Selfoss to Vik, touring Iceland’s Ring Road

In En-Route, Europe, Iceland, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by Janis10 Comments

Day Three, Waterfalls, Winds & Black Beaches

Another full day ahead of us, we’re on the road by 8:30, and our sightseeing for day 3 is looking full to bursting.

In the grand scale of the trip, today’s route is a relatively short distance of around 102miles/165km. However, there is so much to see, even without our spur-of-the-moment stops.

The rugged landscape of southern Iceland

We toured the Golden Circle on day two of our trip, which was incredible but today we are heading coast bound.

Before leaving Selfoss, east along the Ring Road (1), we pick up some fuel, which will easily cover us for our day’s touring ahead. After around 50km (31 miles) at Hvolsvollur, we take a left along the 261 for our first stop of the day.

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First waterfall of the day

However, it didn’t take us long, and we found another waterfall scaling high above us that wasn’t on our list, so we parked up, jumped out and went to discover.

We were the only people in Thorsteins Grove at Þorsteinslundur, crossing over a little brook, you are free to wander as you please.

It may be obvious

... but be aware Iceland is an extremely windy country. Keep a firm grip on your car doors when you open them. Even park facing the wind if possible.

Short Hop

Then onto Gluggafoss our first planned stop, and a very short journey further along the 261.

Unfairly we had to share this waterfall with one other couple. It just proves how deserted Iceland can be even around its incredible beauty spots.

One of the things I love about Iceland is that they allow you to use your common sense and if you want to climb amongst the craggy rocks then go ahead and do it.

Take the little track around the side of Gluggafoss, and you’re greeted with a wonderful view.

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Our Advice

It’s your adventure, include whatever takes your fancy. Stop as often as you like, but obviously use a layby or a car park. Don’t just stop on the side of the road, be considerate and be aware of your surroundings.

Icelandic Horses

Slightly further along the 261, take a right along the gravel road of the 250, this will join the Ring Road 1 after about 15 minutes.

Just in our first few days of being in Iceland, we have noticed that they breed a very hardy bunch of horses. Slightly small in stature but they make up for it in toughness, boy its cold.

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


Next, stop Seljalandsfoss waterfall and quite iconic in Iceland, on day one of our road trip I mentioned we had visited Iceland back in 2007.

On that occasion, as it was May and we could walk around the back of the towering waterfall. However, as it is now March and there is a lot of ice and snow around, it was not possible.

It certainly didn’t ruin the experience as it is incredible to see, the waterfall itself drops 60 metres (197 ft).

There are a few waterfalls here to see, just keep heading past Seljalandsfoss.

One of the few charges

Parking at Seljalandsfoss waterfall is a flat charge of ISK 700 (£5.50) – credit cards were accepted.


Jump back in the car still heading east along the Ring Road onto Skógafoss Waterfall, don’t you dare say “not another waterfall”….

The scenery along the way is stunning, little waterfalls pouring over the edge of crevices and the sea crashing on the coastline on the other side. We stopped along the way at a building nestled in the mountainside covered in grass.

As waterfalls go Skógafoss is quite impressive, you can wander right up to the base of it, but you may get pretty wet. The gushing flow drops 60 metres from above and spans 25 metres in width.

This waterfall certainly brings in the crowds and an ideal spot for lunch, either at one of the local cafes/restaurants or bring your own.

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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.

Not in the plan

The rain isn’t easing, and we’re on our way again passing through some stunning scenery, snow-capped mountains and volcanoes. It really isn’t difficult to see why Iceland is so popular.

Heading along the 1 we spot a turning for a viewpoint, Gary doesn’t need to be told twice, we’re off on a detour along the 218.

A 4X4 was handy here, as it was a bit of a climb up a very bumpy gravel road, but oh my, the views were worth it, even with the rain and lack visibility the viewpoint was stunning. You had an aerial view of the sheer cliff face with gulls and birds swooping in and out of the crevices.

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The Door Hole

From the top of the cliff which was extremely windy, not only do you get to see the Dyrhólaey Lighthouse but also the 120-metre high headland that this area got its name from. A huge arch has been eroded by the sea into the peninsula, and the name literally means "door-hole".

I think the rock formation in the background beyond Dyrhólaey headland looks like an elephant drinking……or is that just me.

The day is not over yet

Our last planned stop of the day was to Reynisfjara Beach (Black Beach), not knowing what quite to expect after weaving along a quiet road, we came to a very busy car park.

Not as secluded as I had hoped, this beach was very popular and not with bathers. We jumped out, and the view was breath-taking, the sand truly was black.

Waves were crashing on the rocks out in the bay and roaring up the beach.

To top it all there were huge caves along the beach, the geology of the stones on the cliff face was stunning, it looked prehistoric.

Not quite the last stop

There’s no way I’d let Gary drive past my first Icelandic cemetery and not stop. My fascination with cemeteries knows no bounds. Come on it was right on the side of the road and I’d never visited one before.

Tempted to?

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Our route

The route that we took was pretty straightforward, with a few detours and stops along the way to admire the scenery. So, in total, our journey was about 170km (105 miles) and with all the stops took us about 7 ½ hours.

So, all in all, another fantastic day.

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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.

Where we stayed

For the one night, we were based in Vik; we stayed at the Hotel Katla Hofdabrekka. The hotel was very comfortable, and it helped that we had an upgrade to a superior room.

There was ample parking & free Wi-Fi and an onsite restaurant.

So, all in all, another fantastic day.

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 3.

Janis; Reynisfjara Beach was my highlight, it was amazing, and the caves and cliff formation were incredible.

Gary; I enjoyed the drive up to Dyrhólaey Lighthouse, and then the stroll around in the howling wind. (No, seriously, I did) . It really brought home how remote Iceland can be, and how nature has shaped the country.

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Selfoss to Vik, touring Iceland’s Ring Road

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Suitcases and Sandcastles


    1. Thanks very much, the credit goes to Gary for the photos.

      The Icelandic horses appear to be quite a hardy breed, they are in the fields all weather, come snow or sun. They looked quite sorry for themselves at times.

  1. Oh you’ve taken me back to our road trip, in 2007 the same as you! We drove round the whole island in the July so weather was a bit better. But I loved the beaches and waterfalls. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that trip – it was the start of my travel blogging – so inspirational.

    1. We’re glad it brings back wonderful memories for you.

      We really enjoyed the mini break we had in May 2007, but heading back in March this year was even better. The trip was topped off, as we were lucky to see the Northern Lights, around Lake Myvatn.

    1. It is amazing, our highlight of the trip was definitely the Northern Lights, however, to see a glacier up close was incredible. Once in a lifetime experiences.

  2. What a great way to discover more of Iceland and its amazing scenery. I knew about the incredible waterfalls but can’t get over that black sandy beach. I’ve seen black sand on volcanic islands like Santorini but nothing like the colour of this. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    1. It is just incredible, you don’t think you can be taken aback anymore, then you turn a corner or jump out the car for a wander and you’re faced with another natural wonder.

  3. These photos are amazing! I keep thinking I should see Iceland and then for some reason I don’t jump on it, but your photos of that black sand beach have just made me change my mind! I’m going to look up flights now… #farawayfiles

    1. The black beaches are breath-taking and the rock formation in the caves is surreal. For such a small country, Iceland has so much to offer & most of the wonders are free to visit.

      I hope you book your trip, I’m sure you won’t regret it.

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