As a traveler coming to Iceland, you need a rental car. Spending your hard earned money on tours is just a waste, plus they limit you severely on what you can and can’t do.
That being said, damn, this is a LONG drive, a desolate, long, tiring, drive. But, seeing icebergs calving off a huge glacier seems to be worth 4 and a half measly hours (each way) in a car right? Right. Not to mention along the way (or way back to Reykjavik) is the second coolest thing that we got to experience while in Iceland. The roughly 220 mile (each way) drive is loaded with sights that the average tourist will never get to experience! P.S. Bring waterproof clothes and a change of shoes! Here's the order you should follow. The earlier you leave Reykjavik the better. I suggest leaving NO LATER than 8am. This trip will literally take you around 12 to 13 hours to complete when all is said and done, so figure leave at 8am and get back around 8pm. Perfect time to get a hotdog from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur.
So your first step is to drive to 220 miles to Jökulsárlón. This huge glacier lagoon glows. Like for real, you can see it glowing a bright blue from about 10 miles away while you’re driving there, it’s pretty ghostly. Basically, what’s going on here is the tongue of Breiðamerkurjökull, part of the larger Glacier system Vatnajökull, is breaking off baby icebergs and sending them straight into the good ol' Atlantic Ocean. Most likely it’s like nothing you'll ever see again. In the parking lot of the lagoon you will notice companies offering boat rides and what not, we did not take advantage of that because of time constraints but I sure wish we had. Whatever you choose to do with your time there, take a load off and enjoy the beautiful lagoon. It makes for AMAZING photos, and if your lucky enough you might even see a iceberg calve off the glacier. (As a side note, Jökulsárlón has been used in four Hollywood movies -- A View to a Kill, Die Another Day, Tomb Raider, and Batman Begins.)
Svartifoss, or the black falls, is an awesome waterfall, and it’s perfect to hit right after leaving Jökulsárlón. While it may not be one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland, it sure is cool as anything. It gets it's name from the giant black hexagonal basalt columns surrounding it. Svartifoss is located in Skaftafell, in Vatnajökull National Park on the Svartifoss trail. The trail to get to the Black falls normally takes about 45 minutes from beginning to end, buuuuut if you visit the park before June 1st you can park at the small public lot before the Bolti Guesthouse on the trail.
This will save you 35 precious minutes, especially useful when you want to get back to the hotel to drink some more Thule (pronounced thoo-lay)!
After Svartifoss, head back towards the small town of Vik. This is a good place to stop if you're hungry, or if you need gas, or if, hey you want to check out sweet black sand beaches and the Reynisdrangar Troll Rocks.
Legend has it that 3 trolls named Skessudrangur, Laddrangur and Lnghamar were pulling a ship to shore along the coast of Vik when the sun "unexpectedly" rose, which promptly turned them into the stupidest troll rocks ever. The drive from Svartifoss to Vik takes about an hour and a half so a lot of other tourists are going to be stopping there as well. Vik is a pretty small town and you literally have to drive through Main Street to get in, and out, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding the main sites.
From Vik your next stop is a 25 minute drive to Skogafoss. This “foss” is big, and pretty damn impressive. The falls can easily be seen right from Ring Road. You’re going to be tempted to stop on the way to Jökulsárlón because, well let’s be honest, it's pretty cool.
Don't give in to temptation though cause I'm telling you, all these stops on the way back really help keep you awake and break up the drive. You can pretty much walk right up to these falls (as with everything in Iceland, no one will stop you from doing any ridiculously stupid and dangerous thing that you want to do) and take a quick dip in the pool if you are so inclined.
The last stop before heading back to Reykjavik for a much needed beer and hotdog is Seljalandsfoss. Seljalandsfoss is awesome. There isn't any other way to describe it. This is a huge waterfall that you can walk behind. That simple fact made this one of the coolest things we were lucky enough to do in this fascinating place.
As a matter of fact, at the time of writing this, we have now been to Seljalandfoss twice, once in the winter, and once in summer. Hope you brought waterproof clothes, and a change of shoes, cause like I told you in the beginning of this entry, you're gonna get wet, and you're gonna love it.
Now, you CAN go see Seljalandsfoss without walking behind the waterfall, but what’s the point? That's what I thought, get behind that waterfall! Oh and unless your camera is waterproof, either cover it real good or don't bother bringing it.
The drive home from Seljalandsfoss should take you about an hour and a half, and assuming you haven't fallen asleep at the wheel, you made it, congratulations! Now that you are thoroughly exhausted get back to Reykjavik and have some Thule, Tuborg (the beer of Danish kings), Gull and Viking!