If you are an outdoorsy person, Iceland is your paradise. The variety of scenery in such a small area is mind-blowing. Discover our Iceland Ring Road Itinerary to tick off all of the must-visit places.

— Visited in July, 2021


A guy standing below the Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland during an Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Iceland was a country that had been on our bucket list for a long time. So when we finally got to visit in the summer of 2021, we were ecstatic. Our expectations were extremely high as so many of our friends had said it was one of their favourite trips ever. And from the photos we had seen, we were anticipating big things! Fast forward to the end of our trip and we can safely say these expectations were well met.

In one day you get to visit massive waterfalls, active volcanoes, black beaches, geysers, ice lagoons, glaciers, canyons, hot springs, and more! Every day was so different, we fell in love with the country after just a couple of days. Hopefully, we can guide you to all of the must-visit locations on the island so that you get to enjoy the trip of a lifetime too.

I hope you enjoy… Iceland Itinerary: 10 Days on the Ring Road.



About This Iceland Itinerary

This itinerary is based on visiting during Iceland’s summer months from May to September. During this period, the days are long and the roads are clear of snow allowing you to visit a lot more highlights and also access areas that cannot be visited during winter. If you are planning a visit during the winter months, a longer duration would be required to follow this itinerary.

The trip takes an anti-clockwise direction as a big portion of the highlights are located in the south of Iceland. Our plan was to start the trip with busy days of sightseeing while we knew we had plenty of energy. We slowed down towards the end of the trip so that we would return home refreshed. This approach worked really well for us so we definitely recommend taking on the ring road in a non-clockwise direction.

We stayed clear from any F-roads for this adventure meaning a 4×4 is not required in this itinerary. Visiting Landmannalaugar requires a 4×4 but this itinerary suggests the use of public transport which is great alternative to get there.

Iceland driving view taken during an Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

10 Day Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Iceland’s Ring Road (Route 1) is 1322km long and is the main road that loops around the entire island. This itinerary visits locations along the entire circumference and consists of busy days exploring a lot of highlights. As the sun was up for around 20 hours a day during our visit, we found ourselves travelling between campsites from around 9 am until 9 pm to make the most of the days and to ensure we saw as much as possible.

Day 1: Strokkur/Geysir, Gullfoss, Haifoss
Day 2: Landmannalaugar, Seljalandsfoss, Gljufrabui
Day 3: Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool, Skogafoss, Kvernufoss, Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck, Dyrhólaey Viewpoint
Day 4: Vik, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Skaftafell, Diamond Beach, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Day 5: Stokksnes, Borgarfjörður Eystri
Day 6: Stuðlagil Canyon, Krafla Lava Fields, Mývatn Nature Baths
Day 7: Mývatn, Goðafoss, Hvitserkur
Day 8: Kirkjufell, Búðakirkja, Thingvellir National Park, Reykjadalur Thermal River
Day 9: Fagradalsfjall Volcano
Day 10: Reykjavík


Day 1 of Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Total Driving Time // 3 Hours (220km)

Camping Site // Rjúpnavellir Camping & Cottages

Hotel in Area // Rjúpnavellir or Kaldbakur Guesthouse

We arrived at the airport around 9 AM and were picked up and transferred directly to our van hire location. After a quick run-through of the vehicle and a shop at a nearby supermarket, we were off on the road and our adventure had begun! We started our trip with a couple of spots along the golden circle before heading out towards some of the less-occupied spots.

Strokkur / Geysir

Pardon the pun, but what an explosive start to our trip. Visiting ‘The Great Geysir’ and ‘Strokkur’ has to be a part of your Iceland itinerary as it’s such a cool phenomenon to witness. Though ‘The Great Geysir’ is dormant and had its last sudden burst in 2016, its neighbour ‘Strokkur’ is still very active with an eruption every 15 minutes or so.

Strokkur the Geysir exploding during our Iceland Ring Road Itinerary on the Golden Circle

Gullfoss

Due to its location on the Golden Circle and close proximity to Reykjavik, Gullfoss is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland. This doesn’t make it any less impressive as the large volume of water makes its way down the dual steps plunging 32 metres into the lower canyon.

Haifoss

Though Haifoss was one of the earlier waterfalls we spotted, it lingered in our mind even after the trip as one of our favourites. Haifoss is a waterfall in the Fossárdalur valley and is 122 metres tall making it the third highest waterfall in Iceland. There is a second waterfall ‘Granni’ next to Haifoss which adds to the incredible views on this spot.

This road is not an F-road but the access track (route 332) which is used to get to the car park was the roughest drive we did on our whole trip. If you aren’t in a 4×4, we recommend taking it slow and mind the potholes. You’ll get there eventually!


Day 2 of Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Total Driving Time // 1 Hour (80km)

Camping Site // Hamragarðar

Hotel in Area // Lindartún Guesthouse or South Iceland Guesthouse

Landmannalaugar

On our second day in Iceland, we decided to take a day trip to Landmannalaugar. Landmannalaugar is well known as one of the best hiking spots in Iceland and we couldn’t agree more. This place easily entered our top three favourite hiking trails around the world.

Landmannalaugar is accessed via an F-road meaning a 4×4 is required. Lucky for us and those of you who are also travelling the ring road in a van, there is public transport available. Overland buses can be organised with Reykjavik Excursions or Trex. These buses leave Reykjavik and stop at a number of spots en route to Landmannalaugar, the schedules can be found on their websites linked above.

If you plan on just spending the day here as we did, you will have 4.5 hours to explore Landmannalaugar before having to take the bus back. This is plenty of time to see the highlights and a good introduction to the area. However, with so many hiking options in the area, you can choose to camp overnight at Landmannalaugar or stay in one of the lodges. These are very popular so make sure to book in advance.

If you opt for the day trip, we recommended taking the hike up Brennisteinsalda via the lava fields. This hike is around 7km and takes approximately 3 hours. You’ll be surrounded by the sulphuric mountains showing off the full spectrum of colours and stroll through the ever-impressive lava fields.

Taking this route also leaves some time at the end of your hike to enjoy the geothermal hot springs, People’s Pool, that is located just near the central hub. These hot springs are about as natural as it gets and are a great way to relax those muscles while taking in the wonderful surroundings after a day of hiking.

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss is absolutely breathtaking and we have no doubt you have seen many photos from this iconic Iceland waterfall. One of the best things about this waterfall is that you can walk behind the falls and enjoy the 60 metre drop from a different perspective. But make sure you are prepared to get wet from the spray!

This waterfall is a short walk from the nearby campsite so come after dinner and enjoy the view without the crowds late into the evening. If you pick a good camping spot you can also enjoy a view over this waterfall as you get ready for a comfy night in the van.

A girl standing at the waterfall Seljalandsfoss in Iceland

Gljufrabui

Gljufrabui is a unique waterfall as it’s situated within a cave. Tucked away in the small chamber, you can walk up to the waterfall and enjoy the mystical views up close. This spot really makes for a cool photo.

Gljufrabui is also right near the campsite, in fact, it’s basically within the campsite. We were lucky enough to reverse the van directly in front of it meaning we listened to the falling water all night as it soothed us to sleep.


Day 3 of Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Total Driving Time // 1 Hour (65km)

Camping Site // Vík tjaldsvæði

Hotel in Area // Guesthouse Carina

Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool

Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool was built back in 1923 and is the oldest pool in Iceland. We visited this spot first thing in the morning sharing a very peaceful moment with only one other couple. The pool is a really comfortable temperature and the views of the green valley really make this place a must-visit. We spent a good hour soaking it all in and absolutely loved this spot.

To visit you’ll need to park up at the Seljavallalaug parking lot and then walk 20-minutes from here following the dry river bed into the mountains. The walk is easy but good shoes are recommended as it is rocky. There are some very basic changing rooms at the pool but no bathroom facilities. The pool and parking were free when we visited.

Skogafoss

Skogafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland with a width of 25 metres and a height of 60 metres. Made famous by Game of Thrones, this site really does live up to the hype and was our favourite waterfall in Iceland. The sheer size of the waterfall accompanied by the beautiful scenery really is a sight to behold.

You can walk right up to the waterfall and appreciate the power from up close. But be prepared to get soaked as the spray can be quite wild once you get there. You can also climb the stairs up to a viewing platform that shows a different perspective of the waterfall. If you don’t want your photo to feature a bunch of people in the background then we recommend visiting this site early in the morning. Outside of the golden circle, this was one of the busiest places we came across in Iceland.

Kvernufoss

Kvernufoss is the less-visited sister of Skogafoss and is definitely deserving of your time. Located in a beautiful green gorge, this spot is a treat on the eye and is yet to be discovered by large crowds. The short 10-minute walk starts at the Skógasafn museum and is clearly marked so you won’t get lost.

A view of one of the less visited waterfalls in Iceland Kvernufoss

Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck

Visiting the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck was high on our bucket list before visiting Iceland. The unique nature of the site and the spectacular photos we had seen, created high expectations for us. In person the plane wreck is just as apocalyptic as the pictures make out with nothing but the shell of an abandoned plane wreck in a desert of black sand.

The plane cannot be seen from the road. However, there is a parking lot (the only one along the long road in the area) where you start the walk from. The walk is a 7km round-trip taking approximately 45 minutes to walk each way. There’s no one around monitoring the site so you can walk up to the wreck and step inside, making it a really cool spot for photos.

Dyrhólaey Viewpoint

For an incredible view down the ‘Endless Black Beach’, the viewpoint at Dyrhólaey lighthouse is a must. It’s a popular stop on anyone’s itinerary and the view over the Dyrhólaey archway is an added bonus.

We also got to spot our first puffins here, nesting along the steep cliffs. Though you can’t get as close to the puffins as a spot we will mention later on, it’s quite the backdrop for viewing these little wonders.

When we visited, the road up to the Dyrhólaey lighthouse had been removed and parking was at the Dyrhólaey View Parking Lot. It is approximately 30 minutes walk from here to the Dyrhólaey lighthouse.


Day 4 of Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Total Driving Time // 3.5 Hours (280km)

Camping Site // Vestrahorn Camping

Hotel in Area // Vikingcafe or Hotel Edda Höfn

Vik

Vik was mainly just the city where we camped for the night, however, it has a few spots to visit first thing in the morning before starting the day. This included the Black Sand Beach with mystical views out towards the Reynisdrangar (a jagged rock formation of the coast) and the Vik i Myrdal Church. Though you’ll see the famous Icelandic horses all over Iceland, this was also our opportunity to get nice and close when visiting the church.

It is also worth noting that a lot of people will visit Reynisfjara Beach from Vik. This is the famous location of the beach columns ‘Columnes Reynisfjara’. We decided to skip this as we had a busy day ahead, but if you find time definitely go there.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

The Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is about 100m deep and 2km long formed from glacial melt thousands of years ago. This was one of the most fascinating landscapes we came across during our time in Iceland. We spent quite a bit of time here appreciating the soaring towers of stone and serpent-like river. Easy to see why this canyon inspired so many writers and movie directors.

Skaftafell

Skaftafell is an area in Iceland’s Vatnajökull National Park that includes several waterfalls, glaciers, and mountains. It is a fantastic place to spend some time hiking and includes a few highlights worth seeing.

Two of these highlights include Svartifoss and the Sjónarnípa lookout. Svartifoss is a waterfall in the Vatnajökull National Park with unique hexagonal basalt columns that were formed by very fast cooling lava. The Sjónarnípa lookout boasts amazing views over the glacier Skaftafellsjökull.

There are a lot of different hikes in this area that vary in difficulty and length. These can all be found on the Vatnajokull national park website. We recommend taking the S6 route which covers both Svartifoss and the Sjónarnípa lookout. This is route is an easy 7.4km long and well worth the venture.

Diamond Beach

Another unreal-looking place in Iceland was Diamond Beach. We had heard of this beach before so we knew what to expect but had never seen any photos. So when we walked onto the black sand to find rows of icebergs parked up on the sand, it really was a jaw-dropping moment.

The contrast between the massive white icebergs and the black sand definitely adds to the amazement that is Diamond Beach. If you’re lucky you’ll also spot a few playful seals as they swim around the ice platforms.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

This glacial lagoon is dotted with icebergs from the surrounding Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier and is another sight to behold. We visited in the late afternoon so the soft setting sun would cast a calming light across the lagoon and we definitely recommend this time of the day. It was also a lot let less crowded compared to the middle of the day which always adds to an experience.

If you’re feeling adventurous then there is a bunch of activities to see the Glacier Lagoon from a different perspective. Why not book a boat tour of the lagoon with Glacier Lagoon? Or if you’re feeling more adventurous you can organise a kayak tour with Ice Guide. Be sure to book your tours in advance as they do get busy.


Day 5 of Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Total Driving Time // 3.5 Hours (250km)

Camping Site // Borgarfjörður eystra tjaldsvæði

Hotel in Area // Blabjorg Guesthouse

Stokksnes

Stokksnes was one of the spots we were most excited about before visiting Iceland. We’d seen the epic photos of the black beach, dramatic mountain background, and even the perfect reflection from the water on certain days. Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side this day and a low-hanging cloud stayed around from the night before to block the view.

For scale, the actual mountain is about 4 times the height of the two little rock peaks you can see In the photos below. If you get a clear day at this location you are in for a treat!

Borgarfjörður Eystri

Every year, from May to early September, Iceland gets a little bit cuter when it becomes home to 8-10 million Atlantic Puffins. Borgarfjörður Eystri is one of the easiest and best spots to see puffins in Iceland. Located within the local marina, you can get nice and close to the nesting puffins on the wooden platforms.

As this location is a bit of a detour off the main ring road, it does not tend to get too busy which lets you enjoy your time with the thousands of puffins in peace. Though it’s a detour, we promise it’s worth the trip. Not only is it one of the best spots for puffins, but the fantastic drive through the mountain range to get there is one to remember.


Day 6 of Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Total Driving Time // 2.5 Hours (200km)

Camping Site // Bjarg

Hotel in Area // Dimmuborgir Guesthouse or Vogar Travel Service

Stuðlagil Canyon

Stuðlagil Canyon is a must-see for its exceptional and fascinating display of basalt columns. The formations are pretty impressive as they form their way around the beautiful blue coloured river Jökla. This place isn’t fully appreciated until you find yourself amongst these giant columns.

There is a viewing platform on the western side of the river which is accessible from the road. However, the view from here is oddly positioned meaning you really don’t get to see the canyon very well. We recommend crossing to the east side of the river and driving down the dirt road. From the car park it is an 8km return hike to get to the canyon.

Krafla Lava Fields

The Krafla Lava Fields are a large volcanic system in the North of Iceland. It’s a fascinating area full of sulphuric pits and set lava. The best way to see all of this is by walking the short hike around the Leirhnjúkur Lava Field to view the colourful sulphuric pits and feel the heat from the surrounding lava fields. The main highlight in this area is the Víti Crater Lake. When the sun comes out, the lake’s turquoise colours really stand out and display an unusual scene.

Mývatn Nature Baths

The Mývatn Nature Baths are a set of geothermal pools found in the Lake Mývatn area. You may have heard of the Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik? Well, this is the more peaceful and affordable version in the north of Iceland. The baths are the perfect way to end the day soaking in the blue waters while also enjoying a beautiful view over the volcanic area. We spent about 3 hours in the pools and even got some beers whilst here. This was the only ‘living it up’ part of our trip and totally worth it.


Day 7 of Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Total Driving Time // 6 Hours (450km)

Camping Site // Campground Grundarfjörður

Hotel in Area // Kirkjufell Guesthouse and Apartments or Skjólsteinar

Mývatn

Mývatn is a beautiful lake area that holds a unique landscape, different again from any other site in Iceland. As a result of a large basaltic lava fissure eruption 2300 years ago, the area is dominated by little pseudocraters that look as if they have exploded out of the lake itself. This combined with the still blue waters and large mass of local birdlife makes for a great piece of nature in the north of Iceland. A lot of these craters are out in the lake itself and unreachable by foot. However, for the most accessible location head to the south of the lake at ‘Skútustaðagígar’ to walk amongst a series of these craters.

Goðafoss

Goðafoss is a waterfall located in the north of Iceland and is probably one of the most accessible waterfalls we visited. Located basically on the ring road itself, it’s a spot that’s definitely worth the stop and a great way to break up a day of driving.

View of the waterfall Godafoss in Iceland which is just off the Ring Road

Hvitserkur

Some 50 metres off the shore of the north coast of Iceland sits Hvitserkur. This large 15m high volcanic structure is what remains of the erosion in the area leaving a structure that looks a bit like an elephant or a rhino.

It’s quite the detour to visit Hvitserkur, needing a 45 minute drive each way off the ring road. We visited this location as a way of breaking up a big driving day. But in all honesty, if you are more pressed for time we would recommend skipping. This was one of the only places in Iceland where we thought that the pictures were more impressive than the location.


Day 8 of Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Total Driving Time // 3.25 Hours (250km)

Camping Site // Reykjamörk Hveragerði Campsite

Hotel in Area // Hotel Hjardarbol or Varmi Guesthouse Apartments

Kirkjufell

Kirkjufell is another iconic location in Iceland that most of you have probably seen before. With its uniquely-shaped peak and the foreground waterfalls, it is quite the panoramic view. Not only is the mountain wonderful, but the drive through this whole area was something else. Surrounded by open bays and mountains in every direction, you are going to love exploring this part of the country.

Girl looking out at Kirkjufell from the waterfall in Iceland

Búðakirkja

A view of Icelands black church Búðakirkja

The Búðakirkja church is all that remains of the Búðir’s former community that lived in these parts. The church was actually dismissed by orders of the Danish King Christian VIII in 1819, but the locals fought for the construction of a new church. It wasn’t until 1849 the priest’s council allowed for the construction of a new house of worship. The only condition was that the church had to be funded by the community. Therefore, the door latch on this church was engraved by the locals and translates to something similar to “This church was rebuilt without the assistance of the holy fathers”.

We definitely recommend visiting this site first thing in the morning. What the photos aren’t showing you is that the car park is directly in front of the church and tour buses from cruise ships make a regular stop here being close to Reykjavik.

Thingvellir National Park

We’ve made our way back on the golden circle, meaning we also have to accept the larger crowds at most sites. Luckily Thingvellir National Park is a large site so this shouldn’t bother you too much.

Thingvellir National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site and its geological traits make this place fascinating. Iceland is on two continental plates, the North American tectonic plate, and the Eurasian tectonic plate. Thingvellir National Park is where you can see the split between these two tectonic plates. It is also the only place in the world where the rift between two tectonic plates can be seen above sea level.

If you are after something a little different, you can snorkel or dive between the tectonic plates to see the rift in more detail. Book your tour well in advance using the following links: Snorkelling or Diving.

Reykjadalur Thermal River

Reykjadalur Thermal River was our favourite hot spring in all of Iceland. Situated in a beautiful valley, this heated river flows naturally and is an absolute gem. The section for bathing is around 250 metres long and the temperature varies from top to bottom allowing everyone to find their perfect spot. The temperature at the top is REALLY hot, so we do recommend finding a place around the middle.

As we found this site last minute, we were ill-prepared and definitely underestimated the hike. It’s a good 45-60 minute hike to the hot spring and relatively steep. We recommend bringing plenty of water and snacks because once you reach the spring, you are going to want to stay for a while. To avoid the crowds, come in the late afternoon and enjoy sunset in this pristine location.


Day 9 of Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Total Driving Time // 1.25 Hours (100km)

Camping Site // Vogar Campsite

Hotel in Area // Reykjanes Guesthouse or iStay Cottages

Fagradalsfjall Volcano

Fagradalsfjall Volcano is Iceland’s newest and fully active volcano. It started erupting on the 19th of March 2021 and has continued to grow in size. If you weren’t already convinced to visit Iceland, then this spot will be the final incentive to book that ticket!

We devoted a whole day to visiting the Fagradalsfjall Volcano and once you get here you’ll understand why. It is a good 1.5-hour hike in either direction to get to the best viewing spot, a lot of people stop hiking once they reach the mountain peak but the trick is to keep walking so that you can get nice and close to the lava.

This volcano is predicted to continue erupting for two more years, but how long it will actually last is not known. For this reason, we recommend visiting as soon as you can. The volcano does not erupt every day, so be sure to check the live webcam before starting the hike up. As the volcano is close to Reykjavik planning your trip around the erupting volcano would be recommended, making sure you have enough spare time to come back if you’re unlucky at first. Hopefully, you can either start or finish your trip at this amazing place. The webcam can be found below or at the following link.


Day 10 of Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Total Driving Time // 0.5 Hours (35km)

Hotel in Area // Eric the Red Guesthouse or 101 Guesthouse

Reykjavik

We had to drop off our van in the morning, leaving us a full day to explore the capital city of Iceland, Reykjavik. Though our trip was focused on the outdoors, we enjoyed our day in the city and got a really good vibe from the place.

Highlights in the city are limited, the main sight is the Hallgrimskirkja Church. We also recommend having a stroll down Skólavörðustígur (the rainbow street) and the surrounding streets boasting the funky architecture that Reykjavik has to offer. For lunch, we got an affordable hot dog from the famous Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, which literally translates to ‘Best Hotdog in Town’. In the afternoon we mainly just enjoyed a few beers during happy hour, the only way to get yourself a more reasonably priced pint!


Thanks For Reading

Thank you for reading our blog post, we hope it gave you that little motivation to book your next adventure!

Any questions then let us know in the comments below or contact us via the contact page. Want to keep up with our adventures? Then follow us on our Instagram.