07.06.2018

The Diamond Circle Route

Edit: June 8th, 2020

The Golden Circle in Southwest Iceland has for years been one of the more famous routes to go sightseeing in Iceland. The circle includes Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall or Golden Waterfall but that is where the name comes from.

However, the Golden Circle has now got stiff competition from the Diamond Circle in North Iceland.

Húsavík

Town in Iceland

Húsavík is possibly the whale watching capital of Iceland. The Atlantic Ocean north of Iceland is incredibly rich in whales to see, and it is possible to choose from a few different whale watching tours. Next to the dock is Iceland’s best whale museum, where you can find quite a few skeletons of whales and a plethora of information on these giants of the sea.

Ásbyrgi

Campsite in Iceland

Image: Jennifer Boyer

Ásbyrgi canyon was at some point a river way for Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacier river, thousands and thousands of years ago. Today, it runs about 2 kilometers to the east. Or as legend has it; it is a hoof print made by Sleipnir, Norse God Óðinn’s horse, when he stepped down.

The area is about 3.5 kilometers in length and 1 kilometer wide. In the middle of the canyon is a rock formation, simply called Eyjan (The Island). It is 25 meters high but it is easy to hike from one end to get a great view of the canyon.

Mývatn

Lake Myvatn

Mývatn lake is the home to most of Iceland’s midges. The name of the lake means Midge-Lake so it’s no wonder there are a lot of them. Don’t worry though, they don’t bite. Mývatn is a very beautiful place, surrounded by hundreds of pseudocraters and is only one of very few lakes that has moss balls or Marimo. They grow in Iceland, Japan, Scotland, Estonia, and Australia (since 2014).

The lava rock formations at Dimmuborgir is a very special place to visit, as are the Mývatn Nature Baths, which resemble the Blue Lagoon but is smaller and more personal in style. Not far away is Krafla volcano which erupted 9 times in the 80s but is known to have erupted about 29 times in historical times.

Nearby is the Námafjall geothermal area. Don’t let the strong rotten egg smell deter you, the area is quite beautiful.

Dettifoss

Waterfall

This waterfall is a part of Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacier river (the one mentioned above) and is the most powerful waterfall in Europe and the largest in Iceland in terms of water volume but the average water flow is about 193m3/s. People might also know it from the start of the Hollywood film Prometheus. The waterfall is about 100 meters wide and has a drop of about 44 meters.

It is possible to access it from both sides. The west bank is not as good as the east bank but there are minimal facilities including a bathroom there, but just like Niagra falls on the US side, the view is not too great.

On the east side, there is an information panel, a well-maintained track to the all the best spots to view the waterfall as well as a public restroom. Gullfoss is exquisite to see but Dettifoss’s raw power is awe-inspiring.

Mývatn, Húsavík, and Ásbyrgi (one of the best) all have great camping grounds to park overnight after a great day of sightseeing and hiking the Diamond Circle. 

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Worry not, for we have made a list with one site to visit in each corner of Iceland (which incidentally are more than 4). When you have planned your trip around Iceland, plotted the places you are going to see such as Þingvellir National Park, Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, and Dettifoss. But what other places should…

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