Iceland on the Ring Road Essentials - 7 days

 

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Introduction

This tour on the ring road is very attractive for those who want to see the highlights of Iceland in just eight days. You get a good impression of the various landscapes and many main attractions of Iceland. The tour starts in Reykjavík and goes clockwise around the country, but of course you can do it the other way round. There is also the possibility to start this tour in East Iceland, if you get to Iceland by ferry or to start it from any other place along the ring road no. 1.



Day 1: Reykjavík → Sæberg/Ósar



- from Reykjavík drive road no. 1 (ring road) to the north

- pass the small town Mosfellsbær; continue until you reach the fjord Hvalfjörður

- when you reach Hvalfjörður, turn right onto road no. 47
 

Hvalfjörður

- the name means Whale Fjord, very picturesque landscape, very quiet area

- There used to be a whaling station in Hvalfjörður, it was closed in 1992, but now it is in use again for a few days every year.

- Experienced hikers can hike to the highest waterfall in Iceland, Glymur 210 m. It is at least a two hours hike, starting from the bottom of the fjord up through the valley Botnsdalur. Seek information before starting a hike.

- several viewpoints along the road

- There is an interesting photo exhibition at Ferstikla service station about a submarine station situated in Hvalfjörður during World War II and on the former whaling station.

- just after passing the service station Ferstikla turn right onto road no. 520

- drive over the mountain pass Ferstikluskarð and through the valley Svínadalur with its three lakes

- continue on road no. 520, cross the valley Skorradalur
 

Skorradalur

- 28 km long narrow valley, several farms and many summerhouses

- widespread birch growth, extensive forestation

- lake Skorradalsvatn 16 km long, 60 m deep

- continue on road no. 520; turn right onto road no. 50

- turn right onto road no. 518 to get to Reykholt

 

Reykholt

- one of Iceland’s most important historical sites

- during the Middle Ages rich farm and a center of religion, culture and politics

- The famous writer and political leader Snorri Sturluson (1179-1261), author of the Snorra-Edda or prose Edda lived there. Today you can see a well-preserved thermal pool from the Middle Ages, where Snorri used to bathe. Snorri Sturluson was assassinated in a tunnel, which led from the bath to his house; you can see the entrance to this tunnel.

- modern church with a cultural center and a special library for mediaeval studies, changing exhibitions on mediaeval Icelandic literature and culture

- traditional church from 19th century

- statue of Snorri Sturluson by the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland, a gift from Norway, unveiled 1947

- the big white building is a former boarding school, built during the 1930s by Guðjón Samúelsson

- continue on road no. 518 to Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls

 

Hraunfossar

- waterfalls emerging from the junction of porous rock and basalt, falling into a 1 km long gorge created by the glacial river Hvítá

- very picturesque scene in the middle of a huge lava field (Hallmundarhraun)

- There are also walking paths on the lava field, notice especially the traditional cairns (vörður) on the walking paths, interesting vegetation.

- Protected area! Do not leave anything; do not take lava stones or plants with you!

- The name of this waterfall means the “lava falls”.

- service facilities

 

Barnafoss

- waterfall just upstream from Hraunfossar, just follow the walking path.

- Legend has it that two children drowned here when they tried to cross the river walking on a natural rock arch. The mother of these children had the arch broken down to prevent other families to experience same ordeal. You can see the remains of that arch at the waterfall.

- The name means the “children’s waterfall”.

- if you are looking for refreshments continue on road no. 518 to go to Húsafell

 

Húsafell

- woodland and recreation area

- swimming pool, service station, restaurant, shop

- drive back, pass Reykholt, turn right onto road no. 50 (to the north), not far from the junction you will find Deildartunguhver

 

Deildartunguhver

- most powerful natural hot spring in the world, emits 200 liters of boiling water per second

- very impressive scene, seeing the hot water coming out of the rock

- many greenhouses, some sell delicious Icelandic tomatoes at the spot

- today the hot water is also used to heat the houses in Akranes and Borgarnes

- continue in road no. 50, near Varmaland turn right onto road no. 1

- drive road no. 1 to the north

- not far from Bifröst University College there is the crater Grábrók (left side of the road)

 

Grábrókarhraun/Grábrók

- rough lava field, about 3000 years old, covered with moss and birch growth

- several craters

- Grábrók is one of the craters in Grábrókarhraun, situated just aside road no. 1

- comfortable walking path up to the top of the crater

- excellent view from the top of Grábrók

- Protected area. Please do not leave anything, and do not take lave stones with you

- continue on road no. 1, drive over highland plateau Holtavörðuheiði

 

Holtavörðuheiði

- traditional route between the north and the south of Iceland

- maximum altitude 400 m

- depending on weather conditions good view towards the glaciers Eiríksjökull, Langijökull and Hofsjökull

- continue on road no. 1 until you reach the long and narrow fjord Hrútafjörður

 

Accommodation

- accommodation is recommended at Sæberg Hostel or Ósar Hostel


- if you are going to stay at Ósar Hostel, continue on road no. 1, turn lelft onto road no. 72 (Vatnsnes peninsula), pass Hvammstangi and continue until you get to Ósar



(Distances: Reykjavík-Hvalfjörður (Ferstikla) 77 km, Hvalfjörður (Ferstikla) - Reykholt 45 km, Reykholt-Húsafell-Deildartunguhver 70 km, Deildartunguhver-Grábrók 31 km, Grábrók -  Hrútafjörður (bottom) 53 km, Hrútafjörður (bottom) Ósar/Sæberg – 75/15 km; total: 351/291 km)


Day 2: Sæberg/Ósar → Akureyri



- from Sæberg continue on road no. 1, leaving the fjord Hrútafjörður

- from Ósar drive road no. 711 to get back on road no. 1

- drive road no. 1, when you reach the wide green valley Víðidalur, turn right onto road no. 715 to get to Kolugljúfur

 

Kolugljúfur

- also known as Kolugil

- gorge in the river Víðidalsá, many waterfalls

- stop at the bridge over Víðidalsá and enjoy the beautiful landscape

- no services

- drive over the bridge and continue on road no. 718 to get back to the main road (ring road no. 1)

- drive road no. 1, heading east

 

Blönduós

- small town, pop. 1000, living on agriculture, transport, trading.

- situated at the mouth of the river Blanda built on both sides of the river

- very interesting modern church, built in the years 1981-1985

- all neccessary service available, bank, shops, gas station, restaurant

- nice recreation area on an island in teh glacial river Blanda, worth a stop and a walk (you can see it from the gas station)

- continue on road no. 1, driving through the valley Langidalur and over the pass mountain pass Vatnsskarð

 

Arnarstapi

- coming down the mountain pass Vatnsskarð you should stop at the memorial for Stephan G. Stephansson and enjoy the views on the fjord Skagafjörður

- Stephan G. Stephansson (1853-1927) was an Icelandic farmer and poet who lived in this area before leaving the country to settle in USA and Canada, he was called the poet of the Rocky Mountains.

- many farmers and poor people from the Skagafjörður area emigrated to Canada and the USA in the late 19th and early 20th century, forming the community of the West-Icelanders in Canada (especially in Manitoba)

- continue on road no. 1

- before getting to Varmahlíð you can find the church of Víðimýri to the right of road no. 1
 

Víðimýrarkirkja

- traditional turf church from 1834

- one of the most beautiful turf churches still existing in Iceland

- very good example of traditional Icelandic architecture

- continue on road no. 1, turn left on to road no. 75, passing the village Varmahlíð to get to Glaumbær

 

Glaumbær

- very interesting open air and folk museum, former parsonage and wealthy farm

- one of the few remaining Icelandic turf farms, oldest parts of it are from the 18th century

- Beside the turf farm, there are buildings from the 19th and early 20th century, including a church and a former school for housekeepers.

- Take your time; there are many things to explore and to learn about everyday life in Iceland.

- There is a very nice café in a cozy old-fashioned tearoom where you can get traditional Icelandic cakes and other local snacks.

- drive back on road no. 75, turn right onto road no. 1, heading east

 

Öxnadalur

-Very deep and narrow valley, 35 km long

- The rocky mountain ridge Hraundrangi is more than 1000 m high and really impressive, many folk tales are connected to it.

- Two of the most famous Icelandic poets lived in this valley: Jónas Hallgrímsson (1807-1845), scientist and poet, was born at the farm Hraun and Jón Þórláksson (1744-1819), poet and translator, lived at the farm and parsonage Ytri-Bægisá

- continue on road no. 1 until you reach the fjord Eyjafjörður.


Eyjafjörður

-Collective name of the fjord and the narrow, well cultivated valley (60 km long) toward the head of the fjord

- the river Eyjarfarðará runs through the valley into the fjord

- the town Akureyri is situated in the fjord Eyjafjörður
 

Akureyri

- so called capital of the North, situated in the narrow fjord Eyjafjörður

- trading place since 1602, population today 16.000

- interesting sites: botanical garden, modern church by the architect Guðjón Samúelsson, sculpture “The Outlaw” by Einar Jónsson, Nonnahús (museum in memory of Jón Sveinsson, author of children books), harbor, folk museum, museum on natural history

- restaurants, cafés, shops, art galleries etc. in the center of the town, swimming pool, all year Christmas shop

- tourist information, guided tours by bus, boat and jeep

- airport


Accommodation

- accommodation recommended at Akureyri Hostel

- for further information on Akureyri Hostel see website.

 


Day 3: Akureyri → Berg / Árbót



- drive road no. 1, heading east
 

 

Goðafoss

- very impressive waterfall on the river Skjálfandafljót

- Icelandic Sagas tell that back in the year 1000, when the parliament had decided that Icelanders should adopt the Christian religion, the law-speaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði threw his pagan idols into the river. After that the waterfall was named the 'The waterfall of the gods'

- walking paths, lovely moss and birch growth, please be careful not destroying it

- cafeteria, shop and service

- continue on road no. 1 to reach the Mývatn area


Mývatn

- beautiful shallow lake in a region of volcanic activity and geothermal heat

- during the summer a paradise for ducks and other birds, average number of 50000 pairs of ducks of 15 species

- very good trout fishing

- extremely beautiful surrounding area, covered with lava and growth

- interesting geological phenomena like pseudo craters, lava caves, hot mud and steam springs, canyons etc.

- the name means “lake of the midges”, during the summer swarms of midges can make life unpleasant here, but these midges do not bite

- several service stations and restaurants around the lake


Reykjahlíð

- church and former parsonage, today a small village of 200 inhabitants

- service, restaurant, bank, supermarket, shop

- In the year 1829, the church was threatened by a volcanic eruption but miraculously the flow of lava stopped just a few meters from the church. A modern church was built on the same site in 1972.  


Jarðböðin


- The Mývatn Nature Baths, opened in 2004, are an outstanding attraction, offering excellent bathing facilities in an outdoor lagoon whose temperature is 38-40o C

- service and information center, cafeteria



Námafjall

- mountain south of the pass Námaskarð, former sulfur mine, the east side of the mountain is all covered by signs of geothermal heat

- impressive bubbling mud pools, steam vents, hot boiling springs and fumaroles, distinctive stench of sulfur everywhere

- there are roped-off paths. Please stick to those paths as it is extremely dangerous to walk around in this area; the surface material is fragile and the ground is extremely hot  

 

Krafla and Víti

- cone-shaped volcano north of Námafjall, but also a system of fissures

- considerable geothermal heat on the west side of Krafla

- Geothermal Power Station, build in 1984, later extended

- The crater Víti is situated nearby Krafla, its name means “hell” in Icelandic

 

Skútustaðir

- famous for a number of pseudo craters, formed by gas explosions when hot lava flew into the waters, looking like circular craters or small islands

- protected area, please do not leave the walking paths and close the gates behind you

- service, shop, cafe


Dimmuborgir

- quite unique recreation area

- valley filled up with bizarre lava formations, caves, holes and pillars.

- protected area, very sensible birch growth

- several marked walking paths, don not leave the roped off routes, you can easily get lost in this labyrinth of dark lava rocks

- newly built service and information centre at the entrance, cafeteria

 

Accommodation

- accommodation recommended at Berg Hostel or Árbót Hostel

- from lake Mývatn drive road no. 87 to the north, when you reach road no. 85 turn left and drive for approx. 6km. Turn to the left to reach Árbót Hostel.  To find Berg, drive for a short while and then turn right onto road no. 852   


(Distances: Akureyri – Goðafoss 50 km, Goðafoss – Mývatn (Reykjahlíð) 53 km, Mývatn (Reykjahlíð) – Berg Hostel 47 km; total depends on what sights you choose at Mývatn)     



Day 4: Berg / Árbót → Seyðisfjörður/Reyðarfjörður



- from Berg Hostel drive road no. 852 and turn left onto road no. 85, drive north to get to Húsavík

- from Árbót Hostel turn right onto road no. 85, drive north to get to Húsavík.

 

Húsavík

- nice small town, situated in the bay of Skjálfandafljót, population 2500

- former fishing town with excellent natural harbor conditions

- populating now mostly living on service and tourism

- schools, hospital, centre of higher education, banks etc.

- In Húsavík the first Icelandic whale watching tours started in the early 90s

- really interesting professional museum and exhibition on whales and former whaling in Iceland (all the way back to the Middle Ages)

- Whale watching recommended! There are different companies offering whale watching in Húsavík. A trip takes at least 3 hours.

- church, restaurants, cafés, shops, swimming pool, all services near by the harbor

- hiking trails along the shore, up to Húsavík mountain (where you will find a surprising hot water bath), around the small lake Botnsvatn

- hot springs and geothermal heat

 - drive road no. 85 on Tjörnes peninsula

- drive over the bridge at Lón and continue to get to Ásbyrgi


Ásbyrgi

- U-shaped valley, surrounded by dark cliffs up to 90 m high

- Legend has it that this is the footprint of the horse Sleipnir. It had eight legs and was the horse of the Norse god Odin.

- Geologists think that Ásbyrgi was shaped by enormous glacier floods coming underneath the glacier Vatnajökull.

- protected area, long and short walking and hiking trails, information on nature history of the area provided in brochures and on information tablets

- small romantic lake “Botnstjörn”, home to the lovely green-winged teal (duck)

- service, shop, cafeteria just outside the area, near by the road

- coming from Ásbyrgi continue on road no. 85, cross the bridge over the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum, just after the bridge turn right

- drive road no. 864 to get to Dettifoss

- Please have in mind that not all vehicles are suitable for driving on highland roads!

- Road no. 864 is closed during the winter season and early summer if conditions are very bad. There is a tarmac road to Dettisfoss (road no. 862), which is off road no. 1 on the way from Lake Mývatn. 

- Please always get information on road and weather conditions before driving highland roads here and here
 

Dettifoss

- one of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland and claimed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe

- although just 45 m high it dispatches 500 m3 water per second, since this water comes from a glacier it is of dark color

- walk from parking to the waterfall takes at least 20 minutes, please be careful, and do not step out of the marked trails

- continue on road no. 864 (heading south) until you reach road no. 1

- turn left onto road no. 1, drive to the east over the desert-like plateau Möðrudalsöræfi
 

Möðrudalur

- farm, situated at higher altitude than any other Icelandic farm

- just a few kilometers from road no. 1 (road no. 901)

- former parsonage, present church built by the farmer Jón Stefánsson, who also painted the altar-piece

- very nice café, called the mountain café (Fjallakaffi), only during summer season

- impressive views on the mountain ridge Möðrudalsfjallgarður and the majestic Herðubreið (1.682 m high), one of the most beautiful Icelandic mountains

- the local painter Stórval painted this mountain over and over again

- turn back on road no. 1, drive east


Jökuldalur

- narrow, long valley with low mountains on both sides

- formed by the glacier river Jökulsá á Dal

- just a few farms, good grassland

- nice waterfalls along the road, if you stop please be careful not to disturb the traffic

 

Jökulsá á Dal or Jökulsá á Brú

- once one of the biggest glacial rivers in Iceland, now very much changed because of the Kárahnjúkar power plant

- as all glacial rivers it carried a lot of sand, clay and stones, 112 tons of this material flooded into the bay of Héraðsflói every day, now it often is an almost clear fresh water river

- 1994 a modern bridge was finished, “Jökulsábrú”, 119 m long, there is a view point at the eastern edge of the bridge with a good view into the gorge, 70 m wide and 40 m deep

- continue on road no. 1 until you reach Lögurinn


Lögurinn or Lagarfljót

- lake, 2 km wide and 24 km long, 53 m², only 20 m above sea level but very deep with 111 m

- contains brown or grey glacial water

- a monster is believed to live in the lake, called Lagarfljótsormurinn (the drake of Lagarfljót), the descriptions are very similar to those of the monster of Loch Ness

- largest woodlands of Iceland on the eastern banks of Lagarfljót

- cross the bridge over Lögurinn to get to Egilsstaðir
 

Egilsstaðir

- the town Egilsstaðir is the administrative centre of the East Fjords

- modern small town, 1700 inhabitants

- schools of higher education, hospital etc.

- all necessary service, supermarket, fuel station, swimming pool, folk museum, library etc.

 

Accommodation

- accommodation is recommended at Seyðisfjörður Hostel or Reyðarfjörður Hostel

- if you are going to stay at Seyðisfjörður Hostel, drive road no. 93 over the highland moor Fjarðarheiði
 

Fjarðarheiði

- highland moor (620 m) that divides the fjord Seyðisfjörður from the town Egilsstaðir

- the road is steep at both ends and driving conditions can be very difficult, weather is often rough or foggy up here

- if there is no fog, you have very nice views over the fjord and the inland district Fljótsdalshérað

 

Seyðisfjörður

- town at the head of a narrow curving fjord of the same name, population about 800

- The town developed rapidly during the late 19th and early 20th century.

- Trading and fishing started in the 19th century when the Norwegian Otto Wathne opened a herring fishing and processing station, later the Icelandic population learned from the Norwegians how to exploit the herring.

- good harbor, the ferry Norröna from Denmark and Norway lands in Seyðisfjörður.

- attractive harbor side with traditional Norwegian-Icelandic timber houses

- Seyðisfjörður was a US naval base during World War II

- hiking trails


- if you are going to stay at Reyðarfjörður Hostel, drive road no. 92



Reyðarfjörður

- town in the fjord Reyðarfjörður

- expanded very much during the last years because of the new built aluminum smelter a few km away from the town

- Reyðarfjörður was built up as a naval US base during World War II; see the Icelandic Wartime Museum (Stríðsárasafnið)

- from here you could also visit the towns Eskifjörður and Neskaupstaður, driving there is a unique experience because of the high mountain passes (630 m) with astonishing views over the fjords and the ocean


 
(Distances: Berg-Húsavík 21 km, Húsavík-Ásbyrgi 64 km, Ásbyrgi-Dettifoss 30 km, Dettifoss-Möðrudalur 65 km, Möðrudalur-Egilsstaðir 109 km, Egilsstaðir-Seyðisfjörður 27 km, Egilsstaðir-Reyðarfjörður 29 km; total: 316/318 km)



Day 5: Seyðisfjörður/Reyðarfjörður → Höfn/Vagnsstaðir


 
- from Seyðisfjörður drive back to Egilsstaðir and from there to Reyðarfjörður,  road no. 92

- when you get to Reyðarfjörður fjord turn right (not into town)

- if you are coming from Reyðarfjörður town, drive back to the junction at the bottom of the fjord

- you can choose if you want to drive through the new tunnel to Fáskrúðsfjörður or around the fjord (road no. 96)

 

Fáskrúðsfjörður

- narrow fjord and fisher village

- there was much French influence here in earlier centuries because French fishermen had their consulate, hospital and cemetery in Fáskrúðsfjörður

- one weekend every summer people celebrate the French Festival (Franskir dagar)

- there is also an exhibition on the French influence in Iceland

- when you come out of the tunnel you will find a small parking lot in a very nice surrounding, ideal for a short walk

- continue on road no. 96


Stöðvarfjörður

- small fjord, former fisher village with fish processing, today rather a quiet small village

- famous for the “stone collection” of Petra Steinsdóttir (Steinasafn), an impressive collection of stones.

- continue on road no. 1, passing the bay Breiðdalsvík
 

Berufjörður

- very picturesque narrow but long fjord, no harbor or fisher village but several farms

- many possibilities to stop and explore the surroundings by foot

 

Djúpivogur

- beautiful little village centered around the harbor, the most southern of the East Fjords

- boat trips to the island Papey

- nice walks and bird watching possibilities, also an exhibition on bird life in Iceland

- museum Langabúð, wooden warehouse building from the 18th century, nice café

- swimming pool, supermarket, bank etc.

- continue on road no. 1, drive through the fjords Hamarsjförður and Álftafjörður

- now you are getting into a very different landscape, leaving the East Fjords behind

- the glacier Vatnajökull dominates the southeastern parts of Iceland

- in the glacial river valley Lón you will cross the first glacial river (Jökulsá í Lóni) and possibly you can get a glimpse on one of the glaciers up in the mountains

- Just before you drive through the tunnel, you can turn right and drive up to the mountain pass Almannaskarð. With a little luck, you can experience astonishing views on the icy vastness of Vatnajökull. Maybe you can see the highest point of Iceland, Hvannadalshnúkur (2.110 m) in the southern part of Vatnajökull. On a flat peninsula right below your point of view, you can see the small town Höfn. Panorama maps explain the views.
 
- drive back and through the tunnel, continue on road no. 1

- there are many viewpoints along the road where you can stop and take pictures, be careful not to disturb the traffic

 

Vatnajökull

- largest glacier in Iceland, 8.200 km², up to 900 m thick

- underneath the glacier is one of the most powerful geothermal areas of the world and many active volcanoes

- the highest point of Iceland is Hvannadalshnúkur (2110 m) in the southern parts of Vatnajökull is called Öræfajökull

- many glacier tongues jut out of Vatnajökull, all have their own names and different shapes

 

Höfn

- small town at the south coast of Iceland

- you need to leave road no. 1 to get to Höfn, road no. 99, just 4 km

- 1800 inhabitants, living on fishing, tourism, service

- all necessary service available including library, new swimming pool, restaurants, shopping centre, tourist information etc.

- very interesting glacier exhibition, really worth a visit

- nice walk on Nes, an area near the harbor, great view on the Vatnajökull, memorial for fishermen, bird colonies, especially the arctic tern

- one weekend during the summer season, people celebrate the Lobster Festival


Accommodation

- accommodation is recommended at Höfn Hostel or Vagnsstaðir Hostel 

(Vagnsstaðir is situated 50 km from Höfn)



(Distances: Seyðisfjörður-Egilsstaðir-Reyðarfjörður (fjord) 58 km, Reyðarfjörður-Fáskrúðsfjörður (tunnel)-Stöðvarfjörður 34 km, Stöðvarfjörður-Djúpivogur 82 km, Djúpivogur-Höfn 102 km, Höfn-Vagnsstaðir 50 km)

 


Day 6: Höfn/Vagnsstaðir → Vík/Skógar



 
- from Höfn or Vagnsstaðir drive road no. 1 to the west

 

Breiðamerkurjökull and Jökulsárlón

- broad glacier tongue that once reached the ocean but started to retreat during the early 20th century

- today between glacier and coast line there is a deep glacial lagoon: Jökulsárlón

- here we have the lowest point of Iceland

- often many icebergs float on the water before melting down

-Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a must stop. Take a walk and we also recommend a boat tour on the lagoon

- colony of the Arctic tern, seals, other birds

- guided tours, cafeteria, souvenir shop etc. at Jökulsárlón, see here

- continue on road no. 1, just before getting on Skeiðarársandur turn right to reach the service centre of Skaftafell National Park
 

Skaftafell National Park

- boundered by glaciers the Skaftafell National Park covers 1.700 km²

- it is an excellent area for hiking, there are several hiking trails for long and short hikes, difficult and easy

- most famous is the hike to Svartifoss (the Black Waterfall), a lovely waterfall surrounded by picturesque basalt columns (1,5 km), during the hike you also get a great view over Skeiðarársandur and over to Hvannadalshnúkur

- you can also walk to the glacier Skaftfellsjökull, get information at the visitor centre

- interesting exhibitions, video on the volcanic eruption and glacier flood in 1996

- cafeteria, souvenir shop, guided mountain and glacier tours etc.

- drive back onto road no. 1, cross the black desert of Skeiðarársandur
 

Skeiðarársandur

- largest black sand desert, formed by glacial rivers and catastrophic glacial floods coming out from Skeiðarárjökull glacier

- longest bridge in Iceland, 904 m (but in summer 2009 the river disappeared)

- in 1996 this bridge like several others was destroyed after volcanic eruptions underneath the glacier, followed by glacial floods, see the memorial before crossing the Skeiðará bridge

- ever-changing breathtaking landscape of glaciers, mountains, rivers, black sand and the ocean

- all the glacier tongues you are going to drive along for the rest of the day are part of the biggest glacier in Iceland and Europe, Vatnajökull

- you will see ahead the impressing inland cliff Lómagnúpur (approx. 700 m high)

- just after passing Lómagnúpur you should stop at Núpsstaður
 

Núpsstaður

- farm from early 20th century, still inhabited 

- buildings (sheds, houses, stables) from different periods, some of them turf buildings with grass roofs

- very nice and interesting small chapel, owned by the National museum of Iceland, open to visitors

- enlisted on UNESCO, World Heritage

- continue on road no. 1, just before reaching the town Kirkjubæjarklaustur, you could visit the so-called church floor

 

Kirkjugólf

- “church floor”

- formation of basalt columns that looks like the floor of a mediaeval church

- nice little walk

- return to road no. 1

Kirkjubæjarklaustur

- small village in a beautiful landscape

- Christian settlement all from the beginning of Icelandic history

- from 12th to 16th century there was a convent, many place names remind on it (for example sisters fall, sisters lake etc.)

- church reminds on the rev. Jón Steingrímsson who is believed to have stopped the lava flow of 1783 by his fire sermon (eldmessa)

- all necessary service available, bank, post office, supermarket, tourist information, fuel station, restaurants, swimming pool
 

Eldhraun

- “fire lava”, lava flow from a row of craters called Lakagígar, 75 km northwest from here

- this flow is the largest in the world, 565 km², caused by eruptions in 1783-84

- these eruptions meant one of the most dangerous catastrophes of nature to the Icelandic people, it caused a famine, 20% of the entire population died

- the lava is now covered by a thick layer of moss, when you stop to watch around, please be careful not to damage the moss by stepping on it or removing it
 

Vík

- small village in the picturesque landscape near the valley Mýrdalur, 300 inhabitants

- southernmost village in Iceland

- restaurant, cafeteria, service station, wool factory, handcrafts

- great view of the impressive cliffs “Reynisdrangar” (66 m high, folktales say they are trolls that turned to stone at first daylight)

- walking path on the mountain Reynisfjall, good opportunity for bird watching

 

Accommodation

- accommodation is recommended at Vík Hostel or Skógar Hostel 

 

- if you're going to stay at Skógar hostel, please continue on road no.1 


(Distances: Höfn/Vagnsstaðir-Jökulsárlón 75/28 km, Jökulsárlón-Skaftafell 57 km, Skaftafell-Kirkjubæjarklaustur 67 km, Kirkjubæjarklaustur-Vík 71 km, Vík-Skógar 32 km)

 


Day 7: Vík/Skógar → Reykjavík


 
- from Vík continue on road no. 1

- if you stayed at Skógar you need to drive back on road no. 1 (or you could visit Reynisfjara and/or Dyrhólaey the day before)

- just after passing the mountain pass over Reynisfjall, turn left onto road no. 215 to get to Reynisfjara

 

Reynisfjara

- very impressive black sand and pebbles beach at the foot of the mountain Reynisfjall

- cliffs and caves with interesting basalt column formations

- nesting site of puffins and other seabirds

- great view of Dyrhólaey

- it is a very beautiful place, but please be careful, the ocean is extremely dangerous here and rock falls have occurred

- facilities

- return to road no. 1, continue to the west

- to visit the bird cliff Dyrhólaey turn left onto road no. 218
 

Dyrhólaey

- small peninsula with 120 high cliff and offshore stacks with a good selection of breeding sea birds, including puffins, gulls and fulmars

- cliffs rising over a long expanse of black sand

- all the cliffs, rocks etc. are a protected area, be careful not to disturb the birds or damage the vegetation, during early summer Dyrhólaey can be closed for protecting the colony of eider ducks

- lighthouse build by a famous Icelandic architect (Guðjón Samúelsson)

- no facilities

- get back on road no. 1, continue driving to the west
 

Skógar

- the name refers to two farms, a school and an open-air museum, near the waterfall Skógafoss

- very interesting folk museum: a church replica, various types of traditional stone and turf farm buildings and two modern building for exhibitions

- countless artifacts of former everyday life in a farming and fishing society, collected over more than 5 decades

- exhibition on history of transportation and infrastructure in Iceland

- guided tours available, nice café, worth a prolonged stay
 

Skógafoss

- one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, 60 m high, walking path beside the waterfall to climb up the mountain

- facilities

- get back on road no. 1, drive west, turn right onto road no. 249 to find the waterfall Seljalandsfoss
 

Seljalandsfoss

- very beautiful waterfall in the river Seljalandsá, 40 m high, narrow but powerful waterfall

- sensational walk on a foot path behind the waterfall

- bird colonies, fulmars

- facilities

- get back on road no. 1, continue driving west, passing Hvolsvöllur and Hella, crossing Þjórsá
 

Selfoss

- modern town on the banks of the river Ölfusá, about 4.300 inhabitants

- mostly living on service and trade, but there is also the biggest dairy industry here

- the bridge over Ölfusá is the most important connection between the Reykjavík area and the south of Iceland, the first bridge there was built in 1891, after that the town started to develop

- all necessary service available, including swimming pool, shops, cafes, supermarket, gas station etc.

- from Selfoss turn onto road no. 34 to get to Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri

- before getting to Eyrarbakki you could also turn right and visit the impressive estuary mouth of the biggest river in Iceland, Ölfusá
 

Ölfusá

- biggest river in Iceland, glacial river with grey “muddy” water

- impressive estuary into the ocean in the southwest of Iceland

- stop near the bridge Óseyribrú
 

Kerið

- crater about 55 m deep, formed approximately 3000 years ago

- 7-14 m deep lake in the bottom with a strange green color

- walking path around the crater, private property, please be careful not to damage the vegetation, do not take lava stones with you

- continue on road no. 35

- turn right onto road no. 31 to get to Skálholt
 

Skálholt

- former most important religious and educational center, bishopric founded 1056

- 1784 it was destroyed by an earthquake and the bishopric was moved to Reykjavík

- Many historical events are connected to Skálholt, in 1550 the last catholic bishop of Iceland, Jón Arason, was beheaded here, today there is a memorial stone in memory of bishop Arason.

- interesting modern memorial church, built in the 1950s with a remarkable tapestry-like mosaic by artist Nína Tryggvadóttir and fascinating stained-glass windows by artist Gerður Helgadóttir

- ongoing archeological excavations

- cafeteria in the nearby school

- drive back on road no. 31, turn right onto road no. 35

- continue on road no. 35, pass Reykholt
 

Geysir

- hot spring area in the valley Haukadalur, named after the famous hot spring Geysir

- eruptions of Geysir itself are unpredictable, but the hot spring Strokkur erupts every 5 to 10 minutes

- restaurant, cafeteria and gas service station, souvenir shop etc.

- interesting multi-media exhibition on the geology of this area called Geysisstofa

- continue on road no. 35 to reach Gullfoss

 

Gullfoss

- famous and very impressive waterfall in the river Hvítá, the name means Golden Waterfall

- the water falls into a gorge, which is 70 m deep. The waterfall itself is 32 m high and 250 m wide, falling in two cascades.

- exhibition on the nature reserve of river Hvítá situated in an information center called Sigríðarstofa

- cafeteria, souvenir shop etc. just beside Sigríðarstofa

- parking recommended “upstairs” on the parking lot at the service center

- drive back on road no. 35 passing Geysir

- continue on road no. 37 to get to Laugarvatn
 

Laugarvatn

- lake with geothermal heat on the banks and the bottom

- When the Icelanders in the year 1000 voted to become Christians many of them were baptized in the warm spring at the bank of Laugarvatn (Vígðalaug).

- village with a number of schools, a College of Physical Education, sport grounds, a natural steam bath and greenhouses

- after passing Laugarvatn, turn onto road no. 365 over Lyngdalsheiði

- when you reach lake Þingvellir, turn right onto road no. 36

 

Þingvellir National Park

- most important place in Icelandic history

- National Park since 1928

- situated on the banks of lake Þingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland (84 km²)

- The historical Icelandic Parliament (Alþingi) was founded here in the year 930. It was the biggest annual event for Icelandic farmers. They came together for two weeks every summer to meet each other and to follow the parliament sessions. At this site Icelanders voted to become Christians in the year 1000.

- Þingvellir is a large lava field, situated right on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the European and North American plates are moving apart.

- service station and tourist information during summer

- excellent multimedia exhibition on geology, wild life and history near the view point above the gorge Almannagjá

- many hiking trails, information spots

- leave Þingvellir on road no. 36 to get to Reykjavík, passing the small town Mosfellsbær

 

Accommodation

- accommodation is recommended at one of our Reykjavík Hostels

 
(Distances: Vík - Dyrhólahey - Skógar 42 km, Skógar - Seljalandsfoss 30 km, Seljalandsfoss - Selfoss 70 km, Selfoss -Kerið 10 km, Kerið-Skálholt 23 km, Skálholt-Geysir-Gullfoss 41 km, Gullfoss-Laugarvatn-Þingvellir (service station) 62 km, Þingvellir-Reykjavík 45 km; total: 323km)


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Map

Iceland on the ring road essentials 7 days_t


Day by day plan

 1 
Reykjavík → Sæberg/Ósar
  Sights: Hvalfjörður, Reykholt, Hraunfossar, Barnafoss, Deildartunguhver, Grábrók


 2 Sæberg/Ósar → Akureyri
  Sights: Kolugljúfur, Blönduós, Víðimýrakirkja, Glaumbær, Akureyri


 3 Akureyri → Berg / Árbót
  Sights: Goðafoss, Mývatn area


 4
Berg / Árbót → Seyðisfjörður/Reyðarfjörður

Sights: Húsavík, Ásbyrgi, Dettifoss, Möðrudalur, Lögurinn, Egilsstaðir


 5
Seyðisfjörður/Reyðarfjörður → Höfn/Vagnsstaðir

Sights: Stöðvarfjörður, Djúpivogur, Almannaskarð, Vatnajökull, Höfn


 6
Höfn/Vagnsstaðir → Vík/Skógar

Sights: Jökulsárlón, Skaftafell, Skeiðarársandur, Núpsstaður, Eldhraun, Kirkjubæjarklaustur


 7
Vík/Skógar → Reykjavík

Sights: Kerið, Skálholt, Geysir, Gullfoss, Þingvellir, Reykjavík







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