The Best Guide to Iceland – The Path Less Travelled

When COVID seemed like it was almost stampeded out by the newly invented vaccines in March 2021, Mr. Code Junkie and I were hopeful to go back to our normal life. So we made travel plans to go to Iceland for the first time. Little did we know, COVID came back with a vingence wrecking havic with the Delta variance as its new weapon. After debating long and hard about it, we still decided to go to Iceland and take extra precautions (and paid for cancellable flights, in case it didn’t work out.)

What type of travel style do we like?

This is not a typical “MUST DO”/”MUST SEE” itinerary trip report. We try to practice slow, eco-friendly travel while supporting-local economy. We enjoy submerge ourselves into the local living and experiencing different lifestyles and creating connection with the local communities as much as a two-week time would allow. Because of this, even though it is our first time going to Iceland, we decided to not do the ring-road or the golden-circle, and ventured into the deep Westfjord.

Itinerary In A Glance

We decided to go in the fall (a bit shoulder season for Iceland) to avoid crowd. September is also around equinox time which means we are more likely to see some good aurora performance (and we did!). 

  • September 3 – 5 Reykjavik (2 days)
  • September 5 – 9 Snaefellsnes Peninsula (4 days)
  • September 9 – 16 Isafjord/Westfjord (7 days)
  • September 16 – 18 Reykjavik (2 days)

Detailed Trip Reports

Day 1: Reykjavik

Explore Hallgrimskirkja, a Lutheran church built in 1945. 

Have a coffee at the local favorite, Reykjavik Roasters.

Buy some fresh bread from Braud & Co. for the next morning breakfast.

Grab some groceries from the famous Bonus (see my separate post on groceries in Iceland).

Day 2: Glymur, 2nd highest waterfall

Drive 45 minutes to the trailhead of Glymur.

Do some balance beam activities.

Meet some locals 🐑

Cross a freezing but shallow river. Do not suggest crossing the river barefoot while screaming, though it is good cardio and vocal exercise.

Walk back down the river while observing the “U” shape fjord cut out by glacier while dancing with two arms up. It’s a “U”!

Day 3: Snaefellsjokull

Discover a hot spring next to an un-named volcano crater.

Jump into said hot spring, and soak for a LOOOOOONNNNNNG time while watching sheep. AHHHH

Live in a lakeside cottage.

Day 4: Djupalongsandur Beach

Test your strength and see if you are ready to work on a fish boat. Mr. Code Junkie is qualified to “sit at home work on IT problems.”

Stroll by a yellow heart shaped pool with VERY questionable water. 

Feel the power of the sea as you look at the remains of a ship wreck, 1948. 

Day 5: Hike up the Snaefellsjokull Glacier

Who needs legs? Feet? Nah, I’ll just go ahead and amputate them.

Day 6: Stykkisholmur

Demolish some fish & chips @ Hafnarvagninn.

Hold your food baby, then check out this big Súgandisey Island right behind the harbor.

Watch sunset at Sheep’s waterfall.

Watch the aurora dancing across the sky with a cup of hot cocoa.

Day 7: Isafjord

5-hour drive to Isafjord.

See lots of rainbows, and wonder if there are pots of gold when you are not in Ireland?

Even though there are so few cars and so many opportunities to cross the street, the locals like to cross the street right as you pass, at 90km/h, just to test your break skills 🙂 BAAAAAAAA!

Day 8: Troll’s Seat

Hiking up Troll’s seat, hoping to find a troll, but no luck. 

Fumbling with this very well-made metal box to sign the Troll’s seat guestbook.

Hey trolls! Come out and play.

Day 9: Dynjandi Waterfall

Wondering if there is a spiritual sanctuary behind the waterfall…

Stop by the sleepy little town Flateyri with lovely wall murals.

Your newly established Icelandic parent takes you on a boat ride to see whales. You keep your eyes on the horizon looking for whales while trying to keep down your breakfast from 2005.

To avenge the sea, you decide to go to a seafood restaurant as soon as you step off the boat. You feast in the treasures of the sea. Yum.

Day 10: A rainy day to stay inside and nap

Day 11: Valagil Waterfall

Hike a waterfall in the rain.

Visit a cute fox who’s having fun digging for worms (or perhaps gold coins???)

Day 12: Brewery and Chill

Going to a brewery? We’ll decorate it with a rainbow. Velkominn to Isafjordur indeed.

Taste some local mango wheat beer.

Some intense chemistry going on over here.

Day 13: Sandafell Mountain

Hike up Sandafell Mountain with a lamb sandwich in your backpack. Summit = lunch!

Reading the sun dial. It’s wrong, Garmin watch is better.

Go to Önundarfjordur pier/beach by Holt. Discover lots of treasures on the beach.

Day 14: Reykjanes (by Reykjarfjordur)

Visit a seasalt factory, Saltverk right by Reykjanes.

Finding a geothermal beach. HOT!

Get your brain swirled and find out you do not have COVID so you can go home. Yay.

Day 15: Fagradalsfjall Volcano

Celebrate you survived the volcano with Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hotdog.

And chips, AND milkshake.

Day 16: Flying home

Seeing Fagradalsfjall volcano from the distance while driving to the airport.

Try to spot the polar bear on Greenland glacier.

Other Helpful Resources:

Traffic:

  • Roundable rules in Iceland (note: it is like Mario Cart traffic circles)
  • There is NO turn on red in Iceland. You must only turn right when light is green.
  • If you go into a one-lane tunnel, the person who has pull-over on their right gets to yield to oncoming traffic.
  • Watch for suicidal sheep crossing

Aurora & Weather & Volcano:

COVID:

Glacier hike: Go West

Lodging (Airbnbs)

Rental Car: Blue Car Rental, highly recommend based on our experience and reddit.

Subreddit for traveling to Iceland: r/visitingiceland

Skyr is life now 🙂

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