Around Iceland in 11 days - from Reykholt to Reykjavik is written by Jesper Munk Hansen
The world's largest volcanic island – Iceland
The trip goes to Iceland! Five of us left for Iceland in July 2020 and had planned 11 days on the world's largest volcanic island, where there are about 30 active volcanic systems and several thousand earthquakes every day. However, the vast majority are so small that you don't notice them at all.
Many had probably got the idea of Iceland just before the summer of 2020 as an emergency solution, because we did not have to travel to many places if one had to follow the travel instructions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But that was not the case for us.
The decision to travel to Iceland was made already in 2019, and we booked airline tickets in February 2020, so that was before the whole world changed. And before all other Danes also got the idea to travel to Iceland.
At the airport and on the plane, of course, we had to wear bandages, but it was a matter of habit, and when everyone else did, it was completely natural.
Arrived in Iceland on Saturday night around 19pm and we could begin the 11 day 'road trip' around the island in a rented car.
Over the course of a week and a half, we had to live in four different places; Reykholt, Akureyri, Selkot a little outside Vík í Mýrdal and finally end in Reykjavik.
Reykholt, Geysir and Gullfoss
There are two towns called Reykholt, and we had to live in the smaller of the two towns, which are close to Geysir and Gullfoss. Here we spent time with some locals we knew from before, and in that way we got a more authentic insight into Icelandic everyday life.
We visited a local greenhouse where tomatoes, carrots and chili are produced. Among other things, there was a tomato they called Chernobyl. It tasted “brilliant”…
We were also served food in the form of good lamb and potatoes - a mix between mashed potatoes and brown potatoes, as we know it from Christmas.
During the days we lived in Reykholt, we were also on day trips to Kerid, which is a more than 6500 year old volcanic crater, and we were also past Gullfoss and Geysir, which we only lived about 20 km from.
Hot spring at the Arctic Circle
After a few days in Reykholt, the trip had come to visit Iceland's fourth largest city, Akureyri. It was a trip of 400 km north.
Akureyri has 18.000 inhabitants and is located in a fjord next to the Greenland Sea on the north coast of Iceland. Some would argue that it is Iceland's second largest city, but if you look at the official pages, the Reykjavik suburbs Kopavagur and Hafnafjordur are larger and count as independent cities, even though they are suburbs of Reykjavik. But it's probably mostly a detail.
Akureyri is a cozy city that you can get to see during a morning. The town is also a good starting point for excursions in northern Iceland.
An hour's drive from the city you reach Husavik, which is perhaps best known for the film comedy "Eurovision Song Contest - The Story of Fire Saga".
We were there for a single day with a visit to 'Geosea Iceland', which is a newly opened geothermal bath, which may be Nordisland's answer to the Blue Lagoon - just a lot smaller.
It is always nice to sit in a warm pool overlooking the Greenland Sea very close to the Arctic Circle.
In northern Iceland are also the waterfall Goðafoss and the lake Mývatn, which you must see if you are nearby.
Selkot - Far out in the country
After a short week in Iceland, it was time for the third stop of the trip with accommodation. We had originally planned to drive across the country, but we were discouraged because of the terrain, even though we were driving in a relatively large four-wheel drive.
We therefore chose to drive the long road past the east coast and follow Highway 1, which is the road that goes all the way around Iceland.
The day we had to drive from Akureyri to Selkot close to Vík í Mýrdal, we drove a little over 700 km. But it was also the last long trip we had.
Selkot is a small farm with a great view of mountains and fields. It was a long way to the nearest town and it was 10 km from the impressive waterfall, Skógafoss.
We relaxed for a few days and also got to see the nearby town of Vík, which was still 40 km away, although it was categorized as a nearby town.
Selkot may become a little better known next year, because it is the location for some recordings for the upcoming Netflix series "Katla", which takes place in Iceland and is about the volcano Katla.
Katla is a volcano that has erupted about 20 times in the last 1100 years, and under normal circumstances it erupts every 30-50. years, but it has not happened since 1918, so it can happen at any time.
It's a little fun to have lived in a house that has starred in a Netflix series.
The realm of volcanoes
The whole of Iceland is filled with volcanoes and Iceland experiences a volcanic eruption around every five years. That Iceland experiences so many volcanic eruptions is due to two things; the country lies on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where two tectonic plates pull apart by about 2 centimeters each year.
In addition, Iceland is located in an area where there is extra very hot molten lava from the earth's interior, which presses up under the island and feeds the volcanoes on the earth's surface.
Without volcanic eruptions, Iceland would actually disappear within a few million years due to the tectonic plates pulling apart. Most people probably remember best the volcanic eruption in 2010, when virtually all of Europe's airspace was closed.
More or less all airports in Europe closed down at the time - except for the airport in Keflavík. The airport is to the west, and the ash clouds from the volcano in 2010 drifted east and into mainland Europe.
Reykjavik - The northernmost capital of the world
After a few days on the farm Selkot we had a few days in Reykjavik to end the trip.
Reykjavik is a fine city where about 30% of the entire population of Iceland lives. Iceland's capital is therefore slightly larger than Danish provincial towns such as Esbjerg and Vejle.
Reykjavik is also the world's northernmost capital. Now people probably think that I have forgotten Nuuk, but Nuuk is actually further south than Reykjavik, even if one were to think that the whole Greenland is far to the north.
In fact, it can be said that the whole of Greenland 'encircles' Iceland in the way that Greenland's southernmost point is further south than Iceland, and Greenland's easternmost point is further east than Iceland. North and west give themselves.
Back in Reykjavik we asked at a restaurant what were the exciting things to see and do in Reykjavik. Here the answer was that there was really nothing exciting in Reykjavik.
It could not quite fit, so we even walked around a bit and looked. He was partly right, because Reykjavik is a completely ordinary city without the great experiences. The great experiences we had were clearly out in the small settlements and the local experiences.
However, we went in to see something called 'Flyover Iceland', where you get a fantastic virtual flight over Iceland with everything that belongs to geysers, glaciers, waterfalls, volcanoes and nature. A different way to travel Iceland.
So if you are coming to Reykjavik, visit FlyOver Iceland. Just be prepared that it's a bit like a little roller coaster ride in an amusement park.
Finish in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
Before we went to the airport and home Denmark, there was time for a few hours in the Blue Lagoon to end a fantastic trip to a slightly underrated country.
The Blue Lagoon was characterized by a lot of tourism, but probably not as much as under normal circumstances. A slightly alternative summer holiday compared to what I have been used to, but definitely a very great experience.
Iceland is the country with more than 10.000 named waterfalls. In addition, there are waterfalls that have no name. In addition, Iceland has an incredible history, and you can still find some Danish history up there. It is not so long ago that Iceland was Danish.
Iceland can definitely be recommended and I think everyone should experience Iceland at least once in their life.
So if you can do without 30 degrees and the beach, it's just about getting to Iceland. It only takes 3 hours to fly up there, and the experiences are at least as great as in other countries if you are into culture and nature combined with city life.
In addition, almost everyone can understand Danish, so you don't even need to be good at English to get by when traveling around Iceland. Icelandic is also relatively easy to understand.
Finally two huge pluses: There are no rats or mosquitoes in Iceland!
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