8 day road trip in Iceland
My boyfriend and I recently returned home from an 8-day road trip in Iceland and it was nothing short of incredible. We already miss spending our days chasing waterfalls, rainbows, hot pools and sunsets, and spending the chilly nights being all cozied up in our toasty warm camper van!
We rented the Nissan NV200 Camper and it was perfect for the two of us! There was lots of space in the bed and tons of storage underneath it, so our van wasn’t always cluttered with our backpacks and cookware. It came stocked with everything we needed and all we had to do was hit up the grocery store every couple of days for a food restock!
Tip: Shop at Bónus when possible. It’s the cheapest grocery store and they have lots to choose from!
We spent our eight days traveling along the Ring Road with not much more of a plan then to stop at anything that piqued our interest (and let me tell you, there are a loooot of stops in such a stunning country!). We decided to start by heading north, because the aurora forecasts looked promising… and did that forecast ever deliver! We were SO lucky to have seen the Northern Lights at least five times during our trip.
Tip: Check the Aurora forecasts to decide which direction will increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights when starting your road trip around the Ring Road!
I can safely say that there is no better way to enjoy the stunning auroras than while cuddled up in the blanket nest that is your camper van bed with the back doors wide open to the colorful night sky. It was also a fun opportunity to try my hand at capturing them on camera! With some help from the internet, I was successfully able to go from green smears of color across my camera screen to something that actually resembles the Northern Lights, haha.
Tip: Do a little Googling before your trip so you have a general idea of how to take pictures of the Northern Lights. It’ll be worth it when you snap something that really shows how beautiful they were in person!
Our first stop on our road trip was a detour to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. It’s a few hours out of the way, but it was the most beautiful introduction to Iceland’s scenery! There is plenty to see on this detour, but I highly recommend it if you have the time.
Next was the north of Iceland. Our favorite spot here was the whole Lake Mývatn area, which has so much to see! There are bubbling mud pools (Hverir), a giant volcano crater (Hverfell) that you can hike the whole way around, lava fields (Dimmuborgir) with a bunch of paths that wind you through a ton of really cool lava formations, and more. It is well worth spending some time here!
Also while in the north, we discovered the hot pool called Fosslaug. It was a bit of a mission to find because there isn’t really any signage, but totally worth it! On one side of the hot pool is a rushing river and on the other is a huge, beautiful waterfall called Reykjafoss.
Tip: Use Hot Springs in Iceland to find hidden hot pools nearby!
We continued to make our way around Iceland and eventually ended up on the south coast, which is a real gem. There is so much to see with the myriad of majestic waterfalls, the beautiful black sand beaches and the unreal Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. You honestly have to stop the van every twenty minutes because there’s something that you just can’t miss! Our favorite spot on the south coast was the aforementioned Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon (it’s too pretty and unlike anything you’ve ever seen to not be the favorite!) and the whole Skaftafell area.
Originally, we had booked a glacier hike with one of the guiding companies in the area, but unfortunately it got cancelled because of poor weather. We also ended up staying two nights at the campground near the Skaftafell Visitor Center due to high winds preventing us from making a safe trip back to Reykjavik, but there’s so much to see and do in the area that it was totally fine by us. There are a few different hiking trails that take you to glaciers and waterfalls (definitely don’t miss checking out Svartifoss!) and cool viewpoints, so we were able to happily kill some time at Skaftafell!
Tip: If you’ve been holding out on buying food from a restaurant while in Iceland because of the high prices, this is your chance! About 5 minutes east of the Skaftafell Visitor Center on the Ring Road is a little gas station/store/restaurant and they have the most delicious lamb burgers for a great price. I believe it was about $15 for a lamb burger, fries and a drink- a price that good is almost unheard of in Iceland!
We wrapped up our road trip by spending our last evening hiking to and basking in the hot river called Reykjadalur, just outside Reykjavik. It’s in a very active geothermal area and is a huge stretch of river that feels just like a hot tub. It’s the perfect place to bring some snacks and spend a couple hours winding down after a great trip!
We can’t imagine having traveled Iceland any other way than in a camper van. It was a real lifesaver (and money saver, because Iceland definitely isn’t cheap) being able to eat, sleep and drive all in one place. Our camper van came with absolutely everything we needed and we had no issues with weather (minus the one day in Skaftafell, but no big deal if you have to bunker down for a day!) or finding campsites, even though we were worried that we might, given that we were traveling in mid-October. We loved traveling in the van so much that we are considering doing a van conversion of our own at home!
And while you’d think that so much time spent in a van together might have driven us crazy… it seems it had the opposite effect. We’re officially engaged!
Read more: Iceland in six days
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