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10 Day Ring Road Trip, including Snaefellsnes and maybe Westman Islands?

I am way behind on planning this trip for Aug 27-Sept 6. We have accommodations booked through Hofn/Day 7. We are thinking we will basically skip Reykjavik and focus on the Ring Road since we will be there at a weather doable time of year. Figuring we can get back to Reykjavik alone easily during any season either on its own or en route to a Europe destination. But is this a feasible Ring Road plan? I have a tendency to try to pack in too much - want to see it all! Appreciate your insights!

Day 1: Arrive airport 9am, get rental car, drive 1.5 hours to Borgarnes - see Settlement Center/lunch, Grabrok Crator, if time Hraunfossar & Barnafoss Waterfalls, visit Krauma Baths/dinner. Stay in Borgarnes 2 nights.

Day 2: Drive 1.5 hours to Snaefellsnes, do loop, see sights, including National Park/Vatnshellir. Back to Borgarnes 2nd night

Day 3: If not done Day 1, visit Hraunfossar & Barnafoss Waterfalls, ? then drive 3 hours to Glaumbaer Museum. Follow RS recommended route around Trollaskagi Peninsula, about 4.5 hours, to Myvatn, with stop at Godafoss Waterfall. Stay in Myvatn 2 nights. If time Myvatn Nature Baths

Day 4: Visit Skutustadir Pseudocraters, Hofoi Promontory, Dimmuborgir Lava Formations, lunch near Hverfjall, visit Hverfjall Crater, Namafjall Geothermal area, Krafla Geothermal Valley, Viti Crater, Myvatn Nature Baths. 2nd night in Myvatn

Day5: If not done the day before, see any remaining sights around Myvatn. Drive .5 hour to Dettisfoss Waterfall and Selfoss. Drive 1.5 hours to Herdubreid, then Rjukandafoss. Then .75 hour drive to Seydisfjordour. See town, stay 1 night

Day 6: Drive 4 hours to Hofn with stops at Hvalnes Lighthouse/Lonsvik Bay, Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, Diamond Beach, Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon, Skaftafell National Park/visitor center & hikes (Geology Trail & Svartifoss). Stay in Hofn 2 nights

Day 7: Any sights not seen Day 6, maybe an Ice Cave tour or Lagoon boat tour? 2nd night in Hofn.

Day 8: Drive 4 hours to Vik for lunch, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Dyrholaey Promontory/Mirror Beach, Solheimajokull Glacier, Skogafoss Waterfall, Katla Geopark Visitor Center, Seljalandsfoss & Gljufrabui Waterfalls, maybe Lava Center if not doing Lava Museum in Westman Island; stay 2 nights between Vik & Hvolsvollur

Day 9: Westman Island ferry with car. Return to Day 8 accommodations.

Day 10: Drive 2 hours to Golden Circle, going counterclockwise. See Reykjadalur Thermal River, Keriel Crater, maybe Skalholt Catheddral/crypt, lunch in ?Fridheimer, see Secret Lagoon, Gullfoss Waterfall, Geyser area, Fontana Thermal Baths, Pingvellir. Stay 1 night in Geyser.

Day 11: See anything in Golden Circle not seen Day 10, drive scenic route via Nesjavallaleid, drive 1 hour to Reykjavik if there is time to see anything, then 1 hour to return rental car at airport by 1:15, 4:45 flight out

Should we make for a shorter Day 3 of driving and stay somewhere between Borgarnes & Myvatn for 1 night? (I hate 1 night stays and try to avoid to the fullest extent possible.) That would mean not doing Westman. Or should we bag the Westman Islands anyway and allow more time around Vik/Golden Circle, maybe come back to Reykjavik for our last night?
Thank you!!

Posted by
2238 posts

Here are my thoughts on this:)

If you are arriving from, the US, day one is too long. Staying in Borgarnes is perfect, but I would skip the two waterfalls that day and do them the next day. The Settlement Center is good, but after a long flight, we could barely stay awake in there. It is dark and quiet, so that just adds to the sleepy feeling. Visiting Krauma and having dinner will be a nice way to round out the day.

Instead of Myvatn, have you looked at GeoSea? Myvatn is our least favorite of all of them the we have been to in Iceland, and we try to go to as many as we can on each trip. The night we went, it was extremely crowded, we could not find hot, much less warm spots in the lagoon, and several groups should have just gotten a room. It was to the point that our kids in their 20's were laughing at them. GeoSea was the total opposite. So serene, the views were gorgeous, etc.

We went to the east side of Dettifoss and loved that. Far fewer people, but the road in is rough. Worth it though! Great views, and the canyon just before it has great views as well.

A glacier lagoon zodiac boat tour is SO much fun! I would not miss that at Jokulsarlon. Ice caves are great too, but not at their best during your dates. You mention Solheimajokull, are you just looking to walk to the tongue of it and look or are you wanting to do a glacier hike? We did the hike there and it was a lot of fun!

For Westmann Islands, can you stay overnight? We had several nights there last summer and were glad we did. The puffins are best seen early in the morning and later at night, so the more time you have there the more opportunities you will have to see them. During the day they are flying around the puffin lookout, but not landing so you really can't see much. This island has SO much to offer, so do not skip it! The rib boat safari ride is a blast, and we even saw a pod or orcas that came right up to our boat. The crater is great to hike for views, and the museum at the bottom of it is not to be missed.

The only thing that I see as a real issue in all of this is finding lodging for your last few days. Lodging tends to book out 9-12 months in advance, so you will want to figure out your plan and get bookings done asap. To give you an idea, I booked for late September back in late March, and I knew I was late to the game but we just decided to go on a whim. I had a very hard time finding places along the south coast, and we had to really rework our itinerary to make it work.

You have a good amount time for the ring road. We had 12 nights the time we did that, so very similar. Your dates are a really nice time to be there too. Enjoy!

Posted by
25 posts

Mikliz97, Thank you for all your insights! We had realized that Day 1 was too packed, so are planning to do either the Settlement Center or Grabrok Crater on our way out of Borgarnes on Day 3. We will check out GeoSea vs Myvatn Baths. And you've convinced me that a lagoon boat tour is worth it despite the cold. Unfortunately we don't have enough time for an overnight in the Westmans, so an early morning and late day ferry is the best we can do. By September we are likely to miss the puffins - apparently they aren't much seen after mid-August. And thanks for your recommendation to get on booking our final nights - I was able to get accommodations (south coast is very expensive!).
If you or others have any other suggestions I would love to hear them!