After spending some time in Reykjavik, it’s time to hit the road and discover what the land of fire and ice has to offer. This 7 day road trip will give us a chance to see the highlights of Iceland. So buckle up and let’s drive the ring road 1, a highway that forms a loop around the country.
Read previous post: One week road trip around Iceland – Part 1
- Prepare that weather can change fast.
- Stock up in grocery store before your road trip, because you can drive for miles and miles without seeing a gas stop or a restaurant.
- Most attractions are free, thanks to all the nature sites.
- If you drive the ring road, it’s usually paved so just hire a normal car. You only need 4WD car if you drive in inland.
- When hiring a car, they try to sell you sandstorm insurance. In my experience, you don’t need that because the risk is small.
- No need for GPS, just take old school road map of Iceland.
- Do yourself a favor and play some Icelandic music. It’s a must on a road trip like this! My favourite band is Of Monsters and Men.
- Pack clothes that you can layer. Wind- and waterproof outerwear and hiking shoes are essential. You will need gloves and a hat even in summer.
- While driving, beware of sheep that roam free beside the roads.
Once you get outside of Reykjavik, you’re going to see vast, open spaces. After driving awhile in Iceland, you will quickly understand why astronauts are training here. It’s like you are on the moon or on another planet! You will see a lot of tiny stones stacked on top of each other in Iceland landscape. This is believed to bring good luck for travellers. After my trip I discovered that it’s not recommended to do so anymore, because of protecting the landscape.
My first sightseeing stop today was Pingvellir National Park (also known as Thingvellir, World Heritage Site) on a road 36. As we all know, Iceland is geologically very active. Half of the country lies on the North American tectonic plate and the other half is on the Eurasian plate. How cool is that! If you have the time, you can even book a dive in a crack between these two tectonic plates.
Geysers and waterfalls
Our trip continues towards road 37 where the Geysir Hot Spring area lies. Geysir Center (Haukadalur, 35) is a good place to park your car and eat in a restaurant after admiring all the sights.
Strokkur is the most amazing Geysir I have ever seen. It erupts hot boiling water every 5-10 minutes to 20 meters and up. No wonder this Geysir is so popular. Just 5 minutes away is Gullfoss waterfall. You will soon see that Iceland has abundance of unbelievable beautiful waterfalls and Gullfoss is no exception. Now we have covered all the sites of popular tourist route the Golden Circle.
Let’s make our way to the ring road 1 towards Seljalandsfoss. This waterfall is my favourite of them all in whole Iceland. On my trip, the weather couldn’t be any more perfect with lots of sunshine rays which revealed a colourful rainbow. I had to pinch myself because I thought I was dreaming. The best thing about Seljalandsfoss is that you can actually walk behind this unbelievable waterfall! This was once in a lifetime bucket list moment for sure. I stayed one night in a nearby Icelandic farm house.
Skógafoss Waterfall is only 25 minutes away from Seljalandsfoss. Remember to stop your car and take a glance at the famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano which lies under a glacier. This volcano erupted in 2010 and its ash cloud stopped air traffic in Europe for a while. When you walk to Skogafoss, it’s a good idea to have raincoat on, because you will get wet! There’s also a path near the waterfall where you can climb to the top which I definitely recommend to try. Did you know that there is a legend that a Viking man has hidden a treasure chest somewhere in Skogafoss. Unfortunately I didn’t find it.
Our next stop is the magnificent Dyrhólaey area. It’s a small peninsula and a bird sanctuary for puffins and other birds. The most famous attraction here is the Dyrhólaey arch, a rock arch carved by harsh weather forces. There’s also a lighthouse near. My favourite place was the Reynisfjara black sand beach. You can see beautiful black sand, smooth stacked rocks and unique columnar basalt cave. I even spotted a seal here. If you visit this beach, PLEASE read this locals article first! I can’t emphasize more, how important it is to be aware of the strong waves, so don’t swim here or turn your back at the waves. Sometimes we forget how strong the Mother Nature can be.
Don’t forget to check out the Arnardrangur or also known as “Eagle rock” from the distance for some great photos. There is so much to see in Dyrhólaey, but it’s time to head to the small town of Vík. This place is good to grab some lunch, fill up gas tank and to stretch your legs by walking on a nearby black sand beach before we continue our road trip.
We will continue to drive the ring road number one through Mýrdalssandur black sand lava plain. There are some interesting sites like Laufskalavaroa where you can see lots of those stacked stones in a broad area. Another place is the one of a kind Eldhraun Lava field, which was formed by a large amount of lava flow over 200 years ago after a the most catastrophic volcanic eruption in history. On the road, you don’t even realize how special place this is if you don’t know the history behind it. This lava field is very picturesque because of the thick moss that covers this area, so stop to take some pictures.
We will continue to our last sight of the day, Jökulsárlón, a Glacier Lagoon in Iceland. On our way here, you will drive past the Skaftafell, an area that you might want to add to your itinerary if you have extra day. There you can book a guide to visit ice cave during winter or hike to interesting Svartifoss which is surrounded by black lava column. Jokulsarlon is situated in Vätnajökull National Park and it must be one of the coolest places I have ever visited. No wonder Iceland is one of the dreamiest places on earth for photographers because of the nature’s diversity. Here you can see a lake full of huge blue icebergs that crumble straight from glacier.
Don’t forget to visit Diamond beach (Breiðamerkursandur) which is situated right after you cross the glacier river bridge. Here you see lots of clear chunks of ice that looks like sparkling diamonds on a black sand beach. It’s truly a beautiful sight to see. After all the amazing adventures, I would recommend a good restaurant near Jökulsarlon. Enjoy amazing food at Hali Country Hotel Restaurant (Hali 781, Hofn). My accommodation this time was near Höfn.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Until next time!