21 Sep Flatlanders In Iceland – Day 6 – Akureyri to Stykkishólmur – Gravel roads, remote waterfalls, and an amazing hamburger
Welcome to the day 6 travel details for our recent nine-day trip to Iceland. We’re hopeful that this series of posts will assist you in the creation of your own unique Icelandic travel itinerary. This is the eighth article in our Iceland travel guide series, detailing the route we chose for our sixth day, the activities we enjoyed, the lodging we selected, and a some of the food we sampled along the way.
Below are the links to the individual articles in the series.
Flatlanders Guide To Iceland Blog Post Index
- The Family Guide To Planning A Trip To Iceland
- Our Iceland Itinerary As A Starting Point For Your Trip
- Day 1 – Reykjavik and the Golden Circle
- Day 2 – Hella to Höfn – Holy Cow!!
- Day 3 – Hofn to Neskaupstadur – Scenic cliff drives along Eastern Iceland
- Day 4 – Neskaupstadur to Akureryi via Husavik – Hikes, Hot Pots, and Harbors
- Day 5 – A day in Akureyri watching whales
- Day 6 – Akureyri to Stykkishólmur – Gravel roads, remote waterfalls, and an amazing hamburger
- Day 7 – Stykkishólmur to Reykjavik – Seal Beach, A stop in Bifrost, and exploring Reykjavik
- Day 8 – A day in Reykjavik exploring the food, culture, and shopping
- Day 9 – Spend the morning in Reykjavik and then head home to Kansas City
- Packing and Preparing For Your Iceland Trip
NOTE: To “watch” the visual story of our trip, you can review all 100 photos in our Iceland 2019 Instagram highlight. The story progresses in the order of the nine-day itinerary as listed above.
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The Day 6 Route – Back Roads From Akureyri To Stykkishólmur
The day six itinerary meant we were back in our trusty little rental Volkswagen Polo heading across northern Iceland toward Stykkishólmur. This route was one of the more remote legs of the trip, meaning that there were fewer towns and a LOT of nature. This also meant that were were traveling along roads that weren’t paved.
The planned stops for day six looked like this:
- Gas up and grab breakfast in the Akureyri
- Drive the backroads to Stykkishólmur
- Stop when we saw something interesting and enjoy the outdoors
- Dinner somewhere in Stykkishólmur
As you can see, the itinerary for day six was basically “go that way” and stop if you see something cool. Luckily, in Iceland….cool things abound.
TIP: If you choose to follow our route, be aware that the roads we take are backroads and are not paved. DO NOT follow this route if you choose not to purchase gravel insurance for your rental car. We chose to decline the travel insurance and we ended up with a big ole gravel chip in our windshield. I’ll give more details on that later in this post and then in our day 9 post when we return the rental car.
Just be advised, gravel insurance is not a scam. It’s a real thing that will protect your from costly repair for a low cost.
Day 6, Stop # 1 – Breakfast And Fuel In Akureyri
Breakfast in Akureyri never disappointed.
Because we were rested and wanted to hit the road, we chose to grab coffee and pastries in one of the coffee shops in the shopping district. As I mentioned, our apartment was 5 blocks from the shopping district, so we headed down before taking off.
This time, we stopped at a great little cafe called Kristjánsbakarí. Remember when I told you that Icelandic people are serious about their pastries? Well….how bout those pastries?
TIP: Akureyri is a great place to top off your gas tank before you head out on this leg of the journey. The areas that you’re going to be driving through are remote and there ARE NO GAS STATIONS. Please, please check your fuel levels before heading out. If you are less than a half tank, just play it safe and fill up.
Rather than eating our pastries at the cafe, we took them back to the apartment. We had a lovely outdoor patio that we thought would be a perfect place to enjoy breakfast and just soak in the view of Akureyri before we headed out.
Day 6, Stop #2 – The Winding Hills And Gravel Roads Of Northern Iceland.
We didn’t take many photos along the winding roads of northern Iceland. Sorry about that.
We did grab a few photos that show how amazing, beautiful, natural, and remote Iceland can be. If you haven’t figured it out yet, we were absolutely awestruck by the beauty of this country. Here are a few photos, though, that give a sense of the remote-nature of northern Iceland.
It’s magic for those of us who are more comfortable in nature than in the concrete jungle…
I think we were all a little antsy about being back in the car and the rest in Akureyri had gotten us in the mode of being out of the car. So, we wanted to make our way to Stykkishólmur without a lot of stops.
As such, we just kind of tootled along the back roads and enjoyed the scenery.
NOTE: Please be aware that there are free-range sheep everywhere in Iceland. They’re in the hills, on the plains, and on the roads. Normally, they are very well behaved and stay away from the roads, but occasionally they wander into the path of cars. On our day 6 road trip, we had a flock of about 10 sheep just run across the road right in front of us. Luckily, we were driving across a pretty flat area, so we could see them coming and slow down.
Be aware that these sheep are a vital revenue source for many Icelandic folk, so be respectful and careful around their sheep, please.
Day 6, Stop #3 – The waterfalls near Budardalur
About 2/3 of the way between Akureyri and Stykkishólmur is a little harbor town called Burdardalur. There’s not a lot to it, but it is the beginning of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. We were all pretty excited to make it to the peninsula, since it meant we were nearing Stykkishólmur and our next opportunity to explore.
Just after, Budardalur, though…we found something cool.
We drove over a bridge that had a nice crevasse with a small river running through it. Wanting to stretch our legs, we thought it would be a good idea check it out. We weren’t disappointed.
TIP: Some of the best parts of Iceland are off the beaten path. Don’t be afraid to take the slow, less-traveled path. Just be sure to be safe and always pull your car fully off the road. Also, be aware that in remote areas of Iceland it might be difficult to get emergency assistance. Be careful and exercise caution. Always make sure there is someone else around you who can help in time of need.
After exploring the crevasse and river for about 10 minutes, we stumbled upon a beautiful set of waterfalls. Perfect for some fun photography. No one else was around…so we just relaxed and had a little fun.
Here are some of the photos from this little pit stop.
With our legs stretched and smiles on our faces, we jumped back in the car for the rest of the ride to Stykkishólmur. Again, it was a beautiful drive with plenty of scenery.
We did see one additional thing of note on this leg of our trip. While rounding a curve that hugged the ocean, we saw a shipwreck. Not a small little boat that had been abandoned on the shore.
A real, honest-to-god shipwreck. This ship was larger than the one we went on for our whale-watching tour and looked to be some sort of cargo ship. It was clear that whatever happened to the ship, it had hit the rocks and been stranded. It was listing to the side and had clearly been abandoned for some time.
We attempted to drive our little Volkswagen Golf down to it to check it out….but no avail. The road was just too rutted out and the ground clearance for the Polo wasn’t enough to be able to handle the rough road.
Maybe when we return, we’ll rent a jeep or truck and see if we can find it again.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that it was this last leg of the trip where we were inducted into the “Icelandic Windshield Rock Chip Club”. We were passing a large tour bus and Deb and I both saw the rock coming and when it hit the windshield, it left a nice little chip.
Day 6, Stop #4 – The Harbor In Stykkishólmur For Some Sightseeing And Food
Stykkishólmur was a sight for sore eyes after rattling the fillings out of our teeth on some of the gravel roads. We were all ready to unload our gear, explore this new town, and grab something to eat.
Luckily, Stykkishólmur has quite a few little cafes and restaurants to check out. But first, we wanted to stretch our legs, again, and explore this beautiful little harbor town in the Snaefellsnes peninsula. It was around 4pm and we knew that a lot of places close around 6pm, so we headed down to the harbor to see the sights and grab some food.
What we found down in the harbor was a pleasant surprise. There were several food trucks set up, so we thought we’d check them out. There were fish and chips, ice cream, and this food truck…the Fancy Sheep.
After speaking with the owners for a bit and then looking at the food that others had purchased, we were definitely in. High-quality burgers and fries sounded just right.
Here’s what they looked like.
Again, Icelandic people are serious about their burgers. They cook them medium well, so they are still juicy and they are made with high-quality beef and condiments. No fast-food burgers, here.
Definitely worth checking out if you end up in Stykkisholmur.
TIP: Be aware that most shops in Iceland close around 6pm. They don’t stay open until 9pm or 10pm like shops do in the United States, so be prepared and get your shopping done earlier in the day. Many restaurants and pubs stay open later, so you should be able to grab food after 6pm, but shopping often shuts down, depending on the town or city you are located in.
Since we were down in the harbor, we thought we would check out the lighthouse and the view of the ocean. The Stykkishólmur lighthouse is up on a hill on an island called Sugandisey, so it’s a short hike to the top of the hill, but it’s definitely worth it.
Here’s a 180 degree panorama photo of Sugandisey. Note the lighthouse at the far-right and then a ferry boat at the far-left. The view around the ocean at this spot is absolutely phenomenal!!
Here are some additional pics from above Stykkishólmur on the Sugandisey island.
Day 6, Stop #5 – The Foss Hotel A Stykkishólmur
It had been quite the day of driving and exploring, so we headed back to the Foss Hotel, our residence for the night. The Foss chain is prevalent across Iceland and it was a very nice hotel.
The rooms were typical Iceland decoration (aka utilitarian) and clean. They offered a lounge with full bar service, which was nice. Deb and I shared a Gull Lager, quite a nice beer from Iceland and just relaxed a bit.
Once we got the kids settled, Deb and I wanted to continue exploring a bit and we had noticed that the hotel overlooked a golf course on the ocean, so we walked around a bit on the edges of the golf course. No one was playing, since it was around 8pm, but the view was gorgeous. It would definitely be a cool place to play a round of small ball.
Of course, one of Deb’s favorite thing to do in any foreign country is to engage with the local feline wildlife. She has a knack for finding cats who want to say hi. This one was just off the golf course.
Don’t worry, it wasn’t feral. It was a very nice, well fed house cat that said “hi” for a moment that then kept its distance.
After our walk, it was time to head back to the room and settle in for the night.
With respect to the Foss, here are few photos from our room.
Reflections On Day 6 Of Our Nine-Day Icelandic Trip
So, that’s the summary of day six of our amazing nine-day family trip to Iceland. With regards to the day 6, the things we saw, and the accommodations we chose, here are what Deb and I think:
From Deb – I can express how much I love Akureyri. It’s a great city and I do want to come back and spend a lot more time exploring the city. The gravel roads were touch. There was a paved way to get to Stykkishólmur, but it takes about an hour or ninety minutes longer so I figured the shorter way was better. Even though the gravel roads were bumpy and we did get the gravel chip, seeing the crevice and the waterfalls was a lot of fun, so I think I still prefer the bumpy road.
From Sean – Driving that long on those gravel roads was a bit tough. It just wears on you after a while. As the driver, I would definitely prefer paved roads, but I get the feeling we wouldn’t have had nearly the amazing views if we had gone the on the paved road, so I vote for the gravel roads, too. The burger in the Stykkishólmur harbor was a great find and the views above the harbor from the lighthouse were incredible. Today was a good day 🙂
There you have it…day 6 of our nine-day itinerary in Iceland. We hope this helps you in the planning of your trip and gives you some ideas as to what to explore.
See you on the road!