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Ultimate Iceland Ring Road Itinerary: Explore the Best of Iceland in 10 Days


Embark on the ultimate road trip adventure with our comprehensive 10-day itinerary for driving Iceland’s famous Ring Road. Experience the rugged mountains and unique geological features that make this Nordic island nation a must-visit destination. From the iconic waterfalls and black sand beaches of South Iceland to the geothermal wonders of the North, our guide will ensure you don’t miss a thing on your journey around Iceland’s spectacular Ring Road. So, buckle up and get ready for an unforgettable road trip through the land of fire and ice.”

10-Day Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Driving Iceland’s Ring Road is an amazing adventure that allows you to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations while having the luxury of following an easy route. We recommend renting a 4X4 for your trip as this circular road takes you through the rugged landscapes of the country to the top of North Iceland where conditions can change in an instant. Compare Car rental prices here. If you are not picking up your rental car at the airport – book this airport shuttle to Reykjavik.

To help you with our budget you may want to read: How Much Does a Trip to Iceland Cost

About The Ring Road Iceland

about the ring road iceland

The Ring Road is Iceland’s national road Route 1. It circles nearly the entire country spanning 1,322 kilometers (821 mi). Most people drive the ring road in 7 days and you can even see a lot of the most popular ring road attractions in just a few days. But we recommend at least 10 days to see Iceland. Even then you will probably want a few more days, but this is a 10-day Iceland ring road itinerary that will take you through some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes and top attractions.

Our itinerary drives around the ring road clockwise from Reykjavik where you’ll drive north some of the country’s most beautiful paces.

Important Websites

When you drive Iceland’s Ring Road, it is very important to stay up to date on the weather forecast, here is some more information to have with you for safety. Important websites to follow for Iceland Road conditions are weather forecast,  road conditions, and from ICE -SAR for travel alerts.

If you don’t have a data plan, we suggest getting an e-sim. When we travel we use Airalo and have never had a problem. There are plenty of e-sims to choose from, but you should also make sure to get a GPS with your car as you may not have coverage in all places in Iceland.

driving the ring road iceland deb

Most of Iceland’s ring road is paved and it has two-lane traffic, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t rugged. There are some single-lane bridges and narrow passes, and weather can change quickly. We sometimes had very limited visibility. So rent a 4WD.

I remember one snow squall coming up during a four-wheel drive tour in northern Iceland where we hit some bad weather. Our driver continued driving using his GPS. (we asked him to stop) However, like Canada, Iceland’s roads are well maintained when it snows, so it is possible to explore it during the winter months as well.

The Complete Ring Road Itinerary

driving the ring road puffins

Welcome to Reykjavik International Airport! You have arrived in Iceland! It is time to pick up your rental car and make your way to the Northernmost capital of the World. Located in the southwest of Iceland, this city is not to be missed on an Iceland itinerary.

Reykjavik is about 45 minutes from the airport with the Blue Lagoon located in between. People often visit these famous springs on their way into the city center, or on the last day of their trip. There is more about them at the end of this post.

Day 1 – Airport to Reykjavik

Iceland Ring Road Itinerary reykjavik

Once you get to Reykjavik there are so many things to see and do. With a Viking history and a stunning Nordic setting, Reykjavik is a modern city where you can relax and plan for the days ahead.

Reykjavik Attractions

Iceland Trip Cost How much Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral Reykjavik

Hallgrímskirkja: The Church of Hallgrímur is Iceland’s national church. This iconic church is one of the tallest structures in Iceland and offers an incredible view of the city from its tower. Harpa Concert Hall: This stunning piece of modern architecture is home to the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra. You can take a guided tour or enjoy a concert. Sun Voyager: This beautiful sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason is a must-see. It represents a dreamboat and an ode to the sun. Check out the Top 5 Natural Wonders of Reykjavik Laugavegur: This is the main shopping street in Reykjavik, filled with boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. Old Harbour: This area has been transformed into a lively district with restaurants, cafes, and museums. Reykjavik Art Museum: This museum is home to a vast collection of modern and contemporary Icelandic art. Read our complete Reykjavik Guide

Dinner

You can go whale watching directly from Reykjavik. If you want to get the obligatory whale-watching excursion out of the way before you hit the ring road, book this tour on a luxury yacht from downtown Reykjavik.

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur: Try the famous Icelandic hot dog at this popular stand. Seafood Grill: Reykjavik is known for its seafood, and this restaurant is a great place to try some local dishes. Read our Icelandic Food guide to help you know what to order.

Overnight in Reykjavik

There are plenty of accommodation options in Reykjavik, from luxury hotels to cozy guesthouses. We have stayed at both the Hilton Reykjavik or Hotel Marina Reykjavik and they are great choices.

Approximate driving time: 50 km / 31 miles

Day 2 – Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Make the most of your day by getting up early for your drive to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The drive from Reykjavik to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula takes about 2 hours. The peninsula is located in west Iceland and is known for its dramatic landscapes, including mountains, lava fields, and beautiful coastline.

Late Morning to Afternoon

ring road in iceland kirkjufel
Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall with Kirkjufell mountain in the background at sunset, Iceland

Explore Snæfellsjökull National Park which is home to the Snæfellsjökull Glacier, which is said to have mystical powers. There are also several hiking trails and beautiful viewpoints in the park.

Visit Kirkjufell This mountain is one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland and is a must-see in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. There’s a waterfall nearby, Kirkjufellsfoss, which is also worth checking out.

Explore Djúpalónssandur This beautiful black sand beach is known for its dramatic landscapes and is a great spot for photography.

Evening

If you visit during the winter months, you may have the opportunity to see the Northern Lights. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a great place to view them because it has less light pollution than Reykjavik. (Seasonal, typically late September to early April). Similarly, Snæfellsnes Peninsula offers a great opportunity for stargazing due to its remote location and low light pollution.

Enjoy Icelandic cuisine at a local restaurant or café. Some places may also have live music or other events in the evening. After a long day of sightseeing, you may also want to relax at your accommodation, whether that be enjoying a good book or soaking in a hot tub if your accommodation has one.

Overnight

drinve the ring road stykkishólmur

The best town to stay in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula largely depends on your preferences, but Stykkishólmur is one of the most popular options. It is the largest town on the peninsula and offers a variety of accommodation options, restaurants, and services. It’s also known for its beautiful old houses and the Stykkishólmur Church, which offers great views of the town and surrounding area.

Other options for accommodation include Grundarfjörður (near Kirkjufell Mountain) and Hellnar or Arnarstapi. All of these towns offer a range of accommodation options, from hotels to guesthouses. Just make sure to book ahead, especially during peak season.

Where to stay in Stykkishólmur West Iceland: Hotel Fransiskus

Approximate driving time: 2 hours

Day 3 – Snæfellsnes Peninsula to Akureyri

Town of Akureyri in North Iceland on a summer day

Morning

On Day 3 of your Icelandic road trip, you’ll depart from the breathtaking landscapes of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and make your way to north Iceland to the charming town of Akureyri, Iceland’s second-largest urban area. Akureyri is often referred to as “the Capital of North Iceland. This drive will take approximately five hours, but the changing scenery from the peninsula to the northern regions of Iceland will keep you captivated.

Afternoon

South Coast of Iceland Horseback Riding

Once you arrive in Akureyri, check into your accommodation and take some time to explore this vibrant town.

A must-visit is the Akureyri Church, a stunning Lutheran church perched on a hill overlooking the town. Designed by the famous Icelandic architect Guðjón Samúelsson, this iconic building is a symbol of Akureyri. The town center is also worth exploring, with its quaint shops and cozy cafes.

Consider visiting the Akureyri Botanical Gardens, which boasts a variety of plant species from both Iceland and around the globe. Another option is the Akureyri Swimming Pool, a geothermal pool that is a hit with both locals and tourists. There are water slides

The surrounding area also offers plenty to explore, such as the stunning Eyjafjörður fjord and the Hlíðarfjall ski area during the winter months. and

Evening

For dinner, indulge in some local Icelandic cuisine at a nearby restaurant. Options abound, from traditional dishes like lamb and fish soup to more modern fare.

Bryggjan: This is a popular spot for seafood, with a menu that features locally sourced fish and other seafood options. Rub 23: A trendy restaurant known for its sushi and steaks. They offer a variety of sushi options, as well as dishes made with Icelandic lamb and other local ingredients. Akureyri Fish and Chips: A great spot for a casual meal, this restaurant serves delicious fish and chips made with fresh, local fish.

Afterward, you can rest up for the next day’s adventures at your chosen accommodation, be it a luxury hotel or a charming guesthouse. Read more: Best Icelandic food

Where to Stay

Day 4: Akureyri to Mývatn

Morning

ring road in iceland Myvatan Nature Baths

Start your day with breakfast in Akureyri before embarking on the approximately 1-hour drive to Mývatn, a volcanic lake and surrounding area known for its unique geological features and rich birdlife. The drive from Akureyri to Mývatn is around 90 kilometers and takes you through some beautiful landscapes, including lush valleys and volcanic terrain. On the way to Mývatn make sure. to stop at the Goðafoss waterfall. Yet another beautiful waterfall in Iceland.

Afternoon

Godafoss on the drive iceland's ring road

Upon arrival in Mývatn, take some time to explore the area’s top attractions. Visit the Mývatn Nature Baths, a geothermal lagoon where you can relax in the warm waters while enjoying the stunning surroundings. Another must-see is Dimmuborgir, a lava field known for its dramatic volcanic rock formations. If you’re interested in wildlife, be sure to check out the various birdwatching opportunities around the lake.

Optional Day Trip

If you have additional time, consider visiting the nearby town of Húsavík, known for its excellent whale-watching opportunities.

iceland ring road itinerary husavik song
I dare you not to fall in love with Husavik after this song: Watch it here

Must do: If you are going to go whale watching in one place in Iceland, it should be Husavik. This highly rated Whale watching from Húsavík lives up to its reputation as the whale-watching capital of Iceland. Explore the beautiful, Skjálfandi Bay while observing whales, dolphins, and sea birds in their natural habitat.

Must Watch: Husavik has gained a lot of popularity thanks to the Will Farrell Movie “EuroVision The Fire and Ice Saga.” available on Netflix. Its beautiful song was even nominated for an Oscar.

Evening

For dinner, consider trying some local Icelandic cuisine at a nearby restaurant.

Daddi’s Pizza: If you have had enough of Icelandic food, this popular spot is known for its delicious pizzas Vogafjós Cowshed Café and Restaurant: This unique restaurant is located on a working farm and offers a range of traditional Icelandic dishes made with local ingredients, including their own homemade cheese and cured meats. The café also has a great view of the cowshed, so you can watch the cows while you eat. Hótel Laxá Restaurant: This hotel restaurant offers a variety of Icelandic and international dishes, with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. They also have a great view of the lake.

Then, head to your accommodation for the night. There are several options in and around Mývatn, ranging from hotels and guesthouses to camping sites. Suggested hotel in Mývatn: Fosshotel Myvatn

Approximate driving time: 1 hour

Day 5 – Mývatn to Egilsstaðir

Dettifoss stop on Iceland Road Trip Itinerary
The Power of Dettifoss

Morning

Kick off your day with a delicious breakfast in Mývatn before setting out on the roughly 2-hour drive to Egilsstaðir, located in the Eastfjords of eastern Iceland. This approximately 180-kilometer journey will take you through a variety of landscapes, from volcanic fields to lush farmlands and rugged fjords.

En route make sure to stop at Europe’s most powerful waterfall. Dettifoss is the Niagara Falls of Iceland. (without the hotels, bars, and casinos) At 45 meters high (144 feet) and 100 meters wide (300 feet). Here you can also explore Jökulsárgljúfur National Park. Its impressive horseshoe-shaped Ásbyrgi Canyon houses some other impressive waterfalls as well, Selfoss, Hafragilsfoss, and Réttarfoss. If you want to chase waterfalls, you may end up spending the whole day here!

Afternoon

icelandic ring road Seydisfjordur

Upon arriving in Egilsstaðir, delve into the area’s natural beauty and explore some of its top attractions. A must-visit is Seydisfjordur, a charming village known for its colorful houses and vibrant arts scene. Make sure to take a walk along Rainbow Road.

Don’t miss out on the stunning Hengifoss, one of the tallest waterfalls in Iceland, with its impressive basalt columns and bright red clay. Another beautiful waterfall in the area is Litlanesfoss, surrounded by unique basalt columns.

If time allows, consider taking a scenic drive along the Eastfjords, where you can admire the dramatic coastline and possibly spot some seals or other wildlife. Additionally, the area around Egilsstaðir is home to several hiking trails, providing ample opportunities to explore the stunning landscapes on foot.

Evening

Savor the local flavors at one of the restaurants in Egilsstaðir or the surrounding area.

Valaskjálf Restaurant: Located in the cultural center of Egilsstaðir, this restaurant offers a variety of dishes including Icelandic lamb, fish, and vegetarian options. Klausturkaffi: Situated in the Skriðuklaustur cultural heritage site, Klausturkaffi is known for its traditional Icelandic pancakes and homemade cakes. Lake Hotel Egilsstaðir Restaurant: This hotel restaurant offers a range of Icelandic and international dishes with a focus on local ingredients, including reindeer, Arctic char, and lamb.

Then head to your accommodation for the night. There is a range of options to choose from, including hotels, guesthouses, and camping sites. Suggested hotel: Hotel Eyvindara

Approximate driving time: 2 hours

Day 6: Egilsstaðir to Höfn

iceland ring road itinerary

Morning

Fuel up with a hearty breakfast in Egilsstaðir, then embark on the approximately 3-hour drive continuing down east Iceland to Höfn, a picturesque fishing town in the southeast of Iceland. This approximately 260-kilometer journey takes you along the coast of the Eastfjords before heading inland through the mountains, providing plenty of opportunities for stunning photographs.

Upon arriving in Höfn, immerse yourself in the area’s rich maritime history by exploring the town and its harbor. One of the must-visit attractions is the Höfn Glacier Museum, where you can learn about glaciers, their impact on the landscape, and the effects of climate change.

Afternoon

ring road iceland Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

There are plenty of things to do around this area of east Iceland. Visit Fjallsárlón and Jökulsárlón glacial lagoons to get up close and personal with the icebergs. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is the most famous and you will probably spend a lot of time here.

You can also visit the nearby Diamond Beach, where icebergs from the lagoon wash up on the black sand, creating a stunning contrast. Another option is exploring the Vatnajökull National Park, home to Europe’s largest glacier.

If you have extra time, consider booking a guided glacier hike or an ice cave tour, both of which provide an unforgettable experience of the Vatnajökull glacier.

Evening

Indulge in some delicious local seafood for dinner; Höfn is particularly famous for its lobster. Kaffi Hornið and Pakkhús are two excellent options for sampling this delicacy.

Day 7: Höfn to Skaftafell

ring road in iceland Dave

Morning

Wake up early in Höfn and start your day with a hearty breakfast at one of the local eateries or your accommodation. After breakfast, embark on the approximately 2-hour drive to Skaftafell, located in Vatnajökull National Park. The drive covers a distance of about 140 kilometers and takes you through some of Iceland’s most stunning landscapes, with glaciers, mountains, and black sand plains filling your view.

Afternoon

Upon arrival in Skaftafell, immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area. Skaftafell is a hiker’s paradise, with numerous trails leading to various attractions. One of the must-see spots is Svartifoss, a beautiful waterfall surrounded by black basalt columns. Another popular hike takes you to Skaftafellsjökull, a glacier tongue that extends from the Vatnajökull glacier. Don’t miss the chance to visit the visitor center, which offers exhibitions and information about the park’s natural and cultural history.

Evening

For dinner, your options might be limited within the national park, but you can find some good choices in nearby towns such as Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Kaffi Munkar is a popular spot in the area that offers a range of dishes, from soups and sandwiches to more substantial meals.

Approximate driving time: 2 hours

Day 8 Skaftafell to Vik

Reynisfjara Beach ring road in iceland

Begin your day with a hearty breakfast in Skaftafell before setting out on your journey to Vik in South Iceland. This charming village is located right at the tip of Iceland’s south coast. The drive from Skaftafell to Vik is approximately 2 hours, covering a distance of around 150 kilometers. Along the way, you will pass through stunning landscapes, including vast lava fields, dramatic cliffs, and black sand beaches. Read more: South Coast of Iceland – Top Things to See and Do

Morning

Once you arrive in Vik, take some time to explore the local attractions. A must-visit is Reynisfjara, a famous black sand beach known for its towering basalt columns and powerful waves.

Vik stands in the shadow of the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier and is home to the black sand beach with huge black basalt stacks standing guard. This famous cluster of Basalt Rocks may be one of Iceland’s most recognizable sights and you don’t want to miss it. 

Legend has it that this group of stone spires are actually trolls turned to stone by the sun. As they tried to pull their three-masted ship to shore, time ran out and the sun came up. According to folklore, once an Icelandic troll is caught in the sun, it turns to stone.

Approximate driving time: 2 hours

Afternoon

iceland's ring road trip Vik Black Sand Beaches

Another popular spot is the Dyrhólaey Peninsula, where you can admire the dramatic cliffs, unique rock formations, and its picturesque lighthouse. If you’re interested in history, consider visiting the Skógar Folk Museum, which offers a fascinating glimpse into Iceland’s past.

If you have extra time, consider taking a guided tour to explore the nearby Katla Geopark, which encompasses several natural wonders, including the Katla Volcano and Mýrdalsjökull Glacier. Another option is to visit the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, a stunning gorge located just a short drive from Vik. For those interested in bird watching, the cliffs around Dyrhólaey are home to various seabird species, including puffins.

Evening

Dyrholaey a great Iceland Road Trip itinerary

For dinner, head to one of Vik’s local restaurants to sample some delicious Icelandic cuisine. Sudur Vik is a popular choice, offering a variety of dishes, including their famous lobster soup.

Day 9 Vik to Selfoss

Seljalandsfoss at sunset in Iceland
Extraordinary Seljalandsfoss

Morning

Start your day with a delicious breakfast in Vik before embarking on the approximately 1.5-hour drive to Selfoss. The journey covers around 110 kilometers and takes you past picturesque landscapes, including rolling hills, farmlands, and rivers.

Afternoon

Seljalandsfoss on the Iceland Ring Road itinerary
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Upon reaching Selfoss, explore the area’s top attractions. One of the must-see spots is the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, where you can walk behind the cascading water for a unique perspective. Another popular attraction is the Skógafoss waterfall, one of Iceland’s largest and most iconic waterfalls.

Don’t miss the chance to visit the Eyjafjallajökull Visitor Center, where you can learn about the infamous 2010 eruption that disrupted air travel worldwide.

Continue on to Skaftafell National Park, where you can go hiking or ice climbing on Vatnajökull glacier

Insider Tip – As you drive south along Route 1 stop for coffee in Hella. This town has colorful houses lining the river bank and it is a good place to get supplies or to fill up your car at a gas station.

Evening

ring road iceland hot dog

If you have extra time, consider taking a dip in the Secret Lagoon, a geothermal pool located in the nearby town of Fludir. Get your secret lagoon admission ticket in advance. Secret Lagoon tickets here

For dinner, head to one of Selfoss’s local restaurants to sample some traditional Icelandic cuisine. Tryum is a popular spot that offers a range of dishes, from fish and chips to lamb burgers.

Iceland Hot Dog – One thing you’ll notice whenever anyone talks about traveling to Iceland is a mention of hot dogs. They seem to be the most affordable and popular food on the Ring Road loop at gas stations. Pylsuvagninn Selfossi is a popular hot dog stand at the Ölfusá river bridge. If you are going to try a hot dog in Iceland, go for it here. We ate a lot of hot dogs at gas stations while driving in Iceland. It’s the most affordable way to travel.

Day 10: Selfoss to Reykjavik

Gullfoss on your Iceland Road Trip
Gullfoss waterfall

After enjoying a leisurely breakfast in Selfoss, embark on the approximately 1-hour drive to Reykjavik, covering a distance of around 50 kilometers. This short journey takes you through some beautiful landscapes, including volcanic fields and mountains.

Another option is to explore the Golden Circle, a popular tourist route that includes the Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park. For those interested in horse riding, several farms in the area offer tours on Icelandic horses.

Morning

Thingvellir Iceland Ring Road itinerary

A great today is to visit the nearby Golden Circle, a popular tourist route that includes the Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park. For those interested in art, the Reykjavik Art Museum and the Einar Jónsson Museum offer a glimpse into Iceland’s vibrant art scene.

Thingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is located in a rift valley where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates mee. This is also the site of the world’s first parliament, the Althing, established in 930 AD. Visitors can explore the park’s trails, enjoy its lakes and waterfalls, and learn about Iceland’s rich history.

The Geysir Geothermal Area is home to several geysers, including Strokkur, which erupts approximately every 5-10 minutes, sending water and steam up to 30 meters into the air. The area is also known for its hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles.

Lastly, the Gullfoss waterfall is a breathtaking two-tiered waterfall that drops a total of 32 meters into a rugged canyon. The waterfall can be viewed from several different vantage points, each offering a unique perspective. This massive waterfall is a two-stage cascade plummeting 32 meters (105 feet) from the Hvítá River. Gullfoss is the most visited waterfall in Iceland and for good reason. You can walk quite close to the rushing water and really feel its power.

Afternoon

Things to do in Reykjavik Harpa concert Hall

It is time to make your way to Reykjavik. This is a great time to take the opportunity to explore any attractions you may have missed on your first day in the city. Options include the Sun Voyager, a steel sculpture shaped like a Viking ship, and the Hallgrímskirkja, a stunning church that is one of the tallest structures in Iceland. You may also want to visit the Harpa Concert Hall, an iconic building known for its unique glass facade.

Evening

For dinner, Reykjavik offers a wide range of options, from traditional Icelandic cuisine to international dishes. The Fish Company is a popular choice, known for its delicious seafood dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. After dinner, retire to your accommodation for the night. Reykjavik has various options to choose from, including hotels, guesthouses, and Airbnb rentals.

After dinner, check into your accommodation for the night. Reykjavik has a variety of options to choose from, including hotels, guesthouses, and Airbnb rentals.

Final Morning Day Trip and Fly Home

Your driving on the Ring Road holiday has come to an end. Chances are you will be returning your car rental at the airport, so before you leave, this is a great time to visit Iceland’s most popular attraction the Blue Lagoon.

Blue Lagoon

ring road iceland blue lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is often visited on day one or the last day of an Iceland trip. This is the perfect opportunity to soothe those aching muscles in the famous hot springs. It may be the most touristy thing to do in the country, but you must experience it at least once when you visit Iceland. Read more: How to Visit The Blue Lagoon in Iceland – Is it Worth It?

If you want to really enjoy the Blue Lagoon you can stay here. Luxury hotels include:

The Blue Lagoon Retreat is a five-star luxurious escape that overlooks the lagoon and stands high enough to see the lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula.  The Silica Hotel. Just a 10-minute walk from the Blue Lagoon, nestled among the lava fields this award-winning hotel is an excellent option when staying overnight at the Blue Lagoon.

How to Plan For the Ring Road in Iceland

ring road iceland
Dave and Deb’s ultimate selfie – from behind Seljalandsfoss

Our trip to Iceland was with Iceland Travel and they put together an incredible Iceland road trip itinerary for us. We loved having an itinerary set up in advance with hotels pre-booked and plans made. Iceland is a popular travel destination and hotels along the Ring Road route can book up quickly, so having a tour company plan made a lot of sense all we had. to do was concentrate on driving the Ring Road and enjoying our time. Visit Iceland Travel to help with planning your trip.

Driving The Ring Road Independently

Getting Around Reykjavik

You can book a rental car and do the ring road independently. You can check car rental prices at CarRental.com. We recommend getting a 4X4 with a GPS. We drove the Ring Road in late September and drove through more than one snowstorm. We had a car go right off the road in front of us in north Iceland. They weren’t in a four-wheel drive so we had it much easier between our winter driving experience and the snow tires on our SUV.

Ring Road Tours

Djupivogur iceland ring road itinerary

If you aren’t comfortable driving in Iceland, there are organized tours to Iceland that go around the ring road. You can sit back, relax, and let the professionals take you to the popular tourist attractions.

This 8-day small group tour takes you on a circle tour of Iceland. Leave Reykjavik to see many of the highlights mentioned in this ring road travel guide. From waterfalls to lava fields, in the south to the East Fjords and northern lights of the North. It covers it all. Check it out here: You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund.

This Circle Tour of the Ring Road is a flexible option where you can choose from 4, 5, 6 or 7 days. It takes you to the South Coast, East Fjords, Lake Mývatn, and waterfalls and optional tours of Borgarfjörður and Lava Caving and optional tour of the Golden Circle. Plus much more. Details here.

Where to Stay on the Ring Road

ring road trip iceland church with mountain.
Víkurkirkja Church.

There are campgrounds along the route with plenty of availability. This is by far the most economical way to drive around Iceland’s Ring Road. But make sure you arrive at the campgrounds early. They are first come first serve and wild camping in Iceland is not allowed. So you will want to be in the campground by sunset.

Most campgrounds have toilets and showers and some have kitchens for cooking. Which is another great way to save money on an Iceland Road Trip.

We stayed at mostly Iceland Air Hotels that are all along the entire ring road route along the main road. Our stays included an amazing breakfast which saved us a lot of money. They were large and delicious so we could make it through the day with just snacks instead of a large lunch.

Best Time to Drive the Ring Road

When to Drive the Ring Road in Icleand

The high season in Iceland is summer and this is the most difficult time to find accommodation. So make sure to plan in advance if you are booking from June to August. We traveled to Iceland from Mid to Late September and it was less crowded. The weather was quite unpredictable with everything from hail and rain to snow and heavy winds. We did have sunny days as well.

Remember, if you are driving in mid-summer the days are long, and chances of seeing the Northern Lights are low. If you wait until closer to autumn or go in late spring you have a better chance to see them as the sun sets earlier. And there will definitely be fewer crowds during shoulder season.

Can you Drive the Ring Road in Iceland in Winter?

iceland ring road itinerary Vatnajökull

You can drive the Ring Road in Winter, but you should have winter driving experience. The Ring Road operates year round. It is a two-lane road most of the way and there is winter maintenance.

However, If you visit in winter, there is more of a risk of roads being closed for a day or two, so allow extra time. Iceland does have good winter road maintenance though, so if you are used to winter driving, go for it! But be warned, when we were there in September, most people we met were terrified on the roads and said it was scary for them to drive through snow squalls. (yes, we had them in September and we had road closures too).

Being from Canada, we are used to snow squalls, but we also had a four-by-four SUV which helped a lot. So, make sure to rent an SUV with 4-wheel drive capabilities.

Tips for Driving the Ring Road

driving the ring road icelandic horses

Embarking on a road trip around Iceland’s Ring Road is an exciting adventure that requires careful preparation. Here’s what you need to consider in terms of gear and preparation:

Clothing and Gear:

Waterproof and windproof jacket. Layered clothing to adapt to changing weather conditions. Waterproof and comfortable walking or hiking shoes. Sunglasses and sunscreen. Hat and gloves, especially if traveling in colder months. Backpack for day hikes and excursions. Camera or smartphone for capturing stunning landscapes.

Driving and Navigation:

A reliable vehicle suitable for the season you’re traveling in (consider a 4×4 if you plan to explore the highlands). A GPS, Google Maps, and a paper map for navigation. Familiarize yourself with Iceland’s road rules and conditions before your trip. Check the weather and road conditions regularly throughout your journey.

Accommodation and Food:

Book your accommodations in advance, especially during the peak summer months. Pack snacks and water for the road, as there can be long distances between towns and services. Consider bringing a cooler for perishable items if you plan to self-cater.

Safety and Emergency:

Bring a first aid kit, flashlight, and any necessary personal medications. Ensure you have a charged phone with an Icelandic SIM card or roaming capabilities for emergencies. Familiarize yourself with the emergency number in Iceland (112).

Additional Tips:

Respect the local environment and adhere to any signs or regulations in place to protect Iceland’s unique landscapes. Be prepared for changing weather conditions and pack accordingly. Follow the speed limits When you come to gas stations, fill up. We make it a rule to fill when our tank is half full. Take your time and enjoy the journey, as the Ring Road offers countless opportunities to explore Iceland’s natural beauty.

Iceland Ring Road Itinerary: FAQ’s

Iceland Ring Road Itinerary Map

How long does it take to drive the Iceland Ring Road?

For an unforgettable journey around the Ring Road, we recommend anywhere from 7 to 10 days. It will let you not only take in the best of the ring road but also let you get off the beaten track in North Iceland and in Southeast Iceland.

Can you do the Iceland Ring Road in 7 days?

You can do the Iceland Ring Road in 7 days but we would say that is the minimum time needed. You can use this itinerary and eliminate a few things if you only have a short time in Iceland.

What is the best route to take on the Ring Road in Iceland?

You can travel the Ring Road in Iceland in either direction, clockwise or counter-clockwise, as it’s a circular route. We suggest going counter-clockwise, starting from Reykjavik and heading along the South Coast first. This is because some of the most popular attractions, like the Golden Circle, South Coast waterfalls, and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, are located in the southern part of the island.

ring road in iceland northern lights

These are the top sites to see on the Ring Road in Iceland. It is truly one of the greatest road trips in the world. This 10-day Iceland Ring Road itinerary gives you the highlights but if you have 2 weeks, you will really be able to see it all.

So take your time to plan the perfect Iceland Road trip and make sure it includes all of these stops!

Planning Resources for Your Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

The Ring Rod – Iconic Stops on an Iceland Road Tri



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