On day 3, we left Reykjavik to explore more of Iceland. Before we left Reykjavik, we stopped at a grocery store, Bonus, to get some groceries since our next few destinations would be secluded without restaurants nearby. Our first stop was The Golden Circle, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland outside of Reykjavik.
Our first stop was Pingvellir, which is less than an hour north of Reykjavik. Pingvellir is a rift valley surrounded by cliffs to the east and west. The first Icelandic Parliament was held here in 930 and it is also here that 20,000 people gathered in 1944 when Iceland gained formal independence.
Although it doesn’t look like much, Pingvellir is so steeped in history and culture especially if you are familiar with Icelandic sagas that we all found it really interesting. And the surrounding area is so beautiful.
After Pingvellir, we continued driving along The Golden Circle to Geysir, which is a geothermal area full of hot springs and an active geyser. The geyser officially named Geysir is no longer active, but another geyser, Strokkur, is active every 5 minutes.
Strokkur at Geysir
Our last stop was Gullfoss. I’ve seen several pictures of Gullfoss before I planned to go to Iceland and this sensational waterfall is one of the reasons why I wanted to go to Iceland. Gullfoss is like a 2 tiered waterfall because 2 small falls lead to an L shaped cascade. Now it was still pretty cold when we were there so part of the falls were frozen, but it was still breathtaking. And it’s amazing how close you are able to get to the waterfall, however the path was wet making it somewhat slippery and dangerous, so walk carefully if the path is wet.
We stopped and had lunch at the visitor center cafe at Gullfoss where enjoyed some delicious and hearty lamb stew. It was so good and warm after being out in the cold all day. The gift shop at the visitor was a great gift shop, so we did some souvenir shopping after lunch.
Lamb stew at Gullfoss visitor center cafe
After leaving the Golden Circle, we drove north past the Westfjords. The Westfjords are beautiful, but since it was still winter, we were warned that road conditions in the Westfjords were dangerous. It turns out that road conditions near the Westfjords were also dangerous because we drove in whiteout snowstorm conditions for at least 30 minutes before we arrived north at our hostel in Saeberg.
Road conditions near Westfjords
The hostel in Saeberg had a kitchen and dining area and dormitory style rooms that costed 2600 kr per night (~$21) with sleeping bag accommodations. The hostel had plenty of pots and kitchenware which allowed us to make and eat dinner. The hostel was also right next to the ocean and it was so quiet and peaceful out there. This also would have been an idea location to view the Northern Lights, but unfortunately, it was too cloudy that night. We spent the evening just hanging out together, reading books, journaling and talking to some of the other people staying at the hostel. We met a group that had just driven from the Westfjords and they said that the driving conditions were terrible and it took them the whole day to get out of there. It was a wonderful and relaxing end to another amazing day in Iceland.