Why You Should Visit Iceland’s Diamond Circle on Your Solo Trip
As the name suggests, Iceland’s Diamond Circle is quite a treasure gallery of dramatic beauties. It is not unknown that Iceland is home to both ‘fire and ice.’ The Diamond Circle is another example of a circuit in Iceland which is gifted with nature’s breathtaking views.
This popular sightseeing route draws a large number of tourists every season. Even if you are a lover of doing non-touristy things, there is no reason for you to miss this circle! Its gorgeous landscapes will leave you longing for more.
The Diamond Circle can be covered in a day though it is likely to be a long day in that case. You can divide your driving time and cover the circuit in phases as well if you have the luxury of time on your side.
Either way, you must absolutely include the Diamond Circle in your travel itinerary. Here’s why.
1. Home to a range of landscapes
The Diamond Circle route is around a 260 km long drive. It is home to hot springs, waterfalls, volcanic beds, canyons, and whale-watching spots. How can you miss this all-in-one experience?
The four main attractions of the route are Lake Mývatn, waterfall Dettifoss, Ásbyrgi – the horseshoe-shaped canyon, and Húsavík – a heaven for those who want to do whale watching!
This does not mean the Diamond Circle does not house any hidden gems. There are other attractions which you should not miss, and I will tell you about them soon in this blog.
2. It gives you the opportunity to self-drive
This route gives you the opportunity to self-drive in this wonderland to explore the beautiful sites. It may not be a good idea to rely on public transport to go to the Diamond Circle. Some of the sites may be off-limits by public transport, and you would not be able to make the most of it.
I find it amazing to rent a car and drive to off-beat locations when in a new country. You can drive along the Diamond Circle, enjoy the scenic beauty as you listen to your favourite music! Do remember to switch on your GPS and carry a map along with you on this drive. If this is not a dream trip, what is?
3. You can book a guided tour
If you want to let your guards down and relax while someone else drives the wheel, you have plenty of guided tours to choose from. This way, you will have the company of other fellow travellers and enjoy the shared experience of admiring the natural beauty.
The guides are super friendly and have great knowledge of the local history of each attraction. Book a guided tour well in advance so that all seats are not sold out.
If budget is not a constraint on your solo trip, there are luxurious cab services that offer exclusive tours of the Diamond Circle. If you book yourself a special package, you will even find a wine casket in your limousine!
4. Enjoy at your own pace
I do not know about you, but I love to explore attractions at my own pace. I hate to be rushed through when I am enjoying scenic beauties.
With driving around the Diamond Circle attractions, you do not need to be aware of the time. You can do it at your pace—take as much or as little!
5. Lake Mývatn
One of the most popular sites for birdwatchers, Lake Mývatn, is a heaven where birds flock in huge numbers throughout the year. So if bird watching is a serious activity for you, do plan to stop here for a while to enjoy nature’s marvel. There is a wide variety of wildflowers here, so flora lovers have a lot to enjoy here as well. If you are into fishing, then you can spend some time engaging in this activity in the waters here.
This is also home to the lava fortress Dimmuborgir. If you are a Game of Thrones enthusiast, you will know Dimmuborgir is a popular setting for their franchise. There is a short hike where you have to go ahead for around 15 minutes, and you reach the place where you can see the holes of the rocks. You can keep going further if you have more time and the scenes only get fascinating.
If you are a lover of folklores, you would be enchanted to know that Dimmuborgir is considered home to the 13 Icelandic Yule lads.
The Mývatn is an active geothermal area, and there are islands near it that were formed by steam explosions. You can unwind by taking a bath in the heated water and enjoy a natural spa. You can also add a packaged spa to it if you want to indulge yourself a little more at the Mývatn Nature Baths. However, there is an entry fee for it.
You can just walk around and explore the Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters or the Grjótagjá thermal pool.
So if you are looking to experience the wholesome idea of nature with wildflowers, birds, volcanic craters, and hot springs, head to Lake Mývatn. Pack yourself a nice picnic basket and spend a considerable amount of time exploring the area.
6. Stare at Dettifoss waterfall for hours
Let me slip in a fun fact here first—Dettifoss is considered the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Located in the north of the Ring Road, you can drive to the Dettifoss. If you are going there in the winter, do check the road status before you head out.
If you want to know about the origin of this waterfall, it originates from the glacial river of Jökulsá á Fjöllum. What a sight it is to see the waterfall into the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. In between taking pictures of this geographical wonder, do remember to stare at it for long enough. It is therapeutic.
Do visit Akureyri—the second largest town in Iceland, when you are visiting Dettifoss. It has amazing surroundings. In between Akureyri and Lake Mývatn, there is another beautiful waterfall, Goðafoss, which is worth a visit.
7. Ásbyrgi canyon
If you love folklore stories and nature, you must visit Ásbyrgi—a lush green forest in the middle of the horseshoe-shaped canyon. As the story goes, the canyon was formed by Odin’s eight-legged horse Sleipnir when one of its feet touched the ground.
As you move around the area, you are greeted by Hljóðaklettar rock formations. Here you will find basalt columns.
This is near the Vatnajökull National Park and runs for over 3 km in length and slightly over 1 km in width. But do not underestimate its beauty, even if it occupies a relatively small part!
The 100 metre (328) feet high cliff ranges will leave you spellbound. It is bound by a variety of tree species like spruce, larch, and pine. If you like hikes, consider a hike to the small lake of Botnstjörn—it is a hidden gem.
If hikes are an important part of your trip, then you must visit Ásbyrgi as it has numerous short hikes. There is also a campsite here. So camp lovers, go have fun!
8. Explore Húsavík
Húsavík is often called the ‘the whale-watching capital of Europe.’ Whale watchers actually end up spending a lot of time here. The diversity of whales here attracts nature lovers from across the globe who spend a significant number of days engrossed in this activity. You can also catch a glimpse of the white-baked dolphins here! You can even opt for boat tours to watch whales—it is truly a memorable experience.
Do not forget to book your tours in advance if you are travelling to this place during the summer as it is a peak season for tourists.
You should also keep some time aside to wander around the sea, the mountains dressed in snow, and the majestic scenic beauty!
The other attractions in Húsavík are a swim in the geothermal Kaldbakur pond and a visit to the Húsavík whale museum and the exploration museum.
Also, if you are a lover of ice-creams, do check out the amazing parlours here. Your taste buds will keep tingling for more for the rest of the trip.
If you have time, do visit Tjörnes. Though not officially a part of the Diamond Circle, this is just 15 km away from Húsavík. The small peninsula is home to the geological marvel of fossils! You can see the fossil, so up close and just go for a walk!
9. See the less-toured surroundings
The best part about going to the most touristy places is the beautiful surroundings. The fun of going to the less frequented parts is that you would find less crowd and more calm.
The other gorgeous sites nearby are Goðafoss waterfall, Æðafossar or ‘Eider falls,’ Hljóðaklettar or ‘echo rocks’ or ‘the whispering cliffs,’ and Laugar swimming pool.
Do make sure you catch the Herðubreið mountain towards the Mývatn Lake from the Dettifoss waterfall. This is a hit among writers, with several of them making a mention of this mountain in their literary works!
10. Photographer’s delight
The Diamond Circle stops are live out of a travel channel. So if you are into photography, you should definitely take a tour of this route. The mix of contrasting landscapes makes for excellent photographs. It will surely go in your photography portfolio, and you would literally feel like a professional once you print them. Who knows? You may be a travel photographer in the making!
If you are into photography and want to know about the sightings of Northern Lights, check out my blog post on exploring the aurora borealis here.
11. Excellent for social media
I need not remind you this—wherever you find gorgeous backgrounds, take a lot of selfies and keep them ready for use on social media. The photograph of the landscapes will not be any less hit either!
12. Great for adventure lovers
The Diamond Circle is a great route for adventure lovers as it brings you to all the best gifts of Iceland together. The rocky landscapes and walking on the path with volcanoes brewing underneath are the biggest takeaways for adventure lovers.
However, if you are planning a trip in the winters, find some practical information online and from locals before you rent a car and head out.
13. Gives a road trip vibe
First things first about a road trip: make sure you are always driving on the right side of the road—that’s the norm in Iceland!
Driving along the Ring Road in Iceland to get to the Diamond Circle gives a really cool road trip vibe! And I would not miss this for anything in the world during a solo trip!
Ring Road of Iceland’s main motorway is over 1,300 km long. Driving along the stretch is totally worth it. Putting the Diamond Circle on your itinerary also means you would be able to drive some parts of this and also access some of the offbeat attractions!
So take all road safety precautions and go see the wilderness of the Diamond Circle.
14. Did you know about the Diamond Circle air tour?
This may sound like quite a fancy option, but the aerial views of the Diamond Circle are absolutely to die for.
The feeling of flying through the dreamy sceneries cannot be explained in words!
The air route covers the Godafoss waterfall before it flies towards Lake Myvatn. Before you know, you are already gaping at Dettifoss plunging down into the canyon. Soon your eyes will be following the Ásbyrgi canyon before you deboard at Akureyri.
Are you with me still, or have you been transported to Iceland? I am sure you are thrilled to even think about what awaits you!
I suggest you make all the bookings soon and pack your suitcases! Do not forget to throw your camera in your bag!
My heart is beating quite fast, reliving my trip memories. I cannot wait to read about your experience now. Trust me—the Diamond Circle will live up to your expectations! Also, if you are travelling solo to Iceland for the first time, read my post on solo travel guide to Iceland here.
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.