Vik is a great little town. It is quiet but has a restaurant that is open until 10 (which is rare everywhere except for Reykjavik and Akureyri). The beach is wonderful, and the cliffs boast a large puffin colonies. 


Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss are both on major tour company routes, but are both worth stops for great photo ops.  Remember to bring full waterproof pants and jacket as you can get as close as you want to the falls and even walk behind Seljalandsfoss.


northern lights!!

The big ticket.  We had waited the entire trip for the sky to clear for just an hour or two so we could see the lights.  The harsh reality is that you can only see this phenomenon in the winter, a time usually characterized by total cloud cover.  Another important factor in seeing the lights is how good you are on little to no sleep. You want to drive all day, hike, see everything, and do most of it while fighting wind/rain/sleet/snow.... you also want to stay up all night and see if the clouds will part.  It catches up to you.

Aurora advice based on our single week of experience:

  1. Don't book a tour unless you are staying in Reykjavik and didn't rent a car.  If you ask someone that doesn't work for a tour company they will tell you to go outside and look up.  Locals basically made it feel like you were trying to find a guide to see a sunset.  
  2. Check sites like the Icelandic Met Office which has forecasts that not only include the strength of the lights, but cloud cover for the entire island.
  3. Know that most of the pictures taken are of low level auroras.  Your camera can pull out the colors that look like quickly moving grey clouds to your eye.  That being said, those grey clouds erupted into colors for wait it out.

Camera Tips:

  • Settings to start with:
    • Shutter: 10-15"
    • Aperture: As wide as you can go 1.7 or 2.8 is ideal.
    • ISO: 400 or 800