Ultimate Guide to Iceland’s Diamond Circle

Most tourists visiting Iceland often stick to the southern part of the country, which is a grave mistake. There is much beauty and adventure to be discovered in Northern Iceland, and the captivating scenery makes for perfect road trips. With so many unspoiled landscapes to uncover in this remote part of Iceland, how can you know which attractions to include in your itinerary? Fortunately, there is a popular route running through this region, known as the Diamond Circle.

What is the Diamond Circle in Iceland? 

The Diamond Circle is a popular route in Northern Iceland and includes some of the region’s most popular attractions. Traveling on this route is a chance to discover what this peaceful and wild part of the country has to offer. The route has a total of roughly 250 km (155 mi), and without stopping, can be traveled in less than a day. However, if you want to make the most of your time in the area and take your time with the attractions, we’d recommend allowing yourself up to two days to tackle the route so you can take in all its captivating beauty. 

The Diamond Circle Route

The best way to enjoy The Diamond Circle route is to begin in the biggest town in Iceland’s north, called Akureyri. It’s worth spending a day or even an afternoon and evening exploring the charms of this town, which is less than 100 km (62 mi) from the Arctic Circle! Heading north out of Akureyri will lead you to the legendary and powerful Goðafoss Waterfall. From here, you’ll travel onwards to the charming fishing town of Húsavík, then to Ásbyrgi Canyon, Dettifoss Waterfall, and Mývatn, before returning to Akureyri. 

The Diamond Circle Attractions

Now that you know the basics about the Diamond Circle, let’s get into the really interesting stuff: the attractions! The four main attractions along the Diamond Circle are fascinating and well worth the trek to the north to explore!

Goðafoss Waterfall

A tourist in a pink jacket standing in front of Goðafoss Waterfall in Iceland with their arms outstretched.

The first stop along the Diamond Circle is the legendary “waterfall of the gods,” or Goðafoss. An astounding amount of glacial water cascades down the curved face of this waterfall, dropping nearly 40 ft (12 m) into a beautiful blue pool. 

Steeped in religious history, this stunning waterfall is perfect for admirers of breathtaking landscapes as well as photographers. The location plays a central role in the story of Iceland’s conversion to Christianity in the 11th century AD, where Iceland’s religious leader, Thorgeir Ljosvetningagodi, disposed of idols depicting the old Norse gods in order to pave the way forward.

The waterfall can be visited all year round and looks extra beautiful surrounded by a blanket of snow, but for maximum exploring, you may want to visit in the summer!


View of Húsavík, Iceland from the water.

This charming coastal town in northern Iceland is one of the best places in the world to go whale watching. Tours depart from Húsavík Harbor regularly during the warmer months and are well worth joining. The waters surrounding this part of Iceland are teeming with sea life, and if you’re lucky, you might glimpse any number of species, including humpbacks, minke whales, blue whales, fin whales, and even orcas!

In addition, Húsavík became globally recognized after the release of the 2020 Netflix film, Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga. In the film, Húsavík locals, Sigrit and Lars fulfill their childhood dream of representing Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest. If you’re a fan of the film, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit to Húsavík to see if you can spot film locations from the movie. 

Ásbyrgi Canyon

Ásbyrgi Canyon in Iceland.

Located far in the North, Ásbyrgi Canyon is a mind-blowing sight. Surrounded by towering cliff faces and lush foliage, the canyon is a hiker’s and explorer’s paradise. The thick vegetation within the canyon is quite unusual in Iceland, and the gentle waters covering the canyon floor provide a hushed and serene setting, contrasting the wildness of the place.

While there is a sound scientific theory for the geological development of the canyon, which, like many of Iceland’s features, rests in volcanic activity, Icelandic folklore also has its own take. Due to the horseshoe shape of the canyon, it is said that Ásbyrgi was formed by Odin’s powerful eight-legged horse.

Dettifoss Waterfall

Dettifoss Waterfall on the Diamond Circle route in Iceland.

The last of the main attractions along the Diamond Circle is the famous waterfall, Dettifoss. It has been featured in several blockbuster films, including the 2012 Alien franchise prequel, Prometheus. 

Located in Vatnajökull National Park, Dettifoss is legendary for being the second most powerful of all European waterfalls, beat out only by the Rhine Falls in Switzerland. The glacier waters, fed by Vatnajökull, thunder into the Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon below. The dramatic scenery is definitely worth the visit. 

To experience the perfect Diamond Circle road trip, make sure to choose one of our rental cars, allowing you reliability and flexibility on your Northern Iceland adventure!