Hey everyone! Welcome to the final part of my Iceland campervan series. If you haven’t read the previous parts – what are you waiting for! Check them out: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. In this last edition of the series, I will detail the last days of our Iceland campervan adventure, which took us from the north to the Westfjords before returning to Reykjavík. We pick up on Day 7.
Day 7 Continued – Húsavík to Akureyri
We left Húsavík after our whale watching adventure on Day 7 to make our way to Akureyi, about an hour west. Soon after leaving, however, we realized we had missed a few things we wanted to see south of Húsavík – mainly Dettifoss and Krafla. Krafla is a portion of the volcanic Mývatn region and Dettifoss is the second most powerful waterfall in Europe! We couldn’t stand to miss it when we were so close, so we did a little backtracking.
Dettifoss was extremely impressive! The churning water was powerful and terrifying! So much force rushing over the cliff face and downward! There are no safety rails so remember to keep a respectful distance!
Krafla and the surrounding areas were also impressive. It was mindblowing to see the lava fields – the power and past destruction was hard to imagine.
As we headed south from Dettifoss and Krafla to rejoin the Ring Road and head to Akureyi we came upon the Mývatn Natural Baths. Similar to the Blue Lagoon but less touristy (not as many tourists venture up this way) we couldn’t pass up a good soak. Now, I should note it was another very windy day in the region. When we arrived at the Baths, they were offering a discount because the wind had cooled the water a bit. Being ill experienced in the reality of natural baths, I thought no problem! A little cooler is no big deal! I was sure it was still plenty hot! … I was so wrong! The water was quite cold and although we tried to stay in to get our money’s worth, we ended up leaving early!
With all the side adventures, we didn’t quite make it to Akureyi that night but we found a campsite not far away so we could get a good start in the morning.
Day 8 – Akureyi and West Bound on our Iceland Campervan Trip
In the morning we headed the short distance from our campsite to Akureyi. On the way we made a brief stop at Goðafoss, another amazing waterfall.
As we pulled into Akureyi, we immediately noticed a few things. First, it was the largest populated area we had seen since Reykjavík. Second, it was instantly welcoming.
Akureyi is a beautiful city with a lot to see. There is a wonderful botanical garden on one side and shopping in the main downtown area. There are restaurants and options to enjoy a nice cup of coffee. It is a walkable city once you find parking – this can be a little weird for first-timers. Akureyi uses a time-clock system in which you buy these little time cards at any gas station then display them in your car. They allow you to park in any public area for the time purchased. Oh and did I mention all the red lights are heart-shaped? How awesome is that!
We couldn’t spend more than a few hours exploring Akureyi but we made the most of our time there. I highly suggest you add it to your list of Iceland campervan stops!
From Akureyi we began the drive west. Our goal was to make it to the famous bird cliffs before we needed to return to Reykjavík. Before finding a campsite for the night, we were able to find and explore some basalt columns, another interesting natural wonder.
Day 9 – Into the Westfjords
The northwest portion of Iceland is perhaps the most remote. As we began Day 9 we noticed we were getting further and further from even the small towns. Our last stop in civilization of any kind was in Hólmavík where we found the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft. It’s a small museum but if you are interested in the occult or Icelandic history, make sure to pop in! They have some really interesting, and creepy, items!
From Hólmavík we made a beeline for Látrabjarg, the famous bird cliffs of the Westfjords. These cliffs are home to millions of birds from a variety of species, including my favorite – puffins! It is also the western most part of Iceland and Europe which is pretty awesome! The drive is long and in the middle of nowhere but I think it is worth it if you can fit it into your schedule!
It is hard to describe seeing so many birds up close, roosting, flying and fishing. The cliffs are truly a wild and beautiful area from the green, jagged rock sides to the crashing blue ocean below. Be careful too near the edges – with no guardrails and dangerous winds a mistake could be fatal.
Other than the birds we also got lucky enough to spot an elusive Arctic fox, Iceland’s only native mammal. We spent a few hours on the cliffs then found a campsite to the south.
Day 10 – The Golden Circle by Iceland Campervan
On Day 10 we knew our time in Iceland was starting to run out. We began the drive back to Reykjavík from the Westfjords. Based on our timing, we figured we would have just enough time for one last adventure before returning to the city – the Golden Circle. We left early as this drive would be about 5-6 hours given where we had camped.
The Golden Circle is really three areas, located in close proximity to each other and to Reykjavík. These are the Þingvellir National Park, the waterfall Gullfoss, and Geysir (the first geyser known to Europe according to Wikipedia!). We made our way to and through each of these, enjoying the amazing views and history. If you have limited time in Iceland or limited transportation, the Golden Circle is a great option as it is close to Reykjavík and there are bus tours available.
After spending most of the day exploring the Golden Circle, we camped nearby for our last night in the campervan.
Day 11 – The Iceland Campervan Trip Rolls to a Close
On Day 11 our main goal was to return our trusty campervan and find our Airbnb in Reykjavík. Our flight home was early on Day 12 so this was our last full day in Iceland. It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment to come full circle around the Ring Road. We had seen and experienced so much – it really felt like an epic adventure.
We dropped off the campervan at the Snail headquarters with a touch of sadness – it felt like losing a travel partner. I can’t recommend Snail enough – we had zero problems with our van the entire time. I’ll admit Zandt did all the driving (we had a manual, which I’m not sure enough with for remote driving) but I was still going to miss our home away from home. The owners gave us a lift into Reykjavík to our Airbnb.
For our last night in Reykjavík we enjoyed a nice pizza and glass of beer and strolled around the downtown area. I was sad to be leaving. Iceland is an amazing country! Eventually we had to accept our time was up however and we crashed in our Airbnb (admittedly nice to have a full house after the campervan!).
Day 12 – Homeward
In the very early morning, we walked the short distance from the Airbnb to the bus station and rode to the airport (about 40 minutes away). Soon we were on our flight headed back to the US.
Visiting Iceland is one of my favorite travel memories and I truly hope to return someday! I’ll admit as soon as we landed I probably spent at least a week on an Iceland high – even googling how I could move there! I highly suggest you add Iceland to your bucket list if it is not there already!