Iceland’s tourism has skyrocketed in the past few years and many people are taking the ‘free stopover’ offered by Iceland Air, and WOW air. Many visitors on an Icelandic stopover will use this opportunity to catch a tour bus and do the famous Golden Circle. The scenery there is undoubtably amazing, but we think there is so much more of Iceland to be appreciated. So Interpinned has done all the hard work for you and compiled the ultimate Icelandic self driving road trip itinerary!
It is highly recommend you read the article ‘What you need to know before going to Iceland‘ to get an idea of how to prepare for this independent self driving tour.
This itinerary is based on spending 10 days in Iceland, but you are welcome to alter the plan to your timeframe. It does not cover places to spend the evening as it’s understandable each traveller has a different comfort zone and budget. You may have rented a car and want to book hotels or hostels in advance. Alternatively you may be travelling via camper-van, in which case you can use this website to find a campground near you.
DAY 1: The Golden Circle
Located reasonably close to the airport, The Golden Circle attracts hundreds of visitors every day, most of which stop at only the main attractions as they are following a strict tourbus schedule. However, if you have the luxury of your own car… you are going to be able to pull over where ever you like, when ever you like! The actual driving time of the Golden Circle is 3 hours, however with all the stops it could take you up to 8.
Þingvellir National Park
Haukadalur Geo Thermal Area
Kerið Crater Lake
DAY 2: South Region
Today you’ll need to get back on to Ring Road, which pretty much encompasses the entire island. Here in the Southern Region, you will be exploring multiple iconic waterfalls and a breathtaking lookout point. You will end up in the small coastal town of Vik, where you will have the opportunity to restock on any necessities.
DAY 3: Canyons & Lagoons
You are going to see everything from canyons, to waterfalls, to icebergs, to glaciers, to caves all in one day. The vast landscapes will most definitely refresh your mind leaving you in awe of what Iceland has to offer. You are now heading away from the Southern Region meaning you will start to see less and less tourists. But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean the epic scenery stops.
Jokulsarlon Iceburg Lagoon
Crystal Ice Caves
DAY 4: Eastern Fjords
Today you will be driving through the rugged Eastern Fjords. There are not many towns or people so just drive and stop where it looks pretty! You are going to get a marvellous backdrop of the East Coast mountains. Do be aware of sheep and reindeer that are often on the roads, in misty or dark conditions they may be hard to identify from a distance. Tonight, set your alarm throughout the night in chances of seeing the Northern Lights (you can check the forecast here)!
Town of Seyðisfjörður
DAY 5: Myvatn Geothermal Area
If you have extra time, this may be a good place to extend your trip. The Myvatn region does not disappoint, and with so much to see most people will spend at least a few nights here. But, if you are on a tight schedule, try to visit these hotspots listed below! The geothermal activity creates a martian environment like no other.
Myvatn Nature Baths
Lava formations Dimmuborgir
DAY 6: Towards Akyureyri
This will be a day of luscious landscapes that involve water. Not many people make it all the way to Northern Iceland so you may even be lucky enough to enjoy these locations all to yourselves. You’ll also get to see Akureyri, the countries Capital City, this is a great place to restock on any essential groceries or equipment for your trip.
DAY 7: Mount Kirkjufell
Even though there is almost 5 hours between Akureyri and Kirkjufell, you are guaranteed that it is worth the drive. By this point, you have probably figured out that even when you are following a itinerary, you are constantly pulling over at unplanned destinations because Iceland has so much to offer. Today will be no different as you pass through the rugged West Fjords and arrive in the town of Grundarfjörður on the Snæfellnes Peninsula. Here you will find an incredibly picturesque mountain, Kirkjufell… which also happens to be a majestic place to view the Northern Lights (on a clear winters night).
DAY 8: Snæfellnes Peninsula
Some adventurers claim that the Snæefellnes Peninsula is in fact better then the Golden Circle. Today you will be driving through endless volcanic lava moss fields that bring you face to face with some of Iceland’s most extraordinary cliffs. Birdlife flourishes in this area and if you” visiting during the summer months you will see thousands of Puffins nesting.
DAY 9: Exploring Reykjavik
This road trip has consisted mainly of natural attractions, but you can’t leave without seeing Reykjavik (which is home to a third of the Icelandic population). When visiting the iconic Hallgrimskirkja Church, it is worth taking the stairs to the top of the cathedral, where you will get an amazing view over Reykjavik’s colourful roof tops! If you are interested in the night life, Dolly, Harlem and B5 are worth checking out too.
Bankastraeti (Main Street)
Harpa Concert Hall
Clubs: Dolly, Harlem, B5
DAY 10: Blue Lagoon
After over a week of exploring epic landscapes you will be more then likely exhausted (in the best way possible). The best way to wrap up the trip, wind down and warm up from the below 0 temperatures, is to bathe in the Iceland’s world renowned Blue Lagoon. As the spa has proved to be very popular, bookings are required in advance. As it’s located close to the airport, this makes for a great last pitstop to finish your ‘Ultimate Icelandic Road Trip’.