If taking an epic road trip is on your bucket list, then Iceland is your place! Words are not enough to describe Iceland, the beauty and how being there makes you feel. You think you have done your research and know what to expect when you get here, but nothing can prepare you for what lies in store on a road trip through Iceland. Iceland is a land of extremes – extreme weather, landscape, adventures and isolation that you will not experience anywhere else. Plus, visiting Iceland in winter gives you a totally different experience from visiting the island in summer.
Driving in Iceland is an experience in and of itself. There is a new adventure to be uncovered around every bend and endless adventures await. Driving past magnificent glaciers, steep mountains, and roaring waterfalls is nothing short of amazing. By choosing a self-drive tour you will be the boss of your itinerary. You can travel at your own speed and stop where and when you want. For those travelling to Iceland for 7 or more days, we always recommend a drive around the country along the Ring Road. The trip will take you through the different regions of the country to all the highlights and most popular natural wonders.
This is our Icelandic road trip: the best 8 days itinerary:
Day 1 | Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Explore Snæfellsnes Peninsula known for its beautiful landscape with spectacular mountains, small villages, sparkling fjords and dramatic volcanic peaks. Stop and take in the stunning sights at Eldborg crater, Búðir village, the black sands of Djúpalónssandur beach and the massive Snæfellsjökul glacier. Visit Stykkishólmur village with its old and well-preserved colourful timber houses. Sail around Breiðafjörður Bay's many islands and bird colonies (limited in winter).
Day 2 | The Northwest and Akureyri
View the majestic Hvítserkur cliff off Vatnsnes peninsula that legend claims is a petrified troll. Seals can be seen basking on the shore but the area is one of the largest seal colonies in Iceland. Tour Skagafjörður, an area, known for its horse breeding so keep an eye out for the Icelandic horse, visit the old farmhouse museum at Glaumbær and the old turf Víðimýrarkirkja church. End the day at Akureyri, a charming town that has beautiful landmarks and great restaurants.
Day 3 | Lake Mývatn
Take in Goðafoss waterfall one of the country’s most impressive waterfalls before continuing to Mývatn lake. The area is exquisite and otherworldly and consists of volcanic craters, lava formations and spluttering mud pots, including Dimmuborgir lava field and Námafjall geothermal area. Take a soothing dip in the natural wonder of Mývatn Nature Baths and stop to explore Húsavík town, Iceland’s whale-watching capital, the fossil collection at Tjörnes and the lovely Öxarfjörður fjord.
Day 4 | The Northeast
Enjoy Vatnajökull National Park, which includes some of the most spectacular and diverse sights in Iceland such as Ásbyrgi canyon, Dettifoss waterfall and Hljóðaklettar. Take in the mystical barren landscape of Möðrudalsöræfi on your way to Egilsstaðir town. Explore Lagarfljót lake, the alleged home of sea serpent Lagarfljótsormur, Hallormsstaður National Forest, the country’s largest birch forest, and Skríðuklaustur Center of Culture and History.
Day 5 | The East Fjords
Stapinn Sea Stack
The drive along the East Fjords is truly beautiful and breathtaking with dramatic mountains, narrow fjords and quaint fishing villages. Visit Djúpivogur from where you can view Papey island a nature reserve of seabirds and eider ducks, Seyðisfjörður, surrounded by sheer mountains, or Fáskrúðsfjörður, which has a great view of a hollow cliff island, Skrúður. Continue southward to Höfn town set in stunning scenery and famous for its delicious lobster.
Day 6 | Vatnajökull National Park
Enjoy the south-east cost spectacular scenery. Stop at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, the biggest glacial lagoon of its kind, and sail between the towering icebergs on the lagoon (April to October). Continue to Skaftafell, Iceland’s most popular wilderness area, and an ideal destination to enjoy outdoor activities as there are both short and easy trails that lead to Svartifoss waterfall and Skaftafellsjökull glacier.
Day 7 | The South Coast
Relish in the marvellous views of the south coast and one of the country’s most beautiful attractions including Vík village and Dyrhólaey peninsula. Enjoy the magnificent scenery with its breathtaking view to all directions; Mýrdalsjökull glacier to the north, Reynisdrangar rock formation to the east and the west the endless black coastline before driving onwards to view the picturesque waterfalls of Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss.
Day 8 | The South - Inland
Geysir Geothermal Area
Discover the inland region by driving through the fertile farmlands and settings of famous sagas. Spend the day exploring the Golden Circle area which comprises of the beautiful Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir hot spring area and Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take time to visit Skálholt one of the most important places in Iceland throughout the Middle Ages and Kerið, a volcanic crater lake.
Day 9 | Reykjavík
Enjoy a walk around Reykjavík, the small but metropolitan chic capital. This is a friendly city with great museums, cafés, and world-class restaurants. Two major highlights are Hallgrímskirkja church, which offers a fantastic view of the city from its tower, and Harpa, a cultural and social center in the heart of the city. Here you will find gorgeous little designer boutiques, art studios, artisanal ice cream parlors and tasty treats.
You can browse our selection of tours or ask us to help you plan a tailor-made trip of a lifetime. Please also note that driving in Iceland is not always for the faint of heart and can pose unique challenges and it's very important to be dressed according to the season and the weather. Please refer to our articles about how to drive in Iceland in the summer and what to wear on a trip to Iceland.
About the author
I am a born and bred Icelander and the matriarch of an above-average sized family. I have a true passion for travel and love to discover new destinations and cultures. I want to introduce you to the real Iceland, the beauty, the history, and the things that will make you fall deeply in love with my homeland.