We landed at Keflavik Airport at 6:30 a.m. Icelandic time. Our first order of business was to pick up a rental car at Blue Car Rentals. We grabbed our bags, exited through the airport towards the car rentals (there are signs- it’s hard to miss), and found The Blue Car Rental property 200 yards or so from the airport, right past the airport hotel. The staff are a bit brusque but efficient. We had heard horror story after horror story about renting cars in Iceland and completed endless hours of research trying to prevent anything bad from happening to our bank account post-car rental, as scams are very common and the fine print is often condemning. We normally don’t pay for any insurance upgrades or additional coverage, but Iceland was a place where we thought it would be worth it. We opted to rent a Suzuki Jimney and were very happy with the cost and the way we were treated. Here is the link to the site. Blue Car Rental Link
We had been en-route all night and once the adrenaline of our first hour in Iceland had worn off, we realized we were starved. We took our little Jimney into Reykjavik and stopped at a little bakery called Bakarameistarinnnear that is near the water (6:30 a.m to 6 p.m. every day). Once properly caffeinated, we stopped right down the road at Krónan to buy groceries (more on Icelandic food later) and then headed out!
We completed the Golden Circle first, which was packed with history, scenic views and some of the most fascinating Icelandic lore of the trip. The Golden Circle requires its own section (to be completed later!) and is an easy day trip from Reykjavik if you’re short on time. With two days, you can easily complete a trip to the Blue Lagoon and the Circle with time to spare. This is a great option for those who are using the “stopover” option IcelandAir has created for those who want to extend their layovers.
After the Golden Circle was complete, we followed Highway 30, rolling through the quiet, bucolic pasturelands of southwestern Iceland towards Route 1 (the Ring Road) and headed on to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. It is worth noting that there is a little gas station between Selfoss and Hella at Efri-Rauðalækur with a restroom and snacks. Bring cash for the restroom charge-it is minimal- around $2 U.S. This is a good way to break up the trip.
I won’t lie, at this point the temperature had started to drop and I was cold enough to contemplate not leaving the car when we reached Seljalandsfoss. It didn’t seem like much to look at from the road, but missing it would have been tragic. For all of you traveling Iceland in the colder shoulder season, please know that this waterfall is one for the books. Also, the quirkiest gift shop I saw in all of Iceland was found here at this waterfall.
Our next stop was at Seljavallalaug Hot Springs, nestled at the base of a spectacular mountain in the Eyjafjoll Mountains. We drove past this road three times before we saw it- the road is very small. If you’re headed counter-clockwise on the Ring Road, this hot spring is at the end of Road 242, which will be found on your left. It’s a small sign, but the road is clearly marked. Drive down to the end of the gravel road to a parking lot and follow the trail to the spring. The hot spring is actually more of a warm natural bath and the scenery is nothing short of epic, LOTR-style views. It’s worth the hike.
Feeling invigorated, we headed onward to Skogafoss Waterfall. Camping at the base of Skogafoss is 1,000 Kr ($8.83 U.S.) a night, with a 300 Kr ($2.65 U.S.) per 5 minutes of running water shower charge. The restrooms are $1.00 US per trip, although this is not strictly enforced. My bet would be it IS strictly enforced during peak season, so bank on the above prices if you plan on camping here outside of shoulder season. It’s one of the most unique camping sites I’ve ever stayed at. The sites are nestled near the base of the waterfall, and you can feel the power of the falls (and the ice-cold spray) across the entire site. You can camp close by, or far away beside the creek that Skogafoss flows into. I will add that for the campers, the spray made this one of the coldest camping spots of our trip. We invested in a good tent (Hilleberg Jannu) that turned out to be worth its weight in gold.