When it comes to epic road trips, few can rival the enchanting journey along Iceland’s famous Ring Road. This 1332-kilometer highway, also known as Route 1, encircles the entire island, offering travelers an unparalleled opportunity to explore the diverse and breathtaking landscapes of this Nordic wonderland. In this article, we will embark on a virtual adventure, guiding you through every twist and turn of the Ring Road road trip, from the mesmerizing waterfalls to the awe-inspiring glaciers.
Getting Started: Reykjavik to Akureyri
Our journey begins in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital and largest city. After landing at Keflavik International Airport, most travelers opt to spend a day or two exploring the city’s vibrant culture, thermal baths, and iconic landmarks like the Hallgrímskirkja church. Once you’re ready to hit the road, rent a reliable four-wheel-drive vehicle, as some parts of the Ring Road may be challenging without it.
The Golden Circle
Your first major stop is the Golden Circle, a popular tourist route that includes three stunning attractions:
Thingvellir National Park
Located within the rift valley between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, Thingvellir National Park offers both geological wonder and historical significance. Explore the Almannagjá Gorge, where the two continents are drifting apart, and visit the site of Iceland’s first parliament, the Althingi.
Geysir Geothermal Area
The Geysir Geothermal Area is home to the famous Strokkur geyser, which erupts every few minutes, shooting boiling water into the air. Witness this natural spectacle and take a stroll among bubbling mud pots and hot springs.
Gullfoss, or the “Golden Falls,” is a massive two-tiered waterfall that plunges into a rugged canyon. The view from various observation points will leave you in awe of nature’s grandeur.
Heading North: Akureyri to Egilsstadir
As you continue northward along the Ring Road, you’ll find yourself in Akureyri, Iceland’s second-largest city, known for its botanical gardens, vibrant arts scene, and stunning fjords.
Explore Akureyri’s picturesque streets, visit the Akureyri Church, and enjoy local cuisine at charming cafes. Don’t forget to take a dip in the geothermal pools to relax before the next leg of your journey.
The Mývatn Region
Lake Mývatn is a geological wonderland featuring surreal landscapes shaped by volcanic activity. Visit the pseudo-craters at Skútustaðir and the otherworldly Hverir geothermal area with bubbling mud pots and hissing vents.
Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall, is a must-see. The sheer force of the water cascading down is a humbling experience, and the views from the surrounding cliffs are spectacular.
Continue eastward, where you’ll encounter the charming town of Seydisfjordur and its colorful houses. Explore the stunning fjords, visit Petra’s Stone Collection, and embrace the tranquility of the Eastfjords.
Southbound Adventure: Egilsstadir to Vatnajokull National Park
Heading south, the landscape becomes more dramatic and rugged. The Ring Road will take you to Vatnajokull National Park, a world of ice and fire.
Vatnajokull National Park
Known as the “Black Falls,” Svartifoss is famous for its surrounding basalt columns, creating a striking contrast against the white cascading water.
Book a guided glacier hike or explore the magical ice caves within Vatnajokull, an experience that will leave you speechless.
The Ring Road road trip in Iceland is a journey like no other, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and unforgettable adventures. From the mesmerizing waterfalls and geothermal wonders to the dramatic fjords and glacial landscapes, this route truly showcases the best of Iceland.