Iceland has been floating around my top destinations to visit for quite some time now.
Everywhere I go, I see stunning photos of endless waterfalls, rugged coastlines, and stunning scenery plastered all around social media.
In typical fashion, before we knew much about the country, we immediately included it in our Top 50 Adventure Holidays to complete. We wanted to see if the hype about this country was real!
If you are planning to drive around Iceland’s Ring Road, you’re in the right place.
In this detailed self-driving itinerary, I will feature our tips on where to rent a van, which campsites (or hotels) we recommend staying at, plus a detailed travel route of things to see along the way.
Speaking from experience, trying to plan an itinerary around the Ring Road was difficult as there was just so much information which is why I decided to create this guide.
Apart from sharing my itinerary, I will also include detailed maps to help make this road trip as fuss-free as possible for you!
- 1 Iceland Ring Road
- 2 Iceland Ring Road Itinerary Map
- 3 Iceland Campervan Rental
- 4 Campervan vs. Car Rental?
- 5 Ring Road Itinerary
- 5.1 Day 1: Reykjavik- Skjól
- 5.2 Day 2: Skjól- Hvolsvollur
- 5.3 Day 3: Hvolsvollur – Skaftafell
- 5.4 Day 4: Skatafell – Hofn
- 5.5 Day 5: Hofn – Egilsstaðir
- 5.6 Day 6: Egilsstaðir – Mývatn
- 5.7 Day 7: Mývatn – Blonduos
- 5.8 Day 8: Blonduos – Snæfellsjökull
- 5.9 Day 9: Snæfellsjökull – Araknes
- 5.10 Day 10: Araknes – Blue Lagoon – Reykjavik
- 6 Tips for Driving the Iceland Ring Road
- 7 Our Campervan for Iceland
- 8 Overall Thoughts on the Iceland Ring Road
Iceland Ring Road
The Ring Road is a national road that takes you all around Iceland, connecting most of its little islands. The road itself is incredibly well-maintained, with up-to-date road safety tracking!
Driving through this scenic road was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, with each day’s scenery being completely different from the last.
As it is Iceland’s main highway road, driving this route will allow you to easily access most of its top attractions while still being able to enjoy the vast ruggedness that Iceland is known for.
Facts about the Ring Road
Total Distance: 1,332km (828 miles)
Recommended Trip Length: 10 days
Iceland Ring Road Itinerary Map
For those who want to an overview, here is a brief look into the route that we did.
As we get deeper into this Ring Road itinerary planner, I will go into our recommendations on what to see, do, and where to stay along the way.
Day 1: Reykjavik – Skjól
Day 2: Skjól- Hvolsvollur
Day 3: Hvolsvollur – Skatafell
Day 4: Skatafell – Hofn
Day 5: Hofn – Egilsstaðir
Day 6: Egilsstaðir – Mývatn
Day 7: Mývatn – Blonduos
Day 8: Blonduos – Snæfellsjökull
Day 9: Snæfellsjökull – Araknes
Day 10: Araknes – Reykjavik (plus a trip to the Blue Lagoon)
Although you can technically do the Ring Road in 8 or even 5 days, we found that there is just SO MUCH to see and do!
You want to be taking your time in taking photos, finding hidden hot springs, and visiting some of the most incredible waterfalls imaginable which is why we recommend spreading it out over 10 days.
Again, as you get deeper into this self-driving itinerary, I will provide links with driving directions and maps to make the entire planning process easy for you!
In this guide, I will be giving directions to campsites but will also include links to recommended hotels along the way. If you prefer to stay in more local places, check out our full article on how to get $45 coupon code for Airbnb or simply click here to get our coupon code to apply on your next booking.
Iceland Campervan Rental
If you’ve already started looking into a trip to Iceland, you can easily see that there are a ton of companies offering campervan rental in Iceland. Choosing which one you go with can make or break your trip!
For our 10-day campervan trip around Iceland, we chose to go with the guys at Camp Easy. True to their name, this family-run company made the entire process as simple and easy as possible.
As soon as we selected our vehicle of choice, we got access to a client portal which allowed us to easily make changes to our booking, add upgrades, book free transfers, and more.
We opted for the Easy Clever 4×4 as we wanted a reliable car to take us through the wintery roads.
Camp Easy has an entire fleet of campervans that range from two-people to five-people conversions, giving you a plethora of options.
While I will go into more details on our van later on, I do have to say, what impressed us the most about Camp Easy is the level of support.
For our trip, we received a tablet where we could message the team, ask questions about the route, road safety, and more. It honestly gave us so much peace of mind knowing we could easily contact them with any questions!
If you are interested in checking out their fleet, click the button below to get a quote for your rough dates.
Campervan vs. Car Rental?
While this really depends on your personal preference, we loved traveling in our campervan. We felt that it really added to the entire experience and gave us the freedom to stop whenever we wanted.
While you can no longer wild camp, if you are driving a car and staying in hotels along the road, you will most likely need to prebook this accommodation ahead of time. Being in a campervan, there were times when we didn’t feel like driving for another hour which meant we just looked for the nearest campsite to stay in.
If you’re on a budget, we recommend campervans, as the prices of hotels have skyrocketed over the last few years.
Ring Road Itinerary
Day 1: Reykjavik- Skjól
- Thingvellir National Park (Silfra Fissure)
We didn’t cover much ground during our first day as the main activity we wanted to do was snorkeling the Silfra Fissure. Located in Thingvellir National Park, we squeezed into dry suits and swam between two continents.
This was honestly a super cool experience, and is something I highly recommend! If this is something you are considering, check out our full Silfra Snorkeling Review where we described and rated our entire experience.
After a very cold (but incredible) experience, we jumped back into our van and headed towards Skjól Campsite, located close to the famous Geysir.
Day 2: Skjól- Hvolsvollur
Campsite and Hotel: Hótel Fljótshlíd & Smaratun Guesthouse
- Secret Lagoon Hot Spring
- Kerid Crater
Despite being very touristy, the sights in the Golden Circle did not disappoint. We went during the middle of winter, which actually meant there were fewer people — I can only imagine what these places are like during peak season.
Out of all these sights, Geysir, Gulfoss, and the Secret Lagoon were definitely highlights! We got to Gulfoss very early in the morning which meant we got to enjoy the falls all to ourselves.
To say that this place was overwhelmingly beautiful is an understatement!
During your trip, make sure to stop by the Secret Lagoon! Although not as grand as the Blue Lagoon, it was a fantastic experience and was pretty reasonable as well. Floating in that hot spring after a day of sightseeing was GLORIOUS! It was one of our favorites.
Click here to book your tickets ahead of time. After that, we made our way to a small farmhouse which has a hotel as well as a campsite.
Day 3: Hvolsvollur – Skaftafell
- Skógafoss Waterfall
- Sólheimajökull Glacier
- Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
- Reynisfjara Beach (Black Beach)
- Skaftafell Camping
The further you drive around the Ring Road, the more beautiful the scenery gets!
On this day, the highlights were definitely Sólheimajökull Glacier as well as the Black Beach. Skógafoss (known as the waterfall you can walk behind) was also pretty incredible!
As mentioned, we went in the middle of winter which meant the area around Skógafoss was extremely slippery. In fact, we actually had to abandon our plans to walk behind the falls as the path was extremely icy!
We recommend taking a lightweight crampon chain which you can easily attach to your shoes. We saw a few people with them and envied how they could access super slippery areas with ease.
When in Reynisfjara Beach, be cautious of the waves as there was an incident of a tourist getting swept off a few days after we went. While you can easily take photos from within a safe distance, there were a lot of daredevils who were “doing it for the gram.”
Day 4: Skatafell – Hofn
- Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon
- Diamond Beach
On the 4th day, we woke up bright and early as we were going Glacier Hiking in Skaftafell which is located within Vatnajökull National Park. Known as the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull is the base of a lot of adventures, film settings, and is a must-visit when traveling around Iceland.
We booked our Glacier Hike with the guys at Adrenaline Hunter, and loved the entire experience. Being an island girl who grew up in a tropical country, glacier hiking is as out there as it gets!
The entire experience was super fun and isn’t technical at all. If you want to read our full Glacier Hiking in Iceland review, check out our article!
After an incredible morning climbing a glacier (did I just really say those words?), we headed towards one of my personal stops during the entire trip: Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon.
If you ever want to see icebergs floating in a large lagoon, this is where you should go! We lucked out with the weather during this trip as it was bright, sunny, and beautiful! As sunset was approaching, we walked over to Diamond Beach to take a few photos.
Although beautiful, Diamond Beach was PACKED when we were there so maybe sunset wasn’t the best time to go. After this, we made our way to Hofn where we treated ourselves to a lovely lobster meal.
The campsite by Viking Cafe was super basic, and isn’t one that I can really recommend. During wintertime, only a few stay open so we didn’t have many options. For a complete list of winter campsites, check out this map by Camp Easy.
Day 5: Hofn – Egilsstaðir
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.
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 didn’t want to be driving in the dark.
We stayed in Egilsstaðir Visitor’s 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.
If you have time, there is a hot spring called Vox Bath near this campsite. It was newly opened when we were there, and is apparently better than the famous Mývatn baths.
Day 6: Egilsstaðir – Mývatn
Campsite: Hild Hostel | Hotel Alternative: Sel-Hótel Mývatn
- Námafjall Geothermal Area
- Mývatn Nature Baths
The next day, we made our way to the town of Mývatn, stopping in a few pit stops along the way! We had to give Dettifoss watrefalls a miss because some of the roads were closed (for those traveling during the winter, don’t forget to read our road safety tips).
If you are traveling during the summer months, consider going on a slight detour to visit the second most powerful waterfalls in Europe.
Námafjall Geothermal Area honestly felt like you were on another planet. Although the sulfuric smell of rotten egg was stronger than ever, it was worth a quick visit.
Afterwards, we opted to visit the famous Mývatn Nature Baths. Aside from the Blue Lagoon, this is actually the second most popular man-made natural baths.
Although we loved the experience, we would have preferred the water to be a little bit hotter — especially during the middle of winter! They did have a small 40-degree tub which could fit around eight people which was where we stayed for the most part of the afternoon.
Day 7: Mývatn – Blonduos
Campsite: Gladheimar Cottages | Hotel Alternative: Hotel Blanda
- Fosslaug (natural hot springs)
While it is easy to get “waterfall-ed out”, trust me, you will be stopping every 30 minutes due to the number of falls you see along the way.
Whatever you do, don’t skip visiting Goðafoss. This was actually one of my favorite ones, mainly because there wasn’t a lot of people when we went. It was also pretty magical seeing the entire thing covered in patches of snow!
On this day, you can either opt to head to Akureyri and go on their famous whale watching tours (we left it last minute to book and everything was sold out!), or you can follow our itinerary.
The next portion of the day is when it gets interesting: this is when Tom and I decided to hunt for these natural hot springs that we saw on a map. After a bit of Googling, some fence-hopping (kidding), and a few wrong turns, we finally made our way down a river.
Amazingly, no one else was there which meant we had the hot springs all to ourselves. This was also probably due to the fact that it was COLD outside — which meant no one in their right mind would take off their sweaters and thermals to get in a warm(-ish) hot spring.
Although this was meant to be a warm 37-degree hot spring, it was a little bit lukewarm for our liking so we didn’t end up staying as long as we wanted. While the directions on how to get there can be confusing, Google it as some people have illustrated step by step how to get there!
Day 8: Blonduos – Snæfellsjökull
Campsite: The Freezer Hostel & Culture | Hotel Alternative: Við Hafið Guesthouse
On the 8th day, we made our way to the Snæfellsjökull Peninsula, which is a stunning drive.
We actually opted to just make a beeline to the campsite as it wasn’t sightseeing weather. It was a cloudy rainy day but the scenery was still pretty spectacular.
Snæfellsjökull is a 700,000-year-old glacier with a stratovolcano sitting on top, located in western Iceland. It is a beautiful and remote area and is one of the three National Parks in Iceland. It is also said to be one of the main energy forces in the world.
Day 9: Snæfellsjökull – Araknes
Campsite: Araknes Campsite or Reykjavik Campsite
- Svörtuloft Lighthouse
- Londrangar View Point
- Snæfellsjökull View Point
At this point, you can either head to Araknes Campsite or to Reykjavik.
Due to the close proximity of Snæfellsjökull National Park to Reykjavik, you will most likely encounter a few tour buses on day trips.
Along the way to Araknes, we made a few pitstops which included a trip to Svörtuloft Lighthouse which felt like it came from a Wes Anderson movie setting. The rugged coastline throughout the Peninsula was a sight to see, and was definitely a great way to end our Ring Road Trip.
We ended up being rewarded with one of the most beautiful sunsets ever.
Day 10: Araknes – Blue Lagoon – Reykjavik
On the last day, we had our last coffee morning in the van before heading to the Blue Lagoon. Although it is very touristy, we absolutely loved it and thought it was worth the price tag.
You have to reserve the Blue Lagoon tickets in advance, so definitely decide on this before leaving for your trip. After our relaxing session at the Blue Lagoon, we headed back to Camp Easy to return our van.
Tips for Driving the Iceland Ring Road
Best Time to Drive the Ring Road
Coming from the Philippines, I’m used to warm tropical beaches so when we began toying with the idea of visiting Iceland during winter, I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant.
However, it turns out this was one of the best decisions we made because we got to enjoy the place without the hustle and bustle of too many tourists. The snow made for a completely different experience as well.
Our van from Camp Easy was well insulated and had an amazing heater (which we had on the lowest setting for the entire trip!)
Should I Drive the Ring Road Clockwise or Counter-Clockwise?
There is no right or wrong answer to this as you can really go either way.
My advice is to make your decision based on the weather! The Iceland Met Office is a fantastic source and is something you should be monitoring daily as the weather can change in an instant.
In short, you can follow it counter-clockwise which is what we did or opt to reverse this itinerary.
Is it Safe to Drive the Ring Road?
Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world but it does have pretty harsh weather conditions.
With that in mind, road safety in Iceland is some of the best we’ve ever seen. Even though we were driving through snow and sometimes rain, before starting our day, all we had to do was check Vegagerdin Website (they also have an app).
If you are going on any long hikes or treks, I also recommend that you leave your itinerary with Safe Travel Iceland.
What is the Speed Limit in Iceland?
Iceland has pretty strict speed limit rules, with most roads having a limit of 90km/h and some cities at 50km/h. Although you might be tempted to drive quickly, especially when you are going through vast stretches of land, always stay within these speed limits as they have traffic cameras everywhere!
We met one person who was in one of our hikes who got a whooping €700+ fine for speeding. Needless to say, we closely watched our speed limit after hearing that story.
Our Campervan for Iceland
Before I end this mega Ring Road Planning Guide, I want to share a little bit more about our campervan, Foxy.
As previously mentioned, we opted to rent it from Camp Easy and couldn’t be happier with their level of service. The van came with a tablet that we could use to help us plan our route as well as message the team whenever we needed.
Although the van was quite small compared to the one we drove in Scotland, this also meant that we could easily maneuver and park it anywhere we wanted. Because the van was really sturdy and low, this also meant we weren’t that much affected by strong gusts of wind which is pretty common, especially in the coastal areas.
The inside of our van had a convertible bed which we would set up every night. We also opted to rent chairs, tables, as well as a BBQ set for picnics.
Now I know what you are thinking… picnics in the winter?
It was actually heaps of fun, and was something we did pretty frequently. As far as maintenance goes, we were able to eat, sleep, cook inside the van without any hassles. The van had a small fridge that was always well-stocked as well as a small sink.
Unlike our large campervan, we had no chemical toilets or grey waters to dispose of which was fantastic!
Want to see the layout of our chosen campervan? Watch the short video below!
Overall Thoughts on the Iceland Ring Road
To conclude this itinerary, Iceland is a destination that everyone should visit at least once! It has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, and some of the nicest people as well.
Every day of our trip, we were just left in awe of the stunning scenery.
The thing that left me the most surprised though was the variety of it all. One day we were driving along the coast, gazing at beautiful beaches and waterfalls, and the next day we were walking on glaciers and snow-capped mountains.
Although Iceland is expensive, a trip here is nothing short of spectacular!