Iceland Ring Road Essentials - 7 Days
This tour is great for those who want to see the highlights of Iceland but don't have much time. It gives a good overview of the country's various sights and experiences, including volcanoes, geysers, waterfalls, fjords, glacier lagoons, and national parks. It starts in Reykjavík and goes clockwise around the island but you can mix it up to your liking; go counter-clockwise, start from the east if you're arriving by ferry, or whatever suits you. You could also use this itinerary as a base and add more days to it if you're staying for longer. Whatever you do, just remember to enjoy and let the magic of Iceland sink in!
DAY 1: REYKJAVÍK TO THE NORTHWEST
The first day of the tour takes you from Reykjavík to the northwest of Iceland. You pass through Hvalfjörður fjord, one of Iceland's largest and most picturesque fjords, where you could add a couple of hours to your trip and hike up to Iceland's highest waterfall, Glymur, at 198 m. You will spend most of your day enjoying the wonders of the Borgarfjörður area, such as Deildartunguhver, the most powerful natural hot spring in the world; Grábrók crater, which offers an easy and accessible hiking opportunity; and two beautiful waterfalls, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss, close to the road. Furthermore, you visit one of Iceland’s most important historical sites, Reykholt, where the famous writer and political leader Snorri Sturluson (1179-1261), author of the Snorra-Edda, lived and was subsequently killed. You could then go swimming in the recreational area of Húsafell before carrying on your journey over the Holtavörðuheiði highland route where, on a clear day, there are good views towards several mountains and glaciers. Once in the northwest, there is a great chance of spotting seals and several species of birds.
DAY 2: FROM THE NORTHWEST TO THE CAPITAL OF THE NORTH, AKUREYRI
Wake up in the peace and quiet of your accommodation in Northwest Iceland. If you didn't get a chance the day before, why not see if you can spot any seals by the coast? Once on the road, you will visit Kolugljúfur gorge with many waterfalls and pass through a few pretty towns and villages, some with interesting museums, such as the textile museum in Blönduós. There is also a great thermal pool there. You also get a chance to visit Víðimýrarkirkja, a traditional turf church from the 19th century, as well as the lovely folk museum of Glaumbær. You will have some beautiful views of the sea and coastline, and then drive through spectacular valleys before reaching Eyjafjörður fjord, one of the country's longest fjords and home to the "Capital of the North", Akureyri, with its many restaurants and cafés, and a fantastic thermal pool with many slides, and other activities.
DAY 3: THE NORTHEAST, INCLUDING WATERFALL OF THE GODS, AND LAKE MÝVATN
Today is all about the forces of nature in Iceland. Leaving Akureyri, you drive to the magnificent "Waterfall of the Gods", Goðafoss, where you can spend some time walking to the different viewpoints and marvel at the waterfall's power. Then continue your drive to Lake Mývatn, where you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful nature and its various forces. Mývatn and the surrounding area offers interesting geological phenomena such as Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters, Steinagjá lava caves, Námaskarð hot mud pots and steam springs, volcanoes, canyons, and much more. It also offers fantastic bird and nature watching. Furthermore, you can go hunting for trolls turned to stone in the unique recreational area of Dimmuborgir with its bizarre lava formations and caves. And why not end a long day by bathing in the outdoor lagoon at Mývatn Nature Baths before retiring to your accommodation?
DAY 4: FROM LAKE MÝVATN TO THE EASTFJORDS
Are you ready for some whales, valleys, waterfalls, and fjords? Today, you drive to the town of Húsavík, where you can visit a whale museum and even go out to sea to (hopefully) spot the real thing! Remember to allow for at least three extra hours for the sail. From Húsavík, you drive to the enormous horseshoe shaped valley of Ásbyrgi, surrounded by dark cliffs up to 100 m high, where legend has it that the valley was formed by the footprint of Sleipnir, the Norse god Odin's horse. Next, you drive to the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss, dispatching 500 m3 of dark glacial water per second! Carry on your drive over the very impressive Möðrudalsöræfi passage, where you'll see a whole lot of "nothing" for a good while (trust us on this one - just go and see for yourself!). From here, you go down to Egilsstaðir town and enjoy views over the river Lagarfljót - see if you can spot the Lagarfljót monster. And don’t forget Hallormsstaður forest. Yes, you read correctly. Forest in Iceland! End your day in the picturesque town and fjord of Seyðisfjörður or Reyðarfjörður. Remember to bring your own food and have a full tank as there is not much on the way down to the Eastfjords.
DAY 5: THE EASTFJORDS AND VATNAJÖKULL GLACIER
East Iceland has an amazing number of fjords, large and small. Today takes you through several fjords and fishing villages along the coast, such as Fáskrúðsfjörður, Stöðvarfjörður and Berufjörður fjords. There are numerous nice hikes and bird-watching opportunities along the way, and from Djúpivogur village go see the Eggs of Merry Bay, one of the most unusual sculptures in Iceland. Before ending the day in the southeast of the country, there is a chance of experiencing astonishing views of the icy vastness of Vatnajökull glacier, by far Iceland's largest glacier (and the biggest in Europe), covering one of the most powerful geothermal areas in the world and many active volcanoes. You might even see the highest point in Iceland, Hvannadalshnúkur (2110 m), in the southern part of Vatnajökull. A quick visit to Stokksnes for a fantastic photo opportunity is worth the short drive.
DAY 6: GLACIER LAGOON AND THE SOUTH COAST
Today, you drive along the south coast, with Vatnajökull glacier powering over you a large part of the way. You visit the fascinating glacier lagoon, Jökulsárlón, filled with large chunks of ice like diamonds glistening in the sun. The area has several hiking trails and you can also book a boat tour around the lagoon. From here, you drive to Skaftafell National Park, which is an excellent area for hiking, such as the 1.5-hour hike to the beautiful waterfall of Svartifoss, surrounded by basalt columns. From Skaftafell, you drive along a large black sand desert, formed by glacial rivers and glacial floods from one of the nearby glaciers. There are several more interesting geological phenomena along the way, such as the spectacular Eldhraun lava field, and by Kirkjubæjarklaustur is Kirkjugólf, a formation of basalt columns, thought to have been the floor of a medieval church. Kirkjubæjarklaustur also offers attractive and easy hiking opportunities. You end the day in the Vík area, with spectacular black sand beaches and views of the impressive cliffs of Reynisdrangar.
DAY 7: TOP ATTRACTIONS FROM VÍK TO REYKJAVÍK
Today, you return to Reykjavík, but not before you've seen some of Iceland's most popular attractions. You start off by visiting one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, Skógafoss, with plenty of walking paths and nice views. The area also has a very interesting folk museum. Next up: another beautiful waterfall! This one is called Seljalandsfoss and you can walk behind it (as long as it's not too icy). Breathe in the fresh air and forces of nature, all the while getting dewy from the waterfall. From here, you drive through the geothermal village of Flúðir - where you can make a stop at the Secret Lagoon - on the way to the next beautiful waterfall, Gullfoss or the "Golden Waterfall", one of Iceland's most popular tourist attractions. 32 m high and 250 m wide, the water falls into a 70 m deep gorge, allowing for breathtaking views from different viewpoints. Next up, it's the hot spring area of Geysir, including the very active geyser Strokkur, erupting every 5 to 10 minutes. Spend time walking along the paths and looking at the different geothermal phenomena. Carry on through the town of Laugarvatn, with a pretty lake baring the same name, before reaching Þingvellir National Park. The park is not only home to the most important place in Icelandic history, where one of the world's oldest parliaments was founded in 930, but also Iceland's largest natural lake and a lava field, situated right on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are moving apart. At Þingvellir you can walk through parts of the ridge. Return to Reykjavík, where this tour ends.
Reykjavík City HI Hostel
Reykjavík Loft HI Hostel
Akranes HI Hostel
Borgarnes HI Hostel
Sæberg HI Hostel
Ósar HI Hostel
Dalvík HI Hostel
Akureyri HI Hostel
Árbót HI Hostel
Berg HI Hostel
Kópasker HI Hostel
Húsey HI Hostel
Reyðarfjörður HI Hostel
Berunes HI Hostel
Höfn HI Hostel
Fljótsdalur HI Hostel
Eyrarbakki HI Hostel
Laugarvatn HI Hostel
Árnes HI Hostel
Seyðisfjörður - Hafaldan Harbour HI Hostel
Seyðisfjörður - Hafaldan Old Hospital HI Hostel
Vagnsstaðir HI Hostel
Skógar HI Hostel
Vík HI Hostel
Selfoss HI Hostel
Vestmannaeyjar HI Hostel
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