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Friday, December 8, 2017

9 Days Iceland Summer Road Trip Itinerary: Day 8 & 9: West Iceland

The whale-watching town
Akureyri > Dalvik (35 mins)

We were recommended by our host to drop by Dalvik before heading west. If we are lucky enough, we may spot a whale coming up to the shore and do its magical thing - spouting water and do a few backflips, stuff like this. Despite keeping our eyes on tour boats, which apparently have the best chances as the locals would have a better understanding where to spot a whale, we did not see Moby Dick, unfortunately.

Dalvik is a small harbour town, with a few tourist attractions like the museum or swimming pool, or hiking and skiing tours for the sporty.

Journey to the West
Dalvik > Airbnb (3 hours 40 mins via Route 1, 4 hours 10 mins via coastal route)

The drive to West Iceland is going to be one of your longest drive in the whole trip. We continued with the coastal route - and to be honest, there isn't much to see. You'll pass by many small towns, explore, get lost and immerse in the beauty of Iceland, take breaks, breathe.

We decided to choose Giljaland Guesthouse simply because it is located in the middle of the mountains and far from civilisation. I shit you not - there will not be any telecom-signal in that area. Well, we thought that there might be a slight chance of seeing northern lights in somewhere really dark in mid-August. And guess what? We did not see it. 
And.. not to mention, the roads here are pretty rough.

Secret Life of Walter Mitty film location
Airbnb (Giljaland) > Stykkishólmur (1 hour 35 mins)

Ground control to Major TomStykkishólmur is where they shot one of the most touching scenes in Secret Life of Walter Mitty where the female lead sang to Walter Mitty, giving him the extra push to go big instead of going home. He then jumped onto a moving helicopter in a shark-infested water.


Stykkishólmur is a quaint town with well-preserved Nordic houses, a church and museum, and a population of approximately 1,100. Like Seydisfjordur, there isn't much and that's the beauty of it. We got down the car, explored the area a bit, get another hotdog for lunch, and back to the car.

The Holy Mountain
Stykkishólmur > Helgafell (10 mins)

There's a small mountain just around the area (you would have passed by it before entering Stykkishólmur), called Helgafell, or also known as the Holy or Sacred Mountain. Legend has it that if you can hike all the way up without looking back and uttering a word, you'll be granted three wishes. Good news is that it's just a 10-15 minutes hike, but we just wish to Jesus and no one else so we didn't really bother.

Yet, another small town
Helgafell Ólafsvík (50 mins)

Drive along the coast and hit another town, Ólafsvík, for a meal break or just to savour the last few towns you might see on the Ring Road. If you like to explore the different churches in Iceland, do not skip this. Surprisingly, the doors weren't locked and we got to sit on the benches and admire the interiors.
Beautiful coast and rock formations
Ólafsvík > Hellnar (40 mins)

From Ólafsvík, drive westwards into Snaefellsjoekull National Park before heading to Hellnar. There were a few sights at the national park but we decided to drive and enjoy it on the car since we planned to roam longer in Hellnar. Although it doesn't seem like it, Hellnar with its cliffs and rocky formations, was one of the busiest fishing ports 500 years ago. Centuries passed and there are only 10 permanent residents at Hellnar now.
Today, Hellnar has become a popular tourist attraction in the Ring Road because of the same reason - its cliffs and rocky formations. Not to mention, there are a lot of birds flying in and out the caves (at least during summer). If you're up for a short hike of 2.5km, you may want to travel to Anarstapi, a small fishing village with great views. For us, we are lazy asses, so hell-nar.
Light of Iceland
Hellnar > Akranes (2 hours)

Before heading back to Reykjavik, visit Akranes, a larger city (as compared to the other towns) for one of the most picturesque lighthouses in Iceland. During winter, it is the preferred place to capture the northern lights.
Returning to Base
Akranes >Reykjavik (40 mins)

From Akranes, drive south and you'll find an underwater tunnel called Hvalfjarðargöng (similar to Singapore's MCP) where it leads you back to Reykjavik in a way shorter time for a fee of 1000ISK (~SGD$12). Unlike most one-lane mountain tunnels that we have passed in the Ring Road, there are two lanes here so you can easily manoeuvre it. If you have the time or want to have it free, you can drive along the coast but that will take approximately 80 minutes.

We stayed at Reykjavik for another night before driving to the airport the next morning.With bittersweet memories (mostly sweet), we left Iceland with a heavy heart. It was a holiday like no other and we know we made the right choice to travel all the way and explore this land of fire and ice.