Iceland’s Ring Road, Part 1

Mývatn Geothermal Area, Northern Iceland

We have been excited to go to Iceland for months and the time has finally arrived for our eight day trip. Originally, we had planned to spend most of that time around Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, and visit areas closer to the city. After a little more research (mostly through looking at pictures on Google Earth) it became clear that we wanted to explore much more of the Island.


Iceland’s Ring Road

Route 1, more commonly referred to the Ring Road, encircles the entire country covering 828 miles. We mapped out the sights we wanted to see, rented a sweet campervan, and hit the road! The major benefit of renting a campervan was that it enabled us to pull over and sleep pretty much anywhere.

Our comfy campervan

Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall with Kirkjufell Mountain looming in the background on the Snæfellsnes Pennisula

Our first day in Iceland, we headed north from Reykjavik to explore the country’s west coast. A little over three hours from the capital we veered off the main highway to visit the Snæfellsnes Pennisula, the setting for Jules Verne’s novel “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”

Our “campsite” on the Snæfellsnes Pennisula

The next day we made our way back to the Ring Road and continued our journey north. Along the way we spotted some Icelandic horses by the road and pulled over to give them some face and neck scratches. Icelandic horses are smaller than the average horse and have much thicker hair in order to survive the fierce winter weather. The horses were brought to Iceland In the 9th and 10th centuries by the Vikings and Icelandic law prevents other horses from being imported to maintain breed purity.

Friendly Icelandic horses

View driving on the Snæfellsnes Pennisula

One of the things we learned driving the Ring Road is that Iceland is home to hundreds of waterfalls. They are literally everywhere you look. They range in size from a trickle to the massive Dettifoss waterfall, the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

Geitafoss in Northern Iceland

Dettifoss Waterfall

Dettifoss and Selfoss waterfalls in Northern Iceland

Northern Iceland is stunning. Iceland is roughly the size of Ohio and is home to about 300,000 people with 200,000 of them living in the capital, Reykjavik.  Once leaving the capital, we encountered only small towns, situated hundreds of miles apart. 

The view from our campsite in Northern Iceland

Akureyri, a small city in northern Iceland (upper left) is Iceland’s second largest urban area

After a few days on the road we made it to Mývatn Geothermal Area, a region consisting of boiling mud pots, steaming fumaroles, geysers, hot springs, and volcanos. After hiking around, we decided to relax and soak in the hot pools at the Mývatn Nature Baths.

Lake Mývatn, formed 2,300 years ago after a volcanic eruption

Dan overlooking the boiling mud pots at Námaskarð in Mývatn Geothermal Area

Dan soaking up the heat at a steaming fumarole

Mývatn Geothermal Area in Northern Iceland

Bubbling hot mud pots at Myvatn Geothermal Area in northern Iceland.

Relaxing in the hot pools at Mývatn Nature Baths…yes….with beer 🙂

A rainbow at Hverfjall Crater, a 2500 year old, nearly symmetrical tephra crater

Leaving Mývatn, we headed to the east coast of the island. Stay tuned for Iceland’s Ring Road, Part 2 as we explore the EasternFjords and Southern Iceland! Enjoy Dan’s video compilation of our trip so far posted below 🙂

The Ring Road crossing the pass from Northern to Eastern Iceland



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