The last time I was in Iceland, 10 years ago, I took a tour to view the Northern Lights. This involved standing on top of a mountain in the middle of winter. It was utterly cold and miserable despite me wearing all the clothes in my suitcase. After four hours of seeing nothing we gave up and went for a late night dinner. The driver recommended a nearby place that served simply lobster tails, potatoes and bread, all doused in garlic butter. Whether it was due to the hunger, the flavour or warmth of the roaring fire it was one of the most enjoyable meals I’ve had on my travels.
Wanting to revisit this was tricky. I didn’t really know the name of the restaurant or where the mountain was, just that it was about a two-hour drive from Reykjavik – not much to go on really.
Asking around at the hotel and in shops the place people guessed the most was Fjorubordid…I went to look it up then had to go back and ask them how to spell it.
Turns out it’s in Stokkseyri, along the south coast from Reykyavik. This led to our plan for the following day being to keep the rental car and drive along the south coast on the Route 1 ring road.
Looking at the tour bus routes I decided we’d be better off doing it in reverse to avoid the crowds. The majority of buses leave at 9, so we had an early breakfast and set off at 8am.
Surrounded by green fields and cliffs I found this to be one of Iceland’s most picturesque waterfalls. A short path leads from the (somewhat too small) carpark towards the waterfall, then curves up and round allowing visitors to walk behind the water flow.
It’s also possible to camp within view of the waterfall, and given its remoteness and lack of light pollution would probably be a great spot to wait for the Northern Lights.
In an added treat, there’s a van in the carpark that sells the best homemade sandwiches and cakes I found whilst in Iceland.
We passed the volcano that erupted in 2010, causing air travel disruption across much of Europe. The eruption occurred under glacial ice, which caused a huge volume of steam that reached up to 9km high, allowing ash to enter the jet stream which carried it across Europe. The amount of particles in the air was dangerous to planes and resulted in the largest air space closure since World War II. It only lasted about 6 days, but led to the cancellation of over 95,000 flights.
It probably wasn’t much fun for the 500 or so local residents either, but thankfully no one was killed. There’s a small visitor centre with lots of pictures.
Skógafoss is a 60m high waterfall that’s not as fun to visit as Seljilandsfoss but is still on every tour. It’s also a starting point for a few hikes.
Unfortunately doing the route in reverse this is a little underwhelming compared to the earlier visit to Seljilandsfoss but there are some toilets here, hence the welcome stop!
Vik, the southernmost village in Iceland
As planned the furthest point of our drive was a village called Vik. The full name is apparently Vík í Mýrdal, but I didn’t see that mentioned at all while we were there.
The prettiest view in the area is a toss-up between the church that overlooks the village of less than 300 inhabitants, or the black sand beach below.
The village contains the only supermarket and service station for 70km, so is useful for those driving the ring road. There’s also a wool factory outlet for the local IceWear outdoor clothing company.
The village is dominated by the huge Reynisfjall mountain. Whilst Vik is tiny and can be easily walked, it is quite a distance round the mountain to the entrance road of the other side that trails down towards the beach (look for a sign to Reynishverfi).
The black sand beach is called Reynisfjara, and leads back round the mountain to a cave and the Reynisdrangar basalt sea stacks. It’s also a popular puffin nesting area.
The legend surrounding the sea stacks claim they originated when two trolls dragged ragged a three-masted ship to land, but daylight broke before they got ashore and they turned to stone.
Lobster Meal at Fjorubordid in Stokkseyri
On the way back to Reykjavik we finally arrived in Stokkseyri, marked by the Knarrarosviti lighthouse.
The restaurant was easy enough to find and luckily they had a spare table. It was full of local diners on a weekday evening, which is always a good sign.
The meal was a delicious ‘magical’ lobster soup followed by a pan full of lobster tails coated in garlic and butter.
The meal was excellent but didn’t have the messy hands-on approach of the meal I remembered from a previous trip. That involved a wooden bucket full of lobster tails, eaten off a tablecloth of grease proof paper. Maybe the current restaurant has gone more refined, maybe it was the wrong place altogether, but it was still an enjoyable meal.