Don’t let the others dissuade you, it is possible to encircle the whole of Iceland in only four days. We present you four days filled with endless sightseeing, a wealth of nature and even some whales and puffins. You will see the whole ring road of Iceland, all its highlights, and we promise you’ll be back in Reykjavik within four days. We advise you to go in June though, as you can continue travelling under the midnight sun. Are you ready for a spectacular trip?
Rent a car in Reykjavik and leave the capital city straight away. Reykjavik is a nice city, filled with nice bars and shops, but the nature outside this city is what it’s all about. We’ll start by exploring the Golden Circle, Thingvellir, Gullfoss and Geysir, three key attractions close to Reykjavik.
Drive straight to the UNESCO world heritage listed Thingvellir National park, only 50 kilometres from Reykjavik. It’s a 6 km broad and 40 km long rift. The rift marks the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. If you walk the rift, starting from the visitor’s centre, you can see the world’s first parliament, the Althing, on your right. Sessions were established in 930 CE and held there until 1798. There are several hiking trails or you can go scuba diving, and see the rift from above.
Continue the drive to Gullfoss: one of the most impressive compact waterfalls in the world. It is an enormous double cascade, with a total height of 32 meters. The haze of the falling water creates beautiful rainbows when it’s sunny. Therefore, it’s called Gullfoss: golden waterfall.
Next stop is Geysir. The English word ‘geyser’ derives from this geyser. Geysir is not very active at the moment, due to human interferences. But Strokkur, about 50 metres next to Geysir, is. Strokkur erupts every 6-10 minutes, with a height of about 15-20 metres.
Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss and Dyrhólaey natural reserve
When you’ve finished the Golden Circle, you can drive back to the ring way, heading to Vík, the final destination of today. Along the way, you will see more spectacular waterfalls. The first one is Seljalandsfoss. A 65 Meter high waterfall. You can even walk behind the falling water. Seljalandsfoss is the only waterfall that is lighted during the night. 15 Km further away lies Skógafoss, another waterfall where the water falls over what once was the coastline of Iceland. You can walk a small lane, 1 KM to the east, to reach the smaller Kvernufoss waterfall. Finish the day in Vík. Just before you’ll enter the small fishing village lies the last sight of the day: Dyrhólaey natural reserve. It’s home to one of the largest seabird colonies of Iceland, during summer you should definitely see some puffins. And you can see a massive arch that the sea has eroded.
Stay the night in Vík
Start your day at Reyniisfjara Beach. It is a famous black sand beach, with some impressive symmetrical basalt columns that look like a staircase, a cave, and some basalt cliffs that rise from the sea. A great place to see the sunrise. Just watch out for the unpredictable waves which can suddenly engulf the beach.
Eldhraum, Skaftafell and the Glacier Lagoon
Heading East, you will cross Eldhraum moss-covered lava fields and Skaftafell. At the border of Skaftafell lies the Glacier Lagoon. It is a lake filled with floating ice chunks, some say this is Iceland’s Crown Jewel. It’s difficult to stop watching all the different shapes of the icebergs, one even bigger than the other. In the end, they all have to pass the small river, to enter the sea. Don’t forget to visit the nearby Diamond Beach, where the ice lies on the black sand, glistening in the sun. Nearby the Glacier Lagoon lies a glacier tongue, which is also a recommended spot to visit. Both the Glacier Lagoon and the glacier tongue will look different each and every time you go.
Litlanesfoss and Hengifoss
Enjoy the drive along the cliffs of Iceland’s East coast when you’re heading north. When you pass Vatternes, you can make a stop-over to visit Petra’s stone collection, if you like stones. Otherwise, continue the drive inland, towards Litlanesfoss and Hengifoss. It’s a 2-hour walk from the parking lot to Hengifoss. You will pass Litlanesfoss halfway. They are magnificent waterfalls, surrounded by colourful and geometric rocks. Hengifoss is one of Iceland’s highest waterfalls, with 118 meter.
After this nice hike, drive back north, towards Egilsstadir to sleep. We can really recommend the cute, wooden tiny houses at Vinland Camping Pot.
Drive towards Mývatn. The ring way does not follow the coastline, for a change, but takes you inland. You will pass abandoned farms and desolate land. But don’t forget to look out for waterfalls along the road, there are many.
Another day another waterfall? Detifoss is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. So take your raincoat with you. The waterfall is over 100 metres wide, and have a drop of over 44 metres, causing heavy mist. Per second an average of 193 m³ water falls down.
Take your mosquito hat with you, when visiting the Krafla Caldera. Not only mosquitoes, but also the smell announces this piece of living earth from afar. It’s a collapsed, but still active volcanic area. The highlights are Leirbotn (the geothermal power station), Víti Maar (a volcanic crater with a green lake) and Leirhnjúkur (steaming sulphuric terrain and multi-coloured lava field).
Mývatn Nature Baths
After seeing the hot water from the outside, it’s time to take a bath. Just on the other side of the mountains lies Mývatn Nature Baths. This bath offers a completely natural experience while enjoying the rocky sceneries surrounding the baths. It has several baths, showers, saunas and a restaurant. What else do you need for your body and mind?
Near the eastern shore of Late Myvatn lies Hverfjall, a 396-meter high tephra explosion crater. You can walk up the slopes and around the crater’s rim and enjoy the view of the surrounding landscape. The crater has a diameter of 1 KM.
Dimmunorgir lies just next to Hverffjall. It’s a park of unusually shaped lava fields because the lava pooled over a small lake. The water started to boil and formed lava pillars up to several meters in diameter.
Then it’s about time to head north to Iceland’s second largest city Akureyri. Here we’ll have some dinner and a good night of sleep.
Whales on backboard!
Akureyri is one of the world’s best places to watch whales. So rise and shine early, and make your way to the harbour or the towns a bit north to get on a boat and do some whale watching. Nature is always unpredictable, but during summer, and when it’s not too windy, it’s the best time to spot some giant whales, and also some dolphins.
Driving along the Westfhords
The Icelandic Wesfjords are spectacular. In the most remote location of Iceland, you’ll find gorgeous fjords. It’s also the perfect place to photograph some sheep or horses that live along the road. So enjoy the ride back West.
Hraunfossar and Barnafoss
Do stop over at the waterfalls. Although you might think you’ve seen most waterfalls, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss are stunning in their own way. Hraunfossar trickles down directly from underneath a lava field.
Enjoy a nice dinner in Iceland’s capital Reykjavík. It’s filled with hipster restaurants, cafés, galleries and shops. Make use of the happy hour (just before dinner time), to enjoy an affordable beer and say cheers to making it back to Reykjavík!
To do this itinerary, the only thing you need to prepare, next to booking your flight, is to rent a car, book a visit to Myvatn Nature Baths on your third day, book whale watching in Akureyri on your third day, and book hotels in Vík, Egilsstadir, Akureyri