The stunning country of Iceland consists of dramatic landscapes, impressive volcanoes, lovely hot springs and sizzling lava fields. These are just some of the reasons why so many tourists choose to visit this beautiful place each year.
A visit to Iceland puts you in the perfect position to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, relax in the Blue Lagoons, or marvel at the cascading waterfalls across the island. The best way to see all that this magnificent country has to offer is by planning and embarking on a road trip.
If you’re planning to drive around Iceland, you’re likely wondering where to start with planning your visit. Luckily, we have you covered! Keep reading to find out more about our recommendations for an 8-day road trip around this beautiful Nordic country.
What to Know When Planning Your Iceland Itinerary
There are a few things worth noting before you embark on your Icelandic adventure. These involve choosing the right vehicle to travel around the country – something particularly important due to the extreme weather conditions in Iceland.
The next is knowing how and where to book your transport, there are many to choose from, so let us help set you on the right path!
1. Choose the Right Vehicle
Usually, tourists tend to hire cars when deciding to road trip around Iceland. This is mainly because they don’t have the appropriate vehicle for the roads here. The time of year you visit will help determine what type of transportation you should get when embarking on your journey around Iceland.
If you’re planning to visit Iceland in summer (between May and September) then a 2-wheel drive will do the job. They’re not as hardy as 4-wheel drives, but you can get around the island quickly enough as the weather is much calmer, creating safer roads.
If you’re thinking of visiting here between October and April, you will want to consider a 4-wheel drive. This way you can still access the majority of roads in Iceland, without worrying about getting stuck in snow or lack of grip on icy paths.
2. Book Your Vehicle in Advance
The next thing to bear in mind is that Iceland is an incredibly popular destination for those seeking an exciting road trip. With this in mind, vehicle rental companies tend to get booked quickly, making it difficult to get your transportation. Booking ahead of time will help ensure you stick to your Iceland travel itinerary and get the vehicle you want.
This doesn’t just apply to cars, 4×4’s and SUVs. If you’re planning on road tripping around Iceland in a campervan in summer, they are also very popular. A lot of people choose to travel around the country whilst stopping off and staying over in some of the most breathtaking spots. You will find that when deciding to hire a campervan, you will need to make sure you have booked your vehicle at least a few months in advance.
Can you Drive the Ring Road in Iceland in 8 Days?
Iceland’s famous ring road is favoured among many, as this route is 825 miles long and loops around the whole of the island. This is one of the best ways to see all of the country’s top sights, making it a frequent trip for many.
Along the ring road, you will see North Iceland, the Westfjords and the Snaefellsnes peninsula, offering spectacular views of Iceland’s raw, rugged scenery. To see all that this journey has to offer, it’s recommended that you spend no less than 7 days whilst embarking on a road trip on Iceland’s ring road.
Whilst many say it is possible to drive the ring road in 8 days, you can only do so during the summer months. Travelling this route during summer means that you get more daylight hours, giving you more time to voyage. As the winter months bring shorter days and the occasional obstacle with icy road conditions, you would want to give yourself more than 8 days to ensure you see all that this adventure has to offer.
8-Day Iceland Itinerary
There are several different ways to plan an Iceland self-drive itinerary and these routes vary depending on what you’re hoping to see and do here. To get you started, we have put together an 8-day itinerary to give you an idea of some of the best places to go whilst visiting this stunning country.
Day 1 – Arrival
There are 5 main airports in Iceland – Reykjavik, Isafjordur, Keflavik International, Egilsstadir and Akureyri. So, if you’re flying into Iceland you will most likely arrive at one of these, which are scattered across the island.
From here you will need to get transport to where you are staying for the evening. After you have checked in at your accommodation, you will then want to collect your hire car. If you arrive in Iceland too late, you will need to collect your car the following morning.
For those travelling to Iceland with their own vehicle, you will likely have travelled by ferry. The main ferry port in Iceland is Seydisfjordur, where you will need to drive or get a transfer (if you haven’t brought your vehicle) to your accommodation and then collect your hire car either the same day or the next morning.
Day 2: Reykjavik – The Golden Circle
Once you have collected your hire car, you’re all set and ready to go off on your exciting road trip around Iceland. To kick start your journey, a must-visit is the country’s capital Reykjavik. It is the largest city in Iceland and is situated on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula, providing breathtaking vistas of the island’s rugged landscapes.
Spend the day in Reykjavik wandering through the artsy streets, exploring the multiple shops, or grab a bite to eat in one of the amazing bars, restaurants and cafes. A visit to the city is also a great time to stock up on some groceries before you get on the road again.
After you have spent some time wandering around the beautiful city of Reykjavik, you can either choose to stay overnight or get straight back on your route. For those deciding to stay over, Grotto Lighthouse, just outside of Reykjavik provides one of the best places in Iceland to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. After you have spent some time in the area, the next stop is to the famed Golden Circle.
Day 3: Reykjavik – Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is an easy drive from Reykjavik, with many road trippers seeing this part of the route either at the start or the end of their Icelandic journey. There is so much to see on the Golden Circle, it is no surprise why so many people choose to visit. With places like Kerid Crater Lake, Gullfoss Waterfall and Pingvellir National Park all waiting to be explored, you will find many of Iceland’s highlights on this path.
Those who choose to drive around the Golden Circle typically spend between 4-8 hours travelling the route. The time comes down to how long you choose to stop off, take pictures and explore the area.
If you are travelling Iceland by campervan, a great place to stop off and camp is the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. The area is surrounded by rocky cliff edges and vast grassland, the perfect place to marvel over the huge cascade as it falls into the water below.
Day 4 – Seljalandsfoss to Vik
After you have seen all the top sights on the Golden Circle, it’s time to set off once again as you embark on the journey from Seljalandsfoss to Vik. As you travel along the south coast of Iceland, expect to see a plethora of black sandy beaches and impressive waterfalls along the way.
Some of the best sights along this route are Skogafoss Waterfall, Gljufrabui Waterfall, Solheimasandur Airplane Wreck and more. You can hike to most of the beautiful falls in the area if you want to get a closer look at the incredible natural scenery.
For most of the drive, you will find yourself encompassed by interesting rock formations, raw natural landscapes, rugged terrains and mighty waterfalls. This journey allows you to see some of the best of Iceland’s wild beauty.
Day 5 – Vik to Jökulsárlón
Once you have soaked up all that Iceland’s landscape has to offer, a trip to Vik is next on the list. Here you can stop off at the volcanic sandy shore and see the intriguing rock formations of Dyrholaey and Reynisdranger.
There are many other popular sights in Vik, with multiple tourists heading to Fjadrargljufur Canyon, the Glacier Lagoon of Jokulsarlon, Dyrholaey Peninsula and Skaftafell National Park. All of these places display even more of Iceland’s incredible outdoors, with stunning nature at every turn.
It is worth seeing all of the places listed above, but make sure you give yourself enough time to see Jokulsarlon. The Glacier Lagoon will take your breath away as you get the chance to see why Iceland is frequented by so many. With mirror-like water, frozen glaciers and mighty peaks towering in the backdrop, you won’t want to miss stopping off here whilst on your Icelandic road trip.
Day 6 – Skaftafell to Snæfellsnes Peninsula
By day 6 you will leave Jokulsarlon and make your way to Skaftafell to see more of the country’s beautiful surroundings that await you. Be sure to check out the Snaefellsjokull National Park, Kirkjufell Mountain, Olkelda Mineral Spring, Gerduberg Columnar Basalt and Rauofeldsgja Gorge along the way.
For any outdoor enthusiasts, a visit to Kirkjufell Mountain should be on your itinerary when road tripping around Iceland. This is one of the most photographed spots in the country and is known for being in the top 10 most beautiful mountains in the world. Its cone-like shape and rocky surroundings, paired with glistening waters and cascading waterfalls, make it the most picturesque setting.
The drive along the Snaefellsnes peninsula back towards Reykjavik usually takes around 6 hours, with some people choosing to break this up into 2 days. With the peninsula stretching around 56 miles if you want to see all that it has to offer it is probably best to bear this in mind when planning your itinerary, as you may want an extra day here.
Along the route, you will travel through a mountain range, and see active and dormant volcanoes alongside magnificent ice-capped peaks. This drive displays much of Iceland’s incredible beauty alongside its breathtaking coastline.
Day 7 – Snæfellsnes to Reykjavik
For day 7, you will continue along the beautiful Snaefellsnes peninsula as you make your way back to Reykjavik. Along the way, there are more opportunities to see the blue lagoon, plus Hvalfjordur (Whale Fjord).
Hvalfjordur is a deep fjord situated in West Iceland. Here you will find incredible hiking routes to Glymur, displaying even more of the island’s beautiful scenery and rugged terrains.
If you choose to do the hike here, you will find Glymur which is the second-highest waterfall in Iceland at the end of the route. The perfect way to round off an incredible week in this beautiful country.
Other stops along the route consist of Dritvik Cove and the cliffs of Arnarstapi and Londrangar. If you’re seeking to explore some of Iceland’s settlements, there are also some great little towns that you will pass through on your journey back to Reykjavik, the perfect way to lazily stroll around the quaint streets in Iceland.
Day 8 – Home
Once you have arrived back in Reykjavik you can spend some time exploring the city further. Being the capital of Iceland and the biggest city on the island means that there’s always more to see and do. Whether you want to wander the street art scene, learn more about this fascinating country at the National Museum of Iceland or just spend your time relaxing before heading home, there is something for everyone.
Once it’s time to go home, you will need to return your rental vehicle to the hiring company and make your way to either the airport or ferry port. Don’t feel disheartened though as you leave this stunning country, as you will go home having experienced its top sights and memories to last a lifetime.
We hope that after reading our 8-day itinerary road trip in Iceland, you can now visit this stunning country with all the best places in mind. No matter where you choose to go, you will find a place full of beautiful landscapes, natural beauty and adventure at every twist and turn.
If you’re planning to visit Iceland for a road trip and require a vehicle, Fara has a great range to choose from. No matter what time of year you choose to visit, there is something for every type of traveller. Browse our range of rental vehicles, or get in touch for more information.