Road trip around Northwest and North Iceland
Our trip started in Reykjavík at Sixt rent a car Iceland where we picked up our rental car. (July 29th, 2017) Since we were four adults and planned on driving on gravel road (for example picking routes off ring road 1), we wanted to get a good car that could take us there. I’ve teamed up with Sixt before so I was excited to hear we would be getting a great 4×4 jeep for the trip, Toyota Land Cruiser. It was a diesel car which meant cheaper gas. More details about why you should rent a car in Iceland here.
From Reykjavik, we started driving West aiming for the little town Hofsós, located in Northeast Iceland where we had booked our overnight stay at a local guesthouse, Fagrihvoll. Hofsós is a small village at the east cost of Skagafjörður about 356 kilometers from Reykjavík, 133 km from Akureyri and 37 km from Sauðárkrókur. The village is one of the oldest trading posts of the country and the population is about 170. We took the tunnel Hvalfjarðargöng which cost 1.000ISK fee one way but saves you 1.5 hours of having to drive Hvalfjörður, the Whale fjord.
After the tunnel, we did a quick pit stop in Borgarnes for snacks and a trip to Vínbúðin, the liquor store. Traveler Tip: in Iceland alcohol is ONLY sold in Vínbúðin (wine and beer is not sold in supermarkets like in other countries). Strong alcohol is expensive in Iceland so make sure to stock up in the duty free after arriving at Keflavik airport.
From Borgarnes we headed North and the ring road leads you through Holtavörðuheiði, a route over a mountain which sometimes can have extreme wind, fog or snow storms. So always check road.is for road conditions when traveling around Iceland, especially during winter.
The first place we visited on our route around Northwest Iceland was Kolugljúfur canyon and Kolufossar waterfalls. From road 1, take a right turn onto road 715 for a few minutes and stop the car where you see a small parking area right next to a bridge over the canyon. From the canyon, we drove back to road 1 road for a few minutes and made a left turn to road 716 which leads to road 711 to visit Hvítserkur, a 15 meter high sea stack which in my opinion looks like a rhino drinking from the ocean. The area is also great for spotting seals, so keep an eye out.
After Hvítserkur we had planned to visit the natural hot pool, Grettislaug but since the weather wasn’t great we decided to continue our drive to Hofsós. The town is known for their local swimming pool (formerly opened in 2010), an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, mountains and Drangey island. Stunning views! The pool is open from 9AM-9PM during the summer and different opening hours for winter. The entrance fee is 900ISK.
After soaking in the pool and hot tub for two hours we had dinner at Sólvík, a local restaurant, as there are only two dining options in town. After a good meal, it was nice to head to the guesthouse for a good night sleep.
Day two (July 30th 2017)
Started around 9:30AM with breakfast at the guesthouse and then we went back to the car heading North. We had been invited to visit the new Beer Spa, Bjórböðin in Árskógssandur (formerly opened in June 2017). There were two routes we could take to Bjórböðin, either follow ring road 1 inland or drive the coastline through the towns of Siglufjörður and Dalvík from Hofsós (drive road 76 and then 82). Driving the coast is a more scenic route so we decided to head that way and stop in Siglufjörður for coffee and some Icelandic delicacies. The route is similar in time, both 1,5 hours (107 km driving the coastline or 146 km inland).
At 1PM we arrived in Árskógssandur and were greeted by wonderful employees of Bjórböðin, beer spa and restaurant. I guess you’re thinking already what the F#$%” is a beer spa?! Well here is their description: “In the bath, you bathe for 25 minutes in young KALDI beer, brewer’s yeast, hops and fresh Icelandic water. The yeast used in the baths is very rich of Vitamin-B, which has great effect on skin and hair”. More information about Bjórböðin and my full review can be read here.
Bjórböðin has a restaurant on site so we had a quick lunch before continuing our journey to our next overnight destination, Lava Apartments in Akureyri, capital of North Iceland. It’s only a 30-minute drive (34km) so I highly recommend if you have planned to visit Akureyri to add a visit to the beer spa to your to do list!
We arrived in the city around 4PM and first thing we did was checking into our accommodations with Lava Apartments & Rooms, a new and friendly apartment & room hotel located in the center of the city. More information and my full review can be read here.
It was very easy to explore Akureyri by foot from our apartment. We had a nice dinner at Bryggjan restaurant and decided to have dessert at the local ice cream parlor, Brynjuís, one of the most popular parlor in Iceland. Click here to read a blog of things to see & do in Akureyri.
Are you planning a trip in Iceland? Continue reading about Northeast and East Iceland here.
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Special thanks to Sixt rent a car Iceland for sponsoring us with a 4×4 car, Lava Apartments for accommodating us in Akureyri and Bjórböðin for inviting us to their new Beer Spa. They deserve a shout out so I hope you guys will check them out before planning your own adventure around the Iceland. All opinions are my own! Cheers and happy travels, Inga, founder of TinyIceland.