What To Do In Iceland: The Ring Road And Off Course

I was in a huge fight with my boyfriend, and he was headed to El Salvador for two weeks. Then it all started to piece together for me. I had always wanted to go on a solo trip, and right now was the perfect time.

I started scoping out places I’d want to go alone. Vietnam was my first idea, but then I recalled a post by The Blonde Abroad which highly recommended Iceland for solo female traveling. Thus, the dream began, and I stubborn headedly convinced my dad that it would all be a-ok. He eventually gave in, because I really don’t shut up when I want something. Go ahead. Ask my dad or my boyfriend. It’s really a problem. 

So. I landed in Iceland, with a lot less money in my pocket.

I highly suggest learning to drive manual so if you rent a car anywhere in Europe you can go for the much cheaper option of manual.

My itinerary was extremely loose. I knew that I wanted to drive all around Iceland, and I had a couple spots that I definitely wanted to visit. But otherwise, I was winging it like crazy, and I loved every single second of it.

Here’s a rough look at a my itinerary, the ones I recommend most, if you have to eliminate, are the ones with an asterik:

Reykjavik* -> Hellnar* -> Kirkjufell[sfoss] -> Westfjords* -> Pingeyri -> Budardalur -> Akureyri* -> Godafoss*  -> Lake Myvatn* -> Seydisfjördur* -> Jokulsarlon* -> Selfoss

I made a bunch of stops in places that were unnamed, but scenic. I highly suggest that you plan a lot of extra time for road trips because you’re going to want to stop everywhere in Iceland. I’ve posted the itinerary in the order that they occurred, which also makes it easier because I just drove in one huge distorted circle. Some of the spots were a bit harder to find names for, and thus I listed them as points between two locations. Even though some don’t have names, I thought they were just as/even more beautiful than some spots. They were more secluded and not touristy, which to me is key.

Hellnar

This was one of my favorite stopping points, and I actually didn’t find about it until the day of.

This spot is well known for whale watching, and the most shocking thing is that when I was driving down the road, I could see a whale emerging and submerging into the water repeatedly. I freaked out because seeing animals in their natural habitat when I’m visiting a place is one of my favorite things. I don’t know, it just seems so much more real than going on a tour to see them, but that’s just how I am. It was also perfect timing because afterwards I didn’t see any other whales. If you look close enough in the photo underneath, it’s the black speck in the top left forth of the photo, near the horizon.

Selvallafoss 

This was a wonderful waterfall that I stumbled upon by pure chance. I saw a couple of people had stopped their cars, and one small Iceland tour group was here. I followed where I’d seen people disappear to, and there was this waterfall. This was my favorite of the waterfalls because there weren’t many tourists, and it’s positioned so that the road isn’t visible, which I thought was nice.

Westfjords

Highly HIGHLY underrated spot in Iceland. I saw this in very few posts, but I’ve been wanting to see the fjords in Norway, and then I realized that Iceland has some of their very own. My mouth was gaping wide open the entire drive. This was my favorite section of Iceland and I suggest taking the time to make it part of your road trip.

Akureyri

My second favorite town. This is the town I probably spent the most time in. The sunsets here are incredible, as you can see above. People often come here to whale watch.

For restaurants I suggest:

Kaffi Ilmur: I camped out here for several hours for two mornings straight. Their coffee is bottomless, they have excellent desserts, and most importantly…their fish soup was the best food I had while in Iceland. The only place I went to twice, and I still crave this restaurant now that I’m back in the states.

Rub 23: Some of the best fish I’ve ever had. It hurt shelling out so much money for dinner, but it was worth it. I started off with the Four Starter Bento Box, then finished off with some sashimi. Most importantly, I highly recommend their arctic char. 

Godafoss

This was super touristy, and that’s really my only complaint. Otherwise it was super gorgeous and the pounding of the water was soothing. If you want a more secluded waterfall, I recommend either the one near Seydisfjördur or Selvallafoss.

Lake Myvatn

I could have sat here for hours. This, although it doesn’t seem like too much, was one of my favorite spots. I sat here and scribbled in my notebook and sucked in as much of the fresh lake air as I could.

Between Myvatn -> Seydisfjördur

This was one of my favorite backdrops. I wish I could give a more specific location, but you will definitely encounter it if you drive between Myvatn and Seydisfjördur.

Seydisfjördur

My *favorite* town. Seydisfjördur beats out both Reykjavik and Akureyri for my favorite town. The scenic drive into this little port town definitely helped, but the artistic scene of it made it the clear winner in my book. If I had to choose a town to roam around and spend a couple days in, this would be the one.

Also, that beautiful photo featured at the top of this page, is about a 10 minute drive from the town. You’ll pass it on your right as your headed towards Seydisfjördur, and on the left as you head back up. 

For restaurants, I suggest:

Kaffi Lara: This is a very cozy, laid back restaurant. The meals are very hearty which gives you an incredible bang for your buck. In addition, their strawberry cheesecake made with Skyr, was so light but so incredible.

Nord Austur Sushi Bar: Considering this is such a tiny town, I was shocked to find such a high class sushi restaurant. And even more so, this was undoubtedly the best sushi that I had in Iceland. Highly highly recommend.

 Between Seydisfjördur -> Jokulsarlon

A wonderful little geothermal hot spot that I stumbled upon. It’s a cool site spot to stop at along your drive.

Jokulsarlon

One of the country’s most noteworthy and popular spots. They even offer tours that actually take you out onto the glacial lagoon. This is definitely one place that you have to visit if you go to Iceland.

I hope that I’ve either convinced you to go to Iceland or helped you out with your planning. It’s an incredible country, and my absolute favorite. Please be respectful and refrain from littering. If you’d like further help planning out your trip to Iceland, my post, Tips For Visiting Iceland, has some crucial tips.

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