Snaefellsnes peninsula or Vik and the south coast

We will be in Iceland for 3 days and based in Reykjavik this July. Day 1 will be the sights in and around Reykjavik and blue lagoon. Day 2 will be the golden circle tour. Day 3 will be a trip to either Snaefellsnes or the south coast. I'm having trouble deciding which to do though I am leaning toward Snaefellsnes but have seen more comments about the south coast on this site. I might have a car, I just haven't priced it out yet (party of two). There are bus tour options available for both trips. If the cost of renting a car is difficult to justify then I'll take a tour but I definitely love the freedom of having a car.

Posted by Erin
San Francisco, CA
176 posts

We did a similar itinerary -- it was packed, but we enjoy that kind of travel. A car was a necessity. Day 1- Reykjavik Day 2- rent car- drive golden circle, ( i suppose we could have slept Reykjavik that night, but we decided to go straight on to Stykkisholmer-- we arrived late around 8pm).
Day 3- Drive the entire Snaefellsnes-- stopping to hike a bit, and have some of the best fish soup I've ever had. Return to rekjavik. We really wanted the experience of sleeping one night out in Stykkisholmer. We stayed at Baenir & Braud and is was our favorite part of the trip. If you want to stay in Reykjavik each night, I'm sure this would be possible-- you could leave early in the morning on day 3, and drive the peninsula and then return at nighttime. Enjoy- Iceland is gorgeous.

Posted by Bob
Rosemount, MN, USA
56 posts

Erin, Thanks for the info. I like the idea of doing the golden circle tour and then driving to Stykkisholmer versus backtracking back to Reykjavik. I do like to have a home base but in this case it just doesn't seem practical and still be able to enjoy Snaefellsness penisnsula without being rushed. How were the unpaved sections of road encountered on the golden circle tour and nearby attractions and in and around the Snaefellsness peninsula ? I plan on renting a car, not a 4x4, and didn't read of any precautions on the golden circle route and using the main loop road around the peninsula. I've been using the Lonely Planet, Frommers, Bradt and Insight Guides for planning. Did you find any special places not listed ? Did you take a whale watching cruise out of Stykkisholmer ? I've read there is a higher success rate seeing whales out of the more remote locations and a 50/50 chance at seeing a blue whale out of Stykkisholmer. This is the hardest part of a trip I've ever planned for. Having limited time helps the downselect process, but there are so many places I want to see. I could easily spend two weeks just hitting the attractions near the ring road. Significantly more time would be required for backpacking. Such an amazing place. Bob

Posted by Erin
San Francisco, CA
176 posts

We felt the same way! A hard trip to plan for -- we wanted to do everything. We didn't find the roads to be challenging, as long as you stay on the main road, and don't go off onto any of the smaller roads-- which are marked with a different letter, and which are illegal to take non 4x4 vehicles onto. We had a normal passenger car, and did just fine-- just be careful opening your doors-- without trees, it's impossible to realize how fast the wind is blowing, and you can actually lose a door! We didn't have time for a whale watch, and we were there in September, so it was the wrong season. We did do a bunch of walking around and a few hours of hiking, which was lovely. We did the Blue Lagoon on our way to the airport-- it was a big time saver, and it was a nice way to relax before the flight. Not sure if your timeline allows that-- but I would suggest it. Only challenge was adding a wet towel/bathing suit to our bags-- but we just remembered to bring plastic bags, so that worked out well.