Road Trip Iceland (13 days): planned route + itinerary + map
Road Trip Iceland? Use our planned route with itinerary & tips!
Iceland is the place to be for nature lovers. The country is known for its volcanoes, natural hot springs, beautiful landscapes, and so much more. Get to know the history and legends of the country + discover all the hidden spots away from tourists.
Use this example route and info as preparation for your road trip through Iceland.
Preparing your trip to Iceland? On this page you will find everything you need to know:
- An overview of all the plane tickets and where to book them
- Organizing everything by yourself or exploring Iceland through a guided tour (whether or not to drive independently) + free travel guide
- Book tours and excursions to discover the best places around Iceland
Traveling to Iceland by plane or ferry?
Traveling by plane to the far north
The fastest and most obvious way to get to Iceland is by plane. US-based travelers can reach the Keflavík international airport (30 minutes from the capital Reykjavík) from San Francisco, Chicago, Washington D.C., New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami or Pittsburgh. The main carriers that take you to Iceland are Icelandair and WOW air.
If you travel from the UK, flights from London (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton) can take you there in around 2 hours and 50 minutes. Taking off somewhere else inside the UK is possible in Belfast, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, and Glasgow.
For EU-based travelers, flights are provided throughout the union to take you to the Keflavík airport in Iceland. Looking for a cheap flight ticket? Use the Momondo
or Skyscanner site.
Slow traveling by ferry
There is the possibility to take your own car to the island. therfore you will have to take the ferry crossing from Hirtshals (Denmark). The ferry takes about 2.5 days to get you to Iceland. Ideal if you want to travel with your own car or camper.
Extra: You can make a stopover at the Faroe Islands.
Self-organized tour or with a tour operator?
Based on how much time and budget you have, you can choose to fully plan your trip yourself or to book a packaged tour. Most tour operators offer flexible and independent tours in Iceland. They book all hotels and excursions for you, but you can also decide to make the trip independently with a rental car.
Organizing a tour requires the necessary time to look up everything, map out the route and book all hotels. If you opt for comfort and security, it is a good choice to book a package tour for which you pay 1 fixed price (all stays, rental car and excursions are included in this price). Below an overview of some providers:
- Bij Pharos reizen kan je fly-en-drive rondreizen naar IJsland boeken van 5 tot 22 dagen. Prijzen starten bij € 662 , vlucht vanuit Brussel of Amsterdam inbegrepen. Bekijk het aanbod
- Djoser: Heeft zowel familiereizen als fiets-en wandelreizen op IJsland en dit van 7 tot 13 dagen. Hier betaal je ongeveer € 1800/per persoon, incl vlucht. Lees meer info
- Bij Connections kan je op winterbreak naar IJsland, dit kan al vanaf € 699/pp incl. vlucht. Dit is voor een korte vakantie van 4 dagen. Bekijk het aanbod
- Vertrek je vanuit Nederland? Dan kan je bij Kras al een rondreis boeken vanaf € 753, dit is een fly-en-drive vakantie 7 dagen. Bekijk deze vakantie
Touring Iceland individually?
Iceland is eminently a country that you can visit individually with a rental car. The country is safe, there is little traffic and only 1 main road (Ring Road 1) that leads you to almost all places. Most of the main attractions and highlights are located along Ring Road 1, so it is barely impossible to get lost. You can pick up your rental car at the airport and drop it off at the end of your trip.
Where to rent a car in Iceland?
We kunnen je Tui cars autoverhuur, waar je al voor € 200 per week een auto kan huren. (zeker een optie voor glasbreuk en full-omnium boeken) IJsland is een "wild" land, het kan er hevig waaien en je zal veel door de natuur rijden. De kans om autoschade is aanzienlijk (ik spreek uit ervaring). Bereken de prijzen voor een huurauto op IJsland.
Het autoverhuurbedrijf Sunnycars maakt het z'n klanten graag gemakkelijk en biedt enkel full-option pakketten aan, hierbij ben je 100% verzekerd, waardoor je huurauto wel iets duurder is. Er is geen minimum franchise, een aanrader zo kan je veilig en in alle rust op rondreis. Bekijk de prijzen online.
What type of car should you rent in Iceland?
- If you only want to follow Ring Road 1 in the spring/summer then it is sufficient to rent a normal passenger car.
- However, if you would like to go inland and take the F-roads, then a 4x4 vehicle is mandatory. Also in the winter I would recommend to opt for a 4x4.
Map: 13-day Iceland tour
The full route is available in our Iceland tour guide.
Day 1 : Keflavík and around
Distance traveled: 175 km (109 miles)
Starting day one from Keflavík and the spacious surroundings around the international airport, you will immediately be introduced to several Icelandic natural phenomena, for instance, the Blue Lagoon. This geothermal lagoon is one of Iceland's major tourist attractions and is visited by over 600,000 people annually. To discover more attractions in the area? Download the free travel guide Iceland.
Day 2: Keflavík to Selfoss
Distance traveled: 330 km (205 miles)
On day 2 there is a lot on the agenda. Maybe a bit too much for one day, therefore, depending on your liking, it can easily be split into two days.
You will be introduced to the Golden Circle route. This is the most famous and one of the most beautiful routes you can do in Iceland. The route is known for its fantastic natural phenomena, such as the Þingvellir National Park. Did you know that you can go snorkeling in the national park between the continents in the Silfra gorge? A must do! Alongside, also make sure to visit the gushing geysers Geysir and Strokkur along with one of the most powerful waterfalls in Iceland, the golden Gullfoss waterfall.
How about a visit to the Kerið crater? Walk up the old volcano crater and discover what's inside!
TIP: Spend the night in Selfoss (click here for hotels), a larger city by Icelandic standards. It is the place to do some shopping and stock up on supplies for the coming days.
Tours and excursions Golden Circle Iceland
Are you touring the Golden Circle by yourself or with an organized tour?
View all tours and options online. For more tours, look below:
Day 3: Selfoss to Kirkjubæjarklaustur
Distance traveled: 210 km (130 miles)
Today you will get to know the Southern part of Iceland. Southern Iceland is known for its diverse and spectacular nature therefore many highlights can be found here. Get to know some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland such as the Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. Also pass by the plane wreck of Solheimasandur and Vatnajökull National Park.
TIP: On the south side of Vatnajökull there are several, spectacular and photogenic ice caves which you can visit with a guide. You must book in advance
Day 4: Kirkjubæjarklaustur to Reyðarfjörður
distance traveled: 440 km (273 miles)
Day 4 of the tour is long, but the distance is definitely worth it. Next to the beautiful landscapes, you will come in contact with the history of Iceland.
Visit Vatnajökull National Park, the second largest national park in Iceland. Here you come past the famous Svartifoss waterfall, the Morsárdalur valley and the Skaftafellsjökull glacier. Thanks to the mild climate in this region, it is one of the few places in Iceland where you can find a natural forest. Many hiking and backpacking routes are available. If you have time, you should definitely take a walk on the glacier. In the visitor center they show a film about the eruption of the Bárðarbunga volcano in 1996.
The 20 meter high Svartifoss ("black waterfall") consists of six-sided columns of black basalt (hence the name). You can visit the waterfall via the path that starts to the left of the information center. The hike to the waterfall takes about 90 minutes (back and forward). Make sure to look around because during the walk you will also pass by other highlights such as the Hundafoss waterfall.
It would be here that Ingólfur Arnarson set foot on land and started colonizing the island. In Ingólfshöfði you will find a large colony of puffins, a typical bird of the region. 60% of all puffins in the world can be found in Iceland. They breed on land but spend the rest of their life on the open sea.
Later that day you will take a boat trip on the beautiful Jökulsárlón glacier lake.
TIP: An overnight stay in Southern Iceland? Then definitely try Hotel Laki, budget friendly and very flexible. As a bonus; they have tasty breakfast!
Day 5: Reyðarfjörður to Húsavík
Distance traveled: 295 km (183 miles)
Today it's time to explore the Diamond Circle, a beautiful route that takes you along the most beautiful places in Northern Iceland. This counterpart of the popular Golden Circle is much less known by the general public but is perhaps more beautiful. You can see the most memorable views and landscapes of the entire country here. You start this day, with the Hengifoss waterfall, the highest waterfall you can find in Iceland.
Day 6: Húsavík to Laugar
Distance traveled: 60 km (37 miles)
The majority of this day consists of whale watching. The ideal base for this is Húsavík. This town is located in Skjálfandi bay and can be called the whale capital of Iceland. The town with 2500 inhabitants lives mainly from fishery and tourism. A whale watching tour is a must do when visiting Iceland.
Along, you will come across the Góðafoss waterfall and learn more about the Icelanders and their connection with Elves in Laugar.
TIP: Husavik is the ideal base for a whale watching tour. Go on board of one of the wooden ships and see the magical animals up close. Book your tickets online.
Day 7: Mývatn and around
Distance traveled: 110 km (68 miles)
Today you get to explore the last part of the Diamond Circle route. You will discover for example; The Viti crater in Krafla and the Mývatn lake (Mosquito lake). Here you can find large colonies of water birds.
TIP: Would you like to spend the night near Myvatn? Dimmoborgir Guesthouse is an excellent choice. Stay on a farm surrounded by nature, just a 10-minute drive from the natural baths.
Day 8: Laugar to Varmahlíð
Distance traveled: 275 km (171 miles)
In Hauganes you can have a taste of fermented (rotten) shark. You should try it, together with the local - home-made - shnapps, to know what it tastes like. Those who are brave enough also receive a diploma and are members of the "Rotten Shark club of Hauganes".
Next on the trip, a stop in Hólar. This town has been of great historical importance. The first Icelandic Bibles (250 copies) were printed here. You can read through an original copy.
Day 9: Varmahlíð and around
Distance traveled: 97 km (60 miles)
From Varmahlíð you can visit the island of Drangey. The island is located in the bay of the Skagafjörður fjord and is a remnant of a 700,000-year-old extinct volcano. It is located about 7 km off the coast and is a paradise for birds. you can find a wide variety of birds, including puffins, large colonies of guillemots, auks, kittiwakes, Norwegian petrels, ravens and falcons. We made a handy overview of all the places in Iceland where you can spot puffins.
Day 10: Varmahlíð to Stykkishólmur
Traveled distance: 328 km (204 miles)
The tenth day is a solid (but great) day. Today you will drive past rock formations, visit the Viking museum of Eiríksstaðir and the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Almost all natural phenomena of Iceland can be found here, that is why the peninsula is also called "Iceland in miniature".
The Westfjords (Vestfirðir) is a huge peninsula in the most northwestern part of Iceland. The landscape consists mainly of high mountains and the endless fjords. The region has a surface of almost 9554 km² and a population of just 7300 inhabitants.
Driving through the West Fjords is an adventure on itself: high and steep mountains with narrow gravel roads. Expect new asphalted roads but also kilometers of "craterroads", ... Around this area of Iceland you will find the most natural geothermal pools. The best time to visit the West Fjords is between June and September. Read all about it in our blog post about the Westfjords.
Day 11: Stykkishólmur to Búðir
Distance traveled: 130 km (81 miles)
Just like the day before, you will continue to explore the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Discover the Kirkjufell mountain, the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and the Svörtuloft lighthouse all in one day.
Day 12: Búðir to Reykjavík
Distance traveled: 300 km (186 miles)
On the penultimate day you will continue the tour further south towards Borgarfjörður. Explore the longest basalt formation in Iceland, Gerðuber, and the largest hot spring, Deildartunguhver. No less than 180 liters of hot water come out of the ground per second!
Don't want to worry about anything during your road trip through Iceland? Download our travel guide Iceland to get the most out of your trip!
Day 13: Reykjavík
Distance: 9 km (5.6 miles)
On the last day of our tour you will explore the capital of Iceland, Reykjavík. With our city walk Reykjavík you will pass by the most important sights of the capital. The Hallgrímskirkja church is the start and end point of this walk. Wondering what you can see in Reykjavík? Then take a look at our blog to discover the best highlights in Reykjavík. Discover the colored houses and taste the typical Icelandic hot dog, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur.
Geography of Iceland
Iceland is an island of 103,000 sq km. The highest peak, Hvannadalshnúkur, measures 2119 meters. Iceland lies on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and is a real hot spot of volcanic and geothermal activity. The natural hot water provides a large part of the population with affordable and clean energy.
Iceland follows GMT throughout the year. Therefore they don't utilize winter- and summertime.
Population in Iceland
Iceland has about 330,000 inhabitants and a population density of 3 inhabitants per square kilometer, which makes Iceland the most sparsely populated country in Europe. 66% of the population lives in and around the capital of Reykjavík, the remainder of the population lives along the coasts. The rest of the island is mostly uninhabited.
Best time to visit Iceland
It may sound unbelievable, but temperatures in Iceland are not extreme. This is mainly due to the warm North Atlantic current. Winters are rather mild, and summers are cool. The average temperature in winter is -5° C, and in the summer it is around 15° C.
In December there is only sunlight 4 hours a day. However, in June you can enjoy twenty-two hours of sunlight. If you have a hard time faling asleep with light beaming through it is best to bring a mask to cover your eyes.
Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
The best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is from September to April. Your chances of spotting this natural phenomenon increases when it is cold and clear in places more up north. The Mývatn area is the ideal place to admire the beautiful natural phenomenon.
10 fun facts about Iceland
The Icelandic population may be a very friendly population, yet they have a number of unusual but unique habits.
Here you will discover 10 fun facts about the country and its population.
- There are almost no forests in Iceland. This is because, over the years the Vikings burned down most off the forest to be able to do agriculture. The Icelandic government is now trying to plant forests again.
- Babies sleep outside in their cribs.
- There are no family names as we know them. Icelanders use the traditional Scandinavian first names. Their surnames are composed of the first name of their father (or mother) with the addition of -son (son) or-dóttir (daughter). Phone books are also sorted by given name.
- Babies get a permanent name only after a few weeks, because the parents want to be sure that the child gets a name that fits the character.
- A majority of Icelanders believe in elves.
- It is forbidden in Iceland to keep a snake, lizard, or turtle as a pet.
- Iceland has no army, navy, or air force.
- The crime rate in Iceland is very low; there are only 150 prisoners, and the police carry no weapons. The murder rate here is the third lowest in the world.
- Until 1989, beer was illegal in Iceland. Alcohol is for sale only in state-run stores. Beer in the supermarket is alcohol-free.
- Raw puffin heart is considered a delicacy. Njótið matarins!
The local cuisine, what to eat and drink in Iceland?
Below we listed some typical Icelandic dishes, and we definitely recommend to try some when you visit Iceland.
- Harðfiskur is dried fish and a favourite Icelandic snack. It is eaten with salted butter and often served while watching a movie.
- Hákarl or fermented shark. Since sharks have no kidneys, the shark meat is full of urine. This makes it virtually impossible to eat fresh shark. It takes about two months to prepare the shark meat for consumption. The meat has a strong ammonia taste.
- Slátur is a kind of sausage made from the intestines of sheep. There are two types of slátur: blóðmör (blood sausage) and lifrarpylsa (liverwurst).
- Svið is a dish in which a sheep’s head is cut in two. The fleece is burned. Then the head is cooked and the brains get removed.
- Brennivín is a clear schnapps, made from fermented grain or potatoes and flavoured with cumin. It contains 37.5% to 40% alcohol. It is also known as Black Death.
Alcohol and beer in Iceland
If you want to buy alcoholic beverages, it is best to do so upon arrival in the duty-free shop at the airport. In Iceland, alcoholic beverages could get very expensive and are only sold in the ÁTVR stores which are run by the government. The minimum age for buying alcohol is 20 years.
Which car to rent?
- Are you still unsure which car to rent for your road trip?
- Do not rent a car that is too small, go for a comfortable car.
- Be sure to book an all-inclusive insurance policy so you can drive around in peace.
- A reliable car rental company is Rentalcars (very large offer).
- Read more tips about renting a car on vacation.
Where to stay in Iceland? (with discount)
Looking for a place to stay during your time in Iceland? It is best to book your accommodation in advance. It is hard to find one last minute!
Don't miss out on anything during your stay in Iceland, get our travel guide!
Like most of us, you don't want to miss out on anything during your vacation in Iceland. Well, we have some good news, because we already did the research for you! Buy our Iceland travel guide with 99 sights (+ GPS coordinates) and a mapped tour. Prefer to try it out first? Download your free Iceland travel guide here.