The South of Iceland has long been the most popular region for tourists to visit. But for those looking for the road a little less traveled, North Iceland’s Diamond Circle is just the place. South Iceland has the Golden Circle with its trio of amazing sights, as well as the bright lights of the capital city Reykjavík, but North Iceland doesn’t come up short either!
If you’re trying to choose between the Diamond Circle and the Golden Circle in Iceland, then both routes are well worth your time. The Golden Circle is indeed a classic, but the Diamond Circle offers a wilder and much less visited alternative with its own distinctive feel.
The Basics of the Diamond Circle
Now let’s take a look at everything that the Diamond Circle itinerary has to offer! In this article, we’ll cover the following stops:
· Asbyrgi Canyon
· Dettifoss Waterfall
· Lake Myvatn
· Hverir Geothermal Area
· Godafoss Waterfall
How long does the Diamond Circle tour in Iceland take?
The Diamond Circle tour covers a total of 260, taking around four hours to complete by car. The route follows a long loop from Akureyri in the north of Iceland and back. It is possible to complete the route in about ten hours with short stops, but bear in mind that that would be in quite a rush.
If you are planning to drive from Keflavik International Airport, then you’ll need more time. A good option could be to fly from Keflavik to Akureyri and hire a rental car there, or you can drive the entire Ring Road route from South Iceland and add the Diamond Circle to your itinerary.
Completing the route takes four hours non stop, but on a self-drive Diamond Circle tour, you’ll need even longer. As mentioned before, it could be done in one long day, but that wouldn’t do it justice. We recommend at least two full days to see all the sights properly, and if you have time to spare for your road trip tour, then do it!
When to visit the Diamond Circle
The Diamond Circle can be visited all year round, weather conditions permitting. It can certainly be a lot trickier in winter, though, as North Iceland bears the brunt of the wild weather - storms blowing in from the Arctic can be relentless.
Ideally, we would recommend visiting during the summer months, when there are plenty of daylight hours and much milder weather. All the campsites will be open, and you’ll be much more comfortable taking your time and enjoying the outdoors.
The main stops on the Diamond Circle tour
Asbyrgi is a stunning horseshoe-shaped canyon located in the Vatnajökull National Park. It is around 80 kilometers away from Husavik and definitely shouldn’t be missed. The legend goes that during one of Odin’s trips, his horse touched the ground here with one hoof, giving the canyon its distinctive shape.
Dettifoss is one of the biggest and most powerful waterfalls in Europe. It is located in the Vatnajokull National Park and is fed by a mighty glacial river. It gained some of its fame by appearing in the Ridley Scott movie, Prometheus. The director chose Dettifoss as the impressive backdrop in the opening scene.
Standing at a safe distance, not only can you hear how powerful Dettifoss is, you can feel it too. The roar of the water hitting the canyon literally makes the surrounding rocks vibrate. The waterfall is huge, and the whole landscape here is stunning. Dettifoss is also known as ‘The Beast’. We’ll say no more!
The name Myvatn was given to this lovely natural lake in North Iceland, but the whole surrounding area is also known as Myvatn. Lake Myvatn itself covers 37 km² and there is an excellent campsite on its shore. This is a great place to stop for a few days, relax and calmly get to know the area.
One of the great things about the lake is that it is home to the lovely Myvatn Nature Baths. Sometimes referred to as the Blue Lagoon of the North, it offers a beautiful natural hot spring experience. The baths opened in 2004 and are a popular place to relax and enjoy the geothermal waters.
Due to its dark skies and low light pollution, Myvatn is a great place to see the Northern Lights. You’ll need to visit during the right season, of course, and the Aurora is never guaranteed, but its elusive nature is part of what makes it so special.
Hverir Geothermal Area
Step into Hverir Geothermal Area, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’ve landed on another planet. The soil here is orange, yellow, and red, with many rock formations, lava fields and smoking crevices. Hverir is located in the Krafla volcanic area and is an incredible place to explore.
Dimmuborgir is another fantastic place within the Myvatn area. It is located close to the lake and is full of fascinating lava formations. The legend says that Dimmuborgir is the home of the Gryla troll, her husband, and the 13 Yule Lads. Keep your eyes wide open as they allegedly hide inside the little rock caves here.
While Dettifoss is the ‘Beast’, Godafoss is the ‘Beauty’. The name literally means Waterfall of the Gods, which is actually a reference to the role it played in history. When Iceland officially converted to Christianity, this waterfall was used as a symbol of a new era for the country. It is a beautiful horseshoe-shaped waterfall, just a short distance from the Ring Road route.
Husavik is a small fishing town on the north coast of Iceland, known as the Whale Watching Capital. It gained its fame thanks to the wonderful conditions for whale watching in the area. It is really worth going on one of the boat tours offered from the harbor, although you can sometimes see whales from the shore.
You can spot humpback whales, porpoises, and many other species during a cruise, including the rarer killer whale or the blue whale. Seeing these giants of the ocean really is an incredible experience!
The advantages of touring Iceland's Diamond Circle
If what you want is to live a unique experience on Iceland, away from civilization, while getting to know some of its treasures, the Diamond Circle is just right for you! Make sure you add it to your travel itinerary when you plan your trip.
Find out more about hiring a rental car to tour the Diamond Circle in North Iceland.
Head over to our homepage, check the availability of the car rental you like and book it before it’s too late. The North Iceland Diamond Circle awaits, are you ready?!