Light or Moderate
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Day 1: Arrival:
Highlights: Viking World The Blue Lagoon Bridge Between Continents Hveragerdi Hveragerdi Hot Spring Area
Geothermal Lagoon – Flower Village – Geothermal Greenhouses
Approximate distance: 100km / 62miles
Pick up the car at the airport and start your Iceland experience.
From Keflavik International Airport, we recommend driving the southern coast of the Reykjanes peninsula towards your first overnight stay in the charming village of Hveragerdi. This village is one of the few sites in the world located directly on top of a geothermal area and, because of its many greenhouses heated by hot water from nearby springs it is often called the “flower village.”
If your flight arrives early in the day, you might stop at the Blue Lagoon (a short distance from the airport) for a chance to relax in the soothing geothermal mineral waters.
Important: Please note that admission to the Blue Lagoon must be booked in advance.
Overnight stay in Hveragerdi
Day 2: Thingvellir - Gullfoss Geysir - Thjorsardalur - Hella:
Highlights: Gullfoss Geysir Geysir Center Kerid Thjorsardalur Hekla
National Park with Geological Wonders – Exploding Geysers – Massive Waterfall – Hekla Volcano
Approximate distance: 295 km / 183 miles
Breakfast at your accommodation. Visit Thingvellir National Park, site of the ancient Icelandic Viking parliament and a jewel of nature. Here you can see the meeting point between the North American and European continents. Many important historical events happened here. Several walking trails and hiking trails take visitors to historical points of interest.
Continue to the amazing sites of Gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir hot spring area. Gullfoss is considered by many visitors to be Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls. Geysir is an active geothermal field with many bubbling steam vents and spouting hot springs, including the famous Strokkur geyser. If you enjoy history, visit Laugarvatnshellir, a cave cleverly converted into a home for two Icelandic families in the early 20th century.
Explore Thjorsardalur valley and its ever-changing landscapes of birch woods, sandy lava fields, rivers, and waterfalls. During the summer you can visit the excavated site of a Viking age farm that was covered by lava from one of Hekla‘s eruptions. A replica shows you how the longhouse looked (admission not included).
Overnight in South Iceland area
Day 3: Hella - Vik - Kirkjubaejarklaustur:
Highlights: Vík Dyrholaey Skogar Museum Skogafoss Seljalandsfoss
South Shore – Thundering Waterfalls – Seabird Colony – Black Sand Beaches – Lava Fields
Approximate distance: 255km / 158 miles
Breakfast at your accommodation. Drive along the spectacular south coast and view highlights along the way such as Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls and Myrdalsjokull glacier. If the skies are clear, you might even have a glimpse of beautiful Mt. Hekla, Iceland’s most frequently erupting volcano. The glacier offers great opportunities for a guided snowmobile or ice hiking tours.
Head to Vik, Iceland’s southernmost village. In the area, you can view the seabird cliff of Dyrholaey* and the black sand beach of Reynisfjara.
Continue over Eldhraun, Iceland’s largest single lava flow, towards Kirkjubaejarklaustur, a picturesque village that is the former site of a 12th-century Catholic convent. The town is known for its excellent farm-raised arctic char trout, which you might like to try tonight.
Overnight in southeast Iceland
*Please note that Dyrholaey is closed during nesting season in spring, from around mid-May until June 23rd.
Day 4: Vatnajokull National Park- Jokulsarlon - Hofn - Djupivogur:
Highlights: Skaftafell National Park Svartifoss Waterfall Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon Vatnajokull Hofn
Glacier-Ringed Oasis – Glacial Lagoon with Icebergs – Europe’s Largest Glacier- Eastern Fjords
Approximate distance: 360km / 224 miles
Breakfast at your accommodation. Today you’ll be in the southern area of Vatnajokull National Park, named after Europe’s largest glacier. Road 1 (The Ring Road) takes you along the side of Vatnajokull, giving you great views of the glacier through the day.
Visit the awe-inspiring Skaftafell area of the park, a lovely oasis is set between glaciers. There are several excellent hiking trails including one to the basalt lined Svartifoss Falls. you are up for some glacier adventure; we highly recommend taking a guided hike on one of the park’s glaciers. You’ll see amazing glacier features and learn from the guides about how glaciers are formed.
Continue to the shimmering icebergs of Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon and enjoy the amazing view. If you’re lucky you might glimpse a few sunbathing seals. Nearby is the famous Diamond Beach, a popular area to snap a picture of broken glaciers resting on black sands.
The Thorbergur Center is a great place to stop near the Glacier Lagoon, both for its unique architecture (it resembles a huge shelf of books) and its restaurant using the local farm produce.
Pass through Hofn, a town located within view of the glacier. It’s a nice idea to visit the harbor and watch the fishing boats. Head onwards, enjoying the views of steep mountains and seacoast. Your destination is Djupivogur, a charming and historical town that is the “gateway” to the rugged East Iceland coastline Be sure to check out the quirky egg sculptures in the town’s harbor.
Overnight in Djupivogur or similar.
Day 5: The Eastfjords – Egilsstadir – Arctic Coast Way :
Highlights: Egilsstadir Seydisfjordur Lagarfljot Skriduklaustur The Wilderness Center Hengifoss
Narrow Fjords – Steep Mountains – Picturesque Views – Mysterious and Peaceful Arctic Coast
Approximate distance: 364km / 226 miles
Breakfast at your accommodation. Drive through the spectacular eastern fjords with towering mountains and charming fishing villages such as Breiddalsvik and Stodvarfjordur. This is one of Iceland’s oldest regions, with rugged fjords carved by glaciers during the Ice Age. This also means the Eastfjords have a huge variety of stones and minerals; geology buffs might enjoy visiting Petra’s Stone Collection at Stodvarfjordur.
Drive through Fagridalur (the Beautiful Valley) to Egilsstadir, one of Iceland’s youngest towns. The town has a nice variety of restaurants and shops. One of the local specialties is reindeer, as East Iceland is home to the country’s only wild reindeer herd. You might opt to visit the new Vok Baths at nearby Lake Urridavatn, where you can unwind in untouched nature in distinctive floating geothermal pools.
Then it’s time to leave Road 1 and turn onto Road 85, the entry to the new Arctic Coast Way. Pass by Vopnafjordur village, with its spectacular coastline and natural hot springs.
Continue on to Langanes Peninsula, an outdoor paradise for birders, hikers and nature photographers. A nice place to take a break is Thorshofn, a pleasant fishing town that is a perfect spot to connect with the area’s culture. It is a really pleasant experience to walk along the harbor and enjoy daily life. The Baran restaurant is a great place to enjoy seafood and lamb, or simply a cup of coffee and some cake. The fish comes right from the town’s fishing fleet, and lamb and beef come from area farms. Vegetables are from Northeastern farms and greenhouses. Baran is a popular place for the locals, as well as for visitors. Near the restaurant, you can take guided sea kayak tours that are a wonderful way to view birds and marine life.
Continue on the Arctic Coast Way (Road 85). As you drive along today, keep an eye out for various cute scarecrow figures made by a local artist. If you enjoy checking out quirky and enjoyable roadside attractions, an interesting place to visit is the Leader Sheep Center, located just off Road 85. Physically different from other Icelandic sheep, leader sheep have an uncanny ability to predict the weather. They take the role of protector and leader of the flock when the sheep wander loose in the mountains. They have saved both their flock and shepherds by warning about impending storms. The Leader Sheep center has an exhibit about the history of these sheep, as well as a small shop selling yarn and handicrafts made from sheep wool and horn. The café is a fun place to visit, too; they offer their own special coffee blend, Aerblanda. (The center is open June through August, 11:00 – 18:00 (11:00 am – 6:00 pm).
Drive to your overnight destination in Raufarhofn.
Overnight in the Raufarhofn area
Day 6: Arctic Coast Way: Raufarhofn – Kopasker – Vatnajökull National Park - Husavik:
Highlights: Vopnafjordur Húsavík Ásbyrgi Vatnajokull National Park Dettifoss GeoSea
Iceland’s Northernmost Point – The Arctic Henge – Driftwood Beaches – Beautiful Canyon
Approximate distance: 215km / 134 miles
Breakfast at your accommodation. Raufarhofn village is Iceland’s northernmost town and home to the picturesque Arctic Henge, an enormous sun calendar based on Norse mythology. The Henge is still being constructed, and you can view a model the completed structure will look at the Hotel Nordurljos’s restaurant. If you enjoy walking, we recommend taking one of the several easy walking trails to the beach and the Raufarhofn lighthouse. There is something so special about breathing in the ocean air, listening to the birds and viewing the timeless mystery of the Henge. A great place to get something to eat is the eclectic Kaupfelagid Restaurant with its driftwood furniture and brightly colored decorations. The café is known for its Icelandic daily specials and delicious cakes. Kaupfelagid is also an art gallery and a handicraft shop featuring locally made crafts, jams, and candy.
There are several options for where to go next. You can take Road 870 and drive across the exotic Melrakkasletta the “Arctic Fox plain,” Iceland’s most isolated region (please note this road is gravel). You will hear little more than the waves, birds and the wind. It’s a special way to enjoy some digital detox and to connect with nature. The naturally stacked driftwood on the shoreline and the old ruins of farmhouses are a photographer’s dream. There are several great viewing points and marked hiking trails along the way.
Road 870 meets Road 85 again at Kopasker village. Otherwise, If you want to shorten your journey, you can also stay on Road 85 and drive directly between Raufarnhofn and Kopasker towns.
The fishing village of Kopasker has an interesting Earthquake Center located in the town’s schoolhouse. The center focuses on the area’s big earthquake of 1976, as well as describing earthquakes in general. You can also take a beautiful walk from the village to view the uniquely shaped Kopasker lighthouse. If you’re interested in history or handicrafts, the Snartarstadir Heritage museum near the town displays area handicrafts from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Visit Asbyrgi, a magnificent horseshoe-shaped canyon in the northern part of Vatnajokull National Park. Local legend says this was formed by the hoofprints from Odin's magical horse. Walking trails lead down to the canyon’s beautiful lake and observation platforms. Depending on your schedule, you can also visit the park’s Dettifoss falls. Dettifoss is the largest waterfall in Europe. ( Please keep in mind Road 864 Dettifoss is gravel and please pay heed to any warning signs that are posted.)
Drive along the scenic and fossil-filled Tjornes peninsula at the edge of the Arctic Circle en route to the fishing port of charming Husavik where you will be spending the night. Husavik is known for its excellent whale watching tours, as week as the Whale Museum. Depending on when you arrive, you might consider a tour. A great way to end the day is a soak in the GeoSea Baths where you can relax in naturally heated seawater and enjoy views of the Arctic Circle and Husavik lighthouse.
Overnight in Husavik area
Day 7: Husavik – Akureyri - Siglufjordur:
Highlights: Whale Museum Myvatn Krafla Hverfjall Dimmuborgir Lofthellir Cave
Volcanic wonderland – Waterfall of the Gods – Northern “Capital” – Dramatic mountains and coastline
Approximate distance: 250km / 155 miles
Breakfast at your accommodation. Start the day exploring highlights of Lake Myvatn such as the lava citadels at Dimmuborgir, the pseudo craters at Skutustadir, the colorful sulfurous slopes of Namaskard and the Krafla volcano area.
Depart Myvatn and drive westward, visiting beautiful Godafoss, the Waterfall of the Gods. Take some time to visit Akureyri, Iceland’s colorful northern “capital.” Take some time to enjoy this town of beautifully preserved historical buildings. Though relatively small in size, Akureyri has a vibrant cultural scene, including a street dedicated to art galleries. It also boasts one of the best geothermal swimming pools in Iceland.
Drive to Siglufjordur along one of Iceland´s most dramatic coastlines, enjoying a unique view towards the North Atlantic. This is the region of the Troll Peninsula, where the steep Icelandic mountains (known by locals as the Icelandic Alps) drop towards the sea. On the way, maybe you’ll enjoy a relaxing and unique geothermal beer bath at the Beer Spa (must be booked in advance) or dine on excellent saltfish specialties at the Baccalá Bar in Hauganes.
The town of Siglufjordur itself has many beautifully restored, colorful buildings and excellent options for outdoor recreation, from golf to hiking to whale watching. The award-winning Herring-Era Museum is an excellent place to learn about the early 20th-century fish migration that turned tiny Siglufjordur into an international boomtown. This town was the filming location for both seasons of the popular Icelandic suspense series. Trapped. Spend the rest of the day in the town, enjoying its friendly local restaurants, microbrewery, and splendid fjord views.
Overnight in the Siglufjordur area
Please Note: The Ring Road route today contains a toll tunnel. More information on the tunnel and fees is here.
Day 8: Arctic Coast Way: Siglufjordur to Laugarbakki:
Highlights: Hofsos Icelandic Emigration Center Drangey Island Grettislaug Geothermal Pool Skagafjordur Heritage Museum – Glaumbaer
Historical Peninsula – Viking Sagas and Battles – Horses and Heritage
Approximate distance: 325km / 202miles
Breakfast at your accommodation. Today is a great day to explore both beautiful landscapes and Viking legends. Thread around the peninsula, heading from Eyjafjordur into Skagafjordur, a renowned area for horse breeding and medieval history.
The pretty town of Hofsos has a unique swimming pool that seems to float into infinity. The pool looks towards Drangey Island, known from the famous Viking-age Saga of Grettir the Strong. A great photo opportunity is to take a short walk down to the geometrically shaped basalt columns near the sea.
If you are a history buff, we suggest a stop at Holar. This cultural center has buildings and religious artifacts covering nine centuries of Icelandic history.
The new Battle of Iceland virtual reality experience in Saudarkrokur town brings you back into the 12th century to learn about one of Iceland’s most pivotal battles, which occurred close to here. Between mid-May and August, you can also take a guided boat tour out to Drangey Island from Saudarkrokur harbor. Hike with the guide to the top of the island on a trail bringing you into good viewing of seabirds, including puffins (Puffins best seen mid-May to early August). You’ll also learn about the story of how the Viking outlaw Grettir hid out on the island. Another suggestion is to drive out to Grettislaug, the coastal hot spring pool Grettir used.
The manor farm of Glaumbaer is a turf home that dates back to the 18th century. Visiting here gives a sense of life in Iceland in the old days. Glauber was an inspiration for Hannah Kent’s famous novel Burial Rites, now being produced as a movie. The actual events in the story occurred in the Vatnsnes area of North Iceland, which you will visit tomorrow.
Near Varmahlid town, a great place to visit and meet a local farm family is at Lytingsstadur horse farm. Meet Icelandic horses, see the replica of a turf stable and learn about why horses are important to Icelandic history.
Head on to Laugarbakki, a peaceful area steeped in old legends of outlaws, sorcerers and Medieval battles.
Overnight stay in the Laugarbakki area.
Day 9: Arctic Coast Way: Hvammstangi – Vatnes Peninsula - Stykkisholmur:
Highlights: Skagafjordur Fjord Saudarkrokur Vatnsnes Peninsula Hvítserkur Eiriksstadir Viking Home Stykkisholmur
Seal Colonies – Sea Rock Formations – Viking Citadel – Erik and Leif Eirkiksson’s home
Approximate distance: 249km / 155 miles
Breakfast at your accommodation. The route today is one of the best in Iceland for seal watching. You’ll also see some of the places associated with the tragic 19th-century events described in the novel Burial Rites. You can learn more about seals, where to see them, and even book a guided seal watching tour at the Seal Center in Hvammstangi town.
A great area to view seals is the Vatnsnes Peninsula, where the ocean seems to meet the sky. A wheel-shaped sheep round-up pen right on the seacoast is a striking image and a great photo stop. Every fall farmers in the area join together on horseback to herd free-ranging sheep down from the mountains and into the pen.
Illugastadir Beach has a seal colony, with a nearby viewing hut. (Note: Illugastadir is closed from the beginning of May until 20 June to protect the nesting eider ducks) Illugastadir is also the location of the farm and workshop where Agnes Magnusdottir and Fridrik Sigurdsson supposedly murdered two men, an event described in the novel Burial Rites. One of the men killed, Natan Ketilsson, was Agnes’ former lover. Agnes and Fridrik were sentenced to death and beheaded in 1830, the last execution in Iceland. You can see their gravesite at Tjorn church’s cemetery.
While you are on Vatnsnes Peninsula, a recommended place to try Icelandic seafood is the Geitafell Restaurant near Tjorn, a popular place for local residents. The fish comes right from local catches, so it is very fresh.
Today you’ll also have a view of the Hvitserkur arch-shaped ocean rock formation. Hvitserkur is a landmark symbol of the area and a great subject for a photo.
Visit Borgarvirki, a natural rock formation that has been used as a citadel since Viking times. A stairway leads to the top for a great view of the area. Please be careful as there are often rocks that have fallen from the citadel onto the path. It’s interesting to imagine what life must have been like for the people who lived on this cliff.
Head from the Arctic Coast Way and into Western Iceland. Visit Dalir, the region of Eric the Red and birthplace of his son, the great explorer Leif Eiriksson at a living replica museum before driving to the Snaefellsnes peninsula.
Overnight stay in Stykkisholmur, an eco-friendly town with beautiful wooden buildings originally brought over from Norway in the 1800s. Stykkisholmur is a lovely place to take an evening walk, and you will surely enjoy the nice selection of cafes and restaurants available.
Day 10: Snaefellsnes Peninsula - Borgarfjordur - Reykjavik :
Highlights: Ólafsvík Arnarstapi Songhellir Kirkjufell Shark Museum Eldborg Crater Snaefellsjokull National Park
Quaint Fishing Villages – Picturesque Waterfalls – Europe’s Most Powerful Hot Spring – Scenic Fjord
Approximate distance: 360km / 223miles