On our fifth day of driving the Ring Road in Iceland in 2021, our road trip continued as our family traveled from Seyðisfjörður in the east to Mývatn in the north, stopping at Fardagafoss (a waterfall hike near Egilsstaðir) and Dettifoss (the largest waterfall in Europe). Both stops were a lot of fun and broke up the drive!
After spending two nights in Seyðisfjörður – a beautiful fjord-side town on the east of Iceland, we decided to head out mid-morning and explore at least one place near Egilsstaðir. It turns out that Fardagafoss was directly on our path and was supposed to only take 30 minutes each way to hike to the waterfall, so our question of where to go was answered!
Both the waterfall and views of the town of Egilsstaðir were beautiful!
As we started hiking up the mountain, we discovered that there was a little elevation gain, but all things being equal, was fairly easy. If you are looking for a fairly quick hike near Egilsstaðir with rewarding views, this is a great option!
After finishing our hike, we drove into town. Knowing that there weren’t a ton of places to stop along the drive, we went to the Bonus grocery store. That said, that one didn’t have a bakery, so we went to the Netto store across the street, which had some fabulous mini-pizzas, sandwiches, and other freshly-baked savory and sweet treats! Stop here if you want to pick up a picnic for your drive.
If you are looking for other activities near Egilsstaðir, visit the town’s tourist website!
After about a two hour drive, we made it to Dettifoss, Europe’s largest waterfall by gallons of water per minute. Note that the first turnoff (864) to Dettifoss from Egilsstaðir is supposedly more scenic, but portions of it are narrow dirt/gravel, so many people find it unpleasant. Instead, we took the second turnoff (862) and had a very pleasant experience.
Note that taking 862, like we did, will put you on the west side of the river. If you choose to take the rougher 864, it will put you on the east side of the river and you will have different views than in the pictures below.
All-in-all, it was a nice waterfall. Not Niagara Falls, but nice.
The landscape on the 15 minute hike to get to the waterfall is quite barren, but still has interesting rock formations and vegetation.
Given that it is only about 30 minutes each way off the ring road, if you have time, take the 862 road and stop by. Many people think of this a must see destination, but in all honesty, if you aren’t driving the entire ring road, it is skippable. It could even make a nice day trip from Mývatn. After all, seeing Europe’s largest waterfall is a nice checkbox!
Landscapes Along the Drive
One thing we have noticed about Iceland is the variety of landscapes. Close to Seyðisfjörður, over the mountain pass, there was lots of snow and ice, causing one of our kids to comment that this is what Iceland should look like.
Other spots are reminiscent of the American West. Specifically Montana or Wyoming.
And other scenes are quite desolate and make you wonder why you are driving the ring road at all. Apparently, the volcanic soil is too alkaline for much vegetation in spots, but quite fertile in others.
Fortunately, they tend to lead to some amazing destinations! While the ring road has been interesting, we have found it to be a country where there are places of intense beauty that are surrounded by a lot of big, empty space. If you have a lot of time, you should definitely drive the ring road and see as many sights as you can. However, if your time is more limited and you want to skip sights like those pictured above, you should probably pick and choose what you want to see and find the most expedient way of getting there.
Mývatn Nature Baths
After finishing at Dettifoss, we drove about 35 more minutes to the Mývatn Nature Baths. They were fun, but you will need to wait for our next post to read more about them!