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Iceland’s Ring Road in 1 Week

Adventure Around Iceland Independently with Jdomb’s Travels’

Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Iceland Ring Road ItineraryThis 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.

Reykjavik Sun VoyagerDay 1 – Arrive at Keflavik

Today you’ll arrive at Keflick 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.

See Tips for Driving Iceland’s Ring Road

 

 

Meal recommendations: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, Tapas Barinn, Fish Market
Accommodation: Túngata 32 for 2 nights
Rental car: SADCars


 

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park

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.

See Snorkeling Silfra: Our Coldest Adventure Yet

Meal recommendations: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, Tapas Barinn, Fish Market
Accommodation: Túngata 32 for 2 nights


Sólheimajökull glacier Day 3 – The South Coast

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 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. 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.

See Glacier Hiking on Sólheimajökull Glacier

Drive Time: 2 – 3 hours depending on weather conditions
Accommodation: Volcano Hotel for 1 night (dinner is available for hotel guests)


Jokurlsarlon Iceberg LagoonDay 4 – Glacier Lagoon

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
AccommodationHali Country Hotel for 1 night (dinner is available for hotel guests)


 

Iceland's East Fjords

Iceland’s East Fjords

Day 5 – The East Coast

Today’s drive is the longest stretch and East Iceland residents are few and far between. You’ll want to have your camera ready though, 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. Reyðarfjörður is one of the most populated villages with around 1,100 residents and a couple of tiny cafes to pop in for lunch.

See The Wild and Rugged East Coast

Drive Time: 6 – 10 hours depending on weather conditions
AccommodationVogafjós Guesthouse for 3 nights (dinner is available for hotel guests)


 

Husavik, Iceland

Husavik, Iceland

Day 6 – 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.

See What to Do in Húsavík in Winter and Bathing at Grjótagjá Thermal Spring

Meal recommendations: Veitingastaðurinn Salka, Cowshed Cafe
AccommodationVogafjós Guesthouse for 3 nights (dinner is available for hotel guests)


 

Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters

Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters

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.

See Exploring Lake Mývatn with Saga Travel and Mývatn Nature Baths

Meal recommendations: Cowshed Cafe, Sel Hotel
AccommodationVogafjós Guesthouse for 3 nights (dinner is available for hotel guests)

 


Blue LagoonDay 8 – The West Coast

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.

See Iceland’s Famous Blue Lagoon

Meal recommendations: Kaffi Duus
Drive Time: 6 – 8 hours depending on weather conditions
Accommodation: Hotel Berg for 1 night

 


Reykjanes PeninsulaDay 9 – The Reykjanes Peninsula and Depart

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.

See The Reykjanes Peninsula

 

*Approximate price per person is calculated not including flights, meals, or fuel.

Jennifer Dombrowski

Jennifer Dombrowski is a location independent globe trotter who is based in Prata di Pordenone, Italy. She works as a social media and communications strategist and is an award-winning travel writer. She is also a travel correspondent on Traveling on the American Forces Radio Network. Jdomb's Travels was named one of the top travel blogs to watch by the Huffington Post and has been featured by top publications such as CNN, Buzzfeed , and The Telegraph. Her iPhoneograpy has also been featured on publications such as USA Today and Travel + Leisure. Google+

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Permanent link to this article: http://jdombstravels.com/iceland-ring-road-itinerary/

25 comments

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  1. Sam

    I would LOVE to do this route! I went to Iceland in September 2012, but just stayed in Reykjavik (visiting a friend) and did a few daytrips by car. This, though…next time, right?!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Absolutely Sam! My first trip was just a few days visiting Tim while he was temporarily living there and we stuck around Reykjavik and the Reykjanes Peninsula. Our next visit for our Ring Road trip was epic though! And we’re excited to be heading back again in September.

    [Reply]

  2. Marisa

    What time of year did you guys go on your Iceland trip? This itinerary looks amazing and makes me want to plan my trip right now!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Tim lived there for a short bit. I’ve been in the beginning of September and then we did our Ring Road trip in winter. We got to Reykjavik a few days before New Year’s, rang in the New Year there, and then officially started the Ring Road January 1. It’s a bit of a gamble to do it in winter like that because you never can predict weather or road conditions, but our gamble paid off.

    [Reply]

    Kari Reply:

    Hi Jennifer,

    We are thinking about doing the same thing and was curious what your thoughts are about having a 4×4 car? Is it a must? And do you also wish you were able to see the highlands or were you satisfied?
    Kari

    [Reply]

    Tim Davis Reply:

    Having a 4×4 is definitely a must otherwise you are limited to sticking to the main roads. Also, the Highlands can only be accessed June – August in good weather.

  3. Stef

    I’d love to see Iceland! This year I won’t make it as I’m leaving Germany in the end of August and have all my travels planned till then. But I’ll hopefully make it within the next two years. Your itinerary seems like a great choice. I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Iceland is our favorite country Stef. Hope you make it and hopefully this itinerary helps you with planning.

    [Reply]

  4. Christy

    This is awesome! It must have taken you forever to put this post together.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    These itineraries are a bit time consuming. We’ve got two now – this one and one for 5 days in Santorini. Hoping more readers weigh in so we can figure out if you all would like to see more trip itineraries like this!

    [Reply]

  5. Hanif Chatur

    Fantastic! EXACTLY what I needed. Thank you :)

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Great to hear Hanif! Are you a first time visitor to our website? Would love to know if you’d like to see us design more itineraries like this!

    [Reply]

    Hanif Chatur Reply:

    Yes I would. A map would be nice touch. Very helpful site with a nice vibe

    [Reply]

  6. Deb

    What a great resource for anyone driving the ring road. Iceland is definitely a trip of a lifetime.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Agreed, Deb! Iceland is our favorite country we’ve been to. We’re excited to be headed back again in September when I’ll be speaking at the SATW conference.

    [Reply]

  7. Michael

    Sounds like a great itinerary! We are going to be doing the same trip in mid September, but for 8 days (leaving late afternoon on the 8th day).

    Where would you suggest cutting a day short for an 8 day trip? I was thinking 2 nights in Mývatn area instead of 3? What place would you skip if you only had 2 nights there?

    [Reply]

  8. Michael Smith

    Sounds like a great itinerary! We are going to be doing the same trip in mid September, but for 8 days (leaving late afternoon on the 8th day).

    Where would you suggest cutting a day short for an 8 day trip? I was thinking 2 nights in Mývatn area instead of 3? What place would you skip if you only had 2 nights there?

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Hi Michael,

    Did you get our email reply? We’d cut Husavik. It’s a cool town, but small. If you’re short on time we’d say to skip it and do as much of the rest of the itinerary as possible.

    Let us know if you have any other questions and enjoy your trip!

    [Reply]

  9. Lori

    Lovely idea – to present such itineraries :) Iceland is a beautiful part of this eart I would like to visit, and hope to manage to do that one day!

    [Reply]

  10. Jamal Hashim

    Hello Jennifer,

    Thanks for putting together such an informative itinerary and responding to everyone’s questions. We are now planning on going to Iceland after reading your itinerary and have a bunch of questions.

    We live in the Chicago area and are thinking about visiting Ireland from March 21 through 30, 2015. We will have two adults, three kids ages 9, 9, and 6, and a senior citizen who walks with the help of a cane. Since we will get there at 6:30 am on March 22, we will have 8 and a half days before our return flight.

    1. Since we will not be able to do any extreme activities due to the age and ability of the people in our group, are 8.5 days enough to drive on the Ring Road and do some activities around Reykjavik?

    2. We can rent a minivan (like Ford Galaxy) to fit all the people. Do we have to have a SUV or will a mini-van be OK for the Ring Road and nearby activities that you have recommended in the itinerary?

    3. If we were to drop Husavik from the itinerary to save a day as you recommended to Michael Smith, is there any other place that you recommend for Whale watching? (I am assuming that the kids would love whale watching)

    4. I read on various forums that hot dogs and ice-cream is readily available everywhere in Iceland. Do you know if there are options for vegetarians available? (If not, we can bring a bunch of peanut butter and Jelly and just buy bread and make sandwiches for the kids).

    5. We could visit in mid-July to August if end of March is not a good time. We were thinking about March because we might get a chance to see the Northern Lights and the kids would love that. Should we reconsider the plan and visit in summer instead?

    Thanks again for putting together such a helpful itinerary and inspiring us to visit Iceland.

    Jamal

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Hi Jamal! Great to hear you plan to visit Iceland. Most of the Ring Road, except for a small section in the East, is paved so a minivan would be perfectly fine for driving both the Ring Road and to all of the attractions on the Golden Circle around Reykjavik. You could do it in 8 days – it just depends on what activities you want to do and how long those will take. Though it sounds like you will be mostly sticking to the roadside attractions since you’ll have a senior that has a bit difficulty walking.

    March isn’t a good time for whale watching. Most companies don’t operate whale watching tours in March simply because the whale watching season is from May – August, but March is the time to go to Iceland if possibly seeing the Northern Lights is of interest. Your kids are pretty young for Northern Lights viewing though as they typically are seen pretty late at night and it will be fairly cold. The best time to visit really just depends on what you’re most interested in seeing.

    As far as vegetarian options, it might be a bit difficult. The terrain isn’t suitable to pretty much anything growing in Iceland. Mostly tomatoes and cucumbers are grown in greenhouses in Iceland and you usually don’t get a vegetable other than some tomatoes, cucumbers or potatoes with a meal. Fish and lamb are found on every menu. Of course, in Reykjavik it isn’t really a problem as you have a variety of food options. But when driving the Ring Road, you are going to be dealing with farm type stays where all the food usually comes right from the farm or a nearby farm.

    Hope that helps and let us know if you have more questions!

    [Reply]

    Jamal Hashim Reply:

    Thanks a lot Jennifer for your quick and detailed response. Sounds like it might be better for us to wait a little bit before visiting Iceland so that the kids are less picky about the food.

    I will try to coerce my wife into visiting Iceland without the kids using one of those IcelandAir deals so that we can at-least have a taste of what to expect :)

    [Reply]

  11. Jamal Hashim

    Hello Jennifer,

    I got the following error when I tried to post my questions:
    Sorry, but our system has determined you may be a spammer. If you believe this to be an error, please contact us so that we can rectify the situation.

    I tried again with a different email address and the system said “Duplicate comment detected” :)

    Thanks.

    Jamal

    [Reply]

  12. Rita

    Hi,

    Great itinerary, it will be very useful!

    We were thinking about visiting Iceland in December, would you recomend renting a car, or is driving in the winter a crzy idea?

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Hi Rita! We definitely recommend renting a car and especially a 4×4 in winter. Check out our article http://jdombstravels.com/tips-for-driving-icelands-ring-road-winter/ to help with planning for driving.

    [Reply]

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