Iceland is an incredible country with so much to experience for nature lovers. I have driven entirely around the island’s famous Ring Road and often went off the main road with my 4-wheel drive vehicle to explore the unexplored. While driving is great, the best way to see Iceland is by hiking. (Click link above to see photos).
A good start to your adventure in Iceland is a few days in the lovely capital, Reykjavík. From here, take Route 1 (the Ring-Road) and make your way all around the island of Iceland. Recommended places for staying over along the Ring-Road (anti-clockwise) would include Vik (in the far south), Höfn and Neskaupstaður or Seyðisfjörður along the east coast, Mývatn and Akureyri or Húsavík (pop into the Icelandic Phallological Museum in Húsavík), in the north, and then either down the central plateau back to Reykjavík, or up to the north west to Vestfirðir in the Westfjords region.
A highly recommended route for a 10-day trip around Island is to cross through central Iceland from Akureyri to Reykjavík via Hvitar Lake, Strokkur geysir, and the Langjökull glacier. Drive up to Langjökull glacier for a closeup experience of this massive glacier. At the northern tip of Langjökull glacier stop at Hveravellir for a dip in the natural hot springs in a small stream which leads out from some active thermal vents. When you are done with the Langjökull glacier, head south to Geysir and the Gullfoss waterfalls. From Gullfoss go west to the Pingvellir National Park (Þingvellir in Icelandic) and back to Reykjavík.
Around Reykjavík make sure to spend a full day at the Blue Lagoon – Iceland’s premier geothermal outside natural spa. From Reykjavík take a pleasant daytrip up to the villages of Akranes and Borgarnes.
For a 14-day trip around Iceland you may want to head west from Akureyri to the Westfjords rather than coming down through central Iceland via the Langjökull glacier. The Westfjords is large peninsula in northwestern Iceland known for its small villages, fjords, cliffs, breeding birds, and mountainous coastline. Stop at the The Drangajökull glacier which is located in the north of the peninsula. Drive carefully as the roads of the Westfjords are quite winding and somewhat dangerous, especially in winter when roads may even be closed.
Based on my personal experience, here is my Top 12 list:
- The Blue Lagoon geothermal outside natural spa near Reykjavík.
- Waterfalls such as Gullfoss, Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Svartifoss, Stjornarfoss, and Dettifoss. Look out for a small but high waterfall between Kirkjugólf and Stjornarfoss which on most days flows upwards rather than downwards. You may wonder why… Ask me at contact[at]globerovers.com.
- Geysir Hot Springs for the geysir which gave us the the name geysir.
- Vatnajokull National Park and the Jökulsárlón glacier. Check out the nearby black beach where you may see chunks of iceberg floating in the see and washed out on the beach. A wonderful sight!
- Latrabjarg Bird Cliffs. During the summer breeding season you will see millions of seabirds including puffins on these remote cliffs.
- Landmannalaugar – natural geothermal hot springs in southern Iceland which is surrounded by wilderness and snow covered mountains near the volcano Hekla.
- Pingvellir National Park where you can clearly see the divide between the the North American plate and the Eurasian plate.
- Snaefellsjokull National Park: a 700,000 year old stratovolcano with a glacier covering its summit.
- Lake Myvatn area which offers many natural geothermal hot springs, extinct volcanoes, and the Myvatn lake. Also check out the Hverfjall Crater, Dimmuborgir, and the Krafla area which is the site of a massive volcanic eruption known as the Krafla Fires of 1975-1984 which spread lava over a large area.
- Walk right up to the massive Svínafellsjökull glacier for a closeup experience.
- Watch out for the lovely Icelandic Horses, especially along the south east and south west coastlines.
- The incredible black beaches and dangerous cliffs on the small peninsula of Dyrhólaey near Vik in the south.