Having crossed the north of Iceland fairly quickly, we found ourselves in the west earlier than expected on day 6. In the west we had a decision to make, did we stay in the ‘normal west’ near Kirkjufell, or did we continue up towards the Westfijords and Hornstrandir? Although the latter option would have been our preferred itinerary, we decided that we simply didn’t have enough time. What’s more, we also found out that the ferry to Hornstrandir was quite expensive, and 24-hours up there would not have justified the cost. We will just have to go back another time!
Day 6 Blönduós to somewhere on road 54
Hvitserkur rock formation
Waking up in our little forest-style picnic area on the side of the road, we headed up the 711 towards Hvitserkur where there is a rock formation in the sea. From here, we decided to carry on around the coast where you can often see seals. Unfortunately we did not see any but had some lovely views and even saw what seemed to be wild horses along the road.
Wild horses in Iceland
After deciding that we wouldn’t have time for the Westfijords and Hornstrandir, we took what felt like the longest gravel road on earth to Stykkishólmur. Here, you can climb the hill to get a nice view of the town and its cute little houses, as well as some good photos of the sea and surrounding islands. By this point we had also made coffee stops an almost compulsory part of our day, so we went to the bakery on the way into the town and shared a couple of pastries too.
View of Stykkishólmur
Further along the road (which was paved now!), you can find Kirkjufell which is the most photographed mountain in Iceland. We were also keen to get some good photos here, but the heavens just opened and the rain kept pouring down. We waited for the rain to subside a bit in the car, yet it felt like it was never going to happen. Braving it, we ventured out and just tried to get the best photos possible, which wasn’t exactly easy with our fingers freezing and the wind almost blowing us away!
Kirkjufell mountain and waterfall
We started to look for somewhere to sleep around Ólafsvik, but the surrounding terrain was lava fields again, making it impossible. As we continued to the national park around Snaefellsjökull, we spotted a few possibilities but the fact that it is illegal to camp in national parks in Iceland put us off a bit, plus the wind coming in from the coast was going to make it a very uncomfortable evening.
We continued along the road again until we spotted a hamlet on the left with a cute church and a farm. There was lots of flat grass surrounding the church so we knocked on the farmhouse to see if it was ok to camp there. Unfortunately there was no answer and it looked like the house was uninhabited. At this point it was also getting very dark so decided to pitch our tents as discreetly as possible and leave early so as to not disrupt anyone.
Day 7 Road 54 to Laugarvatn
- Landbrotalaug hot spring
Failing to see the Northern Lights yet again the night before, we started the day at Landbrotalaug hot spring and what felt like one of Iceland’s best-kept secrets. There were only 2 other people at the spring when we arrived, but the pool is very small so we left them to it and waited our turn. It should be noted that there are 2 pools at Landbrotalaug. The second one is the one with the tap running into it, but as it had rained so much the night before, access was difficult because the surrounding pools had filled overnight.
Landbrotalaug hot spring
We really liked this hot spring because the views were just fantastic! However, at 44 degrees it as extremely hot and after just 10 minutes inside we felt a little dizzy! Please be careful because unsurprisingly, there isn’t exactly a lifeguard to come to your rescue.
Our morning bath over, the next stop was at Hraunfossar where we probably would not have bothered going if it hadn’t been on a paper map we had. After exploring the waterfalls, we headed to find somewhere for a hot drink because we had not found anywhere on route in Borgarnes. In Húsafell there was just one restaurant, where we had the most expensive coffee of our trip. You can always consider a café/restaurant in the middle of nowhere a real tourist trap – duh!
Tip: Don’t take the 523 if you can avoid it because it is a gravel road. The 519 runs parallel on the other side of the lake and it looked much better.
We had a look around the area and were told about what sounded like a great walk up and down the canyon at Húsafell, but it was still raining and a 2-hour wet hike didn’t sound like a great idea. There are also some caves in the area which cost about 6500 ISK per person to visit, so we considered it a bit expensive for an impromptu activity.
By this point it had been raining, more on than off, for about 5 days straight and although we were trying to keep our spirits high, it was getting more and more difficult. The weather forecast was starting to look a bit better towards Pingvellir, so there we headed on the 52 and then the 550. This was also a gravel road, but we preferred going this way rather than detouring via Reykjavik.
When we arrived near Pingvellir, there was still a bit of light rain but it was much more bearable. So we parked at the tourist centre and walked along a trail for about 45 minutes until we reached the former town and church. Along the way there was lots of interesting information on how Iceland gained independence from Denmark and used to establish its laws in the area. The walk through the woods was really nice, although if you don’t feel like it, we later found out that there is a massive car park right next to the village.
Before we knew it, the sun was setting again so we had to find somewhere to sleep. The road lead us to Laugarvatn, where we found a hiking path at the entrance of the town. A bit further up there was a small clearing on the right, just big enough for our 2 tents. Once we got the tents set up, we were all so cold and wet that all we wanted was a plate of carbohydrate-filled pasta with pesto! But that wasn’t meant to be because as soon as we started boiling the water, we ran out of gas. “I’m starving” said twin 2, and we all where, so there was nothing else we could do but venture out to find a solution.
Freckles and twin 1 took to the road, only to find that the petrol station, small shop and take-away restaurant were all closed. A bit further, we politely refused a 3500ISK reindeer burger at the local restaurant and after a tip-off from a friendly lady at the spa, we found out that the hostel next door had a kitchen that served until around 10pm. Looking more like a fancy hotel, we never would have guessed that the green-peaked building was actually a hostel – and a very nice one at that. Luckily, the restaurant was still open so we were able to order 2 pizzas for about 3000 IRK, which worked out much cheaper than the burgers we had seen earlier. It felt like cheating, but never has pizza tasted so good! What’s more, the beers we left in the tent were ice cold thanks to the freezing temperatures outside – perfect!
It might almost be the end of the trip, but there’s still more to read! Check out our other Iceland posts below.
When did we go?: September 2016
Currency: Icelandic Krona (ISK)
Language: Icelandic, but English widely spoken