Detour from Iceland’s Ring Road

In En-Route, Europe, Iceland, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

Day Eight, Circular trip from Akureyri.

As we were based in Akureyri for two nights, this gave us the opportunity to tour some of the northern peninsular and venture off the A1 Ring Road for a while.

Just outside Akureyri, Iceland

Back in the 4x4 we headed north out of town and picked up route 82, immediately the hustle bustle of a larger town has gone & we’re back on the quiet deserted Icelandic roads.

A monument to the whale, Iceland

Iceland’s historical past has partially revolved around whale hunting, although nowadays the tracking of whales is mainly for tourism or scientific reasons. However, we came across this sculpture of a whale tail and had to stop.

A useful guide to Iceland

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Our Advice

Go for a 4×4 for the reasonable ground clearance it affords you. You can, of course, hire a 2-wheel drive vehicle, but you are not permitted to drive on ‘F’ roads and other tracks.

Our experience was that even access to certain Points of Interest along roads a regular 2-wheel drive wouldn’t get you there. Trust us.

Fishing Communities

In this part of Iceland as with many others, fishing is still a large part of the day to day life, and as we toured through the small communities such as Dalvík & Ólafsfjörður, it is very evident, that this continues.

We also stumbled upon was some great street art.

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On a need to know basis

If you are planning a road trip around Iceland particularly over the winter months you need to be very aware of the ever-changing road and weather conditions.

During winter, parts of the Ring Road may be impassable, and you may not get to areas of the country you intended to.

Regularly check the conditions by using these useful websites and apps, believe me, they will come in handy.

Icelandic Met Office
The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration – Vegagerdin also has an app.

Then came the tunnels

Heading further north we pick up route 76, and along here there are some very interesting tunnels, channelled into the sides of mountains, one was built as recently as 2010.

Well, when I say ‘interesting’ Gary & I weren’t quite prepared that partially through the narrow dark tunnel, priority was for oncoming traffic and we had to pull over into a layby that was bored out in the side of the tunnels rock face.
There’s a first time for everything!

In search of

If you are Northern Light hunting, you need to be aware of the sunset & darkness times and the KP Index for the evening. It also requires dark and partly clear skies.

KP Index scale ranges from 0 to 9;
0-2: Low
2-3: Moderate
4-6: A big solar storm is coming
7-9: Highly unusual

You can monitor this via the Icelandic Met Office which is updated around 6 pm.


Nearer the most northern tip of the headland, we pass through the small colourful fishing town of Siglufjörður. Nestled along a fjord, its heritage during the 1940’s and 50’s was the buoyant herring industry.

Although the herring are now gone, fishing is still a large part of this community, and you sense an element of pride within the town to maintain its picturesque upkeep.

Why not?

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Far as the eye can see

We reach the furthest north, we intend to journey on this trip, and after travelling along mainly tarmac roads and an occasional gravel one, all that stretches beyond are blue seas as far as the eye can see.

With a glimpse in the far distance to the east is Grímsey, an Icelandic island straddling the Arctic Circle.

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Tempted to?

Discover Iceland’s enchanting Ring Road with its rugged landscape or the waterfalls and geysers around the Golden Circle for yourself.

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I’ll say it again

Trying not to be too repetitive but once again the scenery is incredible. In the depths of winter, the small towns and villages must almost be inaccessible by land.

We now continue our journey south down the 76 passing snow-capped mountains and frozen lakes. Jumping back onto the Ring Road, we then travel east and return to Akureyri.

A few good ideas for your Icelandic trip

Here's a few things we picked up ahead of our trip to make things a little smoother for us.

From the low tech traditional foldout paper map, a cigarette USB charger, and a USB chargeable torch.  

All simple stuff that may be helpful on your travels.

  • Fold-out paper map

  • Mini Dual USB Car Adapter

  • USB rechargeable LED Flashlight

Ice cream

Now I know what you are thinking, there is one thing missing from a winter Icelandic road trip, yes ICE CREAM…

I had read about this ice-cream parlour prior to leaving the UK, and I thought I must give it a try. After a brief conversation just involving pointing, I managed to order a couple of ice creams.

Take a stroll

We had a wander around the colourful fishing town of Akureyri, which was first settled upon in the 9th century. Not only is it warming to the eye, but its traffic lights are also quite friendly too.

We discovered Laxdalshús, Akureyri’s oldest house which was built in 1795, and at the time would have been along the shores of the fjord and where merchants wanted to live.

Just a little further along is Nonnahús, built in 1850 and was the home of Jón Sveinsson, "Nonni", who wrote children’s books.

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Our route

The route that we took today included a mixture of roads, mostly around route 82 and 76 and then hopping back on to the Ring Road into Akureyri.

In total, our journey was about 268km (166 miles) and with all the stops took us about 5 1/2 hours.

Highlight of the Day

Every trip Gary and I go on, whether it’s a mini-break near or far or a road trip we chose a ‘Highlight of the Day’, here they are for day 8.

Janis; The scenery along the coastal route was amazing, and I love it that it is so peaceful.

Gary; It has to be those tunnels - amazing to drive through. Along with Janis I agree, the scenery was stunning.

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Where we stayed

For the two nights, we were based in Akureyri; we stayed at Hotel Kea, in the centre of town. The hotel was comfortable and had a broad range of facilities.

The only issue was that it had limited parking on site and certain in town areas of Akureyri require a parking disc. The hotel gave us a disc; however, it works on time restrictions.

Inspired to visit Akureyri?

Why not tour the northern peninsular of Iceland and visit the colourful little harbour towns?

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Day Eight, Circular trip from Akureyri.

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