Please sign in to post.

Belated Trip Report- Iceland Summer 2022

I’ve been meaning to post for awhile, and someone somewhere on these boards asked me for my itinerary. So, here we go. This is our trip that we did two summers ago. We had a fantastic time BUT it was apparently the rainiest June in Iceland in 30 years. Originally, we had planned a two week ring road trip then were going to meet friends in the UK. Those plans fell through but we were unable to extend our van rental so we did about two weeks on the ring road, dropped off the van and saw a bit of Reykjavik, then picked up a new van (different company) for the Westfjords.
We booked our van through Happy Campers. They were great and we would go with them again. In hindsight, we’d size up the van a bit. We got the smallest van they have and it was comfortable for sleeping and driving but we were CONSTANTLY having to rearrange our things. I felt like half of our trip was organization. And we didn’t even have all that much stuff! It was challenging to cook in because of the weather, too.
Day 1: We had arrived late the night before; Happy Campers picked us up from our pension in the morning and took us to their location. After that, we did the longish drive out to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. We did not have a set itinerary for each day planned out; rather, we had a list of possible campsites and things to see along the way, so that we weren’t spending our days reading reviews and searching for a good campground, but also had flexibility. This plan worked well for us. We were originally supposed to go to the Blue Lagoon but didn’t make our reservation time so we rescheduled it (long, dumb story) so we drove longer that anticipated. We drove to the Hellisandur Campground. We made a few stops- the highlight was Ytri Tunga Beach, where we saw several seals.
Day 2: Drove a loop on the peninsula- Djupalonssandur Beach (worthwhile stop) and the Arnastapi to Hellnar hike. Our weather was pretty bad but it was still a beautiful hike. At the end, we stopped at the Fjoruhusid Cafe for lunch; it was absolutely packed because of the weather (it was starting to pour at this point) but we were able to share a table with some other travelers. The fish soup was expensive but outstanding. After lunch, we drove around a bit more and took photos at the Budir black church; it was pretty but not worth going out of your way for.
Day 3: Left the peninsula, taking in Kirkjufell along the way. It was really busy with tourists. It’s interesting how the mountain just looks like a regular ole’ mountain until you get to a certain angle. We also really enjoyed the Glumbaer turf houses. Drove and spent the night in Hofsos. The local pool there is very nice but the town itself is super quiet. Quick tip- if you are in town, there are some volcanic lava pillars just next to the pool. You can’t see them from the road but they’re easy to spot if you walk up to the edge. There’s a path to get closer.
Day 4: Trollaskagi Peninsula. I wish we had slowed down here and spent more time as it ended up being one of our favorite spots. The views everywhere were gorgeous. We spent a few hours wandering Siglufjordur and in hindsight should have spent the night there. Super cute town, lots to see, and the museum looked nice. There was a main square with bars and restaurants that would’ve been fun to visit at night. If you like fish and chips, the take away fish and chips shop was the best we had on our trip. (It’s listed as “local fish and chips” on google maps). Stopped at Godafoss and drove through Husavik before camping at 66.12 North past Husavik (if you’re a camper, get here early to claim a good spot- this was one of our very favorite campgrounds). It’s right on the ocean, amazing views, friendly host, awesome facilities.
Day 6: Drove to Asbygri Canyon. The welcome center was helpful in providing maps and recommendations. If you’re camping, this would be a fun spot- it’s forested! Felt like home! (Oregon). Not common in Iceland at all. Continue to Part 2...

Posted by
144 posts

PART 2:
And the facilities looked very good. We did the short walk around the lake, then drove to a hiking path that takes you on top of the horseshoe. We hiked for a few hours before heading back. This was a nice spot in that it was so different from anything else we saw in Iceland. After this, we visited Dettifoss which was one of my favorite waterfalls in Iceland- it’s absolutely ginormous.
Day 7: Myvatn area. This was a little bit of a blur. We spent a few hours finding a campground. I had researched them beforehand but didn’t know where we wanted to camp. After checking a few out, we decided they were all overpriced but bad. This was definitely our least favorite area for camping options in all of Iceland. We ended up choosing Bjarg (I think that was the name of it)- which was the least bad, I guess. But soooo overpriced and you’re literally just parked in a cement parking lot. But, the facilities were good and it was cleaner than other places we had looked at. A few had been downright filthy. For Myvatn: The weather was really horrible and my husband was sick so I was driving myself around and seeing sights quickly by myself.The Hverfjall Crater was really cool but beware it’s a really steep hike up. It took me about 15 minutes but it was a super challenging 15 minutes. The lava fields were neat but super crowded.
Day 8: Ended up leaving Myvatn earlier than planned and headed to Seydisfjordur. Super cute town and the drive in is gorgeous. You really climb in elevation and we were mostly driving through a cloud bank on the way there. If you like sushi, the sushi restaurant in town is fantastic- spendy but worth it..
Day 8: Seydisfjordur
Day 9: We had blue skies! For a little while! Finally! Our first main stop (unless you count hot dogs and ice cream, which I do) was Vestrahorn (really cool) and took a quick look at the viking village there. If you have limited time, skip the village and just wander on the beach. Drove a little farther to our campsite. We camped nearby at a spot we chose because it was closest to our kayaking spot the next morning.
Day 10: Kayaking! If you’re a kayaker, do the trip with IceGuide on the Heinabergslon glacier lagoon. We were the only people there for most of the time (a few walkers wandered in at various times) and you get right up to these huge glaciers. As it’s a smaller lagoon and no tide, it’s very easy paddling; we are experienced kayakers but this could be done by novices. It was a highlight of the trip. After the kayaking tour, we drove out to Jokulsarlon and admired the lagoon, which was a very impressive sight. We also did one of the Zodiac boat tours of the lagoon, which was a little anticlimactic after our kayaking trip. We were glad we did both but we definitely preferred the kayaking trip. I will say though, that the lagoon is fantastic and not to be missed, but it’s busy so we were glad we experienced both a quiet lagoon and the crowded, touristy one.
After the Zodiac tour, we drove to our next campground at Svinafell (I think). Everywhere you drive in this stretch is just glacier! Glacier! Glacier! We stopped at Fjallsarlon and did a short hike in to view the glacier before settling down at the night at our campground.
Day 11: We drove to Vik and stopped at Fjadrargljufur Canyon. The drive was surprisingly challenging- steep, narrow road and parking was difficult. I hadn’t seen that mentioned anywhere so was a bit surprised. Our campervan made it but it was a tough drive. The canyon was crowded but beautiful. It was raining pretty hard when we were there but we did the whole walk and back. Very “Land Before Time.” In Vik, we went to Reynisfjara Beach and Dryholaey. We didn’t see puffins but the cliffs were cool. Reynisfjara Beach was a bit anticlimactic, to be honest. We camped at the Vik Campground which was one of our least favorites. Continue to Part 3...

Posted by
144 posts

PART 3:
The inside cooking area was tiny for the number of people staying there, there were like 2 pans for the whole kitchen, etc. The bathrooms had public showers only- no shower curtains and you had to pay (on top of the camping fee). It was absolutely pouring the whole time we were there so not a great experience.
Day 12: We were excited to leave Vik and drive to the Pakgil Campground. We were prepared for a challenging drive and it was. The roads were dry and we didn’t feel like we needed AWD but if it was raining still I probably wouldn’t do it. I made my husband drive. There was one turn right before the campground which is very steep on a very, very sharp turn- it was scary. But we made it and Pakgil Campground (I’ve also seen it spelled Thakgil) was one of our favorites. The area is just absolutely gorgeous, there’s loads of space to camp (you’re essentially in a huge meadow) and you can cook in a cave! We were so glad we stayed two nights. There are lots of hikes in the area; we just did some wandering but saw lots of people coming in from serious hiking. We had absolutely fantastic weather, too.
Day 14: We drove to Skogafoss, which was cool but we were a bit waterfall-ed out by that point, to be honest. It was also very crowded. I didn’t think the hike to the top added much scenic value but we did it.
Day 15: We drove to the Golden Circle. I had added this into our itinerary for last, because we weren’t sure if we were going to make it or not. After doing the rest of the ring, it was anticlimactic. The sights we saw were Kerio Crater (ridiculous admission fee, not very exciting, the guy at the desk was watching a movie and so the line was incredibly slow…I remember him being the rudest person we encountered in Scotland), the Geysir area (fun), Gulfoss (fine), Thingviller (fantastic and the only place worth going out of your way for here tbh). We also stopped at the tomato farm for lunch, which was MUCH better than expected. We had made reservations but were able to change the time slot several times. The food was excellent (that cucumber relish was to die for) and it was just a fun, if touristy, experience. We camped in the Selfoss area and had dinner at the Viking Restaurant which was fun (and food was good). In hindsight, I probably would have skipped the Golden Circle and added more time onto other areas- Trollaskagi Peninsula or the SE glacier areas, specifically. It also might have felt a bit more “Wow!” if we had tacked in onto the beginning of our trip.
After the Golden Circle, we drove back to the Happy Campers office and returned our van, then caught a bus to Reykjavik where we stayed for a few nights. Originally, this was going to be the end of our trip (we were going to fly to the UK and meet friends there, but they had to cancel, so we tacked on the Westfjords). After a few days in Reykjavik, we picked up a different campervan (from a different company- Happy Campers was fully booked for our “add on” trip and headed to the Westfjords.
In the Westfjords, we spent nights in Holmavik (1 night), Isafjordur (2 or 3 nights- I can’t remember), the Melanes Campground (on the beach- 2 nights, I think), and then ferried back to Stykkisholmur. The Westfjords are fantastic but dramatically different- long stretches of seeing absolutely no one else, and more challenging drives than not. If I were to go back to Iceland, I would consider just exploring that area more in depth. Highlights of the Westfjords for us were:
-The Melanes Camprground at Raudisandur Beach was fantastic. -The cliffs (and puffins!) at Patreksfjordur were amazing. That drive was terrifying, though. -Dynjandi Waterfall is really cool- so different than the others we saw.
Continue to Part 4...

Posted by
144 posts

Part 4:
For most of the trip, we had planned out in quite a bit of detail what we wanted to see and do. We didn't do this for the Westfjords (hence, my notes are a lot shorter!) and I'm also running out of steam with all this typing :)
Sights in the Westfjords are far, far apart so we mainly had a goalpost that we wanted to hit each day. For the Ring Road, I had a list of places to go and a general day-to-day itinerary, with several potential campsites in each location, depending on how far we wanted to drive that day. That ended up working well. I love the freedom the campervan gave us, although we got really sick of the van, really fast. But you do need to plan ahead more for Iceland than other countries, imho.
I would like to go back some day and I have fond memories, even though the rain and weather was absolutely miserable 90% of the time while we were there.
Happy to answer any questions if you have them.

Posted by
1993 posts

I adore Iceland and we head back for our 6th trip soon, so of course loved your report! It brought back memories of so many great places there. The problem with Iceland is there is never enough time! We did the ring road in 2021 and had 12 days, and then this summer we had a camper van for 10 days in the Westfjords and then swapped it out for a car and had another week which we split between Thorsmark and Westmann. Still so much to see, so will keep returning;)

Happy Campers were great to work with. We opted for the Happy 4x4 since we were in the Westfjords and it was large enough that we could just leave the bed down the entire time and still had room to maneuver and to cook. That was a good decision! I did really debate which size camper to get.

Thank you so much for sharing this. It made my day:)

Posted by
144 posts

Hi Mikliz97- Enjoy your upcoming trip! We'd love to go back sometime. You're right, there is so much to see and I feel like we would be able to do it so much better the second time around. For all the planning I did, I'd definitely do some things differently. We also had exceptionally bad weather (even for Iceland). But on our next major trip (Scotland last April), it was in the 70s and sunny all week, which we felt was well-deserved :)

Posted by
1993 posts

CoffeeGirl--I think we all learn from our trips, and make adjustments when we return to places. I did laugh at your comment about the forested area as it reminds you of home. Born and raised Oregonian here, now in WA, so I get it. Whenever we went by any patch of trees, we would say "forest!", lol. On our trip this summer, we only had one day of rain that made us change our plans, because that was in the Westfjords and the road we were to take was not safe in those conditions. We had fog at Hornstrandir, which was still great, but we didn't get the views we had hoped for. Overall though for 17 days, we were really fortunate! Makes up for one winter trip that was back to back storms.

Posted by
334 posts

Hi there! Really great input, I especially appreciated what you said about the Golden Circle (see below) as I am considering skipping it to focus on time on the Ring Road. We have 7-10 days and I'm currently planning to fly from Reykjavik to Akureyri and starting our leisurely Ring Road from there (one way rental), so your trip was very helpful.

Day 15: We drove to the Golden Circle. I had added this into our itinerary for last, because we weren’t sure if we were going to make it or not. After doing the rest of the ring, it was anticlimactic. The sights we saw were Kerio Crater (ridiculous admission fee, not very exciting, the guy at the desk was watching a movie and so the line was incredibly slow…I remember him being the rudest person we encountered in Scotland), the Geysir area (fun), Gulfoss (fine), Thingviller (fantastic and the only place worth going out of your way for here tbh). We also stopped at the tomato farm for lunch, which was MUCH better than expected....In hindsight, I probably would have skipped the Golden Circle and added more time onto other areas- Trollaskagi Peninsula or the SE glacier areas, specifically.

Posted by
144 posts

MelT- a one way rental is a great idea! Assuming you'll be going clockwise- there are definitely things to see in the NW portion, but not on the scale as the rest of the country. If you have extra time at the end, I'd suggest popping up to the Snaefellsnes peninsula, too.