Off the Beaten Track and Driving the Iceland Ring Road
Avid traveller and writer Trevor McDonald takes on a road trip around Iceland in today’s guest post, as he points out the best spots along the famous Ring Road where you can get off the beaten track!
If you ever have the opportunity to drive Iceland’s Ring Road, you’re in for a real treat. You’ll surely see some of the expected sites, but it’s what you don’t expect that will really knock your socks off.
Sure, you’ll explore the iconic waterfalls. You won’t want to miss them. But you should also select a trustworthy car to check out some lesser-known gems.
The Ring Road spans about 830 miles (1136 km). If you just wanted to race around without seeing anything, the drive would probably take around 17 hours. But that’s not what this is all about. You will want to take your time, or you may miss out on this authentic Iceland experience.
Give yourself about 10 -14 days to explore Ring Road to ensure you don’t miss anything. Add these stops to your route to ensure you don’t miss a thing.
Kerið Volcanic Crater Lake
On your way to the Golden Circle, don’t get so fixated on Geysir and Gullfoss that you miss Kerið. Kerið is a volcanic crater lake, and it’s about the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. When you think of the idyllic scenes that Iceland has to offer, you’re probably thinking of something that’s close to Kerið.
You’ll get to this massive waterfall by driving about 20 to 25 minutes further than Seljalandsfoss. You may think that Skógafoss is the destination, and it certainly could be, but there’s more in store for those willing to push further. Take a 1-day hike along Fimmvörðuháls, and you’ll end up at the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. With scenes like this, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped onto the set of Jurassic World.
DC Plane Wreck
Off the beaten path, you’ll find the DC Plane Wreck. Why should you care? Well, it’s a United States Navy DC plane that crashed on the black beach at Sólheimasandur. Everyone survived, so this wreck leans more towards interesting than macabre. But you can visit the remains of this wreck by walking up to an hour (one way) from your parking spot on Ring Road. Be sure to dress in warm clothes and hiking boots if you take this excursion.
You can see this attraction from Ring Road, but it takes a short drive actually to get there. If you’d like, you can even stay at Dyrhólaey Hotel, which is located in the lighthouse itself. From here, you can play lighthouse keeper and enjoy views of waves crashing over black sandy beaches, green fields, and even glaciers off in the distance. This is also a great place for puffin watching – there are thousands in this area.
This picturesque church is the stuff of fairytales. Built in 1884, this turf-made structure sits by the Ring Road between Skaftafell and the glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón.
When you visit any location, it’s always a good idea to take some time to explore what lies beyond the beaten path. And if you explore these unexpected destinations along Ring Road, you’ll see why.
Words by Trevor McDonald
Photos by Richard Collett
Trevor is a freelance writer and a self-proclaimed “Travelholic”. He enjoys travelling to parts unknown, sampling local cuisines, and sharing his experiences with the world. In his free time, you can find him planning his next trip or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.