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Reykjavik, Iceland’s Capital City
There are way more than ten amazing things to see in Iceland, but most people simply cant stay that long! A road trip in this beautiful country is is highly recommend for everyone to do at least once. Who wouldn’t welcome a drive along one of the most scenic highways in the world? The majority of Iceland’s residents call Reykjavik their home. Although it is the country’s largest city, it was wonderfully managed area and everyone was very nice. There is no shortage of things to do and places to visit, and with sufficient time, enough can be devoted to the city itself. Lots of restaurants with almost any kind of food you can imagine and plenty of places to grab a beer as well!
Reynisfjara is a black sand beach that is famous for “sneaker waves” and the large stone pillars in the sea. There is also a cave carved into the basalt columns that line the cliffs of the beach but you will have to get there early to avoid crowds. Unfortunately–like many places in Iceland–social media has given this place a lot of attention and it is usually full before the sun rises. As mentioned before, “sneaker waves” tend to catch people off guard sometimes even washing them out into the ocean.
Solheimasandur (The Airplane)
Another popular social media spot, the US Navy transport airplane made a crash landing here in the 70’s and the fuselage is still there to this day. The crew made it home alive, but the plane was left there to its fate. Over time, people have vandalized the wreckage but its beauty remains. The hike itself is about 2 miles each way over relatively even terrain, but if you get caught in a storm it would be easy to get disorientated and lose your way. Make sure to have a compass with you so that you can find your way back to the highway.
Seljandfoss/The Cave Waterfall
Before arriving at Skogafoss, you can make a left turn to see its smaller cousins: Seljandafoss and Gljúfrabúi. The later is a beautiful waterfall in a cavern that you have to walk through freezing water to see. It’s one of the nicest hikes in the world! Inside the cavern sits a large boulder and just beyond it is a beautiful waterfall flowing in from about 100 feet above. Make sure you cover your camera in a rain sleeve if you are going to take a photo! You will be soaked in just a few seconds from all the water vapor.
Skogafoss/Overcrowding in Iceland & Leave No Trace
One of the most popular spots in Iceland, this waterfall is not only insanely beautiful but also insanely crowded. Unfortunately, some countries produce higher quality citizens than others and because of that, people choose to litter and act in a destructive manner even in the presence of such natural beauty. Do your best to not fall into that crowd and please leave no trace.
The Glacier/The Drive Out
As you head east on Route 1, you’ll drive through a barren frozen desert before you make it to Vatnajokull glacier. Nothing but flat, white ground surrounding breathtaking mountains. The road itself was still lightly dusted from the falling snow and it feels like driving in a cloud. There are many amazing views along the highway, but this one really sticks.
A gorgeous, mossy green canyon that has been filmed in many movies such as Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. Its way prettier in person! Please be sure to stay on the marked path and not wander near the canyon itself. The grass is fragile here and tourists have created lots of social paths that the locals are doing their best to restore. Not only is walking onto the grass against the rules but it is also dangerous! Many tourists have fallen to their death here trying to take a selfie. Don’t be that idiot.
Hunting for the Northern Lights/Iceland Resources
During the planning process, there are several publicly available websites that forecast the aurora’s activity to use. If you familiarize yourself with these resources, you can predict aurora several months in advance. I was able to predict— within a day or two—a period of high activity and I was able to make some great photographs because of it. I had no experience with this kind of thing beforehand, so if I can do it, so can you! Check out this site to get started.
This mountain is one of the most photogenic places in Iceland. Not only is the location perfect for various sunrise and sunset angles, it is also a great place to view the northern lights. The weather constantly changes so you may see rain, sun, snow, fog and aurora all in the same day. It’s worth camping out at! You’ll pay a 20 dollar fee at the entrance to the dirt road and then you can camp overnight. This is a must see on your Icelandic Road Trip. Don’t forget to check out the viking village as well!
This is a bit out of the way if you consider all of these other spots are in the southern portion of Iceland. Kirkjufell is set along the northwestern coast near a fishing village called Grundarfjordur. The distinct wizard hat shape of the mountain has made it world-famous and has earned it appearances in many scenes on screen. The waterfall is great for landscape photos, but be aware of the large crowds as with most of the other well-known places here.