Reykjavik and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Date: September 2019
Route: Flew from Seattle on Icelandair.
All our research on Iceland led us to expect a country that offered spectacular landscapes and sceneries that were other-worldly. Given the limited time we had, we decided to split our visit into two separate trips; this one and one in the future. For this trip, we explored the south-east of the island, a bit of the center, and the eastern coast. The first thing we noticed after we came out of the airport terminal is how clean and pure the air is. Throughout our stay, each day we were reminded of the purity of the two major elements for life; air and water. Water from the tap was better tasting and more pure than any bottled water I’ve ever had. Iceland what I think are the perfect ingredients for a happy and content society; small, homogeneous population, more resources than people, and abundance of land and water. In fact, sheep outnumber people by a vast margin in Iceland.
Our expectations were far exceeded by the beauty of the landscape and the sheer diversity of views, everything form lunar-like terrain to beaches with black sand filled with pieces of iceberg. There are no trees anywhere in Iceland which was very unique to see. The roads and cellular connectivity in Iceland are fantastic and we were never without signal or well-paved roads. The country is designed to be explored by car and the multitude of self-serve hotels make it that much easier. Given it was May, we had 17-hour days and it never really got fully dark. People are generally very friendly and everybody we met spoke perfect English. Food is expensive but not ridiculously so. We had no problem finding vegan or vegetarian food. I would advise to download offline maps for the entire island, so you don’t waste data and battery.
The capital of Iceland and its biggest town, it offers tourists standard big-city fare. Though quaint and very clean, there is no real reason to spend any time there other than maybe an hour or two. The concrete Hallgrimskirkja church and the Harpa Concert Hall are the only two noteworthy places we found. Everything Iceland is outside of Reykjavik.
We landed in Reykjavik and drove straight to Grundarfjörður to use as a base to explore this peninsula. There is a unique looking mountain here called Kirkjufell and it is one of the most photographed sites in Iceland. The Peninsula itself offers spectacular beaches and small quaint towns. There are some unique hikes in the Snæfellsjökull National Park including one to Svörtuloft Lighthouse, a bright orange lighthouse. The town of Arnarstapi is small and quaint and has some nice beaches to explore. As with most of Iceland, the drives between places offers spectacular landscapes that will have you reaching for your camera every few minutes. The restaurants were small, local and the food and wine were delicious.
Located about 1.5hrs east of Reykjavik, this is a relatively small waterfall by Icelandic standards. But, the blue color of the water is mesmerizing, and it is well worth a visit. Note that Google directions no longer work as the locals have closed off the road used to access the falls. You now have to park off the main highway and hike about a mile to get to the falls.