Visit Reykjavik, Akureyri, Lake Myvatn, the Eastfjords and South Coast • Time to explore waterfalls, glacier lagoons, volcanoes and hot springs
ITINERARY – 10 DAYS
DAY 1 ARRIVE ICELAND – HVERAGERDI
Once you have landed at Keflavik Airport, please pick up your luggage and head through customs. Collect your rental car at the airport and proceed to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time in Iceland, it may be ideal to stop and visit the renowned Blue Lagoon where you can relax in its geothermal waters. Afterward, drive along the southern coast of the Reykjanes Peninsula to the charming village of Hveragerdi for your overnight. This village is one of the few sites in the world located directly on top of a geothermal area and, because of its many greenhouses heated by hot water from nearby springs, it is often called the “flower village.” There are plenty of outdoor and wellness activities to enjoy here, and several restaurants with a unique local focus. Overnight in at the Hveragerdi area.
Important: admission to the Blue Lagoon needs to be booked in advance.
DAY 2 HVERAGERDI – GEYSIR – BORGARFJORDUR [B]
Breakfast at your hotel. Enjoy a day visiting the natural wonders of the Golden Circle region. Gullfoss is considered by many visitors to be Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls. Geysir is an active geothermal field with many bubbling steam vents and spouting hot springs, including the famous Strokkur geyser. Visit Thingvellir National Park, site of the ancient Icelandic Viking parliament and a jewel of nature. Here you can see the meeting point between the North American and Europe continents. Many important historical events happened here. Several walking trails and hiking trails take visitors to historical points of interest. Drive through the scenic area of Hvalfjordur fjord to Borgarfjordur, a region known for its Viking-age history and beautiful glacier-carved landscapes. Borgarfjordur is a popular local getaway for Icelanders from the Reykjavik area. It has been gaining popularity among international visitors for its special focus on home-made local foods and handicrafts. Visitors also enjoy outdoor activities such as caving, hiking and SuperJeep/snowmobile tours on Langjokull glacier. Overnight in Borgarfjordur area.
Travel Suggestion: The areas you‘ll explore today are full of geothermal activity, and that means hot spring relaxation! We recommend taking a break during the day to relax in a hot spring pool. In the Golden Circle area, we recommend the Fontana Steam Baths in Laugarvatn or the Secret Lagoon in Fludir.
Mid-June through Mid-September: If you have a 4WD vehicle, you can also take the scenic highland wilderness Kaldidalur track alongside Langjokull glacier to Borgarfjordur. The road generally is open between mid-June and mid-September.
DAY 3 BORGARFJORDUR – BLONGUOS – AKUREYRI [B]
Breakfast at your hotel. Spend part of the day exploring enjoyable activities in Borgarfjordur. This is one of our favorite areas to find local handicrafts and taste treats. Visit the beautiful Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls, and the enormous Deildartunguhver, the most powerful hot springs in Europe. Nearby is the lovely Krauma Natural Geothermal spa where you can relax in a variety of hot pools and take in the beautiful views. Enjoy adventure with a visit to the multi-colored Vidgelmir cave or take a guided trip up Langjokull Glacier to the fascinating, educational “Into the Glacier” ice cave. Walk in the footsteps of the Medieval chieftain and Saga author Snorri Sturluson at his home in Reykholt. The scenery changes to towering mountains and fertile valleys as you head into Skagafjordur, an area known for horse breeding and some of Iceland’s best- preserved historical buildings. One of these is Glaumbaer (Skagafjordur Heritage Museum), where you can visit a turf manor farm dating back to the 18th century and two charming 19th century timber houses. Continue to Akureyri, the capital of the north. Overnight in north Iceland.
DAY 4 AKUREYRI – LAKE MYVATN [B]
Breakfast at your hotel. Spend the morning exploring the town of Akureyri. The town has some of the finest timber buildings in the country, beautifully restored to their original glory. If you’re interested in culture, check out the trendy Listagil, the “Art Canyon”. You can stroll the street here, browsing art galleries and stopping in at one of the friendly cafes or pubs for delicious, locally sourced food. Several museums are worth a visit, including the Akureyri Art Museum and Nonnahus, the childhood home of a 19th century Icelandic author who enchanted European children with his stores about growing up in Iceland. You can also visit the symbol of the town, Akureyri Church. It was designed by the same architect who designed Reykjavik’s Hallgrimskirkja Church. Akureyri church has a beautiful design and stained-glass window. The botanical garden is open year-round; many visitors find it interesting that a garden so close to the Arctic Circle has such a large variety of plants. Akureyri also has one of the best swimming pools in the country. It’s a great way to enjoy both hot spring relaxation and check out the daily life in Akureyri. Continue your journey along Eyjafjordur, taking in spectacular views of the sea and fjord. The road leads towards Myvatn, but first stop to view the beautiful Godafoss waterfalls, which has a unique connection to Iceland’s Viking Age. Overnight in the Myvatn area.
Please note: The Ring Road route today contains a toll tunnel. More information on the tunnel and fees can be found online at: https://www.veggjald.is/en
DAY 5 LAKE MYVATN [B]
Today you are in for a treat: you have a wonderland of fantastical volcanic features you can explore in Myvatn Nature Reserve. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge you saw earlier in Thingvellir also runs through Myvatn, but it’s resulted in a completely different type of landscape. Stroll along footpaths circling the mystical lava formations at Dimmuborgir. Visit the surreal area surrounding Krafla, the volcano whose natural forces provide geothermal power to the area. Check out the otherworldly setting and colorful sulphurous slopes of Namaskard pass—it’s almost as though you are walking on the surface of Mars! Explore the Skutustadir craters and the strange lava columns rising out of the lake itself. This area was used in filming Game of Thrones. If you enjoy birdwatching, Myvatn is a popular resting spot for migrating birds from Europe and North America. May and June are the best months for birdwatching, but there are water birds in the lake throughout the spring, summer and fall. Myvatn also offers outdoor adventure. You can rent out bikes and follow trails along the lake (summertime) or take a guided horseback ride through lava-lined paths. SuperJeeps can take you into the wild majesty of the highland wilderness. And, after a day of exploration and fun, why not relax with a soak in the Myvatn Nature Baths. Here you can join area locals and enjoy the pools and the natural steam baths in a spectacular setting. The area also has several great restaurants that feature a local taste treat: Lake Myvatn smoked arctic charr on steam-baked rye bread. Overnight in the Myvatn area.
Travel tip: Many visitors find it helpful to bring a fly head net during the summer months because of midges around Lake Myvatn. (The midges are harmless but having a face net can make your visit more comfortable.)
DAY 6 LAKE MYVATN – HUSAVIK – EGILSSTADIR [B]
Breakfast at your accommodation. Remember to make sure you have a full tank of gas and some snacks to eat, as travel services are more limited on today’s route. Drive north to the fishing port of Husavik, where we suggest you stop to enjoy a whale watching boat tour (available Mar – Nov). The Whale Museum and the new Explorers’ Museum are also both worth a look. If you want to indulge in some hot spring relaxation, we recommend the unique geothermal sea bathing at the new GeoSea Natural Baths. Head around the fossil rich Tjornes peninsula on the edge of the Arctic Circle to the northern entrance of Vatnajokull National Park. The visitor’s center has helpful information on the wildlife and geology and trail conditions. Visit Asbyrgi, a magnificent horseshoe shaped canyon in the park. Trails wind through peaceful forested areas to a hidden canyon lake. The national park roads take you through dramatic canyonlands created by a river flowing from Vatnajokull glacier. The crown jewel of the area is surely Dettifoss waterfall, the most powerful cascade in Europe*. Continue across the vast highland plateau to Egilsstadir in the east. Overnight in East Iceland.
*Possible between late May and September. It is not possible to visit Dettifoss between October and April, as the roads to the waterfall are closed for winter travel. We then recommend following scenic Ring Road 1 from Myvatn to Egilsstadir. Important – Roads 864 and 862 near Dettifoss are gravel roads, and you must heed warning signs in the area if road conditions are not good for driving.
DAY 7 EGILSSTADIR – STORDVARFJORDUR – HOFN [B]
Breakfast at your hotel. A fantastic way to start the day is a refreshing swim in the Vok geothermal baths, where you can relax in unique floating pools set in a beautiful lake. Afterwards, you might enjoy visiting Hallormsstadur, Iceland’s first reforestation project and its largest woodland. It’s so peaceful to spend some moments here enjoying the sound of the wind in the trees and that special sense of nature unique to East Iceland. Drive alongside Lake Lagarfljot, home to a legendary monster. Perhaps you’ll also catch a glimpse of this elusive beast. Visit the award-winning Wilderness Center located at the edge of the hauntingly beautiful eastern highlands. You can discover Iceland’s pioneer history and highland nature in a clever interactive way. The Center is also famous for its farmhouse cafe. You can chat with the hosts as they prepare a meal made from historical recipes and with ingredients gathered from the highlands and area farms. Drive south through the spectacular Eastfjords, where towering mountains plunge vertically into the ocean. Each fjord has its own charm and history. Leave yourself plenty time, both for safe driving and for amazing views of the coast and Vatnajokull glacier. The journey continues to the town of Hofn in Hornafjordur, also known as the lobster capital of northern Europe. Perhaps you’ll try some of these langoustines for yourself at a local restaurant. Overnight in the Hofn area.
DAY 8 HOFN – SKAFTAFELL – KIRKJUBAEJARKLAUSTUR [B]
Breakfast at your hotel. You saw the northern part of Vatnajokull National Park; today you will visit the southern area. You’ll get great views of Vatnajokull glacier from different angles as you drive along the Ring Road. Visit the shimmering icebergs and the still, milky waters of Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon. Many people enjoy the chance to take a boat tour in the lagoon. If you want a different sort of sailing experience you can take the Zodiac boat tours offered on the nearby Iceberg Lagoon. Some icebergs from Vatnajokull glacier drift down onto the black sand Diamond Beach, a fantastic area for photographs. Continue to the national park’s Skaftafell area, a beautiful nature area surrounded by glaciers. There are many great hiking trails here, the most famous one leading to the basalt rimmed Svartifoss “Black Waterfall.” This trail is recommended for hiking during the summer months. We suggest stopping at the park’s Visitor Center to check out which trails are open and recommended for the time of year you are visiting. You can also get closer to the park’s glaciers with a guided ice hike. You’ll see amazing ice formations and learn interesting facts about how glaciers are formed. Head onwards to the picturesque village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur, once the site of a medieval convent. Overnight in Kirkjubaejarklaustur area.
DAY 9 KIRKJUBAEJARKLAUSTUR – REYKJAVIK [B]
Breakfast at your hotel. Drive along the spectacular south coast and Katla Geopark, a sweeping landscape of sandy deserts, rocky shores and rolling farmlands sandwiched between snow-capped glaciers, mountains, and the ocean. First you will cross over vast black sand plains created by the outwash from glacial floods. Drive alongside Eldhraun, a massive and eerily beautiful lava flow covered in moss. It is the largest recorded single flow of lava in world history. Stop to admire the black sand beaches and cliffs at Dyrholaey*. There are also vast bird colonies here, including puffins (generally seen mid-May to early August). If you’re interested in volcanoes, the Icelandic Lava Show in Vik is a new exhibit that safely lets you see the impacts when molten lava erupts underneath a glacier-capped volcano, something that has happened in this part of Iceland. Today you’ll also visit the beautiful waterfalls of Skogar and Seljalands, each with its own character. Skogafoss is one of Iceland’s most photographed waterfalls and has stairs that take you to the top for an amazing view. Seljalandsfoss has trails that take you behind the waterfall (always check the trail conditions to make sure they are safe). If the skies are clear, you can also glimpse mighty Eyjafjallajokull volcano, famous for its 2010 eruption, and Hekla, Iceland’s most frequently erupting volcano. The interactive LAVA Centre in Hvollsvollur town shows how powerful volcanoes and earthquakes have created Iceland. A stop here will give you a great (and fun) insight into Icelandic geology; we also recommend checking out the Lava Centre’s film. Return to Reykjavik in the late afternoon. Overnight in Reykjavik.
*Dyrholaey is closed for the bird nesting season between mid-May and 25 June
DAY 10 REYKJAVIK – DEPART [B]
Breakfast at your hotel. Drive back to Keflavik International Airport. We recommend departing your hotel in Reykjavik no later than at least 3 hours before your flight departure. It takes approximately 1 hour to drive to the airport, and check-in will start 2 hours before your departure. If you did not visit the Blue Lagoon on your way to the city on your first day, but have some free time today, you might want to use the opportunity en route to the airport. For this detour, please be sure to allow for at least 2-2,5 hours extra so you’ll have ample time at the lagoon. Your rental car should be returned to the airport service area, which is located only 2 minutes from the airport building. A shuttle will then transport you to the departure hall.