A self-driving tour on Iceland’s Ring Road
The good about having Iceland as our first major international destination is that our trip can only get cheaper from here*! A casual lunch will easily run more than $20 per person, and you can sleep in a stranger’s van for $100 per night (our cheapest accommodation on the island).
What truly caught us by surprise, though, was the smorgasbord of spectacular scenery. For our one week there, we rented a car and drove clockwise on the Ring Road around the island nation, which is about the size of the state of Kentucky. Here is an overview of our trip:
- Day 1: Relaxed at the Blue Lagoon and explored Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.
- Day 2: Hiked to Glymur, Iceland’s tallest waterfall. Drove towards Akureyri. Slept in a vintage van with a view of a fjord.
- Day 3: Explored the Lake Myvatn area, which has many unique geological wonders. Ate dinner in Husavik, a fishing village known for whale watching.
- Day 4: Saw Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall. Spent the night in Seydisfjordur, which was our favorite town in Iceland. It is featured briefly in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”
- Day 5: Drove over an impressive mountain pass and along the stunning southeastern coastline down to Hofn. Visited a “Viking village” movie set.
- Day 6: On the way to Vik, gazed at Europe’s largest glacier, which covers 8% of the country. Stopped at Jokulsaron to see a glacial lagoon and black sand beach littered with icebergs.
- Day 7: Experienced Iceland’s highly touted attractions along the Golden Circle—Geysir, Gulfoss, and Thingvellir National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Here are some of our favorite experiences in Iceland (in no particular order):
- Eating Skyr, a less sweet and better tasting version of Greek yogurt, at least once a day.
- Taking advantage of free soup and coffee refills by sharing one of each as a way to stretch our budget (don’t tell the Icelandic authorities!).
- Exploring the unique and diverse landscape surrounding Lake Myvatn.
- Seydisfjordur and the breathtaking drive through the snow-covered mountain pass to get to this charming town nestled in a fjord.
- Chasing waterfalls (in preferential order): Dettifoss, Glymur, Gullfoss, Oxarafoss, and, tied for fifth, the other thousands we saw.
- Coming over a hill to catch our first glimpse of “Viking village” lightly shrouded in fog in the distance.
- Going through all four seasons in a single day—the weather here is crazy!
*We are well-aware other places in Scandinavia will be just as expensive.