Island: Das Land von Feuer und Eis

Von Amy Rosoman

Title photography by SinghaphanAIIB / Getty Images

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Explore an island of guzzling geysers, with chasms of ice, steaming volcanoes and geothermal pools. The best way to see it all? On an epic Iceland road trip. Begin your adventure in Reykjavik and drive clockwise around the island via the Ring Road. With our guide to the journey of a lifetime, you’ll quickly discover the magic of this Scandinavian country.

A city to behold

Best for: The capital, wildlife, volcanoes

Die Reise: 68 Meilen

Reykjavik to Reykholt

Touch down at Keflavik International Airport and pick up your hire car. Start your 45-minute drive to Reykjavik, the colourful capital of Iceland, with the most spectacular backdrop of snow-dusted volcanoes, surrounded by calm indigo coastal waters. Park in the city centre and see the highlights. Wander along the seafront to gaze at the striking Sun Voyager sculpture, stroll to The Settlement Exhibition to learn about the Vikings, then visit iconic Hallgrimskirkja church which watches over the city.

Before getting back on the road, head to Saegreifinn in the Old Harbour (the restaurant is famous for warming bowls of lobster soup); and take a peek at the converted fishing huts. Next, set your sights on Reykholt, heading north along the coast, then inland, taking around two hours. One of the perks of hiring a car is the freedom to stop whenever you like and savour the ever-changing scenery.


Fosshotel Reykholt - with its indoor and outdoor spa facilities and restaurant serving traditional Icelandic cuisine, you’ll rest easy. Its location is perfect to drive far west to Snaefellsjokull National Park where you can discover a glacier and active volcano.

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Take in the gems of the north west and soak up the mysteries embedded here. The hotel is a 20-minute drive from the stunning Barnafossar and Hraunfossar waterfalls.

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Gaze at the flickering skies and grab your camera to snap a magical moment.

Jaw-dropping northern terrain

Best for: Culture, landmarks, waterfalls

Die Reise: 199 Meilen

Reykholt to Akureyri

Make your way through extraordinary landscapes and quaint villages before slipping through astonishing mountain passes, on your journey to the north central town of Akureyri. Pull over as often or as little as you like on this four-hour adventure. Whether you drive in the bright sunlight of summer and park up for a picnic, or spot the Northern Lights flickering in the darkness of winter – Iceland is road trip-worthy all year round.

Once you arrive in breathtaking Akureyri, surrounded by majestic mountains and Iceland’s longest fjord, check in to your hotel before venturing into town. You’ll find an abundance of art galleries and inspiring museums to explore, including the Gallery Listflettan and the Akureyri Museum. There are plenty of cafes to warm-up in over hot chocolate, or you can try local beers and whiskey at the R5-Beer Lounge.

You can treat yourself to local Icelandic produce at restaurant Strikid, whether you order langoustine, salmon ceviche, tuna tartar or surf ‘n’ turf. Set on the fifth floor, look out over waters in summer from the terrace or sip cocktails from the cosy South Side come winter.


Berjaya Akureyri Hotel - for a few nights in a central location and buffet breakfasts. Just a 10-minute drive away is Hlioarfjall, where you can go for a ski or hike. Across to the east is the ethereal Godafoss waterfalls, a sight to see all year round, then return to the hotel for a delicious dinner by the fire.

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Drive a little further and you will arrive at the Hverir/Hverarond hot springs and mud pits, one of the largest sulphur springs in Iceland. You can explore the dramatic landscape to the east of Namafjall Mountain and soak up the incredible terrain before heading back for a final night in Akureyri.


  • The stunning Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavik. Photo credit: powerofforever.

    The Hallgrimskirkja Church

    The iconic landmark of the city can be seen from numerous points around the capital.

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  • A wild Icelandic horse. Photo credit: Guillermo Avello.

    Take a walk on the wild side

    Try to spot the wonderful wild ponies of Iceland while you’re admiring the ravishing landscape.

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  • Svartifoss waterfall, Vatnajokull National Park in Iceland. Photo credit: Alex Robinson Photography.

Sweeping scenic sights

Best for: Forests, lakes, hiking

Die Reise: 165 Meilen

Akureyri to Egilsstadir

Cruise over to the east of Iceland and take in mesmerising panoramic views. Take a detour along Road 862 to the most powerful waterfall in Europe, the Dettifoss, in Vatnajokull National Park. The roads to see this waterfall are only open during summer, due to the adverse winter weather conditions, so be sure to book from late May to July. Alternatively, you can spend the whole day hiking out here.

Follow the Ring Road (also known as Route 1) for another two hours before arriving at Egilsstadir. About 20 minutes away is the beautiful birchwood forest at Hallormsstadur, where you can wander whatever the weather. Nearby is Lagarfljot, home to Lake Logurinn and the legendary serpent monster. Walk around the lake, taking in the Icelandic air, before driving the short distance back to your hotel.


Hotel Herad - to be close to wildlife and for the spectacular dining experience. After a good sleep, drive straight to Storurd and the Dyrfjoll mountains. Set a full day aside to hike or bike this glorious area of meadows, glacier boulders and turquoise ponds. Pack a backpack with a picnic to take with you.

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Park up and put your walking boots on to explore the stunning east side of Iceland. When you have had your fill of nature’s delights, head back for a final night in Egilsstadir and enjoy dinner at Eldhusid for stunning food after an active day. Try a piece of their game meat and indulge in their creative dishes.

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Highway to heaven

Best for: Glaciers, hot springs, canyons

Die Reise: 236 Meilen

Egilsstadir to Kirkjubaejarklaustur

Start the next round of your road trip south to Kirkjubaejarklaustur. Enjoy the views between the ocean and mountains of Vatnajokull National Park. Stop at the sublime Jokulsarlon; with its icebergs, contrasting landscapes and ice caves, you’ll be spoilt for enthralling photo opportunities. After four hours on the road from Egilsstadir, take another break at Svartifoss for unforgettable views of huge glaciers and waterfalls.

Hit the road for another hour and you'll reach the town of Kirkjubaearklaustur. Pop into Kaffi Munkar, famous for revitalising spicy chicken and fish stew; then stretch your legs at Fjadrargljufur Canyon and soak up the superb scenery. Before settling in at your hotel, make a very short drive to Systrafoss & Systravatn for the tumbling double waterfall, rocky hills and spectacular views.

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A little further along to Seljavellir, you can make a short hike to Seljavallalaug, a swimming pool heated by the local hot spring. The pool is only a 20-minute hike once you park. Remember to take a towel and swimwear to enjoy the remarkable views as you bask in a striking landscape.

  • Geothermal region of Hverir near Lake Myvatn. Photo credit: Stealing Beauty Photography.
  • The Church in Akureyri. Photo credit: Dendron.
  • Strokkur Geyser. Photo credit: Noppawat Tom Charoensinphon.

    Guzzling geysers

    Visit the natural wonder of Strokkur geyser and wait for the explosive moment, which will take your breath away.

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Golden Circle gems

Best for: Secret lagoon, Golden Circle, geysers

Die Reise: 132 Meilen

Kirkjubaejarklaustur to Fludir

Drive onwards from Seljavellir to Fludir, in just over an hour. If you arrive with time to spare during the afternoon, head along to the Secret Lagoon to enjoy relaxation in the hot springs. As the evening draws in, pop to Kaffihus Grund restaurant for Icelandic dining or for a change in taste, try the Minilik Ethiopian restaurant, highly regarded for its vegetarian and lamb dishes.

In the darker months as daylight shrinks, travel about 40 minutes to Gullfoss Falls and admire some more gems of The Golden Circle. This waterfall spot is the place to be to catch a glimpse of the enchanting Northern Lights. The natural phenomenon is best seen between September and April, but check the Aurora forecast for more detail. Gaze at the flickering skies and grab your camera to snap a magical moment. When it's light, walk around the gigantic waterfall and listen to the gushing sounds, as you soak up the glowing beauty of the landscape.

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After you catch some shots of the views, drive further to Oxararfoss waterfall, through Thingvellir National Park. Take in the stunning surroundings any time of year and enjoy the sights and sounds of the landscape.

  • Kerid Crater in Iceland. Photo credit: Peter Dowell (peterocks).
  • Blue Lagoon. Photo credit: Suranga Weeratuna / Alamy Stock Photo.

    Unwind at Blue Lagoon

    The famous Blue Lagoon is the place to be, take time out to relax here and replenish after the ultimate road trip.

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  • A dish from Grillmarkadurinn. Photo credit: Bjorn Arnason.

The final leg

Best for: Blue Lagoon, cocktails and cuisine, relaxation

Die Reise: 60 Meilen

Fludir to Reykjavik

Hop in the car and make the ten-minute drive to Geysir and Stokkur Geysir to watch the hot waters erupt high into the sky – try your best not to blink when the bubble bursts. Just 20 minutes from here, is Laugarvatn Fontana, a gorgeous geothermal bath off the tourist trail. After a soak, try the unique rye bread (which is baked underground with geothermal heat) Icelandic butter and smoked trout for the perfect snack, before heading back to Reykjavik.

Drive through the dazzling scenery and take your time for more stops on the half-hour journey – and more photo-worthy moments. Head to your hotel and dump your bags, before popping out to the city for a stroll and bite to eat. If you really fancy a treat on your last part of the trip, make a reservation at Grillmarkadurinn. If you’re in the mood for fine dining and flavour-bursting cocktails, stop by the quirky restaurant, Downtown.


Choose Hilton Reykjavik Nordica for your final few nights. Unwind after your legendary road trip and refresh in the serene spa. Book a treatment and tranquilly sink into a one of the hot tubs. Relish gourmet dining without leaving the hotel, at the VOX restaurant, and reminisce over all the Icelandic wonders you have witnessed with a drink in the lobby bar.

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If you have plenty of time, book a trip to the Blue Lagoon, a 40-minute car journey away from the city centre. If you don’t fancy the rush, stay an extra night at your hotel and spend a whole day relaxing in beautiful blissful geothermal baths. Soak in the mineral-rich waters, scrub your skin with the silica white mud mask and immerse yourself in the perfect 38C heat of the milky blue waters.