On August 26th, Xavier and I embarked on an adventure through Iceland. Compared to the Europe trip I did the year before, I made sure to plan to a minimum so that it would be more spontaneous. I’m so happy I did! It was so fun to explore things more freely and to just follow whatever we wanted to do at that moment.
We started our adventure in Reykjavik, the capital and largest city of Iceland with a population of 130,000 people. As you may already know, Iceland is not very populated with a total population of 330,000 people, but what you may not know is that there are 800,000 sheeps! So you are more likely to come across a sheep than a human.
Even with its small size, Reykjavik is a beautiful city bustling with life. Since we arrived very early in the morning in Iceland, around 4:30am, we really got a full day in the capital. We dropped our bags at Heida’s Home, the inn we stayed in which was very comfortable and welcoming, and we started walking around. Because it’s small, it’s quite easy to visit all the main sites in 1 or 2 days.
We started by Harpa, a beautiful conference center that opened in 2011. The architecture is incredible, as you can see in the pictures below. I was really blown away by it! Since we arrived so early in Reykjavik, we got to Harpa at around 8:30am, so the center was very quiet with only a few other people there. It was fun to visit at such a quiet time – we felt like we had the place to ourselves. We found a couch in a hidden corner of the center with a huge window that looked over the water and the mountains surrounding the city, and we just hung out there for awhile. It was nice to finally relax after the long night we had!
In the afternoon, the sky cleared up, and we went to Hallgrimskirkja Church, an impressive monument that looks over the city of Reykjavik. It was beautiful to see the city from above with all the colourful houses. I wish Montreal had this – it would be so pretty during the winter.
After the church visit, we finally had access to our hotel so we enjoyed a long nap before going out at night. I worked all day before jumping on the plane to Reykjavik, so I hadn’t slept in 36 hours and the adrenaline was starting to ware off, so it felt good to sleep for a couple of hours. At night, we found a pub downtown Reykjavik where we listened to a live band. I have to say that although Reykjavik is a small city, the night life was really fun! Tons of people are out on the street, in bars and in pubs and everyone is in a festive mood. We actually met a couple from Reykjavik at a pub and hung out with them. They were super friendly and welcoming and even gave us tips about travelling around Iceland. It was the perfect first night!
The next morning, we took the Flybus back to the airport to pick up our car. We were so excited to get on the road, but also a little bit nervous since we both don’t have much experience driving. I’ve been living in Montreal for five years and I go everywhere with public transportation so I almost never drive and Xavier got his driver’s licence this summer, just before the trip. So needless to say we were hoping the roads wouldn’t be too challenging to drive on!
As for the car, I took a lot of time last winter to research the best option for us. We wanted something that would be our tent and our ride at the same time since we wanted to have the freedom of sleeping anywhere we wanted. At first, I looked at campers, but I then settled for this 4×4 option since it would allow us to go on gravel roads easily. I’m so happy I chose the option!! I cannot recommend it enough. We booked this car with Camping Cars, a small business in Keflavik. Bogi, the owner, picked us up at the airport, gave us lots of ideas of where to go with tips about the roads. On top of it, the tent came with a super comfortable mattress and pillows. I definitely recommend his company! The only thing is that since it’s still a tent, it can get pretty cold at night so I would recommend bringing very warm sleeping bags with extra blankets. Xavier was kind enough to give me his sleeping bag for almost the entire trip because it was so much warmer than mine and I was freezing! He most definitely earned boyfriend points with that 😉
Our first stop was the Krysuvik Geothermal Area, a stop suggested by Bogi. It was the first time I ever saw boiling hot springs and steaming volcanic vents, so I was really impressed by it. We were surprised by the strong sulfur smell all across the area. We kept joking that we went to Iceland for the fresh air and then we get this, haha!
Iceland is known for its waterfalls, and now I understand why. The pictures seriously don’t do justice on how gorgeous those waterfalls are. The first one we saw is Seljalandfoss, close to Vik on the South coast of Iceland. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I will just let you take a look 🙂
We then stopped at Skogafoss, which is very close to Seljalandsfoss. This one turned out to be my favorite waterfall because it’s possible to walk all the way to the top and the views are beautiful! The surroundings made me think a lot of The Lord of the Rings, which is my favorite film trilogy, so needless to say I loved the feeling of being in a similar environment! It was just one of those great moments of the trip. Although clearly Xavier was getting a little tired of the selfies…
The last stop of the day was Dyrholaey, on the south coast right before Vik. I had read online that the views there were incredible at sunset so I made sure we got there right on time to see it. Needless to say it did not disappoint! The road to get there is quite tricky since it’s very steep, but Xavier got us there safe and sound, and we were rewarded with a majestic sunset. The pictures seriously don’t do it justice – I really recommend you go there if you ever go to Iceland. Funny enough, the rock formation really looks like the Rocher Percé in Quebec, so we kept joking that we could have just stayed home!! But seriously, that rock formation is massive and super impressive – it’s 120 meters high!
We finished our day in Vik, where we camped for the night. We arrived at night, so our surroundings were a big surprise to us when we woke up. The town is beautiful with the church at the top, and it’s surrounded by cliffs, which gives it a very secluded feel. I really loved Vik and I kept daydreaming that if I had a cottage, I would want to have it there.
Stay tuned for the next post about our trip to Iceland 🙂