Tucked away from the shores of the south coast, the tiny village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur rests beneath a rocky belt of flat mountains, surrounded by flourishing trees and a handful of farms. Although it’s located on the Ring Road, Kirkjubaejarklaustur has never quite gained the status of being a destination in itself, but with its charming atmosphere and several natural wonders in the vicinity, it’s more than worth a visit.
Stay: Hotel Laki
This large establishment just outside of Kirkjubæjarklaustur is the perfect spot for a relaxing get-away, no matter the season. The rooms are minimal, but large and clean, with an idyllic view over the silent countryside. If you feel like distancing yourself even further from civilisation, Hotel Laki also offers well-appointed mini apartments.
Eat: Systrakaffi restaurant
The eponym of rustic décor, Systrakaffi is your typically charming country restaurant with lovely service and a patio to enjoy the summer sun. Their fairly priced menu offers anything from fish and meat to delicious homemade cakes, but the real star of the show is their lush ostapizza (“cheese pizza”). Whatever you do, however, don’t ask for the wifi password—they’ll say, “just talk to your travel partners and you’ll be fine.”
Walk: Systrafoss Waterfall
You can see Systrafoss from the road as you’re driving towards the village—a white stream of water streaming down the cliffs, just behind a small forest. Should you want to go for a short walk, it doesn’t take much time nor effort to walk to the waterfall and enjoy its beauty. You could also hike to the top, where there’s a beautiful lake.
Swim: Sundlaug Kirkjubæjarklaustri
Every town in Iceland boasts a lovely, naturally-heated swimming pool, and Kirkjubæjarklaustur is no exception. Sit in one of the brand new tubs and enjoy the view of the nearby waterfall and the black river flowing south as you soak your stress away and ponder the meaning of the universe.
Hike: Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
There are many ways to enjoy the majestic Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. You could follow the serpentine course of Fjaðrá river through the unspoilt nature of the canyon between beautiful waterfalls and large rock formations. Or you could follow the wooden path along the outer rim, and marvel at its otherworldly beauty right from above. Either way, you’ll be amazed by this gem of nature. It’s the stuff of dreams.
Visit: Laki Craters
If you don’t have a 4×4 don’t even attempt to drive along the rocky road to this unusual landscape. If you have rented a Jeep, however, or purchased a guided tour, you’ll be struck by the bizarre lava structures formed during the eruption of the Laki volcano. This chain of snow-stained craters rests in the largest lava field found in Europe, completely devoid of trees or walking trails, in a landscape that seems more like a foreign planet than Earth.
Read more town guides here.