Iceland was on the top of my countries-to-visit bucket list for a long time. It’s difficult to establish the main reasons why: perhaps it was for amazing photos that were posted on Instagram, Bon Iver’s music video for Holocene, the opening shots of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, the fact that some of my friends visited the island and came back in awe.
Nevertheless, 2017 was the year to finally book tickets and fly to Iceland. The plan was to do a ring road, a 1,500-mile trip around Iceland, visiting main attractions, chasing waterfalls, drinking great coffee, having great time with my significant other and while we’re at it, checking filming locations from movies and TV shows.
For all of you movie and TV lovers, here is a movie inspired ring road trip around Iceland. I won’t go into details about ring road, what to see and what to miss, what type of car do you need, what is the best month to go and more. You should check other blogs for those answers. I will give you some ideas though on how to spice up your Icelandic journey.
You will probably start your trip at Keflavik International Airport and if you’ll do a counter clockwise trip you will eventually drive to Vik. Around Vik you’ll find several locations that appeared in movies and TV shows.
Dyrhólaey or literally “the hill island with the door hole” is a beautiful small peninsula that appeared in the trailer for the 7th season of Game of Thrones.
Reynisfjara black sand beach is made of lava and has amazing looking basalt columns. This beach appeared near the end of the movie Noah.
The landscape in the south of Iceland is amazing and a few miles east of Vik you’ll see Hjörleifshöfði, a mountain located on the Mýrdalssandur outwash plain. This area was used for the opening scenes of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Some local news website reported that the crew has been on Mýrdalssandur beach and shooting by the mountains Hjörleifshöfði and Hafursey.
The area around Mýrdalssandur beach is a setting for the planet Lah’mu, where research scientist Galen Erso and his family are in hiding.
From Vik to the east of Iceland you’ll drive near Vatnajökull national park, which is home of Europe’s biggest glacier – Vatnajökull. The Svínafellsjökull glacier and its tongue featured in several movies: Batman Begins (the fighting scene between XX and Bruce Wayne), Die Another Day car sequence, Interstellar and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It was included in the seventh season of Game of Thrones as well.
Seyðisfjörður is a lovely small town in the east of Iceland. You can arrive by ferry or by car, but you have to drive over a mountain first. The winding road that takes you to the town had a part in the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – it was the road Walter Mitty drove on a skateboard.
Trapped, the popular Icelandic nordic noir TV show was set in Seyðisfjörður, too.
Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe. It’s located in the northeastern part of Iceland. If you’re arriving from the ring road you have two roads to the waterfall: the paved west road (862) or the gravel east road (864). I drove the latter, even though it took me almost 45 minutes, because the road was not in the best possible condition and I drove really slowly. I took the east road because of the view: it’s almost the same as from the movies Prometheus and The Tree of Life.
The beautiful Lake Myvatn and its surroundings have some perfect locations to be included in the movies or TV shows: the lake, lava fields and rock formations, caves, hot springs, craters, … you name it. It’s an absolutely awesome place you need to see it for yourself. The area featured in Game of Thrones, Fast 8 and The Tree of Life.
Stykkishólmur & Borgarnes
Stykkishólmur is the biggest town of the Snæfellsnes peninsula and was one of the destinations in the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Borgarnes is a bigger town on the way to Reykjavik and was featured in the same movie – the local bakery was “transformed” to Papa Johns.
Þingvellir (anglicised as Thingvellir) is a national park that is located some 40 km northeast of Reykjavík. It’s hugely important for Icelanders from a historical, cultural, and geological perspective, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland.
The famous continental drift between the North American and Eurasian Plates could be seen in the fourth season of Game of Thrones when Littlefinger escorted Sansa Stark to the gates of the Vale, while in the same season her sister Arya and the Hound travelled the same path. The location was also used for Wildlings camp from the same season.
Iceland is an amazing country full of natural wonders. I have experienced it in July, but would definitely visit this magnificent island in some other month (to catch an aurora borealis, for example). To drive the ring road it’s necessary to take at least 7 days, therefore I suggest 10 to 14 days, especially if you’d like to check some filming locations from famous movies and TV shows. The area around Lake Myvatn was especially beautiful and if you happen to wonder around that part of Iceland consider checking Hotel Gigur for some fantastic views over the lake.
For exploring Iceland I strongly suggest renting a car. There are several options available, however I’d suggest Go Car Rental. My experience was top notch. I chose a smaller car, but would seriously consider a 4WD next time.