Which Direction Should You Drive
Being a circular road, you have a choice whether you want to drive clockwise or counterclockwise. Most of the Iceland Ring Road itineraries suggest you depart from Reykjavik and drive counterclockwise . This is what we did on our trip and generally speaking, we think it makes the most sense. Here is our reasoning:
The south of Iceland is by far the most popular section for tourists. So by going from the airport, to Reykjavik, to the south, you are slowly thinning out the crowds. Once you get to the eastern and northern part of the country, crowds will be virtually non-existent. By going counterclockwise, your exposure to crowds will steadily decrease over the course of the trip.
Conversely, if you go clockwise , there will be fewer tourists at the start of your trip, but their numbers will increase towards the end.
*The Weather Exception* While we prefer the counterclockwise direction to mitigate crowd levels, there is a strong argument to go clockwise if the weather looks dramatically better in the north. Weather in Iceland often follows a similar pattern: if the weather is bad in the south, it is usually better in the north, and vice versa.
So if you arrive in Iceland and the weather looks crummy to the south but good to the north, then why not head there first? The bad weather in the south might linger and still be there when you get down there. Or you might get lucky and have it clear out while youre touring the north.
Iceland Ring Road Camping Itinerary
You can easily reach all of the main country’s attractions, by following it. Most of the travelers, do it counterclockwise, starting their trip from Keflavik airport directly. This is recommendable if you are arriving quite early and do not want to lose any minute. When living the Keflavik airport towards the South, you will find a supermarket on the way, where you can stock up for your food. Now you are ready for your road trip.
Usually the next stop is always the Golden Circle, which already gives a sense of what you can expect on the following days of your trip. This is, with no doubt, the most scenic day trip route in Iceland.
Have a look below at the list of the best campsites on the Ring Road route that you should add to your itinerary.
Day 7 Amazing Mountains And Hot Tubs
We highly recommend to start the day at Stokksnes/Vestrahorn, a viewpoint located on a private land renowned for its amazing mountain views especially spectacular at sunrise!
After catching some nice photos at Stokksnes it is time for a morning dip at Djúpavogskörin, a nice geothermal hot tub just south of town of Djúpivogur. After the dip we are off to see some more waterfalls, Fagradalsfoss and Hengifoss. From Hengifoss head through the mountain pass to Seyðisfjörður, and enjoy on the way some breathtaking views.
If you are driving a 4×4 camper in summer you can take the road leading up to the snow-barracades on the mountain Bjólfur, for some amazing views over the town of Seyðisfjörður.
Seyðisfjörður Campground is todays selected camping site, and is located downtown Seyðisfjörður. The camping facilities offer restrooms, showers, indoor kitchen area, outdoor camping sink and on site car washing facilities.
Photo: Trip over Life – Stórurð hike
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Iceland Road Trip Day : The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is a 300-kilometer trip that many people do as a day trip since it is close to Reykjavik. The Golden Circle includes Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss. We recommend you also stop at Kerið crater along the route as well. The Golden Circle is a super popular drive, so expect lots of tourists. Perhaps, this is why so many people choose to go counter-clockwise on the Golden Circle, start off with the hordes of tourists.
We spent the night outside of Reykjavik, in case the Northern Lights were to make an appearance again. We wanted to be away from the light pollution so we went for a dip in a local pool in the town of Hveragerði and camped overnight there! The town makes a great stop as it is known as the Hot Spring Capital of Iceland and they have a flowing hot spring river!
- Highlights of this area: The Secret Lagoon, Bruarhlod, Skalholt Church, The Golden Circle
- Where to stay? Hveragerði Campsite. Closes in the winter, but you still may be able to park your vehicle here overnight.
Stop : Catch A Rainbow Arching Over The Impressive Gullfoss Waterfall
Gullfoss Waterfall is another stop along Icelands Golden Circle. It is iconic, incredibly popular, and often the first of Icelands numerous, impressive waterfalls that tourists see on their first trip to the country. The waterfall, which stems from the Hvita River, falls in two sections, the last of which drops into a deep crevice.
In the summer months it is common to see a rainbow arching over the waterfall, earning it the name Golden Waterfall. Though Iceland spoils you with an abnormally large number of impressive waterfalls, Gullfoss is rightfully among the top. Its an impressive sight at any time of year.
The waterfall has both upper and lower viewing platforms, and we suggest spending some time at both. Though you can view the waterfall along its full length, the path to the lower viewing platform ends right by the waterfall itself sending spray from the powerful falls in your direction.
Though the water droplets can be chilling, being that up close to such a remarkable force of nature provides for an intimate and thrilling experience. On the upper viewing level youll also find a café and shop selling food, drinks and Icelandic products.
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Day : Husavik To Laugar
The golden rule of how to plan a perfect itinerary is to have at least one day as a backup day, in case something happens or in case you want to stay somewhere a bit longer.
We used our backup day on day seven, as when planning the original itinerary we did not know Iceland’s north is so captivating and that there are so many places to visit.
Fortunately, if you are following this Iceland 2-week itinerary, you won’t make the same mistake and youâll already know that it is worth it to spend here a day or two.
In the morning we woke up in Husavik and drove to Asbyrgi Canyon, a famous area for hiking.
We did a short hike along the rim of the canyon and then drove back to Lake Myvatn.
If you have a 4×4 car, it is possible to drive via roads 862 or 864 to the Ring Road , but in our regular campervan, we decided to drive via Husavik.
There are plenty of things to do in the Lake Myvatn area and it is possible to spend here a few days without getting bored.
But even though fourteen days for Iceland seems like a lot, the itinerary is actually packed to the brim, and we must make the most of the area in a much shorter period.
Our first steps, after we took the obligatory photo of Lake Myvatn itself, led to Grjotagja, a well-known cave with a strikingly blue hot pool inside.
Iceland was a filming location for a popular TV series Game of Thrones, and this cave was featured in one of the episodes. It is not possible to bathe there anymore, though.
Day Two: Landmannalaugar Hike And Drive To Seljalandsfoss
I awoke to snowy surroundings and thanked the universe for letting me live through the previous nights storm. Landmannalaugar is a great place to hike for an hour or two, though one could do so for days or even weeks, so we explored a bit, eager to see the mountains that looked like painted hills.
Hiking around took half of the day while retracing our steps and heading back to the Ring Road filled the other. We spent most of it jumping over about two dozen freezing streams of water across the valley and finding a waterfall, only to lose the trail in the snow and jump right back over them to head back to the starting point.
Our goal for the rest of the afternoon was to thaw out, dry off, and make it to Seljalandsfoss for an AM viewing of the waterfall, especially since sunrise there is particularly famous.
Technically, I didnt really start driving the actual Ring Road in the daytime until day three. But my, what a dazzling introduction it turned out to be.
Camp: Theres a great little campsite right next to Seljalandsfoss. Highly recommended if youd like to catch the sunrise at the falls!
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Stop 3: Walk Through A Viking Village Film Set Next To Vestrahorn
The 800 ISK youll pay at the Viking Café will not only allow you to see Vestrahorn, it also gives you access to the abandoned Viking village movie set right next door. A short, easy walk will take you to the village, and youll likely spot some sheep and Icelandic horses along the way. The village was constructed back in 2010 for an Icelandic movie that never came to fruition.
Until the day it becomes a film location, it remains a tourist attraction for those eager to see an impressive replica of a Viking village. Its time to let out your inner Viking!
The village is small and clearly weathered by the elements over the years, but its construction is fascinating none-the-less. Youre free to wander through the set as you wish, exploring at your own pace. With its proximity to the beautiful beach and the striking Vestrahorn Mountain, the Viking village makes for the perfect stop while youre in the area.
The Ultimate 8 Day Iceland Ring Road Itinerary
Iceland, the land of Ice and fire, is becoming a hugely popular destination for tourists and with good reason. Iceland is stunning, truly an outdoor lovers paradise. But planning an Iceland ring road itinerary can be baffling. With so much to see and do, it can be challenging to create a perfect ring road itinerary to see Iceland in 8 days ensuring you get to see all the iconic Iceland locations
So after completing my own solo road trip around this beautiful country, I decided to write this 8 day Iceland ring road itinerary to help ensure that you have the best Iceland road trip possible.
Prepare to see humongous waterfalls, bubbling geysers, huge floating icebergs, natural hot springs, moss covered lava fields, desolate and beautiful black sand beaches and a million zillion cheeky Icelandic horses
Consider joining my Facebook group Iceland Tips & Advice, where you can ask as many questions about your Iceland itinerary or anything else Iceland related and Ill do my best to answer!
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Day Ring Road Itinerary
Get a Digital Download of this Itinerary
Do you want a printer friendly version of this itinerary? How about an eBook version of this itinerary that can be downloaded onto your computer or mobile device?
Our Ring Road itinerary eBook includes this full itinerary, with detailed daily schedules, insider tips, and travel planning resources. It is a 26-page version of this post that you can download to take with you or print at home.
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Northern Lights = Winter Midnight Sun = Summer
If youre going to Iceland for a chance to see the Northern Lights you will need to travel there when it is actually dark. If you are heading to Iceland to see the Midnight Sun then you will have to go camping in the summertime when it is light at midnight. Northern Lights in Iceland = September to mid-April. Midnight Sun in Iceland = May to August.
Just make sure you have a great packable down jacket because the winter months can be freezing at night! If you want to learn more about the best time to visit Iceland we have a post for that!
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Is It Possible To Drive This Iceland Ring Road Itinerary As A Solo Female
Yes, absolutely. I have to admit, I was nervous before embarking on my solo female Iceland road trip. My car maintenance skills are not great and I was worried it would be so remote. What if I broke down and no one found me?!
Well yes, Icelands remote, but these days there are so many more tourists, you will certainly be found quickly if you run into car trouble!
Icelanders are also great at stopping if they see someone in trouble. Please dont put your hazard lights on just to stop and take a photo. Firstly, you are obstructing the road. Secondly, locals WILL stop to help and get annoyed that you are not using your hazards for good reason!
Iceland has such a low crime rate that you will feel so safe. I mean just take a look at the account and you will see how much time they have on their hands
You will also meet so many people if you stay in hostels as many people travel solo around Iceland. Its nice to spend time alone in the days and be sociable in the evenings.
Pack Smart For Your Camping Trip
Ive traveled to Iceland in both the summer and winter, and both times it was pretty windy and cold. I would recommend packing clothes that layer well. Must haves are a good rain jacket and hiking boots.
Even in Reykjavik, people dress pretty casually so there isnt much need to be super fashionable. Pack comfortable, quick drying, and waterproof clothing for a good time. Read more about what to pack for Iceland here.
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Day : Hofn Egilsstair
This was probably one of our favorite driving days ever out of the entire trip! Although there were no pit stops or specific sights to see, the scenic roads alone were mind-blowing as we were driving down the Eastern Fjords.
On this day, we were treated to snow-covered mountains, as far as your eyes could see. It was really spectacular! The Eastern Fjords was like a dream come true, and driving through it was pretty unreal.
We resisted the urge to stop every 10 minutes but were honestly blown away by the landscapes. After being around a lot of tour groups and buses, it was great to be driving in solitude, really allowing us to appreciate the rugged terrain that Iceland is known for.
Winter Driving Advice: If you are planning to drive the Ring Road during winter, make sure that you get a 4×4 car. Although general road safety can be fantastic, the roads can be slippery! We met a couple whose car skidded off the road due to the ice so definitely stay on the side of caution. We loved our Easy Clever 4×4 from Easy Campers which drove like a breeze the entire time.
We originally decided to drive a bit further but since the days are so much shorter during winter, we decided to park up as we didnt want to be driving in the dark.
We stayed in Egilsstaðir Visitors Center which turned out to be one of the best campsites throughout our stay! Great facilities, with an honesty box and nearby grocery stores and restaurants.
Stop 1: Take A Walk Behind The Stunning Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
Though Iceland is graced with an endless display of stunning waterfalls, the 200-foot Seljalandsfoss is unique because you can walk behind the waterfall. A path leads from the parking lot up to the front of the waterfall, and then loops around the sides and back so you get a view of the waterfall from every angle.
We suggest wearing raingear, as youll get wet, particularly on a windy day. It is entirely worth walking the loop though, and being that up close and personal makes you appreciate the sheer size and power of the waterfall.
The waterfall is relatively narrow, but its power is mighty. In the summer, the cliff and ground surrounding Seljalandsfoss are a brilliant green, and everything is dotted with yellow wildflowers creating a colorfully picturesque landscape.
Though the path gets wet, it is a well-marked path, and easy to navigate. In the winter, when the snow turns to ice and the path gets slippery, the path is often partially closed off. This is for your own safety.
Dont try and circumvent the restricted area. Though closures may alter your experience, it isnt lessened. Seljalandsfoss is beautiful even in winter.
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Europes Most Powerful Waterfall: Dettifoss
Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe according to many sources. That alone should convince you to take the long drive to get there.
From Jokulsarlon, it is about a six hour drive. For a couple of hours, we had no radio, no WiFi, and saw no one on the road. The last part of the drive is on a dirt road that was under construction, so that slowed us down a little bit too.
When visiting Dettifoss, you want to make sure you visit the east side of Dettifoss. You can visit both the east and west sides, but it takes about an hour and a half to drive between them.
The west side of Dettifoss has paved roads and a paved parking lot with space for tour buses. If you take a tour to Dettifoss, you will go to the west side. The east side is only for cars.
From the west side, you face directly across at the waterfall. That may sound good, but the mist from the waterfall is in the way. The people we could see on the viewing platform were mostly wearing ponchos thanks to the mist.
On the east side of Dettifoss, you can walk right up to the edge of the waterfall and feel its power. You can walk along the edge of the gorge to get a variety of views of the waterfall. Because it is only cars on this side, there are not many people. The parking lot was full, but the area still felt empty. There are bathrooms, but they were locked.