I really enjoy a good road trip. It’s such a great way to experience a place. You get to not only enjoy wonderful scenery and see things at your own pace but you also can get a much deeper experience of a country or region’s culture. Witnessing rural life gives you such a different insight than just visiting the big cities.
Iceland is an absolutely gorgeous country, and because of its smaller size you can really see a lot of the Land of Fire and Ice, even if you don’t have a lot of time.
Things to consider for your Iceland road trip
- While it’s pretty hard to get lost on Iceland’s famous Ring Road, a GPS will help you figure out stops you may want to make, will give you some extra confidence, and help you plan a bit better. There can be some hidden treasures on side and back roads which could be more difficult without ones of these devices.
- If you plan on going off road at all, or will be driving in winter, make sure to heed warnings about the need for an all-wheel or four-wheel drive. The signs aren’t a result of being overcautious.
- Be respectful of the local ecology. Iceland is a hearty land, but some of its flora can actually be a bit delicate in certain conditions.
- Make sure to bring along plenty of extra water, warm clothing (dressing in layers is best), extra food, and some blankets and/or sleeping bags just in case you experience an emergency, breakdown, etc.
- Iceland weather is mercurial. You can experience all four seasons in one day. During our stay, we walked out into a sunny, cloudless day where we only needed a hoodie, and before we had gone half a mile it was snowing, windy, and freezing. Be prepared for anything because you just may get it.
- Keep an eye out for elf houses during your trip.
- Pack swimwear and towels so you can enjoy the natural geothermal pools you find along the way.
- Even though cell phone cameras can capture good-quality images, I’d suggest bringing along a camera that gives you more control, has better sensors, etc. And don’t forget extra batteries. Your camera is going to get a lot of use!
- Some people recommend starting your journey in a counter clockwise direction.
- When planning your itinerary, make sure you allow yourself more time than you need. Almost every person I have spoken to who has done this road trip has mentioned they ended up making a lot more stops than they planned because of amazing views.
- According to some sources, the trip can be done in 17 hours, but it would be best to plan at least a few days. From my research, it seems that the most common recommendation is to stretch it out over 5-7 days minimum.
- During your drive, remember that typically at restaurants if you order soup & bread you get free refills. This can really help stretch your budget further.
Some locations to consider visiting
This town on Iceland’s south coast has a beautiful black beach. However, one of my favorite attractions in the world is located nearby—Reynisdrangar. This black pebble beach has a very cool cave with basalt columns. Out in the water are a few stone pillars that legend has are trolls who were turned to stone when the sun came out while they were trying to drag a ship in from the sea.
It’s really an incredible sight and is one of my favorite memories from our time in the island nation.
On the way to Hofn, you can find some ice caves to explore. This is on my Iceland wish list for a return visit.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Depending on when you visit, you may be able to do some boating while you’re there. It would definitely be worth it!
“Foss” is the Icelandic word for waterfall. This particular waterfall is pretty amazing and is considered to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. It’s a pretty spectacular sight.
The Garðar BA 64 shipwreck
There’s just something fascinating about seeing a big ship resting abandoned on dry land.
Thingvellir National Park
This is the site of the first parliament. The first gathering occurred around 930, and the site continued to be used until 1798. The park is considered a national shrine and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Aside from the interesting history, visitors can also see where the North American and Eurasian continental plates separate.
Have you considered doing an Iceland road trip? What sights do you want to see the most?