6D5N Winter Self-Drive Iceland Itinerary (Part II of II)
The Golden Circle
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach > Kerið > Faxi > Gulfoss > Geysir > Golden Circle Apartments
(239 km, about 3.5 hours)
Headed to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach the first thing in the morning. Bad idea! The waves were crazy! We were told not to head to the caves as it was high tide. :( So, if you would like to visit the Black Sand Beach, it would be better to go in the afternoon during Winter.
Thereafter, we went to Selfoss for lunch (had KFC!), and went to do the Golden Circle the other way around. It is advisable to do the opposite way as there will be fewer tourists. Unlike most of the attractions in the South Coast, there were many people at each of the Golden Circle sites.
Kentucky Fried Chicken in Selfoss, Iceland
We were so happy to find KFC as we had been having lots of hot dogs, Skyr and instant noodles for the past few days. Happy tummies, and happy us!
First up, Kerio. It is volcanic crater. There is a 400 ISK entry fee for this, and you will be able to walk one around the crater! Do note that there are limited parking lots here, we had to wait for awhile before we were able to get a lot.
Kerio, a volcanic crater in Iceland's Golden Circle Route
Thereafter, we also went to the Faxi falls. This is a "secret" hideout away from the throngs of tourists in their buses. It is just a few minutes away from the Kerio crater. After we turned into the little road, many cars followed suit. Ahhhhh.. There goes our peace..
Gulfoss, also known as the Golden Waterfall, is one of the most popular tourist attraction in Iceland. Gulfoss was mad crowded. There are two viewing points, one at the top and at the bottom. We went to the bottom viewing point as it was less crowded, and I thought that the view was much better too!
View of Gulfoss, Iceland
Finally, to the last stop for the day, the Geysir. Even though we went the Golden Circle the other way around, the Geysir was also a crowded spot. The entire area was filled with buses of tourists eager to get a snapshot and video of the Great Geysir. Right after getting off the car, we could smell the strong wave of Sulphur in the air. Definitely not for the faint hearted.
Video of the Great Geysir, Golden Circle, Iceland
Do stop by at the side of the road to marvel at the beautify Icelandic Horses!
Stay - Golden Circle Apartments (12,311 ISK on Booking.com)
We stayed at the Golden Circle Apartments which is a one-bed room apartment with a living room and kitchen. It was a luxurious stay for us and a good way to end off most of the sights in Iceland. This was where we prepared more Pylsur for dinner.
Homemade Pylsur in Golden Circle Apartments, Iceland
It was so delicious because we also pan-fry the Hotdogs and buttered the buns! Wiped all 6 sausages!
Final Driving Day
Þingvellir > Reykjavik City (Hallgrímskirkja & Harpa) > Blue Lagoon
(151 km, about 1.5 hours)
Headed to Þingvellir National Park in the morning. As it is the first stop for many tourists on the Golden Circle route, it was crowded. Þingvellir is a UNESCO World Heritage site where you get to walk between two continents. You can take a walk here till you reach Oxafoss.
After visitng Þingvellir, we headed to Reykjavik City for the Hallgrímskirkja Church and the Harpa Concert Hall.
Hallgrímskirkja and Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik, Iceland
You can actually head up the Hallgrimskirkja to get a bird's eye view of Reykjavik City Centre (with the exception on Sundays where worship sessions were in progress).
We also went back to have more Pylsur before heading to the last activity of the day - the blue lagoon.
The blue lagoon is located close to the airport, so do plan to visit it when you arrive or before you head to the airport. Flybus also sends tourists to the blue lagoon as a pit stop before bringing them to the airport. Otherwise, book a transfer to bring you either from the airport/reykjavik to the blue lagoon.
Even though many people online say that the blue lagoon is a touristy spot and that there are many other thermal baths in Iceland, we would say, visit it nonetheless! After spending so much time, effort, and money to visit Iceland, one should definitely try even the most touristy things (unless you're an Iceland veteran!).
You know when you are reaching the Blue Lagoon when you see geothermal fumes...
The drive to the Blue Lagoon, Iceland
The Blue Lagoon
And the water's really Blue! It is recommended for you to pre-book your timeslot. The prices vary according to the timing that you've booked the slot for. If you would like to witness the sun setting in winter, book the 3 or 4 slot. There are 4 packages - the standard, comfort, premium, and luxury.
We chose the comfort package (8100 ISK) as it includes the entrance, use of towels, 1st drink at the in-lagoon bar, silica mud mask, and the algae mask.
Even though we pre-booked the experience, we still had to queue up to enter the blue lagoon. Upon entering, you will be given a green electronic wrist band. The wrist band acts as a key for your changing room locker, and you can use it to pay for your drinks in the lagoon. Leave everything inside the lockers. After changing into your bathing suit, take a full body shower before entering the blue lagoon. This step is essential as everyone wants a clean lagoon experience!
For ladies with long hair, slap on loads of conditioner that's provided in the shower rooms as the geothermal water is extremely drying.
- Entering the blue lagoon
There are two entrances to the blue lagoon: an open air entrance, and an entrance from the indoor lagoon.
We recommend entering from the indoor lagoon. The water is warm and comfortable, you wouldn't want to freeze your bums out in the cold!
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
After spending a relaxing two hours soaking in the geothermal bath, enjoying the drinks and the masks, we left feeling rejuvenated! :)
For a little more off-the-beaten-path excursions, perhaps you could visit Hjalparfoss, Haifoss and Gjain.
Stay: Airport Hotel Aurora Star (15,045 ISK on Booking.com)
We then proceeded to our hotel next to the airport, and walking distance to the Blue Car Rental Office at Keflavik International Airport. We chose to stay next to the airport as we had an early flight out!
After checking in and moving our bags to our room, we proceeded to return our car. The return process was fuss-free. We merely had to sign some forms and after the staff did a check, we were good to go!
Airport Hotel Aurora Star offers breakfast and it starts early at 5am. We were able to get a last good meal before walking to the airport.
Before leaving, you will need to get refunds from the unused credit in the Arion Currency Card and to change your leftover ISKs to Euros, USD, Pounds. This can be done after clearing immigration and in the departure hall.
We flew out of Iceland to London, United Kindom via Iceland Air and it was an enjoyable flight. We highly recommend IcelandAir if you are ever flying to Iceland.
It was an overall enjoyable trip to Iceland, and we want to be back perhaps sometime in the Summer where there's longer days so that we can cover more of Iceland, or even go camping in Iceland! Otherwise, if you only have about 3.5 days in Iceland, consider skipping South Coast and head only for the Golden Circle! There's simply so much to see in Iceland including these 10 Best Waterfalls that you could visit!
Our blog posts on Iceland:
Watch our video on the Iceland Winter Self-Drive Trip! Enjoy!