Self Drive Iceland vs. Guided Tour
When planning a trip to Iceland many might ask themselves the question: "Should I rent a car?" In this blog, I am trying to help you make up your mind. Here are some pros and cons, enjoy!
Taking a road trip in Iceland is nothing short of extraordinary. Every route is filled with incredible nature and its main highway, the Ring Road, makes driving in Iceland simple. Many Iceland travelers chose to self-drive the country because of the Ring Road’s easy route, which encircles the entire country.
Iceland road trips are also the perfect opportunity for remote travel. Not only do they allow you to reach the most isolated nature on Earth, but they also let you explore the country on your own terms. To help you plan the ultimate self-drive, we’ve created a list of the top Iceland road trip routes.
Here are the 5 best road trips in Iceland:
If you’re only in Iceland for a few days, we highly recommend you make time to explore the Golden Circle and Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
From Þingvellir National Park to Snæfellsjökull Glacier, these two areas top the Iceland bucket list. Check out this daily itinerary for a 4 day road trip in Iceland:
Day 1 is all about taking first sights of West Iceland. Once you leave Reykjavik, we suggest first making a short stop to Akranesviti Lighthouse with a great view of Reykjavik at the top.
From there, we recommend taking a short detour to Borgarfjörður Fjord. Popular with locals, the fjord boasts natural wonders including the Hraunfossar and Barnafoss Waterfalls, as well as Deildartunguhver, Europe’s most powerful hot spring.
Finally, the end of your first day leads you to Ytri Tunga, a golden sand beach located on the peninsula’s south shore. The area is also home to a large seal colony that likes to hang out on the rocks.
On Day 2, spend time soaking up top Snaefellsnes Peninsula sights as you drive. Known as a miniature Iceland, the peninsula is famous for flaunting Iceland’s best natural landscapes such as volcanoes, glaciers, black sand beaches, and more.
A few of the day’s must-see pit-stops include Arnarstapi and Hellnar Villages, Snæfellsjökull Glacier Volcano, Djúpalónssandur Black Sand Beach, and Kirkjufell Mountain, the most photographed mountain in Iceland.
On the third day of your Iceland road trip, you’ll have the chance to discover the famous Golden Circle route. The Golden Circle is home to three of Iceland’s most popular natural attractions.
Your first stop of the day is Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO Heritage Site where the North American and Euroasian tectonic plates meet. There is plenty to do in the park, including diving at Silfra Fissure, one of the world’s best dive sites according to TripAdvisor.
After Thingvellir, continue towards Geysir Geothermal Area. Once in the area, be sure to check out Strokkur, a famous geyser erupting every 5-10 minutes. The last Golden Circle stop of the day is Gullfoss Waterfall. Gullfoss is so magical that rainbows appear from its waters!
The final day of your 4 day road trip is for you to decide. If time allows, travelers often plan a visit to the Blue Lagoon, the most famous geothermal spa in Iceland.
Only 15 minutes away from the airport, the lagoon is an incredible way to relax after days filled with adventure. Soak in the healing mineral waters as you enjoy the surrounding nature.
Want to spend a week driving to the best places in Iceland? Then this 7 day Iceland road trip is made for you!
Explore the top Snaefellsnes Peninsula and the Golden Circle sights, then hit the South Coast along the famous Ring Road. Here’s the best route for a one-week road trip in Iceland:
The first three days of this 7 day road trip are similar to the 4-day road trip above. Explore the natural wonders of Snaefellsnes Peninsula and the Golden Circle before you hit the South Coast on Day 4.
Day 4 of your road trip is a drive along the Ring Road, Route 1, towards Iceland's South Coast. The day’s route will lead you through quaint villages and gorgeous Icelandic waterfalls such as Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss.
As you continue south, we suggest making time to check out the jet black sands of Reynisfjara Beach and the neighboring Reynisdrangar Basalt Columns. Take time to enjoy Reynisdrangar’s unique marks of coastal erosion.
Continue driving along the Ring Road until you reach the Vik area, where plenty of amenities await.
Today you will get to experience the best glacier landscapes in the world. Before you drive into Iceland’s icy wonderland, you can plan a short hike to the Sólheimasandur area, where a lonely plane wreckage sits next to the ocean.
As you continue on the Ring Road, you’ll eventually reach the edges of the largest ice cap in Europe, Vatnajökull Glacier. There are few places in the world where you can find a better view from your car seat than here.
Keep driving until you reach Skaftafell Nature Reserve.This area is a popular place to go ice caving and glacier hiking. Once you’ve finished exploring the area, continue your drive until you reach the world-famous icebergs of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and the Diamond Beach.
The last full day of your 7 day road trip will be spent heading back towards Reykjavik. One must-see en route is Fjaðrárgljúfur, a beautiful canyon with a river running through it.
Other spots worth checking out on your way back towards Reykjavik include the small town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Eldhraun lava field. You can also plan stops to the places where you didn’t have time to stop beforehand.
Once you’re back in the capital city, there are plenty of wonderful places to eat, see, and explore. We suggest taking one of the Reykjavik walking tours to experience the beautiful city through the eyes of a local.
Your final day can be spent however you want. Reykjavik has so much to do that it’s easy to pass your time there before you go on your next adventure.
If you’re heading to the airport on your final day, we suggest making a stop at nearby highlights such as the Blue Lagoon and Reykjanesviti Lighthouse.
If you’re looking to see Iceland’s best geological landscapes in under a week, this 5 day Iceland road trip itinerary is made for you.
This road trip in Iceland is 5 days of beautiful South Coast and Golden Circle sights. Take a look at our suggested south Iceland road trip itinerary:
Most of this itinerary is the exact same as the 7 day trip. The only difference is that this route doesn’t go to Snaefellsnes Peninsula. On day 1 we recommend going straight to the Golden Circle from Reykjavik.
On days 2, 3, and 4, follow the Ring Road south to explore the Vatnajokull National Park area. From Skaftafell Nature Reserve to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, it’s completely up to you to decide what adventures are in store.
On Day 5, head back to Reykjavik via Route 1 until you reach your final destination. One excellent way to spend your final day of the trip is to make a stop at Reykjadalur Hot Spring River.
Located near the Ring Road, Reykjadalur River is a top spot to enjoy Iceland’s amazing geothermal activity as you soak in its warm running water. An hour-long hike is required to reach the river.
A 10 day road trip around the Ring Road takes you to the best attractions in the country and is simple to navigate. From north to south, you can take time to see all corners of the country if you follow the Ring Road from start to finish.
Before you head out on a full Iceland road trip on Route 1, there are some great Iceland road trip tips on driving to help you prepare. Here is our suggested 10 day Iceland road trip itinerary:
The first four days of this 10 day trip will be similar to the 5 day road trip. Once you leave Reykjavik, explore the famous Golden Circle route and South Coast before you head to the Easfjords on Day 5.
Plan time to visit Saxa Cliff and Hallormsstaðarskógur, the biggest forest in Iceland. End your day with a trip to see Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss Waterfalls.
On Day 6, you’ll make your way to North Iceland’s Northeast Highlands. As you're driving, keep your eyes out for more waterfalls including Rjúkandi and Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Iceland.
Check out the area’s otherworldly sights such as Grjótagjá Cave, Stóra-Víti Crater, and the mysterious Lake Mývatn region.Take a stroll at Dimmuborgir Lava Field before you cap the day off at Akureyri, the capital of the North.
Day 7 of your 10-day adventure is full of the most isolated nature in the country. Plan a trip to Dalvik where you can go whale watching off the coast of Iceland. Whale watching is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and going on an expert-guided tour is highly recommended.
Today will also give you the opportunity to spend time with wild Icelandic horses in the Skagafjörður region. Finish the day with a visit to Hvítserkur Sea Stack and Drangey Island.
These two days follow the same route as Day 1 and 2 of the 4 day road trip itinerary. Day 8 of your trip will be spent exploring Snaefellsnes Peninsula’s beautiful landscapes.
On Day 9, follow the Ring Road towards Reykjavik. Make sure to plan a stop at Ytri Tunga and Borgarfjordur Fjord.
Similar to other Iceland road trips, we recommend ending your adventure with a visit to the Blue Lagoon Spa if you’re heading to the airport. Otherwise, we suggest you plan time to visit Reykjavik. The city is full of great music, food, and culture to explore.
If you’re wondering whether it’s possible to drive the entire Ring Road in under a week, the answer is yes. This 6 day trip around Route 1 is made for people who want a high-speed version of the 10 day route.
The 6 day road trip route is the exact same route as the 10 day trip. The only difference is that you need to take fewer stops along the way. It’s also not recommended to stop at Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
If you’re on a time crunch and want to do a quick Ring Road road trip, it’s strongly advised to constantly check the weather and road conditions. Keeping safe on the roads is very important, especially if you’re planning a Iceland winter road trip.
Want to avoid the hassle of car rental and accommodation? Let us take care of it for you! Check out our large selection of self-drive tours – detailed itineraries included.
Tag CloudBest time to visit Glacier hiking Glaciers Ice Cave Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Northern Lights Reykjavik Snæfellsnes Snorkeling South Coast The Ring Road Top 10 Vatnajökull Volcanoes Weather West Iceland
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