Hot Springs, Hot Dogs, & Breathtaking Views: This Is How Maurine Spent 3 Weeks In Iceland Solo Doing The Ring Road
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17th Jun | 7 min read

Maurine is initially from France but she came to Canada to get her Masters in Engineering in Renewable Energies. She’s been living there for 3 years now and is currently in Montreal where she works as an engineer for a Marine renewable energy company. 

Her main objective and passion in life is to travel, and before settling into her new career, she wanted to go on a trip with the free time she had left. So she decided to take her first solo trip to Iceland for 3 weeks. For more of Maurine's adventures be sure to follow her on Instagram.

What Inspired Me To Travel To Iceland & Do The Ring Road

I always want to travel and discover new countries. Lately, I have been attracted to the incredible and wild Scandinavian landscapes and Viking culture. Iceland was such a mysterious country to me, and perfect for hiking with breathtaking views, and it's right between Canada and France; I live in Canada but am from France and my parents still live there. So when I finished my studies, and had some time to travel before starting to work, I used it to visit my parents and went to Iceland next before coming back to Canada. 

Regarding the choice of a road trip around Iceland, one of my projects in life is to build my own "house on wheels" in a van, so I'm really attracted to road trips in vans! There's just so many things to see in Iceland, and I had some time, about 3 weeks, so I didn't want to just stay in one place, I had to see as much as I could and the road ring is perfect for that!

How I Planned For The Trip

It was a trip I had planned (in way too many details than I'd like to admit) for a long time, so I think I had my plane tickets about 7-8 months before my trip. About 4 months before the trip, I had booked the van, and for the first week that I was gonna spend in Reykjavik, I had booked a couple of youth hostels about 2 months in advance.

I first built my itinerary before booking the van and hostels, so that I'd know exactly how many nights I'd spend in each. For the week I spent in Reykjavik, I booked a couple of tours that were close by so that I would save on the van booking costs: I booked a Golden circle tour, a dive in Silfra fissure, and a whale watch tour. Again, those tours I booked a couple months before the trip.

What I Packed For The Trip

Warm leggings, warm sweaters, and a very warm sleeping bag! As I went there in October, I needed some warm clothes, but I also needed everything to be pretty light since my trip was 3 weeks long and needed to fit in a (quite big) travel backpack. I also packed a handy Swiss knife, a journal to write down my everyday adventures. I was big on trying to save as much money as I could, since Iceland is VERY expensive and I didn't know when I would find a job when I got back to Canada afterwards, so I packed a bunch of snacks, cans and ramen noodles!

My Ring Road Itinerary

First week: visiting Reykjavik, Golden circle tour, Silfra fissure dive, whale watching tour

Here's for the following 2 weeks:

Day 1: Selfoss, Hrunalaug, Seljalandsfoss, Glufrabui, Skogafoss, Kvernufoss, Skogar, Solheimasandur plane wreck, Dyrholaey,Vik

Day 2: Reynisdrangar, Fjadragljufur, Skaftafell, Svartifoss, Hof

Day 3: Jokulsarlon, Diamond beach, Hofn (where I booked an afternoon ride on an Icelandic horse)

Day 4: Faskrudsfjordur, Neskaupstadur

Day 5: Mjoifjordur, Litlanesfoss, Hengifoss

Day 6: Srudlagil, Dettifoss, Asbyrgi, Hljodaklettar

Day 7: Dimmuborgir, Myvatn, Grjotagja, Husavik, Aedarfossar, Laugar, Godafoss, Akureyri

Day 8: Siglufjordur, Saudarkrokur, Hvitserkur, Vatnsnes peninsula

Day 9: Djupavik

Day 10: Bolungarvik, Isafjordur, Fjallfoss, Raudisandur beach, Latrabjarg, Brjanslaekur

Day 11: Kirkjufell, Snaefellsjokul, Arnastapi

Day 12: Hraunfossar, Deildartunguhver, Hvalfordur

Day 13: Glymur waterfall, Alafoss, Hrunalaug

Of my 3 weeks spent in Iceland, I spent 1 in Reykjavik and 2 on a road trip. 

It was a very good length and I was able to do A LOT, and I was going pretty quickly from one place to another and not spending too much time in each spot: that was a personal choice but I can see how it could be not the best for everyone. 

If you're like me and want to see as much as possible, maybe I would suggest spending a bit less than a week in Reykjavik to have a bit more time on the Ring road. But it would also be wonderful to just see a bit less than I did and spend more time on more "important" locations.

Meeting Other Travelers On The Road

I briefly met some people while I was in the youth hostels in Reykjavik. On my road trip, I met 2 Swiss guys with whom I spent a couple of days as their itinerary matched mine. It was a great time, I was travelling alone and it was nice to have some company at some point. They were photographers and had great cameras and drones, so I could enjoy their amazing eyes and shots.

We even improvised a photoshoot at the top of one of our hikes, where I tried using some of my poor yoga skills: overall we had good laughs and great pictures! I plan to visit them in Switzerland someday, and they know they are welcome to visit me in Québec any time!

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Most Recommended Food Item For Ring Road Travellers

Iceland isn't particularly big on food. Also I was trying to save as much money as I could so didn't spend that much on food. I would however greatly recommend the "Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur" hot dogs in Reykjavik (I tasted the hot dogs in a couple of different places there and they were all amazing). Perfect after a cold day of roaming the city.

Favourite Memory From The Trip

I really enjoyed the whole trip, driving around and experiencing my first time ever travelling alone was great. I guess if I had to choose one memory, I have a soft spot for the last day of my trip; where I went back to the Hrunalaug hot spot. I had gone there on the first day of my road trip but didn't have time to take a dip, and the weather was bad, but it was so calm and beautiful that I decided to come back on my last day, which I did.

I was kind of in a rush the whole trip to drive and see everything, and on this last day I just relaxed in the hot spot, took a couple of pictures and sat there in the warm water, sunny but cold day, super calm. I was alone there but I felt soooo happy, I was thinking back about the whole trip and was so grateful I did it!

How I Managed To Save Costs While Traveling In Iceland

I had saved this whole year specifically for this trip, so I knew what to expect. I had built a detailed budget on excel, with all the costs: food, van, tours, gas, hostel... I had also checked some blogs to find some tips on how to save, and it was mostly about places to shop (or where NOT to shop) for groceries. I recommend Bonus, and Kronan by the way.

Having some snacks already in my bag let me save on breakfast and hiking munchies in the day.

Travelling in a van helps save a bit as well, no need to eat at a restaurant, you can cook in the van, you save on the hostel costs, on the tourist tours...It's all-in-one.

One awesome thing that I wish I had known before coming, is that there's a lot of food that is left behind by previous travelers in hostels and campsites that you can pick up. You can often find the basics: rice, pasta, salt, oil.

Things You Can’t Leave Iceland Without Seeing

Hrunalaug of course!

I loved hiking in Skaftafell national park, it's far enough from Reykjavik that there are less tourists, but with awesome sights: 

Svartifoss waterfall, the hike before and after it, and also Svinafellsjokull. This glacier side one is way less popular than Jokulsarlon, but I found it more beautiful, and more accessible.

How I Would Do Ring Road Differently

I think next time I'll rent a four-wheel drive to reach some of the places that are more on the "inside" of the land.

My Advice For Anyone Traveling To Iceland & Doing The Ring Road

Don't stay in Reykjavik or in one place. I loved Reykjavik and the region but there is SO much more to see on the rest of the island. Also try to learn about the history and culture. I'm usually not super fond of history, but I loved every time I got to learn about Iceland’s history and culture, it's truly impressive. Ride a Icelandic horse to try the tölt.

Visit more than just the more popular and touristy places, there are so many hidden treasures that are just as good if not better. Stay awake and track down the northern lights, even if you're tired and cold after a long day, you won't regret it.

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