I recently got back from a country that can only be described as alien. I remember thinking “This has to be the closest thing on this planet to being on another planet” as we drove through the rocky tree-less terrain. Just driving is beautiful enough to keep you entertained. If you drive the ring road, you’ll be doing plenty of driving. In fact, the 1335 km trip could be done in less than 24 hours, but we don’t suggest it! Take your time exploring this beautiful country. I have typed up our itinerary below and added tons of tips to make sure you know what you’re in for!
words listed in italics are addresses!
TIP: Be sure to save up tons of money for Iceland. It is NOT a cheap destination. Main courses range from $40-90 at mid-range restaurants.*
Fly into Keflavik Airport early in the morning if possible so you have the whole day ahead of you.
Make reservations at the Blue Lagoon for spa treatments and dinner at the connected restaurant Lava. It is very touristy but it’s a bucket list item and the food is amazing. Check into the hotel first and take a nap if you need to rest up from your traveling. The Blue Lagoon is a really unique experience where you can swim around in super hot water with healing properties surrounded by lava rocks.
- Blue Lagoon
Where to Stay: Northern Lights Inn Northern Lights Road 1, 240 Grindavik, Iceland
Hotel Recommendation Rating: 10/10
TIP: Bring your own GPS or have mobile data access on your phone, the GPS’ in cars are awful
Definitely try and fit the Golden Circle with the Silfra Fissure on day 2. The Silfra Fissure tour is an absolute treat and not to be missed. I found that the snorkeling is just as good as the diving and lasts the same length of time. It was the highlight of the day. Give yourself some time to explore Thingvellir National Park, since it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Park for two different reasons and is full of tons of history and geological formations. I honestly think that the Golden Circle (Geysir and Gullfoss portions) is over-rated compared to the rest of Iceland due to the insane amount of tourists that are at each location but it’s still good to see. Geysir and Gullfoss were easily seen in a few hours, but I found that Seljalandfoss was the most beautiful and charming so we enjoyed it a bit longer. Once you finally make it to your hotel, you can climb the massive rocky cliff above it, but be careful coming down. It’s probably pretty dangerous… The .gif below is from there. 😉
- Silfra Fissure Snorkeling with Dive.is from 0900-1200
Where to Stay: Welcome Hotel Lambafell
Welcome Hotel Lambafell, Lambafell, South Iceland, 861 Eyvindarhólar, Iceland
Hotel Recommendation Level 7/10
Tip: Shop at the Bonus Supermarket for food while on the road! It’s cheap and have tons of snacks to choose from
Day three was the day my boyfriend proposed to me at a secret waterfall. You can read all about it here. It was probably the best day of the whole trip (for more reasons than just that). We started out at Skogarfoss for a few minutes and enjoyed the gorgeous waterfall. You can climb stairs to the top, but we decided not to since we were headed to the nearby secret, completely empty, extra beautiful waterfall that you can climb behind. That waterfall was the most perfect waterfall in all of Iceland. The best part was how totally empty it was. We had it all to ourselves on that perfect day. Once we left, we went directly to our amazing hotel in Vik to check in. Later we visited the incredible beauty of Dyrhólaey park where we walked on the beach and climbed over natural rock bridges as powerful waves crashed below us. It was pretty scary, so if you’re afraid of heights, stick to the non-rock bridge area and stay away from the ledges. If it’s windy at all, I’d highly suggest not going near the ledge. After leaving there, we went and visited the Black Sands Beach with the basalt columns. It was amazing to climb on the columns that look similar to the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. To top off the night, we ate at the AMAZING hotel restaurant. The meal was incredible to say the least.
- Secret Waterfall– If you are planning on going to the secret waterfall and want to know how to get there, shoot me a PM on my facebook page and I will send directions. I don’t want this place to be discovered by tons of tourists so I’m not going to post the location or how to find it on here.
- Black Sands Beach
Where to Stay: Icelandair Vik
Klettsvegi 1-5, 870 Vík
Hotel Recommendation: 10/10
Tip: You don’t need cash in Iceland, they take card pretty much everywhere!
Day four was pretty epic. We started off the morning exploring the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. It’s a medium-sized canyon with tons of cliffs and rocks you can stand up on overlooking the ricker running below. It’s a pretty easy 2km hike to the end and back. You can walk out into the canyon at your own risk to see the views from narrow cliffs. There is a bathroom there but it has no soap, so be sure to bring hand sanitizer. After that we visited Foss a Sidu. It was rather disappointing since it was closed until further notice. Apparently it’s on someone’s land so you can’t go up and see it or climb to the top (which I was looking forward to doing). After spending 38 seconds as Foss a Sidu, we headed to Svartifoss in Vatnajökull National Park. This hike is pretty hard and very long. You think you’re there when you get to the top of the first waterfall but you aren’t! Keep going and a magical location awaits. This waterfall had the basalt columns coming down from the top and a viewing platform where you can stand in awe. The hike is wonderful as well. You cross a few bridges and overlook a massive glacier the whole time. You could spend tons of time exploring here so be sure to block off a good chunk of time.
- Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon
- Foss a Sidu waterfall
- Svartifoss in Vatnajökull National Park
Where to Stay: Hotel Skaftafell
Skaftafelli 2 Freysnesi, 785 Öræfi, Iceland
Hotel Recommendation Rating: 7/10
Day 5 was probably the second best day of the whole trip to Iceland. We started bright and early at the visitor center by Svartifoss and went to go and get our crampons/ice climbing equipment for the coolest hike ever. The hike was A GLACIER HIKE with Glacier Guides Iceland with our really personable guide, Orrin. It was far less difficult than we expected, and it lasted a really long time. I loved the experience so much that there will be a full review of the day and I am listing it as a ‘DO NOT MISS’ kind of opportunity. Orrin described several incredibly interesting facts about glaciers and the hidden system of caves and rivers that run underneath. His incredible understanding and child-like eagerness to share information made our entire group glacier experts by the time we were done with the hike. We got to experience and icefall, exposing a clear-blue ice and an opportunity to learn why the ice looked as it did. We ate lunch and drank coffee at the foot of an inter-glacial waterfall that was absolutely stunning. We also performed ‘Viking Push Ups’ into the glacial stream… pictured below! It was absolutely perfect and hard to beat.
Sadly, we had to leave when our tour was over so we wouldn’t miss our glacier pool zodiac ride. The boat ride had a far less excited guide who made it all pretty dull. It was still an awesome experience to ride around in a tiny boat dodging huge icebergs with a massive glacier looming behind you. I still recommend doing this activity but hopefully you get a better guide than I did. Once the zodiac ride was over we headed to Jokulsarlon to see all the bigger icebergs floating out to sea. There is a small beach nearby where you can watch them rocking in the surf. It was a stunning view, and if you’re lucky you might catch a view of some seals lounging on the ‘bergs!
Jokulsarlon Glacier Grand Slam:
- Glacier Hike
- Fjallsarlon Glacier Pool Zodiac Ride
- Jokulsarlon Glacier Pool Exploration
- Long Drive to Egillstadir
Midvangur 1-7, 700 Egilsstadir
Hotel Recommendation Rating: 9/10
We spent Day 6 driving around for the most part trying to get to Akureyri. We didn’t really feel like driving out of the way to Dettifoss since we had been driving a LOT the night before, so we skipped that one (as well as Husavik town). We did, however, stop at Grotagja hot springs, which is famous for ‘that scene’ in Game of Thrones between a particularly beautiful Wildling and Jon Snow ;). I was expecting to get to swim in the cave but sadly, it was far too hot and against the rules. It was still a GORGEOUS cave perfect for photography and exploration. It was an awesome place to stop and check out. If it’s cloudy, I’d recommend bringing a head lamp since it is in a cave so there is minimal light. After visiting the cave I recommend stopping at Daddi’s Pizza since you’ll be hungry from driving around the nothingness of Northern Iceland. Once you leave your lunch you’ll drive a bit along Route 1 and come across a pretty big waterfall. That’s Godafoss! You can stop here to explore or keep driving to make it to Akureyri at a good time.
Akureyri is a surprisingly huge Icelandic city at the foot of mountains. It’s SO beautiful and there is tons to do there. It has been dubbed as the capital of the North, and for good reason. We had one of the best meals right across the street from our hotel at Rub23. They serve steaks, sushi, and more cooked to perfection. The sushi was cheaper than I expected as well. A sushi portion’s cost was close to the same as the cost in UK. It’s all super fresh and delicious. I definitely recommend making reservations here. We loved the town.
- Grjotagja Hot Springs (GoT)
- Husavik Town
- Godafoss Waterfall
Stay in: Hotel Kea
Skipagata 18, 600 Akureyri
Hotel Recommendation Rating 10/10
Tip: People from Reykjavik don’t ‘get the party started’ until about 2 am!
This day we were so tired from all the driving and Icelanding that we just wanted to make it to Reykjavik to hang out before we left. We sadly skipped Hraunfossar. Instead, we made it to Reykjavik and went out for an amazing dinner and drinks at several bars. We stopped into the Lebowski Bar to get white russians and also went to the Kaffibarrinn Bar before dinner. Sadly, I the drinks exhausted me so I went to sleep quite early in the night. It was a great time though and everyone was so friendly!
Where to Stay: Skuggi Hotel
Hverfisgata 103, Reykjavík
Hotel Recommendation Rating: 12/10
- Go Home
I hope you all enjoy my Iceland Itinerary and have a wonderful trip around the Ring Road! What are you most looking forward to?