We woke up very excited on Day 3 of our little vacation. We were finally going to ride one of those beautiful Icelandic horses in the most majestic setting. But first a quick detour to see an orange lighthouse near Hellissandur. It’s about a 20 minute detour from the main road, half of which is on gravel road. But if you want to experience the peacefulness and desolation of a wild lava filled coastline, grey-blue choppy waves of the vast ocean and a bright orange lighthouse adding the perfect color contrast, this is the place to be.
There are may working farms in this area the offers horseback riding. We chose the 1 hour ride with Lýsuhóll right on 54. As luck would have it we were the only ones in the group. Picture this: you are riding on a majestic horse surrounded by fields filled with purple wildflowers (lupine), lava fields with ocean in the background and framed by a massive glacier. Does it get any better than this? Mother nature outdid herself here. This reminded me of Lofoten Islands in Norway but if I really had to choose, Icelandic wins.
Happy and riding high from this wonderful experience we started out towards Akureyri. It was a long drive but the constant changing landscape and lack of traffic makes driving a pleasure. We chose to spend the night in a little town 10 minutes from Akureyri with a spectacular view of the Eyjafjörður.
Next morning we drove into town to check out the local botanical garden called Lystigarðurinn. I did not expect to be bowled over by this pretty little gem but it surprised me in a very good way. Definitely spend some time here and best of all it’s free! Here are some native beauties from this garden.
Keep reading for our close encounter with one of the most majestic sea creatures. Next post coming up soon but here is a sneak peak.
Just kidding. 🙂
We got off to a lazy start on day 2 after our first night of experiencing the midnight sun. Since we were tired from the red eye the night before we had no problems falling asleep. But it is an unique experience to never see dawn or dusk or nighttime. We took a couple of all night time lapse videos during our stay (coming soon). I find it fascinating.
After checking out of the hotel and loading up our car we decided to go in search of some breakfast. Bergsson Mathus is highly rated on TripAdvisor (my go to travel site for reviews) AND it’s located in central Reykjavik by Tjörnin with its adorable and tiny city hall. The weather was gorgeous and we enjoyed a meandering walk following our noses. At first we didn’t realize this was a self serve restaurant. After much confusion and looking like the dorky tourist, we successfully ordered breakfast and it was delicious!
Reykjavik tip: parking is free on Sundays. Score!
Back in the car with a full tummy we drove north on 1 and chose to take the 45 minute detour around Hvalfjordur taking 47 which loops back to 1. If you have the time this is a must drive. Only about 30 minutes out of Reykjavik the scenery changes quickly to pastoral land filled with wildflower, pretty multi-colored mountains dotted with bucolic little towns, random and delightful waterfalls.
We passed the town of Borgarnes (good place to fill the tank) we headed further north and then west on 54. Our first real stop and first wildlife encounter was on Ytri Tunga Beach, famous for its seal colony. Watch out for the small sign on the left. It comes up very quickly. Even if you don’t see any seals, this is truly a spectacular place and worth some time on its own. We were lucky enough to see 2 of these gorgeous creatures sunbathing. The combination of the lava rocks, the serene blue water, lush green fields and volcanic mountains makes this place truly magical. Do you agree from the photos?
Next must do stop is the little town of Arnarstapi. It’s a tiny little coastal town and you can hike all the way to Hellnar enjoying spectacular seaside vistas. You can start to see the famous glacier in the background. We wish we had time to do whole route. We spent about an hour here walking as far as we could and then had the freshest fish and chips for dinner from the food truck fighting adorable sea gulls. These birds are everywhere in Iceland and while sea gulls are very common birds I have never seen the black faced variety. Stay alert or your dinner will be theirs!
We had one last stop to make before calling it a day. There is a rocket shaped lighthouse called Malarrif Lighthouse with a hidden lava black beach. It’s a gorgeous setting and absolutely worth a stop. We finally made our way to the little town of Hellissandur where we stayed at a local Airbnb. We had gotten a glimpse of what Iceland had to offer on our second day here and couldn’t wait to soak up this beautiful country for next 7 days.