Do you only have 5 or 6 days to spend in Iceland? We’ve covered all of the must-see sights in an easy-to-follow Iceland Ring Road road trip itinerary!
Most people want to drive the entire Ring Road during a trip to Iceland. While you could technically drive the Ring Road in 6 days, you’d be spending most of your time behind the wheel instead of exploring the outdoors!
Iceland Itinerary: 6-Day Ring Road Road Trip
We spent a lot of time hiking and taking photos, so we spread this itinerary out over 6 full days. If you’re short on time, it can easily be done in 5 days. I would, however, recommend giving yourself at least 6 days if you are visiting Iceland during the winter because the days are shorter and road conditions can be unpredictable.
Check The Weather Report First!
I cannot stress this enough. Check the weather report once you arrive in Iceland to determine which direction to head first! If there’s a particular spot you absolutely want to see, plan your route based on the weather.
The roads were closed in the south of the island during a large portion of our trip and we were forced to cut that part of our itinerary short in order to avoid getting stuck driving all the way around the island with very limited time. You either have to wait out the storm (in our case it was 3 days) or you have to drive all the way around the island to get back to Reykjavík.
The road in the south of Iceland — from about Selfoss to Jökulsárlón — has very little protection from the elements, so a windstorm can wreak havoc on this area. They do close this road in extremely high winds for the safety of drivers.
Day of Arrival
The day we arrived, we picked up our Happy Campers campervan and spent the night in an AirBnb in Reykjavík to shower and get a full night’s rest. This isn’t completely necessary if you already have a campervan, but it’s well worth your sanity before you embark on your road trip.
A slightly cheaper option would be to stay at a campground in Reykjavík that has showers available. We found an AirBnb for about $100 USD so we felt our comfort was worth a little extra money.
Besides showering and getting some sleep, you’ll want to grab some groceries for the week. Reykjavík has the largest selection of grocery stores in Iceland. You’ll have more food options and the ability to get a few things cheaper than if you were to pick up items at gas stations or restaurants along the way.
If you book with Happy Campers, they have an awesome “Free Zone” where other travelers have left the food items they didn’t use. We picked up some items here before heading to the store!
Day 1: The Golden Circle
Highlights on the Golden Circle: Þingvellir National Park, Geysers at Haukadalur, Gullfoss Waterfall, Kerið Crater Lake, Icelandic horses
The Golden Circle is an easy drive from Reykjavík and this route can either be done at the beginning or the end of your trip. You can spend anywhere from 4-8 hours on this route — depending on how often you stop for photos.
Where to stay near the Golden Circle: If you get an early start, you should have enough time to head to either Selfoss or Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. The best spot for camping in this area is Hamragardar Campground which overlooks Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. For hotels, I recommend Arctic Nature Hotel or Guesthouse Garun Skolaveller in Selfoss.
Day 2: Seljalandsfoss to Vik
Highlights: Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Gljúfrabúi Waterfall, Sólheimasandur Airplane Wreck, Skogafoss Waterfall, Vik
I recommend taking the morning to explore Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi Waterfall (hidden waterfall right next to Seljalandsfoss). From here, Skogafoss is just a short drive away, but plan to spend a few hours here if you want to hike to the top of the falls.
Next up is the 4 mile (round trip) hike to Sólheimasandur Airplane Wreck. Keep in mind that this excursion will take up a good portion of your day. Depending on how much time you have left in your day, you can either drive back and camp at Skogafoss (recommended!) or head to Vik for the night.
Where to stay: We camped at Skogafoss waterfall and it was probably our favorite campsite of the entire trip! Otherwise, there’s plenty of accommodation choices in Vik: Vik Camping, Thakgil, Nausthamar Apartment, Hotel Katla Hofdabrekka and Icelandair Hotel Vik.
Day 3: Vik to Jökulsárlón
Highlights: Vik’s Black Sand Beach, Reynishverfi Basalt Column Beach, Fjadrargljufur Canyon, Skaftafell National Park, Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoon), Dryholaey Peninsula
If you didn’t have time to explore Vik the day before, I recommend stopping at the Black Sand Beach and Reynishverfi Basalt Column Beach. From here, head east towards the Glacier Lagoon! Depending on how much time you have, you can take a detour to the Dryholaey peninsula, Fjadrargljufur canyon, and stop for a quick hike to a glacier at Skaftafell National Park.
But let’s be honest, Jökulsárlón really steals the show in this part of Iceland, so make sure to give yourself enough time to explore here.
Where to stay: We stayed at Skaftafell campground because it’s only about a 45 minute drive from the lagoon. If you want to stay even closer to the lagoon, Skyrhúsid Guest House and Hali Country Hotel are less than 10 minutes away!
Day 4 & 5: Skaftafell to Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Highlights on Snæfellsnes Peninsula: Kirkjufell Mountain, Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall, Snæfellsjökull National Park, Snæfellsjökull glacier, Gerðuberg Columnar Basalt, Ölkelda Mineral Spring, Búðir Church, Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge
On day 4, we made the drive back towards Reykjavík, towards Snaefellsnes peninsula. The drive takes about 6 hours, so you might prefer to break this up into 2 days, hit up all the spots you missed from Day 3, and stay the night around Selfoss. On Day 5, I recommend spending the entire day exploring Snaefellsnes peninsula.
Where to stay on Snæfellsnes Peninsula: Grundarfjörður Campground is only about a 5-minute drive from Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall. In the same town, both Hellnafell Apartments (with a view of Kirkjufell mountain) and Hotel Framnes (with views of the fjord) get excellent reviews.
Day 6: Snæfellsnes to Reykjavík
Highlights: Blue Lagoon, Hvalfjörður, Hallgrímskirkja Church
On our last day, we headed to Bjarteyjarsandur farm in Hvalfjörður because we happened to be visiting in May when it’s lambing season! I’m obsessed with adorable lambs so this was a dream come true for me. Once we arrived back to Reykjavík, we stopped at Sundhöllin pool — the oldest pool in Reykjavík — for a shower and a soak.
Our flight didn’t leave until 5pm the next day, so we saved our Blue Lagoon visit for the morning before our flight departed. This is recommended by almost everyone who plans to visit the Blue Lagoon because it’s closer to the airport than Reykjavík.
Know Before You Go
Getting There: If you’re coming from the West Coast, like we did, WOW air now offers direct flights from Los Angeles! This was our first time flying with this budget airline and we were both impressed with the legroom, seat comfort, and the staff. You can also fly direct from San Francisco, Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. With flights starting at US $99 each way, it’s a steal!
Blue Lagoon: While planning your Iceland trip, remember that pre-booking your time slot at the Blue Lagoon is required! It is recommended to plan your Blue Lagoon trip either right when you arrive in Iceland or right before you depart because it’s only 20 minutes from the airport – versus 1 hour from Reykjavík.
Iceland Packing Essentials
Wet Wipes: I recommend bringing biodegradable wet wipes even if you’re not camping around Iceland. It’s great to have these to clean your hands or wipe up messes in the car. If you are camping, these are a must to freshen up! I always recommend buying biodegradable wipes, like the ones mentioned above, because some wipes are harmful to the environment.
Clothing: Bring multiple base layers!! I only had one good base layer, so I had to wash it halfway through my trip. Even in the summer, you’ll want a moisture-wicking base layer to keep you warm and eliminating sweaty clothes when hiking. Base layers also take up less room and packing light will make your trip much more enjoyable – especially if you are spending your whole trip in a campervan!
Portable Battery Charger: Portable battery chargers are a must for road trips to charge your devices! This charger is one of the smallest and lightest on the market.
Waterproof Gear: Iceland’s weather is extremely unpredictable, but one thing you can count on is some rain during your trip. Always bring a waterproof jacket, waterproof hiking boots or waterproof boots, and waterproof pants. Also, don’t forget a rain cover for your backpack!
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