Destinations Europe

Route 1 – Highlights Of Northern Iceland

Godafoss North Iceland

We first visited a snow-covered and windy Iceland in February. We immediately fell in love with its dramatic, scarred, volcanic landscape, so much so we booked a return trip for August. We ‘ll refrain from using the word ‘summertime‘ when referring to Icelandic seasons, we’ll just call it ‘not as cold as winter‘.

During our first trip, we explored Reykjavik and toured the famous Golden Circle with its geysirs, waterfalls and hot springs. For this trip, armed with a movie location map, we planned to visit the South East and drive the ring road (route 1 ) anticlockwise up to North Iceland. Ticking off film locations on the way,  which include  Interstellar, Batman Begins, Prometheus and Game of Thrones.

After visiting the stunning sights and little fishing villages of South East Iceland such as Jökulsárlón and Höfn we started our drive north along route 1.

These are the some of the highlights we encountered as we headed north towards Akureyri, Iceland’s second city.


Dettifoss waterfall

The powerful Dettifoss waterfall

About 20 mins off route 1, through a black twisted landscape, is Dettifoss, one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe (500 cubic metres of water per second). Dettifoss was used as a location in Ridley Scott’s film, Prometheus.

The Viti Crater

The Viti crater

The Viti crater in Krafla

Just 10 minutes north of route 1 is the Viti crater. Viti means ‘hell’ and this particular crater was formed after a massive eruption nearly 300 years ago. It is now tranquil and picturesque, centred with a brilliant blue lake, far removed from its turbulent formation.



The Hverir geothermal area

Not much further along route 1 is the geothermal area of Hverir or better known as ‘What’s that stinky smell.‘ Seriously, once you’ve got over the smell and finished accusing the other occupants of your car for causing it you are faced with a completely alien, Martian-like, landscape.

Lake Mývatn

Lake Myvatn

The volcanic lake – Lake Mývatn

Just south of route 1 is the stunning Lake Mývatn, the name means ‘the lake of midges‘ which makes perfect sense if you visit in the summer. The lake is set in a volcanic landscape with strangely twisted lava fields. Although we didn’t have time during this visit, there are the natural hot springs, the Myvatn nature baths nearby. A perfect place to relax and unwind and take in the view.



The Dimmuborgir lava fields

Next to Lake Mývatn is the Dimmuborgir area, unusually shaped lava fields with twisted towers of rock. There are a range of hiking routes through the fields but watch out for the homicidal troll named Grýla and the “Yule Lads’.

Dimmuborgir can be seen in the Game of Thrones as a location ‘Beyond The Wall’.


45 minutes from Akureyri is Godafoss, the waterfall of the gods. Although not the biggest waterfall it is one of the most picturesque, especially if you lucky to see it in the sun.

Although still popular with tourists, the sights of the north of Iceland didn’t seem as busy as the ones in the south and around the Golden Circle.


Finally, we arrived at Akureyri (pronounced ‘ah-koo-rare-ee’). It is Iceland’s second biggest city but has a population of only 18,000.

The Akureyrarkirkja (Church of Akureyri) sits on a hill above the town and has great views over the Eyjafjörður fjord. The church was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, the same man who designed the Hallgrímskirkja, the landmark church in Reykjavik.

We really enjoyed visiting North Iceland and we would definitely recommend venturing up there if you have the time.

Even after our two visits to Iceland this year we still want to go back, we feel we have only scratched the surface if this incredible country.


Driving route 1. highlights of Northern Iceland

Route 1, Highlights Of Northern Iceland – Pin For Later

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  • Anne
    September 23, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Iceland is such a bizarre landscape. I look at the pictures and think of the moon. There is no denying though, it is a geological dream and there is tons to see.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      September 23, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      The landscape so bizarre, you can see why it is used in so many films.

  • Fiona Maclean
    September 23, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    The pair of you are just nuts! Is it really colder than Wales? That aside, I’m still waiting to visit Iceland and your route sounds excellent.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      September 23, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      It was just as wet as Wales but a little colder. Also, we don’t have any thermal baths although Port Talbot Steel Works does have that sulphurous aroma.

  • KIM
    September 23, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    These photos would make perfect postcards. It indeed looks like “summertime” as you’ve said. Is it okay to be within the geothermal area? Is it safe?

    • Mr and Mrs W
      September 23, 2017 at 8:44 pm

      It is safe, well they’ve got a small bit of rope draped at ankle level. The stink rather strong!

  • Anu
    September 23, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    That – Waterfalls of the Gods is so damn Gorgeous – showed it to my husband who simply loves waterfalls. I am hoping that it would prompt him to start planning a trip to Iceland.

    The crater also looks great – in fact, it made me realize that I have never seen a crater in life. Looks like Iceland would tick off many things not yet done.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      September 23, 2017 at 8:46 pm

      The landscape is amazing, there is something incredible around every corner. There are a LOT of waterfalls!

  • Hugo Cura
    September 23, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    I’ve been to Iceland a few times (enough times that I’ve stopped counting!) and the North of the country still is one of my favorite regions. The whole Mývatn area is full of amazing things to see and do.

    And really, you can’t beat Dettifoss for power. What a gorgeous waterfall!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      September 23, 2017 at 8:48 pm

      We also love the North and are really glad we ventured up there. We will definitely be going back as there was so much to see and do.

  • Stevo Joslin
    September 26, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Iceland looks like all of my favorite movies smashed into one scene. It all looks so alien! And Interstellar! I’m glad you guys were able to steer clear of the trolls too! Now you only have to worry about the ones that live in the internet!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      September 26, 2017 at 1:36 pm

      You can see why it is popular film locations. Yes, there are less and less Icelandic trolls as they move their business online. They don’t have hide under the bridge anymore.

  • Barb
    September 26, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    Iceland has been on my bucket list for a long time. Your photos make me want to go there even more.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      September 26, 2017 at 11:21 pm

      You should try and get there if you can get the time. It’s an amazing place.

  • Archana Singh
    September 27, 2017 at 8:09 am

    With all its magical waterfalls and dreamy landscapes, Iceland has been on my list forever. And Godafoss, the waterfall of the gods, is really kickass. Loved all your pictures. I am planning to go there next year.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      September 29, 2017 at 9:12 am

      I’m sure you’ll love it. It is an amazing place.