Iceland Road Trip Guide: Place to Drive & How to Plan

Iceland Road Trip Guide

With its stunning landscapes, glacial rivers, and lava fields, it’s easy to see why a visit to the land of fire and ice is on many travelers’ bucket lists. Whether you’re planning a long or short trip, driving around Iceland by car is by far the best way to see the country.

One of the most popular adventures among travelers is an Iceland camper rental to do a DIY road trip through Iceland, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed with so much to see. To solve that problem, we’ve put together an Iceland road trip planner with the most popular places to drive in Iceland. So stock up on supplies, map out your campsites, and get your camera ready! 

Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is the most popular Iceland road trip route because of its proximity to Reykjavik, plus the fact that it is a short excursion. For this road trip, Reykjavik, around the loop and back is approximately 300 kilometers (190 miles). Travelers usually take anywhere from 5 hours to a day to complete it. Nonetheless, it’s jam-packed with sights. If you’re on this route, make sure not to miss these spots:

The Geysir Hot Springs

Around two hours into your drive in the Haukadalur Valley, the Geysir geothermal area is best reached by getting onto Road 365 Iceland to Laugarvatn, where you will change on to Road 37. Geysir is well-known for having lent its name to geysers all around the world, though it is rarely active these days. However, the whole valley is filled with geysers erupting up to 30 metres high, boiling pits, and the smell of sulfur all around.  

Gullfoss Waterfall

Translated to ‘Golden Falls’, Gullfoss is one of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls. Water from the Hvítá river drops down two levels of 36 and 69 feet, creating a breathtaking display of nature, it’s a must-see on the Golden Circle route. Make sure to carry a change of clothes if you plan to get close. 

Thingvellir National Park

The first thing you will notice about this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the beauty of the magma fields surrounded by mountain peaks. Thingvellir is also where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet and travelers can go diving or snorkeling in between. 

Historically, it is famous for being the site where the first democracy in the world, the Icelandic Parliament, was established.  

Ring Road – Route 1

The Iceland Route 1 trip, or the Ring Road, encircles the entire island. This makes it one of the more popular Iceland road trips for people driving around Iceland in July due to the longer days. It covers about 1,300 kilometers of roads. Here are some of the most magnificent landscape features on this route:

The Vatnajökull Glacier

It’s not marked as the largest glacier in Europe for nothing, the Vatnajökull glacier is a breathtaking sight to see for its vastness. It covers a whole 8% of Iceland’s landmass! Sitting in the middle of the Vatnajökull National park, this spot is popular for activities such as glacier hiking, boat tours in the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, and ice carving tours. 

Vestrahorn Mountain

Vestrahorn Mountain is one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland, and not for nothing. It has a spectacular black appearance under the Northern Lights and reflects the green lights onto the surrounding water, making an overall ethereal sight that you will never forget.

This site is about a six hours drive from Reykjavík on the Ring Road, and visitors should note that a small fee is charged to drive to the mountain as it is on private land. 

South Coast of Iceland

This route covers a portion of the Ring Road and is a generally easy trip to make. It’s also the best route for travelers who are short on time. With many sights and gorgeous waterfalls, the south coast route is chock-full of adventures. Some stops to add to your itinerary are:

The Sólheimasandur Plane Crash

Sólheimasandur is a vast flat area that is often compared to a lunar landscape and hosts the famous DC-3 plane wreckage. Lying abandoned in the “middle of nowhere”, the former US Navy plane makes for an eerie sight. It crash-landed in 1973 and has been there ever since. Carry your hiking boots as it is about a 4-mile trek from the parking point.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Iceland is famous for its black beaches, and Reynisfjara is considered one of the most beautiful. It was even voted one of National Geographic’s Top 10 non-tropical beaches to visit in the world in 1991. The beach’s imposing rocky sea stacks even featured in Season 7 of the HBO Series Game of Thrones.

Getting to Reynisfjara is about a 180 kilometers (112 miles) drive from Reykjavík.

Exploring With Rent.is

It’s almost impossible to cover all of Iceland road trip sights in one article, but that’s where Rent.is comes in. Renting a camper van allows you the leisure of traveling these routes at your own pace, whether for a short or long adventure. Browse the rest of our Iceland travel guide or contact us today if you’d like to learn more about these travel routes!