Anyone visiting Iceland should include northeast Iceland’s Diamond Circle as part of their road trip itinerary. Located about halfway around the island on the country’s Ring Road, this route is the perfect place to take a few days and truly experience some of Iceland’s most spectacular natural wonders. As the home of both Dettifoss and Godafall waterfalls, the dried lava formations at Dimmuborgir, Krafla volcanic fields, Viti crater lake, Húsavik (the country’s whale watching capital), and much more, you definitely don’t want to miss everything that’s tucked away in this corner of Iceland.
The first stop on most people’s tour of the Diamond Circle is usually Húsavik. The town of 2,182 rests on the shores of Skjálfandi bay. This is a popular spot for two reasons. First, it can serve a base for your travels around the Diamond Circle. You can stop either here or at Lake Mývatn as you make your way around the route. The second reason is that there are tons of different whale species that swim in and out of the bay. Whale watching excursions are popular for those hoping to catch a glimpse to the giant, gentle beasts.
Iceland’s “waterfall of the gods” has quite an interesting backstory related to the country’s conversion to Christianity. As the myth goes, in the year 1,000 AD all of the island’s chieftains gathered for their annual summit at the Althingi to discuss important governmental matters. One of the items on the docket was whether or not they should continue with their pagan Norse religion of old or embrace the “new” Christian religion that had been taken on by other Scandinavian countries. One of the main tribal leaders, Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, decided to make Christianity the official religion of Iceland. Upon returning home, he dramatically took all of the pagan statues of the gods of his former religion and tossed them over the waterfall into the raging waters below.
The Area Around Lake Mývatn and Jarðböðin Nature Baths
Lake Mývatn in and of itself is a place to spend a day. Between the lake, Grjótagjá cave the Hverir geothermal area, and the Viti crater in the Krafla volcanic crater, there’s plenty here to keep you occupied. Check out the article we wrote about visiting Lake Mývatn and its spectacular nature baths.
Dimmuborgir Lava Formations
Iceland is a land shaped by fire and ice. Volcanoes have given Iceland much of its natural heritage, including its black sand beaches, geothermal hot springs, mountainous peaks and valleys. The explosions of red-hot, flowing lava has created some pretty spectacular scenery and the Dimmuborgir lava formation are a prime example of this. The naturally occurring volcanic rock formations here resemble crumbling castles. Dimmuborgir means “dark castle” or “dark fort”. Once you see these structures, we know you’ll understand why. The piled up, dried lava walls and arches bear a striking resemblance to a dark, deserted city. What’s more, unusual shapes such as swirls, honeycombs, and diagonal lines decorate this already mysterious natural wonder.
Iceland’s mighty Dettifoss waterfall is known as The Beast. It’s the most powerful waterfall in Europe and will leave you feeling dwarfed by its size and might. This behemoth of a waterfall features staggering water flows of 6,816 cubic feet per second (193 m³/s). Film fans will also recognize the waterfall from the opening scene of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.
Stops on Iceland’s Diamond Circle Route
These aren’t the only places to visit on the Diamond Circle. The basalt rock formations at Vesturdalur valley. As well as the horseshoe-shaped Ásbyrgi canyon, and the fossils that make up the high cliffs at Tjörnes peninsula are some of the highlights you’ll get to experience when you travel the Diamond Circle.
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