By Dave S. Clark
Planning your Iceland Ring Road itinerary? Here’s why you should get excited – great roads, amazing scenery and friendly people make Iceland the perfect road trip destination. My wife Karlie, who writes the Miss Wanderlust blog, and I spent 10 nights in Iceland and were able to go around the entire Ring Road, and saw a good chunk of the beautiful little country with the exception of the West Fjords and the Highlands.
Our Ring Road itinerary wasn’t perfect but that’s the great thing about having a car. If you want to get moving, you pack up and go. Before heading to Iceland, we made a 10-night itinerary and booked our accommodations as we were going in June, just before the peak of high season.
Day 1 and 2: Reykjavik – Adjusted to jet lag, explored downtown and went up Hallgrimskirkja. We stayed at this well-located Airbnb apartment. We also met up with Inga from Tiny Iceland who really made our stay awesome. If you’re going to Iceland, get in touch with Inga!
Day 3: Golden Circle – We rented our car from Route 1 car rental and then headed to Þingvellir National Park to snorkel between the North American and Eurasian continents. Then saw Geysir, Gullfoss and had great lamb soup. A friend recommended we stay at Guesthour Dalbaer in Flúðir and it was a nice spot.
Day 4: Driving to Vik – A great driving day except for the intense wind and rain. We stopped at the Eyjafjallajökull volcano vistor centre, walked behind a waterfall and checked out Dyrholaey. We stayed in a little cabin at Hotel Edda.
Day 5: Driving to Höfn – Before we drove to Höfn, we took a quick drive over to the Solheimasandur plane crash, which I wrote about. Then we got on the road and headed to the amazingly beautiful Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Karlie wrote a cool piece about our experience. We stayed in a beautiful little guesthouse with fresh baked cookies and a vintage record player.
Day 6: Driving to Mývatn - We got an early start to drive through the East Fjords befor heading inland to Mývatn. It was a spectacular drive, one of my favourite of the trip. Going from fjords to a twisty and fun gravel highway, then seeing reindeer and finally arriving in the moonscape that is Mývatn. We stayed in the clean Guesthouse Elda.
Day 7: Akureyri – After some hikes around the lake including up the Hverfjall crater, we headed to Iceland’s second city. We got to the city, had some great fish at Noa (highly recommended) and explored the town. The Hrafn Inn was a nice spot too.
Day 8: Hvammstangi – We were supposed to stay in Akureyri again but plans changed around quite a bit because of our whale tour that was supposed to be from north of Akureyri, but ended up being moved to Húsavik. It was an amazing experience to be sailing on the brink of the Arctic Circle and seeing massive humpback whales. Again, Karlie wrote a great piece on that experience. After backtracking a bit to Húsavik we buckled up for a long drive to Hvammstangi, because Akureyri was very loud due to a its Bíladagar car festival. We also made a quick stop at a very quirky car museum in Ystafell. We stayed at the Hanna Sigga Guesthouse which was basic but comfortable.
Day 9: Driving to Stykkishólmur - After seeing some seals and a whale near Hvammstangi, we ventured out onto the Snaefellsness peninsula to hike up Helgafell, eat some delicious hot dogs and see the beautiful little town of Stykkishólmur. We stayed at the Holmur Inn.
Day 10: Snaefellsness back to Reykjavik – We toured around Snaefellsness, stopping at some beautiful beaches and seeing an old shipwreck, before heading back to Reykjavik to help them celebrate their national day.
Day 11: Flying home – After lots of driving, hiking and sightseeing, we made our final stop at the Blue Lagoon before flying back to Canada with Iceland Air.
Overall, based on this Iceland Ring Road itinerary, it was one of the most amazing road trips I’ve been on. The only thing we would have changed to probably adding a night in Húsavik if there was time to do it. If you have 10 nights, you can definitely see a considerable amount of the country. I’d love to go back with more time and be able to go a little deeper into the East Fjords and see the West Fjords.
With 10 nights and 11 days we felt a little bit rushed at times. However, since it’s a ring road, it takes just as long to go all the way around as it does to go halfway and turn around and go back.
If you’re not convinced you want to drive the Iceland ring road, check out my list of Top 10 reasons to do an Iceland road trip.