If you missed Part 1 of Discovering Iceland's Ring Road you can catch up here before continuing on to the next six places.
7. The Akureyri Botanical Garden, Akureyri
Please, don’t judge me. Hear me out. It’s the northernmost botanical garden on the planet! Who would’ve expected a lush garden in North Iceland? Plus, a traveler’s gotta take a break from constant adventure. There’s also a modern Nordic café. There’s a random friendly cat walking around. There’s Arctic and native Icelandic plants. It’s a quiet spot for a picnic. And it’s free! Remember? I’m ballin’ on a budget. I do recommend heading down to the town of Akureyri afterward for a delicious and generous helping of fish n’ chips at Akureyri Fish & Chips.
8. Santa’s Icelandic Workshop, Akureyri
I don't know about you, but I was a lil’ hesitant about going to see the Big Guy himself at Santa’s Icelandic Workshop. Who the heck knows if I’ve been naughty or nice based on Icelandic standards? I love my momma and I try to donate a dollar or two to the Salvation Army bell ringers at Christmas time. I don’t run over squirrels. But back to Santa — a little off the Ring Road near Akureyri, lies a little Christmas shop dedicated to all things Santa and the holidays. You can drop your Christmas letter off in the official North Pole mailbox, get your picture taken with a wooden Santa cutout, look around in Santa’s workshop, or buy a momento at the Christmas Store.
9. Hvítserkur Rock Formation, North-West Iceland
Hvítserkur is a volcanic plug of a long forgotten volcano that’s melted away from years of erosion along the coast of North-West Iceland. You’ve got to drive 15 miles on a narrow, but idyllic dirt road off of the Ring Road to get there, but there's a convenient parking lot with marked trail signs and plenty of historical information. You'll have to hike down a steep embankment — in proper hiking boots — to reach the black sand beach of the bay that leads out to the Arctic Ocean. To get all the way to Hvitserkur, you’ve got to figure out the tidal schedule in order to time your visit perfectly. Otherwise, you’ll be hiking down into cold water with no land to stand on. Trust me y’all won’t believe the richness of the sea life that’s exposed by the receding tidal waters. These are the pictures you hang on the wall of your new home and have guests ask where you got the prints. Then, you smirk and say, “I took those in Iceland while I was travelin’ the Ring Road.”
10. Black Church, Buðir, Snæfellsnes Peninsula
This church is one of three black churches in Iceland. It’s simple and understated. It’s easily one of the most Instagramable churches in Iceland. It’s in an out of the way spot on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula making it a perfect spot to stop if you want to avoid big crowds. It’s close to the crowded touristy areas around the capital city of Reykjavik, but a crowd here is about 10 to 20 people instead of hundreds. The tiny village of Budir and it’s black church are nestled between mountains of extinct volcanoes and the Atlantic coast. This coastal area was calm and quiet. I lucked out because it was sunny and 60 degrees. Plus it’s right near the beach — I had been Instagram-bamboozled into thinking the church was out in the middle of nowhere by the pictures I'd seen on social media! It’s easy to get to, but does take a few hours to get to from Reykjavik as you round the Ring Road and head back down, but it's completely worth it.
11. Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge, Snæfellsnes Peninsula
I hope you prayed at the Black Church back up the road because you’re about to climb into a literal 1,000 ft. high by 5 ft. wide crack in a mountain. I also hope you like tiny spaces! Once I arrived, I parked in the small parking lot at the base of the trail that leads to the gorge. Then, I began the climb up to the huge crack in the mountain. You can’t miss it. The hike from the parking lot to the gorge is longer than the hike into the gorge itself. From here, you’ll enter the mountain gorge by walking up into the crack via a glacial runoff stream.
Word of caution: Wear waterproof shoes and a raincoat! You’re going to get wet and you’re going to be doing a little bit of climbing over boulder sized chunks of snow, which make the gorge somewhat impassable. Remember, you’re walking through a stream of glacial melt the whole time a.k.a. COLD. It’s Iceland after all! Above you, there’s more huge chunks of snow boulders that haven’t fallen into the gorge yet. Isn’t that exciting? Use your good judgement about turning around when it’s not safe to continue into the gorge.
12. Icelandic Phallological Museum, Reykjavik
If you're looking for a stop in Iceland that you absolutely won't find anywhere else then this is it. Sigurður Hjartarson created the first and only “penis” museum on the Earth in the '70s starting with a bull penis whip he was gifted. It showcases a collection of 215+ phalluses from the animal kingdom; penis memorabilia; and if you’re feeling froggy, a gift shop for all your PG-13 rated phallological needs.
Reminder: Jody explored Iceland on his own, but here are some tour companies to choose from if you would rather go that route. Prices for guided sightseeing tours average around $170.
Suggested items to pack for Iceland's cold and rainy weather: