Around Iceland’s Ring Road: An 8 Day Itinerary

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The Ring Road, or Route 1, is a road that loops around the entire country of Iceland. If you are heading to Iceland
and have plenty of time I definitely recommend leaving the capital city of Reykjavik for some of the amazing natural wonders Iceland has to offer. While 8 days wasn’t nearly enough time to see everything on our list, here is what we did in our 8 days in Iceland:

Day 1: Explore Reykjavik
From the airport we headed straight into Reykjavik to start exploring. We have an entire post dedicated to our time in the capital, including visiting Halligrimskirka Church, Tjornin Lake and the Harpa Concert Hall!


Day 2: Reykjavik to Vik (~2 hours driving)

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We hit a snag early in the day trying to pick up our rental car which put us pretty far behind schedule so we had to race straight to Solheimajokulsvegur glacier for our glacier hike with Arctic Adventures at 1:30 pm. You can read all about it here!

From there we backtracked a half hour to Skogafoss Waterfall for dinner at the restaurant near the falls and hiking behind the waterfall. After dinner we headed to our Airbnb close to Vik for the night.


Day 3: Vik to Hofn (~3.5 hours driving)

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To start off our day we backtracked about 20 minutes to the black sand beaches in Dryholaey and explored a while to see the gorgeous Dryholaey cliff and lighthouse. From Dryholaey we started the drive towards Hofn, stopping for a short hike, after an hour of driving, at Fjadrargljufur canyon.


The day was full of driving but there were plenty of views along the way including Vatnajokull glacier. Our last stop of the day was at the Jokularson Glacier Lagoon. The runoff from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier creates a lagoon with large pieces of ice floating around. Be sure to head to the ocean side of the Ring Road to walk along the black sand beach also covered in more large pieces!


Day 4: Hofn to Egilsstadir (2.5 hours driving)

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After the night at a guesthouse near hofn, we set off for our first rainy day of driving on the trip. We drove into Hofn to explore and stop at a grocery store to stock up on sandwich supplies for lunches. Our next pit stop, an hour and a half away, was in Djúpivogur to see the outdoor sculpture Eggin í Gleðivík. The sculpture by the shore was created in 2009 and is made up of 34 bird eggs all of different shapes and sizes. The eggs are large scale replicas representing the 34 different bird species found in the area.

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In Icelandic, foss means waterfall. So when we stopped for bagged lunches in a place called Fossardalur, it was just what you’d expect – we found many beautiful water falls in the area.

Before dark we headed into the town of Egilsstadir for a round of Frisbee golf in a local park. The course was small but I almost got my first hole in one!

Day 5: Egilsstadir to Akureyri (~4 hours driving)

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After leaving our Airbnb near Egilsstadir, we headed out on a 2 hour drive straight towards Dettifoss Waterfall. Dettifoss is considered the most powerful waterfall in Europe and was a great place for us to eat lunch with a view.

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Next we drove another hour towards Lake Myvatn, making a pit stop at the Namafjell Hverir geothermal area. You are able to walk around the geothermal area to examine boiling sulphurous mud springs and steam vents in a Mars-like landscape!


Nearby, we had to stop at Grjotagja cave as it was a filming location for Game of Thrones! Grjotagja is a giant fissure splitting a shelf of volcanic rock with a clear thermal spring inside. Game of Thrones fans might recognize it as the cave where Jon Snow gets “deflowered” by the wildling Ygritte!


Our last stop of the day before our Airbnb was at Godafoss waterfall. Godafoss is considered to be the “Waterfall of the Gods” and is situated directly off the Ring Road!

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Godafoss Waterfall

Day 6: Akureyri to Reykholt (~3.5 hours driving)

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To start our day in Akureyri, we took a whale watching tour with Ambassador. The tour took us out onto the water up close and personal with a few humpback whales! Read all about our tour here!

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Next we explored Akureyri by car (it was raining) and stopped in at the Akureyri museum. Inside we were able to look at maps of Iceland throughout the years, including some with the fictitious beasts thought to be in the waters surrounding the island. Another cool section of the museum was on Iceland’s previous President Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the first woman in the world to be elected to head of state in a national election! The small exhibit had many of her Icelandic outfits on display and a really interesting documentary.


From Akureyri we hit the road heading towards our Airbnb, about 3.5 hours away, for the night near Reykholt. Along the way we stopped at Grabrok Crater for a hike. There are actually 3 craters in all nearby with hiking paths up and around them. From Grabrok we headed to our Airbnb for dinner and a good rest.


Day 7: The Golden Circle (3 hours driving)

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We left our Airbnb nice and early to drive the 1.5 hours to Thingvellir National Park to snorkel in the Silfra Fissure at 10am. Read our post about it here! The rest of the day we spent going around the rest of the Golden Circle, exploring Thingvellir National Park and visiting Geysir, Gullfoss waterfall, and Faxifoss waterfall. You can read all about our Golden Circle trip here!


Day 8: Reykjavik/The Blue Lagoon (~1 hour driving)
For our last day in Iceland we returned to Reykjavik to drop off our rental car and shop for souvenirs before taking a bus to the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa known for its milky waters, is a easily one of the most recognized places in Iceland. Relaxing in the waters with silica face masks was a great way to unwind after our busy road trip around Iceland.


While there are so many more places we would have liked to seen or spent more time at (we didn’t even get close to the Snaefellsnes peninsula!), we really enjoyed the 8 days we spent exploring Iceland!

My Top 10 Things to See & Do on Iceland’s Ring Road

 

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Iceland’s Ring Road is full of beautiful views and adventurous opportunities – these were my top 10 experiences (in no particular order) on our 8 day Ring Road roadtrip!

1. Snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure– In Thingvillir National Park you can snorkel (or scuba) between the America and Eurasian tectonic plates! The fresh water is some of the clearest in the world with visibility exceeding 100m!


2. Go on a Glacier Hike – There are multiple places in Iceland to do a glacier hike, but we chose the Solheimajokulsvegur glacier. Grab your crampons and your ice pick (both provided) and trek with your guide all along the ice learning about its features as you go. You can even drink from a glacier stream the “Viking way” aka doing a push up on your ice pick!


3. Dettifoss waterfall – Dettifoss is considered the most powerful waterfall in Europe! Though it’s a little ways off the ring road it’s well worth the detour

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4. Skogafoss waterfall – Skogafoss waterfall is located in southern Iceland right off the Ring Road and has a great hiking path behind it to wander above the canyon


5. Jokulsarlon Iceberg Lagoon – The lagoon is full of icebergs off the glacier Breidamerkurjokull mixing with water from the sea. Once you check out the lagoon be sure to check out the black sand beaches across the road covered with more chunks of ice!


6. Halligrimskirkja Church in Reykjavik – The church is one of the city’s most recognized landmarks and for a small fee you can head up to the clock tower for gorgeous views of the city.


7. Whale watching – We chose Akureyri as our point of origin but whale watching tours are available from many other cities throughout the island. From the boat we were able to see a few humpback whales breaching and diving in the ocean. The whales come to Iceland to feed during the summer and they have been spotted all the way down in the Caribbean and the Horn of Africa during the winter!

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8. Lounge at the Blue Lagoon – The Blue Lagoon is another famous landmark in Iceland, located near the airport it’s a convenient stop for travelers. Grab a swim suit and head to the lagoon to soak for hours in the geothermal spa with face masks and refreshments!


9. Explore Grabrok Crater – Grabrok is located just off Route 1 in the west and though it is not very well marked, it has steps and pathways to explore three different craters


10. Dyrholaey Arch – In Dyrholaey, near Vik, you can find basalt cliffs and black sand beaches with wonderful views to explore.

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While this is in no way an all-inclusive list of Iceland’s beautiful attractions, these were my favorite stops on our road trip around the Ring Road!