Iceland’s Ring Road in 1 Week

Adventure Around Iceland Independently with Luxe Adventure Traveler’s

Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Iceland Ring Road ItineraryThis is a chance to explore the breathtakingly beautiful and natural wonders of Iceland as you journey around Iceland’s Route 1. On this 9-day Iceland Ring Road itinerary you’ll experience amazing scenery, active adventures, delicious Icelandic cuisine, and unique Icelandic farm stays. With your own off-road suitable rental, you’ll be able to explore gems often missed on organized bus tours.

Reykjavik Sun VoyagerDay 1 – Arrive at Keflavik

Today you’ll arrive at Keflick Airport and pick up your rental car for the 1 hour drive into Reykjavik, where you’ll live like a local in a comfortable apartment walking distance to all of Reykjavik’s attractions.

There really is no better to discover Reykjavik than on foot. Follow this Walking Tour of Reykjavik to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the charming city’s sights.

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Meal recommendations: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, Tapas Barinn, Fish Market
Accommodation: Túngata 32 for 2 nights
Rental car: SADCars


 

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park

Day 2 – The Golden Circle

Hit the road to take in some of Iceland’s most famous sights along The Golden Circle, the 190 mile circular route from Reykjavik and back. Start out the morning by suiting up in a dry suit and snorkeling Silfra, a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents that boasts some of the clearest water in the world. After, warm up with a bowl of fish soup in the visitor center before touring Þingvellir National Park. Continue on to Geysir, which erupts at regular intervals every 6 minutes or so and admire its white column of boiling water that can reach as high as 20-30 meters. Your next stop is Gullfoss, meaning “Golden Falls”, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Complete your Golden Circle Tour with a stop at Kerið, a crater lake created from a cone volcano which erupted and emptied its magma reserve.

For the super ambitious and those that like to take advantage of the long hours of light in Iceland’s summer, start the day a hike to Glymur, Iceland’s highest waterfall which can only be reached on foot.

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Meal recommendations: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, Tapas Barinn, Fish Market
Accommodation: Túngata 32 for 2 nights


Sólheimajökull glacier Day 3 – The South Coast

Up and out the door early today – the drive around Iceland’s Ring Road officially begins. Gas up before leaving Reykjavik behind, because the first stop isn’t until Keldur to see Iceland’s oldest intact turf house before heading on to Seljalandsfoss. There are many taller and more powerful waterfalls in Iceland, but the special thing about Seljalandsfoss is that you can take walk behind it! Not far from Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss spills over the cliffs of the former coastline and is another photo worthy stop. You won’t want to miss the opportunity for a swim in a semi-natural hot pool at Seljavallalaug. Spend a little time at Þorvaldseyri Visitor Center, at the base of Eyjafjallajökull to admire the volcano and be amazed that the Þorvaldseyri survived the 2010 eruption. Finally, a challenge awaits as you trek to the summit of Sólheimajökull Glacier. End your day with a drive out to the abandoned DC3 plane crash on Sólheimasandur beach. You won’t be able to see it even from the summit of Sólheimajökull Glacier, but it’s directly straight out from there.

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Glacier Hiking on Sólheimajökull


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Drive Time: 2 – 3 hours depending on weather conditions
Accommodation: Volcano Hotel for 1 night (dinner is available for hotel guests) or the 4-star Hotel Ranga for 1 night


Jokurlsarlon Iceberg LagoonDay 4 – Glacier Lagoon

Today’s drive is a stunning one that will leave you wondering if you’ve landed on the moon. Vik is a small, but charming town with one of the best spots to shop for an Icelandic wool sweater (or maybe just some mittens) you’re inevitably bringing home as a souvenir. Spend some time playing on the black sand beaches of Vik before continuing on. Be sure to also fill up the gas tank before leaving Vik, because the next gas station is quite a drive away. Stretch your legs and take advantage of the photo op at Foss á Síðu. Finally, you arrive at the stunning Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. If visiting May – August, take a zodiac boat tour of the lagoon. After touring the lagoon and warming up with a lunch of fish soup at the visitor center, cross the highway and enjoy climbing on the icebergs scattered on Breiðamerkursandur.

Drive Time: 4 hours
AccommodationHali Country Hotel for 1 night (dinner is available for hotel guests)


 

Iceland's East Fjords

Iceland’s East Fjords

Day 5 – The East Coast

Today’s drive is a beautiful one to a charming luxury country hotel with a jacuzzi you’ll be dying to relax in. You’ll want to have your camera ready because this stretch of wild and rugged coastline offer stunning vista after stunning vista. You’ll be glad you have that SUV, perfect for off-roading to some of the colorful lighthouses dotting the coast. You might even be lucky to spot East Iceland’s wild reindeer.

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Drive Time: 3 hours depending on weather conditions
Accommodation: Silfurberg for 1 night (dinner is available for hotel guests)


 

Husavik, Iceland

Husavik, Iceland

Day 6 – Húsavík

Today’s drive is the longest stretch and East Iceland residents are few and far between. Reyðarfjörður is one of the most populated villages with around 1,100 residents and a couple of tiny cafes to pop in for a coffee and to fill up the gas tank along the way to Húsavík. Húsavík is the center of whale watching in Iceland because of the number of whale species that frequent the bay. If you’re visiting March – November, head out on a whale watching tour with North Sailing Húsavík. Also enjoy a visit to the Húsavík Whale Museum, where you can learn about narwhal (only found in the Arctic), Keiko, the whale from the Free Willy movies, and more. Enjoy lunch at Veitingastaðurinn Salka for a delicious meal of Arctic char and lobster sandwiches. On the way back to Vogafjós Guesthouse, stop off for photo ops at Goðafoss, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. For the adventurous and a truly Icelandic experience, take a bath at Grjótagjá, a natural thermal spring where the locals bathe.

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Bathing at Grjótagjá Thermal Spring

Drive Time: 6 – 7 hours depending on weather conditions
Meal recommendations: Veitingastaðurinn Salka, Cowshed Cafe
AccommodationVogafjós Guesthouse for 2 nights (dinner is available for hotel guests)


 

Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters

Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters

Day 7 – Exploring Mývatn

Today take a break from self-driving and let the excellent guides at Saga Travel expertly lead you to the sights of Lake Mývatn in their Super Jeeps. You’ll see the pseudo craters of Skútustaðagígar, the lava fields at Dimmuborgir (where some episodes of Game of Thrones were filmed), the fumarole field Hverir, and end the tour with a relaxing soak at the Mývatn Nature Baths.

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Exploring Lake Mývatn with Saga Travel

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Mývatn Nature Baths

Meal recommendations: Cowshed Cafe, Sel Hotel
AccommodationVogafjós Guesthouse for 3 nights (dinner is available for hotel guests)


Blue LagoonDay 8 – The West Coast

Today is another long driving day as you travel from Mývatn back to Keflavik. Like the East Coast, you’ll want to have your camera ready for more beautiful scenery and especially the friendly Icelandic horses grazing in the pastures. Soothe your tired driving bones in one of Iceland’s most visited attractions, the milky waters of the Blue Lagoon. The waters are rich in minerals like silica, sulphur and blue-green algae and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is reputed for its positive effects on the skin.

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Iceland’s Famous Blue Lagoon

Meal recommendations: Kaffi Duus
Drive Time: 6 – 8 hours depending on weather conditions
Accommodation: Hotel Berg for 1 night


Reykjanes PeninsulaDay 9 – The Reykjanes Peninsula and Depart

The Reykjanes Peninsula (the Steamy Peninsula) is often overlooked by visitors to Iceland. Unlike the Golden Circle, which takes a good 10 hours to drive, the Reykjanes Peninsula is small and the sights can be seen in just a few hours. It’s also conveniently located to Keflavik International Airport, where you’ll be departing from. Visit sights like the the picturesque Hólmsbergsviti lighthouse, Miðlína (or Lief the Lucky Bridge) that spans the Álfagjá rift valley, Sandvík the black sand beach where scenes in the Clint Eastwood films “Flags of our fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima” were filmed in 2007, Iceland’s oldest lighthouse Reykjanesviti, and the Gunnuhver Hot Springs.

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Iceland’s Ring Road in 1 Week

Comments

  1. says

    I would LOVE to do this route! I went to Iceland in September 2012, but just stayed in Reykjavik (visiting a friend) and did a few daytrips by car. This, though…next time, right?!

    • says

      Absolutely Sam! My first trip was just a few days visiting Tim while he was temporarily living there and we stuck around Reykjavik and the Reykjanes Peninsula. Our next visit for our Ring Road trip was epic though! And we’re excited to be heading back again in September.

    • says

      Tim lived there for a short bit. I’ve been in the beginning of September and then we did our Ring Road trip in winter. We got to Reykjavik a few days before New Year’s, rang in the New Year there, and then officially started the Ring Road January 1. It’s a bit of a gamble to do it in winter like that because you never can predict weather or road conditions, but our gamble paid off.

      • Kari says

        Hi Jennifer,

        We are thinking about doing the same thing and was curious what your thoughts are about having a 4×4 car? Is it a must? And do you also wish you were able to see the highlands or were you satisfied?
        Kari

        • says

          Having a 4×4 is definitely a must otherwise you are limited to sticking to the main roads. Also, the Highlands can only be accessed June – August in good weather.

  2. says

    I’d love to see Iceland! This year I won’t make it as I’m leaving Germany in the end of August and have all my travels planned till then. But I’ll hopefully make it within the next two years. Your itinerary seems like a great choice. I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      These itineraries are a bit time consuming. We’ve got two now – this one and one for 5 days in Santorini. Hoping more readers weigh in so we can figure out if you all would like to see more trip itineraries like this!

  3. Michael says

    Sounds like a great itinerary! We are going to be doing the same trip in mid September, but for 8 days (leaving late afternoon on the 8th day).

    Where would you suggest cutting a day short for an 8 day trip? I was thinking 2 nights in Mývatn area instead of 3? What place would you skip if you only had 2 nights there?

  4. Michael Smith says

    Sounds like a great itinerary! We are going to be doing the same trip in mid September, but for 8 days (leaving late afternoon on the 8th day).

    Where would you suggest cutting a day short for an 8 day trip? I was thinking 2 nights in Mývatn area instead of 3? What place would you skip if you only had 2 nights there?

    • says

      Hi Michael,

      Did you get our email reply? We’d cut Husavik. It’s a cool town, but small. If you’re short on time we’d say to skip it and do as much of the rest of the itinerary as possible.

      Let us know if you have any other questions and enjoy your trip!

  5. says

    Lovely idea – to present such itineraries :) Iceland is a beautiful part of this eart I would like to visit, and hope to manage to do that one day!

  6. Jamal Hashim says

    Hello Jennifer,

    Thanks for putting together such an informative itinerary and responding to everyone’s questions. We are now planning on going to Iceland after reading your itinerary and have a bunch of questions.

    We live in the Chicago area and are thinking about visiting Ireland from March 21 through 30, 2015. We will have two adults, three kids ages 9, 9, and 6, and a senior citizen who walks with the help of a cane. Since we will get there at 6:30 am on March 22, we will have 8 and a half days before our return flight.

    1. Since we will not be able to do any extreme activities due to the age and ability of the people in our group, are 8.5 days enough to drive on the Ring Road and do some activities around Reykjavik?

    2. We can rent a minivan (like Ford Galaxy) to fit all the people. Do we have to have a SUV or will a mini-van be OK for the Ring Road and nearby activities that you have recommended in the itinerary?

    3. If we were to drop Husavik from the itinerary to save a day as you recommended to Michael Smith, is there any other place that you recommend for Whale watching? (I am assuming that the kids would love whale watching)

    4. I read on various forums that hot dogs and ice-cream is readily available everywhere in Iceland. Do you know if there are options for vegetarians available? (If not, we can bring a bunch of peanut butter and Jelly and just buy bread and make sandwiches for the kids).

    5. We could visit in mid-July to August if end of March is not a good time. We were thinking about March because we might get a chance to see the Northern Lights and the kids would love that. Should we reconsider the plan and visit in summer instead?

    Thanks again for putting together such a helpful itinerary and inspiring us to visit Iceland.

    Jamal

    • says

      Hi Jamal! Great to hear you plan to visit Iceland. Most of the Ring Road, except for a small section in the East, is paved so a minivan would be perfectly fine for driving both the Ring Road and to all of the attractions on the Golden Circle around Reykjavik. You could do it in 8 days – it just depends on what activities you want to do and how long those will take. Though it sounds like you will be mostly sticking to the roadside attractions since you’ll have a senior that has a bit difficulty walking.

      March isn’t a good time for whale watching. Most companies don’t operate whale watching tours in March simply because the whale watching season is from May – August, but March is the time to go to Iceland if possibly seeing the Northern Lights is of interest. Your kids are pretty young for Northern Lights viewing though as they typically are seen pretty late at night and it will be fairly cold. The best time to visit really just depends on what you’re most interested in seeing.

      As far as vegetarian options, it might be a bit difficult. The terrain isn’t suitable to pretty much anything growing in Iceland. Mostly tomatoes and cucumbers are grown in greenhouses in Iceland and you usually don’t get a vegetable other than some tomatoes, cucumbers or potatoes with a meal. Fish and lamb are found on every menu. Of course, in Reykjavik it isn’t really a problem as you have a variety of food options. But when driving the Ring Road, you are going to be dealing with farm type stays where all the food usually comes right from the farm or a nearby farm.

      Hope that helps and let us know if you have more questions!

      • Jamal Hashim says

        Thanks a lot Jennifer for your quick and detailed response. Sounds like it might be better for us to wait a little bit before visiting Iceland so that the kids are less picky about the food.

        I will try to coerce my wife into visiting Iceland without the kids using one of those IcelandAir deals so that we can at-least have a taste of what to expect :)

  7. Jamal Hashim says

    Hello Jennifer,

    I got the following error when I tried to post my questions:
    Sorry, but our system has determined you may be a spammer. If you believe this to be an error, please contact us so that we can rectify the situation.

    I tried again with a different email address and the system said “Duplicate comment detected” :)

    Thanks.

    Jamal

  8. Rita says

    Hi,

    Great itinerary, it will be very useful!

    We were thinking about visiting Iceland in December, would you recomend renting a car, or is driving in the winter a crzy idea?

    Thanks!

  9. Erin says

    Hi Jennifer!
    I am planning a trip to Iceland in early May. Any tips for traveling at this time? Will we be able to go off road with the appropriate vehicle?
    Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Erin! You will love Iceland. May to August is high season, so be sure to book your accommodations, rental car, and activities as soon as possible. You will definitely be able to go off road. The only areas not accessible will be those still being affected by the current eruption.

  10. Amy James says

    Hi, may i know if this itinerary is suitable for travelling in end sept/ oct? And would you recommend 2WD or 4WD during that time of the year? Thank you!

    • says

      Hi Amy,

      Yes, you can do this itinerary any time of the year. September and October are just some of the rainier months. You always want a 4WD when in Iceland, especially if you plan to see attractions off the main roads.

  11. Sarah says

    Thanks for this post! My husband and I are planning a trip for either June or September. I have heard a lot of nightmare stories regarding car rentals in Iceland. Is there a company you recommend? What kind of price tag comes with renting cars? Any input would be appreciated! Again, thank you for this post!!

    • says

      Hi Sarah! You’re going to love Iceland! We haven’t heard any horror stories about renting cars in Iceland. We’ve been there ourselves always with a car rental a number of times and know quite a lot of people that have also rented cars. Hope that is reassuring! Yes, we have had great experiences with SADcars, Go Iceland and also with renting a camper van from Kuku Campers. We’ll happily give our stamp of approval to any of these companies. The price really depends on the type of vehicle you rent, so have a look at their websites to get an idea of how much you need to budget for car rental.

  12. Joeylyn DW says

    My husband and I just finished a week around the Ring Road and used your post on Iceland for all our tips for planning. We LOVED it! We can’t wait to go back! Our highlights were snorkeling in Silfra, and hiking the Solheimajokull (sp?) glacier. Thanks again for all of your helpful info!

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