10-Day Iceland Ring Road Itinerary
Iceland is an incredible country with breathtaking waterfalls, dramatic landscapes, and vast glaciers. The best way to see Iceland is to drive around the ring road and stop at highlights and hidden gems along the way. It is hard to decide how long to spend in each part of the country, so this itinerary will help split up the days for you. Continue reading this 10-day Iceland ring road itinerary to plan the ultimate Iceland road trip with incredible hikes, kayaking adventures, scenic canyons, and more.
When to Visit Iceland
The best weather in Iceland is during July and August, but this is also when it is the busiest. Instead, opt for the shoulder season and visit in May, June, or September, when the weather is still nice and you still have plenty of hours to explore in daylight. In the winter, although more likely to see the northern lights, the daylight hours can be limited to four hours. Also, certain areas may be harder to access in the snow and not all roads are cleared.
How to Get to Iceland
The main international airport in Iceland is Keflavik International Airport (KEF). You can find the best flight deals to Iceland by searching on Skyscanner across dates and airlines. If you can travel to a larger airport to take off from for your flight to Iceland, you can often find cheaper prices.
How to Get Around Iceland
The best way to get around Iceland is to rent a car or camper van. Although a camper van can save you money on accommodation, it is significantly more expensive than renting a car and it will lead to more money spent on gas which is expensive in Iceland.
I recommend reserving a rental car on Discover Cars ahead of time to make sure you get the best rate. You do not need 4×4 to drive around the ring road, so you can save money by renting a standard sedan. Note that it is cheaper to rent a manual car, so if you can drive a manual car make sure to look for this option.
If you have a limited amount of time to spend in Iceland and only plan on going to areas near Reykjavik, you can book organized tours from Reykjavik instead of renting a car. You can find organized tours to the Golden Circle, South Iceland and more destinations on Viator and Get Your Guide.
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FREE: Iceland Google Maps List of 60+ Destinations
Make sure you visit all the top destinations in Iceland by using this google maps list throughout your road trip. Subscribe below to get the link to this google maps list with over 60 destinations in Iceland!
9 Things to Pack for Your Iceland Road Trip
- Down Coat: The weather in Iceland can change at any moment so make sure to have a warm jacket with you. A down coat is a great option since it is light and can help you stay dry. You can find a down coat for your Iceland road trip on REI.
- Rain Jacket: Don’t let the rain or waterfall mist stop you from having an incredible trip in Iceland. If you want to stay extra dry you could also get waterproof rain pants which can be helpful if you plan on getting close to waterfalls such as Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss.
- Hat and Gloves: Even if you are visiting Iceland in the summer it can get cold. Make sure you are fully prepared with a hat and gloves!
- Sunglasses: You’ll be thrilled you have sunglasses with you when you get a sunny day in Iceland. From experience, if you forget sunglasses they are very difficult to find in Iceland and the glaciers and mountains can be bright.
- Hiking Shoes: Make sure to bring a good pair of hiking shoes and break them in before the trip. I used these Danner Boots for longer hikes and these Salomon Hiking Shoes for shorter hikes. Both hiking shoes are great for Iceland since they are waterproof.
- Daypack: A comfortable bag to carry your layers and camera gear while hiking is a must. I recommend this Gregory Daypack which has a waist strap to help carry the bag.
- Water Bottle: Tap water in Iceland is safe to drink and delicious so there is no need to buy bottled water. Make sure to bring a reusable water bottle with you that you can refill each day like this Stanley 24 oz water bottle.
- Camera: If you have been thinking of buying a new camera make sure to get it before your Iceland road trip. Capture all your incredible memories with this Sony A7RIII Mirrorless Camera. For this trip I used the Tamron 28-75 mm F/2.8 lens which is light but still has a great zoom range to capture waterfalls in the distance.
- Drone: We purchased the DJI Mini 3 Pro ahead of our Iceland trip and it was the best decision. The drone lets you see places from a different perspective and take incredible photos and videos. The best part is your significant other will finally be excited to take photos and videos of you since they will have fun flying the drone. The DJI Mini 3 Pro is only 249 grams and is foldable which makes it easy to travel with. It is lighter and smaller than my Sony mirrorless camera!
10-Day Iceland Road Trip Itinerary
Day 1: Land in Iceland, Blue Lagoon or Sky Lagoon, Geothermal Area, Reykjavik
Most flights from the United States arrive in Keflavik, Iceland in the morning. After you land, on your way to Reykjavik, make stops at highlights on the Reykjanes Peninsula. First, visit Gunnuhver Hot Springs which is a geothermal area with mud pools and steam vents. Next, visit Blue Lagoon which is about 20 minutes away from the airport. Make sure to book tickets ahead of time to get the time slot you are looking for. Another option is to visit Sky Lagoon, where you can relax in the geothermal lagoon with views of the ocean. The Sky Lagoon offers options to book their seven step ritual or just visit the geothermal lagoon.
After enjoying your time at the Blue Lagoon, stop at Krýsuvík for a quick walk around the geothermal area where you can see more mud pools, steam vents, and a range of colored soil. From here you can continue to Reykjavik where you can park your car and explore the city.
Explore Reykjavik, the Capital of Iceland
Visit Hallgrimskirkja, a church where you can take an elevator to the top to see views of the city. From there you can enjoy a walk around Reykjavik. Explore the popular street called Skólavörðustígur, where you can find restaurants and shops along with rainbow street. Enjoy shops and restaurants along Laugavegur street, see the Sun Voyager, and visit Harpa Concert Hall to see the unique glass building. Complete your loop around the city with walking by Tjörnin, a small lake located by City Hall. Reykjavik offers a range of food options so enjoy a nice dinner to finish your first day in Iceland.
Where Should I Stay Near Reykjavik?
Spend the first two nights of your 10-day Iceland ring road trip in Reykjavik. Reykjavik is a good location to base yourself while exploring the Reykjanes Peninsula and the golden circle. We stayed at Nordurey Hotel City Garden which I recommend as it is close to the center of Reykjavik yet still has free parking. You can look for more hotels in Reykjavik by searching for your dates on booking.com.
Day 2: Golden Circle
Kerid Crater, Faxi, and Bruarhloo
On your second day in Iceland explore the popular area known as the Golden Circle. Start at Kerid Crater where you can see a scenic lake in the crater and take a short walk to and around the crater. Next visit an off-the-beaten-path waterfall called Faxi, where you can enjoy this wide waterfall (almost) all to yourself. Take a small detour to Brúarhlöð, a canyon with very green water shown above.
Gullfoss Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland, and one of the biggest falls you will experience on this Iceland road trip. Gullfoss translates into Golden Falls, as it looks golden when the sun hits the water on a sunny day. There are two paths that you can take to get different views of the falls. Start with the first path which takes you to a higher viewpoint. Then, follow the second path down closer to the waterfall. There are parts of these paths where you may get a little wet by the spray of the falls. Gullfoss is made up of a 11 meter high part and a 21 meter high part.
Geysir Hot Springs and Strokkur
Next, visit Geysir Hot Springs where you can follow a trail to experience this geothermal area. Follow the path up the hill for a beautiful view of this area. One of the highlights of this stop is watching Strokkur, a geothermal geysir, erupt. Strokkur erupts every 8-10 minutes and reaches a height of up to 20 meters.
Another beautiful waterfall on the golden circle that is less well-known is the blue waterfall called Bruarfoss. A 40 minute walk along a creek takes you by another waterfall called Miðfoss before reaching the bright blue Bruarfoss.
Thingvellir National Park
Finish your day exploring the Golden Circle with a visit to Thingvellir National Park. Here you can snorkel between the North American and European tectonic plates in the Silfra Fissure. This Silfra snorkeling tour includes a guide, snorkeling gear, and a thermal wet suit so you can stay warm while swimming in the clear glacial water. If you are interested in exploring this top snorkeling spot where the continental plates are shifting apart, make sure to book a tour in advance on Viator so you don’t miss out.
Thingvellir National Park offers several hiking trails to explore the park. Follow the path to Öxarárfoss and on the way you will walk across the point where two tectonic plates meet. Create a loop by returning on the trail along the water. For more information regarding the walking paths offered, read the Thingvellir National Park Brochure here.
Drive about 40 minutes back to your hotel in Reykjavik and enjoy a nice dinner in the city before exploring the south side of Iceland on your third day in Iceland.
Day 3: South Iceland
Explore Waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss, Gljufrabui, Irafoss, and Drifandi
Start the day early to explore south Iceland where you can enjoy beautiful waterfalls, a black sand beach, and scenic views. First visit Seljalandsfoss, a strong waterfall that you can walk behind. Keep in mind, if you decide to walk behind the falls you need rain gear as you will get wet. From Seljalandsfoss you can walk on the path beside a few smaller waterfalls. If you don’t mind getting more wet, you can continue to Gljufrabui which is a waterfall hidden inside a cave.
Drive ten minutes to an off-the-beaten-path waterfall called Íráfoss. This is a great waterfall for pictures as you will most likely be the only person here. On the way, you will see another waterfall called Drífandi on your left.
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Skogafoss is a large and powerful waterfall in Iceland, at 50 meters tall and 25 meters wide. You can walk right up to it but if you get too close you will get drenched. On sunny days you may be able to see a rainbow in the falls. You can climb about 500 steps to an observation platform above Skogafoss for another view. If you are interested in seeing more falls you can continue hiking up along the Skógar river above Skogafoss.
A couple minutes drive from Skogafoss is a 10-minute hiking trail to a hidden waterfall called Kvernufoss. The trail starts from the Skógar Museum and guides you through a beautiful canyon. You can walk behind the waterfall here and get great photos without waiting in a long line of people like at Seljjalandsfoss. If you decide to walk behind Kvernufoss make sure you wear rain gear because you may get wet from the mist.
Next, drive 30 minutes to Dyrhólaey where you can take a walk on the peninsula and see picturesque views of a volcanic arch rock, Reynisfjara black sand beach, and Dyrhólaey lighthouse. In the summer months you can see puffins in this area. We happened to run into one puffin in September, but they have usually left be then.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Near the town of Vik you can find Reynisfjara, a popular black sand beach. The beach is surrounded by basalt columns that are formed when magma cools slowly and cracks into columns. As you walk along the beach make sure to stay away from the water and face the ocean as it is known to have sneaker waves that can be very dangerous. As you are walking on the beach you will come across Hálsanefshellir Cave. On the beach you will also find Reynisdrangar Cliffs, a popular photo spot with large basalt columns.
Where Should I Stay in South Iceland?
You can find guesthouses, hotels, and Airbnbs in and around the town of Vik. We stayed at Farmhouse Lodge which is a nice guesthouse with great views located 15 minutes from Reynisfjara Beach.
Day 4: Southeast Iceland
Start your day early to make it to a kayak tour in Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. On your way, stop at Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon where you can take a short walk to three incredible viewpoints. In the canyon you can see Mögárfoss Waterfall flowing into the river that carved the canyon. You only need about 30-45 minutes here to walk to the three viewpoints and back.
Kayak in Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
My favorite activity during our 10-day road trip in Iceland was kayaking in the blue Glacier Lagoon surrounded by large icebergs. We booked our 1.5-hour tour with Ice Guide which included gear and a guide that led us through the Glacier Lagoon and provided us with information about the lagoon. Make sure to book your tour ahead of time so you don’t miss out! Ice Guide provided a tandem kayak, paddles, waterproof suit, boots, and life vest. The clothes provided kept us warm while we enjoyed kayaking through the Glacier Lagoon and spotting seals in the lagoon. Make sure to bring gloves and wear warm clothes under the waterproof suit.
If you want to take photos and videos I recommend getting this waterproof case for your iPhone so you can have it with you while kayaking. This is what we used to capture our experience kayaking in the glacier lagoon. I don’t recommend bringing a professional camera unless you have a waterproof housing as it can get wet.
After kayaking in the glacier lagoon, head to the nearby Diamond Beach where you can find icebergs scattered across a long stretch of black sand beach. These icebergs are carried over from the glacier lagoon to the sea at Diamond Beach. Take a nice walk along the beach and enjoy one of the most popular photo spots in Iceland.
Where Should I Stay Near the Glacier Lagoon?
There are limited accommodation options in this part of Iceland. You can find guesthouses along the road and in the town of Hofn. In Hofn you can also find food options and a grocery store. We stayed at Lækjarhus Farm Holidays which is a comfortable guesthouse about 20 minutes from the glacier lagoon. The guesthouse is located on a farm with different accommodation options such as an apartment with a private bathroom and mountain views or cheaper rooms with shared bathrooms.
Day 5: Glacier Walk, Drive to East Iceland with Scenic Stops
Vatnajökull Glacier Walk is a must-do experience in Iceland and one of the top things to do on an Iceland road trip. We booked the Glacier Walk with Glacier Adventure. The tour includes a guide as well as gear needed for the glacier walk such as crampons, a harness, and a helmet. Make sure to wear hiking boots so it will be easier to put the crampons on. The tour starts with a 30 minute van drive to the trail where you will hike for a couple of miles before reaching the glacier since the glacier has been retrieving over the years.
During the glacier walk you will get to explore Breiðarmerkurjökull which is an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe. You will also get to learn about the glacier and its history. If you are lucky and there is an ice cave forming nearby, you may be able to see an ice cave during your visit! Tours vary by season, so make sure to check Viator for the latest available tours of this glacier.
Where Should I Stay in East Iceland?
I recommend staying at Stora Sandfell Rooms and Cottages for the next two nights as the location is very convenient to explore the East Fjords. We stayed in a cute cottage here which was surrounded by trees and had a kitchenette for cooking light meals.
On the way to your accommodation in East Iceland stop at Foldafloss, an off-the-beaten-path waterfall that is a short walk from the parking lot.
Day 6: East Fjords
Hike to Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss
On the way to Hengifoss, the red waterfall, you will come across Litlanesfoss which is a waterfall surrounded by basalt columns. The hike to Hengifoss is 3 miles round trip and starts off steep. You can walk up to Hengifoss on the left side and down on the right side to create a loop. If you are hungry you can sometimes find a food truck near the trailhead.
The easiest way to stay connected while in Iceland is to purchase an eSIM on the Airalo eSIM Store. Make sure to download the data plan onto your phone ahead of time so you can access the internet as soon as you land and easily navigate to top destinations in Iceland. Use the code GETAWAY10 for a 10% discount.
Seydisfjordur and Gufu Waterfall
Seydisfjordur is a small town located in a fjord with a few restaurants and nice views. On the way to the town you will see many waterfalls along the mountains on either side of the road. A waterfall that is worth a quick stop is Gufufoss which is located about a 5 minute drive from the town. To see a good view of the town, drive up a street called Ranargata to the left side of the fjord.
Road Trip to Peninsula with Puffins
Borgarfjarðarhöfn Eystri is a peninsula where about 10,000 pairs of puffins nest between mid-April to mid-August. There is a path that you can walk on to get closer to where the puffins nest and enjoy great views. Puffins spend most of the year at sea and only return to the land during the summer for breeding. Because of this, you most likely will not see puffins here outside of the summer breeding season. You are more likely to see puffins resting in their burrows during the early mornings or evenings, as they are out fishing during the day. The peninsula is scenic, but is only worth the drive during the breeding season when you can see puffins.
Day 7: North Iceland
Start your 7th day in Iceland with a hike to Stuðlagil Canyon. The basalt columns were formed when magma cooled slowly and cracked into columns. The river flowing through the canyon is a bright blue color. On the west side of the canyon there is a viewing platform where you can get a nice view of the canyon. If you want to hike down into the canyon you need to drive back to the bridge so you can cross to the east side of the river and drive down a dirt road to a parking lot. The hike to the canyon takes about 30 minutes from the parking lot and is worth it to experience the size of the basalt columns.
Dettifoss and Selfoss
A day in Iceland is not complete without seeing a waterfall. Drive about 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach the west side of Dettifoss parking lot where you will hike about one mile out to reach the waterfall. Dettifoss is known as the most powerful waterfall in Iceland. There is a viewing deck where you can enjoy views of the falls, but note that you may get wet from the mist. Upstream from Dettifoss you can find Selfoss, which isn’t as powerful but is very beautiful.
Looking to explore more incredible waterfalls around the world? Read this list of 8 best waterfalls on Oahu, Hawaii
Krafla, Hverir, and Grjotagja
After seeing the powerful Dettifoss, drive to Krafla which is a volcanic caldera with a blue crater lake. You can take a short walk up the crater or do a full loop around the rim of the crater.
About 10 minutes from Krafla you can find Hverir, a geothermal area with mud pools and fumaroles. You can follow the path to see different geothermal features. Walking near these geothermal features makes you warmer which is nice on a cold day, but don’t get too close!
Grjotagja is a nearby lava cave that has a geothermal spring historically used for bathing. It is too hot to swim in now but it is still worth checking out.
Where Should I Stay in North Iceland?
The two main towns in this area of North Iceland are Husavik and Myvatn. There are guesthouses and hotels in both towns. We stayed at Skogar Sunset Guesthouse in Husavik, located about a 10-minute drive from the restaurants and shops in Husavik. Each studio has a kitchenette and a comfortable private bathroom. You can see amazing views from the guesthouse and if you are lucky you may even get to see the Northern Lights from the terrace.
Day 8: North Iceland (Husavik and Myvatn)
Explore Husavik and Do a Whale Watching Tour
Husavik is a town in north Iceland known to be the whale watching capital of Iceland. It is also popular for the Netflix movie Eurovision which had scenes filmed in Husavik. There are several whale-watching tour operators that you can choose from and book in advance on Viator. Keep in mind that it is not guaranteed that you will see any whales, although it is advertised that whales are spotted on 98% of whale-watching trips. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any whales, but we still enjoyed the boat ride experience. Usually tour companies will allow you to do another whale watching tour for free if you didn’t get to see whales on your first attempt, but we didn’t have time. Depending on the weather, the tour companies may give you waterproof gear to wear over your clothes.
Hverfjall is a crater that is about 1 km in diameter. You can hike up the trail to the rim in about 20 minutes to see a great view of Lake Myvatn, the inside of the crater and surrounding lava fields.
Drive around Lake Myvatn where you can find Skutustadagigar, pseudocraters formed by lava flow. You can follow a short path to see views of the lake and the pseudocraters located on the south part of the lake. Make sure to stop at the panoramic point at Lake Myvatn and then take a nice walk in Hofdi, a small forest on the lake.
Relax at GeoSea Geothermal Baths or Myvatn Nature Baths
Finish your day in North Iceland with a relaxing soak in a geothermal bath. There are two popular baths in this area, one in Husavik and one in Myvatn, located about 45 minutes from each other. You can choose which bath to go to depending on where you are staying the night.
GeoSea Geothermal Baths are located in Husavik and feature views that overlook Skjálfandi Bay. Here you can enjoy the warm water (38-39 degree celsius) with a drink from the swim-up bar while taking in the views. You may be able to spot whales from the baths, and if conditions are right you might even get to see the northern lights. Relaxing at a geothermal bath in Iceland is the perfect activity after a chilly boat tour. Don’t forget to purchase your entrance ticket to GeoSea Geothermal Baths.
In Myvatn you can find Myvatn Nature Baths where you can relax in the blue lagoon water, drink beverages from the swim-up bar, and experience a steam bath. Myvatn nature baths have views of Lake Myvatn and Hverjfall volcanic crater. Check the latest price and book your admission ticket to Myvatn Nature Baths in advance.
Day 9: Godafoss, Akureyri, Reykjafoss
One of the most incredible waterfalls you will see on this 10-day Iceland ring road itinerary is Godafoss. Located near the ring road, Godafoss is called the waterfall of the gods. You can see the waterfall from multiple viewing platforms, or walk down the path to the river to get a closer view of the waterfall. If you get lucky you may even be able to see a rainbow in the falls.
Another destination in Europe with amazing waterfalls is Croatia. Check out this list of the best things to do in Croatia
Continue driving towards your accommodation near the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which is the area you will be exploring on your final day in Iceland. On the way, make sure to stop in the city of Akureyri for lunch. Akureyri is known as Iceland’s Capital of the North. After lunch, spend time walking around the center and checking out local shops.
Reykjafoss is an off-the-beaten-path waterfall about 1 hour west of Akureyri. The detour to this hidden gem in Iceland is only about 8 minutes each way on a dirt road and is definitely worth it. The walk to the waterfall from the car park is only about 5 minutes. Near the falls you can also find hot springs across the bridge.
Where to Stay Near Snaefellsnes Peninsula
I recommend staying right outside of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula so you can do the full loop around the peninsula the next day before returning to Reykjavik. We stayed at Dalahyttur which is a family-owned guesthouse with a restaurant on-site. There are different room options, some feature a terrace and mountain views. The owner will contact you in advance regarding if you want to eat dinner there and will let you choose from a menu. As there are not many food options nearby, take advantage of this romantic dinner opportunity.
Day 10: Snaefellsnes Peninsula
On your last day of your 10-day Iceland road trip, spend time exploring Snaefellsness Peninsula before driving back to Reykjavik. You can explore the highlights of Snaefellsnes peninsula by driving in a loop around the perimeter of the peninsula. The drive is beautiful and worth stopping in different spots to enjoy the views. The north part of the peninsula is very scenic and makes for an incredible drive. Start your adventure by stopping at Kirkjufell, an iconic mountain with a cylindrical shape. Right next to this mountain you will see Kirkjufellsfoss where you can capture the famous photograph of the waterfall and mountain together.
Snæfellsjökull National Park is located at the end of the peninsula, and this is where you can find Skarðsvík Beach, Svörtuloft Lighthouse, Saxholl Crater, Snaefellsjökull Glacier, and more. Next make a stop at the scenic Djúpalónssandur Beach which is a beautiful black sand beach. There is a hike above the beach that you can do for more perspectives of the beach. Other popular viewpoints include Lóndrangar, where you can see natural towers made up of basalt materials, and Hellnar Viewpoint.
Now will be a good time to get lunch at the few dining options in Arnarstapi. After lunch, follow the scenic walking path along the coast to see cliffs, ocean views, and an arch shaped stone formation. Here you can find a Stone Bridge that you can carefully walk on. Continue completing the loop around the peninsula and make sure to stop at Bjarnarfoss which you will see on the left side of the road about 15 minutes from Arnarstapi. You can hike up closer to the waterfall or enjoy the waterfall from the bridge below.
For your final stop on Snaefellsnes Peninsula, explore the beach of Ytri Tunga. Here you are likely to see seals and can also enjoy great views of Snæfellsjökull Volcano in the distance.
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