Iceland: Reykjavik and the South Coast – June 2018

We cycled along the Elbe, toured Berlin, and traversed Norway on the Bergen Railway. What next? A couple of days in Iceland, taking advantage of IcelandAir’s stopover deal. Just enough time to figure out whether we should go back and see more – and the answer is an emphatic yes.

If you want to skip the narrative and just look at lots of photos, click here.
You can also visit Liza’s food blog here.

Arriving in Reykjavik, at the airport way out west on the Reykjanes Peninsula, we picked up our rental car and drove to our AirBNB accommodations, a nice apartment (once we found it) outside the center of town. AirBNB is totally the way to go there – the hotels are quite expensive – and it allowed us to make our own breakfasts and lunches (and one dinner) and not eat out as much.

With limited time, basically about 2.5 days, we were more focused on birds and scenery than we were touring Reykjavik, although we did manage a short walking tour downtown (courtesy again of Rick Steves).

Robert had booked a puffin tour out of Reykjavik harbor, a short (90 minute max) boat ride to a nearby island with nesting Atlantic puffins, northern fulmars, gulls, and other sea birds. Liza did her best to photograph them, although on a moving boat with an older camera, it was a challenge.

The drive along the south coast (also in the Rick Steves book) took us as far east as Vik, taking in rocky shoreline, lava fields, thundering waterfalls, glaciers, steamy geothermal areas, and volcanoes (remember Eyjafjallajökull, resulting in cancelled flights in Europe in 2010?). The old joke/adage “Iceland is green, Greenland is ice” was certainly borne out by the scenery – at least in summer. Lupines, Spanish broom, and dandelions brightened the wild landscape. Except for the destination sites such as waterfalls, most of the time we didn’t encounter too many other people.

The day we were flying home we spent on a driving tour of the Reykjanes Peninsula, driving south of Reykjavik past Kleifarvatn Lake and the Seltún Geothermal Field, west to Grindavik, then back north to hit the main road to the airport. We passed the Blue Lagoon, but didn’t stop in. (Some people love it; some think it’s a ripoff and you could do way better at any other thermal pool – we simply didn’t have the time.)

The plane hadn’t even taken off when Robert started considering a return. So much we didn’t see; we didn’t do the “Golden Circle” route that takes you to *the* “Geysir”, or explore north of Reykjavik. We didn’t get to northern Iceland either, which is likely the focus of the next trip. As Olof Atladottir, Director General of the Icelandic Tourist Board said in 2016, “For me, Iceland is the possibility of enjoying solitude in spectacular wide-open spaces”. We only got a taste of that, and we want more.

Again, to see the full set of photos, click here.