Our next stop on our epic Southern Icelandic road trip adventure, was to the tiny fishing village of Höfn. I was pretty excited to head to the Southeast pocket of Iceland and drive through the mountains and glaciers along the way, but the drive to Höfn almost didn’t happen due to some road closures and weather complications.
On our first day arriving in Iceland, we were given the news that the torrential downpour of rain along the Ring Road had washed away not one, but two major bridges that link the Ring Road to the area near Höfn. We were told to keep an eye and ear open to the news and to www.road.is to keep up to date on the weather and road conditions. Now, our trip to Höfn wasn’t scheduled for another five days, so we thought we’d be in the clear…I mean, it’s just some rain, right? Well, four days pass and we still weren’t in luck. Great, now what!? I was starting to get nervous because I had a hotel booked and it wasn’t an option to cancel without losing all my money and after speaking to the guest house, also not negotiable either.
Upon leaving Vík first in the early afternoon, we checked the road conditions and there was a burst of happiness that came over me. The road blockage was lifted and vehicles were able to pass through on temporary bridges that the construction crew put up. YAY!
And just like that, off to Höfn we went!
Along the drive, I was especially excited to see the massive fields of moss covered lava rocks that seemed to stretch for miles. It definitely made for some great photos, as it looked like the fields were covered in a thick, green fuzzy blanket. I felt like I was on another planet. There wasn’t a car in site and not a sound to be heard except for the slight breeze. The moss covered lava rocks have somewhat become a pretty large tourist attraction, so much so, that some tourists have been seen walking on top of the moss to get some up close photos. PLEASE DO NOT walk on the moss. It takes years to replenish and you are damaging a very important part of Iceland’s ecosystem by walking on it. Again, practice responsible tourism, people…c’mon!
Read more: Inspired by Iceland – The Land of Fire & Ice
The route towards Höfn proved that Iceland’s landscapes just keep getting more and more beautiful and otherworldly the further you kept driving. As we made our way further east, the Ring Road wrapped its way around towering mountains and past abandoned buildings and tiny red painted sheds surrounded by turf and waterfalls along the way. One of the most beautiful areas along the way to Höfn, was driving alongside Vatnajökull National Park with its majestic glacier in full view. I thought that the drive from Reykjavík to Vík was the best scenery I’ve seen, but as I drove from Vík to Höfn, I realized that my mind had been changed and I was awestruck at the scenery I was witnessing along this stretch of the Ring Road.
Read more: A Complete City Guide to Reykjavík, Iceland
After driving for another hour, or so, I knew we were approaching one of the main brides that was previously closed because of the weather. This bridge was our biggest one lane bridge to cross and would take us to one of Iceland’s most beautiful and stunning natural wonders of nature; Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a fairly new one due to climate change, so as beautiful as it is, it’s slightly saddening all at the same time. As the warm air increases, large chunks of ice from the glacier, Breiðamerkurjökull, break off and float with the tide through the lagoon and into the ocean on the other side of the bridge. Visiting the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon was by far, my favourite place to visit along the drive to Höfn. Seeing the chunks of ice silently floating in the lagoon while giving off mirror-like reflections in the still water was as eyeopening as it was stunning and I’m so glad that the bridge was passable so that we could witness this amazing scenery.
After spending about an hour exploring Jökulsárlón, we hopped in the car and headed east towards Höfn. We were losing daylight and still had about 80kms to go, plus we were absolutely starving. I had been driving for about 400kms at that point and just wanted a nice hot meal and to take my big boots off, kick back and relax. It was approaching 4:30pm when we finally rounded the last stretch into town along the Vestrahorn Mountain Range. The sun was starting to get lower and bounce a soft light off the mountain range in a way I can only explain with words, since I didn’t have the time to pull over safely and take a photo, but believe me, it was gorgeous. We pulled into the parking lot of the Höfn Inn Guesthouse with a sigh of relief, but also with a feeling of sadness because our arrival in Höfn meant that it was approaching the last day of our Icelandic adventure. Once we were checked in and unpacked, we headed out to grab some food at a local diner called Hafnarbuðin, which was highly recommended by the receptionist at the front desk. Hafnarbuðin is a small, quaint diner located right along the harbour with amazing home cooked comfort food. I decided to get the fish and chips, as it was all local fish caught straight from the sea. The food here was typical diner food, but it was delicious and for Icelandic food standards, not that expensive, which was also great to see.
After stuffing our faces ravenously, we decided that heading back to the guesthouse to rest would be the wise idea, since we had a six hour drive back to Keflavík Airport the next morning at 6am because it would be my last day in Iceland and my friend was dropping me off. On the way back to our guesthouse, the sun was now completely sunken below the horizon signifying that my Iceland trip was almost over. The sky had turned a slight pinkish colour, making it look like a pretty water colour painting, so I made sure to make a quick stop along the water to get a shot of the Vestrahorn Mountain Range surrounded by the blush pink tones. Pictures really don’t do the scenery justice. Nothing like the human eye can encapsulate the magnitude of this landscape. It was incredible and I was more than upset that I’d be leaving the next day.
As my alarm sounded off bright and early the next day, I woke up knowing it was time to pack up and hit the road for the long six hour drive back to Keflavík Airport. Like most trips I go on, they never seem to be long enough, but leaving Iceland was really hard. Like I’ve mentioned before, Iceland has been my top travel destination since I was 16 years old, so being there and exploring the rugged landscapes and experiencing nature just put me at ease and was so relaxing. As I sat in the passenger seat on the drive back, I just stared out the window at all the amazing scenery passing by. The sky was dark and gloomy and a light rain started to fall from the sky above. As upset as I was leaving Iceland, I happily flipped through my camera and phone photos reminiscing about all the amazing activities I got to do and all the beautiful landscapes I had a chance to see over the last week. At one point, we got out of the car to stretch our legs and I took advantage of the empty roads to have an impromptu photo shoot on the road (safely, of course) and to enjoy the sunrise that was pushing its way through the dark clouds and rainy skies along the mountain range.
As we pulled up to Keflavík Airport, I knew in my heart that I’d be back to explore more of Iceland’s beauty and revisit some favourite spots as well, of course! Iceland was everything I had expected and more. It exceeded every single expectation I had coming into the country and the friendly Icelandic people made it an even better visit. There is a quote that fits Iceland’s people perfectly and it goes a little something like this:
“It is good people who make good places.”
― Anna Sewell
Iceland was a place that I will continue to love and visit for years to come. Do any of you have a destination that you’ve visited that you will keep returning to over the years, no matter how many times you’ve been before? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your answers! xo