10 year Anniversary Iceland Road Trip

  Group of 4 friends looking to visit Iceland in April 2018

“My husband and I will be celebrating our ten year anniversary next year. We want to do the Ring Road road trip with two of our close friends to celebrate! We are all from Texas! We would love to have a quick vow renewal ceremony somewhere special along the way, or near to Reykjavik, with a photographer if possible, and then we want to take 7-8 days to drive the island and explore! We have always had a taste for adventure and have been to many places over the last ten years. We love to learn about new cultures, stay in Airbnbs and eat local food and participate in local customs. Iceland looks absolutely beautiful and as a photographer myself, I cannot wait to see it. I also want to see some of the waterfalls, and maybe even some sights off the beaten path of Ring Road. I want to see puffins and pet Icelandic horses and eat hot dogs and of course, the beautiful Northern Lights! I am aware that April is a shoulder season, in between true Winter and Summer, and the weather may be questionable, but we really would love to be there over our anniversary date.
- Samantha T.”

Halldor Bjarkason, a local specialist from Iceland, helped this traveler put together a customized itinerary.

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Summary of the trip planning conversation

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The Ring Road is 1500 km long and takes about 18 hours to drive without stops, so it might be a bit much for 7-8 days, especially since in April there is still a fair bit of snow in the countryside. 

Here is a sample 8-day itinerary for the Ring Road and Snaefellsnes: https://www.kimkim.com/c/8-day-ring-road-adventure-explore-iceland-s-top-places-along-its-most-famous-road

Here is another itinerary with West and North Iceland: https://www.kimkim.com/c/snaefellsnes-peninsula-akureyri-myvatn-area-5-day-tour 
We could add a day in the Golden Circle and for your vow renewal so that would be about 7 days. 

April is a bit late for the ice caves, as it is too warm already and not safe to visit. 
The Northern Lights season ends mid-April since there isn’t enough darkness at night, but if they are strong enough then it is possible to see them. Some of the best northern lights I have seen were in April. Our detailed itinerary will provide you information with how to monitor the forecast so you know when you have the best chance of seeing them. 

It is also a bit early to see the puffins as they migrate over the winter and only arrive around late April or May. We could arrange a riding tour for you if you would like.

Samantha T:
The more and more I am researching, the more I agree that Ring Road will be way too rushed for our taste on a 7-8 day time frame. I would prefer exploring Iceland at a slower pace, being able to enjoy some of the towns, relaxing with our friends and not feeling rushed the entire time just to get to the next stop. I want the freedom to be able to take in the sights without feeling like we are going to miss out on something else.

I have done quite a bit of reading on the Westfjords in the last couple of days and it just looks beautiful. I see that's where you are based. I would love to make it to Hornstrandir by the ferry, but I have no idea what it would be like in April. My husband and I do like to see things and do things that most others tend to skip over. So, finding an itinerary that might let us discover other parts of Iceland that others don't get to because they don't venture too far off Ring Road, is something we'd be very interested in!

I am bummed about the ice cave. Is it a hard stop for the tours after March or is there a chance it would still be cold enough to visit? And what about whale spotting? 

The Westfjords are beautiful and off the beaten path. It is possible to come to Isafjordur in April but uncertain whether you can drive all the way around the Westfjords as the mountain passes to the Southern Westfjords are unreliably open in late April. Tours to Hornstrandir only begin in June so it will also not be possible to go there in April.

If you like the itinerary for the West and North, we could add whale watching from Grundarfjordur which is a great place to see whales. It is possible to visit a man-made ice tunnel inside the Langjokull glacier, and that might make up for not being able to visit an ice cave. You could also visit a lava cave.

Another idea to make the most of your time could be to fly back from Akureyri to Reykjavik.

Here is a rough 8-day itinerary including horse riding, visiting the glacier, lava caving, and whale watching. Depending on where and when you prefer to renew your vows we can rearrange the itinerary.

Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland. Pick up your rental car and drive to the Golden Circle area for the night. 
Day 2 - Take a horse riding tour through a geothermal valley. Visit Iceland’s most famous attractions - Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir and the Thingvellir National Park. 
Day 3 - Drive to the Langjokull glacier where you can take a tour Into the Glacier before you continue to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, where the Snæfellsjökull glacier dominates the landscape. Look out for seals along the coast. Visit the beaches of Arnarstapi and Hellnar. Overnight close to the glacier. 
Day 4 - Take a short lava caving tour. Continue driving around the peninsula, visit the Kirkjufell waterfall and mountain and the Berserkjahraun lava fields. Take a whale watching tour from Grundarfjordur. Overnight in the area. 
Day 5 - Drive to Akureyri through beautiful North West Iceland stopping on the way to visit a few off the beaten path places. 
Day 6 - Explore the Lake Myvatn region including Dimmuborgir, Grotagja, Namafjall and the Myvatn Nature Baths. Visit the Godafoss waterfall. 
Day 7 - Take a flight back to Reykjavik where you have the day to explore the city and it’s sights. 
Day 8 - Coach transfer to the airport with a visit to the Blue Lagoon on the way. Departure from Iceland.

The above itinerary excluded the Westfjords, because of the logistical problems, but April is one of the most beautiful months to visit the region, with spring just around the corner and beautifully snowcapped mountains. And there will be very few tourists in the Westfjords in April. So they are still an option, but then I would strongly recommend doing it a bit differently, with at least a couple of nights in each place, and the day-by-day program flexible depending on road openings (which of course can't be forecast in advance). The itinerary wouldn't have as clear day-by-day "highlights" but would be more about uncertainty and experiencing the beauty of the region as a whole. You could still combine such a trip with Into The Glacier and some time in the West & Southwest.
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