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Designed for travel in the summer months, this unique, rugged travel route takes in a circuit from Austurland’s inland hub town of Egilsstaðir, driving lakeside along the eastern shore of Lagarfljót lake before climbing to the highlands.

The route guides you through some stunning natural landscapes and via geological pearls (unforgettable waterfalls, canyons, hot springs and mountain peaks included), but it’s important to note that some elements of the circuit are only accessible in summer, and only in a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Never fear! Without a 4x4, the route can be adapted and combined with the excellent, year-round Ring of Riverdale route to guide you to some traveler favorites.

The Highland Circuit begins at low elevation, taking in Hallormsstaður National Forest (Iceland’s largest forest), then some treats of the Fljótsdalur valley: colorful Hengifoss waterfall, Snæfellstofa Visitor Center for great displays on the region’s natural wonders, and to Skriðuklaustur cultural center. Continue deeper into the valley to reach the unique Wilderness Center, where you can enjoy a hands-on experience of Icelandic history.

Rte 910 is a sealed road that climbs dramatically before leveling out and taking you through highland terrain that’s a favorite habitat for geese and reindeer. Brilliant detours include Laugarfell for hikes and hot pools (4x4 not required), and Snæfell mountain for more hiking (4x4 required).

After the spectacle of Kárahnjúkar dam, the sealed road becomes an F-road, only accessible to high-clearance 4x4 cars. Rte F910 usually opens around mid-June and has some brilliant pit stops – including Hafrahvammagljúfur canyon and Laugavalladalur geothermal stream – before it joins Rte F907 (4x4 required) and leads you to Rte 923 (4x4 not required).

Along Rte 923 is access to mighty Stuðlagil canyon, one of Austurland’s jewels. There’s simply no bad angle to this gorgeous gorge. From the new viewing platform on the canyon's west side, or from ground level after a hike on the east side, the basalt columns and clear blue water are a remarkable sight.

After admiring the canyon, head north on Rte 923 and you’ll reach Hwy 1, the Ring Road, and an easy, scenic return to Egilsstaðir. Stop at Rjúkandi, a waterfall by Hwy 1, then round out your exploring with a memorable soak in the warm geothermal waters of Vök Baths under the midnight sun.

Top tips for this route:

  • To drive the complete circuit as we describe, you’ll need a 4x4. Roads need to be open. Always check before setting out.
  • If you don’t have a 4x4, you can drive as far as Kárahnjúkar dam on sealed road in summer in a regular vehincle. You’ll need to retrace your route to Egilsstaðir and reach Stuðlagil from the north, via Hwy 1 and Rte 923.
  • There’s accommodation, camping and eating options along the circuit, although these are considerably more limited in the highlands. Come prepared!

You may not have time to see everything we include on this travel route. We recommend you plan your trip using the 'Add to favorites' tool on our page. By bookmarking your favorite attractions and experiences in this way, you can tailor a route through Austurland that's perfect for you!


Places to Visit


Hús Handanna Icelandic Art & Design Shop
Egilsstaðir Swimming pool
East Highlanders
Arboretum in Hallormsstaðar Forest
Snæfellsstofa Visitor Centre, Skriðuklaustur
Skriðuklaustur, Centre of culture & history
Wilderness center
Waterfall Circle
Turf Houses by Hjarðarhagi
Vök Baths

Other (1)

Sænautasel Jökuldalsheiði 701 Egilsstaðir 853-6491


Other (3)

Bókakaffi Hlöðum - By Lagarfljót Bridge Hlaðir 700 Egilsstaðir 471-2255
N1 - Service Station Egilsstaðir Kaupvangur 4 700 Egilsstaðir 440-1450
Olís - Service station Hafnarbraut 19 740 Neskaupstaður 477-1500


Guesthouse Vínland
Hótel Valaskjálf
Hérað | Berjaya Iceland Hotels
Hotel Edda Egilsstadir
Gistihúsið - Lake Hotel Egilsstaðir
Egilsstaðir Campsite
Hotel 1001 nott
Stormur Cottages
Vallanes Farm Guesthouse
Mjóanes accommodation
Hotel Hallormsstadur
Hallormsstaðaskógur Camping Ground
Wilderness center

Other (2)

Lyngás Guesthouse - Egilsstaðir Lyngás 5-7 700 Egilsstaðir 4711310
Eyjólfsstaðir Guesthouse Fljótsdalshérað 701 Egilsstaðir 7730603