A Complete Ring Road Itinerary - Part 1
Days 1 - 3
Part One of your Ring Road adventure will bring you to unique locations! You will explore some of Northern Iceland's treasures, including waterfalls, nature baths, valleys, and more!
This guide is part one of a three part series, you can find Part Two and Part Three, and you can find our complete FAQ here.
Your trip will start with you picking up your car and heading away from Keflavik Airport. Then, you can stop to pick up some road trip snacks and necessities before getting on the famous Route One.
Stop 1: The Blue Lagoon
You must start your trip off with a soak in the Blue Lagoon. Yes, this is one of Iceland's top tourist attractions. After spending your morning cooped up on an airplane, you will also need a soak.
Swim out into the steamy turquoise blue geothermal waters heated between 98 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Your body will thank you!
Then float over to the mud mask bar. The basic package includes a Silica Mud Mask, which will deep-cleanse and strengthen your skin. You can float around the lagoon with your face mask on for twenty minutes and even grab a drink at the lagoon bar.
You can also grab a quick snack at the cafe on the way out before getting on the road.
Stop 2: Hraunfossar & Barnafoss
Next, you will visit the dynamic waterfall duo of Hraunfossar and Barnafoss.
Hraunfossar is also known as "Lava Waterfalls" in English. It is a unique sight to see thanks to the small streams that run from the Hallmundarhraun lava field. You can view the falls from the viewing area, or take the optional 30-minute hike around them.
Then you will take a short walk over to the neighbor waterfall, Barnafoss, which means "Children´s waterfall". Many like to visit due to the tragic folklore story of two boys falling into the waterfall back in ancient times when there was a bridge over the waterfall. The mother later destroyed it, so no one could cross again. This waterfall is also special due to its narrow passages of flowing water. It is quite different from Hraunfossar, causing them to complement each other.
Hraunfossar and Barnafoss is a quick stop where you can stretch your legs. While also admiring the beautiful waterfalls.
Stop 3: Hvammstangi
You have to make a quick stop at Hvammstangi, one of the best places in the whole country, to go seal-watching. You can learn all about the seals at the Icelandic Seal Center. Enjoy the interactive exhibit that displays the movements of five juvenile gray seals caught and marked with GPS tracking.
Lunch: After learning, grab some lunch in the area. Sjávarborg Restaurant opened in 2015 and is located on the upper floor of Selasetur Íslands, in a building that once served as a freezer. They have various lunch items, including the Surf & Turf Salad, which has local Icelandic beef, tiger prawns, salad, bell pepper, cucumber, leek, feta cheese, wasabi nuts, and wasabi mayo. The meat is cooked medium and is served cold in the salad. Enjoy the harbor views; you may even spot a whale!
Stop 4: Kolugljúfur Canyon & Waterfall
Sitting right off Ring Road is the majestic Kolugljúfur Canyon & Waterfall. The waterfall is formed by the cascading Vididalsa River and its vast drop. The waterfall then drops into the stunning canyon, which is 0.6 miles long, 60 meters wide, and 131 feet deep. Kolugljúfur Canyon & Waterfall is one of the lesser-known places on Ring Road, making it even more special.
Stop 5: Hvitserkur
Next, visit the 49-foot basalt rock stack on the Vatnsnes peninsula's shore. The rock has two large holes at the bottom of it. The rumor here is that Hvítserkur appears to be a dragon drinking. Others say the stone looks like an elephant or a giant bison. You can let your imagination run wild here.
There is a legend surrounding this rock that sits in the sea. Some say that Hvítserkur is a petrified troll. The rumored troll resided in Strandir, which is in the West fjords. He then wanted to tear down the bells at the Þingeyraklaustur convent. While trying to do this, the sun rose, and the troll turned to stone, creating Hvitserkur.
Stop 6: Skagafjörður Valley
You will be staying overnight in Skagafjörður valley. Stopping that valley adds a quick 30-minute drive onto the standard ring road itinerary. But it will be oh so worth it. This valley in Iceland is a famous district for Icelandic horses and is sometimes referred to as the Mecca of horsemanship. It is a vast valley that reaches south towards the Hofsjökull glacier.
Optional Add-on: If you are feeling up to it, you can visit Grettir's Pool, a famous attraction in the area. The pool is unique as it is built with stones. The water reaches 100°F, making it a calming stop. However, since the pool is technically located on private property, there is an entrance fee to access it.
The pool is located 20 minutes north of Skagafjörður Valley.
Where To Stay: Arctic Hotels - Hótel Tindastóll & Annex
Stay in the unique property of Arctic Hotels. The hotel is set in a student accommodations building in Saudárkrókur. Each room has a comfortable bed, a desk, and a private bathroom with a shower. Free Wi-Fi allows you to catch up with family and friends from home. There is also a complimentary breakfast buffet we recommend filling up at before getting back on the road.
Stop 1: Akureyri
Start your day by visiting the "Capital Of The North." A relatively large city that sits in Northern Iceland. You can take a morning stroll through The Botanic Gardens. Or you can marvel at paintings and exhibits at The Art Museum.
If you want to spend your day in the sun, check out Sundlaug Akureyrar, a Public Swimming Pool, which is also home to the longest water slide in Iceland. If visiting on colder days, there are two heated outdoor swimming pools and five hot tubs.
You can even walk around the city, pop in a coffee shop, and fuel up before your second day on The Ring Road continues.
Stop 2: Goðafoss waterfall
Explore the waterfall of the gods, also known as Goðafoss waterfall. The height of Goðafoss is 39 feet, with an angle of about 98 feet. The waterfall is located in the river Skjálfandafljót, which is the fourth-largest river in Iceland.
Once you get here, hike the 1.8-mile out-and-back trail. This is a special place packed with history. It is said that in the year 1000, the Viking Leader, Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, named Christianity the official religion of Iceland. He then tossed his statues of the Norse gods into these waters.
Stop 3: Lake Myvatn
Visit the volcanic lake of Lake Mývatn. The lake is located on the northeastern shore of Reykjahlíð village. Mývatn. This is a region of lakes with an area of 14 square miles. Lake Mývatn is Iceland's fourth-largest body of water. It is shallow and has mineral-enriched water, providing nutrition and energy. Unfortunately, you cannot swim here due to the extreme temperature of the water. However, it is still a lovely spot to visit.
Stop 4: Myvatn Nature Baths
However, you can take a dip at Myvatn Nature Baths, only an eighteen-minute drive from Lake Mývatn. This Iceland lagoon's water runs straight from the National Power Company's bore hole in Bjarnarflag. The temperature reaches about 266°F when it arrives at the massive basin beside the lagoon. Then the lagoon's temperature cools significantly because it holds around 3.5 million liters of water, making it a comfortable temperature of 96 – 104°F, perfect for soaking.
Lunch: The lagoon even has a cafe for you to enjoy lunch at. Café Kvika includes a soup of the day with freshly baked bread, freshly made sandwiches, fresh salad, and the famous geyser bread with smoked arctic char. Yum!
Stop 5: Dimmuborgir Lava Field
Next is the Dimmuborgir Lava Field, also known as the "Black Fortress." Over two thousand years ago, Dimmuborgir was formed because of a volcanic eruption. The whole area is known for its extensive volcanic activity. Today people visit the exquisite rock formations, which are accompanied by their dramatic landscapes.
It is also the home to the 'Icelandic Santa Clauses, known as the 13 Father Christmases or the Yule Lads.
Stop 6: Hverfjall Volcano Crater
Do a quick hike at the mindblowing Hverfjall Volcano Crater. The volcano is a tuff ring volcano that is slightly over half a mile wide and about 459 feet deep. Its dramatic look is dark and round, with a similar appearance to a stadium.
We recommend taking the entire loop hike, which is 2.6 miles long. The view from the top of the crater is the perfect way to end your second day on The Ring Road.
Where To Stay: Vogafjós Farm Resort
Spend the night at Vogafjós Farm Resort, which the same family has owned for 120 years. The guesthouses are cozy log houses that have spacious private bathrooms. Enjoy the view of the forty cows and cattle in the barn. The barn also holds around 120 sheep. While visiting Lambing in May, you can see the adorable little lambs.
You can even see the cows being milked too! This is followed by tasting the fresh milk straight from the teat. Milking is done twice daily, at 7.30 in the morning and 5.30 in the evening.
Address: Vogar, 660 Myvatn, Iceland
Day three will bring you to a few memorable spots along the Diamond Circle, which is half on the Ring Road and half off the beaten path. We think it is a great addition to ensure you see all the beautiful north landscapes! Your day will be filled with volcanos, waterfalls, and canyons!
Stop 1: Krafla Volcano
A sensational lake in the crater was caused by the volcanic eruption in 1724. This explosion lasted five years and was called the Mývatn Fires. Today the Viti attracts visitors from all over the area due to its turquoise-green and blue water. Please note that you absolutely cannot swim in the Viti. The temperature is unbearable and would injure anyone who tried to. Luckily Iceland has tons of hot springs for you to swim in instead!
Stop 2: Husavik
Spend some time whale watching at the Whale Watching Capital Of Iceland, Husavik, the oldest settlement in Iceland. Locals say there has been a 97% average success rate of sighting a whale within the last three decades.
If you are short on time, you can visit the Húsavík Whale Museum instead. This non-profit organization was established in 1997, on the shores of Skjálfandi Bay, just below the Arctic Circle at 66° N. The exhibition later moved into the newly renovated part of the baiting shed at the harbor. Learn all about the history of Icelandic whales!
Lunch: After spending time at the Whale Museum, head to Lemon Húsavík for a delicious lunch. They have a healthy menu that includes smoothies, juices, and sandwiches. Try their "Good Times" Smoothie, which has ginger, apple, avocado, and lemon. You can also grab a sandwich for the road, such as The Spicy Chicken—a delicious sandwich with chicken, red curry, spinach, and pesto.
Stop 3: Ásbyrgi Canyon
Explore the "Shelter Of The Gods" by visiting the horseshoe-shaped Ásbyrgi canyon. The canyon sits far outside of Vatnajokull National Park. The 330 feet high cliffs of the canyon will take your breath away. Ásbyrgi canyon allows you to visit where the canyon divides, making it a heavy photographer's area.
Want to camp during your road trip? You can camp at Ásbyrgi Canyon. They have a first come, first serve campground where you can relax.
Stop 4: Dettifoss Waterfall
It is time to visit the second most powerful waterfall in Europe. Dettifoss Waterfall, which is 147 feet high and 328 feet wide. So it is no surprise that it is referred to as "The Beast." The waterfall is technically located inside the infamous Vatnajökull National Park too.
The water comes from the Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacier river, which flows from the Vatnajökull glacier. The glacier is the largest ice cap in Europe. It is easy to access and offers a short ten-minute walk down a rocky trail. Enjoy the spectacular views of this famous waterfall. Go at sunset to end your day with a breathtaking view of Iceland's sky paired with Dettifoss Waterfall.
Where To Stay: Fjallakaffi
Stay the highest-settled farm in Iceland! Fjalladýrð is located on the edge of the northern highlands and has been an active farm since the settlement. Its location is unique as the highest settlement in the whole country. The accommodations here are very cozy and relaxing too. You can stay in a Standard or Family Room, which fits 6-7 people in an old-style turf house.