6D5N Winter Self-Drive Iceland Itinerary (Part I of II)
Driving in Iceland is the most enjoyable road trips that we have taken thus far. Every part of the leg is different, and the view is simply breath-taking!
We flew into Keflavík via EasyJet and out via IcelandAir. The EasyJet flight wasn't a great experience and we would highly recommend anyone who intends to go to Iceland to take IcelandAir. The planes were bigger and were able to withstand higher turbulence. Especially when you are travelling in Winter, the turbulence that you may face on a small EasyJet plane is akin to a rollercoaster ride. IcelandAir also offers free stopovers (up to 7 days!) when you choose to fly through Iceland to your destination.
Arrival at Keflavík International Airport
There are so many things to do once you've touched down at Keflavík International Airport.
- Currency Exchange / Arion Currency Card
As Icelandic Krónurs are not as easily available as other currencies, bring Euros or USDs and change them at the airport. Keflavík is a small airport and you will easily find Arion Bank at the arrival area, on the ground floor. Alternatively, you may withdraw Icelandic Krónurs at the ATM machines should you choose not to join in the long queue.
You may also consider getting an Arion Currency Card which is a prepaid Currency Card that offers some discounts. Although I would say, you can skip the discounts, there weren't that applicable but the Currency Card is a good way for you to pay in Iceland. Some of the gas stations in the South Coast are unmanned and requires you to pay with your credit card (with PIN number). It proved to be very useful for us as our credit cards failed to work at some of the gas stations.
- 4G SIM Cards
We also got our 4G SIM Cards at the 10-11 supermarket in the airport. It is important for travellers to do so as it also doubles up as a GPS and searching for the nearest good eats while driving. We got the Síminn 1GB data only SIM card for 2,000 ISK (you can top up the data as you go along). 1GB was sufficient for us throughout the 5 days as we also utilised the free wifi in our hotels.
For travellers from Singapore, you may also choose to get your 4G Wifi eggs from Klook, picking it up just before you leave the country!
- Arrange transport to your accommodations / car rentals
After all that is done, you may hop on to the shuttles to your car rental company, or go to the FlyBus counter to purchase tickets to your accommodation. As we arrived in the evening, we decided against driving in the dark and decided to only start our roadtrips the next day. We also didn't want to pay for expensive parking in Reykjavík city centre.
The Flybus Airport Shuttle brings your from the airport, to the Reykjavík BSÍ Bus terminal from 2,000 ISK or take the Flybus+ straight to your accommodation from 3,500 ISK. We recommend taking the Flybus+ as many of the Reykjavik City Hotels are quite a distance away from the Bus terminal.
Whether you've chosen flybus or flybus+, everyone will be on the same bus to the bus terminal. The company cleverly segregates people into the regions their accommodations were, and depending on where you are staying you will have a different colour ticket. At the bus terminal, you will be asked to take your belongings and leave the bus where they will usher you to a smaller bus (according to the colour of your ticket).
It was a confusing and interesting scene as we were confused as to where to go, some people were entering the bus terminal while the others were hanging around the big bus. After some asking around, we managed to find our bus and were on our way to our accommodation.
Hotel Fron, Reykjavik, Iceland
Stay - Hotel Frón (11,300 ISK on Booking.com)
We've booked a night's stay at Hotel Frón, located at the main shopping street in Reykjavik City Centre. It was extremely dark when we arrived hence the poor picture quality. The rate includes breakfast (do try to pick hotels with breakfast as food in Iceland can be quite pricey when dining in restaurants!)
It was a lovely and cosy hotel, and we thoroughly enjoyed our short stay.
Eat - Icelandic Hotdogs
You must try the Pylsur at Reykjavik's Bæjarins Beztu Pylsu. It is a hotdog stand that is popular with locals and tourists. We had it twice when we were in Iceland, and even bought some hotdogs, fried onions, and the mustard at Bonus Supermarket to make it in our apartment. Yes, it is that good.
Pylsur at Reykjavik's Bæjarins Beztu Pylsu
It is also the cheapest food that you can in Iceland at 280 ISK. Some of the gas stations also sell Pylsur so if you are itching for some food, you must give it a go!
Chasing the Sun
Reykjavik > Bonus Supermarket > Seljalandsfoss > Skógafoss Waterfalls > Fosshotel Nupar
283 km, about 5 hours of driving
This is the day we get our rental car from Blue Car Rental. We have written about this in a previous post: Renting a car in Iceland
It is important to plan out what you would like to cover over the course of your stay. We have decided to cover the South Coast up to the Glacier Lagoon, and the Golden Circle over our four days of driving. Also, do plan to get up early and get the most of day light
For the first day, we covered most of the journey to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and left most of the attractions for the return journey.
Before you start your roadtrip, do remember to stock up on your groceries! As we will be staying in the outskirts, we decided to head to Bonus Supermarket to get our supplies.
After about 2 hours of driving, we arrived at Seljalandsfoss!
The carpark is just right outside the waterfall, and you will just have to take a short walk to see the waterfall. You could also walk further in along the path and get behind the waterfall.
Seljalandsfoss > Skógafoss Waterfalls (29.3km, about 30 mins)
Skógafoss has a black sand beach area that looks great in photographs.
Skógafoss Waterfalls > Foss Hotel Nupar (129km, about 2 hours)
Then, we drove straight to our accommodation. As this was our first day of driving, the sky was pitch black before we could reach the hotel. It was indeed an eventful and exciting adventure. We arrived safely at Foss Hotel at 5pm. If you were to decide to book a night at Foss Hotel, take note of the signs at the side of the road, do not miss the turn in.
Stay - Foss Hotel Nupar (11,200 ISK on Booking.com)
We liked Foss Hotel Nupar because it is literally located in the Wilderness. The rooms had full length glass panels that enabled us to admire the night sky. It was really beautiful at night as we could see all the stars as there's no light source. Even though we didn't see the aurora (does a slight green streak count?), it is a good venue to camp for the aurora without being out in the cold.
Foss Hotel Nupar, Iceland
Jökulsárlón > Fjallsárlón > Svartifoss > Hotel Edda Vik
292 km, about 4.5 hours drive
We are finally heading to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon! This was supposed to be the highlight of our trip!
Unfortunately, the most of the glacier has melted... :( When I spoke to one of my friend who also went in the same time frame as I did, she said that when she was in Iceland 2 years ago, there was a lot more ice. #globalwarming?
We parked at the bottom of the hill where we had to walk up to the glacier lagoon, and back down to the black sand beach. It was quite a fun short hike.
Ice that were washed ashore!
After taking lots of pictures and playing with the ice, we went on our way back to Reykjavik, covering several other attractions. Fjallsarlon was a smaller glacier lagoon that you had to walk up a hill to get to. It is located a mere 5 minutes drive from Jokulsarlon.
Then it's on our way back to Skaftafell. Driving in Iceland is really unpredictable. There were amazing sunny weather, and a good 1km down, it is raining heavily. We couldn't head to Svartifoss as we had to hike into the waterfall. It was pouring so we had no choice but to give it a miss.