Day 3: The Golden Circle // Laxnes Horse Farm // Thingvellir National Park // Laugarvatn Fontana // Geysir // Gulfoss
Now for the main attraction from our trip to Iceland--the absolutely breathtaking scenic views and stunning natural wonders. The Golden Circle route we drove was about 6 hrs of driving in total - 3 hrs from Reykjavik and 3 hrs back. It's not too bad because all of the attractions are technically "on the way" to the next attraction.
My favorite parts of The Golden Circle had to be Thingvellir National Park and Gulfoss. The National Park was an absolute wonder! It's actually just a really huge area of Iceland, so we kept on stopping along the road while we were driving to the visitor center. There are so many spots that you can just easily pull into (little pockets of gravel road), which were basically meant for tourists to stop and take in the view.
Gulfoss was a magical beast in and of itself. I have never seen anything quite like it anywhere else in the world. All of that water, making its way down the 105ft chasm was absolutely unbelievable. The entire world melts away and literally there is nothing else quite as important as being present and experiencing that moment.
Day 4: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon // The Crystal Cave // Diamond Beach // Black Sand Beach // Skogafoss
If you're planning on going to the Glacier Lagoon from Reykjavik, be prepared for a super long drive. It is almost 5 hours to get there (although definitely worth it), and don't think that you can speed your way through those empty Icelandic highways (more on this in tips & tricks).
The Glacier Lagoon itself is easy to get to and there is gravel parking provided (careful cause it's super rocky). However, there is no way for you to get to the actual Crystal Caves on your own, so I suggest booking a tour and booking early! Each tour company only does two or three trip times per day because each tour can last up to three hours long. There is no actual road (paved or gravel) leading to the cave, so the tours literally bring you via a huggeeee monster truck looking vehicle. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not exaggerating.
Although the Glacier Lagoon & Crystal Cave were the main attractions of Day 4, I seriously enjoyed the Black Sand Beach as well. We pulled up to the beach right as the sun was setting and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. Such a refreshing and serene moment to an otherwise jam packed day of exploration. I absolutely recommend this stop on the drive back--it's about 2.5hrs from the Glacier Lagoon and a beautiful place to stop for some fresh air before taking on the second half of the drive back.
Tips & Tricks for Sightseeing in Iceland:
1. Rent a car.
Depending on the time of year you're visiting, a 4-wheel drive is probably the way to go. I'm so glad we paid that extra difference and got that 4-wheel drive cause the weather in Iceland was unpredictable AF. I remember driving back from Gulfoss and at some point it went from light drizzle, to heavy snow, to hail and then back to clear skies and sunshine. Literally no logic behind the weather, so be on the safe side and get that 4-wheel drive!
2. Prepare yourself for super narrow roads.
The A1 "highway" is pretty much just 2 lanes, one going either direction with no bumpers on the side. You'll find yourself on this highway for the majority of the sightseeing tours, or highways similar to it. It's not the most relaxing to drive, especially when you have to squeeze by an oncoming freight truck. Just be mentally prepared cause I don't think I realized just how narrow the roads were until I was actually there and trying to navigate.
3. Do not speed.
Speeding tickets are a real thing apparently, cause the speed limit is notorious for going from 90km/h to 50km/h in the span of like 500 ft. Trust me, you'll know when you see these speed limit signs. So many caught me off guard in the beginning. Just be careful and keep in mind that speeding tickets are hundreds of dollars and the rental car companies will charge you a penalty for any tickets incurred.
4. It gets SUPER DARK if you plan on driving at night.
There are absolutely no street lamps on the highways further from the city. We drove for a good hour in the dark and I had never been more nervous, especially cause the weather would change so drastically in a split second. I would concentrate the bulk of the driving during the day for sure!
5. Book a room for the drive back.
If you're making the 5 hr drive down to the Glacier Lagoon, definitely consider booking a night in one of the hotels closer to the Lagoon and driving back to Reykjavik the morning after. The accommodations also book up really quickly, so we ended up having to get a room in Hella which was still a 3.5 hr drive from the Glacier Lagoon. When in doubt, plan ahead!
If any of you are headed to Iceland any time soon and have any other questions, feel free to ask and I'll try and answer the best I can!
With Much Love,