Some people say they can circumnavigate the Ring Road in a week, but we beg to differ. We spent 9 days in Iceland and feel it would be difficult to do it any less time. We had time to stop as we pleased, but still drove anywhere from 1.5 to 5 hours each day. This map shows each spot we stopped in Iceland.
Driving in Iceland
Unless you choose to book a completely organized tour while in Iceland- a rental car is absolutely necessary. Be aware that driving in Iceland presents some differences compared to other countries. Roads are narrow with more importantly- no shoulders. Many roads and most bridges & tunnels are one lane, two way traffic. You must establish right of way or yield to other traffic before proceeding in many cases.
Our first taste of Iceland! We hit the ground running (desperately trying to kick that jet lag) and hiked out Bruarfoss (where we first fell in love with Iceland) and the Golden Circle sites, Geysir and Gullfoss. Read all about it here.
We headed south, stopping at some of the classics, Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi, Skógafoss, and the glacier, Sólheimajökull. Amidst all of that though, we stopped for some serendipitous exploring which might be our very favorite memory of our time in Iceland. Check it out here!
Southern Iceland keeps getting better and better. We started the day checking out Dýrholaviti (Dyrhólaey Lighthouse), and continued on to see Iceland’s southernmost town Vik, play in the lava fields (Eldraun), and admire the serpentine canyon, Fjaðrárgljúfur. We also stopped at Svartifoss and the world famous, Jökulsárlón. What a day! Read about here. We ended the night with the perfect campsite!
We headed out from our sweet campsite (just over the hill from Jökulsárlón) and then we spent the day weaving in and out of the fingers of Iceland’s East Fjords. Outside of Djúpivogur we found our favorite (and secret) “hot pot” which used to be an old cheese vat. This subsequently led to our YouTube debut (10:20-11:15 on video). How fortuitous! At the end of the day we came across an abandoned fishing village which was the perfect place to pitch a tent for a night.
We pressed onward through the East Fjords, stopping at Iceland’s easternmost village, Neskaupstadur via what must be the world’s sketchiest tunnel - it felt as though we were driving down an abandoned mine shaft. Not an exaggeration. Afterwards we ditched the car and headed for the hills where we had hiked into a sweet camping spot and explored Brunavik Bay without another soul in site. Read about it here.
Back on the Ring Road, we ventured to Northern Iceland, making stops at Dettifoss (Iceland’s most powerfull waterfall), the Grjótagjá Cave (a natural thermal spring covered by a cave), the Reykjahlíð Church, and topped of the day with a long awaited soak in the Myvatn Nature Baths. We highly recommend it (Blue Lagoon is a tourist trap - don't go)! Read about it here.
Whale watching in Iceland’s whale watching capital, Húsavík! Despite the sea sickness, we call this a success! Afterwards we let our stomachs settle while we explored the Husavik Whale Museum and then we warmed back up with a dip in an awesome hot pot just out of town, Ostakarið. After our stop at The Turf House Museum (Grenjaðarstaður) we found another great campsite. just east of Lake Ljosavatn. Read about it here.
Day 8 was pretty low key. We checked out the shops in Akureyri and found a souvenir to take home (which now hangs in our master bath). From there, we ventured up to Grettislaug / Grettir’s pool and went for dip (a day in Iceland is not complete without a dip in a hot pot). Then, we found another amazing campsite on the coast of Seal Beach. No complaints. More info here.