In 10 days in Iceland, you will experience a stunning road trip along the ring road, jaw-dropping beauty all around, waterfalls at every nook and corner, and beautiful vistas. In 10 days in Iceland, we did a complete circle of the ring road and even managed to fit in West Fjords. We stayed at a new place each night, which might get tedious by the end of it. We loved every minute we spent in Iceland and it is our favourite country. Beauty is something else only. Spend at least 10 days in Iceland to experience it. No photos can do justice to the beauty of Iceland.
Travel Dates – 16th May to 27th May
Day 0 – Fly from Paris to Iceland and stay near the Keflavik Airport
We took a short flight to Iceland from Paris. For a change, we each got a row to our-self and slept well. Ate a small Margarita pizza on the flight, which was decent enough. We landed at 11 pm, 40 minutes before the scheduled arrival time, which was travel first for us. Within 10 minutes, we collected our luggage and were out of the airport.
For car rental, we just followed signboards and took a shuttle to the Blue Car rental. Rented a pre-booked Toyota Rav 4 and off we went to our hotel.
Accommodation – Park Inn by Radisson Reykjavik Keflavik Airport
We stayed here for sheer convenience. As we landed late, we didn’t want to drive an hour to Reykjavik, so we just crashed at an airport hotel.
Day 1 – Drive from Keflavik to Hella via Golden Circle (274 Km, 4 hrs)
We had a long tiring day yesterday and therefore left the hotel only by noon. We were super hungry as didn’t have a proper dinner for the last 3 nights. Found a Dominoes and we hogged on pizzas. We had 3 different veg pizzas and all of them were delicious. Also bought a sim card at the petrol station and then went to a bank and exchanged all our Euros to ISK.
Finally, after doing all the odd but necessary jobs, we started with the golden circle tour.
Þingvellir National Park (87 Km, 1.5 hours from Keflavik)
- First, we drove to the top of the park where there is a lovely viewing platform from where you can see most of the area at one glance.
- Then we drove to the bottom and had a quick look.
- You can also hike between the 2 viewing points.
- This is one of the few places where you have to pay for parking.
- For Game of Thrones Fan – where Brienne and the Hound engage in a bloody battle. A major filming location for season four and the pass to the impregnable Eyrie is found in the Þingvellir National Park.
Kerið Crater (43 Km, 40 min)
- It is a volcanic crater lake where you can hike up and walk along the rim of the crater.
- Parking is free, but there is a small entrance fee per person.
- We skipped the hike as we didn’t have time. We couldn’t see anything from the bottom.
- If you don’t want to hike, then skip it as it is a detour of 30 Km.
Friðheimar Farm (28 Km, 20 min)
- It is a tomato farm, famous for its tomato soup and everything related to tomatoes.
- They have a buffet of unlimited soup and bread. Apart from that, they have sandwiches and pasta.
- Make sure to e-mail them and have a table pre-booked.
- I had a table booked for 3:30 pm, but we reached late because of our late start.
- Kapil’s favourite dish is tomato soup. He can have it for all the meals for the rest of his life. He likes it so much and was upset about missing this.
Geysir hot spring (19 Km, 15 min)
- It is a quick stop and a must-visit on the Golden Circle tour if you have never seen a Geysir.
- Strokkur erupts approximately every 5 minutes.
- There is parking next to it and it was just a 2-minute walk to get there.
Gullfoss (Golden Waterfall) (10 Km, 10 min)
- First, we drove to the top from where we saw a spectacular panoramic view of the waterfall. The viewing platform was right by the parking.
- Then we drove to the bottom and were very close to the waterfall. You can even walk 100 meters further and you will be so close to the waterfall that you will get drenched.
- It was breathtaking and one of the best waterfalls in Iceland.
- This was the highlight of the Golden Circle Tour.
- GOT – It was one of the sights that drew location scouts to the region but didn’t appear on the screen. Benediktsson explains: The crew did some filming there, but they didn’t use the footage because the books say there is just one river beyond The Wall and it doesn’t feature a waterfall.
Flúðir (35 km, 30 min)
- It is a small village where you can halt for the night. Icelandair Hotel Flúðir might be a good choice if staying in Flúðir.
- Here, you can visit the Secret Floating Lagoon. It is similar to the Blue Lagoon but less touristy. We skipped as we didn’t have time.
- I wanted to have dinner in Fludir, but we got late, so decided to just head to the hotel.
Accommodation – Stracta Hotel Hella (52 Km, 40 min)
We stayed here as it was a perfect spot between the golden circle and the ferry port from where we took a ferry the next day. We arrived 10 minutes before 10 pm and ordered dinner. Their restaurant closed at 10 pm, so we at least got dinner.
Day 2 – Hella to Westman Island to Vik (157 Km, 2.5 hrs)
We left at 8:30 am and drove (42 Km, 35 min) to the port of Landeyjahöfn. We took a 30-minute ferry from the port to Westman Island. The primary reason for visiting Westman Island was to see puffins and just drive around admiring the beautiful scenery. Westman Island is tiny, and in half an hour to an hour, you can drive around the entire island.
- There are 2 boat tours – a RIB boat tour and a normal boat tour.
- Initially, I had planned to do a boat tour but skipped it as it didn’t seem interesting enough.
Aquarium (Sæheimar) now changed to Sea Life Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary
- It is a small museum.
- The highlight was seeing their rescued puffin, Toti. Touching was not allowed, but we could sit and watch as long as we wish. Unfortunately, now Toti has passed away.
- However, now they have other rescue puffins and even allow you to click a photo with the puffin sitting on your head.
- Furthermore, now the sanctuary houses 2 Beluga whales rescued from China until they are ready to be released in the bay.
- Here you can see ruins of the farmhouse of the first settler of the Westman Islands.
- Quick photo stop.
- This is the windiest place in Europe and can also spot puffins and birds here.
- There is a parking area at the end of the driveway. Past the gate, there is also a lighthouse.
- We saw 2 puffins while driving to Stórhöfði, but I wasn’t fast enough to click a picture.
- It’s a small museum focusing on how the 1973 Volcanic eruption destroyed the entire island.
- It is a well-managed museum with good models and pictures.
- If you are on Westman island, it is worth checking it out.
- If hiking is your thing, you can hike up the volcano and get rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view of the island.
- We just had a quick look from the bottom.
- It’s a wooden Viking church.
- A quick photo stop.
Sagnheimar Folk Museum
- This museum is about life on the island, its people, and its history.
- It is a small museum and doesn’t require much time to see.
- Since we bought a 3 museum pass, we checked it out. We are not museum buffs and it was fine to spend 10 minutes here.
Then we drove back to the port to catch the 4 pm ferry back to the mainland. We had a delicious custom made pizza on the ferry.
In all, the highlights of the Westman island were seeing the puffin at Sæheimar, the Volcano Museum, and driving around the island admiring the lovely views. But then Iceland, have mind-blowing views everywhere. I think if you have time, it’s good to check out for 5 hrs. If you are short on time, you can give it a miss.
Our day was not yet over. We still have a couple of things to tick off before we check in to our hotel.
Seljalandsfoss (15 km, 12 mins from the port)
- This is yet another spectacular waterfall, which everyone has on their 10 days in Iceland itinerary.
- It was featured on one of my favourite shows – The Amazing Race.
- There is a pathway to walk behind the falls. It was accessible by climbing 20 to 30 stairs, but the pathway was rocky and slippery.
- We had a blast at this waterfall and even spotted a rainbow.
Skógafoss (30 Km, 25 min)
- Yet another amazing waterfall in Iceland. The view was breathtaking.
- We reached at 5 pm and there was a busload of people. Once they left, it was quiet with only a few people around. Just happened to reach there at the wrong time.
- Also, there are 527 steps to see it from above, but you can see the entire falls from below.
It was already getting late, hence we drove to Vik for dinner as most restaurants close by 9 pm.
We wanted to go to the hotel and end the day but drove to Dyrhólaey as I’d read the best time to see puffins is late in the evening as they come back after fishing. Unfortunately, it was closed. There was a board stating that it closes in May and June at 7 pm and opens only at 9 am, because of the nesting season.
Accommodation – Volcano Hotel
We crashed here for the night. It was good enough for a night stay.
Day 3 – Vik to Hofn (303 Km, 4 hrs)
We had plans to leave early as today we had to reach for the lagoon boat ride by 5 pm. But Dyrhólaey, which we missed yesterday, opened only at 9 am.
Dyrhólaey (28 Km, 30 min from Volcano Hotel)
- It’s a natural reserve where you can find one of the best seabird colonies in Iceland.
- From here, you can also see black sand beaches, cliffs, and a lighthouse.
- Once you enter Route 218, before the end of 218, there will be a path on your right that goes uphill. The path has several potholes, so drive slowly. We drove uphill and witnessed the beautiful panoramic view of the black sand beach. Furthermore, you will also see the castle-like lighthouse. Do not miss it. Views make up for the bad and steep roads.
- Then drive route 218 till the end and stop at the parking lot. From here, you can see puffins on the cliffs, but most were in the water and hard to spot.
- A quick photo stop
Reynisdrangar & Black Sand Beach (20 Km, 25 min)
- It is a 5 min easy flat walk from the parking lot.
- It is a black beach with marvellous natural basalt columns.
- There are multiple black sand beaches near Vik. If you follow signs for Reynisfjara, you will reach the one with the basalt columns.
Once we left Vik, cars got much less as South Coast is packed with day-trippers from Reykjavik. Then we drove to the canyon. From the beach to the canyon, it was a lovely drive through mossy lava fields.
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon (80 Km, 1 hr)
- It is a detour of 10 to 15 minutes from the ring road.
- When we got there, we saw people climbing a steep path to get to the top of the canyon.
- We thought we can’t see anything from the bottom. But we got off the car and after walking just for a minute we spotted the bridge from where we saw a splendid view of the canyon and the waterfall. You can’t see the bridge without getting out of the car. Most things we felt in Iceland can’t be seen before you reach to the point. From the car, you feel there is nothing, but when you reach the viewpoint, it is mind-blowing.
- Route – Driving east on the ring road. Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon is signposted a few kilometres before the roundabout of Kirkjubaearklaustur. Location is between Skaftafell and Vik.
Svartifoss in Skaftafell National Park (6 Km, 6 min)
- It is yet another beautiful waterfall.
- I read different things about the hike, some said it is an easy 1 km hike and some said it is a tough hike.
- We were running late as we had a boat ride booked for 5 pm, so we skipped it. We had seen many waterfalls already and many were on the list for the next few days, so we didn’t feel FOMO.
- There is also a 6 Km (return) Glacier hike in the Skaftafell National Park, but we had the plan to drive further and see the glacier with no hike.
Svínafellsjökull Glacier (6 Km, 10 min)
- It is a viewpoint from where you can see the stunning glacier.
- The viewpoint is easily accessible by just a minute walk. Here you get a similar view like the Skaftafell National Park but with no effort.
- We loved it, and it was one of our favourite viewpoints in Iceland. We bumped into only 1 family there as most people skip this viewpoint.
- This glacier is located right next to the Skaftafell park–if coming from the south, just continue past the Skaftafell entrance and turn down the next road (you’ll see the glacier, just go towards it!!). There is a small parking lot, from there you’ll find a little walking path along the side of the glacier for some superb views and pics.
- Stepping on the glacier is not allowed. For that, you will have to do one of the guided glacier hike tours.
- GOT – Producers made do with artificial snow in season one, but ventured to Iceland for scenes beyond the Wall thereafter, with the Svínafellsjökull glacier featuring prominently. Also, the opening sequence of Batman Begins was filmed here.
Jökulsárlón or Fjallsárlón Glacier lagoon (57 Km, 1 hr)
- There are 3 operators conducting boat tours. One company is at Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon, which does tours in the zodiac. At Jökulsárlón, there are 2 companies. One company was only having zodiac boat tours and the other company has both – amphibian and zodiac, but zodiac operates only from June.
- I decided on the Amphibian boat tour because they were the only ones who said that the life jacket should fit us and will give a refund if they don’t. I was keener on doing a zodiac tour, but they were not sure if the floating suite which everyone has to wear for safety would fit us. But on the Amphibian boat tour, it was only a life jacket.
- It is mandatory to pre-book as it gets filled quickly. I booked for the last time slot of 5:10 pm.
- It turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. We had a friendly guide who made the entire experience enjoyable for everyone. It was a fantastic experience starring at those ice floating in the lagoon and even holding a huge block of ice. I would highly recommend them.
- After the tour, you can check out Diamond Beach and click amazing pictures there.
- Additionally, you can also do a 3 to 4 hours glacier walk tour from here. If interested, it would best stay to stay a night near Jökulsárlón instead of Hofn, do the tour in the morning and then drive to East Fjord.
Around 6 pm we left and drove to Hofn. It is a beautiful drive to Hofn (80 Km, 1 hr). After reaching Hofn, we drove further 15 minutes to see Vestrahorn.
- This is a place that was featured in the Bollywood song – Geruwa of Dilwale.
- It had some pleasant views, but we didn’t see a perfect mirror image like the song portrayed.
- Beware, don’t step on the sand. Kapil did this stupidity and had to spend a good 30 minutes cleaning all the dirt from his shoes.
- Towards the end, there is a board stating that it is a private road and you must pay 800 ISK EACH. If the cafe is closed, there is a box where you have to put the money.
- It felt RIP off because most places in Iceland are free.
- I would suggest going only till the board and don’t pay to go on the private road. It didn’t have any mind-blowing views as such. We saw similar views when driving until the board.
Hoffell hot tub Hofn
- If looking to take a dip in the hot pool with amazing views, you can go here. It is chargeable but cheap when compared to others.
- We didn’t go as we had a cottage with a private hot tub in the East Fjord.
Accommodation – Seljavellir Guesthouse (73 Km, 53 min from Glacier Lagoon)
We loved our stay here and would highly recommend staying here when in Hofn.
Day 4 – Hofn to Seydisfjordur (282 Km, 4 hrs)
Our plan was to leave as early as possible. I had booked a lovely cottage with a private hot pool for tonight. Hence, we wanted to reach the cottage by 2 pm (check-in time) and spend half of the day just chilling. But we had consecutive long days and left only by 10 am.
Route for today
- R1 to 96 to 92 to R1
- Don’t drive R1 all the way, it is very difficult.
- GPS will take you through Oxi which has a difficult gravel section and it will not save any time.
Today, after driving for some time, we spotted a red chair on a mountain. It gave a feel you are sitting on the cloud. After a quick photo stop, we drove through snow-capped mountains and took a break when we spotted a picnic table. In Iceland, picnic tables are there at every nook and corner overlooking the beautiful views. We enjoyed some Indian chips and continued our drive.
After some time, police signalled us to stop. We were scared, but he wanted us to get off the road as they were moving some houses. It was a unique scene to see house moving on the trailer occupying the whole road. Such things can happen only in Iceland, where the police are following the trailer and asking everyone to get off the road. In India, he wouldn’t be able to move 10 meters!
Djúpivogur (101 Km, 1.5 hrs from Hofn)
- It is a small seaside village with a harbour and a beautiful view of the fjord.
- We made a quick stop, clicked pictures and move on.
Mt. Búlandstindur (8 Km, 10 min)
- A quick Photo stop of Rugged mountains.
Petra’s Stone Collection (70 km, 55 min)
- I was kind of debating whether to go or not as it looked costly, but my family wanted to visit it.
- It was en route, so we checked it out.
- Surprisingly, it was totally worth the cost. It had a huge collection of minerals presented very well. Also bought a souvenir to take home.
Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng (35 km, 30 min)
- Enter this in GPS, so it takes you through the correct route.
We reached Egilsstaðir around 5 pm much later than our planned time of 2 pm and took a takeaway from Salt Cafe.
Accommodation – Langahlid Cottage in Seydisfjordur (65 km, 1 hr)
We stayed at this cottage in Seydisfjordur, which was 30 minutes from Egilsstaðir. But this 30 minutes’ drive through East Fjords was breathtaking. This stretch of the road had snow-laden mountains on both sides of the road. We were completely blown away by the beauty of it. Surprisingly, I had not heard about it in my research, but it landed up to be the best drive of our lives. This is the most underrated place in Iceland. We just en-counter 2 or 3 cars along the drive.
Initially, I had no plans to stay here and drive straight from Hofn to Myvatn. I stayed here only because I found a cottage with mountain views and a hot tub. This was something I wanted to experience in Iceland, so added a night in East Fjord. No doubt the cottage, the hot tub, and the views were AMAZING, but the best part was the drive to the cottage. Even if you staying somewhere else, do not miss the drive from Egilsstaðir to Seydisfjordur.
Day 5 – Seydisfjordur to Myvatn via all detours (380 Km, 6 hrs)
We left at 11 am (check out time). We enjoyed our stay at the cottage. Normally I am a sucker for hotels, but also a sucker for hot tubs and views. So enjoyed the time spent at the cottage and wished had more time just to stare at the views. If you want to completely cut off from the world and just relax, 2 nights would be perfect here.
It has been 2 days since we have not seen a waterfall which is quite a lot according to Iceland standards. So the first stop for today was yet another waterfall.
Gufufoss (6 km, 10 min from our cottage)
- It is between Seydisfjordur and Egilsstaðir.
- It is a cute little waterfall.
- We stopped for a quick photo stop.
Fardagafoss (19 Km, 20 min)
- It is also between Seydisfjordur and Egilsstaðir.
- It is a 30-minute walk from the car park to the falls. We skipped it.
We drove back to Egilsstaðir from Seydisfjordur, again were blown away by the views. Then stopped at a random spot that was all covered in snow and had an amazing time playing in the snow. The drive as said earlier was the best drive of our lives, and once we reached Egilsstaðir, I was trying to convince Kapil to drive back to Seydisfjordur just to see it all over again. It was that good. Obviously, he didn’t give in to my demands, and we carried on to our next stop.
Lagarfljót (18 Km, 20 min)
- It is a detour from Egilsstaðir.
- Just a beautiful lake, not worth the detour.
- The drive takes through Hallormsstaðaskógur, which is one of the largest forests in Iceland. It is good for cycling or hiking.
Hengifoss (20 Km, 20 min)
- It was another 20 Km detour from Lagarfljót.
- Hengifoss is the 3rd largest waterfall in Iceland.
- It can be seen from the parking lot, but to get closer you have to do a tough hike of 2.5 Km each way.
- As with all waterfalls in Iceland, it was beautiful but not worth the detour of 70 Km return from Egilsstaðir considering we had already seen quite a few waterfalls in Iceland.
After the detours, you will come back to Egilsstaðir (35 km, 30 min from Hengifoss) and then drive further to Myvatn or Húsavík.
We planned to visit Dettifoss and do the Diamond circle, which ends in Húsavík, but the route was closed. We could only go till Dettifoss and then had to drive back, which would waste time and we would miss our whale watching tour at 6 pm. Also, I was not sure about how tough the hike is to Dettifoss. So we skipped Dettifoss and drove straight to Húsavík.
If doing Diamond circle drive, these are places to check out:
Dettifoss (160 Km, 2.15 hrs from Egilsstaðir)
- It is reputed to be the second most powerful waterfall in Europe after the Rhine Falls.
- First, check the road conditions.
- Looked a very tough hike.
- Road 864 (east)
Road 864 goes from road 1 to Dettifoss on the east side. This is a gravel road and driving speed depends on road conditions each time. Road 864 is closed during wintertime because of snow or wet conditions (muddy road) and does not open until early summer (end of May).
- Road 862 (west)
It is on the west side of the river Jökulsá. Road 862, from Dettifoss south to road 1, on the west river bank, is a new, paved road passable for all vehicles. The road is not in service every day during the wintertime and is often closed during snowy periods.
- At Dettifoss, you can also further hike 1.6 km to Selfoss. There is no parking lot to drive to.
Hljóðaklettar (The whispering cliffs) (40 Km, 50 min)
- Columnar rock formations.
- It is a part of Jökulsárgljúfur National Park
Ásbyrgi Canyon & Jokulsargljufur National Park (15 Km, 20 min)
- A little further down on 864 gravel road.
- En route when going to Dettifoss
- Quick photo stop
Hringsbjarg (28 km, 20 min)
- Look for a platform, it’s a nice viewpoint.
- Good for bird watching
Tjörnes peninsula (16 Km, 12 min)
- Photo Stop
Húsavík, Iceland (20 Km, 15 min from Tjörnes and 219 Km, 3 hrs from Egilsstaðir)
- Had pre-booked a whale watching and puffin tour for 6 pm by North Sailing.
- We reached there just in the nick of time. We called them up and said we might be late, so they advised us to go straight to the port and pay after the tour. This definitely saved us. They were also happy to reschedule it for tomorrow, but I wanted to do it today because the weather was good and we could sleep in late tomorrow.
- We were suited up and off we went. It was a hot day and soon we started feeling hot in the full bodysuit. We got rid of them in no time and our jackets were sufficient for the trip.
- First, we went to puffin island. There were hundreds of puffins, but quite far away. Many were swimming near the boat. Puffins look cute on land, but in water, they just look like ducks.
- Then we went to search for the whale. We saw 3 humpback whales but quite far away and couldn’t get a photo.
- 3 hours felt a bit too much, but in all, it was an enjoyable trip. If you’ve never seen a whale, definitely do this tour. In Alaska, at Icy Strait Point, we had seen 7 to 8 whales up close.
Accommodation – Hotel Laxa
Laxa Hotel was a perfect choice in Myvtan. There are a couple of hotels in Myvtan but my eyes were set on Laxa hotel and it did not disappoint.
Day 6 – Mývatn (80 Km)
Mývatn is the only place in Iceland where we stayed for 2 nights, hence we took it easy and left only at noon to see sights around Mývatn. If you missed the whale watching tour yesterday, you can make a detour of 100 kilometres to Húsavík and do the tour first thing in the morning.
- It is a Pseudo crater.
- Easy hike, just a quick photo stop.
- Amazing Lava Formations.
- There are paved paths around the lava formations.
- It also houses a cafe and a souvenir store.
- GOT – it is the location of beyond the wall in season 3 – This is where Mance Rayder’s wildling army camp was built in season three. Filming took place in temperatures as low as -11C.
- Hverfjall is a tuff ring volcano.
- You can hike up to the top and get rewarded with an amazing view of the crater.
- It looked a steep hike, therefore we just saw it from the bottom and moved on.
- Beautiful cave with a natural thermal spring inside. The water is crystal clear, turquoise blue.
- The cave is tiny with a steep narrow opening and requires some climbing and manoeuvring. But you have to climb only 4 to 5 uneven steps to enter the cave.
- There isn’t much space to stand inside, so everyone just takes a few quick photos and leaves.
- Swimming is strictly prohibited.
- Game of Thrones made it an extremely popular spot. Jon Snow and Ygritte make love here. It only appears in establishing shots – most of the scene was filmed in the studio.
- It is a Geo-Thermal Area with a unique landscape of mud pools and sulphur streams. It is a must-visit place in Myvatn.
- We spent half an hour here snapping tons of photos.
- GOT – While the bubbling pools of mud haven’t been seen in the series, the steam that rises from them was used by the director to create the illusion of a blizzard.
Krafla Volcanic area
- This is a Power plant, though the entry is restricted only to the staff.
- After a short drive from the plant, there are volcanic craters famous for their turquoise lake in the middle. Two accessible craters are Leirhnjukur and Viti.
- Leirhnjukur requires a long hike whereas Viti is just 10 meters from the car park.
- From the car park, you see nothing. When we got there, it blew us away. It was half frozen, which made it the best site of the day.
Myvatn Nature Baths
- It is similar to the Blue Lagoon. If visiting only one, I will recommend Blue Lagoon. Blue Lagoon is bigger and has a lot more things to do.
- We just spent an hour here. Water was only lukewarm, not hot enough. There was a small pool, which was hot, but it was packed with people.
- Tip – Carry your own towels, else you will have to pay a hefty price. Also, purchase drinks at the reception.
Accommodation – Hotel Laxa
Day 7 – Myvatn to Hvammstangi via Troll and Vatnsnes Peninsula (450 Km, 7 hrs)
Today, we had nothing pre-booked, and the plan was just to drive around various peninsulas and admire the scenic beauty of Iceland.
Today the weather was pleasant and for the first time, we didn’t require our heavy-duty jackets. First, we drove to Akureyri and en route stopped at:
- This waterfall is accessible by just a 5 minutes’ easy walk from the car park.
- There are 2 parking areas on both sides of the waterfall and I would highly recommend visiting both of them. The left side offers a better view of the waterfalls just like the Canadian side of Niagara, while the right side allows you to get closer to the waterfall just like the American side of Niagara.
- We love waterfalls and enjoyed this one too. Having seen so many waterfalls in Iceland, we still weren’t bored of them.
- A photo and picnic stop.
- It is a town where you will find a church, a botanical garden, and some museums. It also had an Indian restaurant, an Indian curry house where we had plans to eat lunch but we were late.
- Akureyri Church – It is situated on a hilltop overlooking the centre of town. When we got there, it was closed because of a funeral.
- I had heard about an Ice cream store, Brynja, which someone called world-famous. We tried a couple of different ice creams, but the best was their softie dipped in the choice of sauce. They had 2 flavours of a softie – Vanilla and Chocolate and 6 to 7 different sauces like caramel, liquorice, chocolate, white chocolate, etc. I chose vanilla with caramel and it was delicious. It was good, but nothing like world-famous.
Troll Peninsula (Detour of 80 Km from the ring road)
We drove through the Troll Peninsula where we enjoyed the fantastic scenery of beautiful mountains, cliffs and fjords. The drive passed through stunning scenery all along the way. Though it was a longish detour, there was enough beauty to keep you entertained. There aren’t any specific stops along the route, just drive around, through small fishing villages like Dalvik, Olafsfjordur and Siglufjordur, and enjoy the scenery around. You might be the only one there as it is not on the usual tourist itineraries. Furthermore, there is a thermal pool at Hofos, but we had been in a lot of them and gave it a miss.
- After finishing the Troll Peninsula peninsula drive, you will drive further for an hour and will reach Blönduós. It is a small town.
- We reached there around 8 pm and stopped for fuel and took a takeaway of pizzas for dinner. Beware everything closes by 9 pm. After that, you won’t find any place to have dinner.
Normally after dinner, we check in to the hotel and crash for the night. But we wanted to drive through the Vatnsnes peninsula and since there is daylight almost 24/7 in May, we decided to finish off on this day itself.
Kolugljúfur Canyon and Waterfall
- It is a 20 km detour.
- It was yet another picturesque waterfall and canyon. Moreover, there was only 1 car there beside us, which made it more spectacular.
- The canyon cannot be seen from the road. But there is a parking lot right by the main road and just a few steps away from the parking lot, you will find a bridge from where you can see a fantastic panoramic view of the waterfall and the canyon.
Vatnsnes Peninsula (Detour of 80 Km, 1.5 hrs)
We drove around the peninsula and checked out 2 popular spots.
Borgarvirki Natural Fortress (Vatnsnes peninsula)
- The drive was through a narrow gravel road with many blind corners. Our RAV4 4wd came in handy here.
- There are around 20 stairs to the fortress, but then you have to navigate through big boulders and stony paths throughout.
- The fortress was nothing special, but the view from there was delightful.
- If going to Hvítserkur, then stop here else it is a detour of 20 km.
Hvítserkur (Vatnsnes peninsula)
- It is a rock formation. The USP is that the rock appears to look like a dragon drinking water.
- It is an easy walk to the viewing platform, and from there you can see it from above. If you wish, you can further take a steep trail leading you to the shore and see the rock from below.
- You don’t see a thing from the parking lot. We were wondering what can be so special there. But once you got to the bridge, it was a unique shaped rock in the middle of the water.
- This is on a dirt road and you drive for a good 30 minutes before reaching the car park. After driving on this dirt road, our car was in a mess. We just drove 30 minutes on this dirt road, and our car looked like it hasn’t been washed for years.
Accommodation – Hotel Laugarbakki
I chose this hotel as it was a perfect pit stop between Myvatn and Isafjordur. We covered everything that we wanted to see on this day and got a head start to our drive the next day to Isafjordur. It is also a perfect stop if wanting to stay between Reykjavik and Mývatn.
Day 8 – Hvammstangi to Isafjördur (360 Km, 4.5 hrs)
The first thing for today was to get the car cleaned. We drove to a petrol pump where we used free water pipes and cleaned the car ourselves. It was an experience in itself.
Seal Watching at Hvammstangi
- Hvammstangi is known for seal-watching cruises.
- I had booked one but didn’t land up going. We had been on the whale watching cruise in Húsavík and this was on a similar style boat. Also, didn’t want to go out to sea for 3 hrs when we have seen seals a couple of times in the past.
The next 3 days we spent driving around the beautiful West Fjords, which is off the ring road. Most people do not visit West Fjords on their road trip of 10 days in Iceland, therefore you might not find any cars for miles. I debated whether to do West Fjords as it is a longish drive to do it in just 3 days. Many people on the travel forum called it crazy to do it in just 3 days, but it was a perfect time for us. We like to have a fast pace itinerary and Kapil doesn’t mind driving long distances. Also, I chip in when he is tired. If you love driving through fjords and don’t mind long drives, this is a place for you. Else you can skip it.
- The shortest route is via road 68, joining road 61 south of Hólmavík. Do not follow GPS here, as it takes a longer route just to save a few kilometres of gravel road.
Hólmavík (150 Km, 2 hrs from Hvammstangi)
- When driving through Isafjordur, this town will come en route. It was just like any other town.
- You can stay a night here and do the 106 kilometres (one way) drive to Nordurfjordur ending at Krossneslaug, which is a hot pool out in nowhere. Out of the 106 km, 89 km is on the gravel road and takes around 2 to 2.5 hrs to get there. It didn’t interest me to drive endlessly on gravel roads for a hot pool, so I didn’t plan a night stay here.
Drive to Isafjördur
After Hólmavík, we drove through endless fjords, snow-capped mountains on either side of the road, spectacular landscape, and stunning vistas all along the drive. But after coming from the east fjords, it got repetitive by now. If we had done the road trip of 10 days in Iceland in the clockwise direction, we would have been blown away by it and maybe would have called the best drive of the trip.
Arctic Fox Center in Súðavík (203 Km, 2.5 hrs from Hólmavík)
- We reached there after their closing time of 4 pm. Still, we saw 2 cute Arctic Fox from outside.
- Being not satisfied, we again made a detour the next day, paid the entry fee which included a visit to a small museum. Museum was nothing special.
- The main highlight for which we came back is, of course, the Arctic Foxes. To our disappointment, you can see them from outside only, which we already had seen the previous day. So in short, wasted our time and money coming back here.
Drive to Hotel Isafjördur (20 Km, 20 min from Arctic Fox)
Accommodation – Hotel Isafjördur
There aren’t many hotels in this area and Hotel Isafjordur looked a solid 3-star hotel. I would highly recommend staying at Hotel Isafjordur.
Day 9 – Isafjordur to Patreksfjörður (214 Km, 3.5 hrs OR 327 Km, 6.5 hrs with Latrabjarg)
Today again we drove through stunning scenery and also had quite some stops planned for today.
After a short drive from Isafjordur towards Patreksfjörður, there is a scary tunnel that you have to pass through. If you have never heard about it and land up in it, it will be a terrifying experience.
Things to remember for driving through the tunnel
- It is a single lane tunnel, towards the end, it becomes two ways.
- The tunnel has four-speed cameras, and they work! The speed limit is 70 Km/hr.
- If you’re driving from Isafjordur towards Patreksfjörður, you have to give way. As soon as you see headlights, you pull over in the next gap and wait for the vehicle to pass through.
- If you’re driving from Patreksfjörður toward Isafjordur, you have the right of the way. You drive like a VIP and everyone will pull over and give you the way.
- There appears a junction almost at the end of the north entrance – Be careful with this and follow signs.
- At the junction, the road splits, and one goes towards Suðureyri and one towards Patreksfjordur.
I had read all the rules and was prepared for them. Therefore, the drive was uneventful. Just after crossing the tunnel, we saw a lovely picnic stop and had our breakfast there.
Simbahöllin Café in Thingeyri (50 Km, 40 min from Isafjordur)
We made a stop at this cafe, famous for its waffles. Their waffles were different. They served jam on the side, which made the waffles delicious.
Dynjandi Waterfall (40 Km, 50 min from Thingeyri)
- This is a must-visit place on any trip to West Fjords.
- There are 7 waterfalls, each with its own name, one of which is Dynjandi. All of them are worth seeing.
- You can see the whole waterfall from the parking lot. Further, you can walk on different pathways to many viewpoints. Some walks are pretty easy and some are over rocky paths.
- We are crazy for waterfalls and even after seeing so many already in our 10 days in Iceland, we still wanted more :).
After Dynjandi, we drove to Patreksfjörður. West Fjords is the place to be if you love driving and breathtaking vistas.
Hellulaug (30 Km, 40 min)
- It is a hot pool overlooking the fjords.
- This is located right beside Highway 62 near Flókalundur Hotel and Campground.
- It looks beautiful, but we were not in the mood for it.
Gardar Ba 64 Shipwreck (50 Km, 40 min)
- A quick photo-stop en route to the beach and Latrabjarg.
- It is the oldest steel ship in Iceland.
- You can stop here and click a photo of the shipwreck on the beach. Nothing else to do here.
- This ship was built in Norway in 1912 and shipwrecked in 1981.
We were done by 5 pm and decided to cover the 2 key sites of West Fjords today itself. Our earlier plan was to cover these places the next day and take a 6 pm ferry (3 to 3.5 hrs) to Snæfellsnes. But the ferry was cancelled, so we had to leave early tomorrow and drive all the way to Snæfellsnes.
Rauðasandur Beach (15 Km from Shipwreck)
- This so-called red sand beach is one of the popular spots of West Fjords.
- The road leading to the beach along with Latrabjarg was the toughest drive of our trip.
- It was around 10 kilometres, gravel roads all the way coupled with steep turns and hairpin bends.
- I was expecting a red sand beautiful beach. Reviews were mixed, and by pictures, it looked over-hyped.
- Unfortunately, when we got there, we could not find any beach. We searched and searched and eventually gave up. This is the place, but where is the beach? We could see some red sand, but no specific board or path to get there.
- Then eventually mom came up that it might be a high tide and waves had covered the entire beach. It might be the case, not sure though.
Latrabjarg Bird Cliff (50 Km from the beach)
- Then we drove another 50 Km from the beach on the dirt road to the Latrabjarg Bird Cliff. There were a couple of cars and not deserted like our driving through the West Fjords.
- After all that drive, all we saw was 1 puffin sleeping. Though we saw some other birds.
- The best time to go there is around 10 pm when supposedly you can see a lot of puffins as they come to their burrows after spending the day at sea. We went around 7 pm and just saw 1 puffin.
In all, Latrabjarg and Rauðasandur Beach were the most disappointing places of our trip. The drive to reach these 2 places were terrible and maybe we were there at the wrong time. I would probably suggest skipping these 2 places and taking the 6 pm ferry to Snaefellsnes on this day itself.
Accommodation – Fosshotel Westfjords (60 Km from Latrabjarg)
This hotel is in Patreksfjörður, which is 60 Km from Latrabjarg. I chose this hotel because it was the best one in the area and was a manageable drive to Latrabjarg. For visiting Latrabjarg cliff, it is best to stay in an area called Breiðavík from where the cliff is only a 10 Km drive away. But I didn’t like any hotels there, found them to be quite basic, and was charging a hefty price for the location.
Day 10 – Patreksfjörður to Snaefellsnes (326 Km, 4.5 hrs) or (55 Km, 45 min plus 3 hrs ferry)
Since our ferry got cancelled, which I believe is very rare, we drove to Snaefellsnes. Drive was about decent, quite a bit on the gravel road. By this time we had been on some of the most spectacular drives of our lives. Only a few stretches of this drive lived up to it.
We reached the Snaefellsnes Peninsula by 4 pm and drove around the peninsula covering all the main sights.
Stykkishólmur (326 Km, 4.5 hrs from Patreksfjörður)
- This is the place where the ferry docks.
- There is a lighthouse accessible by a short hike and you can see a panoramic of Stykkishólmur town from there.
- We didn’t feel like going to the top, just saw from far and moved on.
Helgafell (7 Km, 10 min from Stykkishólmur)
- Helgafell is a small mountain on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
- A quick photo stop.
- To get up there, is a challenging trail.
- Legend says that if you hike to the summit without speaking or looking behind you, then you are granted three wishes.
Next, we drove to the most famous site of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The drive was through lava fields and Fjord Kolgrafarfjörður.
Kirkjufellsfoss and Kirkjufell (38 km, 30 min)
- Kirkjufellsfoss is a waterfall with Kirkjufell mountain in the background.
- Every magazine and every tour of Iceland has the photo of Kirkjufellsfoss on its cover. Needless to say, one of the most photographed waterfalls & mountains in Iceland.
- I was expecting it to be the best site in Iceland, but we were underwhelmed. It is one of the smallest waterfalls we saw in Iceland and looked more beautiful in pictures than in reality.
- Honestly, when we got there and saw this tiny waterfall, I thought, this can’t be it. We searched a more, but again it led us here. Indeed, this was the correct spot. Also then I set Kirkjufell mountain in the GPS and thought that might be the proper spot. It just led us a few meters away, which felt like we will drive into the mountain.
Then we drove through the Snaefellsnes National Park. All the sites and stops are:
Svörtuloft Lighthouse (42 km, 50 min from Kirkjufell)
- The road to get there is filled with undulations, bumps, and potholes as well as being quite narrow most of its length. Our Toyota RAV 4 came in handy. But still, it was a terrible drive. Kapil was adamant to drive through whereas we at times were shouting to turn back.
- Because Kapil stuck to his guns and drove up. We witness an incredible view of the lighthouse surrounded by lava formations, and a beautiful view of the cliff formation emerging from the sea.
- It was one of our favourite spots on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Thought I would recommend visiting only if you have a car with good clearance.
Saxholl Crater (13 Km, 20 min)
- A Quick stop if driving through entire the Snaefellsnes National Park.
- It has 400 steps to get to the top. We had a look from the bottom and moved on.
Dritvik and Djúpalónssandur (14 Km, 15 min)
- There are different trails varying in length. We took the shortest one, which is just 50 meters to the viewpoint. From here, we saw a panoramic view of the entire beach.
- The walk to the beach is only 300 meters but looked very steep over a stony path.
- Once at Djúpalónssandur beach, if you walk further 1 km, there are 4 stones. They are well known as lifting-stones. They were used for measuring the strength of a fisherman.
- GOT – this beach was apparently filmed for the setting of “Hardhome”.
Lóndrangar Basalt Cliff (8 Km, 10 min)
- Stunning basalt formations and cliffs.
- An easy walk from the car park to reach the lookout point for some nice photos.
- Further, it has a lighthouse.
After Lóndrangar, we finished driving around the Snaefellsnes National Park and covered all the sights we wanted to see. Before calling it a day, we visited 2 more places in Hella which were near to our hotel.
Arnarstapi (8 Km, 10 min from Lóndrangar and 5 Km, 10 min from hotel)
There are mainly 2 spots to visit:
- Bárður Snæfellsás – It is a statue depicting Bárður Snæfellsás.
- Gatklettur also called Hellnar Arch, a natural rock formation.
Accommodation – Fosshotel Hellnar (50 Km, 45 min)
Initially, I wanted to stay in Stykkishólmur as we were supposed to arrive at 9 pm by ferry from West Fjords. But then I liked this hotel, and the plan was to drive 1.5 hrs via Kirkjufell and cover the remaining sites the next day. As the ferry got cancelled, we reached at 4 pm and finished most spots today itself. This hotel turned out to be a perfect location vice. Though I didn’t like the hotel and will recommend finding an alternative.
Day 11 – Snaefellsness Peninsula to Airport (237 Km, 3 hrs direct OR 440 Km, 7.5 hrs with all the detours)
Today was our last day in Iceland and the plan was basically to cover as much as possible and reach the Blue Lagoon by 7 pm. We had loads of different plans and the time would govern our course of action.
Snow Cat Tour on Snæfellsjökull Glacier
I’d booked a snow-cat glacier tour for 10 am. It had been raining all morning, but I didn’t have its contact number to check if the tour is operating or not. So we checked out of our hotel with all our luggage and tried our luck with the tour. I was truly looking forward to this tour. But they suggested it is an open vehicle and recommended not to do it in this weather. This was our last day in Iceland, so no other alternate day was possible. So, unfortunately, we missed it.
We were sad about missing out and made an impromptu plan to drive up the Snæfellsjökull glacier instead.
Snæfellsjökull glacier (12 Km, 30 min from our hotel)
- It is a 20 km detour.
- The drive was tough because of the poor weather and hairpin bends, but we stuck to our guns and trusted our car and drove up.
- What we saw was nothing short of spectacular. Ice all around, not a soul in sight, and we felt like we owned the mountains.
- When in the Snaefellsness Peninsula, do not miss this drive.
Buðir Church (24 Km, 40 min)
- Dad likes to visit churches, hence we did a detour of 4 km, but it was closed.
- A quick photo stop.
Gerðuberg Cliffs (60 Km, 50 min)
- It was en route on our drive today.
- A quick photo-stop to see the charming cliffs formations.
- The glacier which was epic had no one, but this place was packed with day-trippers and bus tours. I guess the bus can’t drive up the glacier.
That’s it on the Snaefellsness Peninsula. We were done by 11-12 pm and started our drive back to Reykjavik. I’d booked a visit to the Blue Lagoon for 7 pm and then we were going straight to the airport for our flight back to India. But thought, we still have an entire day and we will reach Reykjavik way too soon. Thus, we decided to do a 100 Km detour to see yet another waterfall.
Deildartunguhver (112 Km, 1 hr 40 min)
- To visit Deildartunguhver and Hraunfossar is a detour of 100 Km.
- Deildartunguhver is considered the largest hot spring in Europe.
- It is en route to the waterfall. So made a quick stop.
- It is a Geothermal area, but all the paths were cordoned off and we only could see a small part of it. This was not as good as the Mývatn one and not worth going especially for this.
Hraunfossar & Barnafoss (15 Km, 20 min)
- It was yet another spectacular waterfall in Iceland.
- Hraunfossar is a series of waterfalls, different from other waterfalls in Iceland.
- Accessible by an easy flat walk which leads to the various viewpoints.
- It was worth the detour. In all, a good decision and made up for the missed snow-cat tour.
Reykjavik (125 Km, 1 hr 40 min)
Then we drove back to Reykjavik, saw tons and tons of cars starting their trip. There were a good 6 to 7 roundabouts to get into the city and another 6 to 7 roundabouts to leave from the city. Kapil doesn’t like roundabouts when driving on the opposite side when compared with India and was stressed driving through them. In Reykjavik, made a mandatory stop at 3 places:
- Harpa Concert Hall – photo stop
- Sun Voyager Statue – photo stop
- Hallgrímskirkja Church – Architecture was impressive, but a part of it was under restoration. Also, we paid to go up the tower from where we could see a panoramic view of the city. However, you could see the view only through the tiny windows.
We were thrilled that we didn’t spend any nights in Reykjavik. Within one hour, we wanted to get out of it. It is just an ordinary compact city. Many stay in Reykjavik and do day trips. It might be fine in winter, but in summer that is missing out on the real ICELAND.
Final stop Blue Lagoon (50 Km, 47 min)
- Had booked it for 7 pm. They allow a 1-hour window (7 to 8 pm) to enter the Blue Lagoon, and then you can stay as long as you wish. For all details on how to book, check out the Iceland Trip Planning blog.
- We reached there at 7:10 pm and spent a good 3 hours including changing time. Many people find it over-hyped, but we loved it. You can’t visit Iceland and not to go the Blue Lagoon.
- It is massive, and we never felt over-crowded. Also, the water temperature was perfect.
- What made the Blue Lagoon different from other hot pools is that it offered various things to keep you busy. There is an in-water bar from where you can enjoy drinks in the pool, a mask bar where you get 2 types of masks for your skin, an area where you can enjoy a water fountain, sauna and steam room and we also found a cave inside the Blue Lagoon which makes you feel you are transported to some secret place.
- They have worked on making things user friendly. They have a band system that gives you access to lockers and for pre-paid drinks and masks. Further, they have dustbins everywhere, which makes it easy to throw garbage without leaving the pool. Also, they have a water fountain inside the pool which will quench your thirst. In short, once you get into the pool you don’t have to leave for anything.
- We thoroughly enjoyed our 3 hours there and wished had more time.
If there is time left before or after the Blue Lagoon, you can drive through the Reykjanes Peninsula and stop at various places for a quick photo. It is around a 20 Km detour but on gravel roads.
Places to Visit in Reykjanes Peninsula (We didn’t have time left)
Places that come before Blue Lagoon
- Kleifarvatn Lake
- Seltun and Krýsuvík- Geothermal area
Places that come after Blue Lagoon, en route to the airport.
- Brimketill – A lava rock formation, shaped like a pool
- Gunnuhver Hot Springs – Geothermal area
- Reykjanesviti – Iceland’s oldest lighthouse
- Bridge between 2 continents
Drive to the Airport (20 Km, 20 mins from the Blue Lagoon)
We somehow got lost on the way to the airport. Our GPS took us to the runway until we saw a closed sign rather than taking us to the airport. Also, there were 2 signs, one for the Keflavik airport and one for Keflavik town, and we followed the wrong one. Dad always panics before a flight, and Kapil panics for returning the car and filling up petrol. Both of them almost had a panic attack. Somehow, we eventually figured it out.
We found the Blue Car Rental drop off place, which is some distance away from the airport. Just before the car rental place, there was a petrol station and got the tank full. Then got our stuff out of the car and handed him the keys. He just checked for fuel, took a round around the car and signed off. Their service was impeccable and would highly recommend renting through them.
Next, we took the free shuttle to the airport and arrived at 11:30 pm. Dad, still in panic mode, almost ran to the check-in counter and found out still have half an hour to spare as the counter closed one hour before the departure time for EU destinations.
Fly Back to India
Our flight by Icelandic Air took off at the scheduled time of 1:05 am, landed in Paris at 6:20 am. After 5 hrs layover in Paris, we took our KLM flight at 11:10 am and landed in Mumbai at 11:30 pm the next day. It was uneventful. When we got out of the airport, a gush of hot wind hit us. That’s when we realized that we are back!
That’s it on my 10 days in Iceland trip report, which essentially were 13 days counting flight days. If you are still reading, THANKS for keeping up with my long detailed itinerary and trip report on 10 days in Iceland. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below. Iceland blew us away with its jaw-dropping scenery. Each day unfolded a different and unique scenery coupled with endless waterfalls at every nook and corner. In my opinion, there is no place like Iceland on this earth. We all called it our favourite country we have ever been to.
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Planning a trip to Iceland and Benelux?
Check out all the other posts in this series:
Benelux, Paris & Iceland Trip Planning and Booking
10 days in Benelux: An Epic Itinerary and Trip Report
Vegetarian Food in Amsterdam: What we ate in 3 days
Vegetarian food in Belgium: What we ate in 5 days
2 Days in Paris: Trip Report & Our Misadventures
Accommodation and Vegetarian Food in Iceland
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