If you want to FULLY experience the “Land of Fire and Ice”, plan to do a 7 day Iceland road trip around the famous “Ring Road”! From Reykjavik in the West, to the Waterfalls in the South, and the mountains in the East, and to the winter wonderland in the North, there is SO much to see! If 7 days is all you have, luckily this is just enough time to witness it all!
On my 7 day Iceland road trip with The Clumsy Traveler and The Lovely Escapist, we learned so many valuable tips from traveling the Ring Road. In this post, I’ve included all of these tips, as well every stop you should hit on your 7 day Iceland road trip. If you’re traveling in winter like we did, or any season for that matter, you’ll definitely want to read over my tips beforehand to fully prepare!
To get a visual tour of our Iceland journey, watch my vlog below! For a more concrete and detailed itinerary, plus even more tips I don’t mention in the video, keep scrolling! ?
Before you go…READ THIS!
Iceland prep definitely deserves its own category! The weather is unpredictable, the costs are EXPENSIVE & it’s also just unlike anywhere you’ve ever been before, so make sure to read these tips!
- If you’re going in winter…bring these essentials: Thermals, a gaiter, gloves, a waterproof snow jacket, waterproof snow boots, thick socks, LAYERS, hats, and scarves.
- Buy travel insurance for your trip! Iceland is a place of extremes (extreme weather, extreme adventure, etc.), so it’s best to come prepared in case anything happens to both your physical health or your vacation plans. If you’re looking for a great company you can trust, I highly recommend Allianz travel insurance!
- Rent your car beforehand online, especially if going in winter when you need a car with 4 wheel drive, luggage storage, and nails in the tires. I highly, highly recommend SAD Cars! Not only are they known as the most affordable car rental company in Iceland, they also have incredibly sturdy 4×4 cars for your journey around Iceland! Plus, you can pick up your SAD cars rental right at Keflavik Airport
- Buy windshield protection insurance! We were hesitant at first, but SO happy we did because a tiny rock hit our windshield and formed a little crack! ?
The rental company told us this is common when driving in Iceland, so invest in this insurance!
- Prepare to get your gas at the Olís or OB gas stations located all around the island. All other gas stations besides these require tourists to buy a prepaid gas card instead of simply using your credit card to pay at the pump or inside the gas station. If you pay for gas with your credit card at the other gas stations, prepare for a large hold to be placed on your card worth a lot of money (and I’m not quite sure when it’s lifted!?).
- Another cost to budget in is GAS MONEY! For our 4 seater Suzuki rental, it was around 100 USD to fill up gas every time! To complete the 7 day Iceland road trip, we filled up 4 times, so factor this in!
- Like I said, Iceland is very expensive, not only for European standards, but also because it is an island where almost everything is imported. That being said, buy road trip snacks in your home country!! This will save you HUNDREDS of dollars, I promise!
- The cheapest food you’ll find is at the grocery store, not the gas stations! For a budget supermarket, look for “Bonus” (with the pig logo- you can’t miss them! They’re located in various areas around the Ring Road).
- Just a heads up on dining in- A standard meal at a fast food diner costs at least 15 USD, and a typical, casual sit down restaurant can cost anywhere from 25-40 USD! Your cheapest bet for cooked meals will be gas station hot dogs (which are SURPRISINGLY great) for ~3.50 USD or a Subway sandwich for 10 USD. Both are located all over the Ring Road!
- Snowballing off all this talk about costs, definitely plan a GROUP road trip if you can! The more people you’re with, the more people to split gas and accommodation costs with.
- Buy your Blue Lagoon tickets BEFORE you go to Iceland because they sell out fast!
- If flying WOW Air like many do, keep in mind that the basic ticket price (the lowest option) does not include checked baggage or a carry on, so buy “Premium” tickets if you’ll have a lot of luggage with you.
Day 1: Reykjavik & The Golden Circle
Plan to land in the morning or afternoon, don’t waste anytime, and head straight to the “Golden Circle”!
1. Keflavik Airport ➡ “Golden Circle” Loop
- Stop 1: Pingvellir National Park (pictured above!)– Moss lands, lakes and the famous Silfra Fissure. If you have the time and money, take a scuba/snorkel tour of the fissure and swim between two tectonic plates!
- Stop 2: Strokkur Geysir– Every 8-10 minutes, this natural wonder shoots water from a hole in the ground, into the air! Walk the surrounding grounds for even more sulfur pits.
- Stop 3: Gulfoss– Not the MOST impressive waterfall you’ll see in Iceland, but definitely a great way to start off the trip! Walk to the viewing deck to get a close-up look!
- Stop 4: Kerid Lake– Turquoise crater lake surrounded by deep red mountainous walls. In winter, you can hike down to the crater and walk on the frozen lake!
2. Head back to Reykjavik to explore the city, eat some dinner, and rest up for the South!
Day 1 Tips:
- Plan for countless unplanned stops along the Golden Circle! It being your first day in Iceland, you’ll want to pull over almost every 5 minutes for pictures (or Icelandic horsey pets!).
- The Golden Circle, although beautiful, is almost like the little leagues compared to the rest of Iceland. If you need one day to skip on this itinerary, this would be the day. Again, it’s STUNNING and a great way to kick off the trip, but you’ll soon see better!
Day 2: The South
Prepare to have your mind BLOWN in the South! It’s home to many of Iceland’s most breathtaking natural wonders!
1. Reykjavik ➡ The South
- Stop 1: Seljalandsfoss (pictured above!)- One of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls & for good reason! In spring and summer, this is the waterfall that you can hike BEHIND for a different perspective. Make sure to walk along the path next to Seljalandsfoss for even more smaller waterfalls, and hike up to the hidden Gljúfrabúi waterfall if you have time.
- Stop 2: Skogafoss– This may be the most breathtaking (and famous) waterfall of them all due to the rainbow that constantly shines in front of it on a sunny day!
- Stop 3: Dyrhólaey– This viewpoint is lesser-known to tourists making it a hidden gem! It’s probably the most jaw-dropping lookout you’ll see in Iceland with its views of a black sand coast, floating rock formations in the ocean, and mountainous pillars at its base. We planned to spend only 15 minutes here, but stayed for 2 hours!
- Stop 4: Reynisfjara Beach– The most famous black sand beach in Iceland with it’s geometric rock formations and floating rock formations in the distance!
2. Vik or surrounding areas: Get dinner and accommodation here, and rest up for tomorrow!
Day 2 Tips:
- Day 2 and day 3 are arguably the most visibly stimulating days, as well as the most jam-packed, so be up with the sun to fit everything in! And prepare to be exhausted by the end of the day ?
- The South is where you’ll encounter all those famously photographed churches and villages with the backdrop of towering mountains. Have your camera ready at all times!
- Like every other day on the Ring Road, but ESPECIALLY in the South, you will want to pull over every 5 minutes because of all the crazy nature you’ll be witnessing. Plan time for this accordingly!
- Be prepared to get a little wet at the waterfalls due to the splashing water and mist, and protect your camera!
- If you can’t fit in stop 4 on this day (we couldn’t!), it’s easy to move this stop to Day 3, but it will most likely cause you to skip another stop you have planned for Day 3. DO NOT miss this stop though by any means!
Day 3: The South (Part 2!)
The most action-packed AND driving-packed day of them all! While Day 2 dazzles you with waterfalls, Day 3 is all about glaciers!
1. Vik ➡ Hofn
- Stop 1: Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon– Beautiful mossy canyon with a narrow river running through it!
- Note: If you’re visiting during winter and you’re short on time this day, skip this stop and go straight to stop 2 from Vik! The green moss is what makes this canyon so unique, and even though it was still beautiful without, it’s not as impressive in winter.
- Stop 2: Svartifoss Waterfall– Beautiful black geometric stone waterfall! Give yourself 45 minutes to hike up to the waterfall! We didn’t factor in this time and had to skip this stop ?
- Stop 3: Svinafellsjokulsvegur Glacier (pictured above)- If you don’t have the money to pay for a glacier trekking tour (~200-300 USD!), simply drive up to this one! You can admire it up close, and it’s absolutely stunning.
- Stop 4: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon– Famous lagoon with floating chunks of ice that break off from the nearby glacier.
- Stop 5: Diamond Beach– Black sand beach located right next to the Glacier Lagoon! It’s famous for the chunks of ice that float from the lagoon and sit on the sand.
2. Drive to Hofn for dinner and sleep there!
Day 3 Tips:
- This day is ACTION-PACKED! If you’re not willing to wake up at sunrise and barely finish your day at sunset, cut out the first stop like I said! The other sights top stop 1 in my opinion.
- Stock up on food and gas in Vik because you pass through no-man’s-land after for a LONG time!
- I already touched on this a bit, but I can’t stress it enough! This day may end in disappointment if you don’t stick to a tight schedule. We had to cut out Svartifoss and barely saw Diamond Beach in sunlight because we didn’t budget our time accordingly and kept stopping on the side of the road for pictures!
- Prepare to see countless different landscapes this day, all which look like another planet. Now can you understand why we got off schedule? ?
- If you decide to skip the glacier tour like we did, ONLY admire it from afar. Never go trekking without a guide! Several tourists have died trying to do this on their own.
- IF you have the time, spend an extra day in this part of the South! There are endless things to see and do here.
- Also, if you have the time [and you’re visiting in winter], add an ice cave tour to your schedule! If we had the money, we would of even replaced the first 2 stops of this day with a cave tour.
Day 4: The East
Day 4 is a heavy driving day with little stops! The drive is stunning, but there aren’t as many famous sights to see in the East, hence the lack of stops.
1. Hofn ➡ Northern Iceland
- Stop 1: Stokknes (pictured above): Just a short drive from Hofn, this incredibly unique lookout has snow-capped mountains, black sand mounds, and a nearby beach. It’s not very well-known among tourists, which is a plus!
- Stop 2: Seyðisfjörður Village -Colorful village located on a lake that opens into the ocean. This adds an hour or so detour to your drive to the North, but the town is so charming, it’s worth it! It also breaks up the drive and allows you to stretch your legs.
2. Myvatn– Sleep here for the night!
Day 4 Tips:
- The weather on this side of the island is known for being temperamental, so prepare for strong winds and unexpected rain/snow!
- If traveling in winter, you may experience heavy snow storms on this drive. In fact, at some points we couldn’t even see 5 feet in front of us! That being said, read up on how to drive in these conditions. No quick sudden stops, because this could cause your car to hydroplane on icy roads, and remember to slow your regular speed!
- If you want to stop on a snowy road, be careful where you pull over! We didn’t realize the vertical incline on the side of the road when we stopped because the snow made the road look level. We ended up having to be dug out of 5 feet of snow by a passing car mechanic!
- If it’s snowing, skip the village! We decided to go anyways and were caught in a snow storm. You have to drive up and down a mountain to get to the village, so conditions will most likely be dangerous if it’s already snowing on the main Ring Road.
Day 5: The North
If visiting in winter, this drive like day 4 will also have few stops! However, in the spring/summer, the snow melts, revealing many more sights and activities to see and do!
1. Myvatn ➡ The West
- Stop 1: Godafoss (pictured above): This unique waterfall is nicknamed “The Waterfall of the Gods” and you’ll see why! What it lacks in height (compared to Iceland’s other famous waterfalls), it makes up for in width and sheer beauty.
- Other potential stops during winter: Myvatn thermal pools are open year-round and are much less crowded than the popular Blue Lagoon. Another fun winter activity to check out is dog sledding ?
- Other potentional stops during spring/summer: Lava fields of Dimmuborgir, the Grjótagjá Cave from Game of Thrones, and the Hverir and Hverarond geothermal sites.
2. Hvammstangi– Sleep here for the night and look for Northern Lights!
Day 5 Tip:
- Expect a long drive (3 hours) to Hvammstangi without stops if only stopping at Godafoss this day!
Day 6: The West
The West is rarely explored by tourists, but little know that it packs all of Iceland’s unique landscapes into one! Here you’ll find glaciers, mountains, moss lands, black sand beaches, and stunning rock formations.
1. Hvammstangi ➡ Reykjavik
- Stop 1: Kirkjufell Mountain– Beautiful waterfall with the back-drop of a uniquely shaped peak! Many people come here to photograph the falls and mountain at sunrise.
- Stop 2: Djúpalónssandur Beach– Black sand beach bordered by towering black stone cliffs.
- Stop 3: Arnarstapi Coast (pictured above)– Famous for its beautiful sea arches and coastline.
2. Reyjkjavik– Eat dinner here, do a pub crawl if you’re up for it, then pass out!
Day 6 Tip:
- We were so burnt out by this day, we only made it to stop 3, then went straight to Reykjavik. But if you have the time and energy, don’t miss out on the West! The travelers that actually do make their way here say it’s their favorite area of Iceland.
Day 7: Reykjavik & Blue Lagoon
Use your last day to explore more of Reykjavik, or head straight to the famous Blue Lagoon! Located only 20 minutes away from Keflavik Airport, it’s the perfect last stop on your 7 day Iceland road trip!
1. Reykjavik ➡ Keflavik Airport
- Stop 1: Blue Lagoon– The most famous thermal pool in Iceland!
2. Keflavik Airport– Fly back home!
Day 7 Tips:
- In case you missed my tip at the start of this blog, buy your Blue Lagoon tickets BEFORE you come to Iceland because it sells out fast!
- The sulfur in the lagoon is very damaging to your hair, so make sure to shower before and use conditioner (you’re instructed to do this anyways), and wear a bun if you have long hair!
- You’ll easily be able to spend 2 hours in the lagoon, so budget your time accordingly!
This post was sponsored by Allianz Global Assistance, however, all opinions are my own and in no way dictated by this sponsorship.
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I hope my 7 day Iceland road trip itinerary and tips help you plan your future road trip around the Ring Road! If you have any sights and activities to add to the list or helpful tips, please comment below. Also, if you still have any unanswered questions, don’t hesitate to ask!