During our 4-day road trip Iceland, we drove all the way to the north of the country. After the impressive and not touristy peninsula Vatnsnes we continued our journey toward two natural wonders: one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls, Goðafoss, and the volcanic Mývatn. Here we marveled at the splendor of Icelandic nature and the diversity of landscapes, and took beautiful hikes. Today I also take you to this wonderful world of Northern Iceland. Have fun!
Goðafoss: the magic of the Gods waterfall
In the early morning we will leave for the east of Iceland. A beautiful ride with many stops along the route that invite walking and enjoying nature. After a few hours of driving we arrive at Goðafoss: what a beautiful waterfall!
Goðafoss is located directly along Beltway 1. Here on the map. With signs, it is clearly marked where to go. There are two parking lots: one on the ring road side and one on the other side near the gas station. We begin our visit at the first parking lot.
When we get off the boat, we can already hear the water clattering down with great violence. We walk over rocks in the water to the viewpoint: wow how beautiful! Over a width of about 30 meters, the clear water thunders down about 12 meters. The waterfall is divided into a few sections with rocks in between. Goðafoss is located in the Skjalfandafljót River in the middle of a lava field some 7,000 years old, created by the shield volcano Trolladungia.
After enjoying one side, hike along a nicely laid out trail to the other side. From here, if possible, we have an even more beautiful view. There is also a narrow path down here, from where you are level with the water and can view the waterfall from a completely different perspective. Goðafoss is a beautiful waterfall that should definitely not be missed during a roadtrip Iceland.
Volcanic Mývatn: an impressive diversity of landscapes
From Goðafoss, it is just under an hour east on Ring Road 1 to Mývatn, a large lake in northern Iceland that is located in an active volcanic area. Here on the map. The lake itself was also created as a result of several volcanic eruptions.
Mývatn has an area of 37 km² and is about 4.5 meters deep at its deepest point. The area around the lake lends itself to a variety of hikes, beautiful views and many unusual formations and natural phenomena. And are you looking for relaxation in this area? Then visit the Myvatn Nature baths.
We visit three sites near Mývatn, where we hike and marvel at the volcanic landscapes. Click here for more information about this area and the various hiking trails.
Mývatn: hot springs in Hverir
The first stop at Mývatn is Hverir. A very interesting place, where you can see with your own eyes the volcanic activity. Hverir means hot springs and that becomes immediately apparent. The pastel-colored area is one of the largest solfatar fields in Iceland and very special.
A solfatare is an opening in the earth’s crust from which vapors or gases that are highly sulfur-containing, such as sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide or sulfur in vapor form, emerge. Something that you smell immediately. Walking through Hverir, we come across many steam plumes and boiling mud pots, so unusual to see.
Dimmuborgir: hiking past extraordinary rock formations
At our second stop, we found extraordinary rock formations called Dimmuborgir. The name means “dark fortresses,” as it resembles a dilapidated grim castle. Dimmuborgir is characterized by large rock formations created by volcanic eruptions some 3,000 years ago. Consequently, the rocks are composed of volcanic rock.
You can take several clearly marked hikes there. We chose one of the longest hikes, which took about an hour.
The pseudocraters of Skútustaðagígar
Our last stop at Mývatn was also a very special one: Skútustaðagígar. In fact, this area consists of pseudocraters, a volcanic phenomenon found only on the planet mars and in Iceland, specifically so at Mývatn.
Pseudocraters are found on volcanoes and around them. In terms of shape, they resemble ordinary craters, but they do not have a crater pipe that provides access to an underlying magma chamber (the liquid rock beneath the Earth’s surface). Pseudocraters form when lava or hot ash covers a lake or swamp during a volcanic eruption. The water under the hot lava or ash evaporates, but because it is sealed, it cannot leave. The pressure then increases after which the superheated steam eventually forces its way upward with explosive force. This creates a rampart or ring of earth.
Another name for pseudocrater is mock volcano. At Skútustaðagígar, there are two walks along the pseudocraters: a short one where you walk along the edges of the craters, and a longer one lasting about an hour. We again choose the long walk and enjoy the craters and the many birds found here.