We had been to Iceland already last year – but in times of the Corona Pandemic the remote island appeared the perfect destination: a lot of landscape and few people. This time, we focused on our favorite spots on the south coast (part 1) and spots in central iceland beyond the ring road, that we could not visit last time due to the lack of a 4 wheel-drive (this blog post, part 2).
Vík í Mýrdal, Iceland
|How I got there||direct flights from Duesseldorf with Iceland Air|
|Where I stayed and Hotel recommendations||We stayed at a very comfortable Hotel near Vík í Mýrdal: the “Black Beach Suites” Hotel; there are several other guesthouses and hotels available in the area.
The only Hotel close to Jökulsarlon lagoon is the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon.
Hotel Geysir: we booked the “Geysir Cottages”, but due to the Corona Pandemic all guests in the area were re-located to the Hotel Geyser, which is a nice and comfortable 4-star hotel.
|Restaurants||Fjorubordid: excellent Restaurant in Stokkseyri village on the south-western coast; disganture dish: lobster soup
Minilik: ethiopean Restaurant in Fludir; cosy atmosphere; the cook is Ethiopean, her husband serves the excellent dishes; very reasonably priced! After dinner ethiopean coffee beans are roasted and original african coffee is offered; all guest sit around the cook – very nice and unexpected experience in Iceland! Highly recommended.
Smidjan Brugghus: quite large brewery in Vic i Myrdal, casual, usually well frewuented by the locals
Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon Restaurant: the restaurant closest to Jökulsarlon, good price-quality ratio
Kaffiterían Skaftafelli: canteen-like self service restaurant, not really recommended, just used due to the unrivaled location in the Skaftafell National Park
Papa’s Restaurant: small place at the Gridavik Harbour
Veitingahusid Bruin: large Restaurant in Grindavik; OK quality, reasonably priced
Geysir Restaurant: large Restaurant in the Geysir Hotel (see above)
Restaurant at the Kerlingarfjoll Mountain Resort: small Restaurant at the small geusthouse at the Kerlingarfjöll thermal area
|Things to do||See ice caves; we did with “Arctic Adventures” who were the only ones offering an ice cave tour in summer
Walk on a glacier; there are several tour providers; we went (again) with Arctic Adenvtures, the tour was in the Skaftafell National Park (we recommend this and not the Solheimajokull glacier walk)
Walk on the Black Beach
Enjoy the colorful mountains around Landmannalaugar and explore the hot springs at Kerlingarfjöll
Visit the numerous waterfalls of Iceland
Find the magic valley of Gjain
|Recommendations in a nutshell||Invest money in a four-wheel drive andexplore the fantastic Icelandic landscape beyond the ring road.|
|recipe||“canilsnugar” – crispy cinnamon rolls, perfectly prepared by the bakery “Braud & Co.“|
During our 10 days in Iceland we spent about half of the time at the south coast and the second half in the central regions, starting with the famous Thorsmörk (or “Þórsmörk” in Icelandic letters).
When we took over our four-wheel drive at the Keflavik airport, we were very insistently admonished NOT to take road no. F249. As we knew that F249 passes several rivers on it’s way to Thorsmörk, we did not consider for a minute to try this road by ourselves, but booked the bus by Reykjavik Excursions, that goes from Reykjavik via Hvollsvöllus (where we entered the bus) to Thorsmörk. It is highly recommended to book seats in advance. Despite Covid-19 and almost no tourists in Iceland, the bus was almost fully booked…
The road started bad and got worse, but sitting in a bus and not having to worry about flat tires or water in the engine, this is pure joy and adventure, particularly the river crossings:
We decided to get off the bus at “Volcano Huts”, the first of the three bus stops of Thorsmörk. From there all hiking trails are easily accessible, and if you’re booked on the day tour, it gives you the longest time for your stay at Thorsmörk. From “Voldano Huts” we hiked the easy roundtrip via Langidalur and the Valahnúkur Mountain back to Volcano Huts.
Beside the great landscape (see below), we found colorful meadows…
…and an extraordinary number of flowers, and particularly orchids:
Absolutely rewarding is the climb up to the summit. The 360 degree view of Eyjafjallajökull to the south, Tindfjöll to the north, Myrdalsjökull to the east and the “valley of Thor” to the west is one of the most spectacular ones you get in Iceland:
A very popular picture can be taken from the summit towards the eastern side, with Myrdalsjökull in the back – yes, it’s me on the cliff, and just behind be there’s a hillslope of several hundreds of meters.
From the summit, the houses of Volcano Huts appear tiny, and cars passing through the rivers below can be watched:
Geysir and Strokkur
From Thorsmörk our trip took us to the famous Geysir area, which would be our base for the second part of our trip. As mentioned above, we originally booked a small house at the “Geysir Cottages”, but due to the Corona Pandemic all guests in the area were re-located to the Hotel Geyser. This was probably an upgrade and so we were not disappointed. Of course, we took advantage of the location and went to see the Strokkur Geysir almost every day:
And took a nice series “eruption of Strokkur”:
Pretty close to the Geysir area, just 10 minutes by car, is the famous Gulfoss Waterfall, translated the “Golden Waterfall”. We had been there before on our 2019 trip to Iceland, but the Gulfoss is really impressing and we could not just drive past…here’s a collection of our 2020 visit:
And here the valley of Gulfoss in it’s majectic size:
Now, this is a kind of secret, a hidden gem in the middle of Icelandic nowhere: Gjain is a small valley, featuring a creek, some waterfalls and a lot of lush green. We almost missed it, as the access road is not really easy to find – in fact, it is a small dirt road without any major sign leading to Gjain. However, with google Maps you should be able to locate it.
As often, the road starts with bad conditions which gradually get worse. About 1-2 km before our final destination, we decided to leave the car in front of a fence, and walk the rest. However, when you reach the valley and have a first glimpse from above, the travel is worth the effort.
After decending to the river, the valley almost appears like a jungle – opulent plants and flowers everywhere…
…and picturesque waterfalls as well:
On the way to Gjain, you will pass another nice waterfall which is worth a few minutes stop: the “twin” Hjalparfoss.
As can be seen on the pictures above, the sunny days of our first week in Iceland were gone and the weather switched between just cloudy to rainy. Therefore we decided not to continue to Landmannalaugar on that day, but head for the coast instead (with the – unfullfilled – hope that the weather would be better the next day…). There are some sights worth a visit, like the thermal area of Hveragerdi.
In the middle of the small town of Hveragerdi there is a geothermal park that can be visited. The highlight here is a small hot spring where you can cook your own egg (which can be bought for small money at the entrance):
The rest of this geothermal area had “seen better days”. The former colorful ponds have vanished, and just some hot and steaming waterways and small ponds have been left. Nothing really spectacular, compared to the Geysir or Krysuvik area (see below).
Another noteworthy item of this rainy day in Iceland was our fantastic lunch break at the Restaurant Fjorubordid, where they serve a highly recommended lobster soup (I can’t really tell as I don’t eat any seafood or fish, but my husband liked it).
Talking about great food – I would like to mention a fantastic dinner, that we had the next day at the Restaurant Minilik in the small town of Fludir. Minilik is owned by an Icelandic-Ethiopean couple – she cooks and he serves the food. It is authentic Ethiopean food at very reasonable prices (for Icelandic standards) that is being served in a very cosy and familial atmosphere. The restaurant features only 7 or 8 tables – a reservation is recommended.
After dinner, Ethiopean coffee beans are being roasted by the cook, while the guest surround her – a nice opportunity to talk to each other! And the coffee that is served after the “roasting ceremony” is really great. We strongly recommend not to miss this experience!
The next day Landmannalaugar was on our schedule – and unfortunately the weather had not really improved over night. So we went in drizzle, which changed from time to time to a pouring rain, with only short sunny intervalls in between. Nevertheless, the beauty of this extraordinary landscape can be admired under every weather condition:
I had read as much as possible before in ordeer to figure out which road to take to Landmannalaugar – finally we chose the F26 and then F208 from the north. Still a bumpy ride, but safe for “normal four-wheel drives”, as no major river has to be crossed. When arriving at Landmannalaugar, we left the car at the road side and walked the final 500 meters, including the narrow footbridge across the river:
On the right side there is the “swimming pool area”, the part of the river that’s nicely warm and used for bathing:
You will have to leave your clothes at the wooden stage. After bathing, most people just took their clothes and ran back to the cabins in order to get to the hot showers as fast as possible…
A nice roundtrip hike around Landmannalaugar uses the first part of the famous “Laugarvegur” trail, that goes from Landmannalaugar via Thorsmörk to the southern coast. During this short trail around Landmannalaugar you will pass lava fields and a geothermal field, with more (or less, depending on the weather) great views of the landscape.
The way also features nice views of a mountain lake, including fantastic colors of the water, the green moss and gras and the brown mountains:
More impressions of the hike:
At the end of our hike the rain started pouring – and we were so glad that there’s a kind of restaurant in an ancient construction trailer where they provide a gorgeous hot soup:
Overall, Landmannalaugar is certainly more colorful in sunny weather, but still worth the travel, and a bit of photoshop can really improve the fotografic results:
Our highlight of the central areas was supposed to be Kerlingarfjöll – the cover picture of the “lonely planet” Iceland guide. We were really looking forward to it, despite minimum of two hours on very bumpy roads. As recommended by many previous visitors of Kerlingarfjöll, we drove up to the final car park. However, the final 2 kilometers were fierce – another four-wheel ahead of us did not manage the initial slope and turned around. We tried and were successful, but really glad that we got up that hill. The view made up for the effort:
OK, the colors are a bit enhanced in order to meet the “lonely planet” cover, but still: the landscape is absolutely fascinating.
And this is how it looks like “naturally”:
The path is partly supported by wooden planks, but partly is was really muddy:
The geothermal fields are absolutely amazing:
And the distinct colors are really amazing:
Yes, the trip to Kerlingarfjöll is a bit of an effort, but highly recommended. And probably even better in sunny weather.
Before returning there is the opportunity to stop for a coffee or a light lunch at the “Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort” – a noble name for just a few huts in the middle of nowhere. But coffee and cakes were great!
Our last days we spent on the Reykjanes Peninsula, close to Keflavik airport. On they way there, the crater “Kerid” is worth a short stop:
Reykjanes Peninsula and Krysuvik geothermal field
Reykjanes offers a lot of “typical Iceland”: craters, moonlike landscape and geothermal fields:
In particular, the geothermal field of is worth a visit:
Very surprising for us came the nearby lake “Graenavatn” or “green lake” – and the name is program:
Even with cloudy skies the lake displayes an almost unnatural blue-green color. The lake lies just 1-2 kilometers of the Geothermal area Seltún at Krísuvík, thus just on the way. The lake, a volcanic crater, gets its blue color from a high level of sulphur in the water and its depth.
Another interesting spot in Reykjanes is the so-called “Bridge between continents” at the western coast. This bridge spans the cleft between the Eurasian and the american continental place:
From there it is only a stone’s throw to a nice coastal spot at the beach “Sandvik”:
Finally, it was time to say good-by; ten days are really short, and we will certainly come back another time!
This finishes part 2 of our 2020 Iceland trip – please see part 1 for the highlinghts of the southern coast of Iceland.
|Here is part 1 of our Iceland 2020 trip: Vic y Myrdal, Dyrholae, Solheimajökul, Thakgil, Ice Cave, Glacier Hike on Vatnajökull, Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach, Eldrhaun, Pseudocraters||This is Part 2 of our Iceland 2020 trip: Thorsmörk, Landmannalaugar, Kerlingarfjöll, Geysir, Reykjanes Peninsula|
As already mentioned in Part 1 of our trip, I’m having some problems with a recipe recommendation…I did recommend crispy “Canilsnugar” – cinnamon rolls there, but found nothing to add in this post…sorry, no additional Icelandic recipe.
Greetings from Iceland!
*According to a German Court decision, all texts containing links to commercial pages (e.g. links to Tripadvisor, Airline, hotel or restaurant websites) have to be identified as “commercial” (in German “Anzeige”). As my texts do contain links like that, I therefore identify each post and page containing a link as “Anzeige”. However (and referring to the “About Me” page) I would like to point out that I do NOT post any sponsored content in my texts. I pay for all my trips myself.