Ring Road Iceland
Driving around Iceland can be a real adventure, but here’s a guide to make it a little easier. First, stop at the first gas station you see and fill up your tank. You’ll need about 20 liters of gas. Next, you should stop at the first store you see and buy some food. A
Ring Road, Iceland

The Ring Road, also known as the Route 1, is an awe-inspiring road that runs around the country of Iceland. Starting at Reykjavik, the road takes you past incredible volcanoes, icebergs, waterfalls and magical northern lights. It’s a must-see for any tourists who visit Iceland! ####

If you are searching for an unforgettable road trip experience, take a journey around Iceland’s Ring Road. The country is visually captivating in a way I have not seen anywhere.

A stunning new Icelandic landscape appears from every corner.

Driving a car in Iceland and self-driving with Ring Road’s beautiful geothermal springs, bubbling cracks in the road, rainbows in the sky, waterfalls, glaciers, massive waterfalls all day long.

If you’re lucky, the northern lights will also be a part of your experience. The World’s Top 1,000 Best Travel Bloggers In 2007, travel blogger and online magazine editor Amanda Rogers launched the Wanderful blog as a place for travelers to share their wanderlust. In 2011, she added a second

When you visit Iceland, don’t forget the opportunity to experience what traveling in this country is really like. This place can be quite safe, but any volcano rumbling might make it dangerous.

Whether you are traveling around the country on your own, or with a group of friends, you will definitely want to prepare. It is important that you know where to stay and what to see. With this handy guide I can help you plan out your trip!

This itinerary is completely free! I’ve worked hard putting it together for you. If it helps, please use my affiliate links when booking hotels, rental cars, or activities. I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you! Thanks.

  1. Ring Road Iceland Travel Map
  2. Iceland Travel Restrictions 2021
  3. Iceland Ring Road Driving Guide
  4. Rental Car Or Campervan?
  5. Planning An Iceland Road Trip
  6. My Iceland Ring Road Itinerary
  7. DAY 1: The Golden Circle
  8. DAY 2: Iceland’s South Coast
  9. DAY 3: Iceberg Lagoons & Ice Caves
  10. DAY 4: Egilssta & eth; ir & The Eastern Fjords
  11. DAY 5: Myvatn & More Waterfalls
  12. DAY 6: Akureyri & North Iceland
  13. DAY 7: Snæfellsnes Peninsula
  14. DAY 8-10: Explore Reykjavik
  15. Tips For Driving The Ring Road

Ring Road Iceland Travel Map

HOW TO USE THIS MAP: Turn to the map of Iceland you’ll find on page 78. Click on the top left of the map to display a separate set of layers that mark the route and points of interest. You may toggle between hidden and main layers or click icons on the map to see which names I mention in this travel guide. #### To save the map, click on “View Larger Map” in the upper-right corner of the screen.

Iceland Travel Restrictions 2021

Yay! Iceland will allow travelers who have received the required vaccination against the deadly Avian Flu to visit. Tourists who have been vaccinated may be allowed to enter starting on April 6th.

Hotels attractions and private tours are open with a new health and safety protocol in place. Many hotels have been forced to operate at only 50-60% capacity because of the new regulations.

You can find the latest updates on traveling to Iceland here.

Iceland Ring Road Driving Guide

The Ring Road around Iceland encircles the entirety of the country. In fact, the Ring Road stretches over 800 miles, which you can see from above via a map.

While you can technically drive the whole thing in less than 24 hours the reality is it will take at least a week to drive with stops on along the way.

This is because you’ll be stopping a lot. Like every five minutes!

There are so many incredible photo opportunities in Iceland that you’ll find yourself constantly stopping for photos. I spent 10 days in Iceland and had 7 full days to drive the Ring Road.

If I had spent a few more days on the Ring Road, I would’ve seen more of this city.

You’ll certainly want to stay on the Inca Trail for at least seven days. It is possible that you will miss some of the highlights, though, as you will be moving for those seven days. However, those seven days should be filled with wonderful sights and experiences.

There was a time when the weather in Iceland was extremely unpredictable. The weather is still unpredictable, but it never snows anymore.

Campervan Rental in Iceland
My Happy Campers Van
Iceland Road Trip
A Peek Inside the Van

Rental Car Or Campervan?

If you want to rent a car, it’s best to book with Discover Cars.They search both local and international car rental companies to help you find the best possible price. This is the easiest way to rent a car for driving in Iceland.

There are many different types of tours available. Some bus tours will drive through the route, while others offer self-drive options. It’s best to try to find a tour that offers both options. You can stop at any time for as long as you like, giving you total freedom of choice.

I drove the ring road in Iceland. As an alternative to staying in a motel, I stayed in a campervan, which covered my accommodation cost.

My truck had a fold-down bed sink with running water electric cooler gas grill battery-powered heating system and large solar panel.

UPDATE:Icelandic laws have recently changed so that you cannot spend the night in a campervan anywhere outside of designated campgrounds. You must park at designated campsites and there are many of them.

Planning Your Ring Road Adventure
Planning Your Ring Road Adventure

Planning An Iceland Road Trip

Where To Start From

Most travelers start their Ring Road drive from Keflavik International Airport, others spend a few days exploring Reykjavik from a hotel first. You can drive the route in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction but I recommend driving counterclockwise to hit the most touristy parts of Iceland. The first.

Gas Stations

Gas is very expensive in Iceland. To be exact, it’s about $2 USD per liter ($7.50 per gallon). In addition, gas stations are not that common around towns but are more frequent in the countryside. Foreign credit cards may need to be used inside rather than at the pump where they’re more likely to get

Fill up whenever you can, especially if the weather turns bad. The price for gas for a round trip from Chicago to DC or from New York to LA was around $300 USD.

Groceries In Iceland

Before you go on a trip, stock up on groceries to make sure you have enough for the road. Food in Iceland is expensive — there’s a famous budget supermarket called Bónus that’s perfect for this. You can’t miss it – it’s the giant cartoon

Many gas stations along the ring road also offer pre-made sandwiches hot soup and basic groceries for sale too. So you can buy some general food supplies along the way.

GPS & Mobile Phone

If your phone’s SIM is unlocked you can buy a local prepaid Icelandic SIM card from the Vodafone Store at Kringlan Shopping Mall in Reykjavik. This gives you access to GPS maps internet data and weather reports.

What Should You See?

I’d recommend picking a few highlights and loosely planning your journey around them. Most people start their Ring Road adventure at Reykjavik or Keflavik Airport.

Here I’ll show you my suggested 7-10 day itinerary with highlights you shouldn’t miss. You’ll also find a few adventure activities that must be booked in advance.

My Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

DAY 1: The Golden Circle

Golden Circle Iceland
Strokkur Geyser on the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is a 1-day road trip that starts from Reykjavik, Iceland. I wrote an article about this adventure in a separate section. This 300 km (190 mi) route covers many beautiful landmarks in a short period of time so it’s perfect for people who are on a long layover.

The main attractions in Iceland are located in the capital, Reykjavik. The city is a great starting point for longer ring road tours of the country. The city is also known for its thriving harbor and many must-see attractions such as Þingvellir National Park and the historical Hallgrímskirkja church.

Thingvellir National Park

The place where Iceland’s first Parliament was built and where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are slowly splitting apart from each other is called Silfra. You can spend a lot of time here walking the trails, or you can go snorkeling or scuba diving between the plates.

Geysers At Haukadalur

An impressive geothermal area featuring two natural geysers that erupt every few minutes. Churning boiling water that smells like eggs, it isn’t long before you can witness the eruptions!

Gullfoss Waterfall

This wide and fast-moving river turns a corner and plunges down 100 feet into a thundering waterfall. From here most people head back to the Ring Road or to Reykjavik.

➜ Read My Golden Circle Travel Guide Here

Golden Circle Tour

Golden Circle Guided Tour

In the spirit of adventure, take a day-long tour to explore the best of Iceland’s Golden Circle with a professional guide and transportation.


DAY 2: Iceland’s South Coast

Seljalandsfoss Ring Road Iceland
Exploring Iceland’s South Coast

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

You’ll be driving through the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall [MAP] next, and it’s a pretty spectacular sight with its 200-foot waterfall. You can get behind the waterfall for a good view of the falls and then continue on to your final destination.

Shooting a photograph behind a waterfall at sunrise can be difficult, as the spray often gets in the way. Another great location to shoot is from a hill on the right. Just be careful because it’s slippery going up.

Skogafoss Ring Road Iceland
Rainbow at Skogafoss Waterfall

Skógafoss Waterfall

After that you can drive to another massive waterfall known as Sogafoss [MAP]. The waterfall is only minutes away from the previous site, but the road leading there is quite strenuous. However, once there it’s easier to see all kinds of beautiful rainbows. On-site, a wooden stairway offers visitors an enjoyable place

Iceland Ring Road Activities
Vatnajokull Glacier in Iceland

Skaftafell National Park

One activity you should not attempt on your own is hiking across Iceland’s famous glaciers. If you have never hiked on a glacier before I recommend joining an adventure!

There are a lot of different glaciers to explore in Iceland, but perhaps the most popular one is called Vatna Fissure Glacier. It’s massive and there are a number of trails where you can explore it.

Sólheimajökull Viewpoint [MAP] is a popular place for tourists to get photos. All you need to do is step onto the upper level of the viewing platform, and you’ll find yourself admiring one of Iceland’s most awe-inspiring sights—a glacier

Glacier Climbing

Hike A Glacier In Iceland

Step onto a glacier in Iceland and discover what it’s like to wade through a river of ice.

Sólheimasandur Plane Crash
Visiting the Village of Sølheimasandur Plane Crash

Sólheimasandur Plane Crash

An abandoned airplane wreckage on Sölheimasandur Beach is one of Iceland’s most iconic photography locations. In 1973 a United States Navy DC-3 crashed here and was left to its fate. This plane has since made it into a bunch of music videos and so is well known.

You can park your car and hike out to the plane on foot and explore the remains. If you like, I’ve provided detailed directions to make sure you see this famous place first-hand!

Iceland Black Sand Beach
Black Sand Beaches

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Often referred to as the world’s most beautiful black sand beach, Reynisfjara [MAP] is a must-visit location for travelers. This wild rugged beach was formed by lava and ocean water mixing with each other.

I wouldn’t recommend sunbathing on this beach but you will get some amazing photo opportunities here. From the black sand itself to the cliffs and caves, Reynisfjara is an impressive sight.

Icelandic Horses

South Coast Guided Tour

If you would like to take an interesting day tour, then you should join a South Coast tour. Travelers will visit the best attractions of Iceland’s South Coast with a guide and transportation.


DAY 3: Iceberg Lagoons & Ice Caves

Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon
J & ouml; kulsá rl & oacute; n Lagoon

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

This magnificent canyon has been around for thousands of years. It began life about 9000 years ago as a result of erosion, which carved out the narrow winding path through its middle. I was thrilled to walk in this gorge without getting my feet wet. However, if you want to avoid water wading through the canyon, I recommend exploring it from above the Fjärårgljúfur Canyon. Be aware that the path is steep but the view is well worth the effort.

Svartifoss Black Waterfall

The black basalt columns that flank the narrow flow of water from Svartifoss (aka the “Black Waterfall”) will make you feel like you’ve discovered a new planet. Depending on whether you decide to take the direct or more circular approach, you can expect to walk an estimated 2 miles up a mountain stream. You can reach the waterfall area. You can’t actually enter the actual bucket-wad, but you’ll get close enough for great photos.

J & ouml; kuls & aacute; rl & oacute; n Iceberg Lagoon

Breiðamerkurjökull glacier is slowly melting with giant blue-tinted icebergs breaking off and floating into a large lagoon called Jökulsárlón. The ice collects on its shores while some pieces continue on and

Jukulsan glacier lagoon is such a cool place (pun intended) that you can spend most of the day there. Don’t forget to visit the nearby ocean beach where some icebergs are pushed on shore by waves.

Iceberg Lagoon

J & ouml; kuls & aacute; rl & oacute; n Beach Tour

Explore the highlights of Iceland’s South Coast on a 14-hour sightseeing tour from Reykjavik to Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon.

Ice Caves on the Ring Road
Exploring Crazy Ice Caves

Explore Magical Crystal Ice Caves

If you’re traveling in Iceland for photography, you can’t miss the beautiful ice caves beneath Vatnajokull glacier. Melt-water creates these intricate natural ice tunnels with sunlight filtering through the ice giving them a blue tint.

Ice caves in Iceland are difficult and perilous to reach. To visit them you will need to hire a guide. For safety purposes, you can only visit them in the winter (starting in November) when the ice has hardened up and the risk of collapse is low.

Ice Caves

Crystal Ice Cave Tour

Take your camera inside the world’s largest glacier as you marvel at heavenly shades of blue. Led by a certified glacier guide, you will explore this magnificent glacier and all its wondrous colors.


DAY 4: Egilsstadir & The Eastern Fjords

Mountains on the East Coast
Mountains on the East Coast

Driving The Coastline

Now you’re officially in the middle of nowhere. Eastern Iceland is a wild and rugged wilderness of rocky mountain peaks winding black-sand coastlines, where the weather can change quickly.

There is a lot of driving in Iceland without many towns. You’ll be weaving in and out of fjords all day, but you won’t have to stop too long to rest. So, turn up the tunes and take in the majestic Icelandic scenery. A lot of people stop for a night at Egilsstaðir

East Iceland Ring Road Trip
Cool Bird Watching Hut

Sheep & Reindeer Spotting

Eastern Iceland is home to many sheep and reindeer. Yup, reindeer! Keep your eyes on the road because a herd can suddenly cross your path without warning.

Pay special attention to the sheep on dark nights or in bad weather. In winter, sheep are enclosed within their fences, but during the summer and fall they roam free throughout the countryside.

Northern Lights in Iceland
Light Under the Northern Lights

Hunting Northern Lights

You can see the Northern Lights every night driving in circles on the Ring Road in the north. On the east, you can always find clear skies for stargazing. When I was in Norway, I had 3 nights of great aurora activity and clear skies.

Traveling at night will help you spot the Northern Lights. Read this post for tips on how to photograph the phenomenon.

Northern Lights

Premium Northern Lights Tour

Take your family on a trip to the Northern Lights. Be amazed by the colorful displays!


DAY 5: Myvatn & More Waterfalls

Boiling Mud Pools in Iceland
Hverir Mud Pools at Myvatn

Icelandic Mountain Passes

Established in the year 930, it is believed that Faskrissfjardarháng Tunnel consists of approximately 4 miles and is located in Iceland. It goes underground and up to 1,000 feet, but no one knows exactly where. What a long boring drive!

During the winter months, Route 1 is covered in snow. During the summer months, you can drive a 4×4 to explore more of the area.

Powerful Dettifoss Waterfall
Powerful Dettifoss Waterfall

Dettifoss Waterfall

Dettifoss is one of the greatest waterfalls in Europe. It has over 13,000 gallons of water rushing past it every second! It’s equally beautiful and overwhelming.

Most visitors head to the waterfall’s west side, but the east side is a great place to take pictures. The view from the east is very impressive, but it’s also very dangerous if you get too close to the edge. Especially when the rocks are wet! Watch out for falling rocks!

Godafoss Waterfall

Godafoss Waterfall is famous for several reasons. Its impressive width of over 100 feet and its location on the north coast, makes it a favorite destination for many tourists and photographers alike. More importantly however, if you visit this watery wonder during the right time of the year you may be able to witness the phenomenon of “The Aurora Bore

Godafoss is not derived from the height of a very tall waterfall, but it has the width and power to remind me of Niagara Falls. The falls are known locally as the “Waterfall of the Gods” because an Icelandic legend involving Norse statues and their conversion to Christianity.

Ring Road Activities Geothermal Vents
Myvatn Geothermal Vents

Námafjall Hverir

Pulling back onto Route 1, you’ll soon get to the Myvatn Lake area in Northern Iceland. Volcanic activity is high with some fun hot springs and other geothermal features to explore. One such place is Námafjall Hverir geothermal area. You can get up-close-and- boiling mud pits or steaming fumaroles.


DAY 6: Akureyri & North Iceland

Flying over Erupting Volcanoes
Flying over Erupting Volcanoes

Fly Over An Active Volcano!

Akureyri has lots of things to do, but one in particular is pretty special. Flying over Iceland’s Bárðarbunga Volcano (also called the Holuhraun eruption) was an incredible experience. The lava broke through the surface there and was spewing huge rivers of molten rock

Flying over an erupting volcano had been on my bucket list for years. I’m so happy I got to watch the power and fury of nature up close like that! To book a small plane for this journey, I used MyFlug.is, an online booking service. A flight was much cheaper than a helicopter ride

2021 UPDATE:Unfortunately, the Holuhraun Eruption of Iceland ended back in February 2015. However, the Fagradalsfjall Volcano continues to erupt outside Reykjavik!

Whale Watching around Akureyri
Whale Watching around Akureyri

Whale Watching In Iceland

Because I was waiting for the weather to clear up for my volcano flight I didn’t have a chance to go whale watching in Iceland. But it is very popular, and can be done from June through October.

Whale Watching Boat

Whale Watching Trip

Set sail on a whale watching cruise to try and spot minke whales, dolphins, porpoises and more.


DAY 7: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall in Snaefellsnes
Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall in Snæfellsnes

Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall

It is easy to choose between driving around Iceland or flying directly to Reykjavik. I flew so that I could make time for the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Kirkjufellsfoss is known for being one of the most photographed waterfalls in Iceland, located West of the town of Grundarfjörður.

Búðakirkja Black Church

One of my favorite things about Iceland is that it’s so easy to get away from the city life. The country is very isolated and deserted, which helps you to escape the noisy city noise. The only two buildings in Búðir are a hotel and a tiny church named B&u This black church sits in a lava field and it also has lots of green space behind it. Be careful not to fall into any of the big holes that dot the grassy landscape.


DAY 8-10: Explore Reykjavik

End the Ring Road in Reykjavik
Spend Time in Reykjavik

If you’re back in Reykjavik, there are a couple of exciting things to do here! First, Reykjavik is a vibrant city. There’s a lot of interesting street-art to see and cool nightlife to enjoy. Second, the city has some really innovative architecture. Modern buildings have been constructed from

Hallgrímskirkja Church

Iceland’s Hallgrímskirkja Church towers over Reykjavík and is the tallest church in the entire country. Naturally this has made the expressionist architecture one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions. The two most notable aspects of the church are its steeple and its bell tower The statue of Leif Ericksson and the huge mechanical pipe organ. See if you can ride the elevator to the top and get some nice views of the city.

Harpa Concert Hall

Harpa Concert Hall is a modern building in Reykjavik, Iceland, that features an unusual facade made of glass. The building stands out because of its unique architectural style and because the exterior is illuminated by light. There are no performances held at Harpa Hall during your visit, but you can schedule a tour if there’ pulsating with colorful lights, the building puts on a show of its own.

Tjörnin Pond

This natural geothermal pond in the middle Reykjavik attracts geese swans and ducks year-round along with picnicking families and couples looking for a romantic walk. Locals refer to the pond as the “Biggest Bread Soup in the World” due to all of the bread that is offered to the birds. A local A small environmental tip is to offer seeds instead of bread to birds. It’s healthier for them!

Walking Tour

Reykjavik Walking Tour

See the highlights of the world’s northernmost capital on a fun walking tour of Reykjavik, Iceland.

Swimming in the Blue Lagoon!
Swimming in the Blue Lagoon!

The Blue Lagoon

You can’t visit Iceland without a visit to the Blue Lagoon. It’s located about an hour away from Reykjavik, closer to the airport. Visiting the lagoon is expensive but well worth it!

The Blue Lagoon is not really a natural lagoon, it’s actually man-made using surplus water from the nearby geothermal powerplant. But bathing in the warm mineral-rich waters surrounded by Iceland’s dramatic volcanic landscape still makes for a fun time!

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon Bus Transfer

Easy transportation to the Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik is available. You can travel there every hour on the hour.


Ring Road Driving Tips
Old Abandoned Bus on the Ring Road

Tips For Driving The Ring Road

How Long Does It Take?

Seven days is the minimum you can take off, but I’d really recommend 10. You won’t feel rushed by taking it all in one place, so maybe spread out your time a bit. Two weeks would be ideal if you can spare that much time.

Visit the capital city of Iceland’s Reykjavik too!

Best Time To Visit Iceland

When you travel to Iceland, it’s important to know the right time of year. Summer months from June through August are best for seeing the country’s natural beauty and taking in its breathtaking landscape. But fall is a great time for those who want to catch the northern lights as well as enjoy shorter days

Bathrooms & Showers

How can you shower if you’re living in a camper van? Well most cities have heated public pools that are open to the public for free. Or you can visit one of Iceland’s many campgrounds. Sponge-baths work too! Regular bathrooms are available at most tourist destinations. Restaurants and gas stations

Checking The Weather

If you are looking for weather conditions in Iceland, visit the website Vegagerdin.is. There you can find updated road conditions for your mobile phone. You can even download an app to your smart phone so that information will be available on the go.

Stay Safe Out There!

I recommend visiting the SafeTravel.is website to stay up-to-date on Iceland’s weather conditions and take their short online driving test to earn the necessary safety rating before hitting the road.

Iceland is one of the most amazing countries to visit! You’ll feel the same way after a week driving the Ring Road.

Iceland Road Trip Adventure

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Travel Planning Resources For The Ring Road
Packing Guide
Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip.
Book Your Flight
Ready to fly? Here’s how I find the cheapest airfare.
Rent A Car
Find Cars is a great website for comparing car prices to find a deal.
Cheap Accommodation
Learn how to save money booking hotels and vacation apartments.
Protect Your Trip
It is wise to be prepared for travel abroad. Travel insurance can protect you from the possibility of injury or theft while away from home. If you need to leave home without your passport, for example, travel insurance will provide help in the event of an emergency.

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I hope you enjoyed my guide to the Iceland Ring Road! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

  • Planning a trip to Iceland but not sure when to go? Here’s the best time to visit Iceland arranged by seasons.
  • Here are my favorite things to do in Reykjavik if you want to get to know Iceland’s capital city during your trip.
  • If you have only a few days to travel, an even better way is to visit Iceland’s Golden Circle by day trip instead.
  • When you’re planning an Iceland trip, you may be fearful about driving in this unique country. If you’re worried about road safety, don’t be. Iceland has no less than 100,000 miles of paved and dirt roads and a public bus system (if there is such a thing as
  • Want to improve your photos? Read my best travel photography tips and guide to picking a travel camera.
  • How can I afford to travel the world? This is how I make money while traveling.

Any questions about driving on the ring road in Iceland? Is your trip coming up soon? Send me a message in the comments below!

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