Today we discover the most visited places in Iceland. Why the most visited? Because they are very close to Reykjavík.
Note: if you have not read the travel journal of the 1st day, it’s this way
Part 1: Travel Diary Part
2: Practical Tips
Part 1: Travel Diary
Itinerary of the 2nd day
To access this Google Maps map, click here
Thanks to the 2h difference with France, we have the impression to get up late when it is only 8am. A quick breakfast (with products and ingredients made available to us in the fridge by our guesthouse) and here we go for a day full of discoveries.
Stop 1: Thingvellir National Park
We start the day with the Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir). But first of all, while going there, we notice a mountain (or a volcano??) massive but quite flat being just next to Reykjavík. The road is really scenic, there aren’t too many people, it’s perfect.
Yesterday, we went to see the bridge between two continents. Today we are in Thingvellir, and the national park is also straddling two continents.
Aim for Þingvellir Parking P2 on Waze. From there you will be between 500 and 800m from the main points of the park. I put here a screenshot of Maps.me and the map of the park which have more details than Google. Parking P1 is more frequented by tourist buses (near Hakid). Parking isn’t free (730 kr per day) and you absolutely have to pay online, so don’t forget to install the Myparking.isapp now
There are 3 places that I liked a lot
- öxararfoss Waterfall
- View point Hakid
- Silfra fault
Located at 650m from the P2 parking lot, this waterfall is a real beauty. It is rather modest compared to the known waterfalls in Iceland (we will see many of them in the next few days), but it remains very beautiful. I was remarked to me (on Instagram) that there is nobody around this waterfall, there is, but there is a rope preventing tourists from going down and being too close to the waterfall 😉
Located next to the P4 parking lot, this place gives a breathtaking view of the entire national park. It’s super super impressive! I admit that we did not understand too much where is the separation between the two continents, but the landscapes make that we do not think too much about it 🙂
Finally, what I really liked was the Silfra rift. Go to the P5 parking lot and at 5 minutes walking distance is this fault, from where divers and snorkellers leave to discover the fault between two continents.
I am delighted to have attended the launch of a group. Seeing them enter the water – with a dry suit (only the mouth isn’t covered), inflated with air, without any difficulty, motivates me a lot. Maybe JB and I will come back at the end of our roadtrip to do the same thing? I read on the Internet that the whole experience could last 4 hours (between transport, preparation & the snorkelling itself, for 130€/person), and that the water temperature was constant all year long – between 1°C and 3°C.
The water is so transparent that even from above I can see some of what is hidden below. It seems that snorkelling is really worth it because the water is so pure (filtered gently by all the lava around it). In any case, it makes you want it TOO much!
Stop 2: Friðheimar
Since I do the program and JB is the driver, he gets some nice surprises, like this one. This is a restaurant in a tomato greenhouse! Yes, with such a cold climate, you need greenhouses to grow vegetables
The greenhouse is heated by very hot water drawn from the earth, light is provided by lamps that use geothermal energy, and bees (imported from the Netherlands) are used to pollenize the plants. Tomatoes are organic because there are no harmful insects in Iceland, the rare harmful midges are killed from the egg by other midges.
We paid 50€ for two (this is normal according to Icelandic rates), for a tomato soup, a chicken skewer and a small plate of ravioli. But fortunately the bread is at will (only if we opted for the soup at will), otherwise we would be too hungry. But I still recommend this place, very original, and well heated too 😀 Water, coffee and tea are included. The restaurant is rather small (about twenty tables), we are sure not to be there with tourist buses.
Since yesterday, we have already lost 3 fuel bars (out of 7). We have a 4×4 (Dacia Duster), and it consumes a lot. We fill up in a N1 station. We have to insert our credit card and specify the amount we want to put, and then fill the tank. The card will then be debited with the exact amount we took. Small fright: by selecting “full tank”, we are directly debited with 112€ while the actual consumption is only 35€. A small check on the Internet assures us: the refund will be done later, and sometimes it can take several days.
It is therefore not recommended to select “full tank” since a large amount of money may be blocked on your account for a few days.
Stop 3: Haukadalur Geothermal Field
We go to the Haukadalur geothermal field, where the Geysir geyser is located. In fact, he is the one who gave the name to all the geysers. It is now switched off, but his colleague Strokkur does the show for him every 3 to 10 minutes. We stayed a long time and see that the water is propelled between 2 and 10 meters approximately (it can reach 30 meters). It looks like a huge pan filled with boiling water. If possible, we have to be on the left side of the geyser (in relation to the entrance of the site) to see a big ball of water forming just before the water column. You can also see the “rain” effect and a big smoke forming afterwards.
There are other things to visit in this park: a small geyser that looks like a boiling pan; another geyser so deep that the water is blue – it makes you want to swim – even if the water is 80-100°C! You can see the smoke everywhere, watch out for your feet, follow the marked paths otherwise your shoes might melt on the spot!
Watching the geyser is such a fun activity that we stayed at least 1h here hihihi
We quickly pass by the information & souvenir center to look at the famous Icelandic wool sweater, with a very distinctive design and still worn by young people. It costs about 160€, it is handmade but ohlalaa what it itches
Note: what’s really cool about Iceland is that the tours are all free, and there are information centers where you can go to the bathroom, it’s clean, it’s free. It’s true that the rest is expensive, but at least on this point, it’s cool. Incidentally, it’s well heated and we take advantage of it to warm up 🙂
Stop 4: Gullfoss
It’s hard to imagine the structure of this waterfall when you’ve never seen the feet. I’ve seen its pictures on many blogs and travel guides but I still can’t understand its structure, until I visit all the platforms (top and bottom) allowing me to have all the possible points of view on this huge waterfall.
In fact, there are 2 levels of waterfalls, then a huge amount of water falls into a ravine
We went first to the “lower parking” and this viewpoint gives a global vision of the falls (even if one does not perceive the ravine very well). The water whips our face while we aren’t even far enough away yet. There is a path leading very close to the waterfall but it is closed at the moment.
Then you can take the stairs (or the car) to the parking lot from above – with a path that runs along the waterfall from above. There you can see the huge river Hvita which feeds the waterfall, its different levels and especially the ravine. The spectacle is extraordinary, the noise is stunning and the wind is blowing very strong.
I was asked when I saw these snowy landscapes on Instagram, if it wasn’t too cold. In fact, it snowed and there were even storms a few days before our arrival. But I don’t know what miracle, it’s rather mild at the moment, about 1°C, we even have sun, that’s why you can see the blue color of the water as well. We are really very lucky!
Stop 5 : Kerid Crater
This is where singer Björk gave a concert, yes yes, in the heart of the crater of a 6500 year old volcano. You can walk around the crater or take the stairs down to the lake level. The beauty of the place is this rock streaked with ochre and black
Entrance fee: 400kr /person
Stop 6: Reykjadalur Geothermal Springs
It’s a walk that used to be secret, but is no longer so. In this smoky valley, there are hot springs and apparently there is a river of hot water! The more one goes up it, the hotter the water is. Unfortunately, from the carpark (near the Dalakaffi café), it is necessary to count 3,2km or 30 minutes of walk. Return in one hour, considering the moment (18h30) and the road which it remains to us to make, we decide not to go there, very tired of our day.
It’s a good plan which is quite known now (well not frequented by tourist buses, but there are about fifteen cars here).
I just show you the view from the parking lot, unfortunately this part of the river is cold 🙂 otherwise we would have bathed here.
Tonight we are sleeping at Julia’s Guesthouse,(link Booking) in the suburbs of Selfoss. It’s a small farm, there are chickens, rabbits, a cat, two birds… it’s so quiet! We are welcomed by Martha, who replaces Julia during her vacations. We could ask her a lot of questions about Iceland. For example, thanks to the discovery of a hot spring in the surroundings, all the homes next door now have heating and hot showers – thanks to the hot – natural – water brought to their homes. The payment isn’t per liter, but in steps (up to so many liters = 1st step etc.)
I highly recommend you, breakfast is also delicious! The presence of a cat, super cuddly, purring all the time, is a big plus! We can’t use the kitchen, but we can reheat the dishes in the microwave… or eat freeze-dried dishes (which we brought back from France), which we did tonight. And last thing: payment is in cash, in USD, EUR or ISK. To book this guesthouse on Booking, c’est par ici
Our next article, it’s this way
Part 2: Practical Tips
Today we drove 254km.
- Gasoline: 50€
- Lunch: 50€ for two, drinks included
- Parking: 730kr in Thingvellir National Park
- Entrance to Kerid: 400kr/person
- Double room (shared bathroom) at
Julia’s Guesthouse (link Booking): 85€/night
- Dinner: freeze-dried dishes brought from France (5€/dish at Decathlon)
To find the parking lots (P2, P4, P5 etc.), refer to Waze or Maps.me because Google Maps is a bit stingy with points of interest and explanations in Iceland. For hiking trails (e.g. within parks), Maps.me is perfect because Google maps doesn’t show anything anymore 🙂
The roaming is very good in Iceland (we are at Free), but download offline the plans just in case.
Payment is mainly done by card in this country, come with an international card (with an international option) to avoid bank charges and unfavorable exchange rates
In winter, we have a lot of choice for accommodation, we booked the guesthouses the day before on Booking.com There are often discounts for last-minute bookings.
Recap of “how to get there”
- Thingvellir National Park: Aim for Thingvellir Parking P2
- Silfra fault: aim for Thingvellir Parking P5
- The tomato greenhouse : Friðheimar
- The river with hot water: tap coffee Dalakaffi. The parking will be right next door
- For other points of interest: just type their names on Google Maps (or Waze, or Maps.me)