iceland . 07/28/2018

I'm approaching the end of a week in Iceland with my dad. It's the first time in years since I actually took time off to explore a place. Usually I just do it over a weekend after working nearby Monday through Friday. This has been different. I've been intentional about seeing all the sights or whatever. I posted an image or two on Instagram and folks started asking if I'd give them some tips because they'd be visiting sometime.

First off, we had no idea where we were going to go when we got here. Two days before arriving, I reserved an SUV with Ace and booked a place in Reykjavik for two nights on Airbnb. The SUV was expensive - five hundred and something USD base price and another three hundred and something for insurance. I learned very quickly that everything is expensive. My first tip is to bring a bunch of money.

I actually arrived a day before my pops so I picked up the car and stayed in Keflavik. This is where the international airport actually is - about 50km from Reykjavik. My Reykjavik reservation started the following day when he arrived. This first night, my Airbnb host was a woman named Valgerdur. Icelandic names are intense.

Pops arrived around 06:00. I got him and we both took a snooze at Valgerdur's until the 12:00 checkout. This is when we finally made the drive to Reykjavik. When we get together for the first time in a while, the mission is clear: find a bar and have some beer. We walked around a bit and finally came up to this place called Snaps. My friend Erik actually recommended it. These were his words:

...there is no good food in reykjavik. just get that out of your head now. not gonna happen. but you might be able to get ya a nice piece of fish at snaps

It was great. We got some beer. We got a nice piece of fish. But, again, everything is expensive so our visit to Snaps entailed kicking our budget square in the crotch. From there we checked into our Airbnb and took another snooze because we're sloths disguised as humans. When we got up, we knew we'd officially arrived and were finally ready to figure out wtf to do for the next nine days.



The currency is called Icelandic Króna. At the time of writing this, $1 == 105.30kr and 1€ == 122.91kr.

Other than bars/restaurants, you have to buy booze at these state-run liquor stores. They're open 10:00 - 18:00 most days.


Go to Snaps if you want to eat at a restaurant. Otherwise, get a hot dog. Or maybe Reykjavik Chips - they had a deal where you'd get some fries and two beers for 2000kr.

You can go to Mikkeller to get some fancy beers. They cost 1700kr a piece though. You can get a pizza downstairs.

Walk by Harpa. It's the concert hall out on the waterfront. This doesn't really need to be said. It can't be missed.

Walk by Hallgrimskirkja - the enormous cathedral with Leif Erikson out front. Again, can't miss it.

If you want to go for a swim, go to Sundhöll. It costs money to enter - 1500kr or something. Bring a towel because it costs just as much to rent one. You have to get butt-ass naked in a locker room shower and wash your bum, crotch, pitts, and feet before you can get in a pool (there's a stick figure diagram). Someone told me that people will call you out if you try to skip it. Whatever, just do it.

harpa hallgrimskirkja reyk-chips-chris reyk-chips-doug

Golden Circle

You can take a day trip from Reykjavik and see a bunch of cool shit in the "golden circle". We did this on our only full day in Reykjavik. There's a million and a half websites about this and many different versions. This is what we did:

We would have liked to go to this tomato place, Friðheimar, after Flúðir but they're only open from 12:00 - 16:00 and we were too late.

thingvellir gullfoss secret-lagoon

Westman Islands (Vestmannaaeyjar)

From Reykjavik, we set out to take a lap around the island. First destination was the Westman Islands. On the way, we stopped by this waterfall, Seljalandsfoss. You can see it from the road. It's awesome.

You can take a 30 minute ferry to Heimaey, the biggest island of the Vestmannaaeyjar archipelago, from Landeyjahöfn. Leave your car on the mainland. We only stayed for a night. It's a small island.

Get a beer at Brother's Brewery.

Eat at Gott across the street.

Walk to the south end of the island and stop at the bird watching shed to look at some puffins.

seljalandsfoss-soaked seljalandsfoss-far seljalandsfoss-doug landey-wreck landey-wreck-doug ferry-beers westman-doug westman

Driving East in the South

A cool town you'll arrive to is Höfn. We didn't book accommodations and the entire town was sold out so we ended up 20km east in this place, Hrafnavellir, that had opened a week prior. It was fine but maybe make a reservation in Höfn if you want to stay there.

On the way, stop at Skógafoss - another waterfall. Stop at Dyrhólaey - a lighthouse and a cool view. Stop at Reynisfijava Beach - black sand, cool rocks. Stop at Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon - enough said.

I would have liked to cruise up to Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park, but we kept moving. Not sure what I'd expect. It's a massive green thing on a map. It must be great.

skogafoss some-stream dyrholaey reynisfijava jokulsarlon hofn-road-doug


You get to a point, day after day, seeing some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world that you get a little indifferent. You say things like, "oh, it's another waterfall, another hot spring-glacier thing, and okay, more lava or something...". It's time for a break.

This USA, Floridian fella also staying at Hrafnavellir said Egilsstaðir is a good halfway point to another waterfall. Sounded good and it was only a two hour drive up. We went for it being that we didn't have any plans anyway. It was a decent stop, but not where I'd picture us to be at any point. Next tip: don't listen to Floridians...ever.


This is the waterfall. It's massive and dirty. On this day, its mist and spray was projecting an enormous rainbow. You can park on the east or west side of it and we chose west. I think west is the way to go. Choose one - it's probably not practical to visit both sides as it's a long drive around.

From Egilsstaðir, you have to take this gravel road, Öxi - it's awesome. It's so shit and hilly, dirty, and fun.

After Dettifoss, we soaked a bit at Myvatn Nature Baths. It was cool, but we blew 9000kr or something. We didn't even get a beer - just entry + towel rental. Again, it was cool. But we were asking ourselves how it's actually worth the money. Do people spend an entire day at these things? Is it not boring after 20 min? All in all worth the experience, but not without feeling robbed.

We landed for the night in Akureyri. Took a walk, had some good beer at R5, and split a fish and chips at Akureyri Fish and Chips.

oxi dettifoss-selfie dettifoss-rainbow dettifoss myvatn akureyri


We're in Oddsstaðir. This isn't a town. It's my understanding that properties are so few and far between that they're each named as if they were a town.

The property is basically town-size, but we haven't seen anyone. Just horses.

We left Akureyri somewhat hastily assuming we'd be able to get supplies along the way. But options were much more sparse than anticipated. We did pick up a 10 pack of beer and some bananas on the way out of town. We didn't think this would be all we'd end up with for the night. After four hours of driving, we arrived to our secluded destination. We ran out of beer fast. It's been 10ºC, windy, and rainy. We went for a walk, and then decided we'd drive 20km to a bar that shows up on Google Maps. We had been considering this for a while but I think finally got loose and hungry enough to go seek it out. Through the night sunlight we drove and finally arrived at Hverinn. It was magnificent. It's a campsite with a great restaurant. We split a burger and got a few more beers and watched part of "Truman Show" with no audio.

oddssta oddssta-tractors oddssta-doug stedji


Back to Reykjavik I suppose. Tomorrow is Sunday and we have a flight to Boston on Monday night. I just want to get a Björk t-shirt before I go.

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