Glacier Lagoon and Eastern Iceland
There are many opportunities to stop along the south coast of the Ring Road but in order to see the whole island in a small amount of time you must prioritize. If possible do not stop often between Vik and Höfn. Head to Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoon) one of Iceland’s most popular attractions near Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier. The lagoon gets larger as the glacier gets smaller each year, demonstrating the extreme effects of global warming. Each time you visit Jökulsárlón will be unique because the landscape is ever-changing. Check out Diamond Beach to see the glistening ice washing up from the Atlantic Ocean onto the black sand. If you’re lucky you might even see a few seals swimming around the lagoon! If you are interested in a boat tour, glacier walk/caving expedition this is the place to do so. The lagoon is accessible all year round weather permitting.
-The lagoon is around 5-6 hours away from Reykjavík so if your trip is only 2-3 days this is the turn around point.
After Jökulsárlón head north east in the direction of Akureryi.
Day 5 -Day 6
Myvatn and Dettifoss: The Diamond Circle
Once you’ve reached the northern region make an essential stop at Dettifoss: the most powerful waterfall in Europe averaging 96,500 gallons of water falling per second. The translation of Dettifoss is “collapsing waterfall” with bone shattering drops surrounding the 45 meter behemoth. Dettifoss was showcased in the opening scene of Ridley Scott’s 2012 Alien prequel Prometheus. The forceful waterfall creates mist that can be seen from miles away. Located in Vatnajökull National Park, the waterfall is runoff from Vatnajökull glacier which causes the sediment rich water to be grayish white in color.
Directions: From the Ring Road turn onto road 864. Check road conditions before beginning the drive because the road is closed during the winter and does not open until early May.
If you have extra time hike upriver in the Jökulsárglijúfur canyon to Selfoss, another beautiful set of waterfalls which are often overlooked in comparison to Dettifoss.
Myvatn: The Iceland you’e always dreamed of: serene volcanic landscape
Lake Myvatn is a best kept secret in the north with many worthy places to visit. Filled with otherworldly terrain including steam vents, bubbling mud pits and volcanic craters. This is the closest you will ever feel to being on Mars.
Myvatn Natural Baths is a must-visit naturally heated lagoon filled with blue water comparable to the Blue Lagoon but without the tourists and half the price!
Where to Eat: The Cowshed
The Cowshed is a local farm-to-table restaurant where the animals are raised with love, dignity and respect. From an American perspective this high standard of living is rare. Most US meat products (unless otherwise stated) are filled with harmful pathogens and antibiotics and they are raised in extremely cruel, fear inducing conditions.
On the bright side, wonderful places like the Cowshed exist that place a priority on the wellbeing of the animals to get a highly nutritious result. Before you even walk inside the restaurant you can see the living conditions of the livestock and say hello! These are some of the most friendly cows I’ve ever met, they were so happy to receive attention. Needless to say I was quickly covered in their saliva from nonstop licking.
Grjótagjá is a small hot spring cave in the Lake Myvatn area. Heated by volcanic activity, the cave is currently too hot to swim in but is worth a visit to admire its beauty. It is also prohibited to take a dip in an attempt to preserve the pristine conditions within the cave. The hot spring cave was used as a film location in the popular television show Game of Thrones season three episode Kissed by Fire. The secret love nest where Jon Snow lost his v-card to Ygritte is a fantasy destination for any fan of the series.
If you aren’t done chasing waterfalls check out Godafoss.
Spend some time visiting Iceland’s second largest city, Akureyri. The city is small but full of charisma with good places to eat and nice shops.
Day 8 – Day 10
After passing through Akureyri, you are officially heading back towards Reykjavík. Continue on the Ring Road through the fjords along the coast. Depending on the time of year, the sun doesn’t go down completely in this area so don’t plan on getting much sleep. The fast pace of the trip can begin to slow down depending on how many days you have left. Plan ahead accordingly. Remember to check the hot pot map to see if any hot springs align with your route along the way. Enjoy your last few days in the wonderful country of Iceland!