The Ring Road, Iceland – Day 3 – Höfn to Mývatn

Day 3 on the Ring Road Iceland…Our third day started out from the town of Höfn. It was overcast for much of the day though there were a few breaks in the clouds but also some showers. The few times the sun did break through, there were some great shots of rainbows across the plains.

When we arrived into small town of Höfn the night before, there had been a very large international charity event taking place and all the accommodation was taken up including the place we intended to stay. With no other options, we returned to the gas station we had just come from for a fill up (plus dinner) and asked the lady working if she knew of any place for us to stay. She knew little English but called a friend of hers who met us at her guesthouse just outside of town.

Accommodation in Hofn

Our accommodation that night…

The guesthouse was actually quite nice inside and overlooked the ocean on the opposite side. The only others occupying this place were some Icelandic construction workers that had come from Reykjavik for a few months to do some contract work on a local school. They kept us up that night insisting we drink with them even though they were already drunk when we got there at 8pm. Needless to say, it made for some interesting conversation.

We headed out head that morning with our final destination for Mývatn. There weren’t meant to be any major sights to be seen so today was more driving than anything but we did come across several places to stop. Our original plan was to only drive about 4 hours through the Fjords along the Ring Road that make up the south east portion of Iceland but since we wanted to see so much in northern Iceland the next day, we decided to drive through our original planned town and spend an extra 3 hours driving so that we would have more time tomorrow to see everything we had planned on seeing.

River along the ring road Iceland

A river we crossed over shortly after leaving Höfn

The photo below was our first stop of the day. We were driving along the coast and with both the black sand beach and the rocky coastline, we decided to hop out for a while and hike around.

Beaches in Iceland

Walking out to the beach…

These photos hardly give the area justice but the changing landscape from just the road to shore was dramatic with a grassy field changing to an area of small rocks and seashells to a rocky and jagged coast.

Black sand beaches in Iceland

Close up of the black sand beaches to our left


Black sand beaches in Iceland

Further up near the shore, we were walking on top of seashells and small rocks though still a long way from the waves crashing to our right.

Off to the left were the black sand beaches and to the right of us, the waves were crashing into rock cliffs as high as twenty five feet. The colors on the rocks were amazing as well with everything from green and orange to blue and yellow.

Rocky coastline in Iceland

Algae covered rocks


Rocky coastline in Iceland

Behind the rocks as the waves were crashing

It was treacherous to actually make it to the shore along the rocks because the rocks were slick and the waves kept coming over the top of the cliff edge and you never knew exactly how far the waves would crash along the rocks you were walking on. There were at least a few times I had slipped while trying to navigate to the water’s edge.

Rocky coastline and black sand beaches in Iceland

From the rocky coastline looking left


Rocky coastline and black sand beaches in Iceland

And off to our right along the coast…

As we headed out from there, we continued our drive along the Fjords that snaked along the coastline for the next hour or more. Most of this drive was typical from what you can see in this photo below as the road cut into the mountain sides. It was a bit intense at times too because in Iceland, very few stretches of roads (actually almost none) had any guard rails to block you from going over the side.

Driving along the coastline - Ring Road Iceland

Driving along the coastline


Waterfalls along the Ring Road Iceland

One of the falls we made a quick stop at…


Scenic bridge pitstop along the Ring Road

And another quick stop we made across a small bridge…

There were many areas we passed where you could detour off the Ring Road and drive to the shoreline on a gravel or dirt path. We tried one of these stretches until it got to a point where we wouldn’t be getting back out without a four wheel drive.

Wishing to go off-road on the black sand beaches!

 Wishing we had a 4WD instead of the MazdaRati…

As we continued driving along the coast that day, we did come across a few small areas where houses were clustered together. There were never quite enough of them to think of them as a small town but always enough that you knew there were at least five or more families living amongst each other. As we passed them, each always seemed to have at least one large waterfall right in the backyard. This photo below is just one example.

Waterfalls along the Ring Road Iceland

Real estate prices here must be priced according to how many falls are in your backyard

Coming up next was the one big hike we made that day. It was an area where there were actually trees that appeared to be native to Iceland.

Rare trees in Iceland

Some of the only trees we found in Iceland… off to the top right

Up to that point, the only trees I had seen in the country were some very small trees that were planted around houses and along fence lines with their purpose to act as a wind break.

Rare trees in Iceland

Looking down the valley

This area we decided to stop at was more of small forest in the valley where you could hike up right next to the river that was coming down the mountain. We spent about two hours in this area just hiking around before we eventually continued on up the road.
We hadn’t got very far before we came across these guys below.

Just some sheep on the ring road

We had encountered this ‘Sheep on the road’ issue at least 4 times during our Ring Road journey

I think I mentioned before that sheep seem to number people in Iceland by about 10 to 1. They were literally everywhere, even at the tops of glacier capped mountains and along some very steep slopes.

Small canyon along the ring road

Another small canyon cut out by a river that we came across further up the road

We finally reached Mývatn that night with a few hours to spare. One of the things Mývatn is known for, besides its lake in the center of town, is its geothermal pools that sit on the edge of town. Each pool was separated by a different temperature and the bottom consisted of black volcanic sand. Quite different from your neighborhood pool. There were no tourists here either as we were now in northern Iceland, far from Reykjavik. It was a good way to end the day…

Mývatn's geothermal pools in Iceland

Mývatn’s geothermal pools – And yes, the water really is this blue…

Share this post
Sign up to get my latest blog updates via email and receive your FREE copy of my eBook, ‘25 Awe-Inspiring Landscape Photostories’.

5 Comments... Join the conversation below

  • Rosanne Losee November 28, 2011, 12:33 am

    Hi Rory, Fantastic place. You are so far north…and it looks it from these photos. Almost like a foreign planet of sorts, especially when you see the black water and the black sands. What do people who live in these areas do? How do they support themselves? Obviously they are so far from major cities that they are not driving everyday, right? Do they raise sheep and shear them for income?

    Also, you mention ‘we’ in your travelogue. Who’s ‘we?’ Did you meet some Icelanders or Europeans or Americans to travel with?

  • Cassie April 26, 2016, 3:13 pm

    Hi! Enjoyed your blog, wondering if you might be able to answer a couple of questions for me. First, did you find the drive from Hofn to Myvtan to be too exhausting/rushed? We are going in late August and are considering stopping for the night in Egilsstaðir. However, if we kept going to Myvtan it would give us more time in that area. What do you think?

    • Rory April 27, 2016, 11:52 am

      Hi Cassie, great question! The drive along the coastal section leaving from Hofn towards Myvatn was truly amazing and you’ll likely want to stop a lot to take some pictures however the last half of this drive is less scenic so it’s really up to you. In other words, staying an extra night in Egilsstaðir may be nice to break up the trip but the last half of the drive isn’t as much fun as you’ll have in Myvatn. I don’t know how many days you’ll have in and around Myvatn but you’ll definitely want at least two days there to explore the lake, the crater, the lava fields, the geothermal lagoon, etc. It’s an amazing place! I hope that helps:)

  • AJAY May 2, 2016, 1:59 am

    Hi there !

    We are planning to visit Iceland for 4 and half days arriving on 7th July 16 at about 12.00 noon and leaving for Norway on the 11th July at 7.20 pm. We are travelling with our 6 year old son, Rian. We would actually like to drive around Iceland. Do you think it is advisable and safe to travel with a 6 year old. We would like to rest on the 7th July in Reykjavik and start early morning on the 8th towards Hofn, sending the night in that part and then driving 9th early morning towards Mayvatn/Akuryeri, then leave on the 10th afternoon for Reykjavik from Akuryeri. We will have 11th to see a part of city and blue lagoon before taking off for Bergen, Norway. does it sound good or just a crazy idea ? ;-). We are looking for a good advice. thanks a lot. AJ

    • Rory May 6, 2016, 4:35 pm

      Hi AJ, thanks for your comment. I’m excited to hear for your trip. I think it would be completely find to travel with a 6 year old but just know that there aren’t too many places to stop along the way though you can usually find a gas station, etc. every 2-3 hours at the most. Otherwise, I don’t see any issue with it. The route you are looking to take sounds like you’ll be traveling counter clock-wise correct? Starting from Reykjavik and going through Vik and Hofn and I’m guessing you’re planning to drive through Myvatn on your way to Akureyri correct? If so, you can do it but it will be a lot of driving in a short amount of time so you may feel like you’re not having enough time to explore each place you go to (though the drive will definitely be scenic and amazing). I could suggest some alternatives if you would rather not drive the full ring road and perhaps visit just the south including the Reykjanes Peninsula or perhaps explore the Snæfellsnes Peninsula along with the east/north of iceland. Either way, your trip will be great, just don’t want you to spent too much time in front of that windshield!

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge