A Complete Ring Road Itinerary - Part 3
Your final stretch of Ring Road will end in Reykjavik! But not before taking on the well-known Golden Circle Route, a 140-mile adventure. Marvel at craters, waterfalls, and national parks, all before spending some much-needed time in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik.
Days 8 - 10
Your final stretch of Ring Road will end in Reykjavik! But not before taking on the well-known Golden Circle Route, a 140-mile adventure. Marvel at craters, waterfalls, and national parks, all before spending some much-needed time in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. The perfect ending to your trip around The Ring Road.
Total Drive Time: 3 hours and 20 minutes
Stop 1: Kerið Crater Lake
*24 minutes from Stracta Hotel
Your Golden Circle road trip begins at Kerið Crater Lake. A stop often passed by because it is not as popular as other stops you will see today. The crater lake is 180 feet deep and surrounded by deep red volcanic rock.
The view from above is breathtaking. You can walk around the crater lake too! Then, you can take the staircase down to the bottom of the lake for a more intense hike. There is a small entrance fee of 400 ISK to enter the crater lake.
Stop 2: Gullfoss Waterfall
*45 minutes from Kerið Crater Lake
Next up is the famous Gullfoss Falls. This two-level waterfall is a combination of waterfalls; how unique is that? The first part has a 36 feet drop, and the second a 69-foot drop. The canyon on both sides of the waterfall reaches 230 feet.
You can take a short walk to hike to the top of the falls. It is a beautiful way to exercise while also enjoying the scenery. Afterward, you can stop by Gullfosskaffi Ehf, a coffee shop and gift shop. You can also find some unique Icelandic knick-knacks here, like books filled with old folk tales or small elf statues.
Stop 3: Strokkur Geysir
*10 minutes from Gullfoss
The Geysir Geothermal Area is a spouting hot spring easily rated one of Iceland's best places to visit. The Geysir shoots up to 20 meters or 65 feet, 40 meters or 130 feet high. It is known to erupt every five to ten minutes too. So viewing the spout for yourself is a quick and easy stop.
The Geysir viewing area is only a few steps from the parking area. So pull over, stretch your legs, grab a snack and wait for the show to begin.
Lunch: Restaurant Geysir Glíma
Enjoy a lunch break at Restaurant Geysir Glíma, located next to the Geysir viewing area. It is a fine dining restaurant that most certainly lives up to the hype, thanks to its delicious food. Warm up by indulging in their famous fish soup or double espresso coffee. They also have freshly baked bread and lamb shanks. Stay around after to shop at their local store that sits inside the restaurant. Here you can buy some warm wool clothes or fashionable scarves.
Stop 4: Bruarfoss Waterfall
*13 minutes from Restaurant Geysir Glíma
After a hearty lunch, it is time to head over to Bruarfoss Waterfall. The waterfall is known to be off the beaten path, and you will not see it when driving by. There is a gravel path nearby, a short 10-minute walk to the falls. However, you can longer do this because the private landowners cut off access to the area due to the land getting damaged.
Don't worry; you can still see Bruarfoss Waterfall with a little more effort! Just type in Bruarfoss Waterfall Official Parking on your GPS, which will bring you to a parking area. From there, you can take the 3.6-mile hike along the river. It is 1.8 miles there and 1.8 miles back. It is so worth it to see this hidden gem up close.
Stop 5: Þingvellir National Park
*39 minutes from Bruarfoss Waterfall
Your final Golden Circle stop will be at one of Iceland's National Parks! Þingvellir National Park, which is also known as Thingvellir National Park. It is the only place in the world where you can walk between two tectonic plates. This remarkable national park is also home to Thingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland.
We recommend hiking throughout the park to see all of these unique places. One of our favorite hikes in the park is the quick 2.6-mile loop to Öxarárfoss Waterfall. This marvelous waterfall is man-made! In addition to the falls, the trail will bring you to the church Þingvallakirkja.
It is free to visit Þingvellir National Park, but there is a small fee for parking and bathroom use. Also, don't forget to stop by the 'Heart of Iceland' exhibition in the Visitor Center. This exhibit will teach you all about the National Park. There is a fee of 1000 ISK. to view the display, but you can always stop by the Visitors Center for free.
Where To Stay?: Hotel Grimsborgir
Make your way down towards The Ring Road and spend the evening at Hotel Grimsborgir, which is famous for being a five Star Luxury Hotel. The hotel comprises 15 buildings with a reception area, restaurant, event, and meeting facilities. Their rooms range from Superior rooms, Junior Suites, Suites, two-bedroom apartments, and 200 m2 Deluxe Apartments. All rooms have a balcony or terrace and access to some of the 29 geothermal hot tubs on site, both private and shared.
Where To Eat? Hotel Grimsborgir
You only need to walk a few steps to enjoy a mouthwatering dinner. Hótel Grímsborgir has a lovely restaurant with an a la carte menu featuring both Icelandic and international dishes. The restaurant has inside seating, but it is possible to sit outside on the beautiful terrace in the summer. They even present live music during dinner every evening!
The food here is spectacular. Start with the Black tagliolini, which has tiger shrimp, tomato jam & basil oil. The main courses consist of Pan Seared Arctic Char which has apple- & ginger cream, apple, cucumber salad & yuzu butter. Next, the Duck confit & duck breast in brick served with pumpkin and figs purée, broccolini & orange-honey-pepper sauce. Finally, don't head to your room without trying the Strawberry Panna Cotta served with strawberry-ginger sauce & strawberry sorbet. YUM!
Total Drive Time: 1 Hour
Get ready to spend your final day in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. This beloved city has a jam-packed itinerary for you.
Stop 1: Hallgrímskirkja
*1 hour from Hotel Grimsborgir
Sitting in Reykjavik is the largest church in all of Iceland. Hallgrímskirkja towers 74.5 meters or 244 feet into the sky and is the tallest structure in the country. The church is quite incredible due to its attractive architecture. Architect Guðjón Samúelsson used Scandinavian Modernism to bring out Icelandic nature to the building. For example, the columns are known to represent volcanic basalt.
The church is free to wander and explore. But, if you want to visit the exclusive tower, you must purchase an admission ticket. Check out their calendar as they host Winter and Spring musical events throughout the year. But, the church is worth a visit any time of the year.
Stop 2: Viðey Island
*20-minute ferry ride from Reykjavik
Take the quick 20 minutes ferry from Reyjavik to the charming Viðey Island! This island is home to the Imagine Peace Tower. The tower is an outdoor work of art created by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon, symbolizing Lennon's and Ono's continuing campaign for world peace. It is a majestic visual for you to enjoy, just a short boat trip from the city. It is a peaceful experience that you have to add to your list.
Lunch: Viðey House
Located near the Imagine Peace Tower is the darling restaurant of Viðey House. You can grab a glass of wine and fresh food while taking in the views of Reyjavik from afar. They are famous for their pastry menu and piping hot chocolate! Try their fresh fish dishes or delicious flatbreads if you want a hearty meal.
Stop 3: Árbær Open Air Museum
*20-minute ferry ride to Reyjavik
After a quick 20-minute boat rides back to Reykjavik, it is time to visit one of the city's favorite museums, the Árbær Open Air Museum. Árbær was once an established farm in the 20th century, and the museum opened there in 1957. It is now an open-air museum with more than twenty buildings forming a town square, a village, and a farm. Most of the buildings have been relocated from central Reykjavik.
It is a fantastic place to explore to learn all about how Icelanders used to live. It costs 1,950 ISK for the adults to enjoy the open-air museum.
Stop 4: Skúli Craft bar
Grab an ice-cold one at Skúli Craft bar! Reykjavik is home to over 26 breweries, so it is hard to find which one to try. Craft Beer has quite the history in Iceland too! In 1915, the sale of beer was prohibited in Iceland even though hard liquor was legal. This ironically led locals to venture into at-home brewing, where Icelanders enjoyed beer secretively in their homes. The prohibition entirely ended in 1989, a long time to wait for a cold brew.
Today they have over fourteen beers on tap at Skúli Craft bar! Learn about each one while enjoying Reykjavik.
Stop 5: Enjoy Live Music
Lastly, we recommend trying to catch a show at Reykjavik's live music venues! The music scene here has exploded over the past twenty years. Reykjavik is also home to famous musicians such as Bjork, Sigur Ros, Monsters & Men, and Kaleo.
Hurra was voted "Best for live music" and "Best All-Around Bar" in The Reykjavík Grapevine in 2015, 2016 & 2017. In addition, to live music, they also offer comedy shows and other events. You can check out their lineups on their Instagram Page. This is a great place to check out local Icelandic musicians!
Address: Tryggvagata 22, Reykjavik
Harpa Concert Hall
If you want a fancier musical evening, buy tickets for Harpa Concert Hall. This venue offers concerts, exhibitions, conferences, ballet, and orchestra-type shows. The beautiful building features a distinctive colored glass facade inspired by the basalt landscape of Iceland.
Harpa is home to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Icelandic Opera, and Reykjavík Big Band, which hold regular concerts throughout the year. A must-see when you have a night in Reykjavik.
Where To Stay?
Reykjavik has so many hotels for you to relax in. Here are our favorite ones!
Hilton Reykjavík Nordica
If you have stayed in a Hilton before, you probably understand why they are so popular. You can always rely on comfortable rooms, friendly staff, and delicious food and drinks. The Reykjavik location falls right under that category. First, relax in their comfy hotel rooms that have free wifi. Then grab some food at VOX Brasserie and Bar, specializing in contemporary Icelandic and Scandinavian cuisine made with seasonal and local produce. Finally, enjoy refreshments and light snacks in their lobby Bar.
Hotel Borg is known as a "Reykjavik Icon." From its elegant facade to its beautiful Art Deco interiors, they pride themselves on sophisticated comfort, excellent service, and a superb location. It has been known as Iceland's first and most-celebrated deluxe hotel for nearly a century. It was the vision of wrestling champion Jóhannes Jósefsson, who made a fortune as a circus performer in America, where his dream of creating a luxury hotel in Iceland was conceived. So how can you pass up such a historic place? Nestle is in their comfortable rooms after a long day exploring the city.
Kex Hostel Reykjavik
We totally get it if you want to save a little money with your accommodations to spend a bit more exploring! That is why Kex Hostel Reykjavik is the perfect fit for you. The hostel has laid-back dorms and private rooms and is known for its funky vibe and lively gastropub. It is a social hostel, excellent for solo travelers! Sometimes they also host live music sessions! Enjoy the communal rooms and have a comfy place to rest your head at night.
Where To Eat?
Reykjavik has plenty of award-winning restaurants and talented chefs. Here are some of our favorites!
Masterchef Lárus Gunnar Jónasson runs the famous Reykjavik restaurant Fish Company, which has Nordic fusion dishes that also highlight traditional Icelandic cuisine. The Zimsen building, where the restaurant is located, dates back to 1884. Since then, the building was restored and moved until it reopened in 2008 as the Fish Company.
The dishes here are exquisite as they do showcase different countries. The chefs are sent to explore Iceland to bring back fresh and rare ingredients. Some authentic Icelandic dishes are Iceland - Skessujurt, finely chopped graflax with a mushroom sheet, rye bread, celery root, Skessujurt, Icelandic wasabi & cucumber ice cream. Greenland showcases marinated reindeer, while Chile highlights diced saltfish. There is genuinely too much to highlight here, which is why I recommend you try it yourself. It is an educational culinary dream that will leave your taste buds nothing short of satisfied.
For a more casual but delicious experience, head to Reykjavik Kitchen! This family-owned restaurant prides itself on providing a friendly atmosphere and good local food. They specialize in creating dishes that feature fresh Icelandic fish and meat. Try their unique dish Reynisfjara Black Pasta, tagliolini with pan-fried cod, shrimp, leeks, and citrus sauce. The Pan Fried Salmon is sumptuous and served on a bed of barley with blue cheese
and celeriac, wild mushrooms, leeks, and red wine sauce with raisins. Reykjavík Kitchen is an ideal dinner spot in the city.
Want to try a Michelin Star Restaurant? Then try the first restaurant in Iceland awarded a Michelin Star, Dill. This Reykjavik restaurant opened in 2009 and was later awarded the Michelin Star in 2017. Guests also rave about the chic modern decor and unique menus.
So what type of food can you expect here? Dill specializes in Nordic cooking, and the dishes tell stories of nature and farmers throughout the Icelandic countryside. Their menu constantly changes to keep up with the fresh ingredients of Iceland. Some dishes featured have been smoked trout, braised goose legs, and oland bread. It is the perfect place for a special occasion or your last night in Reykjavik!
Total Drive Time: 50 Minutes
Welcome to your final day in Iceland; we hope you have had a fantastic time! You have completed the entire Ring Road with the Diamond Circe and Golden Circle additions. A majestic way to see the country. Now you have a few hours until your flight leaves. But don't worry; your trip is not over yet, and we saved one of our favorite treasures for last.
Stop 1: Sky Lagoon
*12 minutes from Downtown Reykjavik
Your final stop should always be your most relaxing stop of the trip, which is why you need to plan a visit to Sky Lagoon. An experience with the saying "Where the sea meets the sky." While you may have started with the Blue Lagoon, a tourist favorite, your trip ends with the local's favorite, Sky Lagoon.
The Pure Lite Pass is suggested for those who may not have much time but still want to visit the lagoon. The package includes admission to Sky Lagoon, a towel, and access to the locker rooms. So spend a few hours soaking your body here after ten days of hiking and road-tripping.
A bonus of visiting here before your flight is that it is recommended you do not shower after the springs. That means the minerals will be soaking into your skin all flight long! When you finally get home and shower, your skin will be softer than ever.
Stop 2: Keflavík International Airport
*40 minutes from Sky Lagoon
If you think the fun stops once you get through security, think again, Keflavik airport has plenty of authentic Icelandic things to do to pass some time at the airport. For example, you can shop for souvenirs at some Icelandic gift shops. Or indulge in local luxury items such as hair products from the Blue Lagoon.
Also, you cannot leave Iceland without trying their famous hot dog. You can do this at Mathus, the "House of Food," a self-service restaurant located in the airport. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner. But let's be honest, you should end your end with one last Icelandic Hot Dog.
Oh, and don't forget to fill your water bottle up one last time with delicious Icelandic water. You will be so happy when you are thirsty mid-flight.
We hope you enjoyed our full Ring Road Itinerary! Ten days of hidden gems, off-the-beaten-path locations, and tourist favorites. Now that your itinerary is planned get ready to book your rental car in Iceland with us!