Iceland Travel Guide – Breathtaking Places

Foreword

This travel guide will show you some of Iceland’s most breathtaking places as well as their location on an interactive map. Some of them are accessible throughout the year, others only in certain months. In this case, the respective months are highlighted in the text. But even apart from the mentioned places, Iceland’s diverse and pristine landscape will certainly fascinate you.

Before reading this travel guide, it’s recommended to read the Iceland Travel Guide – Basics and Advice first.

Map

Note: The hatched area in the middle of the country can be referred to as the highland.

Aldeyjarfoss

This fantastic waterfall is located in the northern part of Iceland by the mountain road F26, about 90 kilometres (55.2 miles) southeast of the town of Akureyri. The most interesting feature of Aldeyjarfoss is the contrast between the dark basalt columns that surround it and the white water of the fall. The road is passable from about June to September, depending on the road and weather conditions, and a 4×4 vehicle is essential.

Visiting the waterfall in winter is also possible, – and not less impressive – but you definitely need a Super Jeep and an experienced driver to get there. Therefore, take a look at the “fantastic falls” tour of the company IceAk.

Nearby are the waterfalls Goðafoss and Hrafnabjargafoss, which are also part of the mentioned tour.

Almannagjá

For more information about the geological fault, see Þingvellir National Park.

Ásbyrgi

This horseshoe-shaped gorge is situated in the northeast of Iceland by the roads 85 and 861, about 60 kilometres (37 miles) east of the town Húsavík. At the end of the road 861, which is also at the end of the gorge, there is a parking area, from where several easy walking paths start. Whereas at the beginning of this road are the Gljúfrastofa visitor centre and the Ásbyrgi campground. The visitor centre is also the starting point for the Klappir hiking trail, which leads on top of the cliffs along the gorge to the end of it. The route leads over a distance of 9.4 kilometres (5.8 miles; round trip) with an elevation gain of 224 metres (734.9 feet), while around 3 hours should be scheduled for the whole hike. GPS coordinates of the trail can be found on wikiloc (login required). Hiking on this route is possible from about June to September.

Axlafoss

The waterfall is located in the southern highlands of Iceland by the mountain road F210, about 82 kilometres (51 miles) north of the village Vík í Mýrdal. A 4×4 vehicle is required as well as the crossing of some rivers. The waterfall is reachable from about mid-June to mid-September, depending on the road and weather conditions. The spelling “Axlarfoss” with an additional “r” is wrong by the way.

Bláhnjúkur

For more information about the mountain, see Landmannalaugar.

Blue Lagoon

For more information about the lagoon, see Geothermal pools/swimming pools.

Brennisteinsalda

For more information about the mountain, see Landmannalaugar.

Brúarfoss

This waterfall with its light blue current in the middle of the river has become quite famous in recent years. Yet the summer months still offer the best photo opportunities, since there’s a more appealing contrast between the water and the landscape. Brúarfoss is situated in the southwest of Iceland by the road 37, hidden behind a settlement of summer cottages. About 16 kilometres (9.9 miles) northeast of the village Laugarvatn or from the opposite side about 13 kilometres (8.1 miles) southwest of Geysir.

However, the access to Brúarfoss is currently closed as a result of dangerous trail conditions. New walking paths are to be opened in autumn 2017. The paths are supposed to start at a new parking area by the road 35, while leading over a distance of 3.5 kilometres (2.2 miles; one way) to the waterfall. Source: Iceland Magazin.

Dettifoss

The most powerful waterfall in Europe, with a width of 100 metres (328 feet) and a height of 45 metres (147.6 feet), is located in the northeast of Iceland. Dettifoss is accessible by two ways: from the road 862 on the western side of the river or from the road 864 on the eastern side. The southern part of the road 862 is asphalted, whereas the northern part, as well as the road 864, are only gravel roads. Yet the eastern side of the river offers the best view on Dettifoss since the sight from the western side is often clouded by the spray of the waterfall. Moreover, none of the roads are cleared of snow in the winter. Therefore, the waterfall is only accessible reliably from about June to September, depending on the road and weather conditions.

Nevertheless, visiting the waterfall during the winter months is not impossible, but you need a Super Jeep and an experienced driver to get there. For both, take a look at the tours of the company IceAk.

The waterfall Selfoss is located about 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) upriver and can be reached by a short hike.

Dimmuborgir

This area is situated in the north of Iceland and directly east of the lake Mývatn. Dimmuborgir is well known for its unusually shaped volcanic rock formations and there are several easy walking paths that lead through the area.

Douglas R4D-8 (Super DC-3) aeroplane wreckage

The famous aeroplane wreckage on the Sólheimasandur beach in the southern part of Iceland is a bit hidden, because it’s neither visible from the road 1 nor signposted. About 9 kilometres southeast of the waterfall Skógafoss, look out for a small parking area on the right side of the road. From the opposite direction, from village Vík í Mýrdal, the parking area is about 24 kilometres to the northwest on the left side. The gravel road to the aeroplane wreckage has been closed off since March 2016, in order to protect the landscape. Therefore, it’s only reachable by a hike of 3.6 kilometres (2.2 miles; one way). Visitors should treat the wreckage with respect and neither damage it nor climb on it.

According to the Aviation Safety Network, the aeroplane was operated by the United States Navy and encountered severe icing on the way back from the Hofn Hornafjördur Airport, where it had delivered supplies for the radar-station in Stokksnes. The crew was not able to maintain the altitude and a forced landing was carried out on an ice-covered river near the south coast. There were no fatalities, but the Douglas R4D-8 (Super DC-3) aeroplane was damaged beyond repair. Faded letters on the sides of the wreckage still indicate its origin.

Dverghamrar

The so-called “dwarf rocks” are columnar basalt formations and can be found in the southern part of Iceland next to the road 1, about 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) northeast of the village Kirkjubæjarklaustur.

Dynjandi (Fjallfoss)

The most famous waterfall in the Westfjords of Iceland. Dynjandi, which is also known as Fjallfoss, has a height of 100 metres (328 feet) and a width of 30 to 60 metres (98.4 to 196.9 feet). Besides, there are several smaller waterfalls beneath, which all have their own names. With its location next to the gravel road 60, the place is accessible from about June to September, depending on the road and weather conditions.

Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve

The small peninsula and nature reserve is situated in the south of Iceland, about 18 kilometres (11.2 miles) west of the village Vík í Mýrdal. Accessible by the causeway road 218, the cliffs of Dyrhólaey offer a great view over the black sand beaches of Reynisfjara in the east and Dyrhólafjara in the west. From the western end, near the small lighthouse, you can also see to what the name “doorway hill island” refers to – an arch-shaped opening in the middle of a narrow rock.

Because of the nesting season, the access to the nature reserve is closed every year from the beginning to the middle of May. After this time until the end of June, the access is limited and only permitted between 9:00 and 19:00, while you have to stay on the marked walking paths.

Dyrhólafjara

For more information about the black sand beach, see Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve.

Faxi (Vatnsleysufoss)

The pretty waterfall is located in the southeast of Iceland, near the road 35 and about 29 kilometres (18 miles) east of the village Laugarvatn. It’s worth a visit if you are in the area. The waterfall is not proper signposted though and can not be seen from the road. Therefore, look out for a turn-off with the road sign “Tjaldsvæðið við Faxa”, the Faxa campsite.

Fagrifoss

The “beautiful waterfall”, as it’s translated from Icelandic, is located in the southern highlands of Iceland by the mountain road F206 towards Lakagigar. About 23 kilometres (14.3 miles) northwest of the village Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Fagrifoss is reachable from about mid-June to mid-September, but a 4×4 vehicle is required as well as some river crossings.

A visit of the waterfall is also part of the highland bus tours to the Lakagígar craters (route 16) by the company Reykjavík Excursions.

Fimmvörðuháls

For more information about the mountain pass, see Þórsmörk and Goðaland.

Fjaðrárgljúfur

This remarkable gorge is located in the south of Iceland by the mountain road F206 towards Lakagígar. About 9 kilometres (5.6 miles) southwest of the village Kirkjubæjarklaustur. The road is passable from about June to September, depending on the road and weather conditions, and a 4×4 vehicle is recommended. Fjaðrárgljúfur is up to 100 metres (328 feet) deep and 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) long, while a hiking trail leads all along the east side.

A visit of the gorge is also part of the highland bus tour to the Lakagígar craters (route 16) by the company Reykjavík Excursions.

Fjallsárlón

The small glacier lagoon is located next to the road 1, in the southeast of the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland. A new service centre and bistro were opened on site by the eponymous company Fjallsárlón in March 2017. In addition, it’s also possible to book a boat tour across the lagoon from May to October.

Geothermal pools/swimming pools

Due to Iceland’s location on two continental plates, there are a lot of geothermal springs throughout the country, which have probably been utilized since the first settlement. Today, geothermal powered pools are not only an important part of the Icelandic culture but are also a fantastic opportunity to relax. Here are some of the most remarkable ones:

The Blue Lagoon is, without doubt, the best known geothermal pool and it has become something of a landmark in recent years. It’s a unique place, even though the lagoon was not created by nature. The reason for the intense blue colour of the lagoon is the silica in the water, which is also known for its positive effect on the skin. Keep in mind though that the water will dry out your hair. The easiest way to avoid this is, of course, to keep your head above the water, but you can also use the complimentary conditioner in the shower before and after your bath to protect your hair. Furthermore, it has to be said that the entrance fee to the lagoon is rather expensive and the access cannot be guaranteed without an online reservation. The Blue Lagoon can be found about 25 kilometres (15.53 miles) southeast of the Keflavík International Airport.

Another famous pool is Seljavallalaug, which was built in a lonesome valley in the south of Iceland, about 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) west of the waterfall Skógafoss. The parking area is about 1 kilometre (0.6 miles; one way) away from the pool, so it’s only accessible by a short hike. The location is beautiful, but unfortunately, the place is rather overcrowded nowadays. Moreover, the pool and the small changing facilities are not maintained, so please keep the place clean and take your garbage with you when you leave.

The Mývatn Nature Baths are situated in a similar landscape to the Blue Lagoon, but the size is smaller as well as the entrance fee. They can be found north of Iceland, about 58 kilometres (36 miles) south of the town Húsavík.

The Patreksfjörður pool and the Krossneslaug pool are located in the Westfjords and are rather simple swimming pools, but offer a marvellous view towards the fjord and the sea. The same applies to the Hofsós swimming pool in the north of Iceland.

Also note that bathing hygiene is taken very seriously in Iceland. Always take a thorough shower without swimwear before you enter a pool!

Geysir

The great Geysir, from which the English word geyser was derived, is located in the southwestern part of Iceland by the road 35, about 28 kilometres (17.4 miles) northeast of the village Laugarvatn. However, it only erupts very infrequently every few years. In the past, Geysir reached an average height of 70 to 80 metres (229.7 to 262.5 feet).

Fortunately, the smaller geyser Strokkur is in close vicinity and still very active.

The geysers are also part of the so-called “Golden Circle”, a route that starts and ends in Reykjavík and includes the attractions ÞingvellirGeysir, Strokkur and Gullfoss.

Gjárfoss

The small double waterfall can be found in the gorge Gjáin in the southwest of Iceland by the road 327, about 71 kilometres (44.1 miles) northeast of the town Selfoss. Although it’s not a mountain road, a 4×4 vehicle is nevertheless required for this gravel road. A round trip starts at a small parking area by the road and leads over a distance of 2.7 kilometres (1.7 miles) to Gjárfoss and back again. Along the way, you can also visit the excavated foundations of an old Viking farmstead called Stöng. Furthermore, the road 327 is passable from about June to September.

The waterfall Háifoss is also located in this area.

Glacier hikes

A glacier of the Vatnajökull can already be impressive from the distance, however, you can only realize these tremendous masses of ice when you are standing on one of them. Guided glacier hikes can be booked at the companies Local Guide of VatnajökullIcelandic Mountain Guides or Glacier Guides from about May to September. All of the companies are located south of the Vatnajökull. Do not go on your own, unless you are an experienced mountaineer and know the risks.

A guided tour usually includes the transport to and back from a glacier of the Vatnajökull, the necessary equipment (crampons, harness, helmet, ice axe) and, of course, a guide who knows the glacier. This means, you need to bring your own pair of hiking boots with ankle support, outdoor clothes (synthetic or wool fleece/pullover, waterproof jacket) and backpack with something to drink and eat. In addition, a pair of gloves and sunglasses are also recommended. If you do not own hiking boots with ankle support, it’s also possible to rent a pair on site for a small fee.

Gljúfrabúi (Gljúfrafoss)

Gljúfrabúi means “gorge dweller”, so where else should it be than in a gorge? About 600 metres (1968.5 feet) north of the much more known Seljalandsfoss in the southwest of Iceland, this waterfall hides partially behind cliffs. You have to wade through a small stream into the gorge if you want to see the waterfall entirely.

Glymur

With 196 metres (643 feet), this is the highest waterfall in Iceland. Yet it’s not the most impressive one. In the southwest of Iceland, take the road 47 into the Hvalfjörður, the “whale fjord”, and at the peak follow the road 5001 further into the valley until you arrive at a small parking area. The road should be passable from about June to September, depending on the road and weather conditions. From there a hiking route leads over a distance of 6.5 kilometres (4 miles) to Glymur and back again, with an elevation gain of 358 metres (1,174.5 feet). About 2 hours and 30 minutes should be scheduled for the whole hike. Coordinates are available on wikiloc (login required).

Goðafoss

The “waterfall of the gods” is truly one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. It’s located in the northern part of the country, next to the road 1 and about 50 kilometres (31 miles) east of the town Akureyri. Both the western side of the river as well as the eastern side offer great photo opportunities, so take your time. Goðafoss has a width of 30 metres (98.4 feet) and its water falls 12 metres (39.4 feet) into the deep.

Grjótagjá

The cave is well known for its geothermal spring inside, which has an intense blue colour and a temperature of 43 to 46 °C (109.4 to 114.8 °F) nowadays. Bathing in the pool is officially prohibited though. Grjótagjá can be found in the north of Iceland by the gravel road 860, directly east of the lake Mývatn.

Gullfoss

The famous “golden waterfall” is located in the southeast of Iceland by the road 35, about 38 kilometres (23.6 miles) northeast of the village Laugarvatn. There’s a visitor centre on the west side of the river as well as several walking paths, which lead you either directly beside Gullfoss or on the cliffs above. Its water falls down in two steps: first 11 metres (36.1 feet) and then 21 metres (68.9 feet) into a narrow gorge.

The waterfall is also part of the so-called “Golden Circle”, a route that starts and ends in Reykjavík and includes the attractions ÞingvellirGeysir, Strokkur and Gullfoss.

Gufufoss

The small but beautiful waterfall can be found right beside the road 93, which leads over a mountain pass to the town Seyðisfjörður in the east of Iceland. There’s a small road lay-by shortly beneath Gufufoss, where you can park the car.

Háifoss

With 122 metres (400.3 feet), Háifoss is the second highest waterfall in Iceland, but more impressive than the highest one. The waterfall can be reached by the road 332 in the southern part of Iceland, about 84 kilometres (52.2 miles) northeast of the town Selfoss. Moreover, a 4×4 vehicle is essential for this gravel road, while it should be passable from about June to September.

A visit to the nearby waterfall Gjárfoss should be considered if you are in this area.

Halsanefshellir

For more information about the basalt cave, see Reynisfjara.

Hengifoss

With 118 metres (387.1 feet), this is the third highest waterfall in Iceland. The hike to Hengifoss starts at a parking area by the gravel road 933 in the east of the country, about 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) southwest of the town Egilsstaðir. The hiking route leads over a distance of 4.7 kilometres (2.9 miles; round trip) with an elevation gain of 275 metres (902.2 feet), for which about 1 hour and 30 minutes should be scheduled. Coordinates of the hike can be found on wikiloc (login required).

Along the way, there is also another waterfall called Litlanesfoss.

Hjálparfoss

The pretty double waterfall is surrounded by columnar basalt rocks and is located in the southwest of Iceland by the road 32. About 66 kilometres (41 miles) northeast of the town Selfoss.

The waterfalls Gjárfoss and Háifoss are also located in this area.

Hofsós swimming pool

For more information about the pool, see Geothermal pools/swimming pools.

Hornbjarg

For more information about the cliffs, see Hornstrandir Nature Reserve.

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Hornstrandir is a secluded peninsula and nature reserve in the northern Westfjords of Iceland. Besides, it’s a popular hiking and trekking region from about mid-June to mid-August, although it’s only accessible by boat. The companies West Tours and Borea Adventures in the town Ísafjörður manage all connections to the nature reserve and also offer guided tours, including the transport there and back again.

The peninsula was once inhabited, but it was completely abandoned around 1950. In 1975 Hornstrandir was then declared a nature reserve. But due to its history, large parts of the region are still privately owned today. That’s the reason why some old but renovated farmsteads and even some new summer cottages still exist along the coastline. But apart from the summer visitors of these houses, Hornstrandir is the natural habitat of many animals, such as arctic foxes, field mice or large colonies of birds.

Hikers are encouraged to use the official campsites in order to preserve the nature reserve. In addition, garbage should not be left on the peninsula. 

The most famous attraction, beside the arctic foxes, are the steep and jagged cliffs of Hornbjarg, which rise about 547 metres (1794.6 feet) from the sea.

Hrafnabjargafoss

Not many travellers get to see this waterfall due to its remote location by the mountain road F26 in the northern highlands of Iceland. About 94 kilometres (58.4 miles) southeast of the town of Akureyri and just about 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) south of the waterfall Aldeyjarfoss along the same road. But like on all mountain roads, a 4×4 vehicle is necessary, whereby Hrafnabjargafoss, as well as Aldeyjarfoss, can be reached from about June to September, depending on the road and weather conditions.

Visiting the waterfall during the winter months is also possible, but you definitely need a Super Jeep and an experienced driver to get there. Therefore, take a look at the “fantastic falls” tour of the company IceAk.

Hraunfossar

The name “lava waterfalls” refers to the lava field Hallmundarhraun that the water traverses before it reaches the series of waterfalls. Hraunfossar is situated in the western part of Iceland by the road 518, about 58 kilometres (36 miles) northeast of the town Borganes. However, the waterfall is most appealing in the summer, when the vegetation creates a nice contrast between the water and the landscape.

Hrúthálsafoss

This secret waterfall is situated at the end of an inconspicuous 4×4 track in the south of Iceland …

Hverfjall

The large volcano crater, which erupted 2,500 years ago, has a diametre of about 1,000 metres (3280.8 feet) and a depth of up to 140 metres (459.3 feet). Hverfjall is located in the north of Iceland and directly east of the lake Mývatn. The gravel road towards the crater is not cleared of snow in winter though, so it’s only passable from about June to September, depending on the road and weather conditions. A hike around the caldera leads over a distance of 4.4 kilometres (2.7 miles) with an elevation gain of 205 metres (672.6 feet), for which about 1 hour and 15 minutes should be scheduled. Coordinates can be found on wikiloc. But please stay on the trail and preserve the area.

Hverir (Hverarönd)

The surreal-looking geothermal area is located in the north of Iceland next to the road 1, about 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) east of the lake Mývatn. It features some bubbling pools of grey mud and sulphur as well as steam fumaroles. Although it’s not the most beautiful photo subject, Hverir can be quite interesting. Apart from the stench. But please keep a safe distance to the pools in order to avoid serious burns and do not leave the marked paths, since the ground can be unstable.

A good view over the geothermal area offers the nearby mountain Námafjall, which can be reached by several marked paths.

Ice caves

The visit of an ice cave at the Vatnajökull glacier, in the southeast of Iceland, is a breathtaking experience. These caves are formed every year anew through the growing and melting of the glacier, but only during the cold winter months, from about November to March, they are safe enough to be entered. Guided tours can be booked at many companies, such as Local Guide of VatnajökullFrom Coast To MountainsIce GuideGlacier JourneyGlacier Adventure or Glacier Trips. All tours start south of the Vatnajökull.

A guided tour includes the transport to and back from a glacier of the Vatnajökull, the necessary equipment (crampons, harness, helmet, ice axe) and, of course, a guide who knows the glacier. This means, you need to bring your own pair of hiking boots with ankle support, outdoor clothes that also keep you warm enough for a couple of hours (synthetic or wool shirt(s), leggings and socks as base layer, synthetic or wool fleeces/pullovers as middle layer, as well as a waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers) and backpack with something to drink and eat. In addition, a cap, a pair of gloves and sunglasses are also recommended. If you do not own hiking boots with ankle support, it’s also possible to rent a pair from some companies for a small fee.

Jökulsárlón

The view on the largest and most famous glacier lagoon in Iceland and the icebergs within is simply amazing. Jökulsárlón is situated right next to the road 1, in the southeast of the Vatnajökull glacier. The eponymous company Jökulsárlón operates a small café on site and also offers boat tours through the lagoon from May to October.

In addition, also visit the black sand beach downriver – there are most likely some icebergs which were washed ashore. But keep a safe distance to the visible line of breaking waves.

Kambhorn

For more information about the mountain peak, see Vestrahorn.

Kálfshamarsvík

What makes this small cove interesting, are the columnar basalt cliffs and the picturesque lighthouse. Despite its remote location on the Skagi peninsula in the northern part of Iceland, not far from the gravel road 745, Kálfshamarsvík is worth a short detour.

Kirkjufell

The most photographed mountain in Iceland is located in the west on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, next to the little fishing village Grundarfjörður. What makes the “church mountain” (463 metres/1519 feet) truly remarkable is its freestanding, almost symmetric shape. The waterfall Kirkjufellsfoss, which is also featured on many images of Kirkjufell, can be found directly south of the mountain.

Klifatindur

For more information about the mountain peak, see Vestrahorn.

Kristínartindar

For more information about the mountain peaks, see Skaftafell.

Krossneslaug pool

For more information about the pool, see Geothermal pools/swimming pools.

Kvernufoss

This waterfall is hidden in a small gorge in the south of Iceland, not far from the famous waterfall Skógafoss. Park the car at the Skógasafn, the Skógar history museum, walk past the buildings to the east, across the pasture fence and follow the now visible river upstream. The hike is easy and it takes about 15 minutes to the waterfall. There’s also a trail that leads behind Kvernufoss, but please be careful, especially in winter when the ground is covered with ice.

Lakagígar

The “Craters of Laki” extend over a distance of 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) in the southern highlands of Iceland and arose through a volcanic eruption that lasted 8 months, from June 1783 to February 1784. According to estimates, the aftereffects of this devastating eruption led to the death of around 50.000 people in Iceland, approximately 25 % of Icelandic population at this time, and tens of thousands more in Europe as well as North America.

The remaining row of craters is part of the Vatnajökull National Park today, whereby the mountain Laki stands approximately in the middle of them, hence the name. Moreover, with its height of 818 metres (2,683.7 feet), the mountain offers a good view over the vast area and the craters. Laki is accessible by the mountain road F206 from about mid-June to mid-September, depending on the road and weather conditions. About 68 kilometres (42.3 miles) north from the village Kirkjubæjarklaustur. However, a 4×4 vehicle is essential, like on all mountain roads, while the track is demanding and requires the crossing of some rivers. Coordinates of the track can be found on wikiloc. Also remember that off-road driving is prohibited by law in Iceland. The following hike to the summit of Laki starts at the ranger station at the base of the mountain and leads you over a distance of 3.6 kilometres (2.2 miles) with an elevation gain of 237 metres (777.6 feet), while the round trip is well marked.

A visit of the gorge Fjaðrárgljúfur and the waterfall Fagrifoss along the mountain road is highly recommended. Both are also part of the highland bus tours to the Lakagígar craters (route 16) by the company Reykjavík Excursions.

Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar is an area within the Fjallabak Nature Reserve and famous for its unique landscape. The area is located in the southern highlands of Iceland and thus a 4×4 vehicle is essential, while it’s accessible from about mid-June to mid-September, depending on the road and weather conditions. The easiest route to Landmannalaugar is by the roads 26, F208 and F224. From the town Selfos the distance is about 140 kilometres (87 miles) and from the capital Reykjavík about 190 kilometres (118 miles). But keep in mind that off-road driving is prohibited by law. In addition, the companies Reykjavík ExcursionsSterna Travel (Iceland by Bus) and TREX also operate this route by highland buses in the previously mentioned months. The name Landmannalaugar refers, by the way, to the geothermal springs in the area and means translated nothing else than “pools of countrymen”.

An unforgettable view over the varied landscape offers the mountains Bláhnjúkur (943 metres/3,093.8 feet) and Brennisteinsalda (855 metres/2,805.1 feet). Coordinates for a day hike on both mountains, which leads over a distance of 9.1 kilometres (5.7 miles) with a cumulative elevation gain of about 612 metres (2,007.9 feet), can be found on wikiloc (login required). The trail to the summit of Bláhnjúkur is not marked though, but the path is nevertheless clearly visible.

The Laugavegur, Iceland’s most famous and beautiful trekking route, also starts (or ends) in Landmannalaugar. Coordinates of the entire trail can be found on wikiloc. The route leads 56.8 kilometres (35.3 miles) to the south to Þórsmörk, with a cumulative elevation gain of about 1,584 metres (5.196.9 feet), and can be accomplished within four days. Moreover, there are seven mountain huts with campsites along the way – the Landmannalaugar hutHöskuldskali hut, Álftavatn hut, Hvanngil hut, Botnar hut, Skagfjörðsskáli hut and the Volcano huts. But the mountain huts must be reserved well in advance and hikers have, of course, to bring their own sleeping bags. In regard to camping, the legal regulations for the nature reserve are strict: hikers must use the official campsites, wild camping is prohibited.

Laugavegur

For more information about the trekking route, see Landmannalaugar.

Litlanesfoss

What makes this waterfall interesting, is the small basin in the upper part of the fall, which is surrounded by beautiful columnar basalt rocks. Litlanesfoss is located in the east of Iceland near the gravel road 933, about 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) southwest of the town Egilsstaðir. The hiking route to the waterfall starts at the parking area and leads over a distance of 1.2 kilometres (0.7 miles; one way). In addition, the trail continues for another 1.2 kilometres (0.7 miles; one way) to Iceland’s third highest waterfall, called Hengifoss. Coordinates of the complete route can be found on wikiloc (login required). However, you have to be on the east side of the river for the best view of the upper basin of Litlanesfoss.

Mývatn Nature Baths

For more information about the baths, see Geothermal pools/swimming pools.

Patreksfjörður pool

For more information about the pool, see Geothermal pools/swimming pools.

Reynisdrangar

For more information about the sea stacks, see Reynisfjara.

Reynisfjara

The beach is well known for its black sand and is located in the south of Iceland by the road 215, about 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) west of the village Vík í Mýrdal. A popular attraction on the beach is the cave Halsanefshellir, which is quite remarkable with its column-shaped basalt rocks. However, the cave can be unreachable during high tide. Also noteworthy are the basalt sea stacks called Reynisdrangar that can be seen in the southeast in the sea.

Warning: Exceptional large waves, also called sneaker waves, can appear in regular wave trains without warning. In conjunction with the very strong sea currents in this region, this can be extremely dangerous. Always keep a safe distance to the visible line of breaking waves, to avoid being dragged into the open sea.

A great view on Reynisfjara offer the cliffs on the east side of the Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve. The peninsula is accessible by the causeway road 218. For more information, see Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve.

Seljavallalaug

For more information about the pool, see Geothermal pools/swimming pools.

Seljalandsfoss

This famous waterfall is located in the southwestern part of Iceland by the road 249, shortly after the turn-off from road 1. Seljalandsfoss has a height of 60 metres (196.9 feet), which can already be impressive, but what makes the waterfall truly exceptional is the fact that it’s possible to walk behind its cascade. While it’s rather safe to use this path in summer, it is very dangerous in winter, since the stairs and the ground are most likely covered with ice. Also note that the spray of the waterfall can drench a person pretty quickly in every season.

Due to the strongly increased number of tourists, parking fees has been introduced in July 2017 in order to maintain the site around the waterfall. The fee for a normal car is 700 ISK and for tour buses 3,000 ISK.

About 600 metres (1968.5 feet) to the north is another waterfall called Gljúfrabúi.

Selfoss

This waterfall is reachable through a short hike of about 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) upriver from the waterfall Dettifoss. Both waterfalls are located in the northeast of Iceland and are accessible by two ways: from the road 862 on the western side of the river or from the road 864 on the eastern side. The southern part of the road 862 is asphalted, whereas the northern part, as well as the road 864, are only gravel roads. However, none of the roads are cleared of snow in the winter and thus Selfoss, as well as Dettifoss, are only accessible from about June to September, depending on the road and weather conditions.

The waterfall Selfoss is not to be confused with the homonymous town in the southwestern part of the country.

Silfra

For more information about the rift, see Þingvellir National Park.

Skaftafell

Skaftafell is an area within the Vatnajökull National Park in the south of Iceland and well known for its scenic landscape. The Skaftafell visitor centre and campsite are located at the end of the road 998, about 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) after the turn-off from road 1, and mark the starting point for all hiking routes in the area.

Svartifoss, the “black waterfall”, is the most popular hiking destination here. The trail is well marked and leads over a distance of 5.5 kilometres (3.4 miles) with an elevation gain of 170 metres (557.7 feet) to the waterfall and back again, whereby about 1 hour and 30 minutes should be scheduled. The name refers to the dark basalt columns that surround it, by the way.
The most impressive viewpoints on the landscape and the adjacent glacier, however, offer the steep mountain peaks of Kristínartindar (1,126 metres/3,694 feet). A day hike to them leads over a distance of 18.3 kilometres (11.4 miles; round trip) with an elevation gain of 1,150 metres (3,773 feet). About 7 hours should be scheduled in total and coordinates can be found again on wikiloc (login required). However, this trail is only passable from about mid-June to mid-September and even then it can be impassable as a result of adverse weather conditions. Further information about the condition of all hiking routes is always displayed at the Skaftafell visitor centre.

Also note that parking fees have been introduced in August 2017 in order to maintain the area. The fee for a normal car is 600 ISK and for all larger vehicles 900 ISK.

In regard to camping, the official campsite beside the visitor centre must be used. Wild camping is prohibited by law throughout the Skaftafell area.

Skógafoss

Standing almost right in front of one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland gives you a feeling of being tiny. The fact that you are getting drenched within seconds while doing this, does not change this feeling either. Skógafoss is located in the south of Iceland next to the route 1, has a width of 25 metres (82 feet) and a high of 60 metres (196.9 feet). There is also a walking path that leads up to the cliffs right beside the waterfall.

Another waterfall called Kvernufoss can be found nearby.

Stakkholtsgjá

For more information about the gorge, see Þórsmörk and Goðaland.

Stjórnarfoss

This small but beautiful waterfall in the southeastern part of Iceland is easily reachable by the gravel road 203. About 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) northwest of the village Kirkjubæjarklaustur, the waterfall is situated in the middle of a wide valley on the left side of the road.

Strokkur

The very active geyser Strokkur is located in the southwestern part of Iceland by the road 35, about 28 kilometres (17.4 miles) east of the village Laugarvatn. Unlike his neighbour, the great Geysir, Strokkur erupts every few minutes and reaches a height of 25 to 35 metres (82 to 114.8 feet).

The geysers are also part of the so-called “Golden Circle”, a route that starts and ends in Reykjavík and includes the attractions ÞingvellirGeysir, Strokkur and Gullfoss.

Stuðlagil

This gorge is surrounded by marvellous walls of basalt columns. It is located in the east of Iceland by the gravel road 923, about 72 kilometres (44.7 miles) southwest of the town Egilsstaðir. From the west side of the river, the gorge can be visited easily. There is a short trail that starts at the farm Grund. To visit the gorge from the east side of the river, which is more interesting, you have to hike about 4 kilometres (2.5 miles; one way). The trail begins at the bridge to the farm Klaustursel. From there, you have to cross the bridge and follow the path upstream. Return the same way.

Svartifoss

For more information about the waterfall, see Skaftafell.

Þingvellir National Park

There is much to tell about Þingvellir. First of all, the place in the southwest of Iceland is of great historical importance. The Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, was founded in Þingvellir in 930 and remained there until 1798. To protect this cultural heritage, the place and the surrounding area was then declared a national park in 1930. The first one in Iceland at this time.

But it’s also interesting from a geological perspective. Þingvellir is situated in a rift valley between the North American and the Eurasian continental plate, which drifts about 2 centimetres (0.8 inches) further apart each year. This is also clearly visible through the fault lines which traverse the area. A good place to see this, is the viewing platform Hakið, right beside the visitor centre by the road 36. The largest fault is called Almannagjá and extend over a distance of 7.7 kilometres (4.8 miles), with a greatest width of 64 metres (210 feet) and a depth of up to 40 metres (131.2 feet).

The rift Silfra, however, is a well-known dive site. Its clear glacial water offers an unparalleled underwater visibility of more than 100 metres (328.1 feet). But since it’s a national park, you have to book a guided tour to view this exceptional place yourself. The company Scuba Iceland offers scuba diving tours, for which several certifications are required, as well as snorkelling tours for everyone. Both are possible the entire year and the necessary equipment is provided.

There is also a small waterfall called Öxarárfoss in the northern part of the area.

Due to the strongly increased tourism, parking fees have been introduced in May 2016 in order to maintain the national park. The fee for a normal car is 500 ISK per day and for a 4×4 vehicle 750 ISK. In addition, smaller tour buses with up to 18 passengers are charged with 1,500 ISK per day and larger tour buses with 3,000 ISK.

The national park is also part of the so-called “Golden Circle”, a route that starts and ends in Reykjavík and includes the attractions ÞingvellirGeysir, Strokkur and Gullfoss.

Þórsmörk and Goðaland

Þórsmörk (“Thor’s forest”) is a popular hiking area in the southern highlands of Iceland. It’s accessible by the mountain road F249 from about May to mid-September, depending on the weather and road conditions. But like on all mountain roads, a 4×4 vehicle is essential. From the town Selfos the distance is about 97 kilometres (60.3 miles) and from the capital Reykjavík about 152 kilometres (94.4 miles). The companies Reykjavík ExcursionsSterna Travel (Iceland by Bus) and TREX also operate this route by highland buses in the previously mentioned months.

There are a lot of hiking routes that traverse the area, but a hike to the summit of the mountain Valahnúkur (465 metres/1525.6 feet) and its panorama should not be missed. A good starting point for the hike are the Volcano Huts in the Húsadalur valley. Here are the coordinates on wikiloc. The round trip leads over a distance of 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles) with an elevation gain of 349 metres (1,145 feet), for which about 1 hours and 30 minutes should be scheduled. The hiking trail is well marked and the Skagfjörðsskáli hut is located along the way.

The river Krossá separates Þórsmörk from the area in the south, which is called Goðaland (“Good land”). Hikers can cross the river branches at movable bridges, which are made available as soon as the water level permits. Wading through them is not recommended since the current can be very strong.

The gorge Stakkholtsgjá is another worthwhile hiking destination. The route begins by the mountain road F249, south of the river Krossá, and leads over a distance of 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) into the gorge, over a shallow stream, to a small waterfall and back again. About 1 hour and 15 minutes should be scheduled for this hike. Coordinates can be found on wikiloc.

Þórsmörk is also the end (or the start) of the Laugavegur, Iceland’s most famous and beautiful trekking route, which starts in Landmannalaugar. However, it’s also possible to continue the trek over Fimmvörðuháls mountain pass in the south to the hamlet Skógar. Once again, here are the coordinates on wikiloc. This route leads over a distance of 26.6 kilometres (16.5 miles) with a cumulative elevation gain of about 1,629 metres (5,344.5 feet) and can be accomplished within one day, but there are also three mountain huts with campsites along the way – the Básar hutFimmvörðuskáli hut and Baldvinsskáli hut. These mountain huts must also be reserved in advance and hikers have to bring their own sleeping bags. In regard to camping, hikers are encouraged to use the official campsites in order to preserve the area.

Additional information: Þórsmörk is neither a national park nor a nature reserve, although it’s often referred to as one. Source: Environment Agency of Iceland (Umhverfisstofnun). Nevertheless, the area should be treated with the same respect.

Þjófafoss

This waterfall is situated in the southwest of Iceland, in the barren landscape of the Merkurhraun lava field next to the road 26. About 77 kilometres (47.8 miles) northeast of the town Selfoss. Since Þjófafoss is not signposted, look out for a turn-off to a gravel road to the left of the road, before you pass the mountain Búrfell. From this point, it’s about 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) to the waterfall.

Þórufoss

The waterfall can be found in the southwest of Iceland, right beside the gravel road 48. About 36 kilometres (22.4 miles) northeast of the capital Reykjavík. However, Þórufoss is not visible from the road, so look out for a small sign with a gravel lay-by to the right of the road.

Teitsbrekkutindur

For more information about the mountain peak, see Vestrahorn.

Rauðisandur

The name of this beautiful beach means literally “red sand” and it’s almost endless. Or at least as far as you can see since about 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) are quite long. Rauðisandur is located in the southwest of the Westfjords of Iceland by the gravel road 614. About 32 kilometres (19.9 miles) south of the town Patreksfjörður. There’s also a small French café by the beach – Franska kaffihúsið.

Ófærufoss

This waterfall is located in the gorge Eldgjá in the southern highlands of Iceland and is accessible by the mountain road F208, which also leads to Landmannalaugar. A 4×4 vehicle is essential for this road, which is passable from about mid-June to mid-September, depending on the road and weather conditions. The interesting feature of Ófærufoss is that the water falls down in two stages.

A short stop in gorge Eldgjá, from where you can hike to the waterfall, is also part of the highland bus trip from Skaftafell to Landmannalaugar (route 10), offered by the company Reykjavík Excursions.

Öxarárfoss

For more information about the waterfall, see Þingvellir National Park.

Valahnúkur

For more information about the mountain, see Þórsmörk and Goðaland.

Vestrahorn

Although Vestrahorn (454 metres/1489.5 feet) is only the name of one mountain peak, it’s often used to describe the entire mountain range, which consists also of the peaks Klifatindur (847 metres/2778.9 feet), Teitsbrekkutindur (674 metres/2211.3 feet) and Kambhorn (650 metres/2132.6 feet). The best view on this mountain range offers the peninsula Stokksnes in the east of Iceland, about 16 kilometres (9.9 miles) east of the town Höfn í Hornafirði. Along with the black sand dunes and the sparse vegetation, the peninsula also offers marvellous photo opportunities.

Whale watching

At the north and west coast of Iceland, there are many companies that offer whale watching tours by boat. Most of them operate all year, but not all. Also keep in mind that it can get quite cold on long boat trips since you sail towards the open sea. Therefore, wear several layers of warm clothes to stay warm all the time. A pair of gloves and a cap can also be useful. Some operators also provide waterproof coats and hot beverages during a tour.

Companies in Reykjavík: Elding Whale WatchingSpecial ToursWhale SafariReykjavík Sailors and Ambassador. In Grundarfjörður: Láki Tours. In Akureyri: Whale Watching Akureyri and Ambassador. In Hauganes: Whale Watching Hauganes. In Dalvík: Arctic Sea Tours. And last but not least in Húsavík: Gentle GiantsNorth Sailing and Salka Whale Watching.

© 2015–2017 Eric Hoffmann – Iceland Travel Guide – Breathtaking Places

Iceland Travel Guide – Breathtaking Places – ichbinkreativ

23 Comments

  1. D
    Daphne Low

    Thank you for your detailed article on breathtaking places in Iceland, particularly highlighting on places which are not accessible during winter. This has helped heaps in our planning for next year early march Iceland itinerary. We have came out with a draft itinerary and would appreciate your help to advise whether the places below are
    1) accessible by a 2WD car? (we have no experience driving 4WD car)
    2) which of the above are considered as F-roads?
    3) Is the road well maintained during winter?
    We are young couple with no winter driving experience, but would very much prefer to venture on our own, so we hope you could guide us on the places which are safe enough for beginners to explore. We have 14days here btw  Below is our draft itinerary (subject to changes)

    Day 1 – Golden Circle
    Þingvellir National Park (From Reykjavík )
    Geysers at Haukadalur
    – 2 famous geyser Geysir and Strokkur
    Gulfoss Waterfall

    Day 2
    Kerið Crater Lake
    Hveragerði greenhouse village
    Skalholt Cathederal
    Secret Lagoon
    Spend a night in Arborg

    Day 3
    Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
    Gljúfrabúi Waterfall
    Gljúfrafoss Waterfall
    Skógafoss Waterfall
    Kvernufoss
    Dyrhólaey Arch
    Reynisfjara Beach
    Spend a night in Vik

    Day 4
    Skaftafell
    – Hike Svartifoss Waterfall (2 hours return)
    -Hike Sjónarnípa trail
    Stay a night at Fagurhólsmýri (near Local Guide HQ)

    Day 5
    Hiking Vatnajökull glacier (blue crystal) – 10.15am hike
    Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon
    Jökulsárlón iceberg lagoon
    – Jökulsárlón Beach
    Spend a night in Vagnsstadir / Höfn

    Day 6
    Seyðisfjörður
    Lagarfljot Lake (Lake Logurinn)
    Ásbyrgi Canyon
    Húsavík – whale watching capital
    Spend a night at Húsavík

    Day 7
    Lake Mývatn
    Námafjall geothermal area – Hverir
    Krafla Power Station
    Krafla volcano area
    Crater lake Víti of Krafla
    Leirhnjúkur lava fields
    Mývatn Nature Baths
    Spend a night at Mývatn

    Day 8
    Dimmuborgir Lava Field
    Skútustaðagígar Pseudo Crater
    Goðafoss Waterfall
    Church Akureyrarkirkja
    Spend a night at Akureyri

    Day 9
    Dalvík
    Tröllaskagi (7min to town Siglufjörður, from Siglufjörður 50min to Hosfos)
    – Villages in Siglufjörður and Hofsós
    Varmahlíð
    Glaumbær Farm
    Víðimýrarkirkja Church
    Blönduós
    Vatnsnes Arch (Hvítserkur arch) (about 35-45 to both places below)
    Sleep around Laugarbakki or Hvammstangi

    Day 10
    Stykkishólmur
    -see Breiðafjörður bay
    Grundarfjörður
    -Mountain Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellfoss waterfall.
    Snæfellsjökull Volcano & Glacier (mountain view only)
    Hellnar
    Arnarstapi
    Stay a night at south Snæfellsnes

    Day 11
    Gerduberg (Basalt Columns)
    Eldborg Crater
    Borgarnes
    Hraunfossar
    Barnafoss
    Stay a night at Reykjavík

    Day 12
    Blue Lagoon
    Krýsuvík Geothermal Area
    Reykjanes Hill lighthouse

    • Hello Daphne,

      as long as you check the local weather forecast on the website of the Icelandic Meteorological Office and the current road conditions on the The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration at least once in the morning – and travel accordingly to them – you should be fine while driving through Iceland in winter. =] Also take a look at the Iceland Travel Guide – Basics and Advice, if you have not already done so. Do not rely on estimated driving times on Google Maps, especially in winter. Add more time in case of bad weather and driving conditions – have a backup plan. And of course, driving during the daylight hours is much more comfortable/safer than during the night.

      Day 1: The route is doable without problem within one day. The roads in the southwest of Iceland, around Reykjavík, are usually well maintained during winter, since it’s the most densely inhabited region. Please note that the Geysir only erupts very infrequent every few years, unlike the geyser Strokkur. Where do you plan to spend the night? If you have much time left that day, you can also make a short visit of the Faxi (Vatnsleysufoss) waterfall – see map.

      Day 2
      OK. But be aware that the so called ”Secret Lagoon“ is anything but secret …

      Day 3
      OK. However, drive mindfully on the road 218 towards Dyrhólaey and the road 215 towards Reynisfjara, since these are minor roads, which are, of course, not as often maintained as the road 1. Simply use common sense. Do not drive on fresh and high snow.

      Day 4
      OK. Check at the visitor center if the trail to the Sjónarnípa viewpoint is passable. The road 1 in the southeast part of Iceland, between Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Breiðdalsvík, is rather exposed to the open sea, therefore strong winds are common. Drive carefully at this part and take eventual travel warnings very seriously.

      Day 5
      OK. Concerning the hike at the Vatnajökull glacier, i guess you mean a guided ice cave tour? If not, book a guided tour please. The same advice of day 4, concerning the road 1, applies to this day.

      Day 6
      This distance is too far. Maybe spend one night in Seyðisfjörður or Egilsstaðir? In addition maybe add then a short visit of the Stokksnes peninsula, east of Höfn.
      The region between Egilsstaðir and the lake Mývatn is uninhabited by the way. Also keep in mind that the road 864 and the northern part of the road 862 are not maintained/passable during the winter.

      Day 7
      Drive towards Húsavík on this day. Also note that the unnamed road to the Víti crater and the Leirhnjúkur lava field is most likely not passable/maintained in winter. Furthermore accommodations are limited around Lake Mývatn, better look further north. Do the whale watching tour in the evening or in the next morning.

      Day 8
      OK. Maybe a long day, if you do a whale watching tour in the morning.

      Day 9
      OK, but also a long day. Also note that the road 711 to the Hvítserkur basalt stack is maybe not passable with a normal car in winter. It’s only a gravel road by the way. Accommodations maybe limited around Laugarbakki or Hvammstangi.

      Day 10
      OK, but again probably a long day and probably very limited accommodations.

      Day 11
      OK, but once again a long day, maybe a bit too long.

      Day 12
      OK. Book your visit of the Blue Lagoon definitely in advance.

      Hope that helps with your planning. =]

  2. F
    Florencia

    hi! really very detailed post! i am travelling to Iceland from november 11th till the 19th , alone, renting a car to go everywhere possible in this time of the year. What would you recommend? thanks a lot, Flor

  3. Hi Florencia,

    for about 9 days, I would recommend to travel along the south coast of Iceland, since there are many easily accessible but nonetheless marvellous places. I think it’s the most rewarding experience for first time visitors, even if some of the sites are a bit truistic nowadays. Here are the major attractions: Þingvellir National Park –Strokkur – Gullfoss – Seljalandsfoss – Skógafoss – Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve – Reynisfjara – Skaftafell (Ice cave tours) – Jökulsárlón.
    Of course you can also skip or add places along the road, according to your own interest and travel speed. If you have enough time left, the Snæfellsnes peninsula in the west of Iceland is also recommendable.

    But keep in mind that between the 11th and the 19th November, the day length is only about 7 to 6 hours. In addition, I recommend that you also take a look at my Iceland Travel Guide – Basics and Advice. =]

  4. C
    Carol Holmes

    Great info and photos. I have added a few waterfall spots to my plan thank to your writeup. We are 14 days, driving the Ring Road and Golden Circle in 5 days

  5. C
    Carol Holmes

    meant leaving 5 day, 2 weeks to do the trip

    • Thank you, Carol. Two weeks are a solid choices for exploring some of Iceland without haste. I wish you a good journey. =]

  6. A
    Archana

    Hi we are traveling from nov 1 for 7 days
    This is our plan, we are flexible to extending it for a another 3 days (so do let us know any hidden gems) or changing it a bit so do give your suggestions.

    DAY 1
    Airport
    Reykjavík, Iceland
    Seljalandsfoss
    Skagafoss
    Vellir Guest House

    DAY 2
    Vellir Guest House
    Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
    Dyrhólaey Lighthouse, Iceland
    Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland
    Dverghamrar, Iceland
    Fjaðrárgljúfur, Iceland
    Klaustur-Hof Guesthouse
    Total driving+ sight seeing time

    DAY 3
    Klaustur-Hof Guesthouse
    Skaftafell
    Svartifoss
    National Park – Ice Cave
    Jökulsárlón- stay

    DAY 4
    Jokesarlon
    Fjallsárlón Glacial Lagoon
    Diamond beach
    silfra fissur- snorkling
    Eldrahun
    Stay – Hulduheimar. /Laugarvatn-

    DAY 5
    Golden circle
    a. Thingvellir national park – 9 am
    b. Geysir – 1 pm
    C. Gulfoss Falss
    D. Kerid – crater
    Falls
    Stay – Hulduheimar. /Laugarvatn-

    DAY 6
    Almannagjá
    Reykjavík, Iceland
    Blue Lagoon
    Airport

    • Hello Archana, here are my thoughts about your itinerary:

      DAY 1
      Sounds possible. But depending on your flight, the day can maybe exhausting.

      DAY 2
      Possible.

      DAY 3
      Possible. But keep in mind that you must book a ice cave tour in advance. Moreover, you are very early in the season. Depending on the actual temperatures at the beginning of November, some of the ice caves are maybe not safe enough to be entered. See the travel guide for company recommendations and take a look at their possible tour dates.
      Concerning the accommodation, as far as I know, there is no Hotel or Guesthouse directly beside the glacier lagoon. Therefore, a short reminder: you must book your accommodations far in advance. Simply showing up somewhere can result in very high prices or in the worst case, that there is no room available.

      DAY 4
      This is too much for one day. The drive alone takes about 5 hours – if you have good weather.
      About snorkeling in the rift Silfra, you must book a guided tour in order to do this. See the travel guide for recommendations. Furthermore, I am not sure that you have planned with the right location of it. Silfra is within the Þingvellir National Park.

      DAY 5
      Possible.

      DAY 6
      The Almannagjá fault lies within the Þingvellir National Park. So you will probably see it on the day before. Concerning the Blue Lagoon, make your reservation far in advance.

      In general, like mentioned in the Iceland Travel Guide – Basics and Advice, check the weather forecast and road conditions at least once in the morning and drive accordingly to them. Also keep in mind that you have about 8 to 7 hours of daylight at the beginning of November.

      Hope that helps. Have a good and safe journey!

  7. A
    Archana

    Hi Eric,
    Thanks for the detailed response. As it is early part of the winter is it okay to plan the complete circle within 10 days? Or it is better to cover only the southern side. Also will the F roads be accessible during early November? Thanks again.

    • Hi Archana,

      In theory, it is possible to travel around Iceland in 10 days in November. But I would not recommend it. First and foremost, everything depends on the weather and road conditions. But since the weather is unpredictable, you can either have no problems or a storm can lead to road closures, which could delay your entire itinerary. That is why I recommend to check the weather and road conditions at least once in the morning. If you really want to explore the whole country, I would recommend a visit during the summer months or at least a rather slow itinerary with more days in case of adverse weather conditions. Secondly, the whole journey also depends on your own travel habits and fitness. Some people can drive all day long and still have energy left for some hiking, but other are maybe already tired after a short drive and one or two stops along the road. This is also one reason why I have not written any sample itineraries – because everyone is different.

      Concerning mountain roads (F-roads), do not travel on them in November. Stick to the road 1.

  8. D
    Doron Nadivi

    This is one of the best most detailed articles I have read about attractions in Iceland! Great stuff! Thanks for sharing Eric.
    I would like to make one suggestion as a follow up post – I see you (wisely) use reference to each attraction and the dates.
    Maybe it is worth doing a post “Attractions in Iceland based on month” where you will put in each month the attractions that weather allow to be done in those months

    • Thank you for the praise, Doron. =] 

      Regarding your suggestion, I understand that this is a lot of information for people who visit Iceland for the first time. However, I don’t think that categorising the travel guide by months would make the content more comprehensible. 



      Think of the road 1 as a guideline. Most nature attractions along this road or in vicinity of towns are usually accessible throughout the year. Hope that helps you a bit. Safe travels! =]

  9. K
    Kimberlie Bruggeman

    I, too, am wondering (kind of feeling disheartened after seeing all the April – September, etc restrictions in this VERY excellent article) which attractions are available in winter months. We leave in 1 week for Iceland and now I’m kind of concerned there won’t be much to see.

    • Thank you for the praise, Kimberlie.

      Like mentioned in my reply to Doron, think of the road 1 as a guideline. There are many nature attractions along the road 1 or in vicinity of towns that are usually accessible even in winter. Moreover, the entire landscape is marvellous. Thus, you do not need to be concerned. Enjoy your journey! =]

  10. D
    Doron Nadivi

    Amazing post. So useful, so detailed.
    We are travelling via campervan between 27.4-11.5
    Eric, Is it possible to do the whole road 1 + detours to the places that you mention that are passable without 4×4 in May?
    Thanks

    • Yes, it’s possible to drive around Iceland in about two weeks in May. But keep the advice from my Iceland Travel Guide – Basics and Advice in mind as well as the regulations for camping with campervans. Wish you a good time, Doron! =]

  11. K
    Kirsten Steinhöfel

    Dear Eric, thank you for this detailed post full of valuable information. We’ll be traveling to Iceland for a week in early May this year. After reading that some roads only open around June, I’m unsure, if we’ll be able to reach all of our destinations (i.e. Gulfoss Geyser might not be accessible, as it seems to be on the F35).
    Would you know, if all hostels in the south of the Island can usually be reached by car in May? And if the F roads are closed, would we still need to hire a 4×4 or would a normal car be sufficient?
    I’d greatly appreciate your help and advice.
    Best wishes, Kirsten

  12. Hi Kirsten,

    the warerfall Gulfoss and Geysir/Strokkur are located at a normal road (35) and usually accesible throughout the year. Furthermore, all hostels should be open and reachable in May. And you usually do not need a 4×4 vehicle in this month, a normal car should be sufficient.

    Safe travels! =]

  13. C
    Cindy Leckey

    Eric,

    Your information is great. My friend and I booked a last minute trip. We arrive late on April 11th and leave at 5 pm on the 16th. Any recommendations for this 4 1/2 day trip? We will be renting a car.

    Thank you for any insight!!

    • Hi Cindy,

      four and a half days are not much to explore Iceland. I would recommend that you focus on the south of the country, since there are many easy accessible but nonetheless great nature attractions. Depending on your interests, maybe one day for visiting the placed along ”Golden Circle“ (Þingvellir, Geysir, Strokkur and Gullfoss), two or more days for exploring the locations along the south coast (Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Reynisfjara and maybe even Jökulsárlón) and a half or an entire day for Reykjavík. These are only the major attraction, but of course you can also visit the smaller ones along the way. But remember to check the weather and road conditions at least once in the morning and drive accordingly to them.

      Safe travels!

  14. K
    Kathir

    (3/6) Day 1- Reykjvik Landing at 0835 (BnB check in 4pm)

    * Explore nearby, stock up on food & rest.

    (4/6) Day 2- (BnB check in at 2pm)

    * Golden circle

    * Þingvellir National Park

    * Öxarárfoss

    * Almannagjá

    * Silfra (Diving)

    * Brúarfosd

    * Faxi (Vatnsleysufoss)

    * Geysir & Strokkur

    * Gullfoss waterfalls

    * Secret Lagoon, Friðheimar, Reykholt, Iceland

    (5/6) Day 3- (Same BnB)

    * Reykjadalur hot spring

    * Kerif crater lake

    * Gullfoss waterfalls

    * Secret Lagoon, Friðheimar, Reykholt, Iceland

    (6/6) Day 4- (BnB check in 2pm)

    * Selfoss – seljaland waterfalls

    * Gljúfrabúi

    * Tjaldsvæðið Eystra-Seljalandi

    * Skogafoss (River Fjadra)

    * Kvernufoss

    (7/6) Day 5- (BnB check in 3pm)

    * Seljavallalaug Pool

    * Solheimasandur Plane Wreck

    * Dyrhólaey Arch

    * Reynisfjara Beach

    * Fjaðrárgljúfur, Iceland (canyon, far from the beach)

    (8/6) Day 6- (BnB check in 3pm)

    * Explore Hornafjordur

    * Jökulsárlón, glacier

    * Diamond beach (optional, far from the BnB)

    * Jökulsárlón Beach

    * Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon

    * Hiking Vatnajökull glacier

    * This is an ice cave, best explore with a tour guide

    (9/6) Day 7- (BnB check in 4 pm)

    * Seyðisfjörður

    * Lagarfljot Lake (Lake Logurinn)

    Rest and Relax 🙂

    (10/6) Day 8- (same BnB)

    * Djupvogur

    * Breiddulvik

    Rest and relax 🙂

    (11/6) Day 9- (BnB check in 5pm)

    * Lake Mývatn

    * Námafjall geothermal area – Hverir

    * Krafla volcano area

    * Crater lake

    * Leirhnjúkur

    (12/6) Day 10- (same BnB)

    * Dimmuborgir Lava Field

    * Skútustaðagígar Pseudo Crater

    * Goðafoss Waterfall

    * Dalvík (optional)

    * Tröllaskagi (optional)

    (13/6) Day 11- (BnB check in 3pm)

    * Grundarfjörður

    * Snæfellsjökull Volcano & Glacier

    * Kirkjufellfoss waterfall

    * Hellnar

    * Arnarstapi

    Long drive back to the last BnB

    (14/6) Day 12- (BnB check in 3pm)

    * Blue lagoon (ticket timing 4pm)

    Rest and relax for the day!

    • Hi Kathir,

      here are my thoughts regarding your itinerary:

      Day 1: Sounds fine. But keep in mind that the international airport is located in Keflavík, not in Reykjavík.

      Day 2: This is probably too much for only one day. Diving in the rift Silfra requires a guided tour as well as the necessary diving certifications. Otherwise you can only do a snorkeling tour, which usually lasts about three hours. Reserve the tour in advance.

      Day 3: Visiting the remaining places from day two on this day is probably a good idea.

      Day 4: Fine.

      Day 5: Fine.

      Day 6: Hornafjörður is a large region, I do not know what exactly you are looking for there. Jökulsárlón is a glacier lagoon, not a glacier. Furthermore, the beach downriver from the lagoon is also called ”Diamond Beach“, because of the icebergs. However, this is rather stupid marketing name that was created in the last years. Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Iceland with several outlet glacier, on which you can hike. However, hiking on a glacier without proper knowledge or equipment can be extremely dangerous. Therefore, unless you are an experienced mountaineer, you must book a guided tour. See the travel guide for more information, please. The same applies regarding the visit of an ice cave. This is not possible during this time of the year.

      Day 7: Fine.

      Day 8: Both places are located along the road towards Seyðisfjörður. Not sure, why you like to drive back again.

      Day 9: Fine.

      Day 10: Fine. But the Tröllaskagi peninsula is rather large, I am not sure what you like to visit there.

      Day 11: Depending on your accommodation, the day can include a lot of driving. You can see the Snæfellsjökull from the road, but there are also some hiking trails in the region.

      Day 12: Fine. Remember to book the Blue Lagoon well in advanced in order to get a ticket for the time you like.

      Safe travels!

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