Here is a complete road trip guide to Iceland, including how to get around, when to visit and an incredible 9-day itinerary that ensures you see the best attractions and sights this island offers. From the Golden Circle to the Jökulsárlón lagoon and whale watching in Husavik, this ring road guide is perfect for first-timers and is ideal for any time of the year.
Iceland had been on my bucket list for a long time, and after setting foot in the country, I was not disappointed. It was such an incredible experience full of emotions that I will forever remember. The locals were kind and generous, and the landscapes were breathtaking.
However long you stay and wherever you go, I can only recommend this wonderful country – you will always be surprised.
9 days was a perfect amount of time for us (me and my mum) to accomplish our road trip in Iceland and discover unique sceneries by following Route 1 (the ring road), which goes all around the island, even if I wish I had stayed a bit longer. We sometimes had to rush, and I was tired at the end, but we managed to see and do everything we wanted.
I recommend staying as long as possible as there is so much to see and do. Luckily, it is not a big country, and Road 1 circles the island – you only have to follow it or venture off the beaten track.
In this article, I give you everything you need to have an unforgettable Iceland loop tour, from preparing for your road trip to the daily schedule and distance. Plus, do not forget to check out the sustainable tips at the end. Enjoy!
My Iceland experience: Duration 9 Days Dates visited Apr 20 - Apr 29 Season Spring
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- Overview: 9 perfect days in Iceland
- Iceland Ring Road Itinerary – Map
- Ring road itinerary: 9 days in Iceland
- Day 1 – Reykjavík
- Day 2 – The Golden Circle
- Day 3 – Southern Iceland
- Day 4 – Glacier Hike & Lagoon
- Day 5 – The East Fjords
- Day 6 – Lake Mývatn
- Day 7 – Whale Watching
- Day 8 – The Snæfellsnes Peninsula
- Day 9 – Reykjavik
- Iceland Ring Road tours
- How to get around Iceland Ring Road
- How long does it take to drive around Iceland
- Where to stay on Iceland Ring Road
- When is the best time to visit Iceland
- How to prepare for a road trip in Iceland
- Sustainable travel in Iceland
- Iceland travel planning guide
- Iceland Ring Road – FAQ
Overview: 9 perfect days in Iceland
- Day 1 – Reykjavik
- Day 2 – The Golden Circle: waterfalls & geysers
- Day 3 – Southern Iceland: Vík & Reynisfjara
- Day 4 – Skaftafellsjökull: glacier, ice lagoon & seals
- Day 5 – The East Fjords: waterfalls & a hidden village
- Day 6 – Mývatn: volcanic mountain & natural baths
- Day 7 – Northern Iceland: Húsavík & whale watching
- Day 8 – The Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- Day 9 – Reykjavik
Iceland Ring Road Itinerary – Map
Click on the top left of the map to display the list of stops and locations.
Ring road itinerary: 9 days in Iceland
This 9-day ring road itinerary in Iceland is only a guide with recommendations. You are more than welcome to spend more days in one place or add other stops on your way. Iceland has a lot to offer: you will never get bored!
Additional tip – I added in this blog post the link to where we stayed at the end of each day (when the property was still available). I hope it helps 🙂
Need help planning your road trip across Iceland? Check out this article:
How to Plan an Epic (Eco-Friendly) Road Trip
Day 1 – Reykjavík
🚗 Keflavík Airport – Reykjavík ⇢ 50km / 45min
We landed on Thursday afternoon with a “welcome to Iceland” snowstorm! Our rental car was waiting for us, and we drove to Reykjavík. The city was lovely. I felt good straight away.
We went to our Airbnb to drop off our bags before walking into the city.
We wandered along the sea to the Harpa, a cultural and social centre with unique architecture. The atmosphere was beautiful, the sun started setting, and it was peaceful.
I had a great first impression of Iceland, and I was already so excited about what was coming next. After our walk, we ate at a restaurant with a gorgeous view of the harbour and went home to have an early night, to be ready for our adventure.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN Reykjavík
- Visit the iconic Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland
- Stop at the Harpa, a stunning concert hall and conference centre
- See Perlan, a futuristic glass dome sitting on hot water storage tanks
- Tour the National Museum of Iceland to learn about Iceland’s history
- Discover Reykjavík City Hall, situated by the Tjörnin pond
- Wander along Laugavegur, the main shopping street in Reykjavík
- Admire the Sun Voyager, a striking steel sculpture
- Explore the National Gallery, showcasing Icelandic art
- Relax in a geothermal pool, including Blue Lagoon or Laugardalslaug
- Visit the Reykjavík Art Museum, which includes 3 locations
Top tours from Reykjavík
Day 2 – The Golden Circle
Our journey began! We left Reykjavík early in the morning to explore the Golden Circle.
Pingvellir National Park
🚗 Reykjavík – Þingvellir ⇢ 48km / 50min
Our first stop was the Þingvellir National Park (pronounced the p like “th”), a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its historical and geological significance and home to the Alþingi, one of the oldest parliamentary institutions in the world, established in 930 AD.
The park is located in a rift valley formed by the separation of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, creating spectacular landscapes with cliffs, fissures and the crystal-clear waters of Silfra Lake.
Explore the historic assembly site, walk (or swim!) between the tectonic plates and appreciate the natural beauty that combines cultural heritage with geological wonders. Þingvellir is the perfect first stop to get a deeper insight into the identity of Iceland and its rich history.
We enjoyed walking around, but unfortunately, we did not get the chance to swim between the plates – I would happily try next time.
Geysir Geothermal Area
🚗 Þingvellir – Geysir ⇢ 60km / 1h
We continued our journey to Geysir, a geothermal area renowned for its hot springs, geysers and dynamic geothermal activity.
The namesake geyser, Geysir, is one of the oldest known geysers in the world but is currently less active. However, its neighbour, Strokkur, erupts regularly, shooting hot water up to 30 meters into the air every few minutes.
The surrounding area is also dotted with colourful mineral-rich pools and steam vents, creating a surreal landscape that will captivate you.
I loved exploring Geysir and was amazed by the power of the place. Every time the geyser exploded, it surprised me, making me miss my pictures!
🚗 Geysir – Gullfoss ⇢ 10km / 15min
We then set off for the Gullfoss, a breathtaking two-tiered waterfall and one of the most iconic natural landmarks of the country.
The powerful Golden cascade tumbles down a series of steps, creating a spectacular show of mist and rainbows on sunny days.
And with a total drop of 32 meters, Gullfoss is not only known for its beauty but also for its significance in Icelandic environmental history, as efforts to preserve the waterfall played a significant role in early conservation movements.
Gullfoss was incredibly impressive, and I absolutely loved the contrast of colour between the black rock and blue water. However, be prepared for the wind!
🚗 Gullfoss – Keriò ⇢ 56km / 1h
On our way to Arabaer to spend the night, we came across a volcanic crater lake named Keriò. It was a wonderful surprise!
Recognisable by its striking red volcanic rock walls, Keriò is approximately 3,000 years old and extends about 270 meters in diameter. The unique feature of the crater includes a vivid blue-green lake at its base, creating a captivating contrast with the red volcanic soil.
Explore the rim of the crater and, in some seasons, witness the vibrant colours reflecting off the water, making it a popular and visually stunning natural attraction in the Icelandic landscape.
The difference in colours between the red volcanic rock (the caldera) and the turquoise-blue water was stunning. We walked around it, it did not take long, and it was totally worth it!
Accommodation – Arabaer
🚗 Keriò – Arabaer ⇢ 40km / 40min
We went back in the car to drive to our guesthouse, but we could not find it. It started to get dark, and we had no idea where we were.
We stopped on a farm in the middle of nowhere to ask our way. The farmer, quite old and expressionless, came to me. I admit I was scared at this moment to be rejected, as I was on the property of a stranger. I tried to explain to him in English, pointing to the address on my paper.
Without any words, he made me a sign to follow him, brought me to his desk (in the middle of the barn) and showed me on his old computer which way we had to go, still without talking (I understood he did not speak a word in English).
I was very touched by his kindness. I think that many people who do not speak English would have sent me away. But the Icelanders were always so kind and generous, and it warmed my heart.
Where we stayed in Arabaer: Small basic cosy double room.
Day 3 – Southern Iceland
Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss
🚗 Arabaer – Seljalandsfoss ⇢ 70km / 1h
🚗 Seljalandsfoss – Skogafoss ⇢ 30km / 30min
We started our day with Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss Waterfalls, two beautiful spots where we took our time to walk around and enjoy the landscape.
Seljalandsfoss is a mesmerising waterfall known for its unique characteristic of allowing you to walk behind the cascading water curtain, providing a captivating and immersive experience.
With a drop of approximately 60 meters, the waterfall is surrounded by lush greenery and is illuminated by the soft glow of the midnight sun during the Icelandic summer, making it a picturesque stop on the famous Ring Road.
It may be a good idea to wear waterproof clothing if you want to go behind, as you will get wet very quickly!
Skogafoss is a majestic waterfall located along the Skógá River. With a drop of about 60 meters and a width of 25 meters, it is one of the largest and most iconic waterfalls in the country. Its power also creates a constant mist that often forms rainbows on sunny days – perfect for photo lovers!
Climb the staircase next to the waterfall for panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, including the coastline and the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.
Skogafoss is not only a natural wonder but also holds cultural significance, with legends suggesting hidden treasures behind the waterfall.
Skogafoss is one of my favourite waterfalls! We took a few photos from the bottom and walked up the long staircase, which was a little challenging on the legs, but the view made it worth it. As we walked along the river, we also discovered other pretty waterfalls.
Dyrhólaey & Reynisfjara
🚗 Skogafoss – Dyrhólaey ⇢ 28km / 30min
We continued to Dyrhólaey, a stunning promontory and nature reserve on the South coast near Vík, known for its dramatic cliffs, black sand beaches and sea arch, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Today, it is a protected area and a nesting site for seabirds, including puffins in summer, giving you a fascinating mix of coastal beauty and wildlife.
However, do not forget that the environment of this place is very fragile, so you must stay on the marked trails and be careful not to go too close to the edge, as the cliffs are unstable.
Dyrhólaey was a magical place offering some of my favourite views, including the one of the Reynisfjara black sand beach, which was totally unreal.
🚗 Dyrhólaey – Vík ⇢ 19km / 20min
After exploring Dyrhólaey, we drove to Vík, a charming coastal village. Set against a backdrop of spectacular cliffs and black sand beaches, it is known for its iconic sea stacks, Reynisdrangar.
The village itself is home to a quaint church, picturesque houses and stunning views of the North Atlantic Ocean. If you have time, take a detour to Reynisfjara, the nearby black sand beach renowned for its basalt columns and powerful waves.
For fantastic views (especially at sunset), we walked up to the white and red church. It was nice and very peaceful, and we also spent the night in a guesthouse near this area.
Accommodation – Hörgsland
🚗 Vík – Hörgsland ⇢ 79km / 1h
Where we stayed in Hörgsland: Hörgsland Cottages.
Day 4 – Glacier Hike & Lagoon
🚗 Hörgsland – Skaftafellsjökull ⇢ 61km / 45min
We started this fourth day with an incredible and unplanned activity: a hike on the Skaftafellsjökull glacier! It was a wonderful experience that I highly recommend. Here is the company we chose: https://www.mountainguides.is/.
Skaftafellsjökull is an outlet glacier of the Vatnajökull, the largest ice cap in Europe, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, including mountains, glacial river and lush greenery during the summer.
The glacier itself features impressive ice formations and crevasses, offering a glimpse into the stunning glacial environment for a fun experience – accessible to all abilities!
Doing this hike was an incredible way to explore the glacier from another perspective. At the start, our guide showed us how to walk with crampons – it was a weird sensation at first, but you will get used to it. We then headed to the glacier whilst hearing stories about the area.
We hiked for 2 hours with a few stops to appreciate the view. Our guide also showed us some impressive gaps in the ice.
We were lucky with the weather as it was sunny, and the colours were gorgeous. It was a beautiful place to breathe and not think about anything else. In addition, other experiences like this one are available, such as walking inside ice caves (I had the chance to do that on my following trip in winter).
Skaftafell National Park
Inside the Skaftafell National Park, you will also find many hiking trails. To explore the area even more, we chose to hike to the Svartifoss Waterfall. It was not too long and totally worth it.
Svartifoss is a striking waterfall renowned for its unique basalt column backdrop, surrounded by hexagonal basalt columns that create a stunning natural amphitheatre.
The waterfall plunges about 20 meters over a cliff, framed by dark columns, which give it its distinctive and picturesque appearance. Its surreal setting makes it one of the iconic and visually captivating waterfalls in Iceland.
🚗 Skaftafellsjökull – Jökulsárlón ⇢ 57km / 55min
Next stop: Jökulsárlón. I could not wait for it, and I was not disappointed at all! Jökulsárlón is a glacial lagoon on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. The place is (again) unbelievable – we had such a great time.
Dotted with icebergs of different sizes, shapes and colours, Jökulsárlón creates a mesmerising scene worth seeing. The icebergs float in the lagoon before drifting to the nearby Diamond Beach, where they rest on the black volcanic sand, creating a stunning contrast (another spot you should check out).
The lagoon is also a popular destination for boat tours, offering a close-up view of the icebergs and the glacial landscape, making it one of the most iconic natural wonders in Iceland.
We walked around the lake despite the strong wind. The magical white scenery mixed with blue icebergs and adorable seals was perfect – a moment I will never forget.
Accommodation – Nypugardar
🚗 Jökulsárlón – Nypugardar ⇢ 50km / 45min
Where we stayed in Nypugardar: Guesthouse Nypugardar.
Day 5 – The East Fjords
The East Fjords of Iceland are a spectacular coastal region characterised by deep and narrow fjords, picturesque fishing villages and towering mountains. As they have a particular winding shape, it was a long and tiring drive, so we spent the day going through them.
But do not hesitate to stop regularly and enjoy the scenery!
🚗 Nypugardar – Seyðisfjörður ⇢ 239km / 3h30
We spent the night at Eglisstadir, but before, we decided at the last minute to go to Seyðisfjörður, a picturesque town nestled within a deep fjord on the eastern coast of Iceland, accessible by following Road 93.
There was a bit of snow, but it was not too bad, and the view when arriving at the village was stunning.
On our way to the town, we also stopped at the Gufufoss Waterfall, one of our favourites for how peaceful and beautiful it was. The ice around made it even more special.
Characterised by colourful wooden buildings and surrounded by rugged mountains, Seyðisfjörður exudes charm and tranquillity. It is also known for its vibrant arts community, evident in the local galleries and the iconic rainbow-painted street.
We walked around the town at sunset, it was quiet and lovely. The scenery was gorgeous, with the frozen lake and pretty colourful houses. A place I recommend you visit!
Accommodation – Eglisstadir
🚗 Seyðisfjörður – Eglisstadir ⇢ 27km / 30min
Where we stayed in Eglisstadir: Birta Guesthouse.
Day 6 – Lake Mývatn
🚗 Eglisstadir – Dettifoss ⇢ 160km / 2h15
On our way to Lake Mývatn, we made a first stop at Dettifoss, one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe. Fed by the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River, it drops approximately 45 meters into the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon.
Known for its immense volume and strength, Dettifoss creates a dramatic spectacle, with cascading white water and a constant mist. The surrounding landscape is also rugged, showcasing volcanic rocks and dramatic cliffs.
This waterfall was incredibly impressive. Plus, the snow all around made it even more special.
🚗 Dettifoss – Hverir ⇢ 63km / 1h
We continued our drive to Lake Mývatn and stopped at Hverir, which was stunning, one of my favourite experiences! It is a geothermal area characterised by bubbling mud pots, hissing vents and vibrant sulfur deposits, offering a surreal and magical landscape.
In addition, the ground is often coloured in shades of red, yellow and orange due to the different minerals present.
Walk along marked trails to witness the geothermal activity up close and experience the distinct sights, sounds and smells of this captivating region. Hverir is easily accessible and provides a unique glimpse into the geothermal wonders of Iceland.
It is one thing you must see, as I doubt you can see that anywhere else. Hverir is a powerful place where you can feel the insane power of Iceland. I could not get enough of it and could not stop taking pictures.
🚗 Hverir – Lake Mývatn ⇢ 5km / 8min
We continued our road trip to the incredible Lake Mývatn, a beautiful geologically active lake located in northern Iceland, created by a large basaltic lava eruption 2300 years ago!
Surrounded by diverse landscapes, including volcanic craters, lava fields and geothermal areas, Lake Mývatn is a haven for birdwatchers, with many species inhabiting the area.
The shores of the lake also feature unique geological formations, such as pseudocraters and lava pillars, making it a fascinating place to explore away from the crowds.
Mývatn Nature Baths
If you want to relax after a long day of wandering and sightseeing, there is nothing better than the Mývatn Nature Baths (https://www.myvatnnaturebaths.is/) – THE thing I loved the most!
Situated near Lake Mývatn, the baths are a geothermal spa known for their relaxing and scenic setting. Inspired by the famous Blue Lagoon, they offer the opportunity to soak in warm and mineral-rich waters surrounded by striking landscapes – with fewer crowds.
The facility also provides amenities like changing rooms, showers and a café, creating the ultimate serene and rejuvenating experience to end your day.
We did not want to do the Blue Lagoon as there were too many tourists, we preferred the Mývatn Baths, and we did not regret it. It was a magical experience. The water was unreal, and the view was also incredible. Plus, the feeling in the water was totally unique. I still think about that moment sometimes, wishing I could go back. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset in the hot water.
After this relaxing moment, we spent our night in Húsavík, a pretty town on the North coast of Iceland.
Accommodation – Húsavík
🚗 Lake Myvatn – Húsavík ⇢ 56km / 50min
Where we stayed in Húsavík: Hofdi Guesthouse.
Day 7 – Whale Watching
Whale Watching Excursion
We woke up early in the morning in Húsavík to go on a whale-watching tour for 3 hours. I have said it a lot already, but it was also one of my favourite experiences!
Here is the company we used: https://www.northsailing.is/. I had the chance to work with them afterwards and absolutely loved them! The boats were beautiful, all made of wood. You can also sail in summer, and it must be incredible.
Unfortunately, we did not see any whales during our expedition. They were hiding this time, but it did not matter: everything was already perfect.
Our guide also shared interesting facts, and the view was totally worth it. Plus, the company gave us 2 free tickets for the next time we come back.
🚗 Húsavík – Godafoss ⇢ 48km / 40min
We continued our day by heading to the beautiful Goðafoss, often referred to as the Waterfall of the Gods, a magnificent waterfall in northern Iceland. Sitting on the Skjálfandafljót River, it is one of the most iconic and historically significant waterfalls in the country.
With a width of about 30 meters, the river cascades over a horseshoe-shaped rock formation, creating a stunning spectacle.
It also owes its name to the historic event of the year 1000, when Iceland officially converted to Christianity. Idols of the ancient Norse gods are said to have been thrown into the waterfall, symbolising the adoption of Christianity by the country.
The waterfalls were always so peaceful in Iceland – I could watch them forever.
Accommodation – Blönduós
🚗 Godafoss – Blönduós ⇢ 178km / 2h15
Where we stayed in Blönduós: Guesthouse Kiljan.
Day 8 – The Snæfellsnes Peninsula
🚗 Blönduós – Kirkjufell ⇢ 231km / 3h10
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a captivating region in western Iceland, often referred to as Iceland in Miniature due to its diverse landscapes and geological features.
It is dominated by the prominent Snæfellsjökull volcano and glacier, which was famously featured in the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne.
The peninsula showcases a stunning variety of landscapes, including dramatic cliffs, black sand beaches, charming fishing villages, lava fields and the iconic Kirkjufell mountain (a famous spot for photographers).
Snæfellsnes is rich in natural beauty and cultural history, making it a lovely area to explore. Unfortunately, it was the only rainy day for us, so we did not do much. But I still recommend it.
Accommodation – Ólafsvík
Where we stayed in Ólafsvík: Við Hafið Guesthouse.
Day 9 – Reykjavik
We spent the last day of our road trip in Iceland driving back to Reykjavik and shopping. We did not do much except that and went to bed early as our flight was at 6am.
If you have time, do a few things you missed on your first day.
This road trip across Iceland was magical, and this island is an incredible place. Wherever you go, you see amazing things that you will not see anywhere else. The island has something so powerful that it is sometimes scary but exciting at the same time. For example, every evening during dinner, my mum and I tried to decide what was the best thing we would have done so far, and it was always impossible to choose. Whatever you will be doing, it will be magical, and you will keep unforgettable memories. I can not wait to go back there one day and explore more!
Iceland Ring Road tours
How to get around Iceland Ring Road
The best way to travel around Iceland is by car.
We rented ours using this company: https://www.www.comparecarrentals.is/. It was a Suzuki 4×4 with GPS and insurance, and everything was great. The car was there when we arrived at the airport, which was very convenient.
I also recommend using rentalcars.com to search and compare which car is best for you. From affordable to luxury, they make it easy to choose and have a great selection of rental agents.
The type of car you want will depend on the season and what you want to do once there. I believe a 4×4 is always the best choice as there are lots of gravel roads and mountains, so it will be easier to move around. For the petrol, be careful, there are not many petrol stations, we made a mistake once, and we had to turn around (which was a bit scary, considering Iceland mostly has vast and empty spaces).
Another great way to get around Iceland is with a local guide or a guided tour. Try to prioritise a travel agent caring about the environment and locals, and choose a guided tour with a smaller number of people to ensure you are not contributing to overtourism.
Need inspiration for your next city break? Check out this article: Vienna Travel Guide: Perfect 3-Day Itinerary
How long does it take to drive around Iceland
It takes around 14 to 17 hours to get around Iceland by following the Ring Road (approximately 1,332 kilometres long). Of course, the travel time will also depend on different factors, including the road conditions, weather and how many stops you make along the way.
As the journey is long, it is recommended to stop regularly and take time to explore the many attractions and natural wonders along the way, such as waterfalls, glaciers, hot springs and national parks.
It is also essential to consider that the weather in Iceland can be unpredictable, and road conditions, particularly in winter, will affect your travel times – so be prepared for the unexpected!
Additionally, the daylight hours vary significantly throughout the year, with long days in summer and short days in winter, which can also impact your travel plans. So always check road conditions and weather forecasts before embarking on a road trip around Iceland.
Looking for the best coat to keep you dry and warm? Check out this article: 10 Best Ethical Coats for Iceland in Winter
Where to stay on Iceland Ring Road
For accommodation along the Ring Road, we booked guesthouses a few months in advance using Booking.com or Airbnb for a different room each night, depending on what we were planning. And everything went perfectly! The owners always made us feel welcome, and we also had the chance to chat with the other guests. The atmosphere was always pleasant and friendly.
I recommend you book your accommodation in advance as there are not many guesthouses or hotels in Iceland, and it can get busy. Plus, prices can go high very quickly. Otherwise, you can always camp in the summer or rent a minivan. Iceland has plenty of places set aside for this.
Fancy a road trip across Iceland in winter? Check out this article: 5 Days in Iceland: Epic Winter Itinerary
When is the best time to visit Iceland
Regarding the season, we chose April and spring because the daylight was long enough; and the temperatures were still pleasant. It was the end of winter with a bit of snow and the beginning of summer, so sunny days and not too cold. I must admit that we were lucky with the weather. It was sunny every day, except for the last one – which in Iceland is quite rare!
Always be ready for the cold – whatever the season.
During April, it was also still possible to see the northern lights. Unfortunately, we were not lucky enough to see any as we were too tired every night to go out – but other people in our guesthouse did! There were not too many tourists either, which was another rare thing. As you might know, Iceland became the place to be seen a few years ago.
The season you choose will depend on what you want to do and see.
Summer will be sunnier, birds and whales will be out, and the days will be longer (especially around June 21st when the sun never sets, I experienced it in Finland – it was a unique experience). Moreover, you can easily access the centre of the island.
On the other hand, winter will be cold. The weather will be unstable with unpredictable snowstorms. Of course, the middle of the island and some other roads will be closed, and the days will be shorter, BUT you will have the chance to see the northern lights! Plus, it will not be touristy, and the landscapes and colours will be breathtaking, especially the iced waterfalls. Trust me, I experienced Iceland in January (a new blog post is coming soon), and it was like seeing another country! Iceland in winter is magical and something to see once. But again, a new blog post on how to organise a winter road trip in Iceland is coming.
Looking for the perfect summer getaway? Check out this article:
South of France Road Trip: 1-Week Itinerary
How to prepare for a road trip in Iceland
To prepare for this road trip, I first looked at different blogs on the Internet to make a list of things I wanted to do and see, and I bought a book to help me once we were there (all in French, sorry!).
I planned a few months in advance what I wanted us to do each day, but it was all flexible, and we added things during the trip. It helped me know where we were going to stay each night. As I previously mentioned, I had to reserve the guesthouses in advance as they booked up quickly.
Now it is up to you to plan the things you want to see beforehand or go on an adventure! If you hesitate, you can also contact Guide to Iceland, who helped me with some of my questions regarding Iceland and technical enquiries about the road trip.
Shop the printable road trip planner
Create your dream adventure & live an unforgettable green experience on the road.
Sustainable travel in Iceland
Sustainable travel means exploring the world whilst being aware of your surroundings and having a positive social, environmental and economic impact on the places you visit.
Want to know more? Check out this article: 15 Travel Books to Inspire Your Next Eco-Adventure
Iceland was the country that opened my eyes to the negative impacts of tourism. For example, people were not respecting the fragile environment of some places by going over fences to take perfect photos or using their cars to access remote sites, destroying flora and fauna. And that really bothered me!
how can you reduce your impact whilst exploring Iceland?
Iceland has become over-popular in the past few years, so travelling with over-tourism issues in mind is essential. Try to avoid crowded places, and visit the island on a month when visitor numbers are lower (which is quite rare, I know). But it is one of the responsible ways to visit this beautiful island.
Once on the island, go beyond the over-saturated Reykjavik region and Golden Circle, but treat the landscapes and wildlife with respect! Iceland has such a fragile environment, so always pay attention to where you drive, park your car or walk.
Please, stick to official routes – a rugged landscape of lava or ice is so fragile that the wheels of a recklessly driven 4×4 can leave scarred for decades.
If it is easier, you can travel on an organised small group tour, which is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and protect the vulnerability of the surroundings.
Join eco-conscious tours such as North Sailing. I worked with them on a project and loved their sustainable initiative.
To help you prepare for your sustainable adventure and choose your tour operators, check out Vakinn. It is an official quality and environmental certification for Icelandic tourism, run by the Icelandic Tourist Board. It will help you find businesses that operate ethically and sustainably.
Finally, you can compensate for your impact by investing in local projects and communities (check out this article for more information on carbon offsetting your flights), BUT do not use carbon offset as a complete solution.
Combine it with other sustainable practices, like prioritising other methods of transport, avoiding single-use plastic on the plane and mindfully packing your suitcase to be ready for your green adventure.
Here is how you can calculate the carbon footprint of your road trip: carbon footprint calculator. It will link to local carbon-capturing projects you can support to offset your travel-related emissions.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Want to know more?
- The Complete Guide to Sustainable Travel
- Carbon Offset your Flights: What, Why & How
- 10 Best Travel Apps for Exploring Sustainably
- Top Ecotourism Activities Around the World
- 10 Best Ethical Coats for Iceland in Winter
Download your FREE sustainable travel checklist ↓
Iceland travel planning guide
Yes, buying insurance is always valuable when travelling abroad. Enjoy your Golden Circle road trip stress-free with one of my favourite providers, Nomad Insurance.
Yes, tap water is safe to drink all over Iceland, unless advised otherwise. However, I also recommend travelling with the UltraPress Purifier Bottle, a lightweight filtered water bottle perfect for reducing plastic and staying hydrated.
Yes, renting a car in Iceland is easy and is a great way to explore the country freely. I recommend booking yours with Rentalcars.com – they offer a variety of operators for all budgets.
The best way to book your accommodation in Iceland is with Booking.com – my favourite platform to compare and reserve places to stay each night, from affordable guesthouses to luxury resorts.
I recommend booking your plane with Skyscanner. It has been my favourite platform for years, as it allows me to book the cheapest flights whilst lowering my carbon emissions.
Iceland Ring Road – FAQ
You can drive around Iceland following the Ring Road in 5 to 7 days. However, you might have to rush, so I recommend spending at least 9 days. There is so much to see and do that you could easily spend a month exploring the island!
Yes, driving in Iceland is relatively easy as you can follow the Ring Road around the island. This road is well maintained, even in winter, and will allow you to experience the best sights and attractions!
Icelandic is the primary language in Iceland and one of the hardest languages to learn. But do not worry! English is taught as a second language, and almost every Icelander speaks English fluently.
Iceland is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights! September through March is the peak season for viewing them, as the nights are the longest. However, I went at the end of April, and we could still see them – so anything is possible. Just check the forecast.
Shop the Iceland eco-travel bingo
Learn how to live an unforgettable experience in Iceland whilst respecting the places you visit.
Have you ever experienced a road trip around Iceland or would you like to try it one day?
Let me know in the comments below!
With love ♡