Memories of our Iceland Ring Road Adventure

In Europe, Iceland, Memories, Our Journeys, Road Trips, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

Wow, there are so many!

After visiting Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik and the Golden Circle for a long weekend back in 2007. Gary and I always had an inkling that we would return. And return we did, this time exploring more of the country, so we hired a 4x4 and headed off to tour Iceland’s Ring Road.

Route One just outside Egilsstaðir, Iceland

Route One just outside Egilsstaðir

We love reminiscing about our trips as they bring back so many memories. With Iceland words like amazing, incredible, stunning just don’t do it justice at times, seeing really is believing.

We ventured off mid-March and with me being slightly cautious (fretting) at times and like to have things planned out, it did concern me that the weather may scupper our plans.

Janis driving Etta in Iceland

Driving Etta in Iceland

Quick Links

Iceland was such an unforgettable adventure for us in so many ways, and it could be for you too.

It was just the two of us on the, trip and the driving was very manageable between us.

So, grab your passport and driving licence for a taster of what you’ll see.

Why not?

Start creating your own Icelandic adventure and discover the Northern Lights yourself, easyJet & British Airways are just a couple of options.

A useful guide to Iceland

If you're tempted to tour the Land of Fire and Ice and would love to discover the whole country, then take a look at this  DK Eyewitness book. This Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide is invaluable, I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into searching for more.

You can now grab the revised copy.


Northern Lights – It goes without saying that this would be at the top of our list. For the 11 nights we were in Iceland we only saw them one evening. In hindsight, we should have been slightly more clued up on what we were looking for. We’d prep’d ourselves each day, as to where we would head of an evening. However, persistence is the name of the game, and often the Aurora Borealis looks like clouds, but if you watch closely, you can see them pulsating in the night sky.

The Northern Lights outside Reykjahlíð , Iceland

The Northern Lights outside Reykjahlíð

When they did come out to play, I was like a big kid as the Northern Lights was something Gary and I had wanted to see for years.

Northern Lights trailing across the sky at Reykjahlíð, Eastern Iceland

Northern Lights trailing across the sky at Reykjahlíð

We wrote a post on how to photograph the Northern Lights if you're interested.

Glacier – My next breath-taking moment was coming face to face with a glacier. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would see such an incredible sight. Amazingly, it wasn’t too difficult to get to, although, we were pleased we had a 4X4, as the terrain was a bit uneven, to say the least. 

The layers of ice and ash trapped within the Svínafellsjökull glacier, Iceland

The layers of ice and ash trapped within the Svínafellsjökull glacier

Waterfalls – You may already know that Iceland is renowned for its waterfalls. I feel a bit bad bulking them together as some of these natural wonders are magnificent. The crashing noise of Gullfoss as the water flows over the top is a sight & sound to behold. 

Gullfoss with Ice and snow - 2018, Iceland

Gullfoss with Ice and snow

In the north of Iceland, there are Dettifoss and Selfoss waterfalls. These are often inaccessible during the winter months, as the roads are impassable. However, luck was on our side, and one of the roads had been cleared. These were a little hike to get to, but certainly worth it.

The impressive Dettifoss, Iceland

The impressive Dettifoss

Geysers – Wow, another incredible sight and once again free of charge. The most active geyser at Haukadalur is Strokkur and erupts every 5-10 minutes. You don’t get a lot of warning when it’s about to erupt, so you need to be poised with your camera.

Strokkur errupting, Iceland

Strokkur errupting

The Black Beaches – When I say beaches, don’t rush to grab your sun-cream and bikini. These are a little different, to say the least, Reynisfjara Beach also has an amazing rock formation. 

The shoreline at Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland

The shoreline at Reynisfjara Beach

Then there’s Diamond Beach (Jökulsárlón ice beach), where parts of the glaciers break off from Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, flow out to sea and then wash back in onto the shore.  These ice cubes are little too big even for my Gin & Tonic.

Janis with a big diamond on the beach, Iceland

Janis with a big diamond on the beach

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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. You can do it all on a road trip, Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.


Incredible Scenery – The landscape and scenery in Iceland has undoubtedly got to be the main draw for so many people. Around every single turn it’s beautiful, I don’t think you could ever take it for granted. Although you do need to be respectful, this landscape doesn’t suffer fools gladly. 

The south-east coast of Iceland

The south-east coast of Iceland

Fishing Villages – There are some picturesque villages dotted around Iceland, and one of my favourites was Seyðisfjörður. Nestled on the eastern side of the country in the mouth of a fjord.

Reflections at Seydisfjordur, Iceland

Reflections at Seydisfjordur

Lighthouses & Coastline – I had noticed before how fascinated Gary was with lighthouses. However, on this trip, he took it to another level. I’d lost count how many we detoured to, but it must have been close to double figures..

Öndverðarnes lighthouse, Iceland

Öndverðarnes lighthouse

Turf covered homes – We took a little detour on the way to Akureyri via Laufás. Where there’s a charming museum which consists of an ancient manor farm and rectory. It was closed at the time, although you are free to wander around.

Don’t think I could live in one, a little bit too rustic for me!

The Laufás ancient farmouse just outside Grenivik

The Laufás ancient farmouse just outside Grenivik

Hallgrímskirkja - Reykjavik Church on the hill is quite an icon to its skyline. To get a rooftop view across the city for around €8, you can take an elevator to the top of the spire (they’ve made it easy).

The Hallgrímskirkja at dusk, Reykjavik, Iceland

The Hallgrímskirkja at dusk, Reykjavik

Inside the Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavik, Iceland

Inside the Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavik

The view over Reykjavik, Iceland

The view over Reykjavik

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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.

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


Seals – We were ticking all the boxes, now we got to see Grey and Harbour seals frolicking in the wild at Illugastadhir. This trip was full of so many highs.

Seals just laying around, Iceland

Seals just laying around

Geothermal Pools – There are a few places to see the bubbling mud pots in Iceland, we visited a site on the south-west coast at Gunnuhver. Also, one at Námafjall Hverir near Lake Myvatn. With the gases surging from the earth’s crust, you feel like you could be walking on Mars.

Although, be warned the smell of sulphur is a little strong, but this all adds to the surreal landscape.

Fumarole photo at Námafjall Hverir

A fumarole at Námafjall Hverir

Bridge Between Continents – This a 15 metre (50 ft) footbridge that spans a rift between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. You can stroll across the bridge and step between the European and North American plates, and why wouldn’t you want to do that?

Janis on the bridge between continents, Miðlína, Iceland

Janis on the bridge between continents, Miðlína

Icelandic Horses – During a tour of the Ring Road we spotted a few reindeer, but mostly dotted around were the very hardy Icelandic ponies. Slightly small in stature but they made up for it in toughness, boy it was cold.

Rugged Icelandic hourses in the rain, Iceland

Rugged Icelandic hourses in the rain

Take Caution

When you want to pull over and stop, try and find a designated area or car park. The sides of the roads may look solid, but sometimes looks are deceiving.

What I would do differently

  • Be more aware of the Northern Light phases and what we should be looking out for.

A Funny Moment

Enjoying an ice-cream in the middle of March, in Akureyri. To be perfectly honest there’s never a wrong time to have an ice-cream.

Enjoying a Brynja Ice-cream, Akureyri, Iceland

Enjoying a Brynja Ice-cream, Akureyri

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Have You?

Visited Iceland?  Does our reminiscing bring back any memories for you?  What was your favourite destination?

A slight disappointment

  • If you’ve decided to head to Iceland, you know it isn’t going to be cheap. However, it still comes as a shock at £9 for a small bottle of local beer.

Points of Note

  • On a positive note, the majority of the wonders of Iceland are free of charge, the geysers, waterfalls, glaciers & bubbling geothermal pools.

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Inspired to visit Iceland?

Don’t just take our word for it, head over to this incredibly picturesque country, enjoying everything Iceland has to offer.

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  1. What a trip — and amazing photography! Your photos of the Northern Lights are stunning. I have a friend who saw the Northern Lights but couldn’t get any photos. You inspire me to visit Iceland!

    1. Ahhh thanks very much Sharon. Iceland is an incredible country, around every turn there is a scene that is just breath-taking.I hope you do get the chance to go, there’s a lot to see in the south; however, we really recommend touring the whole Ring Road (it can be weather dependent). It is certainly quieter around the north.We put together a post on photographing the Northern Lights, hopefully this may give you some tips.https://www.ourworldforyou….

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