Iceland Road Trip: A One-Week Itinerary
September 28, 2017
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Is an Iceland road trip on the bucket list? The below sample itinerary outlines a perfect 8 day Iceland road trip around Icelands’s Ring Road. This itinerary is great for those using the Iceland Camping Card. At a low rate of 150 euros (valid for 2 campers), the Camping Card will save you tons of time and money along the way! The campsites listed below are just suggestions, feel free to tailor to your own route. Part of the beauty of an Iceland road trip is all the beautiful, lesser known surprises along the way!
8 Day Iceland Road Trip Itinerary
Day 1 – Reykjavik: Arrival, Sightseeing, and Road Trip Prep
Most international flights arrive into Reykjavik in the early morning. Take some time to get your rental car sorted before heading into the city. Since you will most likely not be able to check into your hotel yet, head over to Hallgrimskirkja. The largest church in Iceland, and one of Reykjavik’s top attractions, it also has the added bonus of free parking! Head up to the top for a beautiful view of the city.
Make your way through the town and check out one of the many lunch spots that Reykjavik has to offer. While traveling I find that it is budget friendly to eat out for lunch rather than dinner, taking advantage of all the great lunch specials! Don’t forget to pop into some of the awesome shops along the way! Definitely spend some time wandering through the beautiful streets.
I recommend stopping by the Iceland Phallological Museum. Although you may not find this museum on most “must-see” lists, this penis focused museum is sure to give you a laugh. This museum boasts a collection of more than two hundred and fifteen penises and penile parts!
If you are looking for a decently priced dinner spot, head over to Hraðlestin. This restaurant serves up some tasty Indian dishes without breaking the bank.
You’ll notice quickly that Iceland is quite expensive! While in Reykjavik, head over to one of the local supermarkets to pick up food for your trip, otherwise you may find yourself living off of gas station hot dogs for the week. Click here for some great road trip snack ideas to stay healthy while on the road!
Visiting the Blue Lagoon
One great aspect of traveling to Iceland during the summer months is the never ending days! Throughout our 9 day trip we never saw a fully dark sky. We took advantage of this by booking a 10 pm reservation at the Blue Lagoon. Although this is the type of touristy, pricey attraction that I would typically opt to avoid, I would advise against skipping this one if you have the cash to spare. Definitely book online ahead of time to secure a reservation!
Prepare to feel a bit disoriented by the continuous light! After a long soak in the lagoon and a nice shower, when we finally headed back to the city around midnight the sun was only just beginning to set. If you have the energy this is the perfect time to check out the Sun Voyager sculpture!
Where to Stay in Reykjavik
You will most likely want to spend your first night at a hotel or hostel. Make sure to book this as early as possible because accommodation fills up very quickly. Summer hostel prices start at around $40/bed, while hotels are typically $150+/double room.
Day 2 – Reykjavik to Vik
Located about an hour and a half outside of Reykjavik, Seljalandfoss Waterfall is one of the most amazing waterfalls in Iceland. Make sure to walk up behind the waterfall for some incredible views!
After you’ve enjoyed Seljalandfoss Waterfall, I would head to Seljavallalaug Pool for your next stop. Approximately 20-30 minutes up to road you will arrive at the Seljavallalaug pool parking lot. Grab your bathing suit and head up the right! After about 10 minutes you will come to a free, naturally heated pool in the middle of nowhere.
When you’re ready, continue on your journey to Skogafoss Waterfall. One of the bigger waterfalls in Iceland, Skogafoss is definitely worth a visit. Hike up to the top for the waterfall for some cool aerial views. If you have the time there are also some great hiking trails located above the waterfall.
Up next is Solheimajokull Glacier. Located right outside of Vik, Solheimajokull Glacier offers guided ice hikes (at a rather steep price). Unfortunately we didn’t have the time or budget for a guided hike, so instead we simply walked around the base of the glacier on our own.
Check in to your first campsite on your Iceland road trip, Vik i Myrdal, and spend some time setting up camp. This campsite does get quite busy so try not to arrive too late in order to ensure a spot. If you opted for one of the camper vans that you can simply pull up and you’re ready to go!
Directly across the street from the campsite you’ll find the Black Beach. Although I was admittedly not too impressed, it doesn’t hurt to take a quick peek. Additionally, you will also find a gas station and two restaurants located next to the beach.
Just a short drive away from the camp, you’ll find Dyrholaey. An impressive view, with an even more beautiful ride up, make sure to head over to Dyrholaey around sunset!
Day 3 – Vik to Hofn
Located just 15 minutes from Vik, I would start your day at the Solheimasandur Plane Crash. This site is a must-see on your Iceland road trip. We had originally planned on seeing the crash site on Day 2, since it is actually on the way to Vik, however we simply did not have the time or energy It is important to note that you can no longer drive to the site, but rather you are required to park in the lot and walk approximately one hour each way to the crash site.
After leaving the crash site you will drive for about an hour before arriving at Fjaorargljafur Canyon. Take some time to hike around and explore. Weather permitting, take advantage of one of the picnic tables for a scenic picnic lunch.
After lunch, continue driving until you arrive at Jokulsarlon lagoon. Many tour companies offer a series of boat cruises around the lagoon. Once again we opted to skip the tour and simply wandered around the perimeter of Jokulsarlon lagoon for some awesome views.
Although not included in the camping card, I recommend to spend the night in Hofn, a quaint fishing village serving up amazing seafood! The Hofn Camping and Dinner (Hafnarbraut 52) campsite has hot showers (fees apply) and a great cooking area. The cost per night is approximately 1.500 kr/tent. Make sure to also take advantage of the nice, big supermarket here!
Day 4 – Hofn to Fjalladyrd
Today will consist of a lot of driving, with plenty of photo stops along the route. Spend the morning exploring Seydisfjordur, a cute fishing village in the East Fjords. If you’re looking for a nice meal check out Nord Austur for some great sushi. Make sure to stop right above the town for some breathtaking views!
I recommend staying at Fjalladyrd. Although we were little wary driving out to this campsite in the middle of nowhere, it was probably my favorite spot! There is a cozy, heated lodge and a pet goat on the grounds!
Day 5 – Fjalladyrd to Heiðarbær
Dettifoss claims the title as the most powerful waterfall in Europe. It is awesome to see a waterfall with such power, however I admit it is a bit terrifying as there are no ropes or chains! Definitely worth a quick visit on your Iceland road trip.
The next stop on the itinerary is Leirhnjukur. Forget the grassy greens and rolling hills, you will instantly feel like you are walking on the moon the minute that you step out of your car! Leirhnjukur is a site not to be missed!
If you can stand the overwhelming sulfur smell, the geothermal grounds of Hverir are worth a quick stop. Beware though, this is a major tourist stop so you will need to avoid the tour bus hoards!
Next you’ll arrive at the Myvatn Nature Baths (Jardbodin vid Myvatn). This is essentially a smaller, cheaper Blue Lagoon. This is a great place to spend the evening, soaking in the heated waters. If you’re a student make sure to bring some ID because they give a nice discount!
I recommend setting up camp at Heidarbaer
Day 6 – Heiðarbær to Hvammstangi
Next up on the Iceland road trip: whale watching. Located just 10 minutes away from the campsite, Husavik is the perfect place to head out on a whale watching tour. We did a tour with the Gentle Giants and were not disappointed. We were fortunate enough to see multiple humpback whales while on the tour. For lunch you can find some deliciously fresh fish and chips right on the water.
Although you may be sick of waterfalls at this point, Godafoss Waterfall is probably my favorite one of them all, and a perfect next stop of the day.
End the day at the Hvammstangi campsite .
Day 7 – Hvammstangi to Skjol
In the morning, head up in the direction of the West Fjords towards Dragneses. Here you will find a rather deserted town with some interesting hot tubs on the beach (because why not?). We originally intended on making it all the way to the town of Isafjodur, however we simply did not have the time. If you have the time to add an extra day in then I highly recommend it as many fellow travelers mention it as a highlight.
After your hot tub dip, continue driving in the direction of Skjol campgrounds. This will be one of your heaviest driving days with less designated stopping points, however you will pass hundreds of photographic spots!
Check-in and set up camp at Skjol before heading over to the bar and restaurant for some pizza and beers! If you are interested in a horseback riding tour this can be booked with the assistance of the campground staff.
Day 8 – Skjol to Reykjavik
Only 5 minutes up the road from the Skjol campsite, Gullfoss Waterfall will be your first stop for the day. While these last couple sites are all beautiful, you will quickly find that they are extremely packed with tourists as they are part of the famous Golden Circle.
Next up, the Geyser. Make sure to stick around until the Geyser erupts for some awesome views! Make your way to the Þingvellir National Park. Personally I was a bit disappointed by this park as I was given some misinformation about the nature of the tectonic plates. That being said the park has been designated a UNESCO Heritage Site and has some unique geological features. Definitely a nice place to stop for a quick hike!
Finally make your way back to Reykjavik. This is your final stop in what was hopefully an amazing Iceland road trip! If you have any money left in your budget treat yourself to a nice meal and a drink at one of Reykjavik’s many bars. If you are fortunate enough to be in the city on a weekend then definitely make sure to check out Reykjavik’s awesome nightlife!
Another option for saving money would be to return to the Skjol campsite for a second night. Located only 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik you will have no problem getting to the airport in the morning!
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