One week is the just right duration for the non plus ultra journey in the most amazing part of Iceland. True, it’s impossible to set an upper limit over which one can define “too much” the time spent in the Diamond Circle. After a whole lifetime it can still amaze as it were seen for the very first time, it can still reveal unknown corners. Be sure one week will give you a truly unforgettable adventure, though. Not many will be able to say they experienced what you will have done.
Day 1: Start your itinerary getting to Húsavík. If coming from the West or from the Highlands stop by Goðafoss for the first wonder of the Diamond Circle. Relax in the beautiful scenery of Skjálfandi bay and start enjoying what the town has to offer. A visit to the Whale Museum before a whale-watching tour is probably the best you can do to start. In the evening enjoy some traditional food in one of the excellent restaurants and then chill out with a beer or in the hot pots not far from the centre of the town. Overnight in Húsavík.
Day 2: After a bath at the swimming pool spend the morning exploring some surroundings of the town. In the North is Tjörnes peninsula with its fossils, with Voladalstorfa lighthouse and the hundreds of Puffins, with the interesting Mánárbakki and with the fissures at Kelduhverfi. In the afternoon hike to the top of Húsavíkurfjall for a breathtaking view over the town and the bay and, once back, follow the trails leading to the beach with the Elephant Rock only a couple of kilometers North of Húsavík. Make sure to visit the Exploration Museum and to have at least a quick look at the beautiful wooden church. At night, as always, Húsavík has plenty of things to do. Overnight in Húsavík.
Day 3: Complete the exploration of the surroundings heading South from Húsavík. The western side of the Diamond is where several interesting, out of the beaten track places can be found: the greenhouses of Hveravellir, Hólasandur, Ystafell Transportation Museum, Laxá Power Station, Grenjaðarstaður Heritage Museum, Æðafossar and the cliffs at the bottom of Skjálfandi bay. Get back in town for a relaxing hike to lake Botnsvatn through the town gardens. Visit the Culture House and spend an arty evening at Fjúk Arts Centre. Finally get to the lighthouse for a beautiful farewell view. Overnight in Húsavík.
Highlights of the day:
– Ystafell Transportation Museum
– Laxá Power Station
– Skjálfandi Bay
– Culture House
– Fjúk Arts Centre
Day 4: Make an early start and reach Ásbyrgi canyon for a warming-up trek to the top of Eyjan and/or the cliffs over the canyon before starting the real hike. The final destination is Dettifoss, to be reached on day 5. The hike of the day goes from Ásbyrgi to Vesturdalur. Once here, several excellent trails allow you to explore the dark, basalt rock formations at Hljóðaklettar and the colourful Rauðhólar hills. Overnight in Vesturdalur campground.
IMPORTANT: before setting off, stop by the Visitor Centre of Gljúfrastofa in Ásbyrgi for any information about the hike and the condition of the trail.
Day 5: Another early start is needed in order to get to Dettifoss in time to catch a transport to get back to Ásbyrgi where you most likely left your car. In Hólmatungur you can spot 3 waterfalls. If you feel confident enough head to the fourth, the beautiful Hafragilsfoss, via the tricky Hafragil lowlands. The other option is the less challenging trail that goes around the Hafragil lowlands. Astonish in front of the mighty Dettifoss (this is the western side) and somehow get back to your vehicle. During the summer some tourist buses run between Dettifoss and Ásbyrgi. From here drive South on road n. 864 so to have the chance to enjoy Dettifoss from the eastern side as well. On your way to Mývatn relax your muscles at the Nature Bath of Jarðböðin. You deserved it. Overnight in Mývant area.
Day 6: Surely the legendary hike you completed the day before has instilled in you the desire of more outdoor activities. If so head to Krafla and Hverir. From these locations you can walk some amazing short trails, respectively, to Leirhnjúkur and Námafjall. If this is not enough yet, make the loop from Reykjahlíð to Stóragjá, Grjótagjá, Hverfell, Dimmuborgir and Höfði and back. Otherwise just drive from location to location. Overnight in Mývatn area.
Day 7: A great option for the day could be joining a tour from Reykjahlíð to two incredible yet little known and visited locations: Gjástykki and its primordial beauty in the midlands of the Diamond and the magnificent ice caves of Lofthellir, East of Mývatn. After a true “ice and fire” day, take a gentle stroll on the shores of the lake. Overnight in Mývant area.
IMPORTANT: Gjástykki is reachable via a rough road so it’s necessary to have a proper vehicle and recommended to get here with a guided tour. Lofthellir, instead, can be an extremely dangerous place if not visited with the right equipment and an expert guide. We strongly discourage those who intend to venture here alone.
Highlights of the day:
– Lake Mývatn
Day 8: It’s almost time to say goodbye to the Diamond Circle but there’s still time for a few treats more. A horseback ride through the lava fields and short walks among the pseudo-craters of Skútustaðagígar and to the top of Vindbelgjarfjall are probably the best you can do before leaving Mývatn. Without forgetting all the bird-watching spots, mostly on its western side, and the Sigurgeir’s Bird Museum. Finally, if you’re heading West make a stop at Goðafoss for the last wonder of the Diamond Circle. We know, you’re already missing it. Just know you’ll always be welcome back.