Getting the most out of our Iceland road trip

Iceland is a land of magic and lore. It’s a country where elves are consulted before breaking new ground and trolls are frozen in time. When describing it, Iceland sounds like a fictional land from a Tolkien novel. It’s an island of black sand, blue lagoons, and endemic bite-sized horses with flowing manes and five gaits. And for those lucky guests, Iceland’s skies might even dazzle you with an enchanting and otherworldly light show from the Aurora Borealis.

Chris and I knew very little about the country before we boarded our Iceland-bound flight out of Seattle. I had seen stunning photos of The Blue Lagoon before, but went into our trip with little expectations. A friend recommended that The Blue Lagoon be our first stop as it is a great way to combat jet lag. We were more than happy to take their advice.

First stop, The Blue Lagoon.

As soon as we landed, we loaded up our rental car and headed towards The Blue Lagoon. Of all the offered packages, we decided on the premium package which includes entrance to the lagoon, towels, slippers, a bath robe, an algae mask, a silica mask, and a beverage of our choice. After a long international flight, a relaxing soak in the lagoon is just what we needed. I’m horrible when it comes to jet lag and probably would have fallen asleep as soon as we touched down. Our stop at The Blue Lagoon prevented me from falling into that same trap. After three hours in the lagoon, we felt relaxed and rejuvenated and it was time to head into Reykjavik.

Combating jet lag (and dry skin) at the Blue Lagoon

Pro Tip: The Blue Lagoon is arguably Iceland’s most popular spot. To ensure entrance, be sure to book your Blue Lagoon tickets in advance!

Reykjavik was our jumping off point for our road trip through Iceland. We allotted ourselves one night in the Reykjavik Marina Icelandair Hotel to fully recuperate and prepare for the road ahead. We awoke the next morning, enjoyed an amazing breakfast (why are hotel breakfasts so much better abroad?), and then hit the open road.

Captain and I are huge fans of road trips and Iceland did not disappoint. It took us much longer to get anywhere because we were constantly stopping to take photos of the breathtaking scenery that surrounded us. Between the multiple stops to pet Icelandic horses (with that old school Bieber hair) and snap the other worldly landscape, it’s a wonder we made it anywhere at all.

Those gorgeous manes though. You do you, horses.

We had less than a week to explore Iceland and decided that driving from Reykjavik to Egilsstaðir would yield the most sights for our time. We wanted to hit Skógafoss waterfall, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Vik’s black sand beaches (and trolls), and the Sólheimasandur plane crash site. Honestly, it was the perfect amount of time to travel up to Egilsstaðir and back. We even had an extra day to spend in Reykjavik when all was said and done.

Iceland road trip highlights

One of the highlights from our trip was finding the elusive Gljúfrabúi waterfall. Following a tip from Tiny Iceland, we managed to shuffle behind large boulders and traverse a small creek to reveal the hidden waterfall. As you wouldn’t know of its existence unless you were tipped off, we found ourselves with Gljúfrabúi all to ourselves. There’s something magical about being the only one to enjoy a place as stunning as Gljúfrabúi. Had it been warmer, it would have been the perfect place to enjoy a little picnic.

Truly relishing having Gljúfrabúi waterfall all to ourselves

My favorite stop on our trip was at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Giant blocks of ice melt away from Vatnajökull glacier and slowly make way for the lagoon. Eventually, the large pieces of ice melt and end up drifting out to sea. It was pretty incredible to walk along a black sand beach dotted with huge chunks of cerulean blue ice.

Chunks of melted glacier escaping to the ocean.

While I was smitten with the glacier lagoon, Chris was enamored with the Sólheimasandur plane crash site. On November 24, 1973, a U.S. Navy Douglas Super DC-3 was forced into an emergency landing on the black sand beach of Sólheimasandur. Fortunately, everyone onboard survived the crash but the plane itself was left abandoned.

Finding the crash site was an adventure of its own. We were only given GPS coordinates (63.459523,-19.364618, for those intrigued) to the site and were told that it would be located a short drive from Skógafoss waterfall. Shoddy directions coupled with a snow storm left us blindly driving around on the black sand for over an hour. Eventually, we haphazardly stumbled upon the plane’s remains. Even though it was a tense sixty minutes, it was well worth it to finally see the plane in person.

Studying the remains of the Douglas Super DC-3

If there’s one regret that I have from our road trip in Iceland it’s that we never saw The Northern Lights. Not really, at least. Despite our best attempts, time and time again the Northern Lights eluded us. One night in Höfn, we stayed up until 3AM attempting to catch sight of the lights. Our cameras caught a few photos of green lights snaking through the sky but we couldn’t see anything with our bare eyes. We even booked a boat tour in Reykjavik to hopefully spot the lights, but once again, nada. We’re just taking it as a sign that we need to return to Iceland. Who wouldn’t want to take a Northern Lights holiday in Iceland?

Taking to the seas in the hopes of catching The Northern Lights

It could easily take a lifetime to fully discover all that Iceland has to offer. We can’t wait to return to explore more of this beautiful country. What did we miss? What should we see next time? Please let us know in the comment section below.

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13 Comments

  1. Erin
    January 6, 2017 at 9:52 am - Reply

    I wish every country had a conveniently located Blue Lagoon to help combat jet lag! On your next trip, you’ve got to try out some of the more off the beaten path hot springs. There are many that you’ll just get GPS coordinates and shoddy directions for, just like to see the plane crash, but again totally worth it!

  2. Susan
    January 14, 2017 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    When did you take this trip? December 2016? I’m just curious about the Northern Lights…

    • Captain & Clark
      January 31, 2017 at 3:32 pm - Reply

      Hey Susan, we were there in late Feb to early March actually.

  3. Katie - Round The World Magazine
    February 6, 2017 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    So glad we found this, we’re heading out to Iceland for New Year this year and want to hire a car to see the whole country, do you know if it is possible in winter to do the ring road? We’d love to see everything. Sorry to hear you didn’t see the lights!

  4. sonirana
    February 13, 2017 at 1:27 am - Reply

    Wow, Your photo collection are fantastic. After read this blog i planned my next trip for iceland with my friends.

  5. Daníel Stefánsson
    February 16, 2017 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Hi Captain and Clark! Thank you so much for posting this blog about Iceland. Bloggers like you are always awesome to show the world how beautiful our country is! I am happy that you enjoyed the most of your trip and I hope you can come back here soon! When you come back, please also checkout Iceland’s waterfalls and Glaciers: https://iceland4less.is/top-5-beautiful-waterfalls-of-iceland-glaciers-in-iceland/. I am looking forward for your next posts!

  6. Cez of eTramping
    February 23, 2017 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    What a trip! You got to see so many great things (including those horses, so beautiful!).

  7. Lady | Lady and her Sweet Escapes
    March 5, 2017 at 10:42 pm - Reply

    Amazing. This is one of my bucket list. Crossing my fingers to visit this someday!

  8. Therie
    March 22, 2017 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    Iceland is moving higher on my travel wish list! The country looks magical!

  9. anna jennai
    April 4, 2017 at 3:29 am - Reply

     I am just 18 years old, I want to travel and explore all the unknown places. Your blog inspires me to do a lot of things. Thank you.

  10. Lombok Wander
    May 29, 2017 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    I think Iceland only ice. But very beautiful !

  11. Mat
    June 6, 2017 at 11:50 am - Reply

    I’ve heard recently that the owner of the crash site closed it to cars. Now you have to walk one hour to get there.
    Mat recently posted…Les meilleurs objectifs Canon EF-S à posséderMy Profile

  12. Nadia
    July 3, 2017 at 4:12 am - Reply

    Iceland has to be one of the best places on Earth! The scenery, the gorgeous horses with little stumpy legs, the blue lagoon – just incredible!
    Nadia recently posted…Five places to get down & do some work in HONG KONGMy Profile

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