From the plane to the stunning plateaus of the Westfjords, this incredible photo gallery encapsulates all the joys of road tripping in the Icelandic summertime; waterfalls, glaciers, geysers, puffins and the endless hours of daylight thanks to the glowing Midnight Sun. Read on to marvel over one man’s journey around the land of ice and fire.
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Its no secret that Iceland promises unique natural phenomena and remote, otherworldly landscapes. For one member of our Facebook Feature Group, dreams of an Icelandic road trip became a reality last summer when he decided to drive the famous Ring Road across the country in 10 days. Lucky for us, he’s shared his story with this fabulous selection of photographs.
After picking up their rental car from the airport, this group of intrepid travellers began by travelling from Keflavík International airport to Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavík. From there, they took off to complete the Ring Road in a clockwise direction around the island, including the mesmerising Snæfellsnes peninsula as well as the far-flung Westfjords.
Travelling across Iceland in the summertime has many advantages. The days are long since the sun doesn’t properly set, meaning the road conditions are at their best, and there’s the added bonus of encountering more Icelandic wildlife such as puffins and seals.
Anticipation gathers as our travellers keenly await touch down at Keflavík International Airport, biding their time by taking a few snaps as Iceland comes into view in the distance.
The view from the airplane often reveals Iceland in all its majesty; expansive volcanic landscapes, ruggedly split with wild rivers that trail across the terrain like serpents. If you’re flying over in clear and sunny weather, make sure not to miss your chance to capture some fantastic aerial photography.
Their journey begins, as it does for many, in Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavík. Pictured is the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church, standing proudly over the world’s northernmost capital, bathed in the glorious Midnight Sun of summer.
Designed by state architect, Guðjón Samúelsson, Hallgrímskirkja stands at 74.5 metres high, making it an instantly visible landmark across the city. Since the beginning of its construction in 1945, the Lutheran Church has gone on to be one of the most iconic symbols of Icelandic national identity.
Leaving Reykjavík, the group travelled west, making a quick stop in Akranes, a port town just across the bay from Reykjavík, before moving onto the Snæfellnes peninsula. This region is often referred to as ‘Iceland in Miniature’ due to its wealth and diversity of natural features. The peninsula also boasts some beautiful and quintessential fishing communities.
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The above photo captures Mount Kirkjufell in all its verdant glory, framed by its neighbouring waterfall of the same name. Most television viewers will recognise Kirkjufell as “the mountain like an arrowhead” from HBO’s fantasy series, Game of Thrones.
Visitors to the Snæfellnes Peninsula will have no shortage of attractions to visit. Towns and villages to see on the Snæfellsnes peninsula include Arnarstapi, Hellnar, Búðir, Hellissandur, Ólafsvík, Grundarfjörður and Stykkishólmur. Attractions, on the other hand, include the Eldborg crater, Djúpalónssandur beach, and the Lóndrangar sea stacks. Another advantage of visiting the Snæfellnes peninsula in the summertime is the promise of spotting seals on Ytri Tunga beach!
Back on the road and travelling further west still, the group drives to the Westfjords of Iceland, famously remote and characterised by deep cutting fjords and mountainous passes.
Pictured is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the whole of Iceland, Dynjandi, a name which translates to ‘thunderous’. And, it’s easy to understand why; falling a total of 100-metres in a trapezoidal shape, the sound of the falls is deafening and its beauty breathtaking.
Leaving the Westfjords, the group rejoins the Ring Road to reach the second-largest urban centre after Reykjavík and the largest settlement in the North, Akureyri. This bustling township has plenty to see and do as well as a healthy choice of bars and restaurants to meet any need.
The above waterfall is Goðafoss, just outside of Akureyri on the way to the awe-inspiring Lake Mývatn region which includes fantastic places to stop such as the Mývatn Nature Baths, the lava field Dimmuborgir, and the Námskarð Pass geothermal area and much more. You could spend a whole day or two getting familiar with this fantastic place.
“The Beast” is the nickname aptly assigned to this next waterfall, Dettifoss, considered the most powerful falls in Europe. Dettifoss is an attraction on the Diamond Circle route, the most popular sightseeing circuit in the North of Iceland.
Continuing along the Route 1 road, the group discovers the stunning Eastfjords of Iceland, an area admired for its unique geological composition and dramatic coastlines. In the photo above, you can see a bird, cruising among the clouds in the pinks and oranges of the Midnight Sun.
After passing the fishing town of Höfn, famous for its shellfish, our intrepid travellers reach what is often referred to as the ‘Crown Jewel of Iceland’, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Here, icebergs break away from their mother glacier to float out to sea on the crystalline waters of the glacial lake.
The group is now well and truly exploring the South Coast of Iceland as they reach the pictured Skógafoss waterfall, one of the main stops along this popular stretch of coast. Other stops on a tour of the South Coast includes Seljalandsfoss waterfall as well as the jet black sand beach, Reynisfjara.
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The talented photographer strikes again, now, with this delightful shot of a nesting Atlantic puffin. You can spot puffins all over Iceland during the summertime but popular spots include Látrabjarg cliffs in the Westfjords, the island of Grímsey in the North, and along Iceland’s South Coast.
The cherry on the top of this epic, circle trip of Iceland is the Golden Circle route, perhaps the most travelled sightseeing circuit in the country. In the picture above, you can see the hot spring Strokkur erupts as it does every 5-10minutes up to 40-metres in the air. Other attractions on the Golden Circle include Þingvellir National Park and Gullfoss waterfall.
Having gone full circle, our road trippers arrive back in Reykjavík and prepare to fly back home. Before heading back to the airport, they once more take in the fantastical colour of the Icelandic Midnight Sun with this snap of the Sun Voyager sculpture in Downtown Reykjavík.
See Also: Where to find Puffins in Iceland
All photo credit to Dominik Belica, thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures with us.
Did this photo article inspire you to plan a road trip to Iceland? What are your experiences of the Ring Road? If you feel like contributing any photos of your time in Iceland, please join the Guide to Iceland – Feature Group on Facebook. Be sure to leave any comments or queries in the comments box below.