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Lord of the ring road: see Iceland through the windscreen
Iceland holidays
Film-inspired holidays

A driving holiday around Iceland’s Golden Circle and south coast gives a widescreen
view of its cinematic landscape

Emma Cook

Sun 21 Jan 2018 10.00 GMT
Last modified on Sun 21 Jan 2018 12.39 GMT

People bathing in The Blue Lagoon, a geothermal bath resort in Iceland

We’ve only been on the road for 20 minutes and already the cinematic comparisons
are flowing like lava. Game of Thrones. Lord of the Rings. Spaghetti western? “No,
Narnia.” Frozen! It could be all of them, depending on where your gaze settles. One
minute it’s all glacial rivers and snow-capped mountain ranges, turn the bend and
you’re plunged into a desolate landscape of lava fields as black as coal dust;
seconds later it’s Middle-earth, with moss-green meadows and cascading waterfalls.
It’s widescreen Netflix on speed.
Iceland on film: a road trip around the 'Hollywood of the north'
Read more

“The Clangers!” my youngest says definitively, as the scenery switches suddenly to
lunar, steam belching from potholes in the ground.

It’s our first morning on the road and we’re relieved that there is really only one
we need to worry about: Route 1, an 832-mile stretch circling the island. A
reluctant driver (my husband) and an abysmal map reader (me), we were worried
before we arrived about the amount of driving. Iceland may have everything going
for it – fantastic scenery, an egalitarian society (earlier this month, it became
the first country in the world to make companies prove they are not paying women
less than men for the same work) and a highly educated population – one in 10
Icelanders is a published author, they love to say. But one regrettable oversight

Iceland is everywhere at the moment. triangles of processed cheese. inky water that never drops below 38C. even the changing rooms are artful Nordic cool. this time in the outdoor hot tub at our hotel. and duty-free gin and tonic. route and journey times – a travelphobe’s fantasy. Facebook Twitter Pinterest ‘Every six or so minutes. needs to be rationed even in these photogenic surroundings. Iceland’s best-known geyser. each with their own outdoor whirlpool bath. a public railway. crisps. a waterfall in Iceland. everywhere you look. watching the steam rise and the sky ripple red. Although we have to shell out for evening meals and the odd snack. The flat landscape and wide. Our first stop is Gullfoss. It’s not exactly a secret experience but it’s well designed. Each iPad has an easy- to-use app. a shoot of water rising upwards out of the ground. Photograph: Alamy Not that the prices seem a deterrent to many people. Facebook Twitter Pinterest ‘As wild and powerful as Niagara Falls’ … Gullfoss. a buffet breakfast is served in a glass dining room with views of Hekla volcano. another sunset. we smugly save up to £500 on eating out this way. people are out with their cameras. popularised in film and on TV. No one is quite sure why they never got round to it – a population slightly smaller than Croydon’s along with their harsh environment may explain it. And there’s internet access for the kids which. . one of Europe’s largest waterfalls. Another creeping anxiety whenever anyone mentions Iceland is the cost. the sulphurous waters rise and erupt about 20m in the air’ … Strokkur geyser. Steaming hot water is difficult to avoid and soon another immersion beckons. Crucially. nuts. We find ourselves outside at 1am in pyjamas and snowsuits with other guests staring up hopefully into the darkness A highlight at the end of the afternoon is a visit to the Secret Lagoon in the village of Flúðir. all the more enjoyable with an Icelandic beer at the water’s edge. and as wild and powerful as Niagara Falls. The rooms are cosy. Which is increasingly what draws the crowds. the key to our stress-free experience arrives in the form of the digital travel guides we are all given as part of our tour package. Maybe it’s the remoteness that gives it a touch of Kubrick’s Overlook Hotel. Which is why I find myself dragging a cabin case through customs bulging with bagels. A short drive away is Strokkur. we slowly stew in rich. Every six or so minutes. the average bottle of wine is £35 and lunch for a family of five could easily reach £100. In one of the world’s most expensive destinations. Hotel Ranga is a log cabin-style hotel in the middle of nowhere. empty roads in this part of southern Iceland – the Golden Circle – make it a joy to circumnavigate. Surrounded by hot springs. Strokkur Geyser. the sulphurous waters (that explains the odorous smell of eggs) rise and erupt about 20m in the air. from Game of Thrones to Black Mirror. chocolate. Photograph: Alamy We needn’t have worried. it turns out. Iceland. Telling my eldest off for streaming Mad Men rather than appreciating a glacier ahead of us is a case in point. Another beer. in one swipe I can check our daily itinerary. that and the endless corridors with patterned flooring.

They’re incredibly easy for beginners and my six-year-old adores her charge Vega. All we can see are ghostly figures and a white fog rolling off the water. We stop at Vellir Farm. but it is a cinephile’s dream. Which is why we find ourselves standing outside at 1am in pyjamas and snowsuits with other bleary guests staring up hopefully into the darkness. Only one type is allowed in and it’s been that way since they were bought here by Vikings 11. The joys of driving are wearing thin so we opt for another form of transport – the Icelandic horse. braver carnivores can try smoked puffin and reindeer carpaccio but there’s plenty for vegetarians too – we stick to tasty roasted cauliflower. We’ve seen them all over the island and Friðrik tells us how proud Icelanders are of this pure. undulating jellyfish moving behind the clouds. Iceland may not be undiscovered or even affordable. more recently. including flights. he advises sternly. a northern lights room alert. never call them ponies. We fall back into bed. from £584. crashing white waves and miles of pure black sand. “Is it true I’ll get thrown out of Iceland for calling her a pony?” she asks her bought the hotel 16 years ago and has doubled the number of rooms to 52. We get there late when the temperature plunges and beams of laser light break through the darkness. euphoric. says my middle child.The evening meals are modern Nordic. baked zucchini. added a star-gazing observatory with a retractable roof and. Ranga’s welcoming owner. It is undeniably commercial – tourists cluster with selfie sticks around a floating bar – but great fun. Way to go Three-night fly-drive holiday with discover-the-world. It’s a paradise beach in monochrome: bright sunlight. Friðrik. nervously. this time to Vík. fresh cod and cured salmon. car rental (additional driver free) and iPads for use during the trip. The sky looks celestial. Vík's beach with black shingle and black rocks jutting out of the sea Facebook Twitter Pinterest ‘A paradise beach in monochrome’ … Vík’s black volcanic beach. and spend an enjoyable hour roaming through meadows. 30 minutes from Reykjavík.000 years ago. diminutive breed. backlit by green glowing light. beyond Reykjavik . Photograph: Alamy Next morning we’re back on Route 1. not as dramatic as I’d thought it would be. a deserted village with a stunning volcanic shoreline. Iceland’s famous geothermal spa. But it’s enough. Horse riding from £50pp and Secret Lagoon from £22pp Topics Iceland holidays Film-inspired holidays Road trips Europe holidays features Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest Share on Google+ Reuse this content View all comments > more on this story Escape from the Blue Lagoon: Iceland. On our final evening we can’t resist the Blue Lagoon. It’s a subtle display. three nights’ B&B at Hotel Ranga. Then it happens. “It’s Titanic!”.

beyond Reykjavik Just chillin': welcome to Iceland’s wild. Published: 5 Dec 2016 Escape from the Blue Lagoon: Iceland. All rights reserved. wild Westfjords Published: 21 Jun 2017 Just chillin': welcome to Iceland’s wild. wild Westfjords A tale of ice and fire: touring East Iceland Published: 8 May 2016 A tale of ice and fire: touring East Iceland Iceland's slo-mo capital: on a tour of Djúpivogur and beyond Published: 20 Mar 2016 Iceland's slo-mo capital: on a tour of Djúpivogur and beyond Iceland on film: a road trip around the 'Hollywood of the north' Published: 9 Mar 2014 Iceland on film: a road trip around the 'Hollywood of the north' Step in to the ice age: a tour of Iceland's new Ice Cave – in pictures Gallery Published: 3 Feb 2015 Step in to the ice age: a tour of Iceland's new Ice Cave – in pictures In hot water: an Iceland swimming holiday Published: 22 Aug 2015 In hot water: an Iceland swimming holiday Iceland’s buddy brilliant stopover scheme Published: 11 Mar 2016 Iceland’s buddy brilliant stopover scheme Most viewed Travel UK Europe US back to top become a supporter make a contribution securedrop ask for help advertise with us work for us contact us complaints & corrections terms & conditions privacy policy cookie policy digital newspaper archive all topics all contributors Facebook Twitter © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. .

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