photo of the northern lights over a mountain

Northern Lights at the Lighthouse

In and Around Vik

We left Vik at 10am. The drive out was gorgeous – all this we had missed in the snow storm two days before. Nothing but rusty brown fields and snow blown mountains in the moonlight.

Photo of tubular rocks and a rock in the ocean

Hálsafshellir

As we had missed the Skaftafell waterfall yesterday, I wanted to see the rocks at Hálsafshellir which are a similar tubular shape. They were down on a black sand beach in Vik. Huge dark waves were crashing on the shore and the most terrific wind was pounding down on us! It whipped up pebbles and sand and made it hard to move at times – it was so strong! When we returned to the car, tiny black stones were lodged into the yarn of my hat and the snow cuffs of my boots!

Photo of mountains

Dryhólaey

Our next destination was the nearby lighthouse. Being a maritimer, Matt loves lighthouses! However, when we found the road leading up to it, we noticed a sign that said no small cars, 4×4 drive only. We decided to play it safe and not visit the lighthouse.

Photo of a farm beneath a mountain

Skógar

We made a stop at Skógar waterfall for the second time this trip. We set up my tripod and Matt and I worked on getting a soft waterfall picture with my camera. However, the wind was so strong that even with a tripod and timer the pictures still turned out blurry!

We hiked up to the top of the falls. The wind died down half way up, which I was very grateful for! The view was lovely and the sun was casting a beautiful warm yellow light across the landscape. It was well worth the climb!

Back down at ground level, we saw a rainbow! It was faint, but a perfect arch across the waterfall! It was a beautiful farewell!

Photo of a barn built into a big rock

Drangurinn

The drive between Vik and our next stop AirBnB in Akranes was gorgeous. It was a real treat to see things we’d missed on the snow storm the day before! One of the things we’d found interesting but had been unable to stop at was Drangurinn.

Drangurinn is a rock where elves are believed to live in local folklore. At its base are old farm buildings, some built out of stone with turf roofs, another from wood built directly into the rock. It is quite the striking visual!

I was not quite sure whether it was open to the public or not, so snapped a few pictures and quickly got in the car. Two other tourists were leisurely walking all around the rock though. It was tricky not to get them in my frame.

The Lava Museum

We stopped in the Lava Museum, which I had been following on Facebook since they started construction. There was an entrance fee and with the nice weather outside, we decided to carry on. At least I got to see it!

Drive to Akranes

We enjoyed landscape as we drove along. As the sun began to set, a pink light bathed the mountains in a soft glow. Below were muted green lava fields spotted with snow, and above a blue sky. Colour was all around, even in drab winter!

We drove through an epically long tunnel to get from Akranes to Reykjavik. Neither of us could remember ever being in such a long tunnel our whole lives! At the end we were faced with a 1000 ISK toll. Ouch! We asked if there was a ferry back to Reykjavik, but apparently this is the only way to get back to the city without driving around the large bay.

Photo of a lighthouse at sunset

Akranes

The Akranes Lighthouse

Akranes was a charming fishing town with lovely maritime style houses mixed in with the new. We drove up to the lighthouse which shone out over the water. It was less stylized than the one in Þorlákshöfn but still quite contemporary I would imagine for its construction in 1944. I am amazed with the architecture here – new and old!

We popped into the small visitor centre to ask for directions to somewhere cheap and good to have seafood. Our AirBnB host had avoided the question when we asked via text earlier, but this friendly man was happy to help! He suggested two places: Gamla Kaupfélagid and Galito. He said they weren’t cheap, but inexpensive by Reykjavik standards.

He also said the lighthouse was one of the best spots to see the Northern Lights locally and advised we come back between 8-10pm. He also recommended that we drove around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula to see all of the landscape of Iceland in one place! He was very nice.

We set our GPS to the first restaurant. Gamla Kaupfélagid was in a charming looking building with wreaths hung in each window. It was very comfortable inside, but the menu was more than we were willing to spend, so we went to the next option.

Galito wasn’t much better price wise, but as we had seen no other options driving around town, we sat down. The menu was a bit more appealing to me here anyway!

Galito Restaurant

Galito was in a plaza. It turned out to be Icelandic cuisine with a Japanese twist. We ordered two local beers and three appetizers to share as a meal between us: soup made with garlic roasted lobster tail with white chocolate, an order of grilled mink whale, and deer carpacinno with truffle mayo, lemon, and foie gras. For dessert, we shared a slice of chocolate skyr cake. Matt’s favourite was the soup which he described as hot chocolate and lobster bisque combined. Mine was the mink whale – it was like steak!

Kronan

Across the road from the restaurant was Kronan, a big grocery store. We went in there to look for sandwiches for the road tomorrow. They didn’t have any of my favourites (English Breakfast, Icelandic salmon, and the lamb and egg salad are my current three!) so we decided to just get some pickled herring and rugbrauð rye bread.

The grocery store had the best meat selection we had seen in Iceland yet. It was incredible! They also had a huge wool yarn selection at a much lower price than all Icelandic wool sweater shops outside of town. If you want meat or yarn in Arkanes, Kronan is the place to be. Who knew you could buy wool with your leg of lamb!

AirBnB

We checked into our AirBnB a little past 6pm. It was a very large apartment shared with two other guests. The host lived somewhere else in the building complex. It had laundry, fresh eggs, coffee, Wi-Fi and many other amenities. We were impressed at the value here! Unfortunately our fellow guests weren’t the tidiest of people, but we made do.

Photo of the Northern Lights over Akranes Iceland

Northern Lights

We did a load of laundry, sorted our bags for tomorrow, and Matt had a nap while I worked on my blog post. We then went down to the lighthouse to look for Northern Lights. There were none, but we saw another shooting together! While Matt did some star gazing, I practiced using long exposures on the lighthouse until my fingers got too cold to twist the nobs on my Canon camera.

Photo of the night sky over the two Akranes lighthouses

We went back to the AirBnB to warm up and put the laundry in the dryer. While I did that, Matt went back out to search for Northern Lights. I was contently folding laundry when he came in all excited – he had seen them! I dropped what I was doing and followed him down to the lighthouse.

They had been quite small like a wisp of cloud when he first saw them. By the time we got to the lighthouse, there was a long arc across the sky. It was soon followed by another until it broke away. They were so subtle that you could totally have missed them if you weren’t looking! Fortunately my camera allowed me to see them more clearly with the long exposure setting. It was very hard to frame a picture and focus in the dark though – great fun nonetheless!

Once the lights began to fade for what seemed like the last time, we headed back to the car. We waited for a bit, then headed back to our AirBnB where I reviewed our photos then headed to bed at 1am.