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  • Writer's pictureScandinavian Travel

Explore the Diamond Circle Iceland: A Comprehensive Guide

The Diamond Circle is a scenic route located in North Iceland, often overshadowed by the more famous Golden Circle but equally mesmerizing. This guide provides all the details you need to plan your adventure around the 250 km loop that showcases the incredible natural wonders of Iceland.

The loop includes major attractions like Lake Mývatn, Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, and the picturesque town of Húsavík, renowned for its whale-watching opportunities.

Scenic view of Lake Mývatn within the Diamond Circle

Why visit the Diamond Circle?

Visitors choose the Diamond Circle for its diverse attractions and the opportunity to explore the less crowded yet equally stunning parts of Iceland. The route provides a deeper look at Iceland's geology, ecology, and cultural heritage, making it a comprehensive experience for those who venture beyond the typical tourist paths.

Preparing for your trip

When planning a trip to the Diamond Circle in Iceland, it's crucial to choose the right season based on the experiences you seek:

  • Summer offers long daylight hours perfect for hiking and whale watching.

  • Fall showcases Ásbyrgi Canyon in vibrant autumn colors.

  • Winter is ideal for viewing the northern lights and experiencing the unique landscape covered in snow.

  • Spring provides a quieter setting with fewer tourists.

Driving around the Diamond Circle is generally straightforward as the roads are well-paved. However, between October and April, it's advisable to use a 4x4 vehicle to navigate potentially difficult weather conditions safely. This preparation ensures a smoother and safer journey regardless of when you visit.

Powerful Dettifoss waterfall in Iceland's Diamond Circle

Must-see attractions along the Diamond Circle

  • Lake Mývatn: Known for its diverse birdlife and unique geological formations, this area is a microcosm of all the natural beauty Iceland has to offer.

  • Dettifoss and Goðafoss Waterfalls: Experience the raw power of Dettifoss and the historical significance of Goðafoss, where Iceland's conversion to Christianity is commemorated.

  • Ásbyrgi Canyon: A horseshoe-shaped canyon that legend says was formed by the hoof of Odin's horse, Sleipnir.

  • Húsavík: Often dubbed the whale-watching capital of Europe, Húsavík offers close encounters with humpback whales, minke whales, and sometimes even blue whales.

Diamond Circle: Two-Days Itinerary

For an engaging two-day itinerary around the Diamond Circle in Iceland, consider the following plan:

Day 1: The power of water and volcanic beauty

  • Morning: Start at Lake Mývatn, where you can witness the incredible diversity of birdlife and unique volcanic formations. Explore walking trails around the lake and visit the geothermal area of Hverir.

  • Afternoon: Head to Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. The route offers several vantage points for photos, and the nearby Selfoss and Hafragilsfoss waterfalls are also worth visiting.

Volcanic formations around Lake Mývatn in the Diamond Circle

Day 2: Canyon mystique and whale encounters

  • Morning: Drive to Ásbyrgi Canyon, a stunning, horseshoe-shaped depression that legend says was formed by a hoof of Odin’s horse. The area is perfect for a serene morning hike.

  • Afternoon: Conclude your tour in Húsavík, famous for its excellent whale-watching tours. Spend the afternoon on the water, possibly sighting humpback and minke whales.

Whale watching in Húsavík as part of the Diamond Circle tour

This itinerary allows for exploration at a relaxed pace with sufficient time to immerse yourself in each site’s natural beauty and unique features.

Where to stay

When planning where to stay along the Diamond Circle, you have a variety of accommodation options suitable for every taste and budget. Here’s a structured suggestion to enhance your travel experience:

  • Cozy guesthouses: Ideal for travelers looking for a homey atmosphere, guesthouses often offer personalized service and local charm.

  • Boutique hotels: These provide a more luxurious stay, with unique, often thematic decor and higher-end amenities.

  • Camping sites: Perfect for the more adventurous travelers or those on a budget, camping sites along the Diamond Circle offer a direct connection with nature. They vary in facilities, from basic to more equipped sites with additional amenities like kitchens and showers. To enhance your camping experience, consider a campervan rental in Iceland which allows for flexibility and comfort as you explore the sights. This option is ideal for those looking to explore at their own pace.

Each option gives a different perspective on the stunning natural surroundings of the Diamond Circle, ensuring that whether you choose comfort or an adventure under the stars, your stay will be memorable.

The open road through Iceland's Diamond Circle

Dining and facilities

Dining options in the region celebrate Icelandic cuisine, with an emphasis on seafood and locally sourced ingredients. Facilities like gas stations, rest stops, and information centers are available along the route, ensuring a comfortable journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to do the Diamond Circle Iceland?

Completing the Diamond Circle can take anywhere from one to three days, depending on stops and activities.

Can you do the Diamond Circle in one day?

Yes, it's possible to drive the Diamond Circle in one day, but multiple days are recommended for a fuller experience.

Why is it called the Diamond Circle?

The name "Diamond Circle" reflects the preciousness and striking beauty of the natural attractions along the route, akin to diamonds in their rarity and allure.

Is the Iceland Golden Circle worth it?

Yes, the Golden Circle is worth visiting for its iconic sites and proximity to Reykjavik, making it a popular choice for those with limited time.

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