Hey everyone! In Part 1 of this series, I talked about how I planned a twelve-day campervan trip around Iceland. Now in Part 2, I want to start to give you a little insight into how the trip actually went! This was my first time traveling in a campervan and I was a little nervous. Even though I love nature and the wilderness, I’m also a fan of creature comforts so I wasn’t sure what to expect! Turns out Iceland is awesome, and Iceland via campervan is even better! Let’s get into it!
Day 1, 2 – Flight and Arrival
My travel partner for this trip, Zandt, and I left the midwest US on the night of July 4th. As I’ve mentioned in my other posts, its great fun if you get the chance to fly on the 4th of July in the US and see some of the fireworks from the air. We had an overnight direct flight to Reykjavik which was about 8 hours or so. Not bad, especially when you can spend most of it sleeping (or trying to sleep).
We arrived at Reykjavik airport around 9 am the next day. Thankfully the company we rented our campervan from, Snail Motorhome Rental, was able to pick us up at the airport bus station so we didn’t need to worry about transportation into the city. One of the owners from Snail greeted us at the station and gave us some great tips and information as she drove us to their headquarters.
As with any good campervan or truck rental, the owners at Snail gave us a long lecture about safety and how best to handle driving in Iceland. I know some people may find this annoying but honestly, it is super important when driving in a foreign area! After signing our waivers we headed off in our campervan to find our Airbnb in Reykjavik.
Pro-tip: You may think you are the best driver around, but driving in a new country can pose new challenges. Ask your rental company for their advice and actually listen when they provide it.
Day 2 Continued – Reykjavik
Because we wanted to make it around the entirety of the Ring Road – and have time to enjoy stops along the way – we did not bake in much time in Reykjavik. We gave ourselves what remained of Day 2 (remember we had arrived around 9 am) to settle into our Airbnb and explore the downtown area. In the morning we would set out on the Ring Road.
From the Snail headquarters, it was easy to drive into Reykjavik proper and locate our Airbnb, which was right along one of the main streets. We had no trouble parking (the Airbnb came with a spot) and settling in. As soon as we dropped our luggage, the jetlag set in!
I am usually pretty good when it comes to jetlag but for some reason on this trip, it hit us both particularly hard. We did our best to rally though – since we only had one afternoon in Reykjavik, we wanted to make the most of it!
It was about lunchtime at this point so we stumbled outside in a bit of a haze, and grabbed a takeaway pizza from a store next door. Although we were eager to set out into the city, I have to admit we ended up taking a quick nap after lunch before we managed to go out again!
Once we recharged, we spent the late afternoon and evening exploring what we could. We spent time walking the main street, Laugavegur and window shopping. We also walked to the famous church Hallgrímskirkja, which was beautiful! You could even go to the top for great views of the city!
For dinner we found ourselves in Svarta Kaffið, enjoying the most delicious stew and bread bowls ever! I highly suggest it after a long day! After dinner, we found our way to a grocery and grabbed supplies for the van – enough food to last about a week or so. We weren’t sure where our next grocery would be, but the van had a cooler and stovetop so we selected items accordingly. Then we retired, exhausted, to the Airbnb.
Day 3 – Let the Campervan Trip Begin! The Blue Lagoon to Vik
Day 3 was all about starting off our campervan trip! From Reykjavik, our next stop would be Vik with a detour to the Blue Lagoon thrown in. The Blue Lagoon was on both our bucket lists, so we made sure to prioritize it on our trip. We booked a 4-hour time slot first thing in the morning to avoid crowds.
Pro-tip: When visiting the Blue Lagoon book early – in all senses of the phrase. Book ahead of your trip, as times, can fill up fast. Also, book a morning slot – it can be crowded in later parts of the day!
The drive to the Blue Lagoon was easy and we arrived without problem. Check in was super quick and clear. We each were directed to locker-rooms where we could change and shower before heading into the lagoon itself. Now, in many places in Iceland it is a rule to shower before entering a public swimming area and most people have no problem with open nudity in these shared locker rooms. The Blue Lagoon does offer individual stalls to shower off however, so if you are worried about nudity – don’t be.
The air outside the lagoon is freezing but the water is the perfect temperature once you get in! Seriously I could (and did) stay in for hours! There was plenty of space and we did not feel crowded (again go early!). We had splurged on the mid level package, which meant we got access to the lagoon, two natural face masks, and a time reservation at their restaurant. The masks were a great treat and we felt like we were enjoying a fun spa! The lagoon is huge and you can swim from area to area to explore. They even have a floating bar so you can enjoy a drink or smoothie!
I know some people will say the lagoon is touristy but I seriously loved it! We enjoyed lunch at the restaurant inside which was expensive admittedly but delicious! If you want to treat yourself – go for it! If not, enjoy the lagoon and grab a picnic lunch from your campervan.
After we finished at the Blue Lagoon we continued our campervan trip onto Vik where we would be spending the night. The driving and navigation were easy (it’s one main road) without much traffic. We found Vik before dark and without trouble. It was a small town and the campsite area was super easy to spot. It was a basic field with pull in spots and a bathhouse. Perfect for our first night in the campervan!
Day 4 – Continuing the Campervan Trip in Vik
On Day 4 of our campervan trip, we set aside time to explore Vik. We had a few goals for this day. We wanted to see the black sand beach by horseback and we wanted to explore the nearby Sólheimasandur plane crash. Luckily we were able to do both!
They can also be amazingly long! Which is something we discovered when we went to see the plane wreckage. We pulled up to the GPS coordinates and found a small parking lot with a sign. Now we were excited and only glanced over the sign. Mistake! The handy sign not only tells you that yes you have found the path to the plane wreckage but warns that it is a lonnnngg walk! About 4.6 miles round trip or 2.3 each way!
Now I am in decent shape so it’s not like I can’t walk that far – but I wasn’t expecting it! The beach has a deceptive way of looking shorter than it is – I kept thinking oh I see it, must be right over there! But no, it just kept going and going! Eventually, we made it through and it was worth it! It was an odd and eery sight to see the huge plane laying there on the sand, abandoned.
After our first four days, I could easily say our campervan trip was going amazingly! The van itself was comfortable and had everything we needed. Our first campsite at Vik on Day 3 had been clean and efficient, as well as easy to find. I was excited for the rest of our trip! We left Vik on the evening of Day 4 to keep pushing onward to new adventures! In the next part of this series, I’ll continue the journey from Vik up the east coast of Iceland into the north. Stay tuned!