I definitely can’t squeeze all of Iceland into one blog post, so I figured I would start with my Iceland road trip itinerary and link from there to each area. Tourism is booming in Iceland now so I would suggest going as soon as possible. We were surprised at the amount of tourists around the island in its “off season” but we are glad we did it at this time because we couldn’t imagine the crowds in the summer! Also check out my packing list for cold weather travel. In this post we are going to share some tips for driving in Iceland, our 12 days in Iceland and a few other options for Iceland itineraries!
Did you know the majority of the population actually believe in elves, trolls and ghosts? Roads have been rerouted so as not to disturb the elves living in certain rocks. People even have little elf houses on their properties!
There are no forests in Iceland, there are a few evergreen trees dotted here and there but no actual forests, you can see for miles on a clear day!
Vatnajokull Glacier is Europe’s largest glacier. Icelandic horses are the purest breed in the world.
Tips for Driving in Iceland
Driving in Iceland is interesting, mainly because of the weather. It is fairly easy to drive around Iceland as it is basically one main road called Route 1 or the Ring Road. One you stay on this road you will see all the main tourist attractions.
The Ring Road is basically a raised road with a drop off on either side, I suppose this is good to help the rain drain off the road but it can be quite intimidating at first. The road is also quite narrow compared to roads in the US and Canada. The best thing to do would be to take your time along the roads and pull over to allow traffic to pass when you can. When trucks are approaching, slow down a bit as they can really rock your vehicle especially if you are driving a Jeep like we did.
On your Iceland roadd trip, you will probably experience high winds at some point. These strong winds can make you veer off of your side of the road into oncoming traffic, stay aware of where you are on the road and either pull over or find a place to stop for a while.
Do not stop in the middle of the road to take pictures, you are driving along a main road and you put yourself and others in danger by doing this. Pull over at the nearest lay by and walk back to get your shot.
Our Iceland Itinerary
Here is what we managed to cover on our Iceland road trip. We spent 12 days in Iceland sleeping in a campervan and we managed to drive around the entire country including the Westfjords in 12 days!
Day 1: Arrive at Thingvellir National Park
We landed at Keflavik at 2.30pm, went to Camper Iceland to pick up our Jeep Super Camper. We definitely reccomend heading to the nearest Bonus Supermarket to do your groceries before heading out on your Iceland road trip.
Day 2: The Golden Circle
We spent our second day exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is about an hour away from Reykjavik and is definitely worth including on your Iceland itinerary.
Here are some of our top things to see when visiting the Golden Circle:
- Thingvellir National Park: Walked through the tetonic plates and dive Silfra.
- Eat ice cream from Efstidalur.
- Watch the geysirs, Strokkur and Geysir.
- Visit Gullfoss.
- Visit the Secret Lagoon
- Visit Kerid crater.
We ended up camping at Seljalandsfoss and experienced some horrible weather, opt for the nearest campsite and avoid camping near mountains in bad weather and high winds.
Day 3: South Coast Waterfalls and Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Iceland’s South Coast is absolutely stunning and one of our favourite drives on our Iceland road trip. There were so many waterfalls along the way. Here are a few places you can’t miss along Iceland’s south coast:
- Seljalandsfoss waterfall
- Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
- FJAÐRÁRGLJÚFUR MASJID
- Skaftafell National Park
We highly recommend finding a place close to Skaftafell to sleep for the night, when we arrived we did the short walk to the glacier before having dinner and getting some sleep.
Day 4: Svartifoss Waterfall, Hofn and Iceland’s East Fjords
Our morning started with an early wake up call and we hit the trails to see Svartifoss, a stunning waterfall surrounded by basalt columns located in Skaftafell National Park. We highly recommend leaving at the crack of dawn so you can be the first to reach the waterfall. The highlist of our day along this part of Iceland’s South Coast was definitely Fjallsarlon and Jokulsarlon, these bays are where icebergs break off of the glacier and head out to sea and it was magical! It is definitely worth making this a stop on your Iceland road trip no matter how short you are on time!
Our top things to do between Skatafell National Park and theEastern Fjords were:
On the way to Egilsstaðir we definitely recommend taking route 939, especially if you have a 4×4, we got to see a beautiful waterfall along the route with bright blue glacier water!
Day 5: Seyðisfjörður to Lake Myvatn
We were dying to visit the small fjord town of Seyðisfjörður so the next morning we took a drive out to check it out and it did not disappoint! TheEastern Fjords of Iceland were stunning, but today’s drive was taking us to the North. Here are a few things you shouldn’t miss:
- Krafla Volcano
- Lake Myvatn
- Myvatn Nature Baths
We spent our evening lounging at the nature baths which we thoroughly enjoyed. We would definitely choose this over the Blue Lagoon any day.
Day 6: Dettifoss, Asbyrgi Canyon, Husavik, and more waterfalls!
The North did not disappoint, we back tracked and headed towards Dettifoss, one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe and then continued onto Asbyrgi Canyon before taking the coastal route to Husavik and then down to Aldeyjarfoss and Goðafoss. These were definitely the highlights of the day:
- Asbyrgi Canyon
- Husavik. If you have time, book some whale watching!
Day 7: Hvitserker and the Westfjords
It was definitely one fo the longest driving days on our Iceland itinerary, we went to Hvitserker and then continued our drive out towards the West Fjords. We camped just outside of Laugarholl Hotel where there was a pool and some turf houses. We spent the evening here relaxing before we adventured further into the Westfjords.
Day 8: Dyjandi and Hot Springs
Our day started searching for the hottest and most secluded hot springs and it lead us towards Bildudalur, we didn’t see another car for hours! Check out our hot spring hunting in the WEstfjords post to find the coordinates for all of our hot springs! We drove to Dyjandi that evening and camped there where we got more wind and rain!
Day 9: Patreksfjodur to Stykkishholmur
After a hike up Dyjandi we headed to Patreksfjodur in search of fuel. Make sure to always fill up at a gas station when you see one. We ended up rolling into Patreksfjodur on fumes, hoping the town was big enough to have a gas station! Here are some top things to see today if you have a full tank of gas and good weather:
- Latrabjarg Cliffs
- Raudasandur Beach
Day 10: Snaefellsness Peninsula
Our main goal today was to get amazing shots of Kirkjufell which we managed to do between the clouds and rain. Unfortunately we had terrible weather again that made us miss the whole peninsula due to road closures. Here are some things to add to your Iceland road trip itinerary that we missed:
If you have time you can visit Hruanfossar and barnafoss waterfalls and camp somewhere outside of Reykjavik. We ended up driving into Reykjavik and spending the night there.
Day 11: Reykjavik
Drive to Reykjavik!
We loved this city, it had such a cool vibe to it! Here were some of our favourite things to do in Reykjavik:
- Try Brennivín and Kæstur hákarl (fermented shark)
- Visit Hallgrímskirkja
- Walk around the city
To round up our Iceland road trip itinerary we headed towards Grindavik to camp for an early morning at the Blue Lagoon.
Day 12: The Blue Lagoon
We visited the Blue Lagoon at 8am to see the sunrise. Our 12 days in Iceland had come to an end, we dropped off our car and then headed to the airport.
We covered a lot of stuff in our 12 days in Iceland, if the weather was better in some places we could have seen more like on the Snaefellsness Peninsula. This only means we will have to come back and see more of Iceland next time in some better weather!