On the third day, we took our time travelling back to Reykjavik and visiting the sites we originally missed along the way.
Easily seen from the Ring Road (Route 1), Skógafoss is a massive waterfall standing 60 metres tall and 25 metres wide. This is a great place to stretch out your legs from your long drive, with the parking lot being just off the main road. You can walk straight up to the falls, but be prepared to get soaked from all the mist! It is such an amazing feeling standing so close to such a massive waterfall! You can hear the roar of the water crashing down as you walk closer and closer. Rainbows are very common since there is so much mist.
To the side of the waterfall is a staircase that will take you all the way to the top! From here you can see the Skógá River spilling over the edge.
We arrived in Reykjavik and were lucky enough to see the Northern Lights as we entered the city! I can only imagine how spectacular the lights would have been if we were still outside the city! After staring at the sky until our necks hurt, we finally checked into our accommodation at Apartments Aurora. This apartment was the perfect resting spot for the next couple days – private, cozy with all the amenities included. The best part was having a kitchen to cook our meals in.
Reykjavik is such a quaint city. Be sure to spend some time walking around the shops and checking out the numerous murals painted on the sides of the buildings. For dinner, we stopped by the restaurant called Noodle Station for a bowl of hot spicy noodles. The prices are very cheap in comparison to everything else in Reykjavik.
An Unexpected Turn – Lake Kleifarvatn
On Day 4, we decided to take a day trip out to the Golden Circle, starting with a quick stop at Kerið, a volcanic crater lake, and going counter-clockwise from there. We set up our GPS and off we went. Or so we thought.
About 15 minutes into our drive we found ourselves driving south out of Reykjavik, but through an industrial area…odd, but we figured not out of the ordinary since Kerið was located on the southern portion of the Golden Circle. Trusting our GPS we continued onwards and thought to ourselves that this must be some alternate route to Kerið. Before long we found ourselves transported into another world aka Route 42. A narrow freshly pressed gravel road and a landscape that resembled Mars, we finally checked the GPS and realized we were on our way to another location with the same name! There were hardly any cars along this road, you could literally count an entire 2 to 5 minutes before a lorry or car would finally drive by. We came across the most beautiful and serene lake called Kleifarvatn. We parked our car and simply sat at the waterline admiring its calm waters and the reflection of the sun rising in the sky. At this point we accepted our detour and decided to continue onwards to see if we would encounter anymore beautiful surprises.
A short 5 minutes down Route 42, we encountered Krýsuvík, a geothermal field with a newly built boardwalk that winds through the bubbling and hissing volcanic vents and boiling hot springs up to steep hill that is hikeable to the top! The massive boiling hot spring and the incredible views are well worth the extra leg work. The geothermal cools produce a very strong cotton egg smell, but eventually you just get used to it. Try not to breath through your mouth too much! There is a parking lot as well as toilet facilities at this site.
By noon, we finally started driving back toward the Golden Circle, taking Route 427, which runs along the southern coastline of Iceland.
Kerið is a 55 metre deep volcanic crater that was formed about 3000 years ago. This crater is composed of red volcanic rock (versus black) and at the bottom is most brilliant aquamarine blue water. You can hike around the edge of the crater, which takes about 30 minutes, or make your way down to the bottom. This attraction is well worth the small 400 ISK per person admission fee. The best time to visit is when it is overcast or when the sun is highest in the sky in order to avoid deep shadows.
A 45 minute drive northeast on Route, you will come across Gullfoss, a large waterfall that cuts deep into a rugged canyon. The sheer size of the waterfall and rushing sound of water will have you mesmerized. From the parking lot, there is a clear path and stairs you can take to view the waterfall up close.
There is also a restaurant and cafe on-site where you can grab a bite to eat before leaving.
Bruarfoss, although not the largest waterfall, is quite easily my favourite. The brilliant turquoise water was beyond beautiful and I highly recommend you make time for this gem in your Iceland itinerary.
Because of our detour in the morning, we did not have enough time to visit Þingvellir National Park with its striking volcanic rock formations, waterfalls and scenic trails. This park came as highly recommended and if I were to ever return, I would certainly add this to my itinerary.