The Ultimate Iceland Ring Road Guide

One year ago, my friends and I decided to travel to Iceland. We had heard so many great things about Iceland and being that it was only a 5 hour plane ride from Boston, it was practically a no-brainer. My roommate bought several travel guides and discovered an online blog with great suggestions on what to see and where to stay. So, we all bought plane tickets, rented a Rav 4 and mapped out a 9 day travel itinerary around the Ring Road in the land of fire and ice.

With only 300,000 inhabitants, Iceland feels like a small town everywhere you go. But nothing trumps the beauty of the country’s landscape. From its extraterrestrial looking moss fields, to its massive glaciers and picturesque fjords, the landscape was nothing I had ever experienced before.


Seljalandsfoss | Gljúfrabúi

Our first sight of the trip was Seljalandsfoss, which is a beautiful waterfall along the southern coast of Iceland. Seljalandsfoss cascades over steep cliffs, which allows for visitors to actually walk behind the waterfall, offering a spectacular view of the waterfall itself and its surroundings. But make sure you bring a raincoat – you will get hit by the mist!

Close by, is another “hidden” waterfall called Gljúfrabúi, which is less common to travelers. Upon first glance, Gljúfrabúi looks like it’s guarded by a bunch of rocks. But don’t let this fool you. To get the full experience of the waterfall, you can walk into the canyon under the mist OR climb up to the top and view the waterfall from above. The sight was truly magical and our Icelandic journey had only just begun.


It’s one thing to take a dip in the ocean or even a scenic lake, but there is nothing like taking a dip in a deserted geothermal bath nestled in one of Iceland’s most picturesque valleys. Seljavallalaug is one of Iceland’s oldest swimming pools and is open to the public – if you can find it. The pool itself is hidden – about a half hour walk into the valleys of Iceland – but it’s completely worth the trek. The view from Seljavallalaug is spectacular as the pool is situated along a rock wall and is surrounded by looming mountains and a tiny stream. The best word to describe the experience is serene.


Standing at 62 meters high, Skógafoss may be one of the most incredible waterfalls in Iceland. It has all the ingredients of a great natural wonder. The amount of water it expels is excessive and often creates both single and double rainbows visible on any sunny day.  We were very fortunate to visit Skogafoss when the sun was shining because the spray from the falls allowed us to see two beautiful rainbows at its base. The cliffs around the waterfall are former sea-cliffs and on the eastern side of the waterfall, you’ll find steep steps the lead to a fantastic view of the falls from the top.


Black Beach

Perhaps Iceland’s most famous black beach is located in Vík, Iceland’s southernmost town. The Black Sand Beach of Vik is one of the most stunning landscapes I have ever seen but also one of the most treacherous beaches in the world with its unpredictable, powerful waves. According to folklore, two trolls attempted to drag a ship to land as daylight broke but were turned to stone, turning them into the Reynisdrangar stacks. The sea stacks are towering, spiky basalt sea stacks jutting out from the ocean and are home to thousands of nesting seabirds. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see a puffin!


Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

One of the most scenic views in all of Iceland is located only a few minutes off the Ring Road. The Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is 100 meters deep and two kilometers long and is believed to have formed at the end of the last Ice Age, about nine thousand years ago. The views from the canyon’s edge are absolutely breathtaking as river Fjaðrá flows through the canyon. What is particular unique about Fjaðrárgljúfur is that its rocks are covered with soft, green moss. At times it feels as though you are walking on soft, squishy pillows as opposed to hard rock.



Svartifoss, also know as Black Falls, is an elegant waterfall located in South-Iceland. Beautiful, black basalt columns frame the waterfall, thus giving it its name. Svartifoss cannot be seen from the road but the 1.5 kilometer hike to the falls is well worth it. On the way to Svartifoss you come across three other waterfalls; Þjofafoss (Thieves’ Fall), Hundafoss (Dogs’ Fall) and Magnusarfoss (the Falls of Magnus). Much like Skógafoss, you can walk straight down to Svartifoss to see it up-close.


Jökulsárlón Lagoon

One of my favorite things about Iceland is its diverse landscape. From moss fields to geysers to valleys to glaciers, the country has it all. In southeast Iceland, there is a particularly unique glacier lagoon filled with large, bright blue icebergs. The scene is quite stunning and if you’re fortunate enough to arrive at sunrise or sunset, you can gaze at a stunning palette of colors form in the sky.



Vestrahorn, located on the Stokksnes peninsula, offers amazing views of both land an sea. The large mountain located east of Hofn is where steep cliffs meet a black sand beach. The contract is sure to set your heart, and your Instagram, on fire. Locals often refer to it as “Batman Mountain” because its three peaks look like the Batman logo. We stopped here for several hours and did not want to leave. What made our visit even more special, was seeing seals swimming along the shore.



Dettifoss, which can be loosely translated to The Collapsing Waterfall, holds the title of the most powerful waterfall in Europe. An average of 96,000 gallons of water crosses its bow every single second and mist can be seen from miles away. You can walk up to the western side of the waterfall (trust me, you will want to do this) but the mist will spray towards you. For this reason, my one suggestion when visiting Dettifoss is to bring a rain jacket.


Game of Thrones fans, this one is for you! If you’re caught up on the series, you may recognize Kirkjufell from one of the scenes “beyond the wall.” There is a fairly steep hiking trail at the top of Kirkjufell, but my friends and I chose to stay down at the base by Kirkjufellsfoss. The day we visited Kirkjufell was very warm and after an hour of hiking, we needed a cool down. Much like Seljalandsfoss, you can actually walk behind the waterfall, which is what we did, right before we jumped in!


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