Using Hamrar Campsite in Akureyri as a base worked out quite well, as there are quite a few great locations to visit not too far away. We got our first taste of the spa treatment, and this sort of marked our first “easy” day of the trip.
DIMMUBORGIR – LAVA FIELD
We had seen some photos from the Dimmuborgir lava field, and it is a very beautiful location blotted with oranges and yellows from the volcanic plant life that grows here. Chris had been aware of this place for years as a black metal band named themselves after this location (Dimmu Borgir – meaning “dark castles” in Icelandic).
The great thing about this location is that everyone can explore it and get something out of it. There are many path options, some smaller loops if you don’t feel like doing an extensive amount of walking, and longer, off the beaten trail, types of paths. We found ourselves on one leading to the base of the Hverfjall crater.
When in Iceland, we also found ourselves not feeling particularly well, and walking back to our car in rain 🙂 It was probably around this time that we started to say to each other the sarcastic line, “Go on a vacation in Iceland they said, it will be fun they said.”
The fun thing about traveling together is that, even when things get difficult, we always find a way to laugh about our situation. It’s these moments that the cost of travel really becomes worth it – as you can actually grow as a person when doing such significantly different things than the norm.
HVERIR – THE MARS LANDSCAPE OF ICELAND
Iceland is well regarded for its diversity, and walking around the brown, red, and white geothermal area of Hverir is reminiscent of what you would think walking on Mars would be like. The photos from this place are just stunning. No visit to Iceland should pass up a visit here, but do prepare yourself for some intense sulfur smells 🙂
What made our visit to Hverir was a chance run in with the actor Aaron Paul – best known for his performance as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad. We didn’t get a photo with him, but it was cool to see him. Jes ended up peeking at his Instagram and saw he was posting from the location at the same time we were there. We wondered if we would run into him again, and sure enough, a few days later we did!
Just a few minutes down the road, we also stopped off at the Grjotagia Cave, known to us as a filming location from Game of Thrones where Jon Snow and Ygritte encounter one another (for a lack of better words). Needless to say, if you enjoy getting in line behind a bunch of other tourists (probably there for the same reason) to look at a dark cave with water and sulpheric smells, this is perfect for you. Otherwise, we would recommend skipping this one 🙂
MYVATYN NATURE BATHS – SPA TIME
We like blending relaxation with doing adventurous things on our vacations. In Mexico, we spent a good deal of time just relaxing by the beach in addition to exploring ancient Mayan ruins. The Myvatyn Nature Baths is essentially a smaller, less touristy version of the Blue Lagoon. It was incredibly relaxing, especially for people who have not had a proper shower in a few days or really relaxed at all since starting this trip.
If you are looking to plan a trip to Iceland, while avoiding tourists and keeping costs low, a trip to Myvatyn Nature Baths is a perfect alternative to the Blue Lagoon. Having experienced both on this trip, they both have their good qualities for sure, but Myvatyn is much quieter and relaxing for this reason.
BACK TO AKUREYRI
After the relaxing end to our day’s journey, we decided to go back to Hamrar Campsite for a second night because it was that good. We cooked dinner with our propane grill, and turned in early as the next day would hold quite a bit of driving.
Be sure to check out the rest of our Traveling Iceland article series.