The time has come: We are going to Iceland.
After 8 hours of layover in Barcelona, around 7:05 p.m. (10 minutes late) we left for Keflavik airport where we landed a little over 4 hours later, at 9:30 p.m. Icelandic time (2 less than in Spain).
For that night we had hired the KEF Guesthouse by Keflavik airport to spend the night, which was close to the airport to pick up the car the next day. A modest guest house with a shared bathroom that cost us 17,940 ISK (€129.35), with breakfast included.
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To get there we took the 55 bus, which was the public company that goes from the airport to Reykjavik on a route. The bus cost us 490 ISK (€3.53) to our stop Njarðvíkurtorg.
It was a great experience as the driver was horny. He was laughing out loud the whole time. He seems to be very happy in his work. In addition, he explained very well what you needed about the route or where to get off.
Around 11:30 p.m. we arrived at the accommodation and went directly to rest.
Since they didn’t give us the car until 12.00, we decided not to get up too early and go for a walk around the city. There was nothing remarkable except Viking World, the museum of Viking history and Stekkjarkot, the Reykjanes museum, which is located in the town of Njarðvík.
Stekkjarjot is an example of the roughly built turf, stone and timber cottage-type houses once common on the Reykjanes Peninsula and other coastal areas of Iceland.
It was inaugurated in 1993 after the restoration of the 19th century cabin. The cabin can be visited only by appointment and is free.
Viking World opened its doors in May 2009 although it was officially inaugurated on June 17 of that year in a modern building designed by Guðmundur Jónsson.
The museum tells in detail the history of the Icelandic Vikings and their most striking element: the Gokstad Viking ship that in 2000 sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to L’Anse aux Meadows, Canada, for the celebrations of the millennium of Leif Ericsson’s voyage and then to New York.
After the visit we retraced our steps, bought some food at a Bonus supermarket and went to the accommodation to wait for them to pick us up to go get the car.
We chose Icelandcar to rent the car, the “cheapest” site we found. It was a Peugeot 2008 and it cost us a total of 257,701 ISK (€1,855) for 10 days, including premium insurance that covered everything except the wind blowing off the car door and portable wifi.
Already with the car we went directly to the first site that he chose: Brúin milli heimsálfa, the bridge between two continents.
The Reykjanes Peninsula lies on one of the world’s major plate boundaries, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Here lies the divide between the North American and Eurasian plates.
As the plates diverge, linear fractures, known as fissures, form due to stress that builds up as the plates move away from each other.
The Bridge of Leif the Fortunate is a small bridge built as a symbol of the connection between Europe and North America. If you cross it, you will be crossing from one continent to another.
Here something curious happened. A family forgot to put the handbrake on the van when parking and it plunged out of the compound. We had to get it out of the scree between 5 people pushing on the stones where it was.
The van was beautiful…
From here we went to the next point: the Gunnuhver geothermal area.
There is an ancient legend about this place that says:
In the 18th century, an old woman named Gudrun (Gunna for short) was suspected of practicing witchcraft. Shortly before her death, she was visited by a judge who ended up arguing with her. That same judge attended Gunn’s funeral and was found dead the next morning, his body bruised and mutilated. He blamed this on the old woman.
Her spirit had been wandering, terrorizing the peasants and wreaking havoc on the Reykjanes Peninsula. It wasn’t until the locals gorged a priest with liquor that they found a solution to trap Gudrun. Following the priest’s advice, they left a loose end of a ball of string for the ghost to grasp. She did, and the ball rolled into the hot springs, taking the witch’s ghost with it and trapping her there forever.
Some say that Gudrun’s ghost did not fall into the boiling pit, but will cling to the edge for all eternity. The steam is constant and thick enough to hide any ghostly figure inside or outside of Gunnuhver.
The hot spring takes its name from the old woman (Gunnuhver translates to “Gunn’s Hot Spring”) and is the largest geothermal field in Iceland. It measures about 20 meters and constantly expels dense and cloudy steam at a temperature of almost 300ºC.
The enclosure has several car parks. We parked in the west parking lot. As soon as you go down, the smell of rotten eggs from the sulfurous waters can be noticed in the room. The path is well marked and with some wooden walkways that bring us closer to the wells from which the steam comes out (and an impressive stench).
Next to the geothermal area is Reykjanesviti, the 31 m high Reykjanes lighthouse. The original lighthouse was built in 1878 but an earthquake destroyed it just 8 years later. The current one was inaugurated in 1929.
We return to the road to go to the nearby city of Grindavík to find something to eat. We did it at Papa’s Restaurant, a restaurant with a lot of variety such as pizzas and hamburgers. The food was really good and not expensive (for Iceland). The account came out to us 5380 ISK (€38.79).
When we finished eating, the weather was still shitty (a lot of rain, cold and wind) so we decided to go to what was going to be our accommodation for the next 3 days. A tourist rental house where a retired lady lived in Kópavogur, in the metropolitan area of the capital Reykjiavik.
The accommodation was relatively “cheap” and cost us 14,310 ISK (€103).
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We left the bags at the accommodation and ran out because we had a time for 8 pm in Bláa lónið, the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa whose waters are rich in minerals such as silica and sulfur. The lagoon is fed by the production of water from the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant.
Superheated water rises from the ground near the lava flow to drive turbines that generate electricity. After passing through the turbines, the steam and hot water pass through a heat exchanger to provide heat for the municipal hot water system. The waste is what feeds the lagoon.
The water temperature oscillates between 37 and 39ºc and it is said that it helps people who suffer from skin diseases such as psoriasis.
Unfortunately the weather was really shit: rain, cold and an icy wind that turned around. It was impossible to take proper photos of the Lagoon, but if we were able to take some video passed through the water… But in the water it was wonderful.
They also give you a bracelet with which you open and close the ticket office and what you consume in the bars is recorded. Admission includes a drink.
At the exit they give you a towel and one for your hair if you wear it long.
If you have long hair you have to apply a good amount of conditioner that you will find in the locker room showers. The water leaves your hair like that of the Jackson Five. It is also not recommended to wear glasses or contact lenses as silicon lenses can damage them. And, in addition, it irritates the eyes. Anyone would say that bathing is good for health…
The lagoon is gigantic. It has a bar inside and a small kiosk where they give you white mud to spread on your face. There is also a black mud but you have to pay for that.
Once you enter you can be as long as you want. We entered at 8:00 p.m. and left when they closed at 11:00 p.m. (wrinkled like raisins).
The price of the entrance varies according to the season and the hour. It cost us 11,990 ISK (€86.44) per person. There is also a premium ticket for 14,490 ISK (€104.47) and another called Retreat Spa that costs 79,000 ISK (€569.56).
At the exit, very relaxed and being so late, we ate some sandwiches with food that we had bought in a Bonus. And then to sleep because we had to get up early.
We got up early, a shower and we set off towards Þingvellir (Thingvellir), in the Golden Circle. By the way, the water in the Reykjavik area stinks of rotten eggs. It stinks a lot. It is quite unpleasant to take a shower, let alone brush your teeth…
The Golden Circle is a circular tourist route of about 300 km that starts and ends in Reykjavik.
Time continues without accompanying. It continues to rain and along the way we find a lot of fog that prevents us from contemplating the landscape. With a few kilometers to go, the fog begins to dissipate and the rain stops.
Þingvellir is a national park established in 1930 and is located 40 km from Reykjavik. It is one of the most important places in the history of Iceland.
The Alþingi (Althingi), the oldest parliament in the world, was founded here in the year 930. This met annually when the lögsögumaður (man of laws) recited the laws, settled disputes, and punished criminals. There is no construction left but Lögberg (king rock) remains as a witness.
We arrived at the huge parking lot and left the car and headed for the visitor center. There you have to pay 750 ISK (€5.40) for parking.
In the center there is an interactive exhibition about the park that costs 1,000 ISK (€7.20).
We passed the gift shop/cafe. There I saw something that caught my attention. It was like a bug net for the face. You have to be a geek.
On the other side of the visitor center we reach the viewpoint. From there there are spectacular views of the entire area.
Next we go down inside the Almannagjá fissure, which until 2011 was a gravel path. In March of that year a hole appeared in the middle of the road. After investigating it, the fault was discovered, 10 meters deep and 15 meters long.
We go down the fault and cross to the other bank of the Óxará river. There we find Þingvallakirkja, a small Lutheran church. The first church was built in 1017, being the oldest in Iceland, but the current one dates from 1859.
Next to it is Þingvallabær, a small farmhouse built in 1930 to commemorate Alþingi’s 1000th anniversary. Today it is used as the park warden’s office and the prime minister’s summer home.
From here we headed north towards Öxarárfoss. Do you remember the hairnet we saw for sale in the visitor center?… BUY IT! The road was fucking hell.
For more than a kilometer there is a real cloud of tiny flies that get into your eyes, nose, ears, mouth… it was a real hell. Throughout the trip they would cross our path again.
Öxarárfoss is a small waterfall about 14 meters high. Of course, it does not impress due to its size, but the setting in which it is located is really beautiful.
The Icelandic writer Björn Th. Björnsson wrote:
“Although Öxarárfoss is not large in size, it is peculiarly beautiful and has a lot to do with it. It falls from a smooth edge and is reasonably wide to give it particularly graceful proportions. The boulders are below, but not covering, creating a lot of spray. But this is how the sun behaves here, in the last part of the day it stands obliquely along the gap and shines on the waterfall, so rare to see. The surroundings created by the crack hammers do not in the least enhance the beauty, whether the waterfall is in light mode in summer or in icy bands in winter.”
After contemplating the waterfall for a long time, we walked back to the visitor center, from which we were separated by about 2 km. The truth is that the environment is truly spectacular.
We took the opportunity to have a coffee and a soft drink. It is curious to see that, in Iceland, coffee is more expensive than soft drinks. The coffee cost us 500 ISK (€3.57) and the 500cl soft drink 350 ISK (€2.50).
Back in the car we get back on the road. About 10 km away we find Hrafnagjá útsýnispallur, a viewpoint to contemplate the Hrafnagjá canyon.
After the short stop we continue to our next destination: Kerið.
Kerið is a crater with a small lake inside. It formed about 6,500 years ago at the northern end of a row of craters known as Tjarnarhólar. It is oval in shape with 270 m long, 170 m wide and 55 m deep.
Its interior lake varies between 7 and 14 meters deep. According to an old tradition, a rise in the water level here is accompanied by a corresponding drop in the Búrfell pond in Grímsnes (75km away) and vice versa.
The entrance to the crater costs 400 ISK (€2.85). By the way; bathing in the lake is prohibited.
It was getting close to lunch time so we decided to go to the city of Selfoss, only 15 km away, in search of somewhere “cheap”. We ended up eating at a KFC: fast and inexpensive.
From here we went for a bit of hiking. We are going to tour the surroundings of the lava field of the Geldingadalir Volcano, on Mount Fagradalsfjall, the last one that erupted in July 2021.
The same mountain that erupted at the beginning of August, just a week after we returned to Spain. live to see
After 50 km we arrive at the deserted parking lot. I try to get out of the car, but it was so windy that I could barely open the door to get out. Between the wind, the rain and the cold, the route was going to be impossible.
We decided to look for an alternative plan and leave this activity for another day, if we had time.
Since we didn’t really know what to do, we decided to take a walk to Akranes, a port city north of Reykjavik. The truth is that there is practically nothing to see, except the spectacular landscape and some seabirds.
We parked next to the Visitor Center and went to the Akranesviti, the new lighthouse, built between 1943 and 1944. It came into operation in 1947 and from 2012 it was opened to the public. It was already closed when we arrived.
A little further on we find Gamli Akranesvitinn, the old lighthouse. Built in 1917 and operated until 1947.
For dinner we stopped on the way to Reykjavik in an open field. There we made some sandwiches with accoutrements bought in a Bonus and we ate them admiring the spectacular views.
After the copious dinner… To sleep.
We return to the Golden Circle. First Stop: Brúarárfoss, a small but beautiful waterfall on the Brúarà river. It is neither the largest nor the mightiest in Iceland, but its turquoise waters are truly hypnotic.
We cover the 90 km that separate our accommodation from the small car park where the route begins. From here you have to do a short trek of about 3 km following the Brúarà river to reach the waterfall.
It is a relatively smooth path, although the day we were there it was extremely muddy and it was somewhat difficult to walk. In some sections it was literally impossible to walk and you had to go a little off the road.
Brúarárfoss is not the only waterfall on the way. We are going to find two more. The first is Hlauptungufoss, approximately 1.5 km from the car park.
Here we can already appreciate the incredible turquoise color of the water from the melting of the glaciers.
A little further on we come across the second: Miðfoss. As its name indicates, it is the one in the middle…
And now yes. At about 800 meters we find the spectacular Brúarárfoss. Judge for yourself. Although I have to say that the photos do not do justice to the color of the water.
The truth is that it is well worth the walk and having gotten into the mud up to our ankles.
We return to the car and go to the next point: the Geysir geothermal area, in the Haukadalur valley.
This area is dotted with several fumaroles, hot springs, and mud pits. The main geyser is Geysir, although it is currently inactive.
Really the main attraction is the Strokkur geyser that bursts every 5 minutes or so. The height usually varies but can be up to 40 meters.
We park at the visitor center and head towards the enclosure. As soon as we arrive we see a lot of people milling around some fumaroles as if waiting for something… this will be Strokkur.
Enjoy a beautiful tour of the Golden Circle with Civitatis:
While we are waiting, a worker from the center arrives and tells us that nothing is going to burst there. He doesn’t know what all those people are doing there. Strokkur is located higher up.
Well, we went directly to the geyser. The first explosion was pretty shitty. Just a couple of meters. The next one was quite fat. But the third was spectacular, and it even splashed people.
We can go up to the viewpoint at the top to admire the area from above.
From here we went straight to the next stop. Another of the stars of the Golden Circle: the Gullfoss waterfall (Golden Waterfall in Icelandic).
It is the most famous waterfall in Iceland. Nestled in the Hvitá river canyon, it has two waterfalls, one 11 meters and the other 21. In total there are 32 meters of fall and a flow of between 80 and 140 cubic meters of water per second.
Advice: take a raincoat with you because if you go near the waterfall you will end up soaked.
Next to the stairs that go up to the visitor center we find a small monument dedicated to Sigríður Tómasdóttir. She was an Icelandic environmentalist whose activism helped preserve the Gullfoss waterfalls, protecting them from industrialization. She is considered Iceland’s first ecologist.
As lunchtime was getting closer, we went up to the visitor center that had a restaurant. It was full, no, the next thing, so we decided to go back to Geysir, which had several restaurants.
There were less people here so we decided to stay.
We ate at the Geysir Glíma restaurant. The food was great and at a fairly average price for a tourist place.
A plate of meatballs and a lamb knuckle for 4,970 ISK (€34.20).
A coffee and on to the next destination: the Háifoss waterfall, 87km away.
Leaving paved highway 32, we enter the first relatively long gravel road. We were a bit scared by the holes it had, but it served as an experience for future roads.
Háifoss was theoretically the highest waterfall in Iceland. The Fossá River pours its waters here at no less than 122 meters high. Recent measurements indicate that Hengifoss is the highest waterfall on the island at 128 metres.
Next to Háifoss is another large waterfall called Granni. The whole set forms an authentic spectacle of nature.
Everything was so impressive that we were there for a long time enjoying the tremendous spectacle that Iceland offered us.
Back in the car, as it was early, we decided to deviate from our route and went to visit the Faxi waterfall.
Faxi is a waterfall on the Tungufljót river. It is 7 meters high and 80 meters wide and has been described as the smaller sister of Gulfoss.
To access Faxi you have to pay 700 ISK (€5). If you eat in the restaurant and spend at least 2,000 ISK, they discount the 700 of the entrance fee.
It was already a good time for dinner. We decided to stop again in Selfoss on the way to Reykjavik. We didn’t complicate our lives and ate at KFC. Quick and relatively cheap.
After dinner we decided to take a walk through the town of Selfoss. It is a small town in the south of Iceland, on the banks of the Ölfusá river.
Its history goes back more than 1,000 years ago, it was colonized by Thorir Ásason. Although the Icelandic Sagas mention that Ingólfur Arnarson was here during the winter of 873 on the mountain Ingólfsfjall.
The current city was formed in 1891 as a result of the construction of the first suspension bridge over the river. This construction was ordered by Tryggvi Gunnarsson, a member of the Alþingi.
It was a nice and short walk through its old town, full of charming colored houses.
Even with a temperature of 7ºC, we saw several people with some very appetizing ice creams, so I craved one.
They were from a place called Ísbúðin Fákafeni. We enter and prepare to make our queue. On the wall they have a large poster with the letter… in Icelandic. We don’t understand shit.
So we point to what the rest of the people are ordering and we point to more for the topping. It went right. They were very good and cost us 610 ISK (€4.36) each.
We eat it relaxed and we go back to Reykjavik to sleep.