Iceland: A Trip around the Ring Road

In spring 2005 I visited Iceland for the first time. I won an auction for two tickets and two nights at the IcelandAir flagship hotel for $1000 from the Cal Alumni Assoc. Being naturally crazy, I dragged a friend to Iceland for a week at the end of April.

Then, in August 2007, I returned back to Iceland, this time to study Icelandic in the small city of Isafjordur. Icelandic? Yes, traveled to the tiny town to learn a bit more about the Nordic peoples.

Iceland is an adorable Nordic nation where the Norse gods and their Eddas originated. I love reading about the history of the country because the Norse language formed here as well as the pagan Norse religion. A must read for those interested in Icelandic history are the Poetic and Prose Eddas.

This post is for traveling in Iceland. I drove around the Ring Road, Route 1, and had the opportunity to see most of the major landmarks in the country. This article is a work in progress and I will keep adding more information to it. If you have photos or favorites places to share, please write a comment below.

Iceland is my favorite country and everyone has to visit the country. Join the Facebook group called Iceland and give the little place up north some love.

The capital of Iceland, population 119,000. The photo below is the view from the largest church, Hallgrímskirkja.
Reykjavik city

Sólfar – The Sun Voyager
Located on the river front near downtown Reykjavik.
Sólfar - The Sun Voyager, Reykjavik

Home of the world’s first parliament founded in 930AD.
Þingvellir -Alþing

Gullfoss and Geysir
Foss means waterfall in Icelandic. Gullfoss and Geysir are near Þingvellir (about 30-45 minutes away) and are beautiful places. While not the largest waterfall, Gullfoss is spectacular. Geysir is the name for several geysers located together. One of them erupts every 10 minutes or so.

Gullfoss - Iceland

This little city of 4000 is the capital of the West Fjords. Isafjordur is a cute, little city and taking photos in Isafjordur was amazing.
Isafjordur Iceland

Located about 10km away from Ísafjörður. There is a great Viking tour (it was organized through our class) in Bolungarvik. Best way is by car or bike, buses seldom pass by.
Bolungarvik, Iceland

Another small city in the West Fjords, about 20km away.
Near Flateyri

Vigur Island
An island less than an hour’s boat ride away from Isafjordur. A beautiful island with many species of birds, including the eider ducks who produce gorgeous down feathers.
Vigur Island

Largest northern city of Iceland at 17,000.


Near Lake Myvatn, Iceland


Europe’s largest waterfall located east of Mývatn. The waterfall is normally closed in the winter season.
Courtesy of Dbrim

One of my favorites places in Iceland, this glacier lake is a must see after visiting Skaftafell National Park.

A more panoramic photo of the glacier lake

Skaftafell National Park
Another view of a glacier and a mountain

Church overlooking Vik



Three Small Islands
From LittleFrank

A small city outside of Reykjavik. There’s a wonderful fish restaurant on the water called Fjöruborðið (translation from Icelandic: At the Seashore). The restaurant is 20-30min away from Selfoss and is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
A set of crosses from people who died from car accidents.
Field of Crosses, Iceland

Bláa Lónið – Blue Lagoon
One of the world’s most famous spa and lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is close to the Reykjavik Airport so many people stop there at the beginning or the end of their trip. There are also buses that pass through the Lagoon and into Reykjavik or the Keflavik Airport.
Blue Lagoon

The Reykjavik International Airport is located in this tiny city.

14 thoughts on “Iceland: A Trip around the Ring Road”

  1. Beautiful pictures, and a lovely country. The people seem to be great, too. I studied with an Icelander once, and he was one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met.

  2. Trying to plan trip to Iceland…. Been wanting to go for a long time, it’s just so expensive. These pictures help prove that it is probably worth every penny.

  3. Elizabeth – It is super expensive. But I’ve been thinking that if you get a big enough car, you can tent and sleep in it. That would save at least $100 a night.

    Plus, I buy a cooler and carry cheese, bread, deli slices, skyr, juice with me so that at least 2 meals can be cheap. Then let dinner kill you, lol.

    Start planning your trip to Iceland. ;) Maybe we can all go together.

  4. Runar – Very true. I was last there in 2007. Hoping to go soon again.

    I Love Iceand – Of course, I will post them there. Send me an email if you need anything else.

  5. Amazing photos Sapphire. Thanks for sharing them. I hope to go Iceland one day. After the volcano though.

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  7. I agree with all that has been said. I did the M1, the Iceland Circle two years ago it was fantastic. Took an 8 day package including a car all worked well. Hotels and guesthouses were good with wirless internet available ever in remote locations! English spoken everywhere.
    The road is narrow but no problem for a standard car. The gravel part is short and fine, 95% tarmac. Once away from Reykjavik the roads are quiet and outside settlements you will only see one or two cars per hour!
    I went end of May out of season, could have had snow but it was sunny and 60F, lucky. At some of the main sights / waterfalls there was no one else there.
    I though Reykjavik was a dissapointment unless you want some nightlife, as was the long drive from the airport. You could easily give it a miss if you want to see the grandure of Iceland. If you just have a weekend away in R you may be very dissapointed.
    I am intending to do the Cirlce in the opposite direction next year independently with a 4×4 from the airport, and find hotels as I go. Outside July/ August hotels are quiet and there is at least one in most settlements. You will also avoid the small flies which can be a plague in places in mid summer.
    The main downside to all this is that Iceland is still expensive particularly car hire but it is one of the few unspoilt places in Europe that are car accessible. (I have done something similar in Alaska and it rivals that althouugh that’s another storey!)
    I hope the above is useful to anyone planning a trip.

  8. Thanks for this. driving the Ring Road is under consideration for this year’s trip. Seems like you had a lot of overcast & rainy days. Are these all from August?

  9. Hey Erik! I did the Ring Road in late April and in late August. Late April had sunnier days and there was still evidence of winter, which made the country even more beautiful.

    But I really wish I rented a 4wd car.

  10. Planning the ring road trip at the end of May into 1st week of June, two middle aged ladies. Have a standard shift two wheel drive car rented and looking forward to it. How are the hotels and guest houses along the way?

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