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Driving Iceland’s Ring Road - Day 4: First part of the Diamond Circle

Today we will visit two of the best waterfalls in Iceland before we continue on to Lake Mývatn where we will spend another 3 days.

This is the first part of Iceland’s Diamond Circle.  The Diamond Circle is an approx. 156 mile (250km) circle in northeast Iceland, which has 5 main destinations (Goðafoss, Lake Mývatn, Dettifoss, Ásbyrgi Canyon and Húsavík).  We will visit these 5 destinations during our trip and add several more.

For more detailed information incl. links to google maps locations, more reviews, website links, etc., check out our Iceland Highlights Purple Guide.

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Our Iceland Travel Guide has detailed information about the individual destinations, links to their locations in google maps, reviews and websites (if available).

Please see the Backpack & Snorkel Travel Store for more information.

Iceland Travel Guide Book Cover

Here are more Iceland destinations to explore:

Backpack and Snorkel Iceland Travel Guide cover showing Studlagil canyon
Backpack and Snorkel Iceland Travel Guide cover showing icebergs at Jokulsarlon
Backpack and Snorkel Iceland Travel Guide cover showing the Godafoss waterfall
Backpack and Snorkel Iceland Travel Guide cover showing the Fjadrargljufur canyon
Backpack and Snorkel Iceland Travel Guide cover showing a puffin
Backpack and Snorkel Iceland Travel Guide cover showing the Black Fortress at Dimmuborgir
Backpack and Snorkel Iceland Travel Guide cover showing the erupting Strokkur geyser
Backpack and Snorkel Iceland Travel Guide cover showing the Aurora Borealis

Goðafoss waterfall

Goðafoss is often described as the "waterfall of the gods” as the word goð means “pagan idols” in Icelandic.  There are indeed two crags at the falls which resemble pagan idols.

 

At Godafoss, the water of the river Skjálfandafljót which originates in the Icelandic highlands drops by 40ft (12m) over a width of 100ft (30m).

 

Godafoss has an east and west parking lot.  Both are about 2,000ft (600m) apart and you can do all your sightseeing from either parking lot.

 

There is no admission fee and the waterfall is always open.

 

From the west parking lot, you walk approx. 1,000ft (300m) to a viewpoint north of the falls.  Some people climb over the safety barricades at the viewpoint and go directly to the drop-off at the falls risking their lives.

Godafoss waterfall in Iceland
Godafoss waterfall in Iceland
Godafoss waterfall in Iceland

You can access the two southern viewpoints from the eastern parking lot and from the western parking lot through a maintained path that leads over a pedestrian bridge with good views.

 

The upper southern viewpoint is about 2,500ft (780m) from the western parking lot.  The views from here are somewhat similar to the views from the northern viewpoint.

Godafoss waterfall in Iceland
Godafoss waterfall in Iceland

Aldeyjarfoss waterfall

Like Godafoss, Aldeyjarfoss is also created by the water of the river Skjálfandafljót.  But unlike Godafoss, Aldeyjarfoss is difficult to access and in the middle of nowhere.  To get to the parking lot, you will need to drive the unpaved compacted dirt road F26.  Please make sure that your rental car company allows that.

We had no problems driving this road with our low clearance sedan, because the weather was dry and so was the road.  You will need a 4x4 vehicle then the road is wet or when you drive in winter.

 

The parking lot has restrooms and you will need to hike about 10-15min hike downhill to get to Aldeyjarfoss.  The reward is that you may be the only one there and you have Aldeyjarfoss all for yourself.

We absolutely loved Aldeyjarfoss.  The water only drops 67ft (20m), but it is a powerful waterfall that broke through a wall of basalt columns similar to the ones you saw on Day 2 at the Staðarbjörg Basalt Columns. 

The power of Aldeyjarfoss, the beautiful basalt columns and the solitude in this desolate place make this a very special experience.

 

Aldeyjarfoss has no admission fee and it is always open.

Aldeyjarfoss waterfall in Iceland
Aldeyjarfoss waterfall in Iceland
Aldeyjarfoss waterfall in Iceland
Aldeyjarfoss waterfall in Iceland

Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters

The Skútustaðagígar Craters are pseudocraters that formed when, during volcanic eruptions, hot lava was flowing over the swampy wetlands in this area.  The hot lave instantly evaporated the water and trapped the steam underneath it.  When the pressure of the steam got too high, it erupted though the lava and formed the crater-like shapes that you see today.

Since the cause of these explosions is the steam from the swamp and not the lava or gases from inside of a volcano, these craters are not considered true craters and thus called pseudocraters.

 

There are two marked trails that are accessible all year and admission is free.  Trail SK1 is about 1 mile (1.5km) and trail SK2 is 1.9 miles (3km) long and it requires you to walk along the comparably busy route 848 for 2,500ft (650m).

The pseudocraters are all covered with grass and not very deep and you can go on top of some craters.  From here, the view over the other pseudocraters and Lake Mývatn is fantastic.

Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters in Iceland
Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters in Iceland
Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters in Iceland
Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters in Iceland

Skútaís Farm Ice Cream

Skútaís Farm is a dairy farm and they make their own ice cream from the milk that their cows produce.  The green building in which the ice cream is sold is a little hidden and you need to walk across the parking lot across the road from the pseudocraters to see it.

They have multiple ice cream flavors and you can have it served in a cone or bowl.

We found their ice cream to be very good.

Skútaís Farm Ice Cream in Iceland

Hlíð Bed and Breakfast (book)

Hlid Bed and Breakfast is a hotel and campground.  The hotel consists of container houses, each with 4 individual bedroom and bathroom suites that were placed on the volcanic rock.  Each of the small rustic suites comes with two comfortable beds, a small shelf, two suitcase stands and a small bathroom with a shower.  Like most hotels in rural Iceland, hot water comes from the volcanic sources and in the case of this hotel, comes with a fairly strong sulfur smell.  Because each suite is so small, it was very difficult to get the sulfur odor out.

 

Breakfast is served in one of the containers and mostly consists of bread, breakfast rolls and sliced sausages and cheeses.  But there are also fruits, vegetables and pancakes.

Hotel Hlid in Iceland
Hotel Hlid in Iceland
Hotel Hlid in Iceland
Hotel Hlid in Iceland

Gamli Baerinn Restaurant

Restaurants are limited in this area.  One restaurant that we liked in particular was the Gamli Baerinn Restaurant.  It is only a 2min drive from the Hlíð Bed and Breakfast.

They serve simple dishes like burgers, fish, salad, chicken breast and also have a creative dish with the “Chicken waffle – Sweet & Sour”.

This restaurant is also a good place to try different Icelandic beers.

In summer, seating is available inside the cozy dining room, on the patio and in front of the restaurant.

Gamli Baerinn restaurant in Iceland
Gamli Baerinn restaurant in Iceland