Iceland: The Diamond Circle Route
The Diamond Circle in Iceland is a special route in the north of Iceland, with unique attractions. You will be surprised by waterfalls that are second to none, caves that are simply amazing, and lakes whose beauty is unbelievable. See the Dettifoss and Godafoss waterfalls and enjoy the nature in the Ásbyrgi god valley. Relax in the natural hot springs of Mývatn and visit the fishing village of Húsavík and the second city of Iceland, Akureyri. In this article, we will show you all the stunning attractions of the Diamond Circle.
How many days do you need?
This route can be covered in one day. You can then quickly visit all the locations. If you still want to do a whale watching tour or relax in the natural baths, we recommend taking two days for this, so you can spend longer at all the locations. You definitely want to take your time with all the natural beauty that can be found in the area.
If you want to do the route in two days, we recommend doing it in the following order:
- Myvatn geothermal area
- Stay in Husavik
- Dettifoss, Hafrigilfoss and Selfoss
How to get around on the Diamond Circle
If you are going to explore the Diamond Circle, we recommend renting a car. That’s because public transportation is not available for the attractions. Before you start, you should check the weather conditions and traffic conditions, because this can have a huge impact on your journey. Another way to explore the Diamond Circle in Iceland is to book tours from Akureyri.
Route of the Diamond Circle in Iceland
We’ll explain the route in the order from Akureyri. You follow the 250-kilometer route clockwise, but it can also be traveled in the opposite direction. Of course, you decide for yourself where you start. Between Akureyri and the Diamond Circle is a tunnel on the Ring Road 1, for which you have to pay a toll. You must register your car here in advance, otherwise a fee will be added and you do this via this site. You can also take a 10-minute detour via the Víkurskarð road, for which you take the 83 and the 84. However, the weather must be favorable, otherwise the road may be closed. Always check on road.is which route is the most convenient.
1: Visit the beautiful Akureyri
This second largest city in Iceland has a lot to offer. Visit the large church or go whale watching with a tour. Or go to the free Fairytale Garden to see homemade sculptures and go ziplining over the Glass River Valley. There are also museums such as the Aviation and Industrial Museum. There are also numerous events and there is a beautiful city center where you can shop and go out. You can read all of this in our future article about Akureyri.
2: Godafoss, the waterfall of the gods
45 minutes from Akureyri, you will find the Godafoss waterfall. This unique horseshoe-shaped waterfall is literally translated as the waterfall of the gods. You can easily park on the east side of this waterfall, near the Godafoss café and the gas station. From this side, you can take a narrow path down to where you can get close to the river. Be sure to wear good walking shoes, as it can be slippery. You should definitely take a walk to the other side of the Godafoss, which gives a completely different view due to the unique shape of the waterfall.
3: Visit the Mývatn area
In the south of the Diamond Circle in Iceland, you will find an area that is a wonder of nature. There are several attractions here that are all worth seeing, we have listed them for you. This area is best known for the beautiful Mývatn lake, which you should definitely not miss.
- Walk through the naturally formed Dark Fortresses of Dimmuborgir. These rock formations formed from volcanic rock give the experience of a ruined castle.
- Visit the Krafla area, where you can see the Leirhnjúkur Lava Fields.
- Check out the Hverir geothermal fields. The mudpots are almost 200 degrees Celsius and worth checking out. You can also visit them with a tour.
- Of course, you have the Mývatn lake, with stunning views and different rock formations to see and climb.
- Relax in the delicious Mývatn Nature Baths after a walk around this beautiful area.
Note: These special features are far apart and can only be viewed if you have your own transportation or have arranged a full tour.
4: Dettifoss, Hafrigilsfoss and Selfoss waterfalls
On the east side of the Diamond Circle, you will find the Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall not only in Iceland, but in all of Europe. The water falls from a height of 44 meters over a width of up to 100 meters. When you park your car, you can already hear the Dettifoss thundering. You can also go two kilometers downstream from the Dettifoss, where the Hafrigilsfoss is located. This is a lot less visited but just as beautiful. Because this waterfall has a height of 27 meters, a short walk is definitely recommended. If you walk one kilometer upstream from the Dettifoss, you will reach the stunning Sellfoss waterfall. This is a bit lower with 11 meters, but just as wide. As a result, the waterfall is often skipped unfairly. You can find the route along the waterfalls via maps.me or google maps.
If you want to reach the busy, but easily accessible western side of the waterfall, take the 862 from the Ring Road 1. The eastern side is quieter, but also less accessible due to the gravel road 864 that leads there. We recommend a 4×4 for the gravel road.
5: Ásbyrgi, the Gods’ Valley
The myth goes that the god Odin rode his eight-legged horse Sleipnir and planted his hoof in the ground, creating Ásbyrgi. The geological explanation is that there was a flood as a result of an eruption thousands of years ago. All we know is that the nature reserve is stunning and there are enough hiking trails to see and admire the horseshoe-shaped valley from all sides. You can drive to the tip of the hoof, but you can also hike three kilometers. There is also the possibility of climbing Eyjan (Island in Icelandic). This gives you the best view of the Gods’ Valley.
6: Húsavík, the whale capital of the world
Why Húsavík is called this is because there is a 98% chance of seeing a whale on a whale watching tour. The place to go if you want to experience this. You can also enjoy the Geosea Sea Baths, with mineral-rich and geothermal water. Of course, you can also visit the Whale Museum or take a walk in the surrounding area. And you can visit the Húsavík Öl microbrewery, which constantly brews new beers.
The best time to visit the Diamond Circle is during the summer months, when the weather is most favorable. In the months outside of this, the weather is cold and harsh, and in the winter, a number of places are not accessible due to snow. If you want to see more of Iceland or read everything about the Golden Circle, be sure to check out our site.