Driving The Ring Road in Three Days

Iceland’s famous Þjóðvegur 1 highway, or the Ring Road, is a 1322 km long road that circles the country. Technically it can be covered from start to finish in less than 24 hours but rushing the road trip would defeat the purpose of experiencing the beautiful nature and eccentric small towns that Iceland has to offer. The optimal way to travel the Ring Road is in approximately seven days with plenty of pit stops, but it’s also entirely possible to have an enjoyable trip in much less than that. For those who have limited time to travel, here’s a guide to a three day trip around Iceland.

Where to Begin?

At the start of the trip, travellers have two options, driving north or south but for the purpose of this article, the northern route is chosen. Heading north takes travellers through the Hvalfjarðargöng tunnel towards Borgarnes which is a popular first quick stop for gathering snacks or having lunch, but for a little less crowded option we recommend Baulan, a small gas station twenty minutes past Borgarnes. Baulan is perfect for a coffee break and a hot dog before getting back on the road. About 40 minutes from Baulan marks the beginning of the drive through Holtavörðuheiði, a long stretch of road that ascends through barren hillsides. During the summer, Holtavörðuheiði poses no difficulty for drivers but during winter the road can get quite icy and it’s worth staying up to date on road conditions when travelling in the winter months. Coming back down from the hills, travellers are greeted by Staðarskáli, a good sized gas station and restaurant that was originally opened in 1960 and then reconstructed in 2008 under the N1 chain of gas stations. Due to its location right between Reykjavík and the North part of Iceland, it has been one of the most popular rest stops on the Ring Road. Although some of the old time charm was replaced by a more modern look by N1, it’s still a classic stop to restock on drinks and road snacks. Before getting to Akureyri, the road crosses Blönduós, a decent sized town named after the Blanda river that rushes through the area. Blönduós has a number of restaurants and gas stations to drop in, but for people who crave an old fashioned burger joint there is the North West restaurant in Víðigerði, some 39 km from Blönduós.

Photo: Golli. A collection of waterfalls in Borgarfjörður

After that the Ring Road heads into Skagafjörður, a large region known for its dramatic history during the Sturlunga Era and for its rich horsebreeding culture. The last proper stop before Akureyri is Varmahlíð in Skagafjörður, a tiny community that still manages a hotel and a swimming pool along with a restaurant and gas station. From Varmahlíð it’s about an hour drive to Akureyri with no other options for pit stops through the sometimes treacherous Öxnadalsheiði. 

Akureyri, Capital of North Iceland

Akureyri, the second biggest town in Iceland, is nestled at the roots of Hlíðarfjall mountain, a popular skiing area during winter time. It has a more “city feel” than the other smaller towns that are scattered around the country, and is an ideal place to stop for the first night of the trip. Akureyri offers numerous hotels, guesthouses and camping areas along with a diverse restaurant scene and a huge swimming pool with a funky waterslide. The climate in Akureyri is often a lot calmer than in Reykjavík and during summer it’s more likely than not to catch beautiful, sunny days there while Reykjavík has more unpredictable weather. There is no shortage of activities available in Akureyri and it is sure to leave an impression on any traveller passing through. In 2022, a new geothermal bath spot opened right outside Akureyri called Skógarböðin, or Forest Lagoon, a beautifully designed, modern take on the natural bath. It’s a great spot to unwind after the long drive and enjoy the surrounding nature. For breakfast in Akureyri there are a few options, but a great little café called Kaffi Ilmur is a great choice. Kaffi Ilmur serves breakfast all day long and has amazing Dutch specialty pancakes that should not be missed.

Photo: Golli. Akureyri is the second largest town in Iceland

Experiencing East-Iceland

Heading out east from Akureyri, the next stop should be Egilsstaðir, a small town with a big personality and a great natural bath called Vök, which is located on top of Urriðavatn lake. Visitors can soak in the hot pools and then take a dip in the lake to cool off. East-Iceland has a lot to offer and it’s the only part of the country where wild reindeer roam free. Because of the short trip and long drives between destinations, it might not be possible to go on many excursions, but travellers should try to squeeze in a reindeer safari to see these adorable animals in their natural habitat. On the South-Eastern edge of Iceland, close to Vatnajökull glacer is Jökulsárlón, a glacier lake that is a must see on the Ring Road trip. The lake runs directly from Vatnajökull and out to the ocean and carries with it beautiful icebergs from the glacier in all different colors of blue. Close by is the Diamond Beach where pieces of the icebergs have broken off and collected on the shore. It’s a stunning display of the ever changing elements of Icelandic nature.

Photo: Berglind. The Glacier Lagoon in East-Iceland

 For the second night on the trip, Höfn í Hornafirði is a great spot, a small coastal town on the  South-East tip, or travellers can duck into Hotel Jökulsárlón, a cozy hotel close to the glacier lake. About 20 minutes before entering Höfn there are the Vestrahorn mountains, a picturesque range of ragged mountains that seem to rise up from the black, sandy beach. 

The Scenic South Coast

On the third day, driving from Höfn, begins the home stretch, a beautiful, scenic drive along the southern part of Iceland. This part of the country doesn’t have the many hills and valleys of the western and northern parts and so the drive is smooth and peaceful. The southern route also has some of the most popular nature highlights of Iceland, and as travellers get closer to Reykjavík, there are numerous spots to stop and enjoy the views. Three hours from Höfn is Vík í Mýrdal, another small seaside town that is surrounded by dramatic mountain formations. There are a number of food options in Vík, including a craft brewery pub called Smiðjan Brewery that offers a good selection of local specialty beers. Thirty minutes from Vík is the famed Skógafoss, an iconic waterfall that can be seen right from the highway. Continuing west is another, smaller waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, where visitors have a chance to walk up close and get behind the gushing water. Close by Seljalandsfoss is Seljavallalaug, a beautiful natural bath, hidden from the views of the Ring Road. It’s a bit of a hike to get to the pool but the soak is worth every minute.

Photo: Golli. Seljalandsfoss on the South Coast

Getting back on the road from Seljavallalaug, travellers have the option of taking a small detour to see Gullfoss waterfall and Strokkur geysir. As part of the Golden Cirlce, these spots are a popular attraction for tour groups, but it’s easy and fun to get around there on your own. From the Golden Circle it’s a short one hour drive back to Reykjavík where it all started. A short trip like this around Iceland is only able to give a small preview of all the possible things to see and do around the country, but it is a great way to get familiar with driving on the roads and to hopefully get hyped for a longer return trip in the future.

Where Can I Store Luggage in Reykjavík?

Luggage storage Reykjavik

Travelling around Iceland, but you need to store your luggage somewhere until you catch your flight? Where are the best and safest luggage-lockers around Reykjavík? And what does it cost?

Don’t worry; we have compiled all of the storage lockers around town for you, so you can still enjoy your adventures here in Iceland – baggage-free. Here are some of the most accessible and reliable luggage storage options around Reykjavík.

All Luggage Lockers Around Reykjavík

Luggage lockers at BSÍ Reykjavík Bus Terminal - 24/7

The location comes in handy as this is also the main bus station of Reykjavík, where all the buses leave for the International Keflavík Airport. So, if you want to stroll around town and then head straight to the airport afterwards without spending too much time picking up your luggage, this might be the best option for you!

At BSÍ, multiple different storage options are available. You can store your belongings for a maximum of 5 days during the summer months (June 1-September 14) and 30 days from September to May. The lockers are open 24/7.

Here are all of the locker sizes and prices for 24h:

  • X-Large Locker: 64x57x95cm (25×22,4x36in) – ISK 3990 / €26 / $29
  • Large Locker: 64x42x95cm (25×16,5x36in) – ISK 2490 ISK / €16 / $18
  • Medium Locker: 47x37x68cm (18,5×14,5×27,5in) – ISK 1490 / €10/ $11
  • Key Locker: 14x22x50cm (5,5×8,6×19,6in) – ISK 490 / €3.30 / $3.50
 
Keflavík International Airport - 24/7

If you are travelling around the Reykjanes peninsula before catching your flight, storing your luggage directly at Keflavík Airport might be a smart option!

The lockers are located outside in the “Bike Pit” on the arrival side of the terminal. 26 lockers are available in 3 different sizes. In total, you can store your belongings for a maximum of 4 days during the summer months (June to August) and 30 days from September to May. The lockers are open 24/7.

Here are all of the locker sizes and prices for 24h:

  • X-Large Locker: 64x57x95cm (25×22,4x36in) – ISK 4490 / €30/ $32
  • Large Locker: 64x42x95cm (25×16,5x36in) – ISK 3490 / €23/ $25
  • Medium Locker: 47x37x95cm (18,5×14,5×27,5in) – ISK 1490 / €10/ $11
 
Traðarkot Car Park & Vesturgata Car Park

Hverfisgata 20, 101 Reykjavík

This luggage storage is right in the heart of downtown Reykjavík and is a great option if you need to check out of your hotel and want to explore the city for the day before flying out later in the evening. You can access these lockers between Laugavegur 5 and 7 from Laugavegur street itself, but also from Hverfisgata, the street behind. The lockers are on two different floors, levels -1A and -2A. You can store your belongings fro a maximum of 30 days in 52 lockers of 3 sizes. Opening hours are every day from 07:00 AM – 12:00 AM.

Here are all of the locker sizes and prices for 24h:

  • X-Large Locker: 64x57x95cm (25×22,4x36in) – ISK 2990 / €20/ $22
  • Large Locker: 64x42x95cm (25×16,5x36in) – ISK 1990 / €13/ $15
  • Medium Locker: 47x37x68cm (18,5×14,5×27,5in) – ISK 990 ISK / €6/ $7
Reykjavík Domestic Airport

In case you plan to continue your travels to other places in Iceland via plane or of you are heading to Greenland, you can also store your luggage in the lockers at the Reykjavík Domestic Airport. In the Icelandair domestic passenger terminal, you can find 12 different lockers in 2 sizes, where you can store your belongings for a maximum of 30 days. Opening hours are from 30 minutes before the first flight in the morning until 30 minutes after the last arrival in the evening. 

Here are all of the locker sizes and prices for 24h:

  • X-Large Locker: 62x59x95cm (24x23x36in) – ISK 2990 ISK / €20/ $22
  • Large Locker: 62x39x95cm (24x15x36in) – ISK 1490 ISK / €10/ $11
Reykjavik Terminal / Bus Hostel - 24/7

Skógarhlíð 10, 105 Reykjavík

Close to the popular natural history museum Perlan and Reykjavík’s Green Lungs Öskuhlíð (the city forest), you can find the luggage lockers in the Bus Hostel. You can store your belongings for a maximum of 30 days in 30 lockers in 3 different sizes. The storage option is open 24/7!

Here are all of the locker sizes and prices for 24h:

  • Large Locker: 64x42x95cm (25×16,5x36in) – ISK 2990 / €20/ $22
  • Medium Locker: 47x37x68cm (18,5×14,5×27,5in) – ISK 1490 / €10/ $1
  • Key Locker: 14x22x50cm (5,5×8,6×19,6in) – ISK 490 / €3.30/ $3.60
Mjódd Bus Terminal - The Budget Option

Þönglabakki 4, 109 Reykjavík

The luggage storage in the Reykjavík suburb Breiðholt is a great option for all budget travellers! Right by the bus terminal, you can find 14 lockers of 2 different sizes inside the terminal building. You can even store your belongings for 30 days. This is a great location if you are planning to continue travelling Iceland by bus, as many buses to the countryside leave from Mjódd. Opening hours are on weekdays from 07:00 AM – 06:00 PM, Saturdays from 10:00 AM – 06:00 PM and Sundays from 12:00 PM – 06:00 PM.

Here are all of the locker sizes and prices for 24h:

  • X – Large Locker: 64x42x95cm (25×16,5x36in) – ISK 990 / €6.60/ $7.20
  • Large Locker: 47x37x68cm (18,5×14,5×27,5in) – ISK 490 / €3.30/ $3.60
 
Reykjavík Campsite

Sundlaugavegur 32, 105 Reykjavík

The Reykjavík campsite in Laugardalur is open all year round and also hosts luggage storage. Additionally to 20 regular lockers in 3 different sizes, they also offer free storage for up to six weeks for flattened bike boxes – perfect for bike travellers that want to explore Iceland’s wilderness by bike, but need to leave behind the transport boxes. They also offer long-term storage for bigger luggage for a fixed rate per day/week of 1.200 ISK/5.800 ISK.

Opening hours for public access are from 07:30 AM – 10:00 PM. If you are staying at the campsite you can access the lockers 24/7.

Here are all of the locker sizes and prices for 24h:

  • X-Large Locker: 64x57x95cm (25×22,4x36in) – ISK 1700 / €11/ $12
  • Large Locker: 64x42x95cm (25×16,5x36in) – ISK 1150 / €7.70/ $8.40
  • Medium Locker: 47x37x95cm (18,5×14,5×27,5in) – ISK 800 / €5.30/ $5.80
Other options: Hotels, rental cars & pools

If none of the suggested luggage lockers fit your plans, you can also ask in your accommodation whether it is possible for them to store your luggage for some time. Most hotels, guesthouses, and Airbnb’s are quite happy to provide this extra service.

If you’re planning to relax and soak in the Blue Lagoon before leaving the country, you can also use the lockers at the facilities. For a fee, you can find bigger storage spaces right outside the entrance for suitcases and smaller (in the ticket price-included) lockers inside the changing rooms for your personal belongings. Public pools in Reykjavík and the surroundings officially do not offer luggage storage.

Otherwise, if you have a rental car, you can store your luggage in the car while you enjoy the last moments of your travels around Iceland. Iceland is generally quite safe, and car break-ins tend to be unusual (no guarantee, though). To be safe, make sure not to leave valuables behind—better safe than sorry!

Tourists Flock to Unmarked Hot Spring in North Iceland

A hot spring in Eyjafjörður, North Iceland

A hot spring near the Vaðlaheiði tunnel in North Iceland has attracted tourists for its natural 30°C baths and picturesque waterfall. Without official signage or facilities, visitors have turned to social media and Google Maps to locate the popular spot.

“Hope it’s OK”

A hot spring near the entrance of the Vaðlaheiði tunnel in North Iceland has become popular among tourists. The spring was created during the construction of the Vaðlaheiði tunnel when workers accidentally drilled into a vein of hot water. This led to the formation of a brook with water at 30°C, which gracefully tumbles off cliffs, creating a picturesque waterfall.

As noted by RÚV, the site lacks official signage or registration with tourism agencies, and there are no facilities for changing; visitors typically drape their clothes over nearby bushes. Despite its popularity, bathers proceed with caution, uncertain of the legality of their bathing activities.

“We just thought: ‘If people have been here, it should be fine, right? We hope it’s OK. Until someone says it’s not, we’ll just keep doing it,” Maria Lauridsen, a Danish tourist, told RÚV yesterday while bathing in the spring.

The spring and the surrounding waterfall have garnered attention on social media. As noted by RÚV, Google Maps is the most effective tool for locating this secluded spot, which attracts tourists for its no-cost, natural bathing experience. The spring serves as the main bathing site, but the waterfall remains a significant draw.

The Best Time to Visit Iceland

When planning a visit to Iceland there are a few things that are good to be aware of. Contrary to what the name suggests, Iceland enjoys a rather mild climate throughout the year, thanks to the Gulf Stream that carries warm winds across the Atlantic. The reason for unpredictable weather and often stormy winters is that those warm Gulf Stream winds clash with cold gusts from the Arctic, creating volatile conditions. It also results in Southern Iceland sustaining a lot more rain than other parts of the country. These clashes are especially prominent during high winter, from late December to March, which is something to be aware of when planning a trip. Considering the elements, the prime time for visiting Iceland would be the official tourist season between May and September. These months guarantee pretty consistent warmth across the land, although it’s good to be aware that Reykjavík and the surrounding southern area will face more rainy days than the rest. Starting in May, this is also a time of the enchanting summer sun that never sets, creating long, leisurely days of bright skies that seem to stretch on forever. Travel is also easy in the summer, most roads are readily accessible, even in the treacherous highlands, and accommodation is widely available. The whole country feels alive and vibrant as locals use every opportunity to soak up the precious rays of sunshine.

Photo: Golli. Reykjavík in summer, a prime time for a visit to Iceland

Fall in Iceland, a Magical Time

As summer comes to an end, the fall season emerges with its cool, crisp evenings and the opportunity for seeing the Northern Lights, something millions of people come to see every year. Fall is a magical time in Iceland and rivals the summer season for the best time to visit since the weather stays rather mild and consistent from September through late November. Activities such as whale watching and Golden Circle tours are still in abundance and conditions to travel by car are usually very good. In fall, Icelanders start to settle in for the winter and the country takes on a cozy atmosphere that makes going out for a hearty meal and a nightcap in a dim lit bar feel like an adventure. The Northern Lights are often visible from Reykjavík when the skies are clear, and it’s easy to find good spots with minimal light pollution right in the city centre. Starting in December, Christmas decorations are put up all around Iceland that light up the long dark days of winter.

Photo: Golli. Christmas lights in Reykjavík

When it comes down to it, every season in Iceland offers a unique charm. With no shortages of activities and things to see all year round, the most important for visitors is to follow weather forecasts for their chosen times and to be prepared for swiftly changing conditions.   

 

 

 

Scientists Forecast End to Geological Unrest Near Grindavík

reykjanes eruption litli hrútur

Two geoscientists have predicted a need for increased magma accumulation beneath Svartsengi on the Reykjanes Peninsula to trigger a new intrusion. Utilising Icelandic Meteorological Office data, their analysis suggests that the current geological unrest near the town of Grindavík will conclude between July 1 and August 15.

Past predictions proved accurate

According to a recent forecast by two geoscientists, a greater volume of magma is now required to accumulate beneath the Svartsengi area on the Reykjanes Peninsula than before to initiate a new magma intrusion. The experts, volcanologist Haraldur Sigurðsson and geophysicist Grímur Björnsson, have observed a deceleration in magma accumulation and anticipate that the geological disturbances near the town of Grindavík will subside by late summer.

“Earthquakes, magma intrusions, and eruptions have plagued the residents of Grindavík since November 10, 2023, to this day,” the two scientists wrote on Haraldur Sigurðsson’s online blog. “When will these disasters end? When can residents return home and the fisheries resume operations in one of Iceland’s largest fishing ports? We believe that scientific data now available allow us to estimate when the movements of magma and eruptions in the Sundhnúkur crater row will cease.”

On the Channel 2 nightly news yesterday, reporter Kristján Már Unnarsson delved into these prognostications.

“They predict that the disturbances near Grindavík will conclude by late summer, that is, in four to five months. It’s worth recalling that during the Holuhraun eruption, which began at the end of August 2014, Haraldur boldly predicted that the eruption would end by the end of February or the beginning of March. He could hardly have been more precise, as the end of the eruption was declared on February 28. Therefore, there is reason to listen to him,” Kristján observed.

Forecast based on data from the Icelandic MET office

Kristján detailed how Haraldur and Grímur derive their forecasts from data provided by the Icelandic Meteorological Office. This includes a chart documenting five significant geological events since November, encompassing three eruptions and two magma intrusions that failed to culminate in eruptions. Utilising this data, the two experts have developed their own analytical chart to project when the current geological unrest will conclude.

A graph from the Icelandic MET Office
Icelandic Meteorological Office

“It shows how the magma inflow under Svartsengi has been gradually slowing. In the tremors in November, when everything was shaking, the magma inflow measured over 700,000 cubic metres per day. Since then, the inflow has steadily decreased,” Kristján commented.

A magma graph from Haraldur Sigurðsson's online blog
Vulkan.blog.is

Kristján explained that the scientists believe this magma inflow follows a linear trend. Based on this trend, the two scientists predict that this geological unrest will conclude sometime between July 1 and August 15.

Iceland News Review: Drama in the East and Joyful Reunions

INR

In this episode of Iceland News Review, political intrigue in the east of Iceland, the economy looking bright as wage agreements are signed, Palestinian families reunited at last, an effort to bring our folk tales home, and much more.

Iceland News Review brings you all of Iceland’s top stories, every week, with the context and background you need. Be sure to like, follow and subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode!

Gylfi Sigurðsson Disappointed Over National Team Snub

Footballer

Footballer Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson, recently signed by Valur, has reportedly not been selected for Iceland’s national team for the upcoming playoff against Israel. In an interview with DV yesterday, Gylfi described the decision as “a huge disappointment,” insisting that he is in better physical condition now than in previous selections.

“A huge disappointment”

Yesterday, it was revealed that footballer Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson – recently signed with the Icelandic football team Valur – would not be among those players selected for the national football squad ahead of a crucial playoff match against Israel on March 21. Iceland needs to win two matches in the playoffs to secure a spot in the UEFA Euro 2024 finals in Germany this summer. The squad is expected to be announced today.

Gylfi expressed his feelings about Hareide’s decision in an interview with DV yesterday:

“It’s a huge disappointment. It’s one of the main reasons why I have continued playing. I have always enjoyed myself most with the national team and playing for Iceland … I tried to be ready for these games over the past few months – to no avail; unfortunately, I’m not in the squad,” Gylfi observed, adding that he is in better condition now than last autumn when Hareide selected him.

Gylfi has been struggling with an injury over the past few months.

“I would have trusted myself to do so. Despite minor injuries, I feel I’m in better condition now than against Liechtenstein last autumn. I feel better physically. My legs are stronger, and unlike the last time when I was selected, I have not gone a long time without playing football. I would have more than trusted myself to play with the national team,” Gylfi remarked.