- THE RING ROAD -
- THE RING ROAD -
In May 2019, the Piloti team took another unforgettable road trip along Iceland's famous Ring Road. While weather restrictions prevented us from making the full 828-mile journey around the country's perimeter, we were nonetheless able to explore enormous waterfalls, sprawling black sand beaches, and beautifully scenic driving routes between the country's capital city of Reykjavík, to its coastal town of Vik.
We began our adventure by flying into Keflavík International Airport, arriving just after midnight, only to find that it was still bright outside. We quickly learned that one of the benefits of exploring Iceland in the summer is that the days are extremely long, so you can get the most out of each day! Our next step was to pick up our trusty Renault Megane Sport Tourer rental, and make the short trip to Reykjavík, where we loaded up on groceries, then spent our first night.
Not wanting to waste a moment in Iceland, we woke up early on our first day, planning to take what we thought would be a short detour to the Golden Circle (it wasn't - we spent a full 24 hours).
The Golden Circle is a popular tourist route, made up of three attractions - Þingvellir (Thingvellar) National Park, the Geysir geothermal area, and the Gullfoss waterfall. Our first stop to Þingvellir National Park was only a 45 minute drive outside of Reykjavík. Þingvellir National Park is a must-see for two reasons - it's geographically unique, situated between two tectonic plates, and it's rich in history. In 930 AD, the world's first democratically elected parliament that still remains function was formed right here by Vikings. While it would be easy to spend a full day hiking at Þingvellir National Park, we moved on after a couple of hours to Geysir - home to the famous Strokkur hot spring that erupts jets of boiling water from 65 to 130 ft high - and finally, to Gullfoss, a two stage waterfall spawning from the Langjökull glacier.
On Day 2, we had another early start, visiting the famous geothermal spa - the Blue Lagoon - located less than an hour away from Reykjavík. The opaque, turquoise, geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon are a must-see in our opinion, but we recommend going during off-hours, when it's less expensive. After a relaxing soak, we began our first official day of travel along the Ring Road, visiting many breathtaking parks and waterfalls along the way. Two of our favorite spots are the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall (which you can walk behind!) and Skógafoss Waterfall (one of the largest and most popular in the country). At Skógafoss, if you dare to make the climb, you can venture up to the look out point to see the sprawling Icelandic landscape from above.
A ten-minute drive from Skógafoss is the incredible Sólheimasandur plane wreck, located just outside of Vik. These 40-year old ruins were the result of a non-fatal plane crash on one of Iceland’s black sand beaches. The scene is moody and ominous, with miles of barren terrain - making it a travel photographer's paradise. Drivers take note – visitors are required to leave their car in the parking lot and embark on a 4-km hike to reach the ruins (exact coordinates are: 63.459523,-19.364618). The on-foot adventure is worth it, as we captured some incredible shots. It's also just a quick, 10 minute drive away from the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, where you can have a quick bite to eat down by the water. Keep an eye out for sneaker waves (not a shoe pun) though - the ocean can be dangerous if you get too close.
While visiting Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, we also recommend venturing up to the Dyrhólaey lighthouse and look out point on Iceland's south coast. It's a bit of a hike, but offers a stunning view of the ocean from 120m above sea level, and the cliff sides are home to dozens of native bird species, including puffins. Note though that during nesting season, parts of the cliffside can be closed to motor vehicles.
We ended our journey in the coastal town of Vik, and with a hearty meal at The Soup Company, a family-owned restaurant that is famous for its red hot Lava soup, served in bread bowls, and with a side of Icelandic yoghurt. If lava isn't quite your cup of tea (or soup in this case), never fear, there are plenty of other options that are equally delicious.
Will your next road trip be along the Ring Road in Iceland? There are so many more incredible spots to explore – we can’t wait for another Piloti road trip adventure! Don’t forget a pair (or two!) of your favorite Piloti shoes. Happy driving!