Are you considering driving from Hofn to Seyðisfjörður as part of your Ring Road trip? If you’re spending 5, 7, or even 10 days in Iceland, don’t stop your journey in the south coast. Instead, keep venturing east towards the eastern fjords and discover some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes and small towns along the way.
- Hofn to Seydisfjordur Drive
- 1. Take a Jökulsárlón Boat Tour
- 2. Visit Diamond Beach in Iceland
- 3. Stop in Höfn
- 4. Explore Vestrahorn Mountain
- 5. See Eggin í Gleðivík in Djúpivogur
- 6. Enjoy the East Fjords Between Fáskrúðsfjörður and Reyðarfjörður
- 7. Wander Around Seydisfjörður
- 8. Relax in Egilsstadir
- Is it worth it to drive from Hofn to Seydisfjordur?
If you’re starting in Reykjavik or Vik, here are some places to visit in the Golden Circle and in Iceland’s South Coast as you head east.
Hofn to Seydisfjordur Drive
The drive from Hofn to Seydisfjordur is 278 kilometers along Route 1 (aka the Ring Road) and takes approximately 4 hours without stops.
What is Route 939?
If you map directly to Seyðisfjörður, Google Maps may navigate you to Route 939. Route 939 (also known as Öxi Pass) is a mountainous gravel road where you’re literally driving up and over a mountain. While the road is a shorter driving distance and will get you to Egilsstaðir and other villages on the east coast about 30 minutes faster than if you stayed on the Ring Road, it’s narrow and steep with many blind turns.
After reading numerous blog posts like this one about how difficult the drive is even in the best of weather, I decided to navigate to Fáskrúðsfjörður so that we could stay on Highway 1 on our way to Seyðisfjörður. Bonus, the Ring Road along this stretch is absolutely beautiful as you’ll drive in and out of the fjords with the breathtaking coastline in constant view.
What is there to see while driving from Hofn to Sedisfjordur?
The drive from Hofn to Seydisfjordur is truly one of Iceland’s most spectacular and scenic routes you won’t want to miss albeit a very long drive to do all in one go. Here’s a list of things to do, places to visit, and sites to see along the way (also doable in reverse!):
1. Take a Jökulsárlón Boat Tour
Jokulsarlon is the Glacier Lagoon. At the head of the lagoon is Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, which is an outlet glacier of the larger Vatnjökull glacier. The lagoon was created in the 1930s when the Breiðamerkurjökull tongue started rapidly retreating in the mid-1900s due to warmer temperatures. Global warming continues to hasten the pace of the glacier melting, making the lagoon bigger and unique every time you visit.
Jökulsárlón Zodiac or Amphibian?
The only way to get up close to the icebergs and see the glacier head from the lagoon is by taking a boat tour. You can either take an amphibian (~30 min) or zodiac boat tour (1 hour). On the zodiac, you’ll be able to see more areas of the lagoon and get closer to the icebergs than on the amphibian – you may also be taken close to the glacier head provided it’s safe. The zodiac tour is more expensive but is well worth the once-in-a-lifetime experience (my recommendation!).
💸 Jökulsárlón Zodiac Tour Price: 13.9K Icelandic Krona (~$100 per person, depending on the exchange rate and season).
2. Visit Diamond Beach in Iceland
Eventually, the icebergs that float in Glacier Lagoon make their way to the Atlantic Ocean. These glacier pieces flow through a much smaller river that’s flanked by two black sand beaches. One of the black sand beaches – Diamond Beach – is located just across the street from the Jökulsárlón. Diamond Beach gets its name from the large, glittering iceberg pieces that wash up onto shore as the glacier melts and flows into the ocean.
How to Get to Diamond Beach Iceland
If you’re coming from the south (i.e. traveling to Diamond Beach from Reykjavik or Vik), you’ll find Glacier Lagoon to the left of the main road and Diamond Beach on your right-hand side.
Best Time to Visit Diamond Beach Iceland
Diamond Beach is beautiful any time of day and year. In the summer, you’ll find the weather milder and the daylight hours longer. There is also ample parking and plenty of beach to go around so it’s very likely you’ll feel as though you have the place to yourself.
In the winter, you’ll be mesmerized by the contrast between the black sand, glittering icebergs, and dazzling Northern Lights. Just be sure to keep an eye out for weather conditions and road closures in the event of icy roads and cold temperatures.
⌛TIME SPENT: 1-1.5 hours
📍ADDRESS: Jökulsárlón l Diamond Beach
3. Stop in Höfn
As you say goodbye to the glaciers, you’ll spot lush mountains, drive on oceanside cliffs, and pass through picturesque town. Hofn is the first of many fishing villages you’ll encounter along your drive to the east coast of Iceland. Even though Hofn has a population of under 2,5000, it is one of the largest towns along the southeast coast and a great place to get gas and food.
💡TIP: Our car rental company gave us a map with the locations of all the Olis gas stations around the island as well as a small electronic tile that allows you to get coffee for $1!
⌛TIME SPENT: <1 hour
📍ADDRESS: Kaffi Hornið
4. Explore Vestrahorn Mountain
Vestrahorn is a mountain on the Stokksnes peninsula that’s best known for its dramatic peaks. The West Mountain is a great place to stop to take a picture and appreciate the view of the majestic mountain against the ocean. Whether you’re traveling in the winter or summer months, try to come during golden hour or evening so you can catch the mountain’s reflection cast onto the ocean under the Northern Lights or Midnight Sun.
How to Get to Vestrahorn
Vestrahorn is about a 20-25 minute drive from Hofn. To get to the area, you’ll need to turn onto Road 99 from the Ring Road where you’ll find a sign for Stokksnes peninsula. Keep following the sign, which will take you on a dirt road all the way to the private parking lot at Viking Café. After paying the Vestrahorn entry fee of 800 ISK, you can explore the area for as long as you like.
💡TIP: Make sure to visit both Viking Village and Stokksnes to get different but equally stunning perspectives of Vestrahorn.
⌛TIME SPENT: 1-2 hours
📍ADDRESS: Viking Cafe l Viking Village Set l Stokksnes
5. See Eggin í Gleðivík in Djúpivogur
Djúpivogur is another coastal village that you’ll come across on your drive. While there isn’t much to do in Djúpivogur, it makes for a great rest stop. One quirky thing you can do during your break is explore Eggin í Gleðivík, an outdoor art exhibit. This sculpture park features 34 egg sculptures, each representing a different bird species found in the area.
⌛TIME SPENT: 10-20 minutes
📍ADDRESS: Eggin í Gleðivík
6. Enjoy the East Fjords Between Fáskrúðsfjörður and Reyðarfjörður
We continued driving before stopping at Fáskrúðsfjörður, a small village in the eastern part of Iceland. With a population of 662 people, there isn’t much to do but the town is beautifully situated between mountains and fjords. If you have time, you can explore more of the Eastfjords by taking Highway 955 instead of the Ring Road towards Reyðarfjörður. This will take you around the Vattarnes peninsula where you’ll pass through rugged and remote landscape with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, ocean, and fjords.
⌛TIME SPENT: 30-60 minutes (depending on the route)
📍ADDRESS: Fáskrúðsfjörður -> Reyðarfjörður
7. Wander Around Seydisfjörður
Seydisfjörður is a charming town located in East Iceland at the innermost point of the fjord from which it gets its name. Initially a fishing village, Seydisfjörður is now home to a vibrant art and culture scene with several galleries, museums, and art studios.
The town is nestled in a deep fjord and surrounded by mountains, which provides a breathtaking backdrop for the colorful houses that make up the charming village. The most recognizable building in town is the Seydisfjordur Church, a baby blue church located at the end of Rainbow Street. Built in 1922, it remains an iconic example of the town’s whimsical architectural style.
Seydisfjörður is accessible by driving over and down the Fjarðarheiði mountain pass. The drive is almost as picturesque as the town itself, filled with steep inclines, narrow roads, and hairpin turns with stunning views of the valley around every corner. If you have time, you can even take a short hike to visit Gufufoss.
⌛TIME SPENT: 1-2 hours
📍ADDRESS: Seydisfjörður l Gufufoss
8. Relax in Egilsstadir
We drove 30 minutes before arriving in Egilsstaðir. As the largest town in East Iceland, Egilsstaðir is the perfect place to grab dinner, do laundry, and spend the night before your next day’s adventure. It is also home base for exploring Hallormsstadhaskogur Forest and Hengifoss waterfall, which are located about 30 minutes from the main part of town.
💡TIP: We were able to do laundry at Camp Egilsstadir, though not without some snafus along the way. The machines were in Icelandic and our phones didn’t get any reception to translate the washing machine settings. We also got a gimpy machine that wouldn’t allow you to pause a setting mid-cycle. After pressing random buttons, we got stuck washing our clothes twice and ended up running three drying cycles to get our clothes reasonably dry.
Where to Stay in Egilsstadir
We stayed at Stora Sandfell Rooms and Cottages and could not have been happier. Located about 15 minutes from Egilsstadir and about 30 minutes from Seydisfjordur, Stora Sandfell is a great option for those looking to explore both towns. In addition to being conveniently located, it’s surrounded by stunning landscapes with tall mountains and green hills all around.
The rooms and cottages are spacious, clean, and equipped with a small kitchenette. I’d highly recommend Stora to anyone looking for a clean, safe, and beautiful stay in the eastern part of Iceland.
📍ADDRESS: Egilsstaðir l Stóra Sandfell Rooms and Cottages
Is it worth it to drive from Hofn to Seydisfjordur?
Absolutely. Not only does the drive take you through the amazing scenery that is Iceland’s east fjords, driving is also the only way to get from Hofn to Seydisfjordur – there is no train, bus, or flight alternative.
What Else You Can See in East Iceland
- Vatnajökull Glacier – Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Iceland where you can hike, ice climb, or snowmobile on the glacier. I really wanted to snowmobile but we didn’t have enough time to go hiking and snowmobiling so we chose to go hiking in Vatnajökull instead.
- Sveinsstekksfoss – About 15 minutes from Djúpivogur, Sveinsstekksfoss is a less frequented waterfall you can hike to if you’re looking for a short break from your drive.
- Litlanesfoss – Located on the trail that leads to Hengifoss, Litlanesfoss is another waterfall that’s flanked by basalt columns and surrounded by exposed layers of red clay from centuries worth of volcanic eruptions.
- Borgarfjörður Eystri – Yet another small town in East Iceland that’s one of the best places to see puffins in Iceland. We decided to skip Borgarfjörður Eystri because we knew we’d see puffins in the Westfjords later in our trip.
Final Thoughts on driving from hofn to Seydisfjordur
Okay okay, my final thoughts on this drive is that it is 100% worth doing as part of any Ring Road trip itinerary. Driving from Hofn to Seydisfjordur is a fantastic way to experience the amazing landscape and beautiful scenery of Eastern Iceland. With scenic roads, great views, and picturesque villages along the way, the drive itself is a highlight and remains one of my all-time favorite experiences in Iceland. Do note that the area is fairly remote so it’s a good idea to check road conditions ahead of time, map out grocery stores or restaurants to stop at, and prepare yourself for a long and beautiful day of travel.
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