This post focuses on Day 4 (Gljúfrabúi, Skógafoss, Kvernufoss, Sólheimajökull, Dyrhólaey, Reynisfjara Beach) of our Ultimate Itinerary for 2 Weeks / 14 Days in Iceland.
If you’ve just starting planning for your vacation or holiday in Iceland, check out our Iceland planning and resources post.
NOTE: Our itinerary outlines activities and drive times. Everybody has different eating habits so stop for groceries and food as needed. Picnic areas are suggested when extraordinary, otherwise eat where and when you want. We rarely ate out and instead enjoyed yogurt and fruit for breakfast, prepared quick lunches and snacks throughout the day, and cooked a hot meal every evening at the campground.
Iceland Itinerary Day 4 Summary
|Drive||30 min||Seljavallalaug is a 30 min detour|
|Skógafoss||1 ½ – 2 hrs||200 ISK toilet fee (at campground)|
|Kvernufoss||1 – 1 ½ hrs||Park at Skogar Museum|
|Dyrhólaey||2 hrs||Can shorten this stop|
|Reynisfjara Beach||45 min||200 ISK toilet fee (by restaurant)|
|Þakgil Campground||accommodation||2000 ISK per person; 200 ISK toilet fee if not camping|
|Total = ~ 9 ½ hrs|
Iceland Itinerary Day 4 Details
Day 4 Activities
Roll out of bed and head to the Gljúfrabúi waterfall adjacent to the rear of the Hamragarðar Campground before the day-trippers arrive. You’ll only need about 15 minutes to venture inside the cave where the waterfalls empties.
TIP: Getting inside the cave requires walking in the river alongside the cave wall. You’ll get wet so wear waterproof gear!
The drive from Hamragarðar Campground to Skógafoss is 30 minutes.
TIP: The picturesque, but lukewarm, pool Seljavallalaug is about a 15 minute detour off the route. The pool is then a 15 minute walk from the parking area. Because we got a late start we decided to skip it. We’ve also read that tourists have unfortunately not shown respect for the pool and surrounding area so expect litter and trash.
Skógafoss offers the opportunity to get up close and personal with a large waterfall. It is 25 meters wide with a drop of 60 meters into a pool. It is possible to walk the flat terrain to the pool at the base of the waterfall and, adding to the splendor, there will be at least one rainbow if the sun is out.
FUN FACT: According to folklore, there’s a chest filled with gold buried in a cave behind Skógafoss.
Although it’s possible to make Skógafoss a quick stop, we suggest allocating 1 ½ – 2 hours. This allows time to enjoy and wait your turn to capture the perfect photo: a small person (or people) against the backdrop of a large waterfall, complete with a rainbow or two! You’ll also have time to explore more than the base of Skógafoss: climb the steep staircase to the observational platform and, since you’ve made the climb, take a stroll alongside the Skóga river to view more beautiful waterfalls. Return the way you came.
The next waterfall of the day, Kvernufoss, is accessed by crossing over the fence and following the trail located at the rear of the Skogar Museum. The Skogar Museum is a 5 minute drive from Skógafoss. After a short hike of 20 minutes down this gorge trail, you’ll reach Kvernufoss. A hidden gem, you just might have Kvernufoss all to yourself – quite a different experience than Skógafoss! In good weather it is possible to walk all the way behind Kvernufoss.
TIP: Kvernufoss is a good place for a picnic lunch. Plan to spend about 1 – 1 ½ hours in total.
Just a 15 minute drive from the Skogar Museum, a new spectacle: a glacier! Sólheimajökull is a glacier tongue of the larger Mýrdalsjökull glacier and unique because of its accessibility.
TIP: Glaciers can be dangerous. Obey signs.
This is a popular spot for guided glacier walks. Walking on a glacier is an incredible and humbling experience; we first experienced a guided walk on a glacier in Canada: Athabasca Glacier in Alberta. In Iceland we opted for a glacier kayaking tour (this occurs on Day 6). As such, we only stopped at Sólheimajökull for a brief 20 minutes. If you wish to partake in a guided glacier walk at Sólheimajökull you’ll need more time.
TIP: Book your guided glacier tours in advance. Tour groups are small and space is limited.
The guided glacier walks are typically about 3.5 hours so you may need to cut short or skip the rest of this Day 4 itinerary. Any destinations missed on the Day 4 itinerary can be slotted for the beginning of Day 6 if you forego the Day 6 IceGuides glacier kayak tour. On Day 6 you’ll backtrack 30 minutes from the turn-off for the Þakgil Campground west to Dyrhólaey.
Our next stop is a 25 minute drive from Sólheimajökull. Dyrhólaey is a nature reserve with abundant birdlife. The rocky headland has great views, a lighthouse, and a picturesque massive arch.
TIP: Between May and August, Dryrhólaey is one of the best places to view puffins from land.
There are two parking areas and two areas to explore. The upper area is where the lighthouse is located with beautiful views of the black sand on the south coast of Iceland. Much of the lower area is protected for the rehabilitation of the flora and fauna but there’s walking paths throughout. The Dyrhólaey lighthouse is the first of many lighthouses we’ll see during our Iceland adventures. It’s not necessarily the prettiest lighthouse but the coastline views make it worth visiting.
NOTE: Don’t be an asshole. Obey the signs. The closed areas are not closed for everybody except you.
We spent two hours wandering around both the upper and lower areas. We took in the views and gaped at the assholes disobeying the rules. You could make this a shorter stop.
After a 15 minute drive, you’ll arrive at Reynisfjara Beach. This black sand beach is famous for its basalt columns and sea stacks.
FUN FACT: Reynisfjara Beach was voted by National Geographic a top ten non-tropical beach. We had the opportunity to view similar columnar formations in a different setting at Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, United States.
Spend 45 minutes walking on the black sand beach and photographing the basalt formations. Do not go swimming.
TIP: There are toilets situated behind the restaurant. The 200 ISK fee is paid at the pay machines.
Day 4 Accommodation
Þakgil Campground, a 50 minute drive from Reynisfjara Beach, was our favorite campground of the entire trip and the only campground where we stayed two nights. The campground is nestled in a valley surrounded by beautiful lush mossy green cliffs.
TIP: Cabins can also be rented at Þakgil for 25000 ISK per night. The cabins sleep four people and have a refrigerator, gas stove, cold water, and a toilet.
The facilities are well kept and run by hydroelectric (check out the tiny hydroelectric plant on the creek with a waterfall – a short walk from the the back right corner of the campground). There is an all-gender toilet area and two showers. The outdoor dining area is in a natural cave – super cool! – and also has a grill and fireplace.Þakgil is a hikers paradise. Tomorrow, Day 5, we’ll spend hiking in Þakgil. Rest well tonight to prepare yourself for the second epic hike on this Iceland itinerary.
Vík Campground is only 15 minutes from Reynisfjara Beach or 30 minutes from Sólheimajökull glacier. If you partake in the guided glacier walk and it’s late after completing the activities on the Day 4 itinerary you can choose to stay here instead of Þakgil Campground. You’ll then drive to Þakgil in the morning for a day of hiking and still have the opportunity stay at our favorite campground – Þakgil Campground – tomorrow night.
TIP: Vík Campground is on the camping card.
Iceland Itinerary Day 4 Map
Day 4 covers points 16 – 22 on the map layer Our 2 Week / 14 Day Itinerary. Other layers include additional points of interest, accommodation (camping and hotel), and dining/groceries. Most of these points have a description and a link for more information.
September 5 – 6, 2018