Spending months in Iceland, we all dream of it! If I could have whole months in the twists and turns of remote fjords, a few days admiring the falls and icons that surround the circular route, also called Ring road, and at least a week in the colorful capital. Unfortunately, spending so much time on the Ice Island is not always possible. This is why I present to you a list of suggestions to start planning a ten day tour of Iceland around the Ring road!
You will certainly have to make choices and extend your days to try to see as much as possible. The great thing about visiting Iceland in the summer is that the midnight sun makes it easy to explore attractions even into the wee hours, thereby increasing the number of places you will see.
Tour of Iceland Itinerary by Route 1, Icelandic Ring Road
For a first roadtrip, I recommend at least ten days, because this duration will first allow you to make the most of your car hire in Iceland, but also to avoid this impression of perpetual race. The problem is, no matter what beach you spend there, you always miss something beautiful. We must therefore accept to cut and rather enjoy, instead of jumping from one place to another without ever really being able to appreciate it in its entirety.
The Golden Circle
Let’s start by deviating from route 1! Spend an entire day at the Golden Circle:
- Thingvellir National Park
- Strokkur and Geysir geysers
- Gullfoss fall
- turquoise crater of Kerið.
If time permits, before joining the Ring road to the north :
- diving or snorkeling in the Silfra fault
- Laugarvatn Fontana thermal baths
- Hveragerði geothermal park
- Reykjadalur Valley hike
I would say save Reykjavík for last, it’s great to end up in the capital and the return to “civilization” will help you acclimatize to city life before you head home.
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Borrow the Ring road until Borgarnes where you will take road 54 to reach the Snaefellsnes peninsula, a microcosm of Iceland. I know, I know, it’s not on the Ring Road either, but like the Golden Circle, it would be sad to miss it.
- eldborg crater
- curious basalt columns from Gerðuberg
- plague of Ytri-Tunga
- easy hike Arnarstapi-Hellnar
- Djúpalónssandur beach
- Svörtuloft lighthouse in bright orange
- famous Mount Kirkjufell with the Kirkjufellsfoss in the foreground
- Bjarnarhöfn shark museum
- pretty village of Stykkishólmur
Hiking enthusiasts may want to set aside a few hours to explore Snæfellsjökull National Park, the glacier that occupies the center of the peninsula.
Return to Route 1 which will take you to the second largest city in the country, Akureyri. Just before, discover the typical peat architecture at the Víðimýrarkirkja Church as well as the traditional houses at the site of Glaumbir take a slight detour along Route 75. The next North Loop is also really beautiful, but you’ll have less time for the rest, so calculate it carefully. I would tell you that I preferred this part to the East Fjords, but tastes vary.
- Hofsós and its magnificent swimming pool
- Siglufjörður, my favorite village
- Herring Age Museum
Many will choose to spend the night in Dalvík before reaching the “capital of the North”, Akureyri, early in the morning. Take a peek at its boutiques, street art and the hilltop church before a greenery-café stop at the Botanical Garden during the summer season.
- Lake Mývatn tour
- pseudo-crater bizarre
- Dimmu Borgir
- Rocky gorges
- Hverfjall crater
- Myvatn Nature Baths, a great alternative to the Blue Lagoon
- Hverir / Námafjall geothermal area
- Viti crater
- Leirhnjúkur volcanic trail
- Dettifoss and Selfoss
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The eastern fjords
Rather quiet, the eastern fjords are full of modest fishing villages which are accessed by colorful roads that can sometimes make you dizzy. The major disadvantage here is that there isn’t a single logical path to take to get from point to point, making it harder to get around Iceland quickly. So I would suggest you skip this part on a short visit of ten days or less.
Does that mean the East Fjords aren’t worth it? Not at all! You will be spending too many hours in the car from village to village, however, so allow more time in other areas for this trip. You will want to come back to Iceland anyway, guaranteed!
The south of the country
Prepare yourself, because the South has no shortage of must-see sites (and unfortunately tourist buses). Most are very close to Route 1, Ring road, which facilitates a faster passage during your tour of Iceland. That’s why I recommend travelers who have less than ten days to stick to this part of the country after the Golden Circle and Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
South East Iceland
- Höfn and its langoustines
- Vatnajökull National Park
- magical glacial lagoons of Jökulsárlón, Fjallsárlón and Svinafellsjökull
- Svartifoss to Skaftafell (Vatnajökull National Park)
- cliffs of Lómagnúpur
- columns of dverghamrar
- Foss a Sidu
- Kirkjugólf geological formation
- Systrafoss twin falls
- Laufskalavarða mounds
- Reynisfjara black sand beach
- Reynisdrangar sea heap
- giant basalt organs
- Dyrhólaey and the macaroons
- abandoned fuselage of the DC-3 aircraft in Sólheimasandur
- Seljavallalaug hot spring
- Þorvaldseyri / Eyjafjallajökull Erupts Visitor Center
Dedicate the rest of the trip to the capital and its museums, restaurants, cafes and eclectic shops. You can also take a short excursion to the Reykjanes Peninsula if you want to see the Blue Lagoon.
- Photography museum
- Phallological museum
- lake Tjörnin
- many cafes in the city
Your tour of Iceland is unfortunately drawing to a close, but I bet that at this point you will have already started planning your next trip to this island that leaves no one indifferent. Consider exploring the Westfjords, my favorite region, and getting out of the Ring road so that the countryside reveals its little secrets to you!
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Have a good trip!
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Blue Car Rental asked me to bring you an article about my Iceland tour, but all opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.