Setting Off From Reykjavík
Our point of departure is Reykjavík and today we’re heading out to the west (well, technically north, as we’re coming from the capital). We spent the past two days touring around the west as well, so before we set out, we were wondering what would be left to discover in that (relatively) small area. Then, of course, we remembered, we’re in Iceland. There is something to discover just about everywhere you go, even the third, fourth or fifth time. We packed our stuff, stuffed our faces, and faced the Icelandic roads.
A Fuelling Stop In Borgarnes
After about an hour’s drive, we reached Borgarnes. The town is located on a small peninsula, reachable by bridge and counts roughly 2.000 citizens. In Borgarnes you will find museums, stores and a playground made out of solely recycled material (yay, Iceland!). Our first destination, however, was Borgarnes’s fine bakery. Based on the loud recommendations from our coworker and Borgarnes-born local Gréta, apparently, it’s the best bakery ever to grace this earth. Strong words but I can safely say it did not disappoint. Geirabakarí is located right next to the water and has a stunning view over the mountains. The smell – of fresh buns, bread, and pastry – is enough to make anyone ravenous with hunger. A wall of options as you pass by the counter – cookies, brownies, cakes, fresh bread, and, of course, cinnamon buns with chocolate. ‘Get the ones with real chocolate, not the glaze’, Gréta emphasized, and who are we to defy? Here’s a quick recap of the chocolate cinnamon bun: it’s great. The next time you find yourself in Borgarnes: go try them!
Some Like it Hot!
Roughly a half an hour drive from Borganes you will find Deildartunguhver. For some reason, we prepared for swimming in this hottest hot spring of Europe. Silly us, as hot really means hot. Orange cones prevent people from coming too close and possibly falling in or burning themselves. A red sign clearly reads ‘hætta. 100C’. Water bubbling underneath a large cloud of hot damp, a nice change from the cold rain that had been pouring down on us until then. We might not have gotten our hot swim, but it surely was amazing to see this natural phenomenon in real life. And to be fair, this hottest hot spring was actually pretty cool.
The First Waterfall of the Day
The road from the hot spring to the following attraction isn’t extremely impressive, mostly a barren landscape with a few mountains as a backdrop. However, this lack of continuous beauty along the way did paint a nice contrast with the next stop, the Glanni waterfalls. After a short walk, you will reach a deck up high giving you a nearly panoramic view of the waterfall and its surroundings. If you walk a bit further, you can get so close to the waterfall you can even touch it.
A View From the Top of a Volcanic Crater
Grábrók is a 170-meter high volcano crater located a 5-minute drive away from the Glanni waterfall. The crater has a path up and allows you to walk around it. It was formed after a volcanic eruption around 3400 years ago. You can park at the roots and walk up in 5-15 minutes, depending on your stamina and excitement. There are stairs laid out, not only for your comfort but also for your safety. From the top of Grábrók, you will be able to see two more craters in close proximity, and have a far stretching (90km on a good day) view of the surroundings.
You NEED to See This!
I don’t care where you are, or where you need to drive from, come from, fly from, sail from – go check this out at least once in your life! When driving back from Grábrók towards Reykjavik on road 1, taking a turn at 50 and then head on the 518, you will reach a marvel of pale blue water cascading down in rows of beautiful waterfalls; called Hraunfossar. The name means lava waterfalls as the water bursts out into the waterfall after flowing underground through the lava fields on the other side of the river. If (for some reason) Hraunfossar aren’t enough for you, a bit farther on, another waterfall, Barnafoss thunders down its canyon with impressive force. Trust me, even when you’ve seen a gazillion waterfalls already, none like these. What a beauty and what an amazing rumbling sound.
The spots we went to see today were all fairly serene and not very cluttered with people, leaving the possibility to really enjoy the nature, its sounds and its movements. If you are not staying in a fixed place (e.g. Reykjavík) you could decide to keep on traveling west and check out some other amazing spots such as Kirkjufell. Beware, though, driving for hours on end is tempting in Iceland as there is always so much more to see and do. Be sure to take plenty of breaks and eat some of that fine pastry you hopefully stocked up on.