• Kate

3 Days in Iceland: Campervan Trip Around West Iceland in March

Updated: May 21, 2019

West Iceland travel guide

We have just returned from our second trip to Iceland in March. Unlike our first 10 day campervan trip in September of 2018 (which we will write about later), this time we only had 3 days in Iceland. The decision to go back was really a spur of the moment one. Since we came back from our first Iceland #campervan adventure, we couldn’t stop talking about seeing the Northern lights again. The experience of aurora last year was the first one for both of us and it left a colourful impression (see what we did there?) and a sense of longing for more that was so strong that upon coming home we even researched the best places in Canada to see Northern Lights (too far, too expensive to get too).

One day in February, one of my colleagues told me that she was going to Iceland in March for a few days. Of course I immediately wanted to go back too! I checked the airfare and campervan rental prices and our fates were sealed! WOW Air return ticket came down to about $250 CAD return per person and the campervan rental for 3 days was $300 CAD. I couldn’t believe it! Of course, March is considered a low season for Iceland and, therefore, airfare, accommodation, and car rental prices are considerably cheaper than in the high or even shoulder seasons. I came home that night, told Jason about my plan, and the next morning we booked the campervan and bought our plane tickets. We were going to Iceland in less than a month!

West Iceland Campervan Trip Planning
Planning our West Iceland campervan trip. Wine was involved, of course!

We didn’t have to do much prepping for the trip this time around since we already had all the gear we needed from our first trip (i.e. warm layers, microfiber towels, backpacks, inverter for the van, etc). The only planning we had to do was our itinerary. Since we only had 3 full days in Iceland, we decided to focus on one specific area while leaving open the possibility of moving around if needed to chase the aurora (traveling in a campervan is great for this since your accommodation is mobile and you are not tied to previous reservations that you’ve made). Back in September, when we travelled the Ring Road, we did not have time to visit the The Snæfellsnes Peninsula. It is sometimes called “Iceland in a nutshell” and is home to Snæfellsjökull glacier volcano, lava fields, Kirkjufell mountain, and Snæfellsjökull National Park. The 90-km long peninsula is only about a 2 hour drive from Reykjavik and it is possible to drive around it in a day, however, we found that 2 days were a perfect amount of time to truly enjoy all the landmarks that we’ve encountered on our way. We spent the third day driving from the North part of the peninsula to Reykholt and then back to Akranes where we spent our last night. Check out this map for our entire itinerary.

While we felt like we were well prepared for this trip and knew what to expect we’ve encountered a few surprises that dramatically changed our plans...

We caught a red-eye to Iceland from Toronto on March 18 and landed in Keflavik airport at 04:45 AM the next day. A representative from the van rental company was supposed to meet us at the airport at 06:00 AM which gave us enough time to grab some coffee and food (we splurged on two sandwiches this time!) and to purchase a SIM card with data plan for Jason’s phone. Pre-paid SIM cards are a lot cheaper in Iceland than they are in Canada: we got a 10 GB Síminn card for about $30 CAD. (At the airport, there is a convenience store past the arrivals gate before you exit the airport - ask them at the counter). On our last trip, the rental company threw in a Wifi portable router for free (after we noticed that one of the van doors was not functioning properly). We weren’t sure if we’d be able to get the same sweet deal this time, and, given that Jason was technically not on vacation for this trip and would have to put in hours worth of work every day, we had to make sure we had enough data.

When we arrived to the Lava Auto rental office at 7 AM, it was still pitch-black outside. In Iceland, sun rises at around 7:30 AM and sets at 7:30 PM in March which gives you about 12 hours of daylight (thumbs up!). We opted out of any additional insurance on the van beyond the standard CDW that is included in the rental price (we will talk more about insurance in our later posts). As we signed all the papers (there weren't many) and inspected the van as best as we could in the morning darkness, I tried to put on all of the charm that I had left in me after a red-eye flight and inquired about any potential discounts on the Wifi router for repeat customers. The rental guy chuckled and mumbled something that sounded like a “no”. But after I mentioned that on our last rental we got the Wifi hotspot for free, he just said “OK”. Neither Jason nor I barter well, never feel comfortable doing it, and avoid it for the most part. But I felt so proud of myself in that moment!

At around 7:30 AM, equipped with the SIM card and the free Wifi router, we were all set to embark on our adventure. We got a newer Nissan NV200 Camper this time as well, which we were really excited about since this one came with curtains on the rear door windows (small thing but very important when changing and sleeping in the van).

Campervan Iceland trip
Heading north

As we headed north, past Reykjavik, we decided to take Route 47 around the Hvalfjörður fjord. On our previous trip, as we were driving south from Akranes to Reykjavik, we were short on time and, therefore, took the Hvalfjörður tunnel having to pay a $10 toll. We decided to save money this time and check out the drive along the fjord coastline. Little did we know that they scrapped the toll for the tunnel literally a few days after we drove through it last year. It is now free and is an experience in its own, being 5770 meters long and reaching a depth of 165 meters below sea level. So, if you have time and are traveling from north from Reykjavik and then back, we would highly recommend that you take both routes: through the tunnel and around the fjord.

Hvalfjörður fjord in Iceland
The beautiful and peaceful Hvalfjörður

The drive around the Hvalfjörður takes about an hour but it is well worth it. You’ll get some breathtaking views of the fjord with mountains in the distance and seagulls circling over the water close to the cliffs’ edge. It was very peaceful when we drove around it in March. We saw maybe 5 cars in total on the road in the whole hour.

While driving on the south side of the fjord, we came across Fossárrétt waterfall and some ancient ruins that we believe to be what's left of a village, specifically the remnants of a sheep sorting structure called a "rétt" in Icelandic. These structures were used for sorting and tagging sheep in the round-up in spring. Rétts are still in use today, usually circular in their modern incarnations. Every September sheep are chased down from the mountains where they’ve spent the summer and sorted into Rétts (which we were lucky to witness on our previous trip). Families gather on foot or on horse, dogs included, and get behind the sheep, yelling and whistling to gather and lead them down the mountains toward the rétt.

Fossárrétt waterfall in Iceland
Fossárrétt waterfall and an ancient rétt

Since it was a "regular" weekday for Jason, we had to park for an hour or two so that he could get some work done. There's something almost guilt-inducing when you are able to work out of a campervan parked on the edge of a cliff overlooking an Icelandic fjord! As for me, I took that time to make myself a rum and coke to celebrate our first day back in Iceland and to play around with our new gimbal (which ended up breaking after 10 minutes).

Nomadic vanlife
Jason hard at work

We had to make a stop at the Bonus supermarket in Borgarnes to stock up on groceries. There are many Bonus stores around Reykjavik but they don’t open until 11 AM. Borgarnes was our last chance to get cheap(er) groceries as there are no discount supermarkets on Snæfellsnes peninsula.

Tip: If you want to save money on groceries in Iceland you should shop at one of the discount supermarkets: Bonus, Kronan, or Netto (Bonus being the cheapest and offering the widest selection). But keep in mind that most Bonus stores open at 11 AM and close at 6:30 PM. So plan your shopping trips accordingly.

$80 and a delicious array of instant noodles, hotdogs, chips, Skyr yogurt (yum!), and Coke Zero (because rum and cokes are our go-to on the road), we were ready to head for Snæfellsnes peninsula. But first we had to take a nap. It’s been about 24 hours since we slept and we were feeling a bit tired. Nothing beats a nice rejuvenating nap in the Bonus parking lot in the middle of the afternoon!

Tip: Alcohol is very expensive in Iceland. In fact, it is about 30% more expensive than in North America. If you plan on drinking, buy as much alcohol at the duty-free shops on your way to Iceland as you can. After passing through security, you can buy tax-free alcohol and carry it onto the plane. Similar to Canadian law, you are allowed to bring up to 1 litre of spirit per person. In addition to being expensive, in Iceland you can only purchase alcohol at Vínbúðin stores that are generally only open 11 AM - 6 PM (with even shorter opening hours in smaller towns).

Iceland mountains in winter
Snow-dusted mountains on our way to Snæfellsnes

When we got to the peninsula it was around 4 PM and we were HUNGRY. One thing we were not prepared for on this trip was weather. Mind you, it was a long cold winter here in Canada and heading to Iceland we knew that we would be faced with comparable temperatures and rain/snow conditions. But the Icelandic winds simply blew us away (literally!). The weather changed from sunny to blizzard to hail to sunny again in a matter of seconds. The winds were so strong that our van rocked from side to side and at times we couldn’t open the doors. We had to scrap our plans for cooking our meals on the camper stove. We decided to check into the campsite early, have some food, and then drive around some more.

There are not a lot of campsites that are open year-round in Iceland. After spending some time researching campsites on and near Snæfellsnes Peninsula we found one that worked perfectly with our itinerary. Snorrastaðir is a small farm with a guesthouse which also allows campervan parking and use of the facilities. There is a kitchen, bathroom (2 stalls men/women each), a couple of showers included in the price, and a common dining area with a couple of tables. The price is 2500 ISK per vehicle which is very reasonable as most campsites charge around the same amount per person.

Snorrastaðir campsite in Iceland
View of Snorrastaðir campsite with our lonely campervan in the parking lot

We made ourselves some instant noodles in the kitchen and Jason got some more work done. As unexciting as instant noodles are, it was nice to have the first hot meal in 24 hours, especially after bracing the unexpected gale force winds.

Elborg crater in Iceland
Boiling water for instant noodles while enjoying the view of Eldborg crater in the distance

Hiking to Eldborg crater was initially on our itinerary. Snorrastaðir campsite is located right next to the trail. However, given the weather we were not brave enough to commit to an hour-long hike each way. Not with how quickly the weather was changing back and forth between naughty and nice.

Jason hard at work again at the campsite

After eating and warming up, we were ready to go see more amazing things and places. We had about an hour left before sunset so we decided to to a quick drive to Gerðuberg basalt cliffs that were only about 20 minutes away. Doing our research before the trip we've read some people say that Gerðuberg cliffs are hard to find/easy to miss. Don't believe them. If you enter "Gerðuberg cliffs" into Google maps, you will have no problem finding the place. Plus, the cliffs are visible from route 54 AND there is a sign for "Gerðuberg" which tells you to turn right off route 54 onto an unpaved gravel road. We had a 2 WD van and had no trouble getting over the potholes.

I wish it was warmer so that we could spend more time at #Gerðuberg, for it is truly a magnificent sight! The basalt columns are so perfectly shaped that they look almost man-made. I think you can hike right to the cliffs and even to the top of them for some great views but, unfortunately, we couldn't handle more than 10 minutes out of the van before feeling very very cold. But even as a quick stop, Gerðuberg cliffs is definitely worth a visit.

Gerðuberg basalt cliffs
Gerðuberg basalt cliffs

As we were wrapping up at Gerðuberg, it was beginning to get dark so we decided to head back to the campsite and get some much needed rest for the next day. As we were unpacking our dinner provisions (hot dogs with Cronions to top them up, yum!), we could not believe the ferocity of the winds outside. The van was shaking and the wind made eerie howling sounds all around us. Since we were the only people at the campsite we decided to take advantage of that and sleep indoors. We brought the mattresses and sleeping gear from the van into the dining room and made ourselves a bed in a corner. Before we settled down for the night though, we checked the aurora forecast. This is the website we used on both of our trips to check in on the Northern Lights activity.

Tip: September through March is the peak viewing season for Northern Lights in Iceland. You also need dark and clear skies. Additionally, the higher the KP index, the more active/colourful the aurora will appear. Both times we saw Northern Lights, the KP index was 2-4, so don't be discouraged by low KP numbers!

That night the moon was almost full and the partially cloudy skies were illuminated by its strong glow. Jason felt that our chances of seeing the Northern Lights that night were close to none but I wasn't ready to give up. After some more research online, I've discovered that aurora was supposed to be most active around 9 PM. So around that time I told Jason I would quickly step outside to check on the sky. I came running back a second later screaming "Northern Lights! Northern Lights!". There it was. The most beautiful aurora we've seen so far. The moon was out, there were short breaks in the cloud cover, the KP index was at a 2 and we still saw it. For the first time we saw the aurora actually dance across the sky with its colours changing from bright green to purple visible even to the naked eye.

Iceland Northern Lights in March
Northern Lights over Snorrastaðir

Even sleeping indoors, we woke up multiple times in the night to the sounds of wind howling in the air ducts, rapping on windows, and shaking the walls of the old guesthouse. Around 7 AM I woke up to an Icelandic mouse running right past my face. But that night I dreamed about the most beautiful aurora and it was one of the most magical nights ever.

On our second day in Iceland, I woke up at 7 AM to a mouse going about it's business on the campground's dining room floor right in front of me. I generally find mice adorable but, as I got to find out, I do get startled when they suddenly appear just inches away from my face.

The sun wasn't up yet and there was just enough light in the dining room for me to see a small shadow moving about 10 inches away from my face (in case you missed our previous post, we ended up sleeping on the floor in the campground's communal dining room on our first night). Within a fraction of a second I was fully awake, screaming, and sending the mouse running through the door and out into the hallway. The whole commotion, of course, woke Jason up and we decided that it was a good time to get up and hit the road again.

After a quick breakfast of the most delicious Skyr yogurt we've ever had (and after the mouse made another appearance... I guess it really wanted to make some new friends), we were off.

The south side of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is full of really beautiful and/or fascinating sights that are only 10-30 minutes away from each other (driving).

Our first stop that day was the Olkelda Mineral Spring. It is located on the #Olkelda farm but the owner is kind enough to allow access to it to anyone interested and even put a small parking lot in place for visitors (there is a box for donations next to the spring). Water in Olkelda mineral spring is naturally carbonated, very high in iron, and is said to have healing powers (we did not try it so can not attest to that). Due to the high iron content, the ground around the spring is bright red which makes for a really cool sight and great photos. If you are passing by make sure to stop for a few minutes - it's worth it!

Olkelda mineral spring in Iceland
Olkelda mineral spring with naturally carbonated water.

After a quick stop at Olkelda, we headed on to Ytri Tunga beach. After visiting several black sand beaches in Iceland, we were really excited to see our first Icelandic golden sand beach. Ytri Tunga is known to be a reliable place to see seals who like to lounge on rocks scattered around the beach throughout the year (although June and July are the best months to observe them). I think it was too cold that day even for seals so we didn't see any. Nevertheless, the beach was beautiful with its scattering of rocks, mounds of seaweed, and a variety of birds feeding on whatever gets washed up on the shore.

Ytri Tunga golden sand beach in Iceland
Ytri Tunga golden sand beach

Bjarnarfoss waterfall was the next stop on our itinerary. It doesn't attract as many tourists as some of the other waterfalls in Iceland but I found it to be one of my favourites. I can only imagine how breathtaking it looks in the summer!

Bjarnarfoss waterfall in Iceland in winter
The beautiful Bjarnarfoss waterfall

Búðir Black Church is only a 5 minute drive from #Bjarnarfoss and that's where we headed next. From what we could find on the internet, the church was built in 1703 and it sits in the middle of an expansive lava field framed by majestic snow-capped mountains in the distance. It is a popular site for both amateur and professional photographers and, as soon as you see it in person, you will understand why.

Búðir Black Church in Iceland in Winter
The photogenic Búðir Black Church

Heading east toward Snæfellsjökull National Park, we passed by Rauðfeldsgjá gorge which is a deep rift extending about 40 meters into the Botnsfjall mountain. It is visible from the main road with the sign directing you to a small parking lot. If you climb over the rocks into the gorge, you will get to a hidden waterfall (which we didn't do and would not recommend doing in the winter time). This is a good spot for a quick stop and a few photos.

Rauðfeldsgjá gorge in Iceland in Winter
Rauðfeldsgjá gorge

Our first stop upon entering the Snæfellsjökull National Park was at the Lóndrangar basalt cliffs. Lóndrangar are a pair of two basalt pillars nicknamed "the rocky castle" and are all that remains of an ancient volcanic crater. Elves are said to inhabit the lands surrounding Lóndrangar. We did not meet any but maybe you'll have more luck than us!

Lóndrangar basalt cliffs in Iceland in Winter
Lóndrangar basalt cliffs

The winds were absolutely insane up on the cliffs and, given that we were getting a bit tired at this point, we took a moment to lie back and relax:

Lóndrangar basalt cliffs in Iceland in Winter
Gale force winds at Lóndrangar basalt cliffs

Djúpalónssandur black lava pebble beach and Dritvík cove were supposed to be our next destination but, unfortunately, due to the weather (blizzard/hail/gale winds/freezing cold) we had to skip it. If you do end up visiting these two places, please let us know how much we missed out on and give us an excuse to plan another Iceland trip! #icelandaddicts

Icelandic horses in winter
Icelandic horses in a blizzard

I almost forgot to mention one of my favorite things about visiting Iceland - getting to see Icelandic horses on the side of the road as you drive along. I will never get tired admiring these beautiful creatures with their smaller frames and gorgeous flowing manes and tales. Luckily, they are everywhere in Iceland and you won't drive more than 15 minutes without spotting some out in the fields. (Jason and I have this silly thing we do when we're in Iceland - every time we drive past a horse we are supposed to say "horsie!". It does get tiring after 10 days of driving in Iceland but I'm proud to say we stuck to our "rule" on both of our trips).

Icelandic horses in winter
More Icelandic horses with beautiful mountains in the background

As we continued north along the west coast of Snæfellsnes Peninsula, we drove past the Saxhóll Crater. It is estimated to have erupted about 3000 years ago creating the surrounding landscape. We have originally planned to do the hike to the top of the crater. It is supposed to be an easy 5-10 min hike with spectacular views of the area from the top. However, due to the weather, we had to say no to the hike and admire the crater from a distance instead.

Saxhóll Crater in Iceland in winter
Saxhóll Crater

Öndverðarnes is the westernmost point of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and home to a very photogenic orange lighthouse. To get to it you will need to leave the main road going through the national park and drive along a winding unpaved gravel Öndverðarnesvegur road (Nr. 579). The road is covered with potholes and it took us around 30 minutes in our 2 WD campervan to get to the point where the road splits into two just near the coast. At this point, the road leading to the lighthouse was so muddy and rough that we didn't risk going further. As much as we wanted to see the Öndverðarnes lighthouse, we did not want to get stuck in Snæfellsnes' outermost location! As bad as the road was in March, according to our research, it is supposed to be accessible to most vehicles, so if you are going in the summer we would recommend you give it a try.

Unpaved road to Öndverðarnes lighthouse in winter
Unpaved road leading to Öndverðarnes lighthouse

We turned around and, before returning to the main Útnesvegur road, made a stop at the Skarðsvík beach. This is another golden sand beach which is, in our opinion, even more beautiful than Ytri Tunga. Skarðsvík feels very secluded and peaceful with it's turquoise blue waters and sheltering cliffs but beware the waves! The waves at #Skarðsvík can be very aggressive and you could be caught unawares by a sneaker wave similar to those in #Reynisfjara in the south of Iceland.

Skarðsvík beach in winter
Beautiful Skarðsvík golden sand beach

When we arrived at Skarðsvík, the sky was a cheerful blue and the sun was shining bright. However, within minutes, the skies darkened, the wind picked up and it started snowing. We had to make a quick escape back to the van. Yet again, the winter weather in Iceland reminded us to stay on our toes and be ready to sprint for shelter at a moment's notice.

Skarðsvík beach storm in winter
Quickly-approaching and menacing clouds at Skarðsvík beach

Once in the van and safe from the elements, we continued our drive out of Snæfellsjökull National Park and towards Hellissandur. Hellissandur dates back to 16th century and once used to be a major fishing post. Kaffihús Gamla Rif is a small cafe located in the town's centre, serving a variety of cakes, coffee and the traditional fish soup rumoured to be one of the best in Iceland. Fish soup, or fiskisúpa in Icelandic, is a classic in the land of fire and ice and there is a multitude of recipes for this staple dish. On our first trip to Iceland, we had our first taste of fiskisúpa and fell in love. We only went out for dinner once and fish soup was a must-try for us. Eating out in Iceland is expensive but if you do decide to go out for lunch or dinner you must order fish. After all, you are in Iceland! The first #fiskisúpa we tried in Reykjavik had a clear broth exploding with the taste of a variety of spices. The fish soup at Gamla Rif is based on a different recipe which includes cream and is jam-packed with different tastes. Salty followed by sour followed by sweet and just a hint of spicy all of which, after a few spoonfuls, merge into a beautiful medley of flavour that will leave your taste buds begging for more. Gamla Rif is run by two fishermen's wives and the fish they use for their soup is the definition of fresh. Two bowls of soup accompanied by home-made bread cost us 4000 ISK but it was well worth it. Anna, the magician fiskisúpa lady, was amazing and even shared her recipe with us. After we master the recipe at home, we will share it with you here.

With our bellies full and our bodies warm, we continued on our journey to Kirkjufell. Kirkjufell, or "Church Mountain", is a 463 m free-standing symmetric mountain which is said to be the most photographed in Iceland. We encountered the biggest crowd of other tourists here (mind you, it was only 20 or so people in March which is about 5 times as many as we've seen at any other landmark on our trip). If you are going to visit #Kirkjufell in the high season, be prepared to share the experience with tons and tons of people. Or go very early in the morning or very late at night to avoid the major crowds. Even as we were leaving, a big tour bus pulled into the parking lot.

Kirkjufell Mountain in Iceland in winter
Kirkjufell, the most photographed mountain in Iceland

Having taken our share of Kirkjufell photos we headed back west to Ólafsvík. Ólafsvík is a small town on the northern side of the peninsula and home to a large fishing harbour. By now we have decided that sleeping in the #campervan was not going to the the option for the remaining two nights of our trip. One of the benefits of traveling in low season is that we didn't have any trouble finding reasonably priced accommodation at the last moment. The night before, after brief research, we booked a room in Við Hafið guesthouse. For $100 CAD we got a private room with a small sink, shared living and dining space, bathrooms with showers, kitchen, Wifi, and even a simple but tasty breakfast included.

Ólafsvík in Iceland in winter
Main road through Ólafsvík

After a nice hot shower, Jason got some more work done, and we decided to splurge on a dinner at Hraun restaurant recommended to us by the man at the front desk. You get a 15% discount at #Hraun if you are staying at Við Hafið guesthouse, but I guess we were so excited to eat some more delicious Icelandic fish (we ordered fish and chips) that we actually forgot to use our discount...

Upon returning to the guesthouse, we checked aurora forecast again here. It looked like there was a very slight chance at 3 AM of the cloud cover clearing briefly around the area of Kirkjufell mountain. The KP index was at 2. We knew the odds of seeing Northern Lights that night were very low but chasing the aurora was our main goal for this trip and we weren't going to give up easily. So, at 3 AM we woke up, got dressed, and ventured out into the cold and snow of Ólafsvík night. We drove about 15 minutes out of the town when it became obvious that the skies weren't going to clear enough for any significant aurora observation. At one point we did see some Northern Lights activity when the sky cleared for a few minutes but it was so faint that we weren't able get any photos of it even with long exposure photography. #aurorachasing #northernlightshunters

Northern lights chasing in Iceland in winter
Attempting to capture a very faint aurora on camera

Defeated, we drove back to the guesthouse and got some more sleep. Geothermal spa and waterfalls were on the agenda for our last day and we were excited.

On the morning of our last full day in Iceland, we left Ólafsvík and took route 54 south. The road took us through the snow-covered mountains and offered views so breathtaking that we can to pull over several times and take in the scenery.

Snæfellsnes peninsula in Iceland in winter
Driving through the Snæfellsnes Peninsula interior

We had the option of taking route 56 to the south side of the peninsula but there was a weather warning in place for strong winds and snow along peninsula's north coast so we decided to make our way south instead of driving along the north coast to route 56.

Tip: When traveling in winter, always check the weather forecast before you set off. We used the same website as we did for Northern Lights activity forecast and found it very helpful.

The drive through the mountains was peaceful and almost meditative. We didn't encounter a single car on this stretch of the road and were surrounded by nothing other than the quiet of the mountain air and the almost blinding whiteness of snow.

Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland in winter
The stunning vistas of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula interior

We took route 54 all the way back to the Ring Road and headed towards Reykholt. Snæfellsnes Peninsula was our main travel destination for this trip but there were a couple of places in the western Iceland outside of the peninsula that we didn't get a chance to see on our previous trip in September 2018.

One of those places was the Deildartunguhver Thermal Spring. Water at this spring is a piping hot 97°C and it is the most powerful hot spring in Europe. When planning this trip, we decided to treat ourselves to another visit to an Icelandic geothermal spa (we'll post about our experience at Mývatn Nature Baths last September in another post). Krauma Geothermal Spa uses water heated by Deildartunguhver and charges a lower price than the Blue Lagoon and Mývatn Nature Baths. We spent about $90 CAD including towel rental for the two of us (because it was too cold to be running around outside wrapped in our microfiber towels) plus another $80 CAD for 4 pints of beer that were brought right to the pool for us.

Krauma geothermal spa in Iceland in winter
View from one of Krauma's geothermal pools. Note the resident dog strolling through the steam cloud

There are 6 small pools at #Krauma, 5 hot (ranging in temperature from about 37°C to 42°C) and 1 cold (5°C to 8°C). We did not try the cold pool (too chicken) but we did try all of the hot ones and it was pure heaven! At one point, it started snowing which only added to the whole experience. There is nothing like soaking in the 40°C water while big fluffy snowflakes melt on your exposed skin and hair. While soaking in a pool, you get an unobstructed view of the steam rising from the Deildartunguhver and the mountains in the distance. There is also a relaxation room with loungers, a crackling wood fireplace in the centre, and soft music playing, as well as two steam rooms.

Krauma geothermal spa in Iceland
Soaking up geothermal heat at Krauma

Tip: Allow yourself at least 2 hours at the spa. Once you relax in the hot pool, the time goes by fast and you will not want to get out. We spent about 3 hours at Krauma and found it to be a good amount of time.

As hard as it was to get out of the soul-warming waters at Krauma, we had to leave at some point. Jason had to get on a work call and we needed to continue to our next destination before it got dark.

Hraunfossar, or "Lava Falls", is a series of waterfalls cascading down a lava cliff and pouring into Hvítá river below. We pulled into the parking lot at the falls and, while Jay was on another work call, I pulled out the camping stove, fired it up, and boiled water for a delicious and nutritious snack of instant noodles. By the time we were ready to go check out the waterfalls, all of the other people have left and our van was the only vehicle in the lot. The sun was beginning to set and the sky was a magical purple with a splash of pink. It was amazing to have the magnificent #Hraunfossar with it's mesmerizing turquoise blue water all to ourselves.

To the right of the observation deck, there is a path leading to a smaller, more rapid, waterfall called Barnafoss or "Children's Falls". There is a sad legend attached to #Barnafoss (and that's where the name comes from). A long time ago, a family lived on a farm close to the waterfall. One day, the parents left for church leaving their two small children at home. Upon their return, the children were nowhere to be found. Two sets of small footprints led to a small bridge over the nearby rapid waterfall. The children must have followed their parents but got dizzy from looking at the surging water under the bridge and fell to their deaths.

Barnafoss waterfall in Iceland in winter
Barnafoss waterfall

We took our time walking the trail overlooking both falls, crossing the bridge to the other side of the river, and taking in the views of the beautiful landscape under the pale violet evening sky.

Campervan with evening sky in Iceland in Winter
Beautiful evening sky over Hraunfossar

As it was getting late, we headed toward #Akranes where we booked the coziest Airbnb we could find in the area. For only $80 CAD we got a private room accommodation attached to the host's garage (it surely pays off traveling in the low season!) It doesn't sound that luxurious, but the place had heated floors, full bathroom with a hairdryer (important!), a microwave, fridge, kettle, and some dishes. The place had a lock box for self check in (matters if you are arriving late). Message us and we'll share the link to the listing with you if you are interested.

We felt a little sad getting ready for bed that night. We were going home the next day and we started missing Iceland even though we were still there.

On our last morning in Iceland we woke up to a warning of a major snow storm approaching Reykjavik area. We checked for alerts regarding our flight and, lo and behold, it was moved to 30 minutes earlier in an effort to to beat the storm (#ripwowair).

Tip: When traveling in Iceland in winter, always keep an eye on your return flight updates. With the weather being what it is this time of the year and with how quickly it changes, your flight might be delayed, or as it happened in our case, pushed ahead of time. Also, allow yourself plenty of time to get to the airport.

We only had one item left on our agenda for our last day and it was a visit to the Akranes lighthouses. The bigger lighthouse is the newer one and is open to public from May 1 to September 15. The smaller one is 100 years old (it was built in 1918). I've never been to a place with two lighthouses in such close proximity to each other so #akraneslighthouses was definitely a must-do stop for us and we would've stayed and enjoyed this picturesque spot much longer if not for very strong winds this close to the ocean.

Akranes lighthouses in Iceland in Winter
Akranes lighthouses

From Akranes, we headed south, making our way through Reykjavik towards the Keflavik Airport. As we drove we said goodbye to the mountains and the ocean. Just like after our first trip last year, we felt that we had seen and experienced so much in Iceland and yet it had not been nearly enough. We will never be able to get enough of this country's beautiful and contrasting landscapes, unpredictable weather, it's fascinating folklore, and the inevitable sense of adventure you feel here. Thank you, Iceland, for sharing your beauty and pushing us a step forward toward our nomadic dream. Till next time!

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