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Guide to the Diamond Circle in Iceland: Full Guide + Itinerary

Have you always wanted to take a road trip through Iceland but have been sitting on the fence (or rather the couch) about it? Then this article is for you. The Diamond Circle in Iceland might just be the road trip of a lifetime that you’ve been dreaming about.


In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about the Diamond Circle and even give you a full itinerary to try yourself.


Diamond circle Iceland

What is the Diamond Circle?


The Diamond Circle is one of the most popular road trip routes in Iceland. You can opt to drive the route yourself or go on a Diamond Circle guided tour in Iceland.


Where is the Diamond Circle in Iceland?


If you take a look at a Diamond Circle in Iceland map, you will see that the Diamond Circle route is in the northeastern part of the island. People often say that it’s the Ring Road of northeast Iceland.


How far is the Diamond Circle from Reykjavík?


The odds of you starting your Diamond Circle trip directly from Reykjavík are slim. Most people usually opt to start from Husavik. Still, the capital city is likely to be your first stop on the island after landing at Keflavik Airport.


Reaching the first leg of your Diamond Circle journey from Reykjavík will take you almost 6 hours by car (you are driving 463 km, after all). The alternative is to hop on a domestic flight, but then you will be missing out on all the amazing sights and activities along the way.


When to Visit the Diamond Circle


The Diamond Circle is one of the main routes on the island, so you’ll find that the majority of it is paved and in excellent condition. The route is also, technically, open to visitors all year round. But remember, you are exploring the northern parts of Iceland. Any local will tell you that during the colder months, the odds of your trip being interrupted by sudden road closures are good.


And even if you’re lucky and the Iceland roads remain open, you’ll still have to face some pretty tricky road conditions. That’s why we recommend that you plan a Diamond Circle trip during the warmer months (anytime between March and September). During the warmer months, you’ll also have more daylight hours at your disposal to accommodate traveling time. You'll also have more time to spend on attractions and activities along the route, especially outdoor activities.


Diamond circle Iceland

Driving through the Diamond Circle in Iceland


As we’ve already touched on, driving the Diamond Circle during the colder months can be tricky. But during the warmer months, driving the Diamond Circle is a piece of cake. During this time, you’ll easily be able to drive the route with a 2-wheel drive, unless you plan to also drive some of the F-roads in Iceland.


If you’re brave enough to tackle the route during the colder months, we recommend that you get a 4x4. The vehicle should be kitted out with snow tires and other types of winter gadgets and accessories right from the get-go. The Diamond Circle can be driven clockwise or counterclockwise, and it solely relies on your own preferences which you choose to do.


How long does it take to drive the Diamond Circle?


The Diamond Circle is about 310 km long and will take you a little more than 4 hours to drive if you don’t stop at all. This obviously defies the entire point of a road trip if you truly wish to experience all it has to offer. So, unless you’re extremely crunched for time, it’s recommended that you set aside 5-7 days to drive the Diamond Circle.


A Few Helpful Tips When Driving the Diamond Circle in Iceland


Is this your first visit to the island, or your first time taking on the Diamond Circle route in Iceland? The following tips will help you have a memorable and safe journey:


1. Plan Where You’ll Fuel Up


Firstly, gas stations are probably not as prevalent as you are used to back home, especially not in the more remote regions of the island. So, you’ll need to plan out where to fuel up beforehand, so you don’t end up being stranded next to the road without gas. Gas prices in Iceland are also not the same at all gas stations. Ask your rental agent and chat with the locals to find out where their go-to places are to fill up.


Diamond Circle tips

2. Make Sure You’re Right


Literally. This may seem obvious to some, but think of people from other countries. If you’re coming from places such as the UK and Australia, you may need some reminding that we drive on the right side of the road here in Iceland.


3. Always Have Some Offline or Hard Copy Maps


Whether you’re driving the Diamond Circle route in Iceland or another road somewhere else in the world, this is a good rule to follow. Technology fails and signals drop. You don’t want to be left driving “blind”.


Top 5 Sights in the Diamond Circle


There are many attractions and activities along the way to see and enjoy. But the route’s biggest claims to fame are Lake Myvatn, Dettifoss Waterfall, Asbyrgi Canyon, Husavik, and Godafoss Waterfall.


Lake Myvatn


Lake Myvatn is a volcanic lake in the northern part of the country and is known for its magnificent flora and fauna. It is especially a favorite spot for bird lovers and those who wish to spot the Northern Lights. Another attraction that is synonymous with the Myvatn Lake is the Myvatn Nature Baths. Here you can take a relaxing soak in the warm geothermal pools.


Diamond circle tour Iceland

Dettifoss Waterfall


Dettifoss is truly a sight to behold. It is the most powerful waterfall in Europe with more than 365292 liters of water crashing over the cliffs every second! The falls are 100 meters wide and 44 meters tall and can be viewed from both the West and the East side.


Where you watch it from will essentially be dictated by your preference and the direction the wind is blowing. You don’t constantly want to be whacked by mist and spray from the most powerful waterfall in Europe, do you?


Dettifoss, North Iceland

Asbyrgi Canyon


Asbyrgi Canyon is a canyon in the shape of a horseshoe that was created by floods caused by glacial bursts from the Vatnajökull ice cap. Today you can take a hike through the 1-kilometer-wide canyon with cliffs that are 100 meters high.


Asbyrgi Canyon is also seeped in mystery and folklore, especially when it comes to the Hidden Folk of Iceland. So, if you hear singing whilst you’re hiking, you might not be alone…


Asbyrgi Canyon, Diamond Circle

Husavik


Husavik is known as the whale capital of Iceland. You can already guess which activity should be on the top of your itinerary when visiting there. Especially if you’re visiting during the whale season, from April to September. That's when migratory whale species also calls the island their home.


In recent years, an international spotlight was shown on Husavik because of the popular movie Eurovision. The film was shot in the town and had a song called Husavik – My Home Town shoot up the billboard charts.


Husavik in the Diamond Circle route

Godafoss Waterfall


Godafoss Waterfall can be found in the northern part of the island, just 45 minutes away from Akureyri (the capital city of the north). It is an incredibly impressive waterfall, even though it’s definitely not the biggest. It clocks in at only 12 meters high and 30 meters wide, but it certainly is one of the prettiest. But it’s the backstory that captures the imagination of visitors.


It is believed that Godafoss was the place that marked the official conversion of the country to Christianity. Its name directly translates to ‘waterfall of the gods’. Porgeir Ljosvetningagodi, who was the lawspeaker at that time, took all his Norse god idols and throw them into the falls. This was considered a symbol of this conversion.


Godafoss waterfall


The Main Stops on a 5-day Diamond Circle Itinerary


Below you will find a 5-day itinerary if you wish to drive the Diamond Circle yourself and what stops you can look forward to along the way:


Day 1: Husavik


Explore the town and everything it has to offer, and don’t forget to go all out with the whale stuff in the whale capital of Iceland!

Highlights of the day:

Sleep in: Husavik



 diamond circle Iceland itinerary

Day 2: Husavik – Asbyrgi – Vesturdalur – Dettifoss – Husavik


Today you’ll have quite a few stops to get to, the first being Asbyrgi. From there you’ll travel to Vesturdalur Valley. There, the volcanic activity on the island has created the most bizarre-looking rock formations and shapes.


After that, you’ll head over to the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss. And if you still have enough time left after that, we recommend that you swing by the fissures at Tjörnes and Kelduhverfi. Or you can also visit the Voladalstorfa Lighthouse. There you might spot a few Iceland Puffins and their Pufflings if you’re visiting between May and August.


Highlights of the day:

  • Asbyrgi Canyon

  • Vesturdalur Valley

  • Dettifoss Waterfall

  • The fissures at Tjörnes & Kelduhverfi

  • Voladalstorfa Lighthouse

Sleep in: Husavik


Puffin watching, Iceland

Day 3: Lake Myvatn


There is plenty to do at Lake Myvatn, so buckle up. You can walk the shores of the beautiful lake or take a hike on the many trails surrounding the lake. Likewise, you can go bird spotting (especially around the wetlands), or you can explore the Eldhraun Lava Field on the northern side. Today is all about just taking in this magnificent area and enjoying nature.

Highlights of the day:

  • Lake Myvatn

  • Lake Myvatn Hiking Trails

  • Lake Myvatn Wetlands Bird spotting

  • Eldhraun Lava Field

Sleep in: Myvatn


eldhraun Lava fields

Day 4: Myvatn – Krafla – Hverir – Dimmuborgir – Myvatn


Today is probably the busiest day on this 5-day Diamond Circle itinerary. Your first stop will be Krafla Volcano where you can marvel at the blue water of the lake that fills the caldera.


After that, you can marvel at the angry hissing and furious bubbling of hot pools and steam vents at Hverir Geothermal Area. If something smells rotten there, don’t worry, it’s merely the sulfur deposits. Your last stop will be the Dimmuborgir Lava Fields. Volcanic eruptions and lava have sculpted the most incredible rock formations.


Highlights of the day:

  • Krafla Volcano

  • Hverir Geothermal Area

  • Dimmuborgir Lava Fields

Sleep in: Myvatn



Day 5: Myvatn – Godafoss – Husavik


The main attraction today will be Godafoss Waterfall. Still, there are plenty of other attractions and activities that you will find along the way. You can opt to go horseback riding across the lava fields on a real Icelandic Horse, or you can visit the pseudo craters at Skutustadagigar. You can even do some last-time-around bird watching around the Lake and work in a round of golf once you arrive in Husavik.


Highlights of the day:

  • Bird Watching Around Lake Myvatn

  • Godafoss Waterfall

  • Horseback Riding Across Lava Fields on Icelandic Horses

  • Pseudo Craters at Skutustadagigar

  • Golf in Husavik

Sleep in: Husavik


Diamond circle tour Iceland

Where to Stay on the Diamond Circle


There are many accommodation options all along the Diamond Circle route that will cater to all sorts of people and all sorts of budgets. The following accommodation in various categories is highly recommended:


Diamond Circle Hostels


Hostels are a nice way to cut down on accommodation costs, whilst still having all your basic amenities. The most popular along the Diamond Circle are Husavik Green Hostel and Osar Hostel.


Diamond Circle Campsites


Camping is by far the most economic (and fun) way of staying in Iceland. There are a number of camping grounds all across the Diamond Circle. Still, Asbyrgi Campground and Svinafell Campground are definite favorites.



Diamond Circle Hotels


Do you enjoy the finer things in life, and having meals and drinks within room service reach? Then you should consider Berjaya Iceland Hotel and Husavik Cape Hotel.


Diamond Circle Self-catering/Airbnbs


Self-catering/Airbnbs give you that home-away-from-home feeling. If you like having your own space and a bit more autonomy, take a look at Akureyri Apartment and Country Villa in Husavik.


Diamond Circle Farmstays


Farmstays are countryside guesthouse stays with extra perks (one of which is keeping the kids busy). Vogafjos Farm Resort and Midhvammur Farm Stay are some of the best Farmstays along the Diamond Circle.



Diamond Circle Guesthouses


The guesthouses in Iceland are quite nice, especially if you want the inside scoop on Iceland living from your host. It also helps that breakfast is generally included in your stay. If this is the route you want to go when traveling the Diamond Circle, Guesthouse Gullsol and Myvatn Road Guesthouse come recommended.


Diamond Circle Guided Tours in Iceland


We strongly believe that the best way to explore the island is by road-tripping it yourself. However, if your time is limited, or you prefer to go on guided tours, the following might be a Diamond Circle tour in Iceland that you can consider:

Is the Diamond Circle worth it?


When one takes a look at everything the route has to offer; from a beautiful lake, an impressive canyon, to resting volcanos. Add, breaching whales, and powerful waterfalls surging over cliffs to the sum. It’s impossible to imagine visiting Iceland without ticking off the Diamond Circle as one of the things on your to-do list.


Whether you opt for a guided tour or rent a car in Iceland and explore the Diamond Circle yourself – adventure lies just around the corner!

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