We spent a week in Iceland staying at the most incredible Airbnb house we’ve encountered to date, on the edge of Hvalfjord.
It was nearing the end of March, so while the days were growing longer, it still felt very much like Winter. It was incredible to see just how much the landscape changed in such a short space of time. Covered in frost and snow one day, mossy greens and earthy browns were revealed the next.
Exploring the South West
Using Hvalfjord as a base we explored the classic Golden Circle route, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and the wonderful capital, Reykjavik. The heavy snow and ice, still present at this time of year, stopped us from venturing too far afield. But, we were blown away by what we did manage to see.
Driving up the West coast to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula was one of the stand out days. The first route we tried was a failure – we had to turn back when the road became a shiny surface of sheet ice, sparkling under the sun. But after making our way over a snowy pass, and having lunch in the picturesque Stykkisholmur, we got to Snaefellsnes on the Northern side. It didn’t disappoint. Bright blue skies, frozen waterfalls, magnificently formed mountains and colourful houses.
The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle didn’t fail to impress either. Driving through vividly coloured fields covered in half-melted snow, we were surrounded by huge mountains. The scenery’s crowning glory were the herds of grazing horses in their thick, shaggy, wonderfully hued coats. Pingvellir, the location of Iceland’s first parliament and where tectonic plates meet, was an impressive site. Strokkur Geyser at Haukdalur performed on cue. But the most impressive of the day was Gulfoss, the huge waterfall, cutting a wide path between two ridges, spilling down a succession of drops, glacial blue water rushing past and through massive chunks of ice and snow. The weather played games with us that day too. Leaving Gulfoss, we rushed back to take more pictures as the sun came out. When we finally left, the clouds blackened in seconds and a massive snowstorm overtook us as we hurried back to the visitor centre.
We were both taken with Iceland’s capital. Full of attractive, brightly coloured buildings, interesting shops and cafes, and some stylish bars and restaurants, it was a great place to wander and sample the local culture. And when the biting wind became too much to bear, there was always somewhere welcoming to step in out of the cold.
Our Airbnb at Hvalfjord
This was our first ever Airbnb. Thirty kilometres from Reykjavik, our friends had spotted it first and kindly steered us in the right direction. It was the perfect base. We had a four wheel drive (a must in this season), so could explore and return as it suited, and it was a truly stunning location. Although the house wasn’t cheap to rent, we were able to save a lot by cooking for ourselves, and buying a week’s supply of wine and beer at the airport’s duty free.
We’d planned our trip to Iceland, hoping to see the Northern Lights. It was a time of peak solar activity, and everything we’d read indicated that it was a sure thing. Indeed, the couple who’d stayed the week before wrote in the guest book of seeing the magnificent aurora five nights in a row. Did we get lucky? Not a chance! We had one clear night, and despite braving the cold till the early hours, it just never happened.
Back again one day
Since that visit, Iceland has never been far from our thoughts. Our week in Iceland gave us a taste that left us wanting more. We’ll be back again one day, in Summer this time maybe, to continue our exploration of this unique and beautiful country.