9 Day Iceland Itinerary: Days 4 – 6

9 Day Iceland Itinerary: Days 4 – 6

 

9 Day Itinerary

After exploring the gorgeous waterfalls and powerful geysers of southeastern and southern Iceland from our first 3 days in Iceland, it was time for us to continue east on Ring Road!

Day 4

Vatnajokull Glacier

Vatnajokull Glacier (ice cap) in Iceland

Covering over 8% of Iceland, Vatnajokull is the largest glacier in Iceland, and one of the biggest in all of Europe. There is a large campground at the base of the glacier with phenomenal showers that are sourced from geothermally heated water below ground. If you’re in need of a shower, don’t miss this spot!

The campsite is also the jumping off point for several different glacier expeditions. We choose to do a relatively beginner level hike, but you can get about as advanced as you’d like. Our hike required the use of crampons (they attach to your boots and are like a bunch of little ice picks to help you walk on the ice) and an actual ice pick (mostly for decorative use); both items were included in the fee for the hike. I’d recommend booking the hike ahead of time, but it’s not completely necessary. We booked when we got there, and while we were able to get a hike for that day, it wasn’t at our ideal time. The hike lasted about 2 hours and was not strenuous at all.

Hike to the top of the Vatnajokull Glacier in Iceland

Glacial Lagoons

As you leave Vatnajokull on Ring Road, you’ll soon come across the beautiful glacial lagoon . A glacial lagoon is a lake at the bottom of an ice cap, where chunks of the glacier break off and slowly float off to sea as icebergs. Every iceberg is a different size, shape, and glorious color of blue. Occasionally you’ll hear a big crack as a piece of an iceberg breaks off on its own. It’s such a unique, tranquil place to visit. Fjallsarlon is actually the smaller of two glacial lagoons that are just a few kilometers apart. Though smaller in size, I preferred it to the busier, much more touristy Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon. Still, Jokulsarlon has bigger iceburgs and is worth a stop as well.

Fjallsarlon Glacial Lagoon in Iceland

Icebergs floating in Iceland's Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

Day 5

Seeing the Detifoss waterfall was our main goal today. It required a couple hours of travel, so we pulled over and explored whenever we saw something that struck our interest, including a couple waterfalls and a road blocked by sheep. Sheep are actually the number one cause of traffic incidents for tourists in Iceland. They’re everywhere!

 

A beautiful waterfall in Iceland

Sheep are blocking the road in Iceland with mountains in the background

 

Detifoss Waterfall

Detifoss waterfall is an extremely powerful waterfall; while not overwhelmingly tall or wide, it still produces the largest volume of water of any fall in all of Europe. You can actually see the spray of Detifoss up to 1 km away! Detifoss is not along Ring Road; there are two routes to it, each taking you to opposite sides of the waterfall. We visited the eastern side by taking Route 864 from Ring Road. This side seemed to be the less touristy side, but you had to work for it; about 60 km of the road are unpaved and slow going. It’s not a F road (which requires a 4wd car), but it’s pretty darn close. You can also visit the western side of the waterfall from Route 862, off of Iceland’s Ring Road. Either way, you’ll get great views of Detifoss, and it’s smaller sister Selfoss. You can hike right up the waterfall and (literally!) soak in its power.

Sitting on the edge of Detifoss waterfall in Iceland

Selfoss waterfall in Iceland

Whale Tour at Husavik

After exploring Detifoss, we took off for the seaside town of Husavik. Husavik isn’t along Ring Road, so make sure you grab directions. We didn’t arrive until around dinner time, but we were able to book an 8:00 whale watching tour for that evening. Just like our glacier hike, we didn’t pre-book our reservation. Again, if you have a specific time you’d like to do a whale watching tour, I’d recommend booking it ahead of time. As you’re starting to see, we wanted to be footloose and fancy free the entire trip, so we refused to ever have anything planned that required us to be somewhere at a specific time.

The view of Husavik, Iceland from the ocean

Depending on the temperature the day of your tour, it can be very cold! They tour gives you a big, warm onsie-type thing to put on over your clothes. I wore several shirts, a pair of running tights under my jeans, a hat, gloves, and their onsie, and I was still pretty chilly (but oh, so stylish). Dress up!

The stylish clothes you get to wear on a whale watching tour in Iceland

Day 6

Lava Fields and Volcanic Craters

Husavik required a detour from the Ring Road. When we were done exploring Husavik, we headed back towards Ring Road by Lake Myvatn. The Lake Myvant region is an extremely unique landscape. The ground was covered in dark, grim lava fields, a stark contrast to the bright green scenery we were used to. It was mind boggling to imagine the hot lava slowly filling this area from a previous eruption.

Expansive lava fields in Iceland

 

We were able to visit two volcanic craters near the north side of Lake Myvatn by taking Route 863. At Viti, you can hike along the rim of the crater and look down into the green lake at its bottom. Even more impressive was Leirhnjukur, a crater that is still smoking and full of bubbling mud pots. You almost feel like the volcano just erupted yesterday. There is a path that allows you to hike literally through the middle of this crater. It’s a must-see!

Blue lake at the bottom of the Viti volcanic crater in Iceland

Iceland's Leirhnjukur smoking volcanic crater

 

Geothermal Areas

After visiting the craters, you need to backtrack to Ring Road. Along the way back, we stopped to see two different geothermal areas. Geothermal areas are where the hot underground water is bubbling to the surface. There is a distinct smell of sulfur that permeates the air as you take in these steaming pits that can reach temperatures over 200 Celsius. Caliente!

We first came to Hverir, where you follow a path between bubbling mud pits and steaming vents. You can climb to the top of the ridge for great views, but we opted out of this short hike.

The Hverir geothermal area in Iceland

Bjarnarflag is actually a man-made hole from a company hoping to utilize the geothermal water for power. It’s a huge, steaming, bubbling lake with smaller vents off to the side.

The very hot, boiling geothermal waters of Bjarnarflag

Want to know more about a trip to Iceland? Read on!

Experiencing Iceland in a Campervan

9 Day Iceland Itinerary: Days 1 – 3

9 Day Iceland Itinerary: Days 7 – 9

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