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Iceland's main road is the 1 (otherwise known as Ring Road) and it can be traveled in its entirety in about 20 hours in just under 830 miles. However, you'll want to stop at every beautiful waterfall and glacier you see, so it'll definitely take you longer than 20 hours. In an effort to share my experience with you all and help you plan your own trip, here's a little rundown of our plan!
DAY ONE - SOUTHERN RING ROAD
Driving from Reykjavik to our Airbnb near Höfn, we stopped at these sights in order:
1. Seljalandsfoss: This waterfall is about 2 hours from Reykjavik and can be seen as you're driving on Ring Road. You can actually walk behind this stunner. But prepare to get wet!
2. Skogafoss: This one was my favorite! There are stairs to the right of the waterfall that lead you to a view that includes the Skoga River above. It's a bit of a hike but well worth it for a view of the river pouring off of the cliff.
3. Vík: Regrettably, we didn't stop at the Black Sand Beach or the abandoned plane crash site. To be honest we didn't even realize we missed either until we were already at the Glacier Lagoon. :( BUT, if you are traveling this route, go ahead and stop!! We'll just have to see them next time we're in Iceland ;)
We ended up just stopping for lunch at Suður-Vík, a restaurant that served the arctic charr below. It's a fish very similar to salmon that is wild-caught in Iceland. It was SO good. We sat at a table near a window, overlooking the little town of Vík.
4. Glacier Lagoon (Jökulsárlón) and Diamond Beach: These two are together because they're really just one stop. Pieces of glacier melt just enough to slide their way under a bridge from the sea into the lake, which has been ever expanding especially since the 1970s thanks to climate change (it's a thing!). It's one of the most beautiful sights, even on a cloudy day like the one we had.
5. Höfn! We made it to our little Airbnb on the farm. Goats, horses, geese, kitties, and dogs surrounded us. I was in heaven. The owners, Guðrún and Magnús, brew their own beer and have a lovely restaurant, where you'll catch stunning glacier views and even a little live music. We had such a nice stay & I wanted to take their Golden Retriever home with me. We were best buds by the end of the evening. #separationanxiety
DAY TWO - NORTHEASTERN RING ROAD
1. A treacherous drive - lots of rain prevented us from traveling in the normal range of speed and when we stopped it was so windy and wet that we decided to skip a few hikes we had planned. We continued on toward the town of Egilsstaðir and after an anxiety-inducing drive over a steep mountain in the snow we finally made it. I was so nervous there would be more mountains to possibly slide off of that I asked our server if the route from here to Akureyri contained any mountain passes - she knew exactly what spot I was talking about and said "That's the worst road in Iceland!" Luckily for us, she said there shouldn't be anything like that on the rest of our trip north. She did tell us to watch out for the snow, though. My heart rate gradually declined over the course of our meal but rose again about an hour into the drive towards Akureyri. It wasn't a mountain pass this time around, but a blizzard. Two Floridians driving in a blizzard. Picture it. That's exactly what it was. A few others were on the road which made me feel better (if they could do it we could do it), and we drove slowly and cautiously while I played John Mayer to calm us (me) down (the power of music, y'all). Lots of sliding, wind pressing against the car, and heavy breathing later, we reached a clearing. I was so relieved I almost fainted. Not kidding your girl is a #TravelerWithAnxiety. Here are some photos that I took in an attempt to calm myself down and document this near-death experience (strange how viewing through a lens seems to put a barrier between you and the actual world)...
2. Hverarönd Geothermal Area: NOT SNOW (!!!). We stopped here and bared the wind to walk around for a bit. It's amazing how both the weather and the landscape in Iceland can change at the drop of a hat. Here we are, the smell of sulfur (like that of exploded fireworks) permeating the air, the wind almost knocking us over. Thirty minutes prior we were sliding on ice.
3. Goðafoss: It means "Waterfall of the Gods" in Icelandic and it lives up to its name. Our last stop on the way into Akureyri!
4. Akureyri! We made it. It was a long day. Dinner at Strikið and a little exploring. Dessert at Bláa Kannan (pictured below).
DAY FOUR - THE NORTHWEST BACK TO REYKJAVIK
1. We had waffles at Kaffi Ilmur and walked around town a little more, shopping for Mother's Day gifts and enjoying the little flurries of snow. The drive back to Reykjavik would commence soon, and we heard from another couple at breakfast that there were warnings of more snowy weather on Ring Road. We did it once - we could do it again. Onward we went!
2. The Westfjords - I know, I know. We should've gone. But we had to get back to Reykjavik for our dinner reservation that evening. We finally made it after another long day of dodgy driving and had an incredible dining experience at DILL - wine pairing and all. We celebrated the fact that we made it home in one piece and rested peacefully in our little shoebox at Hotel Cabin that night. Roadtrip Iceland: ✔
For more information and helpful tips regarding renting a car, driving in Iceland, places to eat and stay - see my full Iceland Guide!
Thanks for reading -- if you're headed to Iceland, enjoy the land of the midnight sun ♡❄