dettifoss: The biggest waterfall in all of Iceland. With a 144ft. drop and 330 ft. wide..
The drive up to this place is literally through what feels like the moon. Black rocks and crazy structures everywhere, not a whole lot of mountains or anything. But it was oddly beautiful. The vastness it had - the way we didn’t see a single car for an hour of our drive, the long dirt roads off the main highway that felt like you need binoculars to see the end to. It just feels bare, so when we pulled up to the parking lot I was like “There’s no way there’s a waterfall back there”. I wasn’t expecting much but that all changed once we walked the mile there and I could feel myself getting drenched from the mist.
It was that subtle reminder that you’re fully alive and in ICELAND. We saw people on the side of it and still don’t know how they got there or why they wanted to. Just because again, of how huge it is. I know there’s another waterfall on the same trail that you can hike to so I assume it’s somewhere along there. But because the sun was setting we didn’t want to stay there in the dark so we took the most photos we could get without our cameras getting soaked. And made our way to camp for the night.
Dettifoss is near the town of Myvatn so we ended up camping at a random campsite there because there is definitely no wild camping there! (Signs posted everywhere - so like I said earlier please respect this and don’t just go for it)
We woke up probably about 8AM this time around just because we had done a lot of driving to get to the eastern side. So sleeping in a bit made all the difference - again with no plan we had no idea what to do for the day. Hoping Iceland would have something in store for us.
But if you want me to be COMPLETELY HONEST.. The eastern side didn’t have a whole lot for us. Maybe it was because we had seen so much to begin with so the expecactions were getting high. Or because we wanted to be back in the mountains and waterfalls. Either way, it just didn’t feel like us a whole lot. So we spent only about 2 days there and it consisted a lot of just relaxing and finding what we could. About this time it was day 8 on the road so we decided to start heading West. Crossing through the North side of Iceland where we felt like we were back in our environment. Waterfalls on the main highway, the mountains coming back into vision and a lot more life. We spent time just cruising through here with a lot of unnamed places or hidden ones.. So it wasn’t until we were in Westfjords where I started noting the places for this post.
We started day 9 on the road with
Dynjandi waterfall - The most insane waterfall I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It hurt my neck to even just look up at it because it cascades for 328 feet. And even then it starts to flow into another waterfall below. It’s just such a one of a kind waterfall, that you MUST visit. With views of it right from the parking lot and only being a 15 minute walk up to the base of it.. You need to make sure it’s a spot on your trip. Especially if you’re already headed to the Westfjords! I can’t even describe it without accurately being able to give you the feeling I had when standing underneath it.. It just makes you feel so small in the best way possible.
We spent an hour or two here just sitting, completely blown away by it.
There was really no plan for the day besides our sunset spot so we honestly again spent most of the day just exploring random roads. At one point in the afternoon we had spent 2 hours just in the back of the van watching YouTube videos. I think that’s one thing people won’t ever tell you about travel or “van life” after awhile it gets exhausting.. You get to a point where you just want to lay down and relax but your guilty conscious is telling you to keep going. So we used the time to at least catch up on some work as we watched the latest drama on YouTube. By the time we were ready to go it was probably 4 or 5PM so we made the journey to
Látrabjarg cliffs: Where we caught sunset.
On the way there though we made a couple stop offs on just along the road because the beach is unreal. The ocean is as blue as some of the ones I saw in Thailand and the white sand looks out of a postcard view. Both of those features paired with the mountain ranges behind them.. I couldn’t help but bring out my white dress for photos that I had in mind for years now. So at the beach alone we spent an hour running around and capturing everything we saw each way we looked.
I also grabbed some shots on the Drone I was luckily able to rent from Drone Rental Iceland! I personally don’t have my own so to be able to test one out and in ICELAND, was absolutely amazing. It was perfect because I don’t have one - definitely a must for someone wanting a new perspective and in Iceland - make sure to check them out.
I think that’s the one thing I love most about Westfjords area you can always find something when you’re not looking. That beach alone was one of my most favorite spots on this trip without knowing the name to it ever.
After freezing my hands and legs off I changed back into my jeans and parka jacket and kept on the road to the cliffs. We arrived a little bit earlier than sunset as it kept getting later each night we were there. So we cooked up some Mac n cheese and ate it as we waited to watch the sun set right above the ocean. The walk up to the cliffs is only 10 minutes or so and then once you’re up there, there is an abundance of trails to take. We went to the right as we wanted to see the sun set right before us.. We sat down and witnessed the sky paint a photo right before us. It was truly magical and one of the best sunsets we saw the whole trip. My friend Kyle told me when he was there in August, that there’s hundreds of puffins and they will fly up to you - so if you come in summer make sure to have your camera ready!
After an hour or two of quietness and just listening to the sound of waves, we got back into our van and drove 5 minutes back down to the road where there’s FREE camping. It was one of the best places we stayed because one way you look is the ocean and then right behind you is the beautiful green mountains/cliffs. There’s only toilets there so again please pack in what you pack out! That whole night was truly magical so I recommend doing exactly what we did. Plus it’s all free! Why would you pass it up?
7AM wake up call consisted of us cooking up oatmeal with peanut butter and our instant coffee. The classic Niki and Cierra, Iceland breakfast meal.
I was so excited for this day because I knew we were headed to one of the most beautiful places I had planned:
Rauoasandur (Red Beach): This place.. this place is truly so dreamy. When we first got down the road we had turned right and saw the red sand but didn’t know how to actually get down to it - especially because google maps will take you this way and because there’s little signage it’s easy to get confused. I started to think that maybe all the shots I had seen were just from a drone BUT you’re actually suppose to turn left, so please note this if you add it to your list! Once you head left and follow that road all the way down you end up at a parking lot that has bathrooms, a small kitchen, showers and camping so if you wanted to camp here you definitely should. The hike out to the beach is probably 15 or 20 minutes depending on if you want to hike up to the overlook how we did or go straight down to it. I preferred getting a birds eye view on it just because I was able to capture the turquoise waters up against the red sand.. Something I had dreamt about for years now. It was one of those places I was scared to visit honestly though due to the fact I thought photos would never come close to it. How people can turn up the saturation on the sand or add more blues or red. But let me tell you, it’s exactly how you see it even better. If I could go back and spend a full day here I would in a heartbeat. It was the cherry on top of making me fall in love with the Westfjords that much more. That was until we started making our way to our next place..
That drive left me with saying “I love the spontaneity of Iceland” how you can have no plan for the day but somehow end up with a million photos and a trillion different feelings. The things you really can’t plan for. We just spent all day letting the road take us wherever it wanted, knowing we just wanted to be at Kirkfulfoss for sunset.
Kirkjufellfoss: Again another place I’m sure you always hear about and see all over. Luckily when we went there, there was barely anybody because it was starting to thunder and rain. A huge reason I don’t mind the rain in Iceland it sends people running indoors. The walk is only 5 minutes from the parking lot and trust me, when you’re in the parking lot you’ll be wondering how anybody can even capture the mountain with the waterfalls. It doesn’t look possible until you walk up to the side of it and the falls align perfectly with that gorgeous mountain. I think that was when it started to really hit me how close we were to going home.. I tried to appreciate this moment a little more, knowing how much I would miss it when I left. As it was a place I had wanted to see and photograph myself for literally 6 years now. But then again how do you really appreciate any moment, any more? I realized that’s not always a bad thing though.. it means you just need to revisit it again at some point. So instead of saying goodbye we just said see you later.
We drove 30 minutes to a random pull off on the side of the road and called it home for the night.
We woke up the next morning sad knowing our Iceland trip was coming to an end in just a couple days. Talking about our favorite places we had seen yet, what we’ll miss about this country, what we’re excited for when we get back home to the states, things we wish we would have done differently. Just everything we had witnessed the past week and a half since we hadn’t done much talking about it, mostly because in the moments we were left so speechless. The one thing I said I would miss the most was not being able to see Sljevadafoss at sunset
(like how I talked about earlier - when it turns pink)
We were already in the Westfjords and that waterfall is more down south. So I felt like I missed out on that opportunity long ago because of our time going there being completely stormy. Cierra just looked at me and said “Okay punch it in the maps let’s do it”
Next thing you know I was making the last bits of my dreams come true. We spent all day going with the flow like we had the whole trip with only that destination in mind and for sunset. The drive was initially 3 hours from where we were near Kirkjufellfoss but with all the stop offs along the way.. We ended up there right as the sun started to hit it. I was literally running out of the van with my hiking boots barely tied yet saying how I couldn’t miss the light again and the chance of it blowing up. Neither could everyone else - there was so many people but only the risky ones will run behind the waterfall and get completely drenched to see it. I was the wild one.. I left with my parka and jeans completely soaked to the point it was impossible to get off. But I also left with no words, tears in my eyes, the satisfaction of crossing a moment off my bucketlist and the type of happiness you want to scream to the world about.
Iceland really stole my heart and soul in that one moment alone.
So if I can recommend anything to you it’s this:
Run behind waterfalls and get completely soaked don’t worry about how you’ll dry off later, you’ll be laughing with your friends and sharing the story for hours after
Always make sure you get to cross those “moments” off your bucketlist even if it involves a lot of work getting there
And just forget everything for a second and let yourself really feel your soul there. That feeling and moment is only once.
I just want you to feel that feeling I had felt, wherever it is or will be. And for me it was at Seljalandsfoss.
The whole rest of the night I was left speechless and on the verge of crying.. That happy cry though like “Wow I’m really here and I’m really doing this”. Luckily we didn’t have to think much about what to do for camp as we camped at the same spot we did our first night. We cooked up some grilled cheese and tomato soup at midnight because that’s when the kitchen cleared out of all the other campers. The world felt like ours that night as we sat there talking about if we were imagining that beautiful pink waterfall or if it really happened. Also because the sun set was still happening at that time, it just felt like a dream. Iceland just has this way of really making you feel like the world is yours, wherever you are in the country. And until you get out there I promise you won’t ever know what I’m taking about.
After a hard time of falling asleep from feeling so giddy I felt like I had shut my eyes and opened them a second later as our alarm went off. This time for 8AM knowing we needed to hit the other waterfall near Sljevadafoss since we didn’t on our first time either
Gljufrabui: I had always seen photos of this place and it wasn’t until I started digging deep on Google and Pinterest that I found the name of it. When I did I was so excited and when I realized it was right next to the other waterfall I was even that more stoked. A lot of people probably walk by it not knowing how big and powerful it is until you climb through a small cave and get face to face with it and hit with a smack of mist. It’s only a small journey but honestly such a fun one.. Meandering your way through the small opening of the cave, playing hot lava to the river flowing and only stepping on small rocks. Once you do get all the way in you start to see a line form though for photos.. All the brave ones who risked their clothes for that one shot of them standing underneath the waterfall. It was just such a fun little journey and only took a total of 30 or 45 minutes.. And to think we almost didn’t do it. So if you go to Sljevadafoss MAKE SURE TO DO THIS ONE!
That’s how we started our day and then ended up cooking up some breakfast of eggs and bacon. Realizing that it was our last full day in Iceland before we fly out the next morning at 5AM.. We tried to figure out what to do wondering if we should go back to some of our favorite spots we saw at the beginning or just keep afloat with the wind of things like we had the whole time. So again we let the road take us where it wanted. Not knowing the names of places, driving up random roads, pin pointing a place on the map and just going. The last day was everything we had done the whole trip basically.
And that’s what I realized a lot about roadtripping through Iceland. You can plan and plan for what you think is everything but no amount of plans will come close to those moments that happen spontaneously. The best memories I probably have from my trip are all of the ones I didn’t know would happen or the places I hadn’t heard of before arriving there. Iceland just has a way of putting you at a place you need to be that you never even knew you needed to be at before. I felt my soul and heart at places I had never physically been, a lot of places feeling like my soul was born there. Somewhere along the vast dreamland of Iceland. I lost myself in a dream and then at the end of my trip found out where I needed to be.. Which was everywhere scattered throughout the beautiful country.
I cried honestly the whole night up until falling asleep knowing my plane was boarding in 5 hours and I had to somehow say goodbye to a place that changed me and my life forever. But there’s no proper way of doing so like I said before.. So instead when I dropped my van back off at Lagoon Car Rental I said “See you later” because it’s really not a goodbye.
Thank you for being Lost in a Dream with me
With lots of love as always,
Some things you might want to know before your trip:
Currency: Icelandic Krona
Exchange rate - ISK to USD:
1 ISK = 0.0081 USD
SHOP TAX FREE!
All non - Iceland residents are tax free eligible. The minimum amount on one single purchase receipt must be ISK 6.000. The original purchase receipts must be attached to the tax free form.
6.000 ISK equals only out to $48 USD so definitely remember this when doing gift shopping!
Gas prices as of May 2019 are
240 ISK per liter - $7.25 USD per gallon
So yes very pricey and gas stations are pretty limited so make sure to fill up whenever you do see one and you’re below half a tank! This is what we did on our trip and never ran into a problem - plus it’s nice to switch off and on paying this way.
Lagoon Car Rental does provide you with gas discount cards though at two separate stations so that’s super helpful too!
English is the most common language in Iceland!
Glacier water is GOOD to drink - We didn’t even filter it out and it was the most clear water I’ve ever seen. Just make sure to bring a few reusable water bottles!
Bonus and Kronan are the best budget friendly grocery stores in Iceland! You can find them in the larger towns so make sure to pick up anything you need or think you will when you come in contact with one.
That leads me to my next thing about Iceland:
Hours for stores / cafes are usually 11AM - 4PM.
Meaning make the middle of your day a priority for any errands you need to get done such as grocery shopping.
Another point as well, if you ever have to go the bathroom make sure you do when you’re at an open place. There is little to NO public bathrooms and since everything closes so early sometimes you’re completely out of luck
There’s a couple toll roads in Iceland that have huge signs before them but are kind of confusing.. here’s what to know:
Usually nobody is at a toll booth since it’s all done online
Here’s the website to pay at -
If you don’t pay the fee within 3 hours it comes back to your rental car company and as an even bigger fee! We sadly had this happen to us because we weren’t super sure on what to do l, just because we didn’t ask. Lagoon Car Rental gave us a whole paper with helpful websites and we didn’t even think to look at them when crossing the toll so again here’s the link to pay those -
Iceland is without a doubt the most beautiful country I’ve gotten to explore! I was there a total of 12 days in the van and I think that’s the most I’d want to spend there. A good amount is between 7 or 10 days - you can definitely see the whole country within this period of time.
For a trip to Iceland and for this period of time I’d recommend budgeting honestly $1500 - $2000 USD. This is if you’re traveling with someone and once you’re in the country (not including money for flights). Gas is obviously really expensive, campsites are as well sort of pricey so this where most of your money will go. But again that is what I would recommend saving for gas, groceries and campsites (on a budget)
The places you’ll see here are priceless though and money couldn’t buy the feelings and memories I left with.
So if you’re even thinking about it JUST GO! I’m so happy I did.
Again I just want to give a huge shoutout to Lagoon Car Rental for being so amazing on my first trip to Iceland! It wouldn’t have been so easy and perfect without all of their help.. From the shuttle ride from first landing, making sure the car was safe for me to drive for 12 days, giving me helpful websites and maps for during my trip, providing me with all the necessary equipment to live with, being only an email or call away the whole time to taking me back to the airport when I didn’t want to leave.
They were absolutely amazing and I would recommend them to anybody looking for any trip around Iceland - living out of a van or not you’re safe in their hands!
Also make sure to give this a like below by pressing on that heart! <3
And comment if you’d like to maybe see a Photo Diary of Iceland - From more places not listed here and all the randoms from 12 days on the road
(Including my disposable film)