Spend a day or 2 in the North of Iceland. This travel guide will help you to explore the wonders of the north in a highly efficient way. Cutting out hours of boring driving with a little local knowledge and some online booking magic.
Flying to Akureyri cuts out 6 hours of car journey and puts you right in the heart of Iceland’s stunning Waterfalls. A totally flexible Iceland Fly Drive can be booked on the fly with flexible dates to avoid a bad weather trip. On a short trip, this could be a way to see more of Iceland.
Once you are in North Iceland, there are amazing photo locations quite close to each other around Lake Myvatn area. You can see several geological wonders in an afternoon. The problem is that it takes about 6 hours to get to this area from Reykjavik.
So getting a domestic flight one way or return can make North Iceland much more accessible to you. Driving to Myvatn and back to Reykjavik is nice, but it is constant driving with a couple of photo stops. Total driving time takes up a whole day of your trip.
Iceland has a solid network of internal flights with Reykjavik-Akureyri being the most frequent domestic flight in Iceland. There are at least 2 return flights per day. Flights are cheaper in the Summer, but still regular in the Winter. You can connect your car hire to your flight and have your rental waiting at Akureyri airport.
This Fly drive Guide will help you arrange your whole trip in minutes. The flight is 90 minutes, so you can fly north in the morning, see all the sights and fly back south in the evening.
Other possibilities are to stay in North Iceland and pack some extra activities, such as horse riding, whale watching or river rafting.
You could also rent a car to see the north and drive back to Reykjavik to see more of the North West. This post will help you to achieve this.
An extra flight charge will give you a flexible ticket.
What is possible in a single day?
Start at 07.00 check in at Reykjavík Domestic Airport. Take the 07.30 flight to Akureyri and land in North Iceland around 09.00. Pick-up your hire car and enjoy the view of the mountains from the airport carpark. The airport is just 2 miles outside of Akureyri, so you could easily connect to local tours, or get a taxi into the town.
Take the ring road eastwards. here are great views across the Eyjafjörður to Akureyri and quite soon you will come across a toll road through the mountain. This short cut will get you to your first major photo location within a hour.
Waterfall of the Gods
The first photo location on your Iceland Fly Drive is Goðafoss Waterfall. You could thoroughly explore both side of the famous waterfall before lunch.
Continue east and drive around Lake Myvatn. Lake Myvatn has some interesting views and there are cafes and restaurants dotted around the lake. There is a famous lava field called Dimmuborgir with really wild lava rocks. They charge an entrance fee to see this geological chaos.
Just past the lake there is a mountain pass with some Geothermal zones. To the right is Namaskard with its bubbling mud and steaming furmaroles. To the left is the Kraftla power station with some huge crater lakes to explore.
Continuing along the ring road eat for 40 minutes and you will come across a paved road to Dettifoss waterfall. This road will take you to the west side of the Dettifoss canyon. Including Dettifoss could up half of a day, so plan carefully.
Note: Access to East side of Dettifoss Waterfall varies, please check the roads before heading off.
Longer Trip Ideas
Make your Iceland Fly Drive richer with a longer stay. Staying over night in North Iceland will give you great opportunities for Northern Lights in the Winter, or mid-night sun whale watching in the Summer.
As mentioned above, all the main photo sites take up a whole day. Spreading the locations over a couple of days means that you can visit a location multiple times. You could be at Godafoss for the Winter sunrise and then go back at nigh for Northern Lights.
On the second day you could enjoy nature activities such as horse riding or white water rafting. Between Lake Myvatn and Namaskard is a swimming pool with geothermal hot tubs and steam saunas.
Head further North to explore nearby fishing towns such as Husavik where you can enjoy North Iceland hospitality.
Summer Tour Ideas
In the Summer, you can add some flexibility to your Iceland Fly Drive by considering alternative accommodation. It is easy to Rent a Summer House, or hop around the Guesthouses or Campsites for better flexibility.
Summer sunrises rarely disappoint at Dettifoss Waterfall. It is the only time you can get sunlight on the waterfall.
Godafoss is one of my favourite places when the sunrises in the middle of Summer. At sunset there are great chances to capture the falls with midnight sun or a blaze of fiery clouds.
Where to Stay
There is a better choice of Hotels around Lake Myvatn than in the town of Akureyri. Lake Myvatn is right in the middle of all the major attractions, so it makes sense to stay there if you are renting a car. If you are going on day trips or activities, it is best to stay in Akureyri.
Use the sponsored links below to find and book hotels close to Lake Myvatn. My recommendation is Hótel Laxá on the south side of the lake.
North Iceland Activities
Day Tours from Akureyri
These group tours depart from Akureyri and include all the main attractions from Godafoss to Dettifoss.
Private Tours from Akureyri
These day tours are private and work better for Nature Photography.
Northern Lights Tours from Akureyri
Whale Watching Tours from Husavik
Try Something New
These activities can be enjoyed on a self drive, but can also be useful on a stay in Akureyri.