Adventure Around Iceland Independently with Luxe Adventure Traveler’s
Iceland Ring Road Itinerary
This 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.
Today you’ll arrive at Keflavik 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.
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.
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.
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
Accommodation: Hali Country Hotel for 1 night (dinner is available for hotel guests)
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.
Drive Time: 3 hours depending on weather conditions
Accommodation: Silfurberg for 1 night (dinner is available for hotel guests)
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.
Drive Time: 6 – 7 hours depending on weather conditions
Meal recommendations: Veitingastaðurinn Salka, Cowshed Cafe
Accommodation: Vogafjós Guesthouse for 2 nights (dinner is available for hotel guests)
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.
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.
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.