7 Icelandic Towns You Should Visit on Your Road Trip

The Coolest Towns in Iceland

The following Icelandic road trip drives you west from Reykjavik around Iceland clockwise. These were my favorite Icelandic towns we visited along the way, with plenty to do around them. Our road trip started at the end of August and carried on for two weeks into September.

Q-Tip: As all Icelanders do, follow the weather. We experienced only sunny days because we chased the blue skies, religiously checking vedur.is. Initially, we had planned to do the trip leaving from the Southwest and heading east but we would have experienced nothing but rain. If possible, flexibility is key! One side may be raining or snowing while the other side of the island may be temperate. And trust me, your iPhone’s weather app will rarely be accurate.

The West: Snæfellsnes Peninsula


Stykkishólmur is a lovely harbor town in the north of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. We only spent one full day exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula but that felt like enough. Two nights are really the most you need, especially if you’re headed out to the West Fjords. I list Stykkishólmur as one of my favorite towns though I loved Borgarnes as well. We stayed just outside or Borgarnes, one of the larger towns in the peninsula, and had a fantastic time. Stykkishólmur is just more picturesque of the two. You can find a helpful food guide here.

As far as Borgarnes goes, be sure to grab a pizza before sunset at La Colina and admire the seaside views. The Borgarnes pool was the largest I experienced in Iceland (we didn’t visit any in Reykjavik) and has a great view of the ocean as well.

Things to do in & around Stykkishólmur:

  • Stykkishólmur harbor for fresh fish
  • The Borgarnes pool
  • Pizza from La Colina
  • The Snæfellsnes Peninsula including:
    • Admire the Gerðuberg basalt cliffs
    • Check out Kirkjufell Mountain
    • Stop for some fish & chips + ice cream in Arnarstapi village
    • Try to lift the fisherman’s boulders at Djúpalónssandur
    • Hike to the waterfall inside of Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge
West Iceland

The West Fjords


The West Fjords

Driving out to Ísafjörður, weaving along the fjords in the late afternoon sun, you can see the raw beauty of Iceland as well as the harsh isolation. Massive retention dams surround the small villages in the west fjords all in an effort to prevent avalanches from taking the majority of the town, as one had in Súðavík in ’95. These dams in the summer gleam against the fjords as you enter the largest town in the Westfjords, Ísafjörður.

The town of Ísafjörður hugs a bay on one side, the ocean on the other. A mecca for fishermen and hipsters alike, the Icelandic town has an artist, ex-pat air about it, with more art shops and cafes than foot traffic to fill their seats. But you’ll certainly find a regular flow of customers huddled in the Tjöruhúsið restaurant, a wonderful lunch and dinner spot for everything from fresh fish to lamb burgers.

From the Dynjandi Waterfall (the most beautiful in all of iceland) to its proximity to the remote Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, Ísafjörður is the best jumping off point in the Westfjords.

Things to do in & around Ísafjörður:

  • Tjöruhúsið restaurant. A fantastic eatery close to the water.
  • Bolafjall radar station. Not far from Ísafjörður and up a steep mountain, you can get some amazing views and, on a good day, try to spy Greenland!
  • Bathe in the secret greenhouse pool in Heydalur.
  • Dynjandi Waterfall. An hour drive and an absolute must. By far & away my favorite waterfall in Iceland.
  • Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Plan a ferry ahead and at least one night on the nature reserve. The nature reserve is extremely remote so bring all the necessary camping gear. Artic foxes have little fear of humans here and is on every wildlife photographer’s list of must-see places.

North Iceland


Okay so I’ll just say it: Mývatn and Ísafjörður are my Icelandic favorite towns on this list. But Mývatn comes with a surprise hidden in its name… Mý meaning midge and vatn meaning lake. Yes, you got it, this town is swarming with tiny flies. When I say swarming I mean it’s apocalyptic. You’ll see plenty of tourists wearing full nets over their faces and with good reason, they love your mouth, ears, and just… general face. But it’s really just another thing to make this place feel alien and otherworldly.

Mývatn has a look of Iceland’s highlands because it’s at the northern edge of them. Please do not try to explore the highlands just outside of Mývatn unless you have the car for it! And anyway, you can have a great day exploring the thermal activity, the lake, and of course the cave where Jon Snow lost his v. All great things. We bought an end of summer Foss Hotel 10 day pack that gave us a discounted nightly rate at the Foss Hotels around the island. This one is the best of the best. With sauna views of the lake and an exquisite restaurant, it’s the type of hotel worth a two day stay just to relax and enjoy its facilities.

Things to do in & around Mývatn:

  • Hverir geothermal area. This is mars! A must.
  • Dimmuborgir lava field close to Mývatn lake
  • Höfdi around Mývatn lake
  • Climb Haverfell crater. This is the one on the list that I could skip but it’s close to town and an easy hike.
  • Pop in to the Grjótagjá thermal cave, where Jon Snow lost his v. No, you can’t swim here but it is lovely and worth the look.
  • Stora Viti Crater by Mt. Krafla – gorgeous colors (left thermal pool image above)
  • Dettifoss – a 30+ minute drive from Mývatn
  • Wrap up the day with a trip to Mývatn Nature Baths and reserve dinner at the Foss Hotel Restaurant
Myvatn, Iceland


45 minutes north of Mývatn is Húsavík, a small fishing village famous for its whale watching expeditions and… I mean, I guess the Eurovision movie that came out recently? It’s a quiet little Icelandic town with some fantastic eats along the harbor, a beautiful golf course (if you’re into that) and an easy hour trip to the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dattifoss.

An hour and a half west from Húsavík is Dalvík, the tiny ferry town that will take you to Iceland’s only inhabited arctic territory, Grimsey Island. If you’re traveling in the height of summer, Grímsey Island may be worth the trip to truly experience that horizon hovering midnight. You can find the ferry information here. After your visit, you may want to unwind at Iceland’s unique beer spa a quick 13-minute drive from the ferry terminal.

If you’re looking for an IG worthy Icelandic spa experience closer to the center of Húsavík, saunter on over to Geosea. Yes, it has an infinity pool that overlooks the ocean and yes, it uses a combination of thermal and ocean water for the ultimate healing. As we were on a time crunch, we skipped this pool and headed to the Vok baths instead… but if you have the time, I suggest checking Geosea out.

Things to do in & around Húsavík:

  • Dettifoss
  • Geosea spa
  • The Húsavík Whale Museum
  • Whale watching trip
  • Húsavík golf course
  • Grímsey Island + Beer spa

The East Fjords

Borgarfjörður Eystri

By the time we arrived in the east, I had a great deal of work to catch up on. Already a bit tired from our journey, we did less on this side of the island than any other. Borgarfjörður Eystri is a lovely little Icelandic town known for being one of the best places for puffin spotting. If you happen to be traveling in August, Borgarfjörður Eystri hosts the Bræðslan music festival every year. Be sure to have a tent on you or book accommodation far in advance!

Things to do & around Borgarfjörður Eystri:

  • Seyðisfjörður is known for being a super cool, picturesque, artist mecca.
  • The village of Djúpivogur has gained some international fame as it has adopted the Cittaslow movement, becoming the first slow, sustainable town in Iceland.
  • Stop by Fáskrúðsfjörður, or stay at the Foss hotel there! This is my other Foss recommendation since it’s right on a lovely harbor.
  • Admire the breathtaking drive as you wind your way to the south of the island.
Borgarfjordur Eystri, Iceland

South Iceland

Vík í Mýrdal

While Vík isn’t part of the Golden Circle route, it is a popular tourist destination given its proximity to the Black Sand Beach. If you’ve been following the route in the order I’ve written it, then you would have passed Diamond Beach. When we drove from the East Fjords back down to the South Island, we passed Diamond Beach at night. It was amazing going over the bridge and seeing the eerie, looming and shadowy glacial ice. We stayed at the Diamond Beach Foss Hotel and briefly explored the area the following morning. Unless you’re planning some epic expedition in the area, Diamond Beach won’t take you more than an hour to admire.

On from there you can visit Fjaðrárgljúfur, the Icelandic canyon area made famous from some Justin Bieber music video. It’s a little bit out of the way so plan ahead if you plan on doing this all in one day. While the height of summer may offer plenty of sunlight, late August is a different story!

Anyway, Vík is a lovely little town two hours west from Diamond Beach and an hour west from Fjaðrárgljúfur. Wedged in the valley of a mountain pass, this town is a cozy spot to stay the night. If you’re visiting in the summer, be sure to watch the cliffs at the black sand beach. While you may want to have your picture made on the basalt stacks, don’t miss the puffins clumsily fluttering off to sea above you!

Things to do in & around Vík:

  • Suður-Vík, a fantastic lunch / dinner spot
  • Black sand beach. Great for puffin spotting in the summer months!
  • Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon & Diamond Beach
Vik, Iceland

Southwest Iceland


I think Hveragerði is a lovely, livable town if one was looking for an alternative to Reykjavik. It’s only 45 minutes away from the capital, 10 minutes from Selfoss, and surrounded by super cool, thermal activity. David and I spent two months living outside of Selfoss so we frequented both Hveragerði and Flúðir. If you’re a golfer, Hveragerði has an amazing course surrounded by the steaming earth. The town also has a geothermal park in the center and a thermal river hike that is worth doing more than once, honestly, if you have the time. The hike takes about an hour. You can either wear your bathing suit or there are stalls where you could shimmy into your suit. It’s pretty public and lax so you won’t offend anyone too easily. Hiking a bit farther up means warmer river water. Bring some beers and relax!

Thermal Powered Icelandic Greenhouses & Breweries

Once you’ve finished your hike, head over to Olverk. Yes, I realize I’ve mentioned three different pizza places in this article but what can I say? Iceland has some darn good pizza. *And* Olverk has its own geothermally powered brewery!

For another cool option (but a bit out of the way) you could check out Friðheimar, the tomato restaurant. It is a 44-minute drive from Hveragerði. You’ll notice, especially when driving at night, that there are a number of greenhouses around Hveragerði. Friðheimar is a tomato-based restaurant within a greenhouse. Yes, shed those layers, it gets warm in there. They offer tomato based beer, ice cream, and general eats and, in the summer, Icelandic horse shows on their grounds. You can also buy homemade Icelandic rye bread from a woman who often stops by to sell her homemade baked goods. Traditional Icelandic rye bread or volcano bread is baked in the earth for 24 hours and is super good. You can make it yourself by slow baking it in the oven for eight hours.

Things to do in & around Hveragerði:

  • Reykjadalur Valley thermal river hike
  • Hveragerði geothermal park
  • Olverk restaurant & brewery
  • Hveragerði golf course
  • For you chess nerds… the Bobby Fischer museum & grave in Selfoss. Note that he didn’t live in Selfoss but Reykjavik.
  • Friðheimar greenhouse restaurant
Hveragerði Iceland