Diamond Circle




July 2017 • Canon 60D camera

Diamond Circle

The “Diamond Circle” is a popular scenic round trip route with some spectacular sights in North Iceland. Not as well known as the “Golden Circle” in the South, as most people that visit Iceland seem to stay in the South. It's a shame as the North offer some truely out–of–this–world sites. Below are some of the key sights, but if you have time, there are many more places to visit if you research online.

Dettifoss Waterfall

65° 48′ 52.8′ N, 16° 23′ 4.1′ W

The gigantic and powerful Dettifloss waterfall sits in Vatnajökull National Park. It is considered the largest, most powerful waterfall in Europe in terms of volume. There are two routes to see the Dettifoss—Route 862 (west side) and Route 864 (east side). The photos below are from the east side which allows you to get up close with no barriers and is less visited by tourists because of this.

There is a short hike down from the carpark but already from the distance you could hear the water cascading down because it was so strong. Our guide, Snorri, informed us that because there were heavy rains the last couple of days, Dettifoss had more water then usual. Another bonus for us visiting this morning was that we witnessed a double rainbow. If you want to take photos of the full width of the waterfall view, then you are best taking the 862 route. Be aware that route 864 (east view) is closed during winter. .

Ásbyrgi Canyon

66° 0′ 52′ N, 16° 30′ 12′ W

This horseshoe shaped canyon is part of Vatnajökull National Park. According to Norse mythology the godÓðinn was once riding his flying horse Sleipnir and it put one of its eight hooves down and created the Ásbyrgi Canyon. There are several hiking trails here and we followed one called Skógarstígur trail to Botnstjörn pond.

This quiet, serene place also has an unmarked path to the side of the mountain that takes you up high to see the full view of the canyon. From up here you can really appreciate how gigantic this canyon is. It would also be the prefect place if you had a drone to explore more with.

Goðafoss Waterfall

65° 40′ 48′ N, 17° 32′ 24′ W

Goðafoss means “waterfall of the gods” in Icelandic and we approached this waterfall from the west side. It's not very tall or big, but this curved waterfall has many cascades making it quire a site to visit.

Did you know...

The opening scene to the Ridley Scott's science fiction movie “Prometheus”(2012) was filmed at Dettifoss Waterfall. The shots from the movie was taken on the east side, which I had visited.


65° 43′ 15′ N, 16° 47′ 34′ W

Like so many places in Iceland, the geothermal area of Leirhnjúkur near Lake Mývatn is out of this world. The volcanic nature of Iceland can be seen first hand by walking through this area. Here you can visit the crater lake of Viti, wonderfully filled with luminous blue water and steam coming out from around the crater rim.

A short drive form here will get you to Leirhnjúkur, a lava field that is still steaming some 30 years after the last volcanic event. The landscape is fascinating to explore with interesting rock formations due to the lava spill.


65° 38′ 27.3′ N, 16° 48′ 33.5′ W

Another geothermal area that gives you a glimpse of how powerful the earth is. Large boiling mud pools and steam vents are on display here. High temperatures and the smell of sulphur surrounding the place can get quite uncomfortable... so you might not stay so long here.


65° 35′ 25′ N, 16° 53′ 58′ W

A very surreal place to visit, Dimmuborgir is another lava field unlike any other. The formations here look like they were purposely built. The rock formations take on forms of towers and caves for people to live in. Hence, there is a lot of Icelandic folklore of Trolls living here. As you follow the path around this area you feel like you are wandering through a fairy tale...

Final thoughts

If you are visiting Iceland you cannot miss not coming to the North. With such a unique landscape and so many different sites to visit, you will want to stay longer in this part of Iceland. The waterfalls of Dettifoss and Goðafoss are not to be missed. Plan ahead what route to take so you arrive on the side of the waterfall you want to see. Or visit both sides if you have time.

Leirhnjúkur, Hverir and Dimmuborgir, are unique experiences. It truly feels like no other place on earth, with the interesting lava formations and other geological features. Be aware that these sites are open air, so the weather will play an important factor when you choose to visit. But you can never predict what the weather will be in Iceland, so go with the flow and be prepared with suncream or rain jacket!

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