(Places are listed in order as you would approach them driving from Egilsstaðir to Vik. If you’re driving the Ring Road counterclockwise, turn your computer upside-down and read in reverse).
While not exactly on the way between Egilsstaðir and Vik, Borgarfjörður Eystri deserves mention as a great detour from the Ring Road, a 1-hour drive north of Egilsstaðir. This small, isolated community offers some of the best hiking trails in the country, leading from the valley up to the mountains with some incredible fjord views. During early summer, you may also spot some puffins in the area.
Seydisfjordur is a great option for an overnight if you are driving through the area, or if you catch a domestic flight into the airport in Egilsstaðir. After a 30-minute drive over the mountain pass, you will be welcomed with amazing views of the fjord, below. While driving over the pass you can also stop at the ski resort if the conditions are right.
Once in Seydisfjordur, you can hike several trails to waterfalls, walk inside cool sound sculptures, visit a troll church, explore the artwork and sculptures around the city, kayak the fjords, or even take a ferry to the Faroe Islands or Denmark (a couple days journey).
Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss
Take a 20-minute detour (40 min there and back) and hike 2.5km / 1.5 mi and you will arrive at Hengifoss waterfall, passing Litlanesfoss on the way. These spectacular waterfalls are framed by huge basalt columns and make for a great activity away from the larger crowds in the south.
Scenic Fjord Route 92
As you drive south from Egilsstaðir, you have the option to take Route 1 to Breiðdalsvík or 92 to 96. While route 1 is about 40 minutes shorter, we recommend the scenic route along several picturesque fjords. You will also have the option for a quick walk to Hafnarnes Lighthouse, painted bright red and yellow.
Take a short break to stretch the legs at this harbor town, just 1 minute off the ring road. While you’re here, stop at Kaupfjelagið where you will find all sorts of small knick knacks and treats: fresh bread, local salted fish, wool clothing, mittens, and hats, or you can pick up a quick meal during your drive. While here, stretch your legs for a few minutes by walking along the harbor past a few small sculptures and pieces of art.
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This small town sitting along the fjord makes for a great overnight or stop to break up a long drive.
Take a short walk (less than 1 mile out and back) along the shore to the lighthouse on the rocks, where you will also have great views of the entire fjords.
If you’re here around meal time, Hótel Framtíð has great fish dishes, If you’re in between meals you may want to try homemade cakes from Langabúð.
You can also take a boat to Papey Island where you are likely to see seals and puffins.
Hvalnes Nature Reserve
Take a short walk along the black rock beach at the Hvalnes Nature Reserve where you can see lots of bird life. If you’re lucky, you may see hundreds of swans in the calm waters below the jagged cliffs.
This town makes for a good overnight option while driving along the coast. You will find several restaurants and visitor center for Vatnajokull National Park where you can learn more about the national park, the town’s history, and watch a couple short films (under 30 minutes to see it all).
On the southern side of town, you will find a hill that offers fantastic views of the Vatnajokull Glacier in the distance across the water. This glacier is Iceland’s largest, covering 14% of the country. If you’re here for a meal, try the lobster caught locally.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach
At the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, you’ll get the chance to see one of the most-unique sights in Iceland: icebergs floating out to sea and beached on the black sand. Climb the hill for a better view of the entire area, or take a 30-minute boat tour into the Lagoon to see the larger icebergs up close. If you like, you can also join a glacier walking tour here.
Follow the river under the bridge to the ocean and you will find many smaller icebergs along the black sandy shores of "diamond beach" where waves crash against them. It’s quite the sight!
You may be fortunate to see seals, porpoises, or small whales that sometimes hang out in the lagoon or near the shore.
Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon
A few minutes farther south from Jokulsarlon, you will find another Glacier Lagoon about 10 minutes from the parking lot. Here you are much closer to the glacier than at Jokulsarlon, and you’ll have better views of all the cracks and crevices.
A quick trip off the main road will bring you into Hof where you can check out the Hof Turf church. The practice of covering the roof with turf dates back to Medieval times throughout Europe to protect from the harsh weather.
You could spend many days hiking all the trails around Skaftafell. If you’re short on time, the most popular hike leads to Svartifoss, a thin waterfall surrounded by columns of basalt. The hike is around 3 miles long and offers great views alongside the river and towards the ocean in the distance. If you like, you can join a glacier walking or climbing tour based here.
The rock formations in Fjadrargljufur Canyon look like they’re from another world. Hike less than a mile from the parking lot along the ridge of the canyon where you will find some amazing viewpoints where the river curves around this strange rock cliffs.
Fortune Stones at Laufskálavarða Lava Ridge
Between Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Vik, you will find the lava ridge Laufskálavarða with hundreds of small piles of rocks. These piles or rocks were intended to bring good luck to travelers crossing the Mýrdalssandur desert. Get out of your car here to walk around and explore the piles before continuing on to Vik.
Iceland’s southernmost town makes a great base for exploring the local black sand beaches, cliffs, and interesting rock formations. Read more about what you can do in our other article: Vik to Selfoss: Top Sights and Stops