There’s nothing like a good road trip. Especially when driving past striking glaciers, magnificent volcanoes, roaring waterfalls, and northern lights on Iceland’s Ring Road. Travel at your own pace and explore Iceland’s majestic nature, is absolutely an unforgettable adventure travel experience.
Your tour begins when collect your car at the international airport of Keflavik (you’ll need to book this). Your route takes you along the Reykjanes peninsula which is the most southwesterly point in Iceland and also the youngest part of the country.
Before you drive to Reykjavik, you could take the time to relax in the Blue Lagoon Spa. The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most unique and popular attractions. Guests enjoy bathing and relaxing in Blue Lagoon´s geothermal seawater, known for its positive effects on the skin. A visit to the spa promotes harmony between body, mind and spirit, and enables you to soak away the stresses of modern life. Visitors to the Blue Lagoon rekindle their relationship with nature, soak up the scenic beauty and enjoy breathing the clean, fresh air.
Day 2 The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is a short 1 day road trip. It’s a great place to start your adventure. Some of the highlights include Thingvellir National Park where the Earth’s tectonic plates are being ripped apart, exploding geysers, and the impressive Gullfoss Waterfall.
After driving the Golden Circle, a good place to spend the night is around the town of Árborg. From here you can get back onto Route 1 and the main Ring Road route in the morning.
Day 3 South Coast
Your next stop is perfect for incredible sunrises, so wake up early! Seljalandsfoss Waterfall rises some 200 feet in the air, with a short hiking trail that takes you behind the waterfall itself. Shooting photos behind the waterfall at sunrise can be difficult with all the spray though. Another good photo location is from a hill on the right, just be careful because it’s slippery climbing up.
After that you can drive to Skógafoss, another massive & beautiful waterfall only minutes away. About the same height as Seljalandsfoss, but much wider and more powerful. Colorful rainbows are a common occurrence here. A wooden stairway brings you to a viewing platform on the top.
One activity you can’t do on your own is hiking glaciers. If you’ve never hiked a glacier before, I highly recommend it! The guys at Arctic Adventures have a few different glacier hiking trips that include ice climbing. If you’re driving the Ring Road, you can book a trip and just meet your guide at the glacier.
The abandoned airplane wreckage on Sólheimasandur Beach is one of Iceland’s most iconic photography locations. Back in 1973 a United States Navy DC-3 crashed on the beach here. You can drive out to the plane and explore what remains, IF you know where to look.
If you’re not camping out, the next best place to spend the night is in the coastal town of Vik. There are a few guesthouses, a hostel, small grocery store, and a restaurant.
Skaftafell in Vatnajokull National Park and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
From Kirkjubaejarklaustur the tour will take you on a drive to Foss a Sidu (a waterfall) and then to Dverghamrar and on to Skeidararsandur. Your route today will take you on a drive over big glacial rivers and give you a good view up to Vatnajokull glacier seeing Hvannadalshnukur, Iceland’s highest peak, and other glaciers around this part. You could choose to hike in Skaftafell, or to take a glacier hiking tour with a guide, a walk to the edge of Skaftafellsjokull glacier which offers a view to the Skaftafellsjokull and Svinafellsjokull glaciers. Your tour continues to Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, where you could enjoy a boat tour, before ending the day in the Hofn in Hornafjordur area.
Day 5 The East Fjords
Today your tour takes you on a drive through the spectacular East Fjords with its towering mountains and charming fishing villages as you head to the fertile Egilsstadir area. After you leave the town of Hofn in Hornafjordur heading north across the East Fjords it is good to stop here and there, maybe in the villages of Djupivogur, Breiddalsvik, Stodvarfjordur, Faskrudsfjordur and/or Reydarfjordur. Your drive will take you around Lake Lagarfljot which is a stop offering both historical places of interest and special natural places.
Day 6 Dettifoss waterfall and Myvatn
From Egilsstadir your tour continues along the national ring road until you need to turn off onto the road to Dettifoss, a truly magnificent waterfall. After enjoying these mighty falls you will need to turn around and head back the short distance to the ring road. Before you arrive at Myvatn you come to the hot spring area of Namaskard (Hverarond), and Krafla Geothermal Power Station. The nearby crater lake Viti is a good place to stop and take a few photos, it is also very nice to see the colourful sulfurous slopes of Namaskard and Krafla volcanic area. The early evening is a good time to explore the highlights of Lake Myvatn.
Day 7 Lake Myvatn and Husavik
This is a day to spend in Lake Myvatn and its surrounding area and you could spend a life time exploring this area! Some of its unique attractions are Dimmuborgir and the pseudo craters at Skutustadir. Do not miss Hverfjall (also known as Hverfell) which is a tephra cone or tuff ring volcano with a crater approximately 1 km in diameter. It is a very easy hike to the rim (giving you a great view of the whole area).
Take a look at Grjotagja, a small lava cave with a thermal spring inside, the water temperature is about 42°C. Or, if you wanted to be a little bit more sophisticated, try Jardbodin, a geothermal spa (also known as Myvatn Nature Baths). Finally, you will need to head towards Husavik.
Day 8 North Iceland and Akureyri
You have the opportunity to take a whale watching tour from Husavik in the morning before you drive to Godafoss Waterfall and from there to the town of Akureyri. It is good to spend a few hours exploring Akureyri, the capital of the North and its surrounding area. From Akureyri your route will take you west to the horse-breeding valley of the Skagafjordur fjord.
Day 9 West Iceland to Reykjavik
Today your route will take you south through Borgarfjordur where there are a lot of places worth visiting including the beautiful Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls and Iceland´s largest natural hot spring, Deildartunguhver. Next your tour will take you on the road around Hvalfjordur fjord to Reykjavik. Hvalfjordur (Whale Fjord) is a long fjord, a very peaceful and beautiful place in nature.
Depending on your departure time you could use this day to explore the capital. You could enjoy a sightseeing tour in or around Reykjavik or try out one of the thermal swimming pools or just go for a walk downtown. Maybe you’d like to seize the chance to hit the mall for some final shopping, or to savour the local cuisine in one of the capital’s many restaurants. Reykjavik has many museums and galleries worth visiting. If you have an early morning flight you will need to drive straight to Keflavik International Airport where you will drop off your car (if you have booked this option).