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Day 1: Arrival:
Highlights: Reykjavik Hallgrimskirkja Laugardalur
Approximate distance: ca 100 km / 62 miles
Once you have landed at Keflavik Airport in Iceland, please pick up your luggage and head through customs. Collect your rental car at the airport, make sure you receive a tablet with a protective case and chargers, and proceed to your hotel in Reykjavik.
Arriving in Iceland is a wonderfully different experience, as the rugged nature of the land makes you feel like you’ve landed on a totally different planet, many visitors even go afar to say that they feel like they’ve landed on the moon. The feeling is not strange as you will on the 45 minutes’ drive from the airport to Reykjavík, drive through a large field of lava on which a big part of the cities suburbs is built.
Even though Reykjavík is on any scale a very small city, it offers a variety of things to explore. We recommend starting with a refreshing stop at Perlan, ‘the Pearl’, which offers a modern café and restaurant with a unique 360°view over the entire city as well as a very nice natural museum worth exploring. From there you can work your way to Hallgrimskirkja church, where you can go on foot exploring the city center. From there a nice shopping street takes you down towards the old harbor which has now been rebuilt as a cultural center with museums, art galleries, restaurants, and cafés.
We recommend ending your day by dipping into one of Reykjavik’s many swimming pools, which gives you a unique insight into the life of the locals as the pools are a social meeting point where the locals discuss politics, the news and whatever comes to mind. The largest pool can be found in Laugardalur, a geothermal area located in the middle of the city of which the city is named after. The first Viking settler named the city Reykjavik, or ‘Smokey Bay’ as it would be directly translated, due to the steam spouting from this area. Relaxing in the natural hot waters there is a perfect ending of this first day in Iceland.
Overnight in Reykjavík.
Day 2: Reykjavik to Holmavik:
Highlights: Borgarnes Grabrok Hólmavík Sorcery and Witchcraft Museum
Approximate distance: ca 235 km / 146 miles
Start the day with breakfast at your hotel. Today you will head out of the capital city up through West Iceland through a route that offers a great variety of landscapes. We recommend making a stop at the Grabrok Crater, a 3.400 years crater that is situated next to the road making it a perfect stop to stretch your legs and enjoy the amazing 360° view from the top, all the way over the historic Borgarfjordur fjord. Shortly after departing from Grabrok you will make your way off the Ring road, towards the spectacular Westfjords.
The Westfjords is where Iceland’s dramatic landscapes come to a riveting climax and where the crowds disappear. Despite its uniqueness, most travelers miss this oldest part of the island.
The Westfjords offer you the opportunity to enjoy Iceland’s beautiful nature as it is meant to be explored, alone and completely free from the crowds of the south shore. Standing alone in these jaw-dropping coastal fjords amongst the over immense mountains is a sublime feeling, so stop at one of the many lay-by and parking spaces situated next to the road (you can spot the red and yellow triangle signs with a bench and a tree along the road,) and enjoy this superb opportunity to be one with nature.
Stop by the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft, located in the small town of Holmavik to get an insight into the fascinating connection between sorcery and the local area. A little further north of Holmavik is the Sorcerer’s Cottage, a replica of what the habitation and living conditions of a sorcerer looked like in the 17th century, and it also represents the normal living conditions of tenant farmers at that time in Iceland. Close to the Sorcerer’s Cottage, next to Hotel Laugarholl, you will also find the Pool of Gvendur the good, a naturally warm geothermal outdoor swimming pool (32-35°C) and adjacent natural hot pool (41°C), perfect for relaxing after a long day on the road.
Overnight in Holmavik area.
Day 3: Strandir :
Highlights: Strandir Coast
Approximate distance: ca 214 km / 132 miles
Enjoy the day exploring the Strandir area, one of the most remote areas of Iceland. The area was once very populated but is now home to only about 50 residents who enjoy living in this beautiful place despite its ruralness. The drive from the area is one of the most scenic drives you will take, besides the breathtaking nature you are bound to be captivated by the tiny settlements that greet you on the way.
The first settlement you will reach is the village Djupavik, who at its peak was home to 200 residents when an entrepreneur built the most high-tech herring factory in Europe. The herring, however, left the area only a couple of decades later resulting in most of the habitats moving away. We recommend paying a visit to the museum which has now been put up in the old factory by the owners of the hotel next door. It is a unique experience never forgotten. Despite the remoteness of the area it has appeared in several movies, as producers fall in love with this unique place. Strandir area even appeared in the new Justice League movie.
Continue north from Djupavik, towards the geothermal pool Krossneslaug. This pool at Krossnes in Strandir is one of the most interesting pools in Iceland as it is built on the shore in this remote area surrounded by stunning mountains and the bare oceans. Relaxing in the naturally warm waters streaming from a nearby source, overlooking the magnificent waves with only the sound of the ocean and the birds in your ears will leave you in a tranquil state. Take your time to enjoy it!
When you are ready, you can continue your drive back towards the hotel. If you are up for a detour you can visit the small village at Drangsnes and take an afternoon tour to the nearby puffin island, Grimsey, where you will get the rare opportunity of walking next to the birds in their natural habitat before returning to the hotel.
An alternative option for this day is to start by going on a whale watching tour from the town of Holmavik. The fjord outside of Holmavik is a fantastic place to see humpback whales during the summertime. After joining the whale watching tour, take advantage of the long summer days to explore the Strandir area in the afternoon and evening before returning back to your hotel.
Overnight in Holmavik area.
Day 4: Holmavik - Heydalur :
Approximate distance: ca 109 km / 67 miles
Breakfast at your hotel. Today you will leave the Strandir area and explore the next wonderful area of the Westfjords, called by the locals ‘Djupid’ (the Deep) referring to the big long fjord that the route is in. Before entering the area you might want to fill the tank in Holmavik and possibly stock up at the town's supermarket as there are not many stores along the way. If you did not yet have the time to visit the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft or join a whale watching tour then this would be a good time to do so before continuing your journey.
After your stop in Holmavik, continue northwest on the route towards Isafjordur. We recommend stopping at Reykjanes, a former home to a boarding school which has now been turned into a hotel. The buildings are still under renovations but the swimming pool next to the hotel is, however, an interesting part of the stop. It is the longest swimming pool in Iceland, which is heated up by self-running hot geothermal water. As there is plenty of hot water in the area, the pool is often very hot and therefore it is sometimes referred to as the biggest hot tub in Iceland and quite possibly in the world.
After relaxing in the pool, continue towards Heydalur country farm. Heydar offers a variety of activities for their guests, such as horseback riding, kayaking on the ocean, hiking trails and many more. You could also decide to indulge in more relaxation by walking over the river on the Heydalur property and visit their very own natural hot spring. Or you can take an evening drive over to Horgshlidarlaug swimming pool where you can enjoy a bath with a magnificent view of the ocean. No matter what you end up doing you will enjoy the gorgeous landscape and the feeling of total calm in this remote area deep in one of the long fjords of the Westfjords.
Overnight in Heydalur.
Day 5: Heydalur - Isafjordur:
Highlights: Arctic Fox Center Isafjordur Isafjordur Maritime Museum Vigur Island Bolungarvik Natural History Museum Bolungarvik Outdoor Maritime Museum at Over
Approximate distance: ca 134 km / 83 miles
Begin the day with breakfast at your hotel. Today we will continue our drive along Djupid area. The first stop we recommend is Litlibær, a former farmers home which was built in 1895, for two large families who counted a total of ten people, a remarkable fact as the house itself is only 30 square meters. The house has been renovated and is a part of the Icelandic National history museum but the best secret about it is the great home-made waffles with cream and home-grown and cooked rhubarb jam. It’s a must-visit when you are in the area.
An only short drive away is the amazing Hvitanes beach, it is one of Iceland's most easily accessible seal colony, where large numbers of Harbour seals can be found relaxing on the rocks just meters from the shore. The farmers at the Hvitanes farm have made the area more accessible by making a car park and putting up benches. At Hvitanes you can also borrow a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at these fun and playful animals.
Continuing the route along the many fjords you will see that even if the fjords are somewhat similar, each one gives a unique feeling, a unique view, and experience. We recommend that you stop at the Arctic fox center in the small village of Sudavik. It is a non-profit research and exhibition center, focusing on the arctic fox, the only native terrestrial mammal in Iceland. The researches support the protection of the Arctic Fox in the Westfjords region, who can now be spotted in the wild nature after being hunted almost to extinction for years.
Your day will end at Isafjordur town, the largest town in the Westfjords, with some 2.600 inhabitants. In Isafjordur you have an opportunity to go on an optional town walk with the local guide Helga. She will guide you through the town whilst sharing unique insights into the culture, traditions and culinary experiences of Westfjords. The walk ends in Helga’s garden where you will be offered to sample traditional dishes, often spiced with local hand-picked herbs. If you are interested in the optional walking tour with Helga, then please let us know during the booking process.
Another optional activity is to join a guided tour to the island of Vigur, often nicknamed Paradise Island. This tour departs Isafjordur at 14:00 (2:00 PM) and is also upon request. Please let us know during the booking process if you would like us to include this activity in your booking.
The third option for this day is to take a detour to the village of Bolungarvik and visit the Osvor Outdoor Maritime Museum.
Overnight in Isafjordur.
Day 6: Small Towns -Isafjordur - Patreksfjordur :
Highlights: Thingeyri Sudureyri Flateyri Dynjandi Museum of Jon Sigurdsson The Icelandic Sea Monster Museum Patreksfjordur
Approximate distance: ca 175 km / 108 miles
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel. Today we will continue the ring route around the Westfjords by heading southwest towards Patreksfjordur. This area used to flourish with lively towns in every fjord but with every passing decade, these towns have grown smaller. However, the locals who still live in the area do it because of their love for the majestic mountains and the tranquility which can be found in this remote area of Iceland. It is therefore fascinating to drive through the area while experiencing the beauty of the locals’ everyday life and see how they seem to have mastered an easier and calmer way of living.
If you like to really get the feeling of being alone in the world we recommend that you take a detour towards Ingjaldssandur bay. Previously home to many farmers and their families, Ingjaldsandur’s can now only pride itself on a total of two residents. Walking around Ingjaldssandur with almost nothing but the breathtakingly large mountains all around will make you wonder why so many of us have ended up running to the hustle and bustle of cities and away from the peacefulness of places like these. Don’t forget to stop by the picturesque little church which stands out so beautifully in this isolated place.
From Ingjaldssandur, continue towards Thingeyri village. This town has been neatly renovated over the last decade and is now home to one of Iceland’s innovation center, called the Blue bank. We highly recommend stopping at Simbahollinn café, situated in a beautifully renovated house it is a pearl in the middle of nowhere. What you might not realize when arriving in Thingeyri, it that the owners of the café started a wave of renovation throughout the village as they built up Simbahollin. It was their faith that a café in such a small remote town could become a successful business that blew hope into the other habitants to return the village back to its former beauty. If you need another reason to visit Simbahollin and Thingeyri, then go for the waffles, they really do melt in your mouth. So delicious! Simbahollin also offers easy horseback riding tours in the surrounding area.
Continue the route to Westfjord’s mightiest waterfalls, Dynjandi often referred to as the jewel of the Westfjords. The waterfall falls about a hundred meters from the hilltop and is about 60 meters wide where it’s the widest, a majestic site that nobody should miss out on. The river from it then separates into six smaller waterfalls as it travels further down the hill, making the fifteen-minute walk from the parking lot to the waterfall very enjoyable.
If time allows, stop by the small town of Bildudalur and visit the interactive Icelandic Sea Monster Museum, where allegedly true stories of local sea monsters are brought to life!
After more than 24 hours of no hot spring bathing, it is of course time to indulge in the wonderful pleasure of the natural hot water. Reykjafjardarlaug pool was built by volunteers some 40 years ago. The best part about the pool is actually not the pool itself but the 6-meter-long natural hot spring river which is situated only a few meters away. If you prefer a natural hot spring bathing experience, then try the river instead!
The day will end in Patreksfjordur, a blooming fishing village with a great heritage.
Day 7: Latrabjarg – Raudisandur – Dalir:
Highlights: Raudisandur Flokalundur Reykholar Latrabjarg
Approximate distance: ca 339 km / 210 miles
Breakfast at the hotel. Today you will start by driving from Patreksfjordur to Latrabjarg cliff, the westernmost point of Iceland. The 14 kilometers long and 441 meters high (at its peak) cliff is home to unfathomable numbers of birds who are fearless, providing the perfect opportunity to get really close to them. However, don’t forget that the cliff is extremely high, be careful and do not approach the end of the cliff unless you are on all fours or sitting. After all, you don’t need to get so close to admire the beauty of this large cliff and its surroundings.
Continue on to Raudisandur, a ten kilometers long sand beach which is known for its a rare color. The magnificent hues of the sand differ with daylight and weather. The beach is the biggest pearl in a string of coves with sand ranging in colors from white through yellow to red and black. The coarseness of the sand can also vary from very fine to sole-hurting chips of seashells. Once there, take a deep breath and take in the pure sand enlivened by countless seabirds and seals, an oasis with unique tranquility. Forget everything else that is on your mind, except maybe getting the perfect shot of the ever-changing hues of yellow, orange and red.
Now it is time to dip your toes again into Iceland’s natural geothermal hot water! The next natural hot spring on the list is Hellulaug, close to Flokalundur. This geothermal hot spring is situated at the beach, so if you arrive there in high tide we dare you to try the Viking challenge! Jump out of the hot water for some minutes and dive into the sea. It might be cold but the change from hot to cold is proven to be very beneficial for the heart. Possibly it’s the reason why we Vikings live so long!
Continue the drive along the southern fjords of the Westfjords, the route will take you up and down mountains. We recommend keeping an eye out for the splendid view over Breidafjordur bay that these mountain tops sometimes offer. The bay is known for the countless islands who are scattered throughout the big bay. The islands are estimated to be over 3000 of all shapes and sizes, and a part of the rock formations found there can be traced back to the tertiary era, making it one of the oldest formations found in Iceland. The wildlife in the bay and the surrounding area is amazing with cod, shrimp, shellfish, and abundance of seals along with whales and a wide range of seabirds. Truly a beautiful sight when the sky and the weather conditions allow.
Our day will end in the Dalir region, where you will rest for the night. Make sure not to miss Gudrunarlaug hot spring which can be found up the hill right next to the hotel in Laugar in Saelingsdalur. The history of this hot spring is displayed next to the walking path if you are interested in knowing how this pool played a role in the old Icelandic sagas.
Day 8: Dalir – Borgarfjordur – Reykjavik:
Highlights: Eiriksstadir Viking Home Hraunfossar Barnafoss Deildartunguhver Settlement Center of Iceland Reykjavik
Today you will continue your drive from the Westfjords, down south towards Reykjavik. Before driving straight back to the capital city we recommend making a detour to visit the beautiful Borgarfjordur valley. The valley is known for its history and heritage as it was the location for multiple events that took place in the Icelandic sagas.
From Laugar in Saelingsdalur, you will continue the route through the Dalir region, a vast farming land. We recommend making a stop at the Erpstadir farm for delicious homemade skyr made at the farm. Their ice-cream is also known to be delicious, especially the blueberry ice cream which they make from handpicked wild blueberries found in the hills surrounding the farm.
Our next stop will be Hraunfossar waterfall, a hidden gem at the end of the Borgarfjordur valley which cannot be missed. This unique waterfall descends from the middle of the hill providing a magnificent play between the blue water, dark lava field and the green vegetation around it. After enjoying a nice walk in the area continues your drive towards Deildartunguhver hot spring, the most powerful one in Europe. After taking a good look at this raw energy coming straight from inside of the earth, walk up towards Krauma natural baths which are located only a few meters from the hot spring. The water in Krauma’s bathing area is a combination of the 100°c (212°F) hot spring water and natural cold water from Raudgil canyon, which originates in the smallest glacier in Iceland, Ok.
After relaxing and enjoying the last bathing experience on this tour, continue your drive towards Reykjavik for your overnight stay.
Day 9: Departure from Iceland:
Highlights: Keflavik Viking World Bridge Between Continents Gunnuhver Lighthouses
Approximate distance: ca 50 km / 30 miles
Breakfast at your hotel. Drop off your car at the airport before your flight home. We recommend leaving your hotel approximately 3 hours prior to the departure of your international flight. The rental car should be returned to the airport service area which is located only 2 minutes from the airport building. A shuttle will then transport you to the departure hall.
If your flight departs late in the afternoon, we recommend spending the morning either exploring the city of Reykjavik or explore the Reykjanes Peninsula. Several natural wonders such as Gunnuhver hot spring, the Bridge Between Continents, Reykjanesta cliffs and Reykjanesviti lighthouse can be found in close proximity to Keflavik International Airport. You could also use the time to visit the famous Blue Lagoon or Viking World Museum before heading to the airport.