22 Sep Flatlanders In Iceland – Day 7 – Stykkishólmur to Reykjavik – Seal Beach, A stop in Bifrost, and exploring Reykjavik
Welcome to the day 7 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 ninth article in our Iceland travel guide series, detailing the route we chose for our seventh 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 7 Route – Seal Watching Seal Beach And Bifrost And Then Off To Reykjavik
The day seven itinerary was a pretty short one with respect to driving. We would head across the Snaefellsnes peninsula to the renowned “Seal Beach” and then head toward Reykjavik. The only detour (and this is a completely personal detour) was to head over to a little town called Bifrost.
The planned stops for day seven looked like this:
- Grab breakfast at the Foss Hotel in Stykkishólmur
- Drive across the Snaefellsnes peninsula to Seal Beach to do some seal watching
- Drive to Bifrost, so Sean could get a photo
- Head to Reykjavik for some shopping and relaxing
The driving route for day seven is pretty short and everyone was pretty excited to get to Reykjavik.
TIP: Originally, we had planned on spending the day exploring the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Everyone was getting a little tired of non-stop exploring so we all opted to take the shorter route directly across the peninsula to Seal Beach. If your travel group is still up for exploring, by all means spend more time seeing the sites on the peninsula.
Day 7, Stop # 1 – Breakfast At The Foss Hotel And A Little Sight-Seeing In Stykkishólmur
A buffet breakfast was included with our hotel rate at the Foss Hotel and it did not disappoint. While it still wasn’t as robust as the Stracta Hotel in Hella, it was a very good buffet with eggs, pastries, fruit, and even waffles. I would definitely call it a more “American buffet” than an traditional Icelandic buffet.
We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then Deb and I decided to let the kids relax a little longer and we took a long walk around Stykkishólmur.
While the day before was a beautiful, sunny day…today was a beautiful foggy day.
We were treated to that “seaside” feeling and our camera loved the setting.
Here are a few of the photos we took while walking around Stykkishólmur.
NOTE: The church in Stykkishólmur has a unique feature. When viewed from the front, the bell tower is intended to be shaped like a whale’s vertebra. From the side, the design of the church is just…well…really cool. Check them out in the photos above.
After finishing up our walk and enjoying the town, we headed back to the Foss Hotel and packed up our gear in the trusty Polo for our next leg of the trek.
Day 7, Stop #2 – Yri Tunga Beach (aka Seal Beach) On The Snaefellsnes Peninsula
As I mentioned earlier, we all voted to skip the full tour of the peninsula, but we didn’t want to miss out on a seal watching opportunity at Seal Beach. According to the things we had read, Seal Beach is a good chance to see a variety of different seals and a broad range of different sea birds.
Plus…who can pass up a chance to go to the beach? Okay, it’s not a sandy beach (it’s very rocky in most parts) but it is a chance to see wildlife!
Seal Beach was about 90 minutes from the Foss Hotel and it was another beautiful, sunny day in Iceland. Be aware that the entrance to Seal Beach is not marked clearly on the road. In fact, when you reach the entrance, it feels like you are turning into a private drive (it even has a mailbox).
Just type “Ytri Tunga beach” into Google maps or your Apple maps and follow the directions. They will get you there.
NOTE: Please be VERY, VERY, VERY careful when you are walking on slipper rocks in Iceland. When we arrived at Seal Beach, the medics were there treating a woman who had clearly broken something. Whenever they tried to move her she screamed loudly. She was out in the middle of a bunch of slippery rocks, so it was evident that she had slipped and hurt herself.
Good hiking boots with grippy soles are a must in Iceland and a good sense of judgment will go a long way.
We spent almost two hours at Seal Beach photographing the wildlife. We saw seals (about 20 of them), a ton of different sea birds, and even some very friendly Icelandic sheep.
This is definitely a stop you’re going to want to make if you are a nature lover. Just remember to take your photos and leave the wildlife alone. If the birds are yelling at you or dive-bombing you, you might be too close to their nests. Take the hint. Use your zoom lens and don’t try to get too close.
These photos aren’t the crispest, because we kept our distance. Partly out of respect for the animals and partly because the rocks were so slippery that we didn’t want to risk an injury
TIP: We arrived at Seal Beach around 11am. In August, that meant we were there right around high-tide. It meant that the rocks were wet and slippery, but the seals were enjoying their time basking in the sun. Hopefully, that might help someone else in their timing of when to arrive.
After a couple of hours of great photography, we climbed back in the Polo and pointed it in the direction of Reykjavik.
Day 7, Stop #3 – Bifrost
As I mentioned earlier, the stop at Bifrost was a completely personal stop. Sean’s favorite superhero has always been Thor. Other kids looked to Superman or Spider Man as their hero…Sean’s was The Mighty Thor with his winged helmet and hammer.
If you’re not familiar with Norse mythology, the Bifrost is the “rainbow bridge” that connects Earth with Asgard. For those who have (and those who haven’t) seen the movie Thor, this is how the movie imagined the Bifrost.
When Sean saw our day 7 itinerary map and spotted Bifrost, he said “there’s no way we’re going to Iceland and not stopping at the Bifrost to get a photo.
So we did.
…and Sean was happy 🙂
Day 7, Stop #4 – The Center Hotel By The Harbor In Reykjavik
After seven days on the road, roaming around Iceland…we were pooped.
Don’t get me wrong, if you have been following along this journey we have been having a great time exploring this amazing country. The lure of a big city, though, was a bit appealing and Reykjavik was right around the corner.
We had booked two nights at the Center Hotel, which was exactly what we needed.
Our hotel was almost directly across the street from two very famous landmarks in the city so we were immediately greeted with a couple of amazing sites.
The first is the Solfar, or Sun Voyager. This sculpture is so representative of Iceland, its history, its culture, and the spirit of exploration that embodies this island.
The second iconic landmark is Harpa, the Reykjavik Music Hall. This building is absolutely breathtaking…especially on a sunny day. The thousands of different colored panes of glass make this building sparkle like the gem that it is.
Placing a building right in front of the waterfront and designing it in a way that it compliments the view is a bold goal and the designers and developers certainly accomplished the goal.
We checked into the Center Hotel and relaxed for a bit before heading out into the downtown Reykjavik for some shopping and site-seeing.
Day 7, Stop #5 – The Shopping District In Reykjavik
After a little rest, we were ready to get going again. Plus….we were hungry and wanted to get some dinner.
The shopping district in Reykjavik is only about eight blocks from the Center Hotel, so we parked the car for the remainder of the trip and walked everywhere.
NOTE: Free parking at the Center Hotel was very limited (only 4 or 5 spots for the entire hotel). There was, however, a lot of pay-as-you go parking. Because the hotel was right across the street from Harpa, there are a lot of parking attendants checking to see if everyone has paid. Do yourself a favor and just park the car in a lot and pay the daily fee.
It beats getting a citation.
Downtown Reykjavik is a super-busy shopping district. For those who love to shop, eat, drink, and just enjoy the more cosmopolitan feel of Iceland….this spot is for you.
Also, because Reykjavik has become a stop-over spot for both Americans and Europeans, the city is culturally diverse. One our first night, we settled on a cute little soup shop in the main shopping district. Both our traditional chicken ramen and lobster soup were fantastic.
We also splurged for some crepes and ice cream in a great little creperie. If you’re visiting the shopping area of Reykjavik, don’t miss out on these crepes. Totally worth the wait.
To walk off the food, we just wandered around the shopping district and snapped a few photos. We had the whole next day to shop and explore, so we took the evening and just relaxed.
Day 7, Stop #6 – Back at the Center Hotel for the night
After a full day of activities, walking, exploring, and eating…were were ready to just power down for the night. We were all running low on energy and we wanted to enjoy our last full day in Iceland the next day, so we headed to bed a little earlier than normal and got some extra sleep.
With respect to the Center Hotel, it was a great place to spend the last couple of nights in Iceland. To food was great, the staff was exceptionally helpful, and the spa…well…I’ll get into that in tomorrow’s post.
In the meantime, here are a few pics of our rooms. As you can see from the photos, our rooms overlooked the music hall and the harbor…so amazing views 🙂
Reflections On Day 7 Of Our Nine-Day Icelandic Trip
So, that’s the summary of day seven of our amazing nine-day family trip to Iceland. With regards to the day 7, the things we saw, and the accommodations we chose, here are what Deb and I think:
From Deb – Seal beach was definitely the high-point of today. I’m so glad we got to see all the seals. Once again, the weather gave a us a beautifully sunny day so it seemed like the seals were all up on the rocks sunning. I’m glad to be in Reykjavik for some rest and relaxation. I’m looking forward to walking around the city tomorrow, shopping, and enjoying the food options.
From Sean – Today was another great day. The Icelandic weather gods definitely keeps smiling on us. Seal beach was a lot of fun and I agree that we got lucky that the seals were out and sunning. Can’t wait to see what Reykjavik has in store for us tomorrow.
There you have it…day 7 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!