Planning a trip to Iceland changes all the rules. Did we stay in 2 or 3 star hotels; travel by train; or dine in lovely, thoughtfully chosen restaurants? Not even close. You go to Iceland for the breathtaking scenery so the package offered by Hostelling International was an amazing deal. It includes rental car, places to stay, along with detailed itinerary of everything to see and do along the way. And did I say – at a reasonable price? The catch is you’re staying in a hostel every night. I brought along nightshades and earplugs just in case.
Scenery is what we came for and we weren’t disappointed. As we approached the Snaefellsnes peninsula a rainbow appeared and the mountains grew taller. The colors of the landscape were brilliant. Our 7-day drive took us up to the Westfjords, and yes, there are fjords in Iceland. The temperature and population drops as you drive north. The number of waterfalls increases and beauty intensifies.
Each day was not long enough. There were so many more things to see and do. We definitely felt that we could have spent more time in the Westfjords. Maybe an extra day hiking out from our hostel, Korpudalur, in Kirkjubol.
We would have gone back to the bird cliffs at Latrabjarg. There were such strong winds when we arrived that the birds literally couldn’t land on the cliff and so instead of thousands we saw none. (We did see the reflection of the ice cap from Greenland though and that was pretty neat.)
A few extra hours in Isafjordur, close to the Arctic Circle, would have been great. We did sample some terrific baked goods from Gamla Bakariid. As we drove out of town I had a strong urge to go back for more.
Best for the week:
BEST HIKE: The circular hike to Glymur, iceland’s highest waterfall. This was scenic from start to finish. When we got to the top of the falls we continued hiking along the river. We had read it might be possible to cross the river and hike back down the other side. The river was low enough and slow enough to make the crossing. This was one of the best 1/2 day hikes we’ve ever done.
BEST RESTAURANT: We had low expectations and even hesitated going in but Vagninn in Flateyri was terrific! Inventive and delicious.
We’d definitely recommend the drive-and-hostel package if you’re ready for a little adventure and want to see the countryside. How were the hostels? Some were basic and crowded but quite do-able. Others had nicer rooms and lovely shared kitchens that made cooking enjoyable (and a real money saver). Always the great outdoors was the real star and we didn’t waste time at the hostels. Here are a few additional photos from the week: