Road trips can be exhausting because you move constantly to a new place, but here in Iceland it’s easy. You will be spoiled every day by breathtaking scenery and most attractions are right next to the main ring road 1. It was a dream come true to have a chance to drive in Iceland and experience the unique nature. At one point of my road trip, I literally had happy tears on my cheeks! Let’s continue our Iceland road trip.
I spent a night close to the village of Höfn. After lovely breakfast, I decided to go and see the nearby Hoffellsjokull Glacier. Apparently I didn’t have enough of glaciers previously. Great thing about this glacier is that it’s not well known by tourists. I had the whole glacier to myself. You can’t actually walk on the glacier without proper equipment and a skilled guide, so I just admired the nature’s beauty from the distance. If you wish to visit Hoffellsjokull, you need to walk a gravel road. Don’t make the same mistake as I did and just took my car because I thought that the road didn’t seem that bad. I was so wrong! Lucky for me, no flat tires this time.
After all that early morning excitement, our journey continues the ring road 1. You will soon pass the Almannaskarð tunnel. Just right after the tunnel, turn immediately to the left on to a small gravel road for quick panoramic views. From here you can see ice capped mountains and their glaciers.
Next we will drive through beautiful fjord roads. Here you can see magnificent cliffs that have been created by glaciers long time ago. Berufjörður fjord is one of my favourite road trip stops to enjoy scenery and flora around this area. Make sure to visit charming little fishing town called Djúpivogur. This place is on top of my list for hidden Iceland gems. Here you can see one of the quirkiest offbeat attraction, Eggin í Gleðivík (also known as the Eggs at Merry bay), made by Sigurður Guðmundsson. His artwork is made of 34 different granite eggs along the harbor that represents the local bird’s eggs.
Picture perfect harbor is perfect place to relax for a while and then head for lunch at lovely Hótel Framtíð restaurant (Vogalandi 4 765 Djúpivogur). Stock up at grocery store and fill your gas tank if needed. When you drive away from the Djúpivogur town, you will soon see a cool pyramid shaped Búlandstindur Mountain!
My next accommodation was in Egilsstaðir area, where I visited Iceland’s largest man-made forest called Hallormsstaðir. What a refreshing place to have an evening walk with the locals. Almost felt like I was back at home in Finland! You can also visit Hengifoss waterfall if you have the time. This town has also a glacier river, Lagarfljót, home to a local serpent monster that look almost like Loch Ness. It’s only a part of folk stories of course.
I hope you have enough gas in your tank and lots of snacks with you, because today it’s going to be a long drive through the vast valley of Möðrudalur to the town of Húsavík. This is a scenic drive through inhabited mountain area which is surrounded by a gravel desert. I found it to be quite unique experience. Because this is Iceland, I knew that eventually I would stumble on another amazing waterfall.
Dettifoss is one of Europe’s most powerful waterfalls located in Vätnajökull National Park. You have to take a gravel road 864 from the ring road 1. Drive slowly because the road is very bumpy. I was lucky to see this beautiful place, because next day I heard from a local that it was closed for safety reasons. During my trip there was danger in the air, because Bárðarbunga volcano was expected to erupt anytime. After admiring Dettifoss my next stop was a hike in Ásbyrgi canyon. This canyon is surrounded by horseshoe shaped cliff with a lush green center. There’s even a small lake here!
Húsavík and whale watching
Finally we will arrive to a small town named Húsavík for one and only purpose, whale watching of course! It’s been on my bucket list and this town was perfect place to see those giants. I had lunch first at Salka restaurant (Garðarsbraut 640) which I recommend for its great location right next to the Husavik harbor. I ate here smoked puffin which is local’s delicacy. In my experience, you don’t need to pre-book tickets for whale watching. Just buy tickets straight at the harbor and hop on a small fishing boat. You need to put those padded jump suits on at the boat that is provided by the crew. They protect you from cold wind and I guess you won’t die immediately from hypothermia if you drop from the boat (just kidding).
It was amazing to see wild whales and even some dolphins in their natural habitat until I got a little sea sick. Everyone else was taking pictures and cinnamon buns with hot cocoa that included to the tour. I thought right then that maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to eat before a boat trip. I still enjoyed the tour and almost survived back to the Husavik harbor until I vomited in to the sea. Apparently I and the sea don’t mix! Whale watching in Husavik is a must in Iceland and totally worth every penny! Luckily I felt fine soon after the boat trip so I was able to continue driving to my accommodation in Mývatn lake area.
After spending a good night sleep, it was time to see what Mývatn lake area has to offer. This is a very picturesque place for photography and has a lot of sightseeing to offer. My first destination of the day was interesting looking Skutustadir pseudo craters. They were formed on the ground by steam explosions and are quite rare elsewhere on Earth. Interesting fact is that there are similar pseudo craters on Mars! Bumped into some cute Icelandic horses on the way to the craters and they didn’t seem to mind all the thousands little flies that were flying in the Myvatn lake area. These flies don’t sting but they are very annoying, so wear fly net if you visit this area during summer.
Another geological highlight nearby is the Dimmuborgir Lava Field. Here you’ll see some massive lava rock formations. These impressive, but fragile cliffs where made when the hot lava streamed over lava ponds trapping the water underneath the lava. Dimmuborgir was maybe my least favourite place in whole Myvatn area, but its worth for a short visit.
Krafla Area in Iceland
Only 10 minutes from Dimmuborgir is a spectacular Hverir Geothermal field. This steamy area has boiling mud, hot springs and unique multicoloured lava field that look like some sci-fi Mars scenery. You can’t help to notice a rotten egg smell in the air because of all the sulphur. No doubt that Hverir is a high-temperature geothermal area, because of those steam releasing fumaroles and mud pots that bubble to a temperature of way over 200 degrees Celsius! So beware when you explore this area.
Another amazing attraction here is the Krafla Viti Crater. This is a volcanic crater that has beautiful green lake inside. It’s an easy 30 minute trail to the edge of the crater from the car park. I also visited the Kafla power station’s visitor center where I had a chance to learn about geothermal energy and how they ecologically harness nature to provide power to the residents of Iceland. You will see unbelievable turquoise geothermal water around the station! If you have more time to explore, check out also nearby Grjótagjá cave which was one of the Game of Thrones film locations.
Journey must go on to my next accommodation in Skagafjördur area which is best known as a breeding area for Icelandic horses. Naturally there are lots of horse farms here so it’s possible to arrange horseback riding lesson or try river rafting if you like some adrenaline rush. On my drive to Skagafjördur, I had to make a stop to admire another brilliant waterfall in Iceland. Godafoss is a 30 meter wide nature’s spectacle with a wow factor. I also had a quick stop at Iceland’s second largest town, Akureyri, which had very urban vibe. Great place to have dinner and do some shopping!
Sadly this is a last day of our road trip, so it’s time to head back to Reykjavik. I didn’t really plan any sightseeing destinations today, but of course had to hike to the Grábrók crater, because of its convenient location on the ring road 1. Apparently Grábrók crater is over 3000 years old! The path to the top is steep but easy to climb thanks to the wooden stairs. Once you get to the top, the views are spectacular and you will spot two other smaller craters. I took few small volcanic rocks with me for souvenir back home. This hike takes about 40 minutes from the car park and back.
As they say, always take the scenic drive, so I took a coastal road 47 through the beautiful Hvalfjörður fjord. It’s about four hour drive to Keflavik airport from my previous accommodation. Once I reached the airport, I just returned my rental car, had dinner and a good night sleep at the airport hotel before my early flight the next day. I left Iceland with lots of unforgettable experiences and with a desire to have another trip soon. I hope my shared experiences have convinced you to travel to the magical Iceland!