Iceland is like another planet filled with incredible stops along the way. An Iceland road trip should be on everyone’s bucket list. We had 6 days to explore the country so we planned all of our ring road stops for a self-drive tour. Below you’ll find our Iceland itinerary plus links to other helpful posts. I’ve listed the stops in the order that we followed, and I hope it helps when planning your road trip.
We spent 4 days driving the Iceland roads (in May) and 2 days in Reykjavik. We split up the following stops into 4 days which was totally doable and we didn’t feel rushed at any point. It helps that in May the sun sets at 10 pm so you get plenty of daylight driving time. I loved doing the self-drive tour because it allows me to spend as much time as I’d like at each stop. If you have more questions about driving in Iceland, check out my post HERE.
How long does it take to drive around Iceland? Considering Iceland isn’t a very large country, it should only take around 13 hours to drive the ring road if you drive it straight. There’s an abundance of things to see on the ring road (and beyond) so I’d recommend a minimum of 4 days. Many spend weeks on their Iceland road trip and I don’t blame them. I wish we had more time and didn’t have to sadly skip out on the Westfjords. Either way, these stops will give you an idea of how much you can see with just 6 days, and how you can easily build an itinerary from this list.
1. Blue Lagoon
Yes, it’s touristy and expensive, but it’s also picture-perfect, relaxing, and worth a visit in my opinion. Just keep in mind, they’re very strict about cleanliness so you’ll need to hit the Blue Lagoon showers before entering! Not a rinse off in your swimsuit kinda shower, you’ll need to strip down completely and they’ll make sure you’re doing it right. And yup, there are plenty of wall-less showers and women just going at it in public. They created more “private showers” for shy tourists (me), but the stalls are light and you can still see your shadow while someone stands there making sure you’re following the rules.
We started the trip here because it was right outside of Reykjavik. From the airport, we went to pick up our Iceland camper rental near the city, then made our way to the Blue Lagoon. After a long flight, it was nice to start the road trip in a relaxing way. Iceland does have plenty of other geothermal pools/natural hot springs (some free of charge). If you’d rather wait, be on the lookout for local pools or Northern Iceland also has a beaut called the Lake Mývatn nature baths.
2. Strokkur Geyser
If you continue following the ring road going south, you’ll find this geyser close to the Blue Lagoon. The Strokkur Geyser erupts every 8-10 minutes, sometimes as high as 100+ feet, so have your camera ready!
3. Gullfoss Waterfall
I remember thinking, “this has to be the most beautiful waterfall I’ve ever seen!” Little did I know I was barely scratching the surface of amazing waterfalls in Iceland.
4. Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
This waterfall was especially fun because you can go behind it! Luckily for us, we arrived in the evening of our first day so this is where we experienced our first Icelandic sunset—behind the Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
5. Seljavallalaug Pool
This is the oldest thermal pool in Iceland, snuggled right between a snowy mountain. How do these places exist?! The drive to get to it is a little off the road and a very bumpy ride. Seriously, Pinterest makes this stuff look easy. After you park your car, you have to hike for another 15-20 minutes, and it’s just as rocky as the drive. It’s pretty hidden so you’ll find a lot of locals there.
6. Skógafoss Waterfall
More amazing waterfalls on this road trip. You can get up close with this Skógafoss waterfall, which makes for some extraordinary shots.
7. Sólheimasandur Plane Crash
This plane crashed back in 1973, everyone survived, but no one ever removed the plane. Now, it’s quite a sight to see. You’ll have to walk 2 miles down a gravel road (no cars allowed) to get to the plane, but it’s an easy hike. Try to go early because it’s a popular spot. There is free parking at the beginning of the hike.
8. Reynisfjara (Black) Beach
I love any beach that isn’t traditional. And though it may look calm, these waves can kill you. Honestly, read up on it and be careful out there, don’t get too close to the water. Make sure you stop by the basalt columns, what used to be lava is now a cool photo spot.
9. Fjaðrárgljúfur Moss Canyon
This Iceland stop is STUNNING. I mean they all are, but some just really leave you in awe. We also filled up our water tank here with this free faucet thing they had there for visitors. Remember, Iceland has some of the world’s cleanest water.
10. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
This was one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been to. We had a glacier lagoon boat tour booked, but they canceled it because it was too warm and not safe to go out in the water. Bummed, we decided to check it out anyway (sans boat) and we’re glad we did! We were able to catch another glorious sunset, and even had some ice for dinner.
11. Dettifoss Waterfall
Remember in the last post I wrote about that crazy mountain we took as a shortcut? Well, shortly after that my brother-in-law Manny took over the wheel, and Jorge and I tried to get some sleep. A few hours later I woke up and everything was covered in snow again. I yelled thinking we were on top of another mountain! But it turns out northern Iceland can still be frozen in May.
None of us expected it, but we bundled up at 5 a.m. and started our hike to see the biggest waterfall in Europe.
There’s no path to follow, just wherever the snow has hardened. I learned this the hard way by stepping out of the path and falling directly into the snow. My leg was caught, and the snow came up to my waist! I kind of just gave up at that point until Jorge noticed and came to pull me out. They do put little flags and signs for you to follow so that was helpful. Jorge was still in pajamas, Jill had two coats and a blanket on, and my phone kept dying because it was so cold. No regrets though, just look at this beautiful place.
12. Námafjall Hverir Geothermal Fields
This stop wasn’t planned, but it was one of my favorites!! I’ve never seen anything like this. This field has a collection of steam fumaroles and mud pots and was definitely otherworldly.
13. Akureyri, Iceland
Finally, a town with more people! We stopped to do a little exploring and a lot of eating. Blaa Kannan Cafe is a cute coffee shop with plenty of pastries and unique coffees to choose from. Akureyri Fish & Chips had the freshest and yummiest fish & chips we’ve ever had, it was a nice surprise. Our last stop was at Brynja, their famous ice cream shop, and I’m still craving more of it till this day! Highly recommend them all.
This is how we felt after day three:
14. Hvítserkur Stone Rock
It’s a stone rock in the shape of an animal, what’s not to like? Plus, if you make it there by sunset you’ll see some pretty incredible colors. Most of these stops don’t require much of a hike.
15. Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Snæfellsnes is a lovely corner of Iceland that should be visited, the remainder of the stops I’ll be sharing are actually on this peninsula. When you’re driving along, make sure to pull over when you see lava fields galore. They go on for miles so you shouldn’t miss them.
16. Kirkjufell Mountain in Grundarfjörður
Have you ever seen the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”? Well, this famous mountain is one of the filming locations for that movie, and these pictures are not edited. This is Iceland.
This is still part of the mountain! Unreal!
17. Djúpalónssandur Beach
We didn’t have this stop planned either and came here on a search for a different rock. Then without knowing where it was leading, we ended up at this lava wonderland! Jorge ran onto the beach to see if he could spot the specific rock we were looking for, meanwhile, I took pictures of all the crazy rocks already around us. I noticed there were a lot of iron remains on the ground, and it turns out they belonged to a British boat that crashed in 1948. Fourteen men lost their lives there, and now the beach is said to be haunted. Clearly, I didn’t know all of this when I was snuggled up on that rock.
18. Fjöruhúsið Café
You’ll see these picturesque black houses before reaching the cafe.
Then here it is, the Fjöruhúsið Café in the middle of a moss mountain. It has an outdoor patio and an incredible view to go with it. Their swiss mocha and waffles were our favorite!
When we left the cafe we spotted this super cute restaurant and bar, but they had already closed for the day so I took pictures instead because that’s what I do.
19. Buðir Black Church
Isn’t Iceland so uniquely beautiful? The black church is a must-see, and your Instagram will thank you for it.
20. Icelandic Horses!
Icelandic horses are some of the purest in the world. They don’t mix in any horses from other countries, and if an Icelandic horse leaves Iceland it’s not allowed back. They’re beautiful creatures with hair that’ll make you envious. They’re also very friendly and love people. So whenever you get the chance, pull over and say hello!
After spending 4 days on Iceland’s ring road, we were excited to settle in and explore Reykjavik. The country’s capital is small, easily walkable, filled with colorful homes, and fantastic hot dogs! Read more on everything you can do and eat in Reykjavik with the remainder 2 days HERE.
Iceland is one of those countries that you won’t believe is on the same planet as ours and for that alone it’s worth a visit. I’m already dreaming of my trip back. I’d love to go during the winter and chase the northern lights. So tell me, is it on your list yet?