10 Day Itinerary | Ring Road Circle of Iceland & Reykjavik
Join this tour for 10 days of adventure to see as much of Iceland as possible while joining in the most popular outdoor activities to feel and touch Iceland in a unique way. You will have an intimate minibus adventure around the country as well as two full days of free time in the Nordic capital Reykjavik, with a myriad of optional activities to spice up your itinerary.
You'll use the Ring Road to take a full circuit around Iceland, from the world-famous Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle to the crown jewels of Iceland's natural wonders - Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, as well as Mývatn and Dettifoss waterfall in the north, and the black sand beach Reynisfjara near the fishing village of Vík.
The circle trip starts in Reykjavík, then heads out to the Golden Circle. The next stop is the south coast and the Vatnajökull National Park where you will join a glacier hike. The tour continues up the whole eastern seaboard and inland to the gorgeous Lake Mývatn.
From there you'll cross over to Akureyri and get to know the unusual places at Tröllaskagi peninsula before heading to the lovely Borgarfjörður area for some relaxation and amazing lava fields and waterfalls. To end a grand circle, you'll then visit the Blue Lagoon to relax after your journey.
This package offers you a hassle-free yet exciting and action-packed vacation. You will be accompanied by a driver and a guide for the entire 6 days around the country before you take some personal time in Reykjavik to do what you like. Many additional adventures await.
Go horseback riding on the famous Icelandic horse (its smooth gait must be experienced to be believed!), go whale watching or take a helicopter tour, sending you flying high over the city! You could even opt for more exploring and do a day tour to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula or the highlands in the summer time!
We are happy to sort out the boring details such as airport transfer and accommodation: you need only choose what you like, and leave the rest to us.
Due to high demand and limited availability, book now and hit the road in Iceland to see it all this summer! Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: May. - Nov.
- Duration: 10 days
- Activities: Glacier Hiking, Hiking, Whale Watching, Sightseeing, Boat Trip, Hot Spring Bathing
- Difficulty: Easy
- Minimum age: 12 years old
- Languages: English
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa and is the single most popular attraction in Iceland.
The water is rich in silica and sulphur that helps make your skin shine like a baby. The Blue Lagoon also operates a Research and Development facility that helps find cures for skin ailments using the mineral-rich water.
The temperature in the bathing and swimming area is very comfortable, and averages 37–39 °C (98–102 °F). There´s a restaurant there and it´s a truly romantic and beautiful place one should not miss while in Iceland.
Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and the northernmost capital of a sovereign state in the world.
Despite a small population (120.000 and more than 200.000 in the Greater Reykjavik area), it is a vibrant city that draws an ever increasing number of visitors. It is the financial, cultural and governmental centre of Iceland. It also has a reputation of being one of the cleanest and safest cities in the world.
The city of Reykjavik is located in southwest Iceland by the creek of the same name. Throughout the ages, the landscape has been shaped by glaciers, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and the area is geothermal. Much of the current city area area was subglacial during the Ice Age, with the glacier reaching as far as the Álftanes peninsula, while other areas lay under the sea. After the end of the ice age the land rose as the glaciers drifted away, and it began to take on its present form.
The coastline of Reykjavik is set with peninsulas, coves, straights and islands, most notably the island of Videy, and seabirds and whales frequent the shores. The mountain ring as seen from the shore is particularly beautiful. Mount Esja is the highest mountain in the vicinity of Reykjavik and lends its distinct feature to the whole area. This majestic mountain is also highly popular for climbing. Other notable mountains that can be seen from the seaside are Akrafjall and Skardsheidi and on clear days one may even see as far to the legendary Snaefellsjokull glacier, at the end of the Snafellsnes peninsula.
The largest river to run through the city is Ellidaa in Ellidaardalur valley, which is also one of Iceland‘s best rivers for salmon fishing.
There are no trains or trams in Iceland, but most people travel by car. The city also operates a bus system. There are two major harbours in town, the old harbour in the centre and Sundahofn in the east. The domestic Reykjavik Airport is located at Vatnsmyrin, not far from the city centre and close to Oskjuhlid and Perlan. The international Keflavik Airport at Midnesheidi heath then lies around 50 km from the city. Cars, jeeps and bicycles can be readily rented in the city and many organized tours are also being offered.
What to See & Do in Reykjavik
The local arts scene is strong in Iceland, with both annual events and single ones, many of whom have hit the international stage. For the annual ones please check our articles Best Annual Events in Iceland and the Top Ten Festivals in Iceland. Major events taking place in Reykjavik include the Iceland Airwaves, Gay Pride, RIFF (The Reykjavik International Film Festival), The Reykjavik Literature Festival, Cultural Night, the Reykjavik Arts Festival, Food & Fun, the Reykjavik Fashion Festival and the Sónar music festival.
Among famous people from Reykjavik are artists Bjork Gudmundsdottir, Sigur Ros, writers Halldor Laxness (born in Laugavegur) and Arnaldur Indridason and mayor Jon Gnarr. For more well-known and fairly-well known Icelanders, check our article on the subject.
You might also want to check our article on some of the many things to see and do in Reykjavik, such as visiting the city‘s many museums, exhibitions and galleries, checking out live music, visiting the Harpa music hall or the theatres, visiting the lighthouse at Grotta, the main shopping street of Laugavegur, visiting the old harbour and the flea market, going on a bird- and whale watching tour or visiting Videy island. We also have a top ten list of things to do.
Make sure to visit the public square of Austurvollur, one of the city‘s most popular gathering places, where you‘ll also find the national parliament, Althingi, the state church a statue of independence hero Jon Sigurdson, as well as cafés, bars and restaurants. Austurvollur was central in the 2008 protests, along with Laekjargata, home to the House of Government. You are also not likely to miss the great church of Hallgrimskirkja that towers over the city from the hill of Skolavorduholt, wherefrom you‘ll get a great view of the city.
Try a walk by the city pond, greet the many birds that frequent the area and visit the city hall, stationed by its banks. The Hljomaskalagardur is a beautiful park that lies by the pond, it ideal for a nice walk and sometimes concerts get held there. Further off is the campus of the university of Iceland, the Nordic house and the Vatnsmyri wetland, a particularly pleasant place, but be mindful of not disturbing the wildlife there and keep to the pathways.
For a nice swim on a warm day, we particularly recommend Nautholsvik beach.
Visit the Laugardalur valley, home to one of the city‘s best swimming pools, as well as the Asmundarsafn gallery, a beautiful botanical garden and a domestic zoo. A walk by the Aegissida beach, with it‘s old fishing sheds, in the west part of Reykjavik also holds a particular charm. The aforementioned Elllidaardalur valley is also a popular resort.
Another place that offers one of the city‘s best (and free) views is Perlan, up in Oskjuhlid hill. The hill itself is a popular resort, with over 176.000 trees and great opportunities for walking and cycling.
Travel to Alftanes to see the president‘s house at Bessastadir, which is also a historical site in it‘s own right, having been the educational centre of Iceland for centuries. Nearby is a beautiful lava field, Galgahraun, well worth a visit, though there is currently an environmental struggle going on as to it‘s future state.
The city is furthermore a short drive from many of Iceland‘s major attractions, most famously the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon. In close vicinity you‘ll also find the Heidmork preservation area, a favourite pastime resort of the people of Reykjavik, as well as the Blue Mountains, one of Iceland‘s most beloved skiing venues.
Check our Best of Reykjavik guide further for tips on the best cheap things to do in Reykjavik, some of the best restaurants in the city, happy hours, the top ten value places to eat and our two articles on the famous Reykjavik nightlife; Nightlife in Reykjavik and Nightlife and mating.
Finally, we‘d like to stress that these are only some suggestions of the many things you might check out in Reykjavik. Whatever you choose to do, we hope you‘ll be able to make the most of your visit and we wish you a pleasant stay in our capital.
Akureyri, ‘The Capital of the North’ is a town in the fjord Eyjafjordur in North Iceland. It lies just 100 km away from the Arctic Circle. It is Iceland’s second-largest urban area with a population of about 17,800.
Akureyri is an important fishing centre and port, but in the last few years tourism, industry, higher education and services have become the fastest growing sectors of the economy.
An international airport is located about 3 km from the center. A large number of cruisers also stop at Akureyri. One of Iceland's best skiing sites is found by Akureyri, at Hlidarfjall.
Traditionally Akureyri has survived on fisheries and some of Iceland’s largest fishing companies, like for example Samherji, have their headquarters there. Other large companies include Brim, Nordurmjolk, and Vifilfell hf, the largest brewery in Iceland.
FSA/Akureyri Hospital is a major employer in the area and is one of two major hospitals in Iceland.
Akureyri has excellent facilities for travelers and is located a short drive from many of Iceland’s top natural, cultural and historical attractions.
Nature & Landscape
Akureyri is surrounded by mountains, the highest one being Kerling (1538 m). The area around it has rich agriculture and a beautiful mountain ring.
The innermost part of the fjord, Pollurinn ('The Pool') further lends the town a special character. The climate in Akureyri is generally very pleasant.
The islands Hrisey in the middle of Eyfjordur and Grimsey, straddling the Artic Circle, both belong to the municipality of Akureyri. Hrisey is often called 'The Pearl of Eyjafjordur' and Grimsey 'The Pearl of the Artic' and these beautiful and peaceful islands are highly popular with travelers.
History & Culture
During World War II the town was an important site for the Allies and the town grew considerably after the war, as people increasingly moved to urban areas.
Akureyri has a strong cultural scene, with several bars and renowned restaurants. Folk culture in general is more prevalent there than in Reykjavik. During the summer there are several notable festivals in Akureyri and its surroundings.
Sites of interest in Akureyri include the brand-new Hof concert hall and Akureyri’s many museums, The Nature Museum, Nonnahus, a.k.a. Jon Sveinsson Memorial Museum, for the writer, David's house or David Stefansson Memorial Museum, for the poet, Akureyri Art Museum.
Akureyri also has several churches, Akureyrarkirkja being the most notable, as well as beautiful botanical gardens. The old town is particularly charming, ideal for a nice walk.
Jökulsárlón is Iceland’s most famous glacier lagoon. Conveniently located in the southeast by Route 1, about halfway between the Skaftafell Nature Reserve and Höfn, it is a popular stop for those travelling along the South Coast or around the circular ring road of the country.
It stands out, however, due to the fact that it also fills with icebergs breaking from the glacier, some of which tower several stories high.
These icebergs, other than their scale, are notable for their colouration. Although they are, as expected, largely white, most are also dyed electric blue in part, with black streaks of ash from eruptions centuries past.
When the icebergs finally make it across the lagoon, they either drift out to sea or wash up on the nearby shore. Because of the way they glisten against the black sands of Breiðamerkursandur, this area has been nicknamed ‘the Diamond Beach’.
In spite of being a rather recent formation, Jökulsárlón is the deepest lake in the country, with depths reaching 248 metres. With a surface area of 18 square kilometres, it is also growing to be one of the largest.
Jökulsárlón has not been around since Iceland’s settlement; it only formed around 1935. This was due to rapidly rising temperatures in the country from the turn of the twentieth century; since 1920, Breiðamerkurjökull has been shrinking at a dramatic rate, and the lagoon has begun to fill its space.
Today, the expansion of Jökulsárlón is accelerating. As recently as 1975, it was just 8 square kilometres, and now that size has more than doubled.
In the relatively near future, it is expected that the lagoon will continue to grow until it becomes a large, deep fjord.
Though a dark omen for Iceland’s glaciers and ice caps in general, the retreat of Breiðamerkurjökull has resulted in an incredibly beautiful, if temporary, site. This has not been overlooked by Hollywood.
Jökulsárlón has been featured in the James Bond films A View to Kill in 1985 and Die Another Day in 2002, 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and 2005’s Batman Begins.
In 2017, Jökulsárlón was enveloped into the Vatnajökull National Park, thus it is now fully protected by Icelandic law.
Because of the wealth of herring and capelin that the tides bring into the lagoon, Jökulsárlón is somewhat of a hot-spot for Iceland’s wildlife.
In summer, it is a nesting site for Arctic Terns; stay well away from this area, as these birds are notorious for the fierceness with which they protect their eggs, dive-bombing the heads of any they see as a threat. Skuas also nest on the lake’s shores in this season.
Seals can be reliably spotted here throughout the year, swimming amongst or else hauling out on the icebergs. Jökulsárlón provides them with a safe haven to rest and socialise, especially considering the waters of southeast Iceland are renowned for their population of orcas.
Myvatn is a beautiful lake with many small islands in the north of Iceland, the fourth largest lake in the country. Along with its surrounding area, the lake is one of Iceland's most amazing natural attractions.
Some of the islands in Myvatn are pseudocraters, formed by steam explosions. The lake has rich birdlife and more species of ducks than anywhere else in the world. As for vegetation, it is one of the few places in the world that grows Marimo, also known as Cladophora ball, Lake ball, or Moss Balls in English, a species of filamentous green algae (Chlorophyta).
The Myvatn nature baths are also renowned throughout the world, a perfect place to relax, surrounded by breathtaking landscape.
Close to the lake is Dimmuborgir, a fascinating area of dramatic and chaotic lava. Norwegian symphonic metal band Dimmu Borgir takes its name from the the lava field, and it continues to inspire travellers from all over the world.
The Myvatn area is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. Don´t miss it!
Goðafoss waterfall is located the river Skjálfandafljót in north Iceland, the fourth largest river in Iceland. It is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, falling from a height of 12 metres over a width of 30 metres.
The fall's name means either waterfall of the gods or of the 'goði' (i.e. priest/ chieftain). It is said that when the lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði declared Christianity the official religion in Iceland, after his own conversion, he threw the statues of the old Norse gods into the waterfall.
Dettifoss, in the glacier river Jokulsa á Fjollum, flowing from the glacier Vatnajokull, is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
This thunderous fall has an average waterflow of 193 m3 per second. It is 100 meters (330 ft.) wide and plummets 45 meters (150 ft.) down to Jokulsargljufur canyon.
Skógafoss is one of the country’s biggest and most beautiful waterfalls with an astounding width of 25 meters and a drop of 60 meters. Due to the amount of spray the cascade produces, a rainbow is present any time the sun emerges from behind the clouds.
Located on the Skógá river, this mighty cascade is clearly visible from Route 1 and is an excellent place to stop and stretch the legs while travelling Iceland’s South Coast. The river below Skógafoss holds a large char and salmon population and is thus a favourite spot for fishermen in the summer.
The land underneath the waterfall is very flat, allowing visitors to walk right up to the wall of water; keep in mind, however, that this will get you drenched. Skógafoss can also be viewed from the top as a steep staircase leads to an observational platform above the cascade.
Skógafoss is located near the small village of Skógar, south of the Eyjafjallajökull glacier volcano. There you’ll find the Skógasafn folk museum, an open-air museum with both old wooden houses and turf houses, as well as a regional museum with various artefacts from this area.
A part of the Skógasafn Regional Museum is the Museum of Transportation, which showcases the history and evolution of transportation, communication and technologies in Iceland. There, you can see how this nation evolved from the age of the working horse to the digital communications of the 21. Century.
The Skógasafn museum also includes a café and a museum shop, and in the village of Skógar, you will find both a hotel and a restaurant.
At the eastern side of Skógafoss, you will find one of Iceland’s most famed hiking routes; the Fimmvörðuháls pass. The 22 km trail leads you along Skógá river, between two glaciers, Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull, before ending in the beautiful Þórsmörk valley.
A gold ring is on display at the Skógasafn museum. According to legend, the ring is from a chest that was owned by Þrasi Þórólfsson, one of the first Viking settlers in the area. Folklore states that before his death in 900 AD, Þrasi buried a chest filled with gold in a cave behind Skógafoss waterfall.
Many attempts were made to retrieve the chest after Þrasi’s death, and years later, locals managed to grasp a ring on the side of the chest. As they pulled, the ring broke off, and the treasure was lost forever. The ring was then given to the local church before it made its way to the museum.
Seljalandsfoss in the river Seljalandsa in South Iceland is one of the most sought waterfalls in the country.
Seljalandsfoss has a narrow cascade but is one of Iceland's highest waterfalls, at 63 meters. The waterfall is highly picturesque and has the rare distinction that one can actually walk behind it.
Geysir is a famous hot spring in Haukadalur valley in South Iceland. Part of the ‘Golden Circle', Geysir gives its name to hot springs all over the world.
Though Geysir itself is hardly active anymore, the area features spectacular hot springs such as the powerful Strokkur, which spouts a vast amount of water every 10 minutes, around 15-20 meters into the air, Smidur and Litli-Strokkur.
North of Geysir are fumaroles, i.e. unlike the hot springs that emit hot water, only steam and gas emanate from these. You may be able to observe bright yellow stains at the fumaroles, this is native sulphur, which crystallizes from the steam. At the southern part of the geothermal area, called Thykkuhverir, you‘ll find various mud pots. Such mud pots are actually fumaroles that boil up through surface water/groundwater and may become steaming fumaroles during dry spells, rather than the usual boiling mud pots.
About 2 km from Geysir is an old preserved natural pool called Kúalaug. One can bathe in it and it has room for 3-5 people at a time, but care should be taken, as the area around the pool is very delicate. The temperature is 39-43°C, depending on how you are positioned in the pool. The water is slightly muddy, as the pool is built on soil, and the bottom is slippery due to algae, so caution is advised.
In Haukadalur there has also been tree planting in recent times and today the forest Haukadalsskógur is one of the largest in South Iceland. Aspen, various types of pine, and other plants have been tried out there and experiments and research continue. We also recommend visiting the tree museum, built in the memory of forester Gunnar Freysteinsson. There are good paths and roads in the forest and the wood is specially designed to accommodate wheelchairs.
Haukadalur has been a church site since ancient time. The current wooden church was last rebuilt in 1938 but the variety and appearance of the church dates back to 1842, making it one of the oldest of its kind in Iceland.
Haukadalur is indeed a historical place. It was settled during the age of settlement and scholar Ari “The Wise“ Thorgilsson grew up there. The first pastoral school in Iceland was also built there.
For accommodation, Hotel Gullfoss is about 7 km from the Geysir area, and closer still is the Hotel Geysir.
Gullfoss (translated to ‘Golden Falls’) is one of Iceland’s most iconic and beloved waterfalls, found on the Hvítá river canyon in south Iceland. The water in Hvítá river travels from the glacier Langjökull, finally cascading 32m down Gullfoss’ two stages in a dramatic display of nature’s raw power.
Because of the waterfall’s two stages, Gullfoss should actually be thought of as two separate waterfalls. The first, shorter stage of the waterfall is 11m, whilst the second stage is 21m. The canyon walls on both sides of the waterfall reach heights of up to 70m, descending into the 2.5km long Gullfossgjúfur canyon (geologists indicate that this canyon was formed by glacial outbursts at the beginning of the last age.)
In the summer, approximately 140 cubic metres of water surges down the waterfall every second, whilst in winter that number drops to around 109 cubic metres. With such energy, visitor’s should not be surprised to find themselves drenched by the waterfall’s mighty spray-off.
In the early days of the last century, Gullfoss was at the centre of much controversy regarding foreign investors and their desire to profit off Iceland’s nature. In the year 1907, an English businessman known only as Howells sought to utilise the waterfall’s energy and harboured ambitions to use its energy to fuel a hydroelectric plant.
At the time, Gullfoss was owned by a farmer named Tómas Tómasson. Tómas declined Howell’s offer to purchase the land, stating famously “I will not sell my friend!” He would, however, go on to lease Howells the land, inadvertently beginning the first chapter of Icelandic environmentalism.
It was Tómas’ daughter, Sigríður Tómasdóttir, who would lead the charge. Having grown up on her father’s sheep farm, she sought to get the lease contract nullified, hurriedly saving her own money to hire a lawyer. The ensuing legal battle was an uphill struggle; the case continued for years, forcing Sigríður to travel many times by foot to Reykjavík if only to keep the trial moving. Circumstances became so difficult that Sigríður threatened to throw herself into the waterfall if any construction began.
Thankfully, in 1929, the waterfall fell back into the hands of the Icelandic people. Today, Sigríður is recognised for her perseverance in protecting Gullfoss and is often hailed as Iceland’s first environmentalist. Her contribution is forever marked in stone; a plaque detailing her plight sits at the top of Gullfoss.
Restaurant / Cafe
Besides Gullfoss, visitors can enjoy the views from Gullfoss Cafe, a locally run delicatessen that serves a wide variety of refreshments and meals. The menu has options to tantalise everyone’s taste buds; hot soups, sandwiches, salads and cakes. There is also a shop on site where visitors’ can browse and purchase traditional Icelandic souvenirs.
Hraunfossar in Borgarfjordur district is a series of beautiful waterfalls formed by rivulets streaming from a short distance out of the Hallmundarhraun lava field.
The lava field flowed from an eruption of one of the volcanoes lying under the glacier Langjokull. The waterfalls pour into the Hvita river from ledges of less porous rock in the lava. These are some of the most magnificent falls found in Iceland and not to be missed.
Deildartunguhver, by Reykholt, in Borgarfjordur district, has the highest flow rate for a hot spring in Europe.
The flow rate of Deildartunguhver is 180 liters/second and water emerges at 97 °C. The place is also unique for being the only place in the country where the hard fern grows.
Snaefellsnes is a large peninsula extending to the west from West Iceland ending with a national park, Snaefellsjokull National Park, where the glacier towers over the scenery, as can sometimes be seen from Reykjavik, lending its beauty to the area.
The peninsula stretches over 100 km to the west as a mountain ridge that includes active volcanoes and is unique in the variety of mountains found.
A few small and beautiful villages are located on the south side and a few fishing villages are on the north side: Rif, Hellissandur, Olafsvik, Grundarfjordur and Stykkisholmur. The last one is highly popular for travelers, featuring a volcano museum and a ferry that takes you across the fascinating Breidafjordur bay to Brjanslaekur on the south border of the Westfjords.
Other museums you might want to check out are the Maritime Museum at Hellissandur, the regional museum Pakkhusid at Olafsvik, and, last but not least, the shark museum at Bjarnarhofn, indeed listed as the nr. 1 Snafellsnes attraction by Lonely Planet Travelers. Also, many of the Icelandic sagas take place at Snaefellsnes.
Snaefellsnes has an abundance of interesting sights. At the national park, you can witness the impressive lava formations of Djupalonssandur creek and test your strength on its four stones, see the two massive lava formations that compries Londrangar, explore the Saxholl volcanic crater and enjoy the echo of 'The Singing Cave', Songhellir. You may also hike on the majestic Snaefellsjokull glacier. The glacier has strong ties with folklore and was the setting for Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Other sights we can recommend at Snaefellsnes recommend include Raudfeldsgja canyon, east of the national park and the rugged and colourful Berserkjahraun lava field, near Bjarnarhofn, on the north side of the peninsula.
Last, but not least, Snaefellsnes is one of the main setting for Laxdaela saga. Chieftain Snorri godi, Gudrun Osvifursdottir, Bolli Thorlakssson all lived there as well as his namesake Bolli Bollason, the first West Norse member of the Varangian guard, an elite unit of the Byzantine army. Iceland's most famous mass murderer, Axlar-Bjorn, also lived at Snaefellsnes.
Reykjanes is a peninsula in Southwest Iceland, characterised by immense lava fields, volcanoes and strong geothermal activity.
Volcanic & Geothermal Activity
The peninsula runs along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates are drifting apart. Because of this geological setting, the whole peninsula is extremely volcanically active, covered with lava fields and volcanoes and small earthquakes are very common there.
During the middle ages, many eruptions occurred in Reykjanes, but no eruptions have been recorded there for the last 500 years.
The main geothermal areas of Reykjanes are Gunnuhver, Krýsuvik and Svartsengi. Various mud pools and fumaroles can be seen at Gunnuhver while Krýsuvik is characterised by hot springs and mud pots that bestow multicoloured hues upon the soil. The green crater lake Grænavatn is also an impressive sight.
Svartsengi is home to a geothermal power station that produces 76.5 MW of electricity from the 475 litres of 90° C warm water that gush from the earth per second. The mineral-rich surplus water fills up the Blue Lagoon spa.
Nature & Wildlife
Reykjanes' cliffs are teeming with birdlife. Its best-known bird colony resides in Krýsuvikurbjarg which is the nesting place of approximately 80 thousand seabirds. North of Krýsuvíkurbjarg is Kleifarvatn, the largest lake on the peninsula and one of the deepest in Iceland.
Reykjanes is hammered by some of the most breathtaking breaker waves in the world. A short drive from Krýsuvík is Selvogur where one is able to witness some of the country's greatest waves. On Reykjanestá, the southwest tip of the peninsula, the waves are known to reach heights of 20-30 meters.
The peninsula's north side is dotted with fishing villages and towns, most notably Keflavík, Sandgerði, Garður and Vogar. Grindavík town is located on the south shore of the peninsula.
Near Keflavík is the Miðnesheiði heath, where the international airport, Leifsstöð (also known as Keflavíkurflugvöllur or ‘Keflavík Airport’) is located.
The World-Famous Spa
On the southern tip of the peninsula is the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, an ideal place for relaxing and bathing.
Reynisfjara is a world-famous black-sand beach found on the South Coast of Iceland, just beside the small fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal.
With its enormous basalt stacks, roaring Atlantic waves and stunning panoramas, Reynisfjara is widely considered to be the most beautiful example of Iceland’s black sand beaches. In 1991, National Geographic voted Reynisfjara as one of the Top 10 non-tropical beaches to visit on the planet.
Reynisfjara is found around 180 km from Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, and is a popular stop-off for those taking a sightseeing tour along South Coast. Driving to the beach is particularly easy, taking an approximate two and a half hours from the capital.
Upon visiting the beach, travellers will immediately observe rocky sea stacks sitting off the shoreline, known as Reynisdrangar. According to local Icelandic folklore, these large basalt columns were once trolls engaged in trying to pull ships from the ocean. However, as bad luck would have it, the dawn quickly arose, turning the trolls into solid stone.
Another legend tells of a husband whose wife was kidnapped and killed by two trolls. The man followed the trolls down to Reynisfjara where he froze them, ensuring that they would never kill again.
The sea stacks themselves are home to thousands of nesting seabirds. Species that can be found here include Puffins, Fulmars and Guillemots, making it a must-see location for all birdwatchers out there.
Visitors to Reynisfjara must be made well aware of the potential dangers present at the beach. First of all, the rolling, roaring waves of Reynisfjara are particularly violent, often pushing far further up the beach than many would expect.
Visitors are advised to never turn their back on the waves, don't go chasing after them and keep a safe distance of 20-30 metres.
Aside from these sudden and dramatic shifts in tide (known as “sneaker waves”), the currents off the shore are infamous for their strength and ability to drag helpless people out into the freezing cold open ocean. A number of fatal accidents have occurred at Reynisfjara, the last of which occurred in January 2017.
Hellnar is an old fishing village on the westernmost part of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. It used to be one of the largest fishing stations of the peninsula, the oldest record of seafaring there being from 1560.
At the shore are spectacular rock formations. Among them is a protruding cliff called Valasnos. Tunneling into the cliff is a cave renowned for its changing colourful hues, according to the light and sea movement. Large colonies of birds also nest in the area.
At Gvendarbrunnar a.k.a. Mariulind you can taste excellent spring water which is said to have healing powers.
Hellnar hosts the guesthouse for Snaefellsnes National Park and has a very interesting exhibition about the economy of former times and on the geology, flora and fauna of the national park.
Arnarstapi is a village in the southern part of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. The area has several old and charming houses with interesting stories to them and is furthermore renowned for its beautiful nature.
The beach holds a particular attraction. It has an eroded circular stone arch, called Gatklettur, and three rifts, Hundagja,Midgja and Musagja. The interplay of spectacular waves and the light of the sun creates a fascinating spectacle. Large colonies of the arctic tern also nest in the area.
An old horse trail through the lava field Hellnahraun is highly popular for hiking, due to the impressiveness of the surrounding landscape.
Vik in Myrdalur valley is the southernmost village on the Icelandic mainland, located 186 km from the capital Reykjavik.
Vik is important as a service centre for the inhabitants and visitors of the marvellous Reynisfjara beach.
Reynisfjara is widely considered one of the most beautiful beaches on earth (see for example Islands Magazine). This black pebble beach boasts an amazing cliff of regular basalt columns called Gardar, which resembles a rocky step pyramid and out in the sea are the spectaculary shaped basalt sea stacks Reynisdrangar. The area has rich birdlife, including puffins, fulmars and guillemots.
Hvítserkur, sometimes referred to as the “Troll of North-West Iceland”, is a 15m (49ft) basalt stack protruding from Húnaflói bay, along the eastern shore of the Vatnsnes peninsula. Hvítserkur gets its name from the birdlife nesting atop it. In Icelandic, the name translates to “white shirt”, a nod to the colour of the bird droppings that cover the rock.
It should come as no surprise that Hvítserkur is often referred to as a troll. Folklore implies that Hvítserkur was originally a troll determined to rip the bells down from Þingeyraklaustur convent, an apparent allusion to the people’s stoic resistance to the Christianisation of Iceland. However, as goes the story, the troll paralysed by walking out under sunlight and quickly turned to stone. The Hvítserkur stack is all that remains.
The scientific community has another explanation. Erosion from the cascading sea water has carved three large holes through the basalt rock, sculpting and shaping it into what appears as some petrified, mythological animal. The base of the stack has been reinforced with concrete to protect its foundations from the sea, but this has not stopped visitors’ interpreting the rock’s peculiar shape. Some say Hvítserkur looks like an elephant, others a rhino. Some onlookers have gone as far as to claim the rock appears as a “dinosaur drinking.” Whatever the case, the rock is a nesting ground for seagulls, shag and fulmar, making it appear constantly in motion, further enforcing the idea that Hvítserkur is, in some way, very much alive.
To the south, visitors to Hvítserkur can detour toward Sigríðarstaðir, a location reputable for viewing seal colonies. Hvítserkur is also only a short drive from the historical and quintessential Súluvellir farm, a location that boasts incredible views of the surrounding landscape.
Djúpalónssandur is an arched-shaped bay of dark cliffs and black sand, located on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland.
History & Monuments
The location was once home to a prosperous fishing village, along with other abandoned hamlets and ports of the area such as Búðir and Hellnar, from back when the Snæfellsnes Peninsula functioned as one of the most active trading posts of the island.
- See a selection of exciting Snæfellsnes Tours
Fascinating remnants of this period are for instance found in the form of four ancient lifting stones that still occupy the beach. The stones range in weight from 23 kg (50 lbs) to 155 kg (342 lbs) and were used to test the strength of fishermen. Their names are Amlóði (useless), Hálfdrættingur (weakling), Hálfsterkur (half-strong) and Fullsterkur (full-strong).
In 1948, the English trawler Epine GY 7 from Grimsby shipwrecked on the shore, with fourteen dead and five survivors. The rusty iron remains of the vessel remain scattered on the beach, now protected as a monument to those who perished.
Environment & Surroundings
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula boasts countless natural wonders, where locals and travellers both flock on a daily basis to enjoy the unique landscape and stunning coastlines. Djúpalónssandur’s black pebble beach is particularly stunning amidst rocky coastal lava formations, including the elusive Gatklettur, a large lava rock with a hole in the middle through which you can directly spot the Snæfellsjökull Glacier Volcano.
Behind the rock are two freshwater lagoons called Djúpulón and Svörtulón, with the former serving as the namesake of the bay. Believed in olden times to be bottomless, the water bodies were later revealed to reach the depth of five metres. Lagoons such as these are held in high regard amongst the Icelandic people, and Svörtulón is thought to possess healing properties, especially after having been blessed by Bishop Guðmundur góði ('the good') in the late 1100s.
A natural monument of the area is Söngklettur, or “singing rock”, a large lava rock with a reddish hue that resembles an elfish church. Other rock formations of folklorish appeal rest close by, including the alleged trolls-turned-to-stone Kerling and Lóndrangur.
When visiting Djúpalónssandur, take heed that these are treacherous waters and the Atlantic Ocean’s powerful suction can easily carry you out to sea. This beach is not one for wading, but enjoying from a safe distance, especially if the weather is stormy.
The glistening pebbles that make up the beach known as Djúpalónsperlur, or “pearls of the deep lagoon”, are gorgeous to look at and might seem appealing to stone collectors, but they are protected by law and should not be removed from the area by visitors.
The Secret Lagoon is a man-made hot spring of natural resources located at Hverahólmi, the geothermal area next to the village of Flúðir in southern Iceland.
The hot spring is situated within the range of popular tourist route the Golden Circle in the geothermal area of Flúðir, a village renowned for its greenhouse activity and general horticulture. A major advantage of this geothermal activity is the natural and age-old thermal pools to be found in the area. Hrunalaug is one of those, a minuscule and natural hot spring that has regrettably undergone a great deal of damage in the last years due to increased numbers of visitors. The Secret Lagoon, however, has been modified to accommodate a much larger number of people. It makes use of its natural terrain and geothermal heating, leaving the water at a temperature of 38-40° Celcius (100° Fahrenheit) all year long.
The pool was constructed in 1891 and is officially the oldest swimming pool in the entire country. Icelanders simply call it 'the old pool' or 'gamla laugin'. In the year 1909, the first swimming lessons took place in the pool, which continued until relocated to the new pool in Flúðir in 1947. Before the 1900s, the Icelandic people rarely knew how to swim, in spite of being a nation of fishermen surrounded by an ocean. The sea that surrounds the island was simply too cold to swim in. Today, near every single Icelandic person is an able swimmer, since swimming lessons are constructed in pools and are mandatory for every Icelandic child. After the opening of the new pool in Flúðir, the Secret Lagoon as good as fell into oblivion. It has since then been thoroughly renovated and enjoys a large array of visitors each day.
The area all around the hot spring consists of mossy lava fields and geothermal activity, including a small geyser that erupts every 5 minutes, or so which can be seen from the pool. The steam that rises from the surrounding terrain into the air gives the place its distinct and magical atmosphere.
Iceland has one main ring road: Route 1. This ring road goes all around the island and is 1332 km long (828 miles). The road connects the capital, Reykjavík, to the second biggest city in Iceland, Akureyri, in the north of the country. Other notable towns that are connected via the ring road are Borgarnes, Blönduós, Egilsstaðir, Höfn, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Vík, Hella, Hvolsvöllur, Selfoss and Hveragerði.
A number of popular tourist attractions are also found by the ring road, such as Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Lake Mývatn and the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss and Goðafoss.
The ring road consists mainly of paved two lanes road (one each direction). Some parts of the ring road are still unpaved however. In various places the road contains single lane bridges, especially in the east part of the country. The speed limit is 90km per hour on the paved section of the road (lower when it passes through towns), but 80km per hour on gravel.
The road was only completed in 1974, with the opening of Iceland's longest bridge, that crosses Skeiðará river in southeast Iceland. In 1998 a tunnel below the fjord Hvalfjörður shortened the drive around Iceland by about one hour (or 45km along a winding fjord). Hvalfjörður tunnels are the biggest tunnels in Iceland, 5,8 km and 165m below sea level. The ring road has another tunnel called Almannaskarð in the southeast by Höfn and by 2017 the Vaðlaheiðar tunnels should be open in north Iceland, shortening the distance between Akureyri and Mývatn.
Some sections of the ring road are original 1940's country roads, and a number of sharp curves, blind curves, blind summits as well as single lane bridges mean that people need to drive cautiously. In wintertime most of the ring road is kept open, with the exception of a short passage in the east part of the country that may be closed due to heavy snow (a detour is needed to travel from the north to the east during wintertime).
Guide to Iceland would advise people to drive cautiously on the ring road both in summer and wintertime, but also to explore other roads leading from it to multiple attractions.
Starting time : Flexible
4 nights of accommodation in Reykjavik (different levels available; breakfast not included for Super Budget level; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)
Airport transfer on arrival/departure
6 full days of circle trip around Iceland's Ring Road in a minibus with English guidance
5 nights of accommodation in the countryside (double rooms in country hotels with private bathrooms and breakfast)
Glacier Hiking (south coast)
Whale Watching tour at Dalvík
Blue Lagoon standard entrance (upgrades available) and return transfer
Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary
Lunch and dinner
What to bring:
Warm outdoor clothes
Good to know:
Although it is summertime, the Icelandic weather can be very unpredictable. Please bring appropriate clothing. Please be aware that your itinerary may have to be rearranged to fit your arrival date and time better.
Day 1 - Welcome to Iceland!
Now your adventure starts! We'll pick you up at the airport and get you to the city. No fear of getting lost, your driver will be at the Arrivals gate waiting for you.
You'll head to the city, where downtown Reykjavik greets you with its many restaurants and cafés to entertain you on your first night in the northernmost capital in the world.
Day 2 - Golden Circle and the South
Today, you'll embark on a six-day-long journey around the country with our experienced guides. The first stops are the three most famous sites in Iceland: Þingvellir National Park, the geysers at Haukadalur and Gullfoss waterfall.
Þingvellir National Park is of great importance to both Icelanders and the world at large. Icelanders founded the first democratic parliament here more than a thousand years ago. This is also where the tectonic plates of Europe and America meet, forging deep crevasses and canyons surrounded by lava that burst forth when the crust gave way to the power that moves underneath.
Next stop is the Haukadalur Valley, filled with the history of our famous sagas, but also the home of the geysers. The king is, of course, the Great Geysir, from which the other geysers in the world derive their name. The crown prince Strokkur erupts every five to ten minutes, reaching a height of 30 m (66 ft), though it has been known to hurl water as high as 60 meters (197 ft) in the air!
The last stop of the day is the "Golden Waterfall," Gullfoss. More than 30 m (100 ft) high, the two-tiered waterfall hurls icy water from the river Hvítá with astounding power. Those who stand too close are often drenched with the water as droplets spray the rocks on the edge.
Then, you will head on along the south coast, visiting spectacular waterfalls and mountains, visiting Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss on your journey towards Vík. The small town stands by one of Iceland's most beloved black beaches, Reynisfjara, guarded by two rock-stack trolls; Reynisdrangar.
Day 3 - Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón
After greeting the coastline, you will head up into the heights. You will leave the south lowlands behind and travel into the Kingdom of the Vatnajökull glacier. In the Skaftafell National Park, you will meet up with your glacier guide. The experienced guide will gear you up with crampons, helmets, and ice axes, then take you on top of the Svínafellsjökull glacier tongue, part of the great Vatnajökull glacier, one of Europe's largest.
After a walk on thick ice, you will continue your journey, driving under Iceland's tallest mountain, Hvannadalshnjúkur in Öræfajökull glacier, before reaching the amazing Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. The deep waters are home to seals and birds, swimming among the massive icebergs that fall from the glacier above. The seals are very curious, so try and whistle, they might come and check on you!
In the evening, you will reach a lovely country hotel at the Vatnajokull National Park, where enormous icebergs float in the dark waters after breaking from the glacier above tremendous cracks of noise, loud enough to wake Loki in his underground chamber.
Day 4 - East Coast Northbound
Leaving the south coast behind, you'll head north along the east coastline, traveling through the dramatic yet tranquil Eastfjords.
The Eastfjords were formed by the movement of mighty glaciers during the Ice Age. The coast is characterized by jagged peaks and steep mountainsides framing the deep, fertile valleys. Picturesque and idyllic fishing villages, zigzagging mountain roads are the theme of the day as you cross over fjords and small bays. There is an impressive variety of birdlife in the rich sea, filled with critters and creatures from the deep ocean.
All around are impressive and accessible hiking paths, small natural harbours and breathtaking views. At the end of the day, you will arrive in Egilstaðir, a short distance from the famous Lögurinn lake, where a great monster is said to live, bound in chains by ancient mages, according to local legends.
Your night will be spent in the town of Egilstaðir, the center of the eastern fjords.
Day 5 - Lake Mývatn and All Its Wonders
Now it's time to go 'west over,' as the locals say, and head to the famous Lake Mývatn. This gorgeous site is a geological wonder, boasting hot mud springs, volcanoes and unusual lava formations with vast lava fields all in the same area.
This area is a mirror site to Þingvellir, a meeting place of tectonic plates, but with fewer tears in the land and instead more lava. Also, the gap here between the plates is small enough for you to stand with one leg in Europe and another in America at the same time!
You will see the lava formations at Dimmuborgir ("dark cities") which are rumoured to be the home of many mythical creatures, be it the Hidden People or the dwarves. At the Námaskarð geothermal site, locals bake bread by burying dough in metal boxes and let the geothermal activity handle the rest. You will also visit the waterfall Dettifoss, a mighty giant that rushes forth with extreme power, making it the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
Afterwards, you will head further west, visiting Akureyri, the 'Capital of the North.' Known for its culinary peculiarities and being a great skiing area, Akureyri nestles into a mountainside, under the high peak Súlur.
Day 6 - Whales and Trolls
After a relaxing morning in Akureyri, you will visit the deep valleys and fjords of the Tröllaskagi - Troll Peninsula. The first stop is the fishing village Dalvík, at the opening of the Svarfaðardalur Valley.
There, you will hop on a boat and visit the inhabitants of the Eyjafjörður fjord: the whales. If the weather is nice and the conditions are right, you might even get the chance to do some sea angling!
Back on land, you will continue around the peninsula, exploring villages, mountains and fantastic views of the North Atlantic. A notable stop is Siglufjörður village, which has served both as an important location in the history of Icelandic herring industry, and as a filming location for multiple Nordic Noir films and television shows.
As you finish your journey around the peninsula and reach the Skagafjörður area, you'll be heading back to the south-west, spending the night in the Borgarfjörður area.
Day 7 - Borgarfjörður in all its Beauty
On this last day of your grand circle, you'll visit the beautiful Borgarfjörður area. Hidden gems are scattered around in the lava fields, ranging from a view of the glacier to amazing waterfalls Hraunfossar, appearing from under the lava fields and flowing into the river just below the Barnafoss falls.
Rich in both greenery and history, Bogarfjörður is also the home of many Sagas, and you will visit the seat of Snorri Sturluson. This is the writer who documented the Eddas and the Sagas of Icelanders during the Viking Age.
From there, it is time to return to the city, crossing under the Hvalfjörður bay and reaching Reykjavík by evening. Then you have the city all to yourself for the evening, to bask in the Nordic vibe among the colourful, corrugated iron houses.
Day 8 - Relaxation at the Blue Lagoon
To kick off your day, it is time to visit the Blue Lagoon and get some well-deserved relaxation. You can spend the whole day there if you like!
The azure waters will surely re-energize your senses, and the silica mud will reinvigorate your skin. In the ink black lava fields of the Reykjanes peninsula, Blue Lagoon hides among moss topped-lava formations like an otherworldly oasis on the Reykjanes peninsula. The silica mud in the water is said to have exceptional healing properties for skin and also to promote muscle relaxation.
After your soak, you will head back to Reykjavík and enjoy the evening in this city of endless options.
Day 9 - Reykjavík, the City by the Bay
After a great adventure around the country, it is now time to hit the city streets and get to know the capital. You will have a free day today, and endless options await.
Reykjavík might not be very big, but it's remarkably cosmopolitan for its size, offering a wide array of museums, restaurants and gourmet eateries. The natives are somewhat mad about their coffee, and the city sports the largest number of slow-roast gourmet cafés per capita in the world.
If the city streets do not hold your interest, we can make the day more active with various tours and trips that you can choose from. If you'd like to head up high, you could hop on a helicopter and see the amazing landscapes from above.
If you'd like to keep your feet planted on terra firma, you can take a sightseeing tour and visit the museums, learning about the history of Icelanders. For those more adventurous, Þríhnjúkagígur volcano awaits. Towering over the Reykjanes lava fields, this monster invites you to visit the now empty magma chamber in the heart of the volcano.
Whichever you choose, the day will most certainly be beautiful. You'll return to the city before the Midnight Sun colours the sky and spend the night in Reykjavík.
Day 10 - Farewell to Iceland
Your last day in Iceland! We're sad to see you leave!
For a hassle-free end to your trip, we'll pick you up at your hotel and make sure you'll get to the airport safely before your flight.
If you have an afternoon departure, you can use the morning to visit the breakfast eateries, stores and interesting little boutiques that the city has to offer.
You could walk along the seaside to view the many art pieces or drink a cup of coffee under the glass dome of the Harpa Concert Hall before you head to Keflavik International Airport.
We hope to see you again!
Accommodation in Reykjavik
See our accommodation levels below. Super Budget booking will be arranged in hostel dormitory bed accommodation. For Comfort and Quality bookings, single person bookings will be arranged in a single room, while bookings of 2 or more people will share twin/double room(s) or triple room(s). If you are travelling in a group, but prefer a single room, please make separate bookings. For multi-day guided tours, accommodation cannot be upgraded and the levels below do not apply. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs.
Rooms or dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostels. Located in the capital region. Breakfast is not included.
Rooms with a private bathroom at three-star hotels such as Fosshótel Barón, or quality guesthouses. Located in the city center or in close vicinity. Breakfast is included.
This insurance guarantees that you can cancel the booking of this package and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost of 5,000 ISK per person. The cancellation must be made within a minimum of 48-hours before the listed starting time. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact our service desk by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 48-hours before departure and declare the cancellation. Please note that this insurance only covers the full cancellation of this entire package. It does not cover cancellations of individual activities and services within the package. The cost of the Cancellation Insurance is neither refundable nor transferable.