Blue Lagoon

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Day 10: Hnapavellir to Grindavík

The Blue Lagoon is one of the most popular attractions in Iceland. In was formed in 1976 when the runoff from the nearby geothermal plant created a pool in the lava field. This was due to the silica in the water which is what also gives the water its milky blue colour. People started to bathe in the warm waters and found the minerals to be beneficial for the skin. 

It has now developed into a large spa and has seen a significant increase of tourists in recent years. For a better experience of the Blue Lagoon, we decided to stay at the Silica Hotel. It is only a ten-minute walk away and has its own private lagoon that is fed with the same water as the Blue Lagoon. 

EAT

Lava Restaurant

STAY

Silica Hotel

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Day 11: Blue Lagoon to Keflavík

A stay at Silica Hotel includes premium admission to the Blue Lagoon and you can choose to go at anytime during your stay. Most people need to reserve a time slot days in advance. 

The Blue Lagoon opens at 08:00 during high season so we went right when it opened to avoid the crowds. We collected our cold beverages at an in-water bar on one side and slathered on white mud masks at the other. The white mask is composed of the silica in the water and is supposed to cleanse the skin. There are also saunas and steam rooms to relax in. We were there for less than two hours but felt we could have stayed a bit longer. Unfortunately it was our last day so we had to leave for the twenty-minute drive to the airport.

At the end of the trip, we both felt eleven days was the right amount of time spent driving around the country. It was an incredible road trip and the Blue Lagoon was the perfect way to end it. 

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South Iceland

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Day 9: Fáskrúðsfjörður to Hnapavellir

The south of Iceland is quite popular due to its proximity to Reykjavík. There are also several sights all within a short distance: 

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Skaftafell National Park
Reynishverfi Beach
Sólheimasandur Plane Crash
Skógafoss
Seljalandsfoss

One of our favourites was the glacier lagoon because of the massive icebergs that wash up on the black sand beach. It is possible to walk right up next to one but you have to watch out for waves rushing in that sweep you away! The Reynishverfi beach is also quite impressive. There are huge basalt columns coming out of the ground on one side of the beach and the famous Dyrhólaey Arch is on the other end. 

Most of the sites are easily reached from the ring road. However, the Sólheimasandur plane crash site is another story. In 1973 a United States Navy plane crashed on Sólheimasandur's black sand beach. Luckily everyone survived and the plane was just left on the isolated beach. It used to be possible to drive to the plane crash but very recently the owners of the land have closed the path for vehicles. We thought it couldn't possibly be that long of a walk but we were wrong. It is a very cool sight (after all how many plane crash remnants exist in the world?) but you have to be committed to a forty-five minute walk through a barren desert of black sand to get there. And don't forget, you have to walk back. 

Eat & Stay

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon

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East Iceland

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Day 8: Mývatn to Fáskrúðsfjörður

After being rewarded with good weather and a clear night in Mývatn, the next day turned out to be somewhat miserable. However, Iceland still has some amazing sights in the rain. We noticed how the water pooled on top of the mountains and started to overflow. This created hundreds of small waterfalls in the fjords.

The stretch between Myvatn and the Eastfjords is very quiet and barren. There really wasn't another town until Egilsstaðir so that's where we filled up on gas and replenished our supplies. From there, we went off the ring road to reach some of the small fishing villages. We ended up at Fáskrúðsfjörður for the night, a village with a strong French history. Our hotel is a restored former hospital for French fisherman between 1903 and 1935. 

Eat & Stay

Fosshotel Eastfjords

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North Iceland

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Day 6: Heydalur to Laugarbakki

After our detour to the Westfjords, we returned to the ring road in the north of Iceland. We spent the night in Laugarbakki as it is conveniently located between the Westfjords and Myvatn. Hvammstangi, located on the Vatnsnes peninsula, is the largest town in the area with a population of 580 and is another good place to spend a night. We decided to drive to the end of the peninsula to a remote restaurant to have dinner. We highly recommend the seafood soup and skyr cheesecake. 

Eat

Geitafell

Stay

Hotel Laugarbakki

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Day 7: Laugarbakki to Mývatn

The north of Iceland is very different from the rest of the country given its unique landscapes and Mývatn is a great base to explore it all. Some of the popular attractions are:

Godafoss Waterfall
Lake Mývatn
Mývatn Nature Baths
Viti Crater
Krafla Power Station
Hverfjall Cone

One of the most exciting things about the north for us was the weather had started to improve which meant we had an opportunity to see the northern lights. It had been raining the last few days but the skies were supposed to be clear on our night in Mývatn. As soon as the skies were dark, we drove a few kilometres from the hotel in order to escape any light pollution and saw the northern lights dancing above us. 

Eat & Stay

Fosshotel Mývatn

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West Iceland

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Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Day 3: Þingvellir to Arnarstapi

The Snæfellsnes peninsula is often referred to as 'Iceland in miniature'. Starting our trip here gave us an idea of what we were going to encounter on the rest of the island: lava fields, black sand beaches, waterfalls, valcanoes and glaciers. 

Specific sights on the peninsula include: 

Eldborg crater
Gerðuberg basalt columns
Kirkjufell mountain
Snæfellsjökull National Park
Djúpalónssandur & Dritvik black sand beaches
Arnarstapi & Hellnar fishing villages

Eat

Hotel Budir

Stay

Arnarstapi Cottages

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Westfjords

Day 4: Arnarstapi to Patreksfjörður

The Westfjords is one of the most remote locations in an already remote country. There are two ways to get to the Westfjords from the Snæfellsnes peninsula; ferry or drive. The ferry only crosses once daily outside of the summer months and the timing did not work for us. We also thought we would see more of the landscape by driving. The drive turned out to be one of the most exhilarating that we have ever been on. The roads are steep and winding, not to mention you are driving on gravel a lot of the time. As we drove up and down the coastline of each fjord, we couldn't help pulling over frequently to take in the amazing views. 

Eat & STAY

Fosshotel Westfjords

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Day 5: Patreksfjörður to Heydalur

To do a full circle of the Westfjords, you have to take mountain roads between Þingeyri and Flókalundur on Route 60, which are closed most of winter. Thankfully the snow hadn't arrived yet and we were able to continue up north past Ísafjörður, the largest town in the Westfjords.

Eat & Stay

There are not many places to stay past Ísafjörður but we wanted to keep driving. After some research, we found Country Hotel Heydalur, a guesthouse on a farm. You have to get off the main road, Route 61, and take a gravel road until you reach the end of the fjord. 

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