I'm planing a seven-day "family trip" to Iceland, and I am trying to make a list of "must see" places, mostly near the ring road; any help would be greatly appreciated.
EDIT: here is the list of places I finally put in my planning (locations and descriptions extracted from the wikipedia):
Perlan - 64° 7′ 45″ N, 21° 55′ 9″ W
Perlan (English: The Pearl) is a landmark building in Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. It is 25.7 metres (84.3 ft) high. It was originally designed by Ingimundur Sveinsson. Perlan is situated on the hill Öskjuhlíđ where there had been hot water storage tanks for decades. In 1991 the tanks were updated and a hemispherical structure placed on top. This project was largely done at the behest of Davíđ Oddsson, during his time as mayor of Reykjavík.
Hallgrímskirkja - 64° 8′ 31″ N, 21° 55′ 39″ W
Hallgrímskirkja (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈhatlkrimsˌcʰɪrca], church of Hallgrímur) is a Lutheran (Church of Iceland) parish church in Reykjavík, Iceland. At 74.5 metres (244 ft), it is the largest church in Iceland and the sixth tallest architectural structure in Iceland after Longwave radio mast Hellissandur, the radio masts of US Navy at Grindavík, Eiđar longwave transmitter and Smáratorg tower. The church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614 to 1674), author of the Passion Hymns.
The Sun Voyager - 64° 8′ 51.35″ N, 21° 55′ 20.32″ W
Sun Voyager (Icelandic: Sólfar) is sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason (1931 - 1989). Sun Voyager is a dreamboat, an ode to the sun. Intrinsically, it contains within itself the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom. The sculpture is located by Sćbraut, by the sea in the centre of Reykjavík, Iceland.
Landakotskirkja - 64° 8′ 51″ N, 21° 56′ 56″ W
Landakotskirkja ("Landakot's Church"), formally named Basilika Krists konungs ("The Basilica of Christ the King"), is the cathedral of the Catholic Church in Iceland. It is often referred to as Kristskirkja ("Christ's Church"). Landakotskirkja is located in the western part of Reykjavík, on the Landakot property. It has a distinctively flat top, as opposed to the standard spire. Its architect is Guđjón Samúelsson, who also built the famous Hallgrímskirkja and the Akureyrarkirkja in Akureyri.
Hraunfossar - 64° 42′ 7″ N, 20° 58′ 41″ W
Hraunfossar (Borgarfjörđur, western Iceland) is a series of waterfalls formed by rivulets streaming over a distance of about 900 metres out of the Hallmundarhraun, a lava field which flowed from an eruption of one of the volcanoes lying under the glacier Langjökull. The waterfalls pour into the Hvítá river from ledges of less porous rock in the lava. The name hraun comes from the Icelandic word for lava. The Hraunfossar are situated near Húsafell and Reykholt and lava-tube cave Víđgelmir is close by.
Barnafossar - 64° 42′ 7″ N, 20° 58′ 41″ W
Barnafoss is also known as Bjarnafoss, which was its previous name. Barnafoss is near Hraunfossar which burst out of Hallmundarhraun which is a great lava plain. Barnafoss is a waterfall in Western Iceland, about 100 kilometres (62 mi) from Reykjavík. Barnafoss is on the river Hvita in Borgarfjordur. Hraunfossar flows out of a lava field into Hvita near Barnafoss, creating a stunning scenery.
Snaefellsnes - 64° 51′ 29″ N, 23° 6′ 54″ W
The Snćfellsnes (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈstn̥aiːfɛlsˌnɛːs]) is a peninsula situated to the west of Borgarfjörđur, in western Iceland.
It has been named Iceland in Miniature, because many national sights can be found in the area, including the Snćfellsjökull volcano, regarded as one of the symbols of Iceland. With its height of 1446 m, it is the highest mountain on the peninsula and has a glacier at its peak. (Jökull" means "glacier" in Icelandic). The volcano can be seen on clear days from Reykjavík, a distance of about 120 km. The mountain is also known as the setting of the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth by the French author Jules Verne. The area surrounding Snćfellsjökull has been designated one of the four National Parks by the government of Iceland.
Ólafsfjörđur - 66° 4′ 0″ N, 18° 39′ 0″ W
Ólafsfjörđur is a town in the northeast of Iceland located at the mouth of the fjord Eyjafjörđur.
The town is connected to Eyjafjordur via the 3.5 km one-lane Múli tunnel (the Múlagöng). Fishing is the main industry in the town and several fishing trawlers make their home in the town's harbor.
The municipality of Ólafsfjörđur and Siglufjörđur has merged to form a municipality called Fjallabyggđ, which literally means Mountain Settlement.
Godafoss - 65° 40′ 48″ N, 17° 32′ 24″ W
The Gođafoss (Icelandic: waterfall of the gods or waterfall of the gođi) is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. It is located in the Mývatn district of North-Central Iceland at the beginning of the Sprengisandur highland road. The water of the river Skjálfandafljót falls from a height of 12 meters over a width of 30 meters.
Selfoss - 65°47′54″N, 16°22′57″W
Selfoss is a waterfall in the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum in the north of Iceland which drops over some waterfalls about 30 km before flowing into Öxarfjörđur, a bay of the Arctic Sea.
Aldeyjarfoss - 65° 21′ 57.6″ N, 17° 20′ 52.8″ W
The Aldeyjarfoss waterfall is situated in the north of Iceland at the northern part of the Sprengisandur Highland Road which means it is to be found within the Highlands of Iceland.
One of the most interesting features of the waterfall is the contrast between the black basalt columns and the white waters of the fall. In this, it is similar to the much smaller Icelandic waterfall Svartifoss in Skaftafell.
The river Skjálfandafljót drops here from a height of 20 m. The basalt belongs to a lava field called Frambruni or Suđurárhraun, hraun being the Icelandic designation for lava.
Dettifoss - 65°49′18.91″N 16°23′17.41″W
Dettifoss is a waterfall in Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland, and is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
Mývatn - 65°36′N 17°00′W
Mývatn is a shallow eutrophic lake situated in an area of active volcanism in the north of Iceland, not far from Krafla volcano. The lake and its surrounding wetlands have an exceptionally rich fauna of waterbirds, especially ducks. The lake was created by a large basaltic lava eruption 2300 years ago, and the surrounding landscape is dominated by volcanic landforms, including lava pillars and rootless vents (pseudocraters). The effluent river Laxá is known for its rich fishing for Brown Trout and Atlantic Salmon.
Húsavík - 66°03′N 17°19′W
Húsavík is a town in Norđurţing municipality on the north coast of Iceland on the shores of Skjálfandi bay with 2,237 inhabitants. The most famous landmark of the town is the wooden church Húsavíkurkirkja, built in 1907. Húsavík is served by Húsavík Airport.
Jökulsárlón - 64°04′13″N 16°12′42″W
Jökulsárlón (literally "glacial river lagoon") is a large glacial lake in southeast Iceland, on the borders of Vatnajökull National Park. Situated at the head of Breiđamerkurjökull, it developed into a lake after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The lake has grown since then at varying rates because of melting of the Icelandic glaciers. The lake now stands 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) away from the ocean's edge and covers an area of about 18 km2 (6.9 sq mi). It recently became the deepest lake in Iceland at over 248 metres (814 ft) depth as glacial retreat extended its boundaries. The size of the lake has increased fourfold since the 1970s. It is considered as one of the natural wonders of Iceland.
Svartifoss - 64° 1′ 22.8″ N, 16° 58′ 30″ W
Svartifoss (Black Fall) is a waterfall in Skaftafell National Park in Iceland, and is one of the most popular sights in the park. It is surrounded by dark lava columns, which gave rise to its name. Other well-known columnar jointing formations are seen at the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, Devil's Tower in Wyoming, USA and on the island of Staffa in Scotland.
The base of this waterfall is noteworthy for its sharp rocks. New hexagonal column sections break off faster than the falling water wears down the edges.
These basalt columns have provided inspiration for Icelandic architects, most visibly in the Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík, and also the National Theatre.
Vík í Mýrdal - 63°25′N 19°00′W
The village of Vík (or Vík í Mýrdal in full) is the southernmost village in Iceland, located on the main ring road around the island, around 180 km (110 mi) by road southeast of Reykjavík.
Skógafoss - 63°31′47″N 19°30′50″W
Skógafoss (pronounced [ˈskou.aˌfɔs]) is a waterfall situated on the Skógá River in the south of Iceland at the cliffs of the former coastline. After the coastline had receded seaward (it is now at a distance of about 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) from Skógar), the former sea cliffs remained, parallel to the coast over hundreds of kilometres, creating together with some mountains a clear border between the coastal lowlands and the Highlands of Iceland.
Seljalandsfoss - 63°36′57″N, 19°59′34″W
Seljalandsfoss is one of the most famous waterfalls of Iceland. It is very picturesque and therefore its photo can be found in many books and calendars. It was a waypoint during the first leg of The Amazing Race 6.
Geysir - 64° 18′ 39.11″ N, 20° 18′ 13.79″ W
Geysir (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈceːisɪr̥]), sometimes known as The Great Geysir, is a geyser in southwestern Iceland. It was the first geyser described in a printed source and the first known to modern Europeans. The English word geyser (a spouting hot spring) derives from Geysir. The name Geysir itself is derived from the Icelandic verb geysa, "to gush", the verb from Old Norse. Geysir lies in the Haukadalur valley on the slopes of Laugarfjall hill, which is also the home to Strokkur geyser about 50 metres south.
Eruptions at Geysir can hurl boiling water up to 70 metres in the air. However, eruptions may be infrequent, and have in the past stopped altogether for years at a time.
Gullfoss - 64°19′34″N 20°07′16″W
Gullfoss (English: Golden Falls) is a waterfall located in the canyon of Hvítá river in southwest Iceland.