Iceland is capturing everyone’s attention these days. From mountains and glaciers to waterfalls and beaches, the natural beauty of the country is on another level. And with the increasing stress of our daily lives, there seems to be a collective pull to get back to nature. Iceland is quite accessible for travelers given its size and the paved road that encircles the entire country. We opted to drive the Ring Road over eight days, spending two more in Reykjavík, though we decided not to take on the west fjords as it would be too rushed. As I wrote about recently, we rented a Go Campers camper van, which was truly a unique experience and one that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone else traveling to Iceland.

This guide to Iceland’s Ring Road gives you every detail of our itinerary with stops and sights along the way. There’s tips on Reykjavík too as any Ring Road itinerary will likely start and end in the capital. At the end of the article, there’s also a bonus Golden Circle detour, as many doing an Iceland Road Trip will want to include it. You can also read our Iceland camper van road trip guide.

One thing to note: you can do this itinerary either way from Reykjavík. We opted to go clockwise as the weather was better in the Northwest at the onset of our trip. While the South Coast has a high density of natural sights to explore making it a good Iceland finale, it’s also more congested with tourists so it may be nice to experience the crowds at the beginning of your trip rather than the end. If you want to go South first, then just reverse the itinerary.


The majority of flights from North America arrive extremely early, with ours touching down at 4:30am. There wasn’t much point in going to the city just to wander around in the dark hours before we were able to check in to our guesthouse, so we opted to visit the Blue Lagoon. It opens at 8am with the first shuttle from Keflavík leaving at 7:30am so we had some time to waste at the airport but it wasn’t bad at all. The Blue Lagoon has luggage storage and a shuttle that embarks often for Reykjavík. If you don’t arrive early in the morning, consider visiting the Blue Lagoon on the way back to the airport at the end of your trip instead.

  • Blue Lagoon
  • Reykjanes Peninsula (by the airport)
  • Harpa concert hall
  • National Museum of Iceland
  • Hallgrímskirkja
  • Laugardalslaug pool
  • I Heart Reykjavík walking tour

Eat: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (hotdog stand), Pizza With No Name, Mandi, Noodle Station
Drink: Micro Bar, Skuli, Mikkeller & Friends, Laundromat Cafe, Kex Hostel
Campground: Reykjavík Campsite
Hotel: Icelandair Hotels
Hostel: Kex Hostel

The Ultimate Iceland Road Trip & Ring Road Itinerary:

Ring Road Day 1: Reykjavík to Ólafsvík

Total Driving: 230 kilometres

Heading north from Reykjavík, you’ll be heading into West Iceland as your first region on the Ring Road. Travel around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula (here’s a more in-depth article on the region), an area with dramatic scenery and evolving landscapes. As you drive into the National Park at the westernmost part of the peninsula, you’ll encounter Snælfellsjökull, a 700,000 year old volcano and glacier. This area was an unexpected highlight for us on our Iceland road trip!

  • Borgarnes
  • Gerðuberg Basalt Columns
  • Ytri Tunga beach
  • Búðir (town)
  • Rauðfeldsgjá
  • Arnarstapi (town)
  • Hellnar (town)
  • Laugarbrekka
  • Snaelfellsjökull National Park
  • Londrangar cliffs
  • Djúpalónssandur beach
  • Saxhóll crater

Eat: Geirabakari Bakery and Café (Borgarnes), Guesthouse Snjofell (Arnastapi), Gamla Rif (Rif), Hraun Restaurant (Ólafsvík)
Campground: Campsite Ólafsvík
Hostel: The Freezer Hostel (in nearby Rif)
Guesthouse: Grund i Grundarfirdi (in nearby Grundarfjörður)

Ring Road Day 2: Ólafsvík to Thingeyrar

Total Driving: 270 kilometres

Today you’ll finish the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, venture into the seal capital of Iceland, and end up on the rugged Vatnsnes peninsula where wild horses may be the largest group of inhabitants you’ll encounter.

  • Kirkjufell
  • Kolgrafarfjördur
  • Grundarfjörður (town)
  • Hvammstangi (town)
  • Seal Centre
  • Skardsviti Lighthouse
  • Hvítserkur

Eat: Hotel Framnes (Grundarfjörður), Sjavarborg Restaurant (Hvammstangi), Geitafell (close to Illugastaðir farm)
Campground: Illugastaðir farm (about 30km before Thingreyar)
Guesthouse: Hvammstangi Cottages (Hvammstangi), Guesthouse Tilraun (Blönduós)

Ring Road Day 3: Thingeyrar to Akureyri

Total Driving: 330 kilometres

This is one of the longer drives. As you get further into Northern Iceland, you’ll experience enticing scenery alongside quaint fishing villages, and drive through some super long tunnels. Leave some time to explore Akureyri, Iceland’s northern capital where there are some excellent eating and drinking to be done.

  • Borgarvirki
  • Blönduós (town)
  • Glaumbær
  • Grettislaug pool
  • Hofsós (town)
  • Hofsós pool
  • Siglufjörður(town)
  • Akureryi

Eat: Veitingastofan Solvik (Hofsós), Noa Seafood Restaurant (Akureyri), Pylsur hotdog stand (on Hafnarstræti), Akureyri Berlin (Akureyri)
Drink: Akureyri Backpackers Bar, R5 Bar, Ölstofa Akureyrar
Campground: Hamrar
Hostel: Akureyri Backpackers
Hotel: Icelandair Hotel Akureyri

Ring Road Day 4: Akureyri to Myvatn

Total Driving: 200 kilometres

While the direct distance between these two destinations isn’t too far, there’s so much to see in the Myvatn region so it makes sense to stay the night so that you can experience everything without having to rush it. Moon-like landscapes, an abundance of sulphur, and epic bird watching await you in Myvatn. It’s such a surreal terrain that it’s been the backdrop of many series and films, including Game of Thrones.

  • Goðafoss
  • Aldeyjarfoss (4×4 required on F road but you can park near the turnoff and walk to the falls)
  • Lake Myvatn
  • Dimmuborgir
  • Hverfjall
  • Grjótagjá cave
  • Myvatn Nature Baths
  • Hverir – Hverarönd and Námafjall
  • Krafla Power Plant
  • Viti crater

Eat: Vogafjos Cowshed Cafe (Myvatn), Daddi’s Pizza (Myvatn)
Campground: Vogahraun Guesthouse (Myvatn)
Guesthouse: Vogafjos Guesthouse (Myvatn)

Ring Road Day 5: Myvatn to Egilsstaðir

Total Driving: 175 to 400 kilometres

The drive between Myvatn and Egilsstaðir is only a couple of hours. You can use the day to see more of the sights in and around Myvatn or if you managed to see everything the day before, you could maximize your Iceland road trip with a detour to Húsavik, which would take about four hours total.

  • Hrossaborg (4wd required on F Road but can park near the turnoff and walk to the crater)
  • Húsavik (town) – whale watching tours are an option
  • Húsavik Whale Museum
  • Ásbyrgi Canyon (if you detour from Húsavik and head back on the 864)
  • Dettifoss
  • Selfoss
  • Möðrudalur (town)
  • Sænautasel
  • Egilsstaðir

Eat: Möðrudalur Farm (Möðrudalur), Cafe Nielson (Egilsstaðir), Klausturkaffi (Egilsstaðir)
Campground: Egilsstaðir campsite (Egilsstaðir)
Guesthouse: Lyngas Guesthouse (Egilsstaðir)
Hotel: Icelandair Hotel (Egilsstaðir)

Ring Road Day 6: Egilsstaðir to Höfn

Total Driving: 300 kilometres

Head out into the East Fjords known for its remote fishing villages, twisting coastline, and the occassional herd of reindeer. Deviate off of highway 1 onto the 92 and subsequently the 96 to get into the heart of the region. You’ll end in Höfn, a town renowned for lobster.

  • Fardagafoss
  • Gufufoss
  • Seyðisfjörður (town)
  • Skatfell gallery
  • Fáskrúðsfjörður (town)
  • Hafnarnes lighthouse
  • Steinasafn Petru
  • Djúpivogur (town)
  • Papey Island (known for puffins – take the 40 minute ferry from Djúpivogur)

Eat: Havarí Farm (in between Breiðdalvsík and Djúpivogur), Pakkhus Restaurant (Höfn), Kaffi Hornid (Höfn)
Campground: Höfn Camping (also has cabins for rent on site)
Guesthouse: Cottages Lambhus (Höfn)
Hotel: Milk Factory (Höfn)

Ring Road Day 7: Höfn to Vík

Total Driving: 285 kilometres

There’s a lot to see and do along this stretch as you round the bend into the South Coast of Iceland. Lining Highway 1 are the other-worldly lava rocks heavily coated with moss, and there’s pretty much a new waterfall at every turn. Skaftafell National Park is an ideal spot to get out of the car as there are some excellent hiking trails.

  • Jökulsárlón
  • Fjallsárlón
  • Hofskirkja
  • Svínafellsjökull
  • Skaftafell National Park
  • Hundafoss
  • Svartifoss
  • Foss á síðu
  • Kirkjubæjarklaustur (town)
  • Fjaðrárgljúfur
  • Eldhraun Lava Field

Eat: systrakaffi (Kirkjubæjarklaustur), Halldorskaffi (Vík), Sudur Vík (Vík)
Campground: Tjaldsvæðið Vík
Guesthouse: Grand Guesthouse Gardakot (Vík)
Hotel: Icelandair Hotel Vík

Ring Road Day 8: Vík to Reykjavík

Total Driving: 230 kilometres

The drive between Vík and Reykjavík is chockablock with sights so best to get an early start on the day. Expect the roads to be a bit more congested on this route with other travelers. Instead of heading back to Reykjavík, you could detour to do the Golden Circle Route, though it would be extremely hectic for one day so best to add in an extra night. I’ve added detail on how to do this below.

  • Reynisdrangar
  • Reynisfjara & black sand beach
  • Dyrhólaey Arch
  • Solheimasandur plane wreck
  • Skógar Folk Museum
  • Skógafoss
  • Seljavallalaug pool
  • Seljalandsfoss
  • Gljúfabúi Waterfall
  • Hveragerði (town)
  • Thrihnukagigur volcano

Eat: Sveitagrill Miu (food truck at entrance to Skógafoss), Gamla fjósið (Hvolsvöllur), Restaurant Varma (Hveragerði)

Ring Road Add On: Golden Circle Itinerary

You have a few options when it comes to the Golden Circle. You could opt to drive it as a day trip from Reykjavík or you could end your trip with it. For the latter, traveling from Vík you would head up the 30 before Selfoss, which is doable considering that most of the sights between Vík and Reykjavík are before this point. While this is the most efficient way to incorporate the Golden Circle into your itinerary, you will miss a few stops, most notably the town of Hveragerði and Kerið crater.

You would want to spend the night near Gulfoss and spend the next day exploring the area as you drive east towards Reykjavík. Of course, if you are doing this route the other way (counter-clockwise) then you would add this at the beginning of your trip as an alternative to driving Reykjavík to Vík directly.

  • Secret Lagoon (off of the 30 as you detour to the Golden Circle)
  • Gulfoss
  • Geysir
  • Faxi Waterfall
  • Laugarvatn Fontana pool
  • Þingvellir National Park
  • Öxarárfoss
  • Flosagjá
  • Silfra (snorkeling tours take place here)

Eat: Friðheimar Farm (Reykholt), Efstidalur (up the 355 from Reykholt)
Camping: Skjol Campground
Guesthouse: Efstidalur II (up the 355 from Reykholt)
Hotel: Hotel Borealis (Selfoss)

Iceland Road Trip: Ultimate Ring Road Itinerary photos by Lauren Barth and JP Bervoets