The 12 Best Stops On Iceland's Famous Ring Road

Iceland's stunning Ring Road is an 820-mile trip passing some of the country's most famous sites. Visit Iceland recommends spending at least seven days driving the route and hails the southern part as the more scenic portion. As this is a loop drive, visitors can choose whether to drive clockwise or counterclockwise — Icelanders go by the weather conditions (per Visit Iceland). We're going to take you on a tour of some of Ring Road's best sites.

1. Dettifoss

An unforgettable stop off Ring Road is in the north of the country at Dettifoss. The 330-foot-wide waterfall is an incredibly breathtaking sight and is located in Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland's largest national park and the second-largest national park in Europe. The torrent of water thunders over the cliff into the canyon below in what is said to be Europe's most powerful waterfall (per Guide to Iceland). With water seemingly moving from all directions, it's an incredible sight.

2. Goðafoss

North Iceland recommends Goðafoss as one of the most impressive waterfalls in the country. While much smaller than Dettifoss (Goðafoss is 98 feet wide, per Guide to Iceland), the beautiful waterfall's history is what draws visitors. According to Guide to Iceland, the name means either waterfall of the gods or waterfall of the priests, and it was here that pagan idols were thrown into the waters when the country converted to Christianity in around A.D. 1000.

3. Seyðisfjörður

Driving down towards the east of Iceland, a short detour from Ring Road will bring you to the village of Seyðisfjörður; Guide to Iceland claims it lies in one of the country's most picturesque fjords. There are lots of things to see here too, including visiting the Tvísöngur Sound Sculpture, Visit Seyðisfjörður writes. You can ski here in the winter too, hike year-round (presumably wearing copious clothing in the winter), and attend one of the town's many festivals.

4. Djúpavogskörin Hot Springs

You can't go to Iceland without bathing in a hot spring. For an experience that is completely different from the popular and often rather busy Blue Lagoon, head to Djúpavogskörin Hot Springs in the east of Iceland. Iceland Trippers love this small and simple hot spring that you're quite likely to have all to yourself. You'll have a view of the Atlantic Ocean as you sit here, warming yourself in the tub, surrounded by nature. Though it's just off the Ring Road, it is out of view of drivers, so solitude reigns.

5. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Visitors flock to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in southeast Iceland to see the floating icebergs and take a boat trip on the lagoon. A mix of saltwater and freshwater, the lagoon has a unique color, according to Guide to Iceland, and, as the ice blocks melt, the lagoon is getting larger. It's a good place to spot seals too, especially in the winter when they catch fish around the mouth of the lagoon. It's also a beautiful place to watch the Northern Lights, as Avis writes.

6. Diamond Beach

You won't find diamonds of the jeweled kind here, but the views are absolutely priceless. Large and small chunks of ice and small icebergs line the shore of the black-sand Diamond Beach, washed up by powerful, crashing waves (per Nordic Visitor.) The contrast of these blue and white hunks of ice glistening in the sun against the black sand of the beach makes for incredible photos, and Iceland Trippers particularly recommend a visit here at sunset when the sky turns yellow.

7. Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

As you head towards the south of Iceland on Ring Road, you'll come to one of the country's most compelling attractions: Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. The volcanic sand slips away into the roaring Atlantic Ocean, studded by basalt rock columns, in a landscape so stunning that it was featured In HBO's "Game of Thrones," according to Guide to Iceland. Nearby is the village of Vík í Mýrdal, which Adventures says is a local hub, with amenities like restaurants, gas stations, and hotels.

8. Seljalandsfoss

In the south of Iceland, you won't want to miss the spectacular waterfall of Seljalandsfoss. The waters here flow from Eyjafjallajökull glacier — the site of the volcanic eruptions that disrupted all of those flights in 2010, per Reykjavik Excursions. A major selling point of this stunning waterfall, according to Nordic Visitor, is its unique geography that allows visitors to walk behind the curtain of water that pours down from the cliff. Reykjavik Excursions warns that you'll probably get a bit damp as the powerful falls produce clouds of spray as they hit the bowl.

9. Skógafoss

Skógafoss is another glorious waterfall. It is renowned for the rainbows that often form in the waterfall's mist, drawing keen photographers and those who simply want to gaze in wonder alike. Visit South Iceland also recounts some of the myths and legends that surround this almost 200-foot-high waterfall, including those of buried treasure. If you're feeling energetic, Visit South Iceland recommends carrying on your hike past Skógafoss to discover more magnificent waterfalls. They also suggest going to Skógar Museum, one of Iceland's finest folk museums.

10. Hveragerði

Heading away from Skógafoss toward Reykjavík, you'll arrive at the town of Hveragerði. It sits on a very geothermally active area and is home to hot springs that spew boiling water and colorful mud into the air, according to Visit South Iceland. For a more tourist-friendly bathing experience, you can hike to Reykjadalur valley to laze in a steamy river. Make sure to eat in one of the restaurants here to sample the unique cooking technique: food is cooked by being buried in the ground for a few hours (per Guide to Iceland).

11. Snæfellsnes Peninsula

We're cheating a bit with this one, but we think you can't drive Ring Road around Iceland and not take a detour to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in the west of the country. Guide to Iceland agrees and raves about the natural wonders visitors will find here. They adore the mountainous landscapes, powerful waterfalls, and scenic coastline dotted with fishing villages and recommend going to see the Snæfellsjökull volcano. Detour out to the tip of the peninsula for an unforgettable experience.

12. Reykjavík

Reykjavík is usually the start and end point of Ring Road trips. There are lots of things to see and do in the world's most northerly capital city. You can learn about the Viking history of Iceland at the Settlement Exhibition or feel the power of a volcano and wander through an ice cave at Perlan. And, while Iceland hasn't traditionally been known for the quality and diversity of its cuisine, that's all changed in recent years, at least in Reykjavík, so make the most of the dining opportunities before you head out onto the Ring Road.