Iceland Ring Road in 7 Days

Make the Most of your Icelandic Adventure in late Spring (Based on a trip to Iceland in May 2016)393A5503-Edit

When I was looking around for an optimal trip for the international jetsetter with 7-9 days to explore, it was challenging to discover the optimal route.

Well, after a significant amount of research, here is what I found!

I would recommend strongly: Unless you are very intense and outdoor inclined, skip Volcano Huts and spend more time on the Ring Road Trail. IF you are outdoors inclined, DO IT. OR, IF you are outdoors inclined and have the ability to trek somewhere, do that!

In May, you do NOT need a 4×4. Nope,  you do not need a four wheel drive. The F-roads are closed (see here and here for road conditions). Just order the cheap car if you’re ‘off season’, because that’s all you’ll be able to drive anyway. Later in the year, maybe choose something else.

Here is the ULTIMATE ICELANDIC ITINERY! For someone wanting 7-8 days in Iceland, in the late spring.

Day 1: Overnight to KEF, landed around 6 am, grabbed a car from Thrifty, drove to Seljalandsfoss, took some pictures, climbed around, then took a bus to the Volcanohuts in the highlands

You will see this waterfall, and it is awesome. HIKE UP FURTHER from the waterfall, up the road, away from the main road/parking lot, keeping Seljalandsfoss to your right. You will very soon come to the Hidden Waterfall. DEF worth it. You can also climb up the cliff beside the hidden waterfall to look down into it.
Great location in Dorsmork. We stayed in a dorm; would recommend *trying* to bring breakfast food b/c it’s expensive; their buffet at night is great. We visited @ end of May when they had just opened; you can get to the Lannemaunelaugar trail from here, most of which was still still closed when we went. If you do want to go to the Lannemaunelaugar trail from here, you have to walk across a stream. Get ready for wet feet!

Sunset at the Volcano Huts in Thorsmork one week after they opened in May, 2016

Days 1-3: Exploring highlands
The trails are great. Views awesome. But, Trekking > being based somewhere
Day 3: Take bus back to Seljalandsfoss, to Vik, then to Hofn
Vik: It rained when we were there so we didn’t get to see the beach, but it looked neat.
This place was AWESOME. DEF recommend. Great food, and when we were there a band from the Netherlands just happened to be playing.
***Skojafoss: AWESOME. Just walk up to this fall and brave the gusts! You can camp at the base of the falls. One of my friends did this; it’s by no means remote but people seem to like it.
Hike up to the top of the falls, then keep on going and it will feel remote within 15 minutes (at least in May it did.)
You can keep on this trail and hike all the way to the Volcano Huts. Once again, snowed over in May, and we went as far as we could push it. Fantastic waterfalls; the vistas will keep you pushing on until the sun sets, which it wont. Evidently if you keep going far enough, you’ll reach a more recent lava field where snow won’t stick, and if you lie on the ground it still feels warm. Sounds neat, and a potential trek!
** Svartifoss. I wanted to go here, just didn’t realize where it was. It’s between Skojafoss and Hofn; look up pics and go if you think it’s beautiful.
Hofn: We stayed here-
Was basic, and just fine to crash.
Day 4: We went to Jokull Glacier which is ‘less touristy’ compared to Jokulsarlon. From what I could see, the pictures from Jokulsarlon were more epic; Jokull was okay, but you don’t get very close to the glacier. In a stint, would skip it.
This day, we drove from Hofn to Myvatn. On Google Maps, it’s a 4.5 hour drive. The coast, though, is BEAUTIFUL. Driving along, I wish that we’d had more time to see the sights. Also, it takes more than 4.5 hours. I’d recommend taking an extra day for this, or at least spending more time.
***Dettifoss: The most powerful waterfall in Europe. Go there. Be impressed. Maybe get wet from the spray and hopefully you can take a picture because as soon as you take your camera out, infinity drops accumulate on your lens.
Myvatn itself was a little underwhelming, maybe because we didn’t have time to explore. ‘Myvatn’ means ‘Midge pond’ and evidently it most lives up to this in the summer. Even in May, the midges are prolific, and they will love you. More than you love them. They are sticky to your clothes!
Gamli Baerinn
Delicious. Recommended. GREAT lava bread.
Myvantn is also known for its lava bread – maybe you can get closer up to it than we did and scope out some bread making!
Day 5: Got up earlyish, explored around Myvantn, saw some pretty birds, drove to Ion Adventure Hotel. See review below. In the interim..
****Godafoss: Stop by here. Sit on the edge! You can get right up by the waterfall and sit with your legs dangling over the falls
****Hraunfossar – lava falls – also awesome; pretty neat landscape to trek over
Glymur – did not go there, but believe it is in the same area
Ion Adventure Hotel: We stayed here using my Starwood Preferred Guest Points. It had quite a different feel to other places that we stayed; more ‘produced’ and less warm than other places. The facilities themselves were very nice, and the sulfur pool has a fantastic view of the valley where the hotel is located. I’m glad that we stayed there; granted we did stay there on points. (Would not recommend the food there; it’s pretty expensive, and the meal that I had there was not very tasty.)
Day 6: Drove to Snaefellsjokull. Mountain on a peninsula; great places to climb. We just took our little manual Mazda up a hill then climbed up the path that we came across (up this ridiculous cliff for a couple of hours.) It was great.
****Gullfoss – Awesome, must see. We drove here after driving to Snaefellsjokull and it was a bit of a trek, but worth it since we were tight on time. It is beautiful at sunset, but likely at many other times, too.
.. additionally, instead of enjoying the spa, we actually ended up driving back to Skojafoss and hiking up to a ridiculous altitude, because of the adventure. See above, enjoy Skojafoss !!!
Stayed @ KexHostel
IF you like hotels, this one is pretty cool. It’s Prague meets Paris meets anywhere-youve-ever-stayed-at. I.e., maybe not as nice as the heated shower floors that you’ll see in Prague, but it’s pretty darn-dressed up, uber indy, and international-hip. Central location.
Day 7: Thingvellir, back to Seljalandsfoss, then to Reykjavik:
Thingvellir: This is the continental divide. You can go scuba diving or snorkeling, which sounds awesome. We just walked around; historically it is interesting. As far as scenery and hiking, it’s not the greatest spot, and it’s very touristy. I’d recommend stopping by if it’s on your way here, but otherwise it’s okay to miss (we spent about 30 minutes here and decided to head back and hike around Seljalandsfoss again, where we hiked until we could go no further due to snow. That was fun!)
Reykjavik: Neat. Cool graffiti, if ever there was. Iconic church and sculptures. Didn’t have enough time to explore!
Day 8: Icelandic Horse, then fly home:
AM: Explored Reykjavik. Then in the pm, we drove out to ride horses.
Icelandic Horse: Went here for a horseback ride. I’d recommend them. Especially if you don’t have prior horse back riding experience, and/or you don’t want a private tour, just go here. The objective of an Icelandic ride is not to experience the countryside: it’s to experience the special ‘5th’ gait.
So, if you want an Icelandic ride, don’t go somewhere you want pictures (because anything you have in your pockets WILL fall, and these horse people won’t be happy to retrieve. My  phone may or may not have fallen out of my pocket.) Just go somewhere where you will be happily chill, where you can just enjoy the horses. Drive there yourself if you can, so that you can snaps some photos around the farm farther than be shuttled away with the group. Those will be your pictures; the rest will be your experience.
Iceland Overall
Overall, I can’t wait to go back to Iceland ! Would love to do a remote, extreme hike. Summer is a great time to go. We rented a stick shift (non 4×4) ride for May. The F-roads mostly weren’t open then.. if you really want to drive on them, consider renting a larger vehicle, but make sure that your company will allow you to drive on the F-Roads.
I’d say that it’s enough to drive the ring road in 7-10 days, without doing an extra trip (such as the Volcano Huts.) But, depends on what you’re looking for !

In late May: Many roads are inaccessible, even by 4×4, and we rented this little Mazda. Look up the road situation, considering the list of earliest possible opening dates, because it may not may not be worth it to rent a larger vehicle.

The book I used was “Rough Guide to Iceland” – randomly picked, w/ minimal reviews. I’d give it a 3.25/5; would get it again. Good value for $.
HAVE A GREAT TIME!!! I am sure that you’ll catch the fever, and maybe we’ll see each other back there the next time. Iceland is contagious!



I Will Be Back!

Adventure on!!!!

Zoe MacIsaac doctor MD Canada

A recent vacation finds me chasing adventure in Newfoundland, Canada! For now, though, I am dedicated to training. My blog will wait!

Nepal Street Photography: Journey on a Bus from Pokhara to Chitwan

Street photography people motor cycles strip mall

Driving by, a snap shot of life on the way from Pokhara to Chitwan, Nepal

Streets of Pokhara at Night, Nepal

Pokhara off season night streets lights

Visiting Pokhara during the rainy season, there is still hustle and bustle to be seen; many restaurants are open, and there’s a wide selection of music to be found. And – you can’t beat the beautiful backdrop of Lake Fewa and the surrounding mountains

On the Lake Shores, Lake Fewa, Pokhara, Nepal

taking baths in lake fews fishing pokhara

Lake Fewa is not only beautiful, but useful as well. While waiting for sunset, we saw several fishermen haul in nets full of fish. We ALSO saw a family bathing in the lake, a mother bathing three small children with buckets full of lake, the suds running back into the water

Revisiting Lake Fewa, Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Nepal

Pokhara lake beautiful sunset where to watch best view

Upon our return to Pokhara, Patrick and I walked along side of Lake Fewa, where we had seen a fantastic sunset just several days before. Another beautiful sunset – it’s no surprise that so many choose to spend their evening here

Walking by the Falls on the Way to Pokhara, Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Nepal, Pt 2

walking by waterfalls over cliff annapurna base camp trek

More beautiful waterfalls along our trail, from another vantage point