golden-triangle-iceland

The Golden Triangle and Reykjavik: Iceland road trip #5

If you have been reading our previous posts on our road trip in Iceland, you will know that it had been cold, wetand somewhat eventful until this point. By day 8 we were nearing the end of our trip and were keen to make the most of every minute before heading home on day 10.

Day 8 Laugarvatn to Villingaholt – The Golden Triangle

  • Laugarvatn
  • Geysir
  • Gulfoss
  • Seljavallalaug swimming pool
  • Villingaholt

After cheating the night before with take away pizza from the hostel in West Iceland, we were in good spirits heading towards the infamous Golden Triangle. What would a trip to Iceland be without doing The Golden Triangle? In our case we didn’t want to go to touristy Blue Lagoon, so it was more of a Golden Rectangle.

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Geysir

We visited Geysir and Gulfoss in the morning followed by a breakfast/brunch stop in Reykholt with the best petrol station in the world (because it was also a part bakery!). Here we shared one of the massive pastries we had seen several times during the trip (which also worked out cheaper than buying individual ones). We were also able to have more sophisticated coffees such as espresso, cappuccino and macchiato for just 250ISK each – rather than the basic filter coffee we had been drinking until this point – plus they were some of the cheapest drinks we had during the trip.

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Gullfoss waterfall

It was only just lunchtime so we needed a plan for the rest of the day. Earlier in the trip we were disappointed that we didn’t get to visit Seljavallalaug swimming pool. So it seemed like a good opportunity to go explore, even if it did mean re-doing a part of the route in the south.

The journey took us about an hour and a half and with the pastry we had earlier not filling us for long, we ended up having an obligatory petrol station hotdog. They are good value for money, but they are not very filling, so you often end up buying something else anyway.

Seljavallalaug swimming pool is just next to Eyjafjakkajökull volcano, so the surrounding landscape is really impressive. We had a picturesque 15-minute walk there with the foggy skies contrasted against the harsh green of the grass surrounding the volcano. Arriving at the pool, there were very basic communal changing cabins, which were very useful under the rain.

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Seljavallalaug swimming pool

As for the pool itself, we found it a bit unusual. It is a man-made swimming pool but it still feels very natural inside. We were also surprised that it was not warmer:  we were kind of expecting another hot spring-style experience! The water was by far the dirtiest we bathed in, so much so that Frog and Twin 2 had to throw their swimming shorts away because they got so stained with algae – eww!

Nevertheless, we were pleased that we had made the effort to go up there. The walk was nice and you can get some nice photos of the pool.

After stopping at Kjarval grocery store – the most expensive supermarket we visited during our stay – we slept near Villingaholt where we found a spot on the edge of a lake. We decided it would only be polite to check that it was okay with the farmhouse opposite first, and the lady that answered the door looked extremely surprised to see us. If we are honest, we are not sure if she really understood our intentions because her English was very basic. But we felt better for asking and for her replying a simple ‘ok’ – at least she knew who the car opposite her house belonged to.

With no gas left to cook with and no possibility of lighting a fire under the rain (again!), it was cold hotdogs in bread buns for dinner. A pretty disappointing meal for our last night out camping!

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Wild camping near Villingaholt, Iceland

Day 9 Villingaholt to Reykjavik

The drive to Reykjavik the next day only took about 45 minutes with a stop off at Hverageròi, where we had breakfast in a fantasic bakery just next to the Bónus supermarket. Frog tried a delicious rectangle cream-filled doughnut topped with caramel, accompanied as always with two servings of hot coffee.

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Harpa concert hall

We arrived in Reykjavik by 10am and parked the car at the apartment we had rented on AirBnB. It wasn’t available for another 4 hours, so we headed straight into the town centre to start exploring. Reykjavik is very small for a capital city, but there is enough to do to fill a day. We visited the Harpa concert hall and the market opposite (the latter is not really worth visiting unless you have nothing else to do). Further along the harbour is the Sólfariò Viking ship sculpture and of course, it is worth going to the infamous Hallgrimskirkja church. You can go inside for free but you have to pay to go up the tower.

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Hallgrimskirkja cathedral in Reykjavik

We had lunch on the main Laugavegur Street where we found a small restaurant specialised in homemade soup served in a bread bowl. As you can expect and have probably heard, Reykavik is notoriously expensive so a soup and a beer cost us over 2500 IKR each!

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Soup in bread at a restaurant in Reykjavik

If you have been following the Iceland road trip posts, you have probably figured out that we hadn’t had a shower for quite a while now (but hot springs count, right?). So feeling desperate for a good wash after the algae experience the day before, we headed to check-in at the apartment and make use of the hot shower.

Tip: In Iceland, the water is heated using geothermal energy so it still smells of sulphur. Apparently it is quite normal and you eventually get used to it!

One of Frog’s old friends from France lives in Reykjavik now and was exhibiting at an environmental event at Perlan ‘The Pearl’, so we went to check it out and go say “Hi”. The twins decided to stay in the city and test out Micro Bar, which they said was pretty cool. As for ‘The Pearl’, it is actually a good place to visit if you have access to a car because it has panoramic views of the city and the small airport. We saw one very shiny private jet at the airport, and rumour has that it belonged to Justin Bieber *cue screaming fan girls*.

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View of Reykjavik from the Perlan

After meeting back up with the twins in the city centre, we went for a drink at Saeta Svíniò Gastropub and started looking for somewhere to eat on Tripadvisor. Because we hadn’t spent that much money during the trip, we were all willing to spend our remaining Icelandic Krona on a nice meal. But even with over 5000 ISK in our pockets per head, It wasn’t looking that hopeful. In the end the food coming out of the kitchen at the gastropub looked and smelt lovely so we asked to look at the menu, to find that it was much more reasonable than what we had seen online.

Before we knew it we had ordered one plate of mink whale as a starter (please don’t judge us!) and two slow-roasted lamb shoulders to share. The menu stated that the lamb was big enough for 2 or for 1 very hungry person. To be honest there was enough meat for 3 people to share, especially if you ordered an extra side. So at 5000 ISK per plate, it ended up being a good deal and a reasonably priced meal for Reykjavik.

The evening ended with a happy hour pint in a cool little bar that we can’t remember the name of, before heading to the apartment for an early-ish night because we had to be up at 3am to catch our flight.

Day 10 – Reykjavik to home

The drive from Reykajvik to Keflavik airport takes about 45 minutes, so we had to be up early to catch our 6am flight. We also had to return the car and fill it up beforehand, which we only actually remembered when we got back to the rental place. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that there is a petrol pump just outside of Enterprise . Even better news is that they charge exactly the same price we had seen all over Iceland! #winning

A shuttle bus took us back to the airport and we said our farewells to the twins before heading in different directions to go home 🙁

Tip: If you take a flight from Keflavik, note that the airport is a lot bigger than you might expect. It can take up to 20 minutes to walk to the furthest gates.

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So there we have it, our almost 10-day trip in Iceland was over. We saw some really great things and despite our bad luck with the weather, we had an amazing time. Would we do things differently next time? Of course! That is why we are telling you about it now. If you do decide to go to the country of elements, don’t forget to check out our other posts with top tips on how to visit Iceland on a budget.

Although we said bye to Iceland, we hope to go back one day and visit the highlands and the Westfijords. We are also considering doing a hiking trip over several days in Hornstrandir. But until then, we have other plans – so stay tuned!

Quick facts

Where: Iceland

When did we go?: September 2016

Currency: Icelandic Krona (ISK)

Language: Icelandic, but English widely spoken

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