01 August 2021
Exploring Iceland gives you the double whammy of seeing this Nordic island’s quite literally jaw-dropping natural phenomena and knowing that the local communities you visit en route are thriving thanks to visitors from overseas. They will benefit no matter whether you sign up for a whale-watching excursion from a fishing village, take a Zodiac boat tour of a calving glacier, eat locally sourced produce in a restaurant or buy local knitwear and other crafts. If time is short, focus on the south with a seven-day tour. Otherwise, enjoy the full circle of Iceland; it can be done in anything from nine to 14 days. The classic Iceland road trip is the main Ring Road around the island, which allows you to explore the entire coast, dipping inland as and when you please. A self-drive tour of Iceland really gets you under the skin of this most compelling of destinations and the way of life of its welcoming people. This is just a flavour of some of the things you might do on your self-drive holiday.
Wildlife Encounters and Nature Experiences
The Golden Circle, the classic day-trip destination from Reykjavik, including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir and Strokkur hot springs – the latter erupting dramatically every 10 minutes. The otherworldly Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in Vatnajökull National Park on the south coast, where icebergs calve from the main body of ice and float away to melt in the North Atlantic (due to a combination of thermal activity and global warming). Stroll around this spectacular and poignant sight spotting the seals or take a boat trip through the icebergs. The Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik, to wallow in the geothermal waters rich in silica, algae and active mineral ingredients. Hotels on-site include admission to the main lagoon plus an exclusive lagoon just for guests. The Hveragerdi Hot Spring River Trail, hiking inland to a geothermal river to bathe in its warm waters surrounded by raw Icelandic nature. The black sands at Reynisfjara, to quad-bike up to the famous abandoned DC-3 aeroplane in Sólheimasandur. Whale-watching from the northern fishing villa of Hauganes.
Meeting the Locals
Horse-riding from a local farm. Iceland has its own hardy, long-lived breed of pony-sized horses well suited to kids. A few days in Reykjavik with its lively restaurant and bar scene and its brilliant museums. Whale-watching trips run from this, the world’s most northernmost capital, and the Northern Lights can be seen if you’re here at the right time of year – and are willing to stay up late enough! A stay in Siglufjörður, a charming fishing village with its own herring museum, where locals can take you out sea-kayaking and fat-biking.
Colourful events including Reykjavík Pride, Culture Night, the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival and the Secret Solstice Music Festival.
Local Foodie Delights
Lobster bisque at Reykjavik’s harbourside fisherman’s shack Saegreifinn (Sea Baron), using produce landed right nearby. Hot dogs from the iconic Reykjavik stall Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. Modern Icelandic dishes such as lamb with lava-salt butter and fish and chips with a Skyr dipping sauce from top Reykjavik restaurants such as Íslenski Barinn and Matur og Drykkur.
Good to Know
The best time to experience the Ring Road tour is summer, when the weather is milder and the 24-hour sun gives you better driving visibility and overall conditions. On the other hand, the peak season to see the Northern Lights is any time between October and March. I can tailor the best trip whichever you choose.
Get in touch with me today for more information or to arrange your future travels