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10-Day Iceland Highlands Itinerary

Guide to the Best Places in the Iceland Highlands

|May 16, 2023
Anhelina is a wanderlust-fueled soul who is also a cat mom, amateur cyclist, and painter in her free time. She believes that every location, no matter how remote or obscure, has a unique charm that deserves to be shared with the world.

Looking for an adventure in rugged wilderness? Then Iceland’s Highlands are for you. In this carefully curated itinerary, we will guide you through the journey with majestic glaciers, cascading waterfalls, hot springs and stunning volcanic landscapes. Let's dive into the details and discover the hidden gems of this region!

The Iceland Highlands region is the most remote and desolate in the country. In fact, it is among the largest uninhabited areas in all of Europe. This central region occupies most of Iceland's territory and offers many breathtaking natural attractions away from the tourist crowds. 

The varied landscape and magical tranquility of this 40,000 square kilometer area attract many locals who love to spend their weekends in the untouched nature, far away from the hustle and bustle of the famous places. The highlands are one of Iceland's most popular places for hikers and photographers.

Self-driving in Icelandic Highlands

Being in the middle of nowhere and discovering an incredible landscape is why the highlands are so unique. Silence is omnipresent there, and human life is relatively rare. Nature is still pristine and offers many sights, such as majestic glaciers, black sand deserts, steaming hot springs, menacing volcanoes, and much more.

10-Day Iceland Highlands Itinerary Overview:

We have created this Iceland 10-day road trip summary to help you reach the best locations in the secluded highlands. However, remember that you must be well-prepared and experienced in similar travels to drive the Icelandic highlands. No worries! If you need more confidence to embark on such a trip on your own, book a guided tour with a local expert.

Day 1: Reykjavik & Golden Circle

Your 10 days in Iceland begin in Reykjavik, from where you will drive to the most famous attractions in Iceland located on the Golden Circle. As tempting as the off-the-beaten-track spots might seem, the Golden Circle is simply too good to miss out on—no matter how many times you have been to Iceland. Additionally, this popular route will lead you to the beginning of more minor highland roads.

Happy Woman at Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland

Famous attraction in Golden Circle - Gullfoss waterfall

The first must-visit spot on the route is Thingvellir National Park, which boasts stunning geological formations and is the site of the world's oldest parliament. This is the unique site in Iceland where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are moving apart by about 0.79 in (2 cm) every year. Here many travelers choose to try snorkeling in Silfra Fissure, the only place in the world where you can swim between two continental plates

Next on the agenda is Haukadalur Valley, where the famous Geysir is sleeping while his neighbor Strokkur shoots boiling water up to 130 ft (40 meters) into the air every few minutes, leaving visitors awestruck. On the way from Thingvellir to Geysir, you can choose to wind down at Laugarvatn Fontana Spa, located at a tiny hamlet with a lake.

Finally, you will see the majestic Gullfoss waterfall that plunges into a deep canyon with thunderous force. From Gullfoss waterfall, Kjalvegur (road F35) runs on the eastern side of Langjökull glacier.

If you crave a deeper exploration of the Langjokull glacier, you can tour a man-made ice cave from Husafell. Take the Kaldidalur (road 550) that begins near Thingvellir National Park and drive north to Húsafell in western Iceland. Remember, this road, like many in the highlands, is only open in summer. However, you can easily reach Husafell through the paved roads from the other side.

Day 2: Glacial Lakes, Geothermal Pools, & Kerlingarfjöll

Kerlingarfjöll moutnain range with geothermal areas in Iceland

Today, the first location is the glacial lake Hagavatn, fed by the glacier’s meltwater located on the southern side of the second largest glacier in Iceland, Langjökull. On the 10-day Iceland itinerary, there are two places of its kind as it is very rare to see a lagoon or a large glacial lake sitting right by the edge of the glacier. To reach Hagavatn from Gullfoss waterfall, take Kjalvegur (F35) from Gullfoss, drive about 10 kilometers, and turn to Hagavatnsvegur ( F335). You can also reach a parking lot from the lake to see the secluded Nýifoss waterfall.

You can also stop by the second lake on the edge of the glacier, Hvitarvatn. Observe the calm milky waters and occasional icebergs separated from the ice cap. Interestingly, Hvítárvatn feeds one of Iceland's largest rivers—Hvítá and connects to Iceland's most spectacular waterfall—Gullfoss.

Road F35, which goes around today’s attractions, is also called the Kjölur Route running in the middle of Iceland through a plateau in the highlands. It is 168 km (104 mi) long and is one of the highest (and most difficult) roads in the country at 672 m (2,204ft) above sea level. It takes about 5-6 hours to drive the whole road, and it is a very scenic ride with many hiking trails and natural wonders obscure to most tourists.

Next on the itinerary is Kerlingarfjöll, the multicolored mountain range, often called the hiker’s paradise. Kerlingarfjöll was a renowned summer skiing hub, but the region was forced to close down due to the effects of global warming. Today, the area is a favorite destination for hikers seeking to explore its raw, unspoiled wilderness. The majestic Kerlingarfjöll is also a part of the vast volcanic system, home to one of Iceland's most active geothermal areas. The mountains seem to merge with an ethereal sea of steam, creating a surreal environment that overwhelms the senses. Here you can explore numerous marked and unmarked hiking trails, each leading to an immersive experience in this dreamy world.

Kerlingarfjöll Hot Spring in Icelandic highland mountain range

Take advantage of a relaxing escape in the heart of Iceland's majestic mountains. A small thermal pool is within walking distance of the Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort. It will only take about 20 minutes to complete the 1.3-kilometer walk along the river and reach this hidden gem. Follow the well-marked trail on the right side of the small river as you walk upstream until you get to the natural hot spring. It is important to note that no changing facilities are available, so bringing a bag to keep your clothes dry is recommended. 

Continue to the geothermal site and the warm oasis called Hveradalir. Kerlingarfjöll boasts three large geothermal areas. The most captivating of these is Hveradalir, fondly called the "valley of hot springs", situated right within the heart of the range. From Highland Resort in Ásgarður Valley, go on a thrilling 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) hike (or drive) to a parking lot near the geothermal area. The Hveradalir geothermal area is a sight to behold, with a stunning display of colors that will take your breath away. At every turn, you will find steaming vents, clay geysers, and bubbling hot springs that captivate your senses.

For the day's last stop, you will unwind in the warm oasis between two glaciers, Hveravellir. Situated in the remote Hveravellir Nature Reserve, Hveravellir is one of the most beautiful geothermal areas in the world. It is filled with crystal-clear blue water of around 38-40°C (100-104°F) and surrounded by smoking fumaroles. Hveravellir's remote location makes it ideal for a quiet and secluded retreat.

Day 3: Skagafjordur & Laugafell

Today, driving will take up most of the day as you pass the otherworldly natural terrain on Route F35 to reach the Ring Road in the North (Route 1). The ride is an adventure, so watch for the spectacular views.

Horse in mesmerizing Icelandic fields by the mountains

The day's first stop will be the tiny resort Varmahlid in Skagafjordur. Here you can find many necessary services: a hotel, a tourist information center, a food store, a petrol station, and even a restaurant to recharge after a long drive on the mountain roads. The area has many dairy, sheep, and horse farms. Here we highly recommend joining a horse riding tour from the Varmahlid farm. Ride on horseback as the Vikings did in ancient times while exploring the farmers' trails.

After that, continue farther down the Skagafjordur fjord, the region famous for its pair of glacial rivers ideal for a river rafting experience. If you are up for an adrenaline rush, join a whitewater rafting tour on the East Glacier River, rated as one of Europe’s best rafting rivers for many years. The river’s deep canyon and Intense Class IV rapids will excite even the most adventurous rafting enthusiasts. 

A family rafting trip is available on the West Glacier River for a more laid-back rafting adventure for beginners. This will undoubtedly be a highlight of the day as summer rafting in Iceland is a unique and exciting activity.

To get deeper into Iceland's official “middle of nowhere”, venture to the South, where you can camp and bathe in a remote oasis between Hofsjokull and Vatnajokull glaciers. Laugafell is a small mountain in the central part of the Icelandic highlands with a few mountain huts and a relaxing geothermal pool.

Another option for staying at the mountain huts is Nýidalur Valley, which has a camping ground. You will get a stunning view of the nearby Tungnafellsjökull glacier with access to the hiking routes in Vonarskard Pass.

Day 4: North Iceland & Mývatn

Today, you will have another break from the rocky F-roads when you return to “the capital of North Iceland” – Akureyri. This is the biggest city outside Reykjavik, so here you will find all the urban comforts to rest, eat and recharge for the second half of your 10 days in Iceland itinerary.

Lake Mývatn in North Iceland

Next up, we have a waterfall that many consider the most impressive, and in a country of 10,000 waterfalls, this means a lot. Aldeyjarfoss waterfall in the Northern highlands is tumbling 20 meters down a narrow canyon of extraordinary basal columns. The falls originate in the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull, and the cascade is a true photogenic gem. It will take about 1 hour to drive from Akureyri to Aldeyjarfoss, and road F26 takes you up close to the waterfall.

After admiring the mighty cascade, head on to explore the land of natural contrasts around Lake Mývatn. Prepare to enter an ancient Icelandic saga setting as you arrive in this region. Stop at the Godafoss Falls (“The Waterfall of the Gods”). Goðafoss is one of Iceland’s pearls and the second by size in the whole country. 

Once we witness the majestic beauty of Godafoss, we will begin an incredible journey through Iceland's most awe-inspiring landscapes. Brace yourselves for an expedition through the region's exotic birdlife, unique flora, and surreal geothermal activity.

As we traverse through the area of Lake Myvatn, get ready to feast your eyes on a unique sight. Unlike the usual landscapes of trees and glaciers, this area is a testament to the remnants of geothermal activity and volcanic eruptions. A staggering 2300 years ago, a massive lava fissure eruption triggered the formation of Lake Myvatn, with a chain of volcanic craters exploding within a radius of 12 km (7.5 miles), blocking a river and creating a vast expanse of the lava field. 

The path will take you to Skutustadir, where you will marvel at the pseudocraters that testify to the fury of volcanic eruptions. These craters were formed when molten lava clashed with the wetlands, unleashing a furious storm of steam and giving rise to these natural formations.

Afterward, embark on an adventure through the intriguing labyrinth of lava formations called Dimmuborgir, translating to "Gloomy Castles." These majestic structures are among Iceland's top natural tourist attractions, and their dramatic appearance evokes memories of a long-forgotten citadel.

Namaskard's hot springs full of steams and geothermal activity in Iceland

Next, you will discover the sprawling expanse of Namaskard's hot springs, where the vibrant hues and minerals scattered across the terrain remind a painter's palette, adding to the surreal beauty of the landscape. You will see the bubbling mud pots and geothermal steam gushing from the ground, filling the air with the pungent aroma of sulfur.

Finish your day with a serene and relaxing experience by combining the stunning beauty of the Mývatn Nature Baths with the surrounding landscape. Take a dip in the outdoor geothermal lagoon, with its milky blue mineral-rich water naturally heated by hot springs, and let your fatigue drift away. The Mývatn Nature Baths have everything you need to unwind in nature's lap fully.

Day 5: Askja Volcano & Holuhraun Lava Field

On this 10-day itinerary, Iceland has already shown you the “Ice” part of its name, and now it is time to learn what the “Fire” stands for. You will leave the Ring Road behind and return to the isolated highlands.

Askja stratovolcano surrounded by beautiful landscape of lava rocks

Unleash your inner adventurer as you explore Askja, one of Earth's most remote and desolate places. Askja is a stratovolcano surrounded by a barren and surreal landscape of lava rocks, reminiscent of the lunar surface. This isolated volcanic landscape served as a training ground for legendary astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin for their historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969.

As you are driving to Askja, you will catch a glimpse of “Table Mountain”. This is Mt. Herdubreid, a 1682m (5518 ft) tall peak that earned the title of the national mountain of Iceland. Many Icelanders also call it the “Queen of Icelandic mountains”.

Perched atop one of the largest volcanoes in Iceland, Askja caldera is home to the mesmerizing Öskjuvatn Lake (Lake Askja), a milky blue body of water nestled in the heart of the crater. This is the second deepest lake in Iceland after Jökulsárlón, measuring 217 m (712 ft), and it is too cold for swimming.

Admire the turquoise-blue geothermal water of Víti, a volcanic crater. The water here never freezes and ranges from boiling to hot, making it a must-see destination in the Iceland highlands. Imagine standing on top of a volcanic crater 1100 meters above sea level while soaking up the stunning view of the Icelandic highlands. It used to be possible to swim in the crater’s lake, however, with the recent geothermal activity, it is not safe anymore to do so.

As you traverse this rugged terrain, you will go to Holuhraun, which is one of Iceland's youngest lava fields, ‘born’ in 2014. This massive expanse of molten lava still smolders in certain areas, and you will have the chance to witness its raw, untamed beauty up close. Brace yourself for a truly unforgettable experience as you set foot on the natural, untouched terrain unlike anything you have ever seen.

Day 6: Laugavallalaug Hot Spring & East Iceland

Today brings us to East Iceland, renowned for its remarkable snow-capped mountains, winding fjords, and glaciers. You will have a chance to immerse yourself in Icelandic history and culture by exploring the quaint and charming towns and villages dotted across the region, providing an authentic insight into the unique Icelandic way of life.

Laugavallalaug Hot Spring in East Iceland

Laugavallalaug, located in the remote region of East Iceland, is a stunning hidden hot spring (or a natural hot shower) that remains relatively unknown to many travelers. This sheltered site boasts a breathtaking waterfall from the Laugavallalaug hot spring and stream. The cascade pours over a cliff and empties into the river below, offering visitors an unparalleled natural wonder. The site's location is secluded and remote, and the roads that lead to it can be challenging to navigate. Therefore, your rented 4x4 vehicle will come in handy here.

There are no admission fees to enter Laugavallalaug. This off-the-beaten-path gem is one of Iceland's best-kept secrets. Despite its popularity on social media, few visitors make the trek to the Eastern Highlands to experience it firsthand.

You can find another hidden gem in the same area as Laugavallalaug, the Hafrahvammagljúfur Canyon. With a depth of over 200 meters and a length of about eight kilometers, this is one of Iceland's most unique and remarkable canyons. 

Undoubtedly, Hafrahvammagljúfur is one of Iceland's best-kept secrets. Despite being a stunning location, it remains hidden from most travelers due to its remote location. The canyon has not been featured on many travel websites or Iceland travel guides as most travelers only explore East Iceland when doing the entire Ring Road. Even then, they might not have time to venture into the highlands of the East.

Hafrahvammagljúfur Canyon a remote gorge in East Iceland

However, it is highly recommended that you explore this location. Hafrahvammagljúfur Canyon is an excellent destination for hikers. The route through the canyon is easy to follow, and it offers stunning views. If you follow the trail north from the viewpoint, you will reach Magnahellir cave. From the parking lot, you can hike to the intersection where Dimmugljúfur and Hafrahvammagljúfur canyons meet. 

Another place worth mentioning is the one-of-a-kind experience at the Icelandic Wilderness Center or Óbyggðasetrið. The facility offers authentic accommodation, exhibitions, local cuisine, and activities such as hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and various tours.

Once you have seen the hidden gems of East Iceland, you will return to the Ring Road civilization and pass by Egilsstaðir, also known as “The Capital of the Eastfjords”. Fun fact, Egilsstaðir is considered the hottest region in Iceland during the summer! 

As we are headed towards Skaftafell on the South coast of Iceland, you will be passing by the many quaint and secluded fishing villages of the East. It will be a captivating experience, but try to make a few stops, as you might never make it to the day's final destination day!

Puffins on a cliff in Iceland's Eastfjords

Summer is the puffin-watching season in Iceland, and summer road trips can only be completed when you meet these birds. After all, you are traveling in the puffin-watching capital of the world! Therefore, we highly recommend stopping at the Nature Reserve Ingolfshofdi, also called “the puffin cape”.  The cape is located on a remote headland between Vatnajokull National Park and Jökulsárlón ice lagoon.

For the last part of today’s many adventures, you can choose from the many thrilling activities in the Vatnajokul glacier. Paddle in a kayak across the world-famous Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, get up close and personal with the icebergs on the Amphibian boat tour, or traverse the outlet glacier Falljökull on a hiking tour.

Day 7: South Iceland Lakes & Highland Volcanos

Day 7 is all about the South of Iceland, and not the charming Ring Road attractions, but the adventurous and remote corners of the Highlands.

Mælifell volcano located in Southern Iceland

First on the agenda is Fagrifoss, also known as “the Beautiful Waterfall”. It is situated alongside the F206 road, approximately 24 km (15 mi) away from the small town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur and 40 km (25 mi) from the Laki crater, making it a perfect destination for those exploring Iceland's natural wonders on a 4x4 car. Fagrifoss is renowned for the segmented plunge of its lower end, which creates a beautiful shape at the base of the waterfall. Its charm is only enhanced by the dramatic contrast it creates against the mossy landscapes in which it tumbles.

To access Fagrifoss, visitors must first cross a small river, requiring a 4x4 vehicle to safely navigate the crossing. Visitors who make the journey typically continue along the Highland Road to Laki, Tjarnargígur, and Lakagígar, which are the craters responsible for producing most of the surrounding lava during the massive eruption in 1784.

This brings us to the next stop of the day, the Laki craters or Lakagígar, named after Laki Mountain in the middle of them. These craters were formed during one of the most massive eruptions in history from June 1783 until February 1784, causing the creation of a new volcano every few weeks in the row of Laki. The poisonous gasses and ash from the volcano caused catastrophic damage across Iceland. Though the severity of the eruption can only be imagined today, the volcanic past of the highlands makes a visit to the Laki craters an unforgettable highlight of any Iceland road trip.

When visiting the Laki craters, hiking up the Laki mountain is a popular activity. The trail is steep going up but not very strenuous and takes less than 30 minutes to complete. From the top, visitors can enjoy a beautiful view of the row of craters formed by the Laki volcanoes.

Eldgjá, located between the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Landmannalaugar, is the largest volcanic canyon in the world. It spans an incredible 40 kilometers, with a maximum depth of 270 meters and a width of 400 meters. One of the highlights of Eldgjá is the stunning Ófærufoss waterfall located within the canyon.

The next point of interest on today’s agenda is what some call the most beautiful lake in Iceland, Langisjór. It is one of the clearest highland lakes in the country and has a kind of mysterious feeling about it. Both Eldgjá and Langisjór can be reached by the mountain road Fjallabaksleið nyrðri (F 208), which runs from Hrauneyjar (on road F26) to the east of the farm Búland (on road 208 west of Kirkjubæjarklaustur).

Rauðibotn crater in the Fjalllabak region, Iceland

Another hidden gem is the Rauðibotn crater, which is not easy to reach, far from tourist sites and Route 1. Its existence is not indicated in many guidebooks, and very few visit it. You will drive from the Ring Road for around an hour to reach the hiking route leading to it. Turn onto Road 208 and continue straight until you turn left onto Road 210. Eventually, Road 210 becomes Road F210, which you must follow until you reach the parking area near the Holmsa River. It is important to note that you should not attempt to cross the river.

When it comes to the hike itself, it is relatively easy, and you can begin as you leave your car at the starting point. The trail runs along the Hólmsá River, passing several small waterfalls. The Axlafoss waterfall is located nearby and is worth a visit for a photographic stop. Eventually, the trail reaches the crater with a small emerald green Rauðibotn lake surrounded by red rocks. 

While you are on the road, you may spot alone in a black desert of loneliness, Maelifell volcano, with the immense Mýrdalsjökull glacier in the background. Mælifell is a popular destination for highland hiking tours. If you would like to see the volcano up close, you can reach Mælifell in a few hours of driving. You need to be on Route 261 which will soon turn into the Highland Route F261 and take you north of the Þórsmörk Nature Reserve before turning right onto Route F210. After approximately 3 hours, Mælifell will be visible on the left-hand side of the road.

Day 8: Landmannalaugar

Today will be all about exploring the soul-stirring “Pearl of the Highlands”, Landmannalaugar through its many hiking routes.

Pearl of the Highlands in Iceland - Landmannalaugar

Ljótipollur is a perfect example of a brief yet rewarding trek of about 6 hours within the network of Landmannalaugar. It is a red-colored explosion crater with a turquoise-blue lake nestled in the center. Although the site is incredibly beautiful, the name given to the crater means "Ugly Puddle". The crater measures slightly more than 4 km (2.48 mi) in diameter, and walking around it will take a little over an hour. Ljótipollur's blue waters, lush greenery that covers its slopes, and brightly colored red lava rock that surrounds it create a magnificent sight.

Hopefully, you saved plenty of energy for hiking today as you are approaching the colorful mountains of Landmannalaugar. Today, you reach the Hiker’s Paradise and experience it firsthand.

Landmannalaugar is a highland oasis that is accessible for only a short couple of summer months. This region has been rated among the best hiking spots in the world by many nature magazines. This vibrant location boasts colorful rhyolite mountains and hot springs, making it a hiker's dream. Landmannalaugar marks the starting point of the Laugavegur trail, which ends in Þórsmörk and takes 4-6 days to traverse. However, you can still experience the beauty of Landmannalaugar in just a few hours by embarking on one of the short hikes in the area.

Háifoss waterfall situated near the volcano Hekla in southern Iceland

You can make an exciting detour to Háifoss waterfall, known for being one of the tallest waterfalls in the country, standing at 122 meters. Its name, Háifoss, means "High Falls" or "Tall Falls", a fitting name given its impressive size. Found on the river Fossá, the waterfall is situated close to the entrance of the Icelandic Highlands, near the Hekla volcano. Near Háifoss, you can also find another waterfall named Granni, meaning "Neighbor," which cascades down a two-million-year-old cliff.

To reach Háifoss, your 4x4 vehicle will traverse the seven-kilometer mountain track, and that is the only way to drive there. If you prefer to walk, there is also a hiking trail available, allowing you to appreciate the stunning view and get some exercise at the same time.

On a clear day, you are likely to see Iceland’s most active volcano Hekla from the South Coast and Route 1. However, as you will be traveling to Landmannalaugar, you will pass the Hekla volcano in all its glory. Hekla is located in the scenic Fjallabak nature reserve area. A hike to Hekla’s summit (1491 m) is placed on top of many bucket lists. However, it’s recommended to only do it with an experienced guide.

Finish your day by admiring Sigoldugljufur Canyon, situated on the way from Landmannalaugar, which has become a popular spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts. Nestled in the heart of the Icelandic Highlands, Sigöldugljúfur is often called “the Valley of Tears” due to its abundance of stunning waterfalls.

Day 9: Thórsmörk Valley

This is the last day you will spend marveling over Iceland’s highlands, and it will not be less epic than the others.

Þórsmörk Valley: moss-covered fields to volcanic mountains and glacier rivers

Þórsmörk Valley ("Thor's Forest") is an adventurer's dream, being one of the greenest and most fertile regions in Iceland with a diverse landscape that ranges from moss-covered fields to volcanic mountains and glacier rivers. As its name implies, the valley pays tribute to the Norse god of thunder, Thor, and certainly lives up to the dramatic nature of its name. The lush green valley is bordered by fresh volcanic ash and blue glacier tongues, creating a surreal scenery that enchants the human mind.

The valley forms the southern section of the famed Laugavegur hiking trail, a 55-kilometer trek across some of Iceland's most stunning landscapes. It also covers parts of the Fimmvörðuháls hiking route, which leads trekkers on a 30-kilometer journey between two glaciers.

The area is equipped with well-mapped hiking trails, and guided Super Jeep tours are also available for a safer and more comfortable adventure. These tours are led by professional monster truck drivers and hiking guides who will show you the most beautiful spots and popular trails in Thorsmork. Words and images fall short when it comes to describing the breathtaking beauty of this place. If you're an adventurous hiker, Þórsmörk Valley is a must-visit destination.

While in Þórsmörk, we recommend visiting a lesser-known but otherworldly Stakkholtsgjá canyon. This is truly one of nature's wonders that can completely uplift your mood and leave you speechless as you journey through it. Every step you take offers a new and unique perspective of the scenery. The canyon entrance is surrounded by tall 100-meter-high cliffs, and inside, there is a waterfall cascading down the steep walls.

Stakkholtsgjá canyon situated in Southern part of the Icelandic Highlands

As your time in the highlands is limited, it is hard to choose which location to put on your itinerary, so we offer you another off-the-beaten-track option to consider. Markarfljótsgljúfur Canyon is a geological wonder formed by a massive flood that was unleashed after the eruption of Katla, one of Iceland's most famous volcanoes. Despite being one of Iceland's most impressive and stunning canyons, it is not visited by many tourists.

This historic eruption occurred approximately 2000 years ago, and the floodwaters created this beautiful and deep gorge. The 4 km-long section of the canyon is the most exciting and accessible. So if you are short on time, a hike to Markarfljótsgljúfur Canyon is an easier and faster option. It stretches for 2.1 km and is generally considered an easy route as it takes an average of 1 hour to complete. 

As you are leaving the highlands behind, there is one spot in South Iceland worth mentioning as it is one of the most beautiful hidden gems. You will need around 35-45 minutes to fully appreciate the beauty of the Nauthúsagil ravine. The path through the tree-covered ravine will lead you to a stunning waterfall directly above you that will leave you feeling as if you're on another planet. Some even believe that elves live here and could be spotted at any moment!

Seljalandsfoss waterfall in south Iceland

Finally, on the way back to Reykjavik, you cannot miss the famous South Coast waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and its hidden neighbor Gljufrabui. Seljalandsfoss waterfall stands out from the rest of Iceland’s waterfalls because of the opportunity to walk behind the cascading water. Gljúfrabúi, a 40-meter-tall waterfall, is located behind a massive cliff in an effective hiding spot, making it less crowded compared to its neighbor, Seljalandsfoss. The falls cascade before a large boulder, which you can climb for some excellent photos. Although you may get a bit wet, the experience and views are well worth it!

Day 10: Reykjavik & Departure from Iceland

On the last day of your Iceland summer trip, you can make the most of Reykjavik before your flight. This vibrant city is full of colorful houses and a unique atmosphere that is worth exploring. Take a stroll through the galleries and don't miss the live concerts that are held regularly. While you're there, be sure to buy some clothes made of Icelandic wool, which is both stylish and warm.

The Sun Voyager sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason in Reykjavík

If you're a foodie looking to try something exotic and unique, Icelandic cuisine has a lot to offer. One such delicacy is hakarl, a fermented shark meat that is known for its pungent odor and strong taste. If you're feeling adventurous and up for the challenge, give it a try!

To cap off your Icelandic adventure, consider spending your final hours at the Blue Lagoon. This geothermal spa is a popular destination for tourists and locals, offering a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. Dip in the mineral-rich waters and take in the stunning views of the surrounding landscape. It's the perfect way to celebrate your trip and say goodbye to Iceland with a smile on your face!

Iceland Highland itinerary - FAQ

Are the highlands in Iceland worth visiting?

In short, yes! Visiting Iceland's highlands will be worth the effort. This section of Iceland suits a traveler with a keen sense of adventure. Expect rainbow-colored mountains, canyons, waterfalls, volcanoes and glaciers, desert mazes, warm water pools, and bubbling mud pits. If that does not already give you goosebumps, there is one more advantage: Generally, most visitors stay in southwest Iceland or travel the Ring Road, which keeps those destinations busy. So go through the hills, and soon you will be far away from the crowd.

How to drive in the Highlands?

When you visit Iceland's Highlands, you will have rocky and uneven road surfaces requiring large 4x4 vehicles. These mountain roads can only be safe if you can be confident about your experience and safety. Do not attempt the hills without a 4x4 because you might quickly get stuck. You also should monitor road closures and weather conditions in advance.

Road in Iceland by the mountains and seashore at sunset

What is the best way to see Icelandic highlands?

Renting a car (or a self-drive tour package) can be a good option if you are an experienced driver and are okay with tackling rough mountain roads on long road trips. Otherwise, you should take a guided trip to explore the highlands with a professional guide who will take care of the driving and share their expert knowledge to help you get the most out of your trip.

How many days do you need in Iceland?

A minimum one-week visit to Iceland is ideal, but visiting for a maximum of 3 days can help you see the country's beauty in a single trip. It is still possible to stay in Iceland for less than seven days, but it is undoubtedly worth returning for more.

How do you get to the highlands in Iceland?

There are no main roads that lead into this largely untouched region. Instead of cutting through the Highlands, the Ring Road (Route 1) goes around them and encircles the whole of Iceland.  Therefore, from Reykjavik, travelers will go on Route 1 and then take one of the mountain routes (usually an F-road) to the destination of the Highlands they have selected.

What are F-roads in Iceland?

The F-roads in Iceland are mountain or highland roads, which usually lead to the central part of the country. These roads are unpaved and steep, with very rocky or muddy terrain. These highland roads sometimes also cross through rivers. Therefore, you will need a 4x4 vehicle to navigate through F-roads in Iceland. Additionally, the F-Roads in Iceland are only open during the summer, so you will need to check their opening schedule.

Does anyone live in Iceland Highlands?

The Highlands of Iceland is a largely uninhabited region covering most of the central part of Iceland. It is rare to encounter any infrastructure, so this region is as unspoiled and wild as it gets in Iceland.

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