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Driving the Ring Road in Iceland is an incredible experience. I had six days in Iceland and chose to do the southern portion of the Route 1 loop. This is part two of my drive along the Ring Road and includes my favorite stops between Vik and Hofn. If you missed Part 1, Driving the Ring Road: Keflavik to Vik, it can be found here.
This second portion of travels starts in Vik and continues east along Route 1, or as it’s unofficially called, the Ring Road. I really loved all the waterfalls on the first half of my journey, but the second half was my favorite. I loved how the drive transitioned from volcanic rock and black sand beaches to glaciers and lakes full of ice. The way Iceland’s terrain dramatically changes from one element to another is truly amazing.
Laufskálavarða & Eldhraun
Laufskálavarða is a lava ridge located about half an hour outside Vik. It’s right off the Ring Road and is a quick and easy stop. Stacked stones, or what are called cairns, can be seen throughout the area. Travelers crossing the desert-like plains of Mýrdalssandur for the very first time created the cairns, in hopes they would bring good luck to their journey.
Continue driving east and just over the bridge, you will see the Eldhraun lava field on your right. The field is the result of one of the most devastating volcanic eruptions of all time. The Lakagígar eruption took place between 1783 and 1784 and lava spread for over 650 kilometers. It is now disguised by green moss and is actually quite beautiful. It can be seen from the road, but if you have time I would recommend pulling over into one of the turnouts to take in the view and get some great photos!
Nupsstadur Farm & Church
Nupsstadur Farm is a collection of small turf houses and one of Iceland’s six remaining turf churches. Many of Iceland’s remaining turf structures have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites. This one was built sometime in the 1600s.The farm currently belongs to the National Museum of Iceland. It’s not open for tourism and vehicles are banned from driving up to it. I parked alongside the road and walked up the drive take a quick peek and get some photos. The farm is easy to overlook, since it is set back from the road a bit, so keep an eye out. It’s a fun and quick stop if you are interested in Icelandic history, but not a must on the list.
Fjallsárlón is a glacier lake that often gets overlooked. People tend to visit the larger, nearby Jökulsárlón. It’s really beautiful, though, and I would definitely recommend a quick stop. It’s also much more quiet and relaxing than Jökulsárlón. Chunks of ice that have broken off from Vatnajökull glacier lie around the shoreline and the mountains in the background really provide some gorgeous scenery.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is currently the deepest lake in Iceland. The size of the lake has quadrupled in size since the 1970s and huge chunks of ice are constantly breaking off the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier due to global warming. I wanted to get up close to ice, so I chose to go on an amphibian boat tour, one of the more affordable tour options offered by Glacier Lagoon. The amphibian boat tour is a large group tour that allows you to see more of the lagoon and boat among the large icebergs. It was a lot of fun, just make sure you dress warmly.
Diamond Beach or Jökulsárlón Beach, as it is officially called, often gets skipped over, but it is not something you want to miss. It was one of my favorite places in Iceland and definitely up there on my list of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Icebergs that escape the lagoon are washed out to sea and find their way ashore on the black sand beach. It’s is nicknamed Diamond Beach because the icebergs literally look like diamonds lining the shore. It is located on the opposite side of the Ring Road from Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, directly across highway and near the bridge.
Höfn is a fishing town situated near Vatnajökull glacier and although it is the southeast’s largest town, it is still considerably quite small. I wouldn’t say a stop here is a must-do, but if you find yourself in the area, there are some nice restaurants with really great seafood. I enjoyed a meal at Humarhöfnin and recommend their amazing lobster pizza.
I also paid a visit to the nearby (about 20 min) Viking Cafe. The Viking Cafe serves coffee and has some delicious pastries. It is a replica Viking village that was created as a film set. A farmer lives on the land and for a small fee, you can grab a map and explore the property. I made friends with the farm dog, who tagged along the entire time. Again, not a must-do, but a fun activity if you are in the area.
At this point, I had gone as far along the Ring Road as time would allow. I stayed the night at Foss Hotel Glacier Lagoon, which I definitely recommend. It is a fairly new hotel and was quite nice. The next morning, I began my drive back to Reykjavik.
On my way back to the city, I chose to drive an alternate route slightly off the Ring Road that would allow me to fit in some of the golden circle sights. I especially enjoyed the Secret Lagoon in Fluðir. I also chose to spend a night in Þingvellir National Park, so I could snorkeling Silfra the following morning. Read about these stops in my post, Days Trips from Reykjavík. Hope you enjoy driving the Ring Road as much as I did!