A road trip around Iceland’s Ring Road took one Here editor out of New York and into one of the most sought-after landscapes on earth.
Iceland’s winds are so strong that the rental cars have stickers warning passengers to be careful of the doors when disembarking; they’ve been known to get caught in the powerful gusts and go flying off the hinges. Still, during a trip around Ring Road, which wraps around the perimeter of the country, I couldn’t help but lose my sense of danger and stick my camera out of the window as we drove, its strap triple-wrapped around my wrist and my hands clutching the body tightly.
Beginning and ending in Reykjavík, it takes just over half a day to make a loop around Iceland by car (weather permitting), but this is a trip best taken slowly. The landscape here begs to be captured, and the overwhelming feeling of freedom it gives you from first sight onwards is one many travelers can attest to. I can confirm: This country—beloved by the travel community and continually hyped in recent years—still somehow feels underrated to me. The magic of it—waterfalls, mountains, fjords, and all—simply has to be seen to be believed.
A perfect example of Iceland’s wonky weather patterns: The dark clouds in the distance say snow, but the sun shines brightly on this small shack from the other side of the lens.
Humans look like ants circling beneath Seljalandsfoss.
People aren’t kidding when they say to check the weather before you start driving. The roads only looked this clear about half of the time; the other half, they were white with fog and ice.
We visited Vík’s black sand beach twice during the trip. The hollow sound of the water crashing on the shore and the way that the fog hung over the ocean made me feel like I was somewhere in the afterlife.
The presence of magic at Skogafoss is undeniable. I look at this photo and still can’t believe I witnessed something so beautiful.
The trek to the famous plane crash at Sólheimasandur took around 40 minutes one way. Nobody warned us about the long hike and biting winds, but the view was certainly worth it.
Our second day in Vík—much sunnier than the first—and a view of Reyniskirkja, its famous hillside church.
Stopped for lunch and spotted a jolly-looking Icelander whose outfit happened to match Reyniskirkja.
Little farming villages like this dotted the landscape (most of them with waterfalls in the background). I thought I grew up in a small town, but it was nothing compared to this.
Another tiny farmhouse (I wondered if living here was lonely or peaceful).
Now I can immediately recognize photos of Iceland’s roads from the yellow posts that line them. They help guide drivers when the weather takes a turn for the worst.
I looked forward to seeing the beautiful Icelandic horses I’d heard so much about and wasn’t disappointed.
Personally, though, I preferred the fluffy sheep (even though they sometimes crossed in front of our car and sent us swerving).
I have about a million photos of the farmhouses scattered throughout the countryside.
Several days into the trip we approached Akureyri, the largest town in northern Iceland.
This bridge in Akureyri made me think of a scene from a Japanese woodblock print.
When I wax poetic about Iceland (which happens often), this is the moment I’m talking about: No service, no people, no civilization for miles around—just total silence and complete freedom.