Travel Report Iceland

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What could a 7 day photo trip to Iceland look like?

Our travel report Iceland summarizes our 7 day photo trip from Reykjavik via the famous Golden Circle to Hoefn on the south coast. We have chosen the following route:

1.Day: Munich -> Reykjavik (Aurora Star Airport Hotel) > Geysire -> ION Adventure Hotel at Golden Circle

2.Day: Golden Circle

3.Day: ION Adventure Hotel -> Vik i Myrdal (Hotel Kria)

4.Day: Vik i Myrdal -> Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon

5.Day: Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon -> Höfn (Hotel Höfn)

6. Day: Höfn -> Vik i Myrdal (Hotel Vik i Myrdal)

7.Day: Reykjavik -> Munich

Where is Iceland?

What you should definitely think about when travelling to Iceland:

National currencies: Icelandic krona. In Iceland, credit card payment works everywhere without any problems. However, you should always have some cash with you.

Visa: Germans do not need a visa for Iceland. However, Iceland is not an EU country, but has a special status similar to Norway or Switzerland. For the entry the identity card is sufficient, passport is of course always possible.

Vaccinations: No vaccinations are required for Iceland coming from Germany. However, the standard vaccinations are recommended.

Clothing: Iceland has mild to cool temperatures all year round. In summer the average is +15 degrees, in winter -2 degrees. However, since the weather can change quickly every day from dry to wet and warm to cold and you can get into a completely different temperature zone already after driving 50km, we recommend – as always – the “onion principle”.

Absolutely in the luggage belong good and firm shoes (hiking boots always go), rain jacket, windproof jacket, swimming trunks (yes!) and otherwise the clothes so select that one can combine several things and is adjusted so on cold to warm. For those who travel the Golden Circle in summer, we strongly recommend a “head net”. Except in Australia we have never seen so many and aggressive flies. Also a good sunscreen. The sun on Iceland is strong, even when it is cloudy.

Detailed Tavel Report Iceland

Flight from Munich to Iceland (Reykjavik = KEF)

1.Day: By plane we fly directly from Munich to Reykjavik Keflavik Airport, where we land at 0:10 am, which is 02:10 am according to German time. Time difference is -2h.

Iceland is not part of the EU but belongs to the Schengen area, so the entry – despite COVID-19 – is relatively fast and a short time later we have our luggage. ATMs to get money are located directly at the baggage carousels.

Car rental on Iceland

We have booked our rental car at Ice Rental 4×4. At the exit the drivers of all rental car companies are waiting with signs. Ice Rental 4×4 is outside the airport, about 10min drive. We take over our Suzuki Vitara. The formalities are done after a short time, even if they try to sell us additional insurances, which is always a tiresome topic. We had booked the Premium Package at Check24, so we don’t need any additional insurance, but they blocked an amount of 2700 € on our credit card, which you have to know.

Pretty tired we drive to the Aurora Star Hotel directly at Kevlavik airport. The hotel is simple and it is good for the night. Parking is free.

Around 7:00am we drive towards Golden Circle. On the way our rental car unfortunately starts to spin. The cruise control constantly triggers an almost emergency stop, because the Suzuki also has a distance radar. After about 60 km we had enough and decided to drive back to the airport and change the car. Due to this circumstance we pass the blue lagoon three times today and also see the village of Grindavik three times, which is why we are practically considered local.

Exchanging a rental car on iceland

Back at the car rental station we are surprised to find out that one is of the opinion that one does not have to exchange the car because of such a “little thing”. We see it differently and insist on an exchange. We get another Suzuki Vitara. Also this one has more than 100.000 km on the clock (like the first one) but it drives much better and also the cruise control doesn’t make any more problems.

As there is a speed limit of 90 km or less on all roads in Iceland, you should always make sure to take a car with cruise control, otherwise it gets exhausting very quickly.

Icelands hot springs of Krysuvik

In Krysuvik near the hot springs we make our first stop. It stinks strongly of sulfur and it reminds a little bit of the Yellowstone National Park in the USA only much smaller. Then we continue via Hyvergoedi in the direction of the ION Adventure Hotel. The way to the hotel is a little bit adventurous because you have to drive about 12 km on Gravel Road.

The landscape becomes more and more beautiful. Near the coast it was still relatively barren in the interior but everything is very green at this time of the year.

ION Adventure Hoel

Around 4pm we reach the hotel, which is very secluded. We can recommend the wellness area without any restrictions – there is a small swimming pool fed by a hot spring, a sauna and a fantastic view. Afterwards we sit down for a drink in the Northern Lights Lounge. This is the highlight of the hotel and the view from the windows, which are about 4m high, is indescribable when the weather is fine. The rooms of the hotel are relatively small but somehow cosy and nice.

For dinner in the restaurant you can choose between a two or three course menu. The two-course menue starts at a price of approximately 55 € per person, a thing that is unfortunately rather normal in Iceland in hotel restaurants.

Northern Lights Lounge
Golden Circle, 300km full of highlights

2.Day: Today the Golden Circle is on the agenda. The weather is fantastic, blue sky and sunshine and the landscape appears in a completely different light. We take the western route around the Pingvallavatn and can only recommend this route as you will be spoiled with spectacular views.

On the way we stop at a lonely gas station and have breakfast there, although breakfast is a little exaggerated. It is one hot dog and two coffees. Afterwards we continue to Strokkur and the geyser, from which all geysers worldwide have their name.

Strokkur and Icelands Geysers

Today it is windless and something happens that we never expected. Flies! Flies everywhere. We had expected them in Australia, but somehow not in Iceland. As soon as you get out of the car, hundreds of flies fly directly at your eyes, ears, nose and mouth and somehow you can’t really get rid of them.

The area is very scenic and definitely worth a visit. After about 1.5 hours we continue our drive.

Gulfoss Waterfall - Icelands golden fall

Next on our plan is the Gullfoss (waterfall). This is the mightiest waterfall in Iceland and it can easily compete with Niagara Falls. At the waterfalls you should definitely bring a rainproof and waterproof jacket.

The view of the waterfalls is gigantic and it is worthwhile to stay a little. In the early afternoon we drove on to Kerid. On the way you should take “Faxxi”, a really great and nowhere mentioned waterfall with you. a great experience. Coming from Gulfoss, the entrance is on the left and there is a small sign.

Faxxi, the unknown waterfall
Kerid

On we go to Kerid. Here we find a crater lake for which we have to pay the first time on Iceland entrance fee. Actually nothing special. If you are in a hurry you can skip this part. Otherwise it is a nice stop for a short hike along the crater rim.

Afterwards we drove on to Selfoss. This is the biggest city on the south coast of Iceland and at the same time a sad place. There are a few fast food chains, but other than that there is not really much. Afterwards we went back to our hotel. On the way we make another photo stop at a small church. Fortunately the approx. 1.000.000 flies are not to be seen in the picture.

Icelands iconic waterfalls
3.Day: In summer it never gets really dark on Iceland. More like twilight. We get up early and are on the road already at 7 am. The lakes on the way are mirror-smooth and the sun shines again, which is not really common in Iceland.
Selfoss, the biggest village in the south

In Selfoss we go to a bakery (after the bridge in the roundabout on the left and then about 500m on the left side) and have a wonderful breakfast.

When we stop at the first shop the alarm lamp for tire pressure loss flashes at our car. It can’t be, but we check it at the gas station. Everything is alright but the beeping does not stop. The logbook says you have to “drive around” for 10min and only if it doesn’t stop then it is a problem. So we cruise through Selfoss, up and down the road. Somehow we’re not responding well to Ice Rental 4×4 anymore. After 10min it finally stops. We continue towards Seljalandsfoss, our first highlight of the day.

Bra Fence, even on Google
The first 70km are monotonous, afterwards the landscape shines in a completely different light. A dream scenery. On the way we stop a few times for photos and wonder about a house with hundreds of bras hanging from the fence. A very amusing sight and at Google it has its own entry (Bra Fence).
Seljalandsfoss, Icelands only "walk behind" waterfall

The Seljalandsfoss is an impressive waterfall and can be seen from far away. If one wants to park right at the Wasserdall it costs 5 euros. If you park 300m away it is free. The Seljalandsfoss is the only waterfall of Iceland behind which one can walk. Waterproof clothing is highly recommended and sturdy, waterproof shoes.

Unfortunately drone flying is no longer allowed at all tourist waterfalls in Iceland, but about 5 minutes after leaving the Seljalandsfoss there is a mountain range and another waterfall on the left side and here you can fly with the threat without any problems.

Skogafoss
At the Skogafoss – our next destination – arrived – also drone ban – it will be a very wet affair again, but the pictures have their charm.
 

Those who want to do a little fitness, run up the steps to the top of the waterfall. Again we spend some time here and the weather is still top, with sunshine.

After Skogafoss we want to go to Dyrholaey. Here you can watch different seabirds at the right time, including the cute puffins (which unfortunately are also on the menus of the Icelanders, eww!).

PHOTOTIP:

For taking pictures of these fast flying birds, a tele with a focal length of at least 300mm and a camera with a top autofocus, like the Nikon D500, is best suited. The puffins nest on the steep face of the cliff. Keep left at the entrance and walk up the mountain a bit.
Reynosfiara Beach

4.Day: We get up at 6am to drive to Reynosfiara beach. This is a 25min drive back from Vik towards Reykjavik. It is worth getting up early because we are all alone on the beach and the scenery is breathtaking at dawn.

The beach is one of the most beautiful in the world, according to some relevant travel publishers. But those who expect a sandy beach will be disappointed and also bathing is not possible here, as it is much too dangerous. But the stone formations and caves are extremely beautiful.

Skatafell in Vatnajokül, Icelands biggest National Park

Afterwards we continue south to Vatnajokül National Park. First we drive to Skatafell, a glacier. At the tourist information you have to pay parking fees (about 5,- Euro), the license plates are scanned at entry and exit, so that the Icelanders know exactly who paid.

From the tourist information one can walk a 4 km round trip. This is very nice and easy. If in a hurry though we recommend to skip this part and go directly to the next turnoff to Sveiterfeljargloe.

Sveiterfeljargloe
To the Sveiterfeljargloe glacier there is only an extremely bad gravel road but one can practically drive straight to the glacier and then only has to make a short walk. Here drone flying is also allowed. While we were there 2 more drones were circling over the glacier. This one is really spectacular and worth the bumpy road.
After about 2 hours we continued our way towards the hotel, the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon. This hotel is a sighting in itself, especially the suites with hot tub on the balcony. An unconditional recommendation. But book early, as it is actually always fully booked. The food in the restaurant is excellent and also the breakfast is top. Our absolute recommendation and the best hotel on the tour!
Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach

5.Day: I have received a drone flight permit for Glacier Lagoon for today (you can apply for it at the National Park Authority on their website, at least 14 days in advance !) and it is only valid until 9 am, so we will start very early again.

Arrived at the glacier lagoon we are almost alone. The icebergs “float” in the water, the seals play between you and the seabirds bicker and wrangle. An unreal scenery. Strong winds make it not easy to steer the drone through the lagoon but the pictures are unique.

We change the location once more for a 2nd flight, then we go back to the hotel, because it starts to rain.

Glacier Lagoon full of seals

After breakfast at the hotel we go back the same way and take an exit earlier to explore another part of the lagoon (these are the small parking lots before the bridge on the left, coming from Vik). You can’t get enough of this sight.

Afterwards we drive on to Diamond Beach, which is located directly in front of the lagoon. Coming from the direction of Vik, before the bridge, take the parking lot on the right. There is no signposting. Here one finds small and big icebergs that are washed out of the lagoon to the powdery black sand beach. An absolute must for photographers.

We continue to the southernmost point of the tour, to Höfn. A small contemplative town with 2800 inhabitants. We go to a very good pizzeria at the harbour (there is only 1) and that’s it for the day.
Amphibious drive through glacier lagoon

6.Day: Today we have reached the turning point of our journey, as from now on we are heading back towards Reykjavik. First stop is once again the Glacier Lagoon, where we have booked a tour with an amphibious vehicle. These go hourly in summer and pre-booking is highly recommended!

It is a bright sunny day and the lagoon looks completely different than the day before. No iceberg is the same and the mood is completely different. The tour through the lagoon takes about 35 min and is worth it, because you get a different perspective on the icebergs.

Is it OK to fly a drone at diamond beach ?

I ask the guide if Diamond Beach is closed for drones or not. He does not know, but gives me the hint that in the wooden hut behind the cafe is the office of the park rangers. We go there and ask them. The beach – even if there are no signs – is closed for drones, because it is part of the national park since 2018!

But since we ask nicely and I had a permit for the day before, we get another special permit for a 30min flight and it was more than worth it. Great weather, clear view, great colors. It could not be better.

Vik and Dyrholaey Lighthouse

We continue towards Vik, our last stop before heading back home. On the way back we stop again and again at places we remembered on the way there and only reach Vik in the late afternoon. We stay at the hotel Vik i Mýrdal, next to the hotel Kria surely the best accommodation in town.

After the check in we drive to the lighthouse of Dyrholaey, which we left out on the way there. You can only get there with a 4×4 vehicle. The view is worthwhile and also here you can watch puffins, but not as good as at the cliffs further down, where we were 2 days before.

The more or less famous plane wreck on the beach

7.Day: Today we want to walk to the wreck of the plane. The way there and back should take 3-4 hours, according to the sign at the starting point. Coming from Vik the parking lot is on the left and it is the 4th exit. There are no signs and Google shows a wrong parking place (there is none) about 1,5km from the right parking place. But since there are always a few cars parked there, you cannot miss it.

During the day you can also take a shuttle bus back and forth for about 20,-€. But we decide to walk. We make the way there in about 40min and at the wreck there is not much going on.

PHOTOTIP:

A great photo spot. Definitely take a wide angle with 24mm or less, as you can get pictures without other visitors. I had the 24-70mm with me.

Since we are early, there are no 10 people there and a short time later we are all alone. A mystical place. For the way back we need 35min and altogether it is about 8km roundtrip. On the way back I hear a drone and at the parking lot I see the pilot. He probably didn’t feel like walking and flew the drone from the parking lot.

An interesting alternative, although forbidden, because you have no visual contact to the drone anymore, which is forbidden in Iceland, like in Germany.

Reykjavik

We also stop again at Skogafoss, because it is a nice place for a break and so we get some more pictures of the waterfall.

We continue in direction Reykjavik. At Waldis in Havoldsvelli, an ice cream parlor, we make a stop. It is famous for its ice cream and milkshakes and the queue is accordingly long.

The closer we get to Reykjavik, the less we look forward to it as it becomes very urban again. We want to see the church, the Sun Voyager Monument and the concert hall, which are all very close together. All three spots are worth a visit. We need about 1,5h for it and then we actually have enough.

The Blue Lagoon, an absolute highlight but not cheap

Reykjavik is a cozy city, but we still want to get out of it quickly, because there is one last highlight on the program, the Blue Lagoon. Tickets should be reserved online. We recommend the Premium Package for 55,- Euro, because you have a bathrobe, shoes and a lot more extras with you. There is a bar and a small restaurant, where one can also get in with a bathrobe.

The water is milky white to blue depending on the position of the sun and 38-40 degrees warm. In any case, the visit is – although not a cheap pleasure – an absolutely successful end of the trip and definitely a highlight. Also the fact that you can smear yourself with different “face masks” increases the fun factor and the 3 hours there pass by in no time.

Then it is time to say goodbye to Iceland. The return of the rental car goes smoothly, just like the check in. Then we take off towards Germany.

FAZIT

Iceland is an absolute highlight and we discovered it much too late for us. The country is very safe, the living standards (as well as the prices) are high, but by far not as expensive as some travel sites claim. Our expectations were more than exceeded. Besides, we can only confirm what can be read on many travel blogs: Who has only 1 week, like we did, should do our tour (Golden Circle and the South).

The tour was perfect for 7 days and we would do this 1:1 again the same way. Only those who have more time should also have a look at the north and the west. We will surely do this on another tour and then report here.

By the way, all other travel reports have a photo of the famous Icelandic horses, so don’t miss it here…

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What photographic equipment for Iceland?

The photo equipment we took with us to Iceland is listed below. You also have the possibility to order the used photo equipment directly from our Photo-Shop and to ask for further technical details. There you can also find a lot of extras.

Cameras:
    • D850 (Nikon)
    • D500 (Nikon)
    • Go Pro 8
    • DJI Mavic Mini
    • Iphone X
Lenses:
    • 24-70mm (Tamron)
    • 20mm (Nikon)
    • 70-200mm (Nikon)
    • Filterset
    • Tripod