Iceland Ring Road Self-Drive 2019 – 10 Day Itinerary (with Google map)

Paula Martinelli Blog, Iceland, Travel 7 Comments

Your one stop guide to self-drive the Ring Road in Iceland

The Ring Road has this name for a reason, because it is shaped like a ring around Iceland.

Considered one of the best road trips in the world, the Ring Road in Iceland offers a vast variety of breathtaking nature and landscapes that will make this trip an adventure of a lifetime. This itinerary has all the details of my 10 day Self-Drive Ring Road trip in Iceland, journeying the entire country.

Like everyone else, I flew to Reykjavik and started my drive from there. I can say that 10 days was enough to see and do so much, and explore Iceland at a nice relaxed pace. To start your travel plan, the first step is to decide how many days you have and plan your trip by calculating the distance and total driving hours. I am giving you all the information you need for your trip to be the best and well planned. A self-drive of the Ring Road is an adventure of a lifetime!

Now, sit back, grab a coffee and enjoy the reading – let me know by the end how your plans go!

You may also want to read:

 

Facts About the Ring Road | Good to know:

  • Distance: 1332 kilometers (828 miles)
  • Speed Limit: 90 km/h (55 mph). 50 km/h (31 mph) in populated areas.
  • Condition: 98% paved.
  • Lanes: Two lanes in general, but there are some single-lane bridges.
  • Maintenance: Maintained year-round, but occasional road closures can occur.
  • Winter: 4X4 vehicles and experience driving in winter conditions required.
  • Minimum Time to Complete: At least 6 days in summer or 12 days in winter.
  • Ideal Time to Complete: 10-14 days in summer or 20-25 days in winter.

How much the Ring Road trip costs

I have prepared a very detailed guideline with prices, and how to travel to Iceland on a budget, check it here.

Self-Drive the Ring Road clockwise or counter-clockwise?

Before we get started, I want to explain that you can drive the Ring clockwise or counterclockwise. Most people choose to do the Ring Road counterclockwise, and see the Golden Circle first. I chose to go clockwise and see the Golden Circle last. Why?

  • The Golden Circle is considered by many the highlight of Iceland – save the best for last
  • If you drive the same direction as everyone else, you will follow the crowds and traffic; going in the opposite direction beats crowds and traffic (especially when you reach the South Coast)
  • Clockwise starts you off gently and builds awe and wonder with each new day; the country reveals itself to you in a more gradual and intimate way
  • You can meet people along the way (going in the opposite direction) and hear what they really liked before you get there (and maybe learn some tips and secrets)
  • I like to do things different – I am a rebel!
  • If I were to do it all again, I would definitely do the Ring clockwise! Leave Reykjavik and head north my friend, head north! You can thank me later.

Click the icon at the top left of the map to see day by day route details

DAY 1 - Reykjavik to Hofsos / 5 hours (320 KM) via Route 1

Arriving in Reykjavik at 6AM on a rainy and cold day, I picked up the rental car and stopped at a local bakery. I found said bakery on Google maps and I need to recommend it, in case you are hungry for an amazing pastry when you arrive. It is Sigurjonsbakari in Keflavik (in a neighborhood outside the airport) – it was the best first taste of Iceland! After eating, grab something to take for breakfast for the next day. The apple strudel lasted me a few breakfasts – money well spent.

Iceland breakfast on Ring Road

 

Visit the town of Borgarnes – Drive time: 45 minutes //  Visit time: 30 minutes

Visit this picturesque little town on a rocky peninsula, and it offers great views in all directions. The visit is short and you can see the whole town and take some pictures and stretch your legs before your next stop.

Borgarnes Iceland
Borgarnes

 

Visit Grabrok Crater – Drive time: 45 minutes //  Visit time: 30 minutes

Leaving Borganes, it’s time to head to Grabrok Crater. It looks like a moon-like landscape of  extinct crater domes, including one volcano which you can walk around on very nicely maintained wooden walkways. Keep in mind that it is very windy – wear a wind breaker jacket.

Grabrok Crater Iceland
Grabrok Crater

Turf Farm in Glaumbaer – Drive time: 45 minutes //  Visit time: 30 minutes

After lunch, the next stop was Glaumbaer to visit the Turf Farm – it really looks like something from a fairy tale. The present farmhouse consists of 13 buildings and the "newest" addition to the turf house was built in 1876-1879. The oldest parts of the turf house date back to the mid 18th century. Viking ruins have been discovered at Glaumbær, some 150 meters from the current turf farm. It is free to walk around the grounds and take pictures, and you can also pay $14 to visit the museum inside the houses, and see how they used to live in farms before. Read more

Picture to Inspire Glaumbaer farm Iceland Ring Road
Turf Farm at Glaumbaer

Stop at Hofsos – Drive time: 45 minutes // Visit time: 1 hour

This was my favorite stop of day 1. Hofsos is one of the oldest trading centers in Iceland. In the old village surrounding the harbor, you will see that many houses have been renovated recently, giving the town a unique colorful look. Walk around and take some great shots.

Picture to inspire Hofsos Iceland Ring Road
Hofsos

DAY 2 - Hofsos to Akureyri / 6 hours 138 Km) via Route 76 - NORTH ICELAND

Today is a long driving day, but you are not even going to notice since the view is spectacular. I opted to take the alternative scenic Trollaskagi Peninsula via Route 76, just north of Hofsos. I strongly recommend this route, since it is runs along the fjords on the North coast of Iceland. It is one of the Icelandic hidden gems, a bit separated from the rest of the country because of the high and dense mountains bordering the ocean. If you are short in time, you can continue on Route 1– it will take about 30 minutes less (than taking 76 without stops for pictures, admiring the view or lunch in Siglufjordur) but it is less scenic.

Paula TIP: From Siglufjordur I drove through Akureyri to Myvatn. There is a lot to see and explore in the Myvatn area, from lava fields, geothermal sites, to nature baths. Really, it was one of my favorite areas to explore in Iceland and I highly recommend planning ample time to explore this area. I spent 2 nights in Akureyri so it allowed me to explore Myvatn for 2.5 days and still not to see it all. Depending on availability, you may want to spend 1 night in Akureyri and 1 night in the Myvatn area.

Ring Road fun
Just because remote roads make me happy!

Visit the town of Siglufjordur – Drive time: 1 hour (not including stops for pictures) //  visit time: 1 hour

This is your first stop of day 2 (without considering many stops for photos along the way if you take Route 76). The town of Siglufjordur is a geographically isolated place. There are colorful houses by the harbor and it is a pleasent place to walk and explore. Have lunch and a coffee and continue your journey.

Read More: 25 Amazing pictures to inspire you to visit Iceland 

Siglufjordur Iceland
Siglufjordur

Paula TIP: There is a tunnel (Vaðlaheiði tunnel) through the mountain from Akureyri leading to Myvatn. This tunnel has a toll for use, but it is not clear to visitors (it is not posted in English) that the toll (1500 ISK) must be paid online within 3 hours of use. If you do not pay within 3 hours, the toll increases to 2500 ISK. Alternatively, there is a road that goes around the mountain and adds about 20-30 minutes to the trip.

Failure to pay the toll online will result in an administrative fee from your rental car company to provide your information to authorities to mail you the toll charge at home. My rental company charged an exorbitant 50 Euro administrative fee. Renter beware!

See the Godafoss Waterfall – Drive time: 1.75 hours // visit time: 30 minutes - 60 minutes

Godafoss, also known as a “Waterfall of the Gods”, is one of the most famous Icelandic waterfalls because of it’s neat history. Based on a local legend, when Iceland became a Christian country, the local statues of the Norse gods were thrown into the waterfall, which gave it it’sname. Park your car and walk . 10 minutes to the waterfall. You have the option to hike around the fall making it approximately 1 hour for the whole loop.

Godafoss Ring Road
Godafoss Waterfall

 

Vist the Dimmuborgir Lava Formation – Drive time: 45 min. // visit time: 1 hour

The incredible formation of these lava cliffs and pillars stems from molten lava flowing over a pond in the eruption of Lúdentsborgir and Þrengslaborgir some 2300 years ago. Dimmuborgir consists of huge lava rock formations which make you feel like you stepped into another world. Wander the maze and wonder at the incredible formations.

Dimmuborgir Ring Road
Dimmuborgir Lava Formation

 

Myvatn Lake & Pseudocraters – Drive time: 20 min. // visit time: 1 hour

From the parking lot you can walk to the volcanic lake Myvatn, and enjoy stunning views with a mix of color and formation, and it is also a great location for bird watching. Walk around many of the pserudocraters on the shore of Myvatn Lake and loop around the small lake Stakholstjorn. Outstanding views!

picture inspire visit Myvatn area Ring Road self-drive
Myvatn Lake
Pseudocraters at Myvatn Lake Iceland
Picture Inspire visit Pseudocraters in Myvatn, Iceland Travel Tips
Pseudocraters

 

Drive back to Akureyri – Drive time: 1 hour

It was a long and exciting day. You’ve got be starving, so grab the best fish & chips in town Akureyri-Fish and have a local beer on tap. Call it a wrap for this (AMAZING) day.

Akureyri on Ring Road Iceland
Akureyri

DAY 3 - Akureyri to Myvartn Lake Area (Day 2) / 6 hours) via Route 1

Drive to Husavik for the Whale Watch – Drive time: 60 min. //  visit time: 3 hour

Husavik is considered the whale watching capital of Iceland. The guide explained to us that the reason there are so many whales in is because the glacier run off into the bay provides phytoplankton nutrients to grow and provide ample sustenance for the whales. I booked my tour in advance with Gentle Giants – they had great reviews online and they really do a great job. From the boat structure, to the very knowledgeable guide and captain. They also provide proper warm clothes and rubber layer so your clothes don’t get wet. The boat is open and you will need it to keep dry and warm. Oh! And at the end of the tour, they serve you a well deserved hot chocolate and an Icelandic traditional twisted donut, kleina.

During our time on the boat, we did see a humpback whale and I like how ethical they manage these tours. They only have a few boats on the water and they all keep a good distance, not disturbing the whales. They do not use any bait or any other artificial method to attract or locate the whales (no sonar), respecting the wild animals and their environment. They say that the possibility to see whales on a boat tour is up to 90%.

Whale watch cruise Iceland
Whale Watch boat tour
Picture Whale watch Iceland - travel tips visit inspire
Humpback whale

Paula Tip: If you are planning to spend more time in the Myvatn area, your best option is to spend the second night in Myvatn area instead of Akureyri. Driving from Akureyri to Myvatn, beside taking 45 minutes, adds more expenses as you will have to pay US$15 each way for the toll to cross the tunnel (plus gas), and pay online within 3 hours (as mentioned above).

Drive to Myvatn to visit Hverarond Geothermal area  – Drive time: 60 min. //  visit time: 30 min.

I was done with the whale tour by 1PM and I used my afternoon to explore more of the Myvatn area. Pass the Myvatn Lake, heading East along the Ring Road, and the first detour is the Hverarond geothermal area (don’t worry, you won’t miss it as you can see all the steam from the road). Here you can walk around various bubbling mud pits and steam vents.

Hverarond Ring Road Iceland
Hverarond Geothermal area

Quick visit to the “Shower Head”  – Drive time: 5 min. //  visit time: 10 min.

Since you are in this area, and especially if you have a sense of humor, visit a random shower on the side of the road, take some creative pictures and wonder “How in the world someone built something like this?” The shower is actually functioning and warm water comes out.

Shower Head Ring Road Iceland

Drive to Myvatn Natural Bath  – Drive time: 10 min. //  visit time: as long as you need/want to relax…

I highly recommend this place. I skipped the Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik since it is overcrowded and overpriced (US$100 per person). I was not too sure about what to expect about the Myvatn Nature Bath, but it far surpassed my expectations. The pool is very large and had only a few tourists. The temperature of the water was perfect around 40C, and the view of the Myvatn valley was outstanding. You could consider it a bargain at US$40 per person.

visit Myvatn hot springs Ring Road picture to inspire
Myvatn Nature Bath

Drive back to Akureyri – Drive time: 60 min.

I spent my second night in Akureyri at the same place. Akureryri is the second largest city in Iceland with a population of 19,000. You will find many good options for restaurants, grocery shopping and fast food.

DAY 4 - Akureyri to Seydisfjordur / 6 hours (280 Km) via Route 1

Prepare your camera for this scenic drive today. You will drive through peaceful fjords, small fishing villages and trails tucked away in the hollow of towering mountains. You will also drive up hill and start to see amazing mountains covered in ice and blue lakes formed by the melted ice (if you are driving during spring/summer). I made lots of stops for pictures and drone images, and they are just spectacular. The high mountain pass leading to Sejdisfjordur is unforgettable.

Picture Self-drive to Seydisfjordur to inspire

 Drive to Dettifoss  – Drive time: 10 min. //  visit time: 30 minutes

Dettifoss is the waterfall with greatest volume of any other waterfall in Europe, 500 cubic meters of water per second plunges over the edge, 45 meters high and 100 wide. A nice hiking trail, 34 km goes along the canyon from Dettifoss to Asbyrgi.

Paula Tip: I was very excited to visit this waterfall. After driving several kilometers on the gravel road, I found the road to go to the waterfall was closed, and there was no sign explaining the reason. I got upset. But my tip is don’t build too high expectations to visit a specific site in Iceland, as the roads may be closed due to weather conditions or something else. I also learned to check this website to see road conditions and open or closed sights prior to driving there.

Ring Road Closed
The upset part of me...

Egilsstadir  – Drive time: 3.2 hours //  visit time: 30 minutes

Egilsstadir is a small town, that makes a good stop for gas and some grocery shopping before heading to the next destination.

Drive to Gufufoss waterfall -  Drive time: 40 minutes // visit time: 30 minutes

As you drive You will see this waterfall on the right side of the road if you are on this route. It is a great place to stop for pictures and of course, admire the power of the nature. It is a beautiful waterfall with the terrain covered in moss making it look like a scene direct from a fairytale.

Picture inspire visit Gufafoss Ring Road self-drive
Gufufoss Waterfall

Drive to Seydisfjordur  – Drive time: 5 min. // visit time: 2 hours

Seydisfjordur is a small fishing town of 700 residents by the harbor. This was my final destination for the day. But if you are not going to stay, plan around 2 hours to walk around the town and have a beer or a coffee at Skatafoss Bistro. It is a very cool place with an artistic feel to it.

Seydisfjordur is also known for its unique artistic atmosphere, and it is also well-known for its artist residency program. Young artists come from all over the world. If you are an artist dreaming about creating in such an inspiring place, you can find more information about the residency program here Skaftfell Residency Program

Every week the ferry called MS Norröna (Smyril Line) arrives in the town from Denmark, bringing Dutch tourists and their cars.

Seydisfjordur rainbow road

DAY 5 - Seydisfjordur to Hofn / 4.5 hours (213 Km) via Route 1

It was a long drive and, unfortunately I got a lot of rain and fog. The views are spectacular without the rain, but since I couldn’t see it, I just imagined and appreciated it anyways. I also saw one of the most amazing things during this drive, that made me suddenly hit the brakes in the middle of the road (please, make sure no one is behind you before you attempt 😊). There was a big group of 12 reindeer on the side of the road. One of the most fascinating things to me is to be able to see animals in the wild, so keep an eye out as you can see many groups on this side of Iceland, and drive safe.

Reindeer on Ring Road
Rewarding driving moment

 Drive to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon  – Drive time: 30 minutes past Hofn // visit time: 1 hour

The lagoon borders Vatnajokull National Park. With blue water and dotted with icebergs from the surrounding glacier, it is a fantastic spectacle. If you are lucky, you can see the seals swimming freely among the icebergs in this area – safe from the killer whales hunting offshore.

IMG_6868

Diamond Beach  – Drive time: walking distance from the Glacier Lagoon //  visit time: 1 hour

The Glacier Lagoon flows through a short waterway into the Atlantic Ocean, leaving chunks of icebergs on a black sand beach, making it really look like giant diamonds. It is a dynamic, ever changing scene shaped daily/hourly by the forces of nature.

Diamond Beach Ring Road Self-drive
IMG_6792

Paula Tip: Be careful with your electronic equipment. I learned in a bad way and my Canon stopped working exactly at this beach. The weather in Iceland can be very harsh on electronics – mist, sand, strong winds, rain, steam…they are not electronic friendly.

Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon  – Drive time: 15 minutes // visit time: 30 min.

It is smaller than the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, but also very beautiful, and less crowded. You can hike around the lake or also pay for a kayak tour or inflatable boat tour among the glacier and icebergs.

20190416_175631

DAY 6 - Hofn to Skaftafell / 6 hours (135 Km) via Route 1 - SOUTHEAST

First Option - Glacier hike and Ice Climb

Today was the highlight of my trip to Iceland, and you can read all the details on how to go ice climb and hike the glacier here. I booked in advance with Icelandic Mountain Guides (the combo hike on the glacier + ice climb for a total of 4 hours activity). I chose them based on so many good reviews of this tour service, and they were even better than what I expected. This was my first time ice climbing, and I felt safe with the knowledgeable and fun instructors.

Read more: Complete guide for Ice Climbing and and Glacier Hiking in Iceland

Skaftafell Glacier Ice Climb

If you don’t want to ice climb, they still offer tours for every taste and fitness level. I just think it is an amazing opportunity to be close to nature and take advantage to immerse yourself in an adventure while in Iceland. The difficulty level of each tour is adapted to the abilities of the participants.

Skaftafell Ice Climb Iceland

If, like me, you question the ethics of climbing on a glacier, fear not. Before I decided to go on this tour, my first question was how much damage to the glaciers these tours would make. The guides explained that walking and climbing on the glacier does not destroy the ice or have any measurable impact on the environment. The biggest enemy of glaciers is global warming, which is melting the glaciers at a rapid rate.

Safety note: Do not venture onto the glacier without the right equipment (crampons and ice picks) and an experienced guide. The ice is incredibly slippery and you will not make it far. You don’t want to cut your trip short slipping on the ice or falling into a crevasse.

Picture inpsire visit Solheimajokull glacier Ring Road

Second Option – Hike Vatnajokull National Park

If activities on the ice are still not your thing, another option I would recommend is to explore the Vatnajokull National Park as it offers great options for hiking. You can also visit the Svartifoss waterfall, which tumbles over black basalt columns. There is a visitor center in Skaftafell that has all the information on how to get to the waterfall, since it requires a hike to get there.

DAY 7 - Skaftafell to Vik / 6 hours (140 Km) via Route 1 – SOUTHEAST TO SOUTH COAST

Scenic Green Lava Walk  – Drive time: 40 minutes // visit time: 1 hour

This area is a beautiful lava field covered with delicate green moss and it feels like you've just stepped into another world.  You have the option to drive and also park your car and walk on the wood platforms to admire this unique natural formation of moss. The moss takes 200 years to grow; so magical.

Green Moss Ring Road Self-drive
Green Lava field
Ring Road Self-drive

Visit the town of Vik – Drive time: 45 minutes // visit time: 1 hour

Vik is a seafront town. Visit the beach which has outstanding views from the columns leaving the water. Visit the church on top of the hill and the local cemetery, they have awesome views from there. If you are looking for some shopping, they have a big local items from sweaters to souvenirs. There is an interesting (small, but free) museum at the tourist information center.

Vik is the turn-around point for day trippers from Reykjavik. Expect many tourists in the grocery store and Icewear store. It is geared towards tourists.

Read more: Iceland Travel Tips - Everything you should know before your trip

Vik Iceland

Black Sand Beach – Drive time: 15 minutes // visit time: 1 hour

About half a mile off the main road, in the town of Vik, you will find the striking basalt columns (Reynisdrangar) linking the Reynisfjara black sand beach. If you like photography, you can easily spend over an hour here just walking the whole beach, as there are so many incredible formations on the rocks, caves and columns sticking out of the water.

Safety note: Be aware of the sneaker waves and very dangerous sea currents on this beach. If you are traveling with kids, hold their hands tight. If you like selfies, never turn your back to the sea. Many tourists lost their lives at this location.

Black Sand Beach Ring Road
Cliffs at Black Sand Beach

Skogafoss Waterfall – Drive time: 30 minutes // visit time: 30 min.

Walk to the top of Skogafoss for incredible views of one of Icelandic’s most famous waterfalls. The top of the waterfall has a hiking trail that leads into the Vatnajökull National Park, and is one of the most scenic and popular walking routes in Iceland guiding you between 2 glaciers.

Picture from top Skogafoss Iceland Ring Road

DAY 8 - Vik to Selfoss / 1.5 hours (129 KM) via Route 1 – GOLDEN CIRCLE (angels singing in the background – you made it!)

Today was a stormy day, with hurricane force gusts. In Iceland you have to be prepared for different weather conditions. It is can be disappointing, but not upsetting if you have flexibility with your itinerary. I tried to visit some sights and after getting out of the car for a few minutes, I was soaked from the rain. Luckily I had flexibility to drive back to some of the sights and visit them the next day in dry weather.

The beauty of a day like this is that it will force you to find alternatives, and sometimes you can find some hidden gems. I took advantage of the bad weather and stopped for lunch at the Farms Bistro Restaurant and this is the only farm that grows mushrooms in Iceland. They make everything from scratch, from mushroom spreads and mushroom soup to fresh homemade breads. It was delicious! And most of people there were locals.

The rain stopped around 5PM and I was able to take full advantage until 9PM, since spring days are long and the sun doesn’t go down until late.

Ring Road Self-Drive
Lunch in Iceland

Paula Tip: I opt to spend 2 nights in Selfoss because of its location to explore the Golden Circle and also allowing me to go back to the sites that I missed o the South part of Iceland, because of the bad weather. 

Gullfoss Waterfall – Drive time: 2 hours //  visit time: 1 hour

Gullfoss translates to “Golden Falls” and it is located on the Golden Circle Drive. Gullfoss Waterfall is easy to get to and easy to view. There are multiple angles that you can view the falls from and each offers a stunning perspective of the powerful waterfall crashing into the river below.

Gullfoss Golden Circle

Geyser Geothermal Field – Drive time: 20 minutes //  visit time: 1 hour

This geothermal field has total surface area of approximately 3 km². Most of the springs are aligned along a 100 m wide strip of land running in the same direction as the tectonic lines in the area. The incredible geyser is known to shoot boiling water up to 70 meters into the air, and it erupts approximately every 10 minutes. Just 20 meters into the geyser’s feeder channel, you can find water reaching a temperature of nearly 125 ºC! Aside from the geyser, you can also see bubbling pools and smoking craters. Boiled eggs anyone?

Geyser Golden Circle Iceland

Kerid Crater Lake – Drive time: 20 minutes //  visit time: 1 hour

This is one of the very few sites where you have to pay to visit, as it is inside a private property, but still at a very low cost of $3 per person, just to help to preserve the area.

Kerið is approximately three thousand years old, is approximately 55 meters (180 feet) deep, 170 meters (558 feet) wide and 270 meters (886 feet) in circumference. It is possible to take a path right to the crater’s edge, to fully encircle it, and to descend down to the pristine waters of the crater lake. The reason why the lake is colored so vividly blue is due to the minerals from the rocks.

Kerid Crater Golden Circle

Þingvellir Site – Drive time: 45 minutes // visit time: 1 hour

Among my favorite places in Iceland. The drive is absolutely incredible, going up and down the hills and observing geothermal landscapes along the way. Þingvellir has great historical and cultural significance for Iceland and boasts dramatic landscapes.

One of the greatest attractions in the park are the exposed North American and European tectonic plates. It is the only place in the world where you can see geology such as this on land. Þingvellir (Thingvetlir) is one of the most widely visited attractions in Iceland, in large part due to the fact that it is home to the glacial spring and Silfra fissure. Also, in my humble opinion, the waterfall at Þingvellir is one of the most beautiful waterfall in Iceland, Oxararfoss.

Thingvellir Golden Circle

Option Fissures Diving - If you are brave and pay the price (starting at $130), you can dive the  Silfra fissure. It is one of the top ten sites in the world for snorkelers and scuba divers. Silfra (meaning ‘Silver’) is a submerged ravine within the park, boasting visibility of up to 100 meters (328 feet) and a temperature just above freezing (no, thank you!).

Thingvellir Scuba Crossing

DAY 9 - Second Day exploring GOLDEN CIRCLE & SOUTH COAST

I decided to reserve 2 days to do the Golden Circle, just to take my time and to explore this region at my own pace. The Golden Circle consists of three equally stunning locations in southwest Iceland: Þingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss waterfall. These sites are as spectacular as they are unique. All three can be visited within a day.

Keep in mind, based on the proximity to Reykjavik, these are the most visited sights in Iceland. Most visitors to Iceland stay within the Reykjavik to Vik (south coast) loop.

Because I had planned 2 days in this area, I took the opportunity to backtrack to some of the sites along Route 1 on the South Coast that I missed due to the harsh weather conditions.

Seljalandsfoss & Gljufrabui Waterfalls – Drive time: 40 min //  visit time: 2 hours

Seljalandsfoss waterfall originates from the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajokull and falls 200 feet. Besides being gorgeous, it allows you to walk behind the waterfall to take amazing pictures and to feel the power of nature. It was one of my favorite things to do.

Read more: 23 Essential tips for your first trip to Iceland 

Seljalandsfoss Golden Circle

Gljufrabui Waterfall is just a short distance walk from Seljalandsfoss, and is inside a canyon. It was my favorite waterfall in Iceland, and it offers a spectacular view of the waterfall inside a cave. You will have to wade an ankle deep stream to enter the cave (stepping from stone to stone). Either wear high waterproof boots or go barefoot. It is worth it!

Gljufrabui Golden Circle

Paula Tip: If you decide to explore the Gljufrabui inside the canyon and walk behind the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, prepare to get soaking wet. I still encouraging you to do it, as both options are AWESOME. But wear waterproof gear and bring a change of clothes as you will need it.

Dyrhólaey – Drive time: 40 min from Selfoss //  visit time: 30 min.

Dyrhólaey literally means "the hill island with the door hole" and in my opinion it is a MUST VISIT site in Iceland.  It's 120 m high and you are able to walk the arch or the bridge if you are not afraid of heights. Up there you can also find a spectacular and big "castle shaped" lighthouse.

Dyrholaey Golden Circle Iceland

Once you are on top in the higher area of Dyrhólaey you will have a breathtaking view in all directions – the view really brought tears to my eyes! To the north you see Mýrdalsjökull glacier, to the east you will see the beautiful black lava seastacks Reynisdrangar and to the west you can view the endless black coastline and then in front of the peninsula there is a huge black arch of lava reaching out into the sea which the peninsula takes its name from. Sounds and looks spectacular, right?

View from Gljufrabui Iceland
Reynisdrangar black beach
The beautiful black lava beach at Reynisdrangar

Sólheimajokull Glacier Lake – Drive time: 40 min //  visit time: allow yourself 1.5 – 2 hours

This is a much smaller, yet seemingly more intimate encounter with the Katla Glacier and a smaller glacier lake. This lake is much smaller than Jokulsarlón or Fjallsárlón Glacier Lakes, and less crowded. You are able to walk right up to the base of the glacier and take some wonderful pictures.

Katla Glacier Ring Road

DAY 10 - Selfoss to Reykjvik / 1 hour (60 Km) via Route 1

My flight was at 5PM and I had arranged to drop the rental car off at 3PM. The airport is about 45 minutes north of the city. I left Selfoss and drove to Reykjavik and allowed myself to explore the city by foot for about 6 hours. That is enough to explore the main sites of Iceland’s capital and largest city. With a population of 122,900 it is still small and very walkable. If you are just like me and have only a few hours to explore this cool city, here are my top places to visit:

#1 Hallgrimskirkja Church

This church, visible from almost every angle of the city therefore making it very easy to find. At the top of this 74.5m expressionist building is a viewing platform boasting 360° views over the entire city. I visited it on Easter Day, and the tower was closed for church services. I love the architecture of this church, as they used elements from Icelandic nature, giving such a unique look. The outside reflects the stone cliffs at Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.

Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral Reykjavik Golden Circle

#2 Explore the city by foot

You will find colorful houses, luscious gardens and plenty of street art. Wander around and you will most likely bump into one of the locals walking their dogs. Also there are many opportunities to go shopping and do people watching.

Picture Inspire Streets of Reykjavik Iceland

#3 Sun Voyager sculpture

The Sun Voyager sculpture is a popular attraction and offers outstanding views, nestled along the seaside close to Harpa Concert Hall. The sculpture has a fantastic view towards Mt Esjan. It took 6 tons of stainless steel to build, is around 525 ft (160 m) and it resembles a Viking ship.

Sun Voyager Sculpture Reykjavik

#4 Have lunch and/ or a coffee

Reykjavik offers a large variety of restaurants, for all taste and pockets. Also, I had the best cappuccino in my life (I am not exaggerating) at Reykjavik Roasters – also, the retro ambience was great!

Coffee in Reykjavik

Every trip I like to evaluate my “lessons learned” and for Iceland the most important was to be flexible with your itinerary and days. You never know if you will be able to visit a specific site due to the weather conditions or a road may be closed. Mark your “must see places” and if possible, try to drive back on the next day, even if it will take you off the original route.

Enjoy the journey, relax, and appreciate the nature and laidback lifestyle in Iceland!

Planning a trip to Iceland? Check out my complete Iceland Travel Guide

Comments 7

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  5. I heard lots of time about this place, but I got to know very closely through your beautiful article, Picture are awesome and I enjoyed reading your blog from staying to eating and enjoying to smiling your blog is Rocking
    😉

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  6. Pingback: Iceland 101 – The ultimate guide of things you should know before your trip – Paula Pins The Planet

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