Iceland is one of the most beautiful and unique countries we have ever visited. Its dramatic landscapes, gorgeous waterfalls, geothermal areas, lava fields and glaciers make it a must-see European destination. The best way to discover the top attractions of Iceland is to go on on a road trip. In this guide we’d like to share a perfect itinerary for a 10 Day Road Trip Around Iceland. Detailed, with all points of interest highlighted and with lots of pictures!
10 Day Road Trip Around Iceland itinerary at a glance
- Day 1 – Arriving in Iceland and Reykjavik
- Day 2 – Reykjavik to Vik (Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Sólheimajökull glacier, Reynisfjara beach and Vik)
- Day 3 – Vik to Hof (Hjörleifshöfði Cave, lava fields, waterfalls, Dverghamrar and Hof)
- Day 4 – Hof to Egilsstaðir (Fjallsárlón and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoons, Vestrahorn, Skútafoss, Barkináfoss and Eggin í Gleðivík)
- Day 5 – Egilsstaðir to Reykjahlíð (Dettifoss, Selfoss, Hverir and Myvatn Geothermal Area, Grjótagjá and Mývatn Nature Baths)
- Day 6 – Reykjahlíð to Hvitserkur (Goðafoss, Ljósavatn Mirror Lake, Icelandic horses and Hvitserkur)
- Day 7 – Snæfellsnes Peninsula (Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss, Svortuloft Lighthouse, Londrangar and Rauðfeldsgjá ravine)
- Day 8 – Reykjavik city
- Day 9 – Golden circle from Reykjavik (Kerið, Strokkur Geysir and Gullfoss Waterfal)
- Day 10 – Reykjavik and Leaving Iceland
We spent a good amount of time planning this itinerary before our trip to Iceland and it proved itself very well. The only major alteration we had to make in the itinerary was because our flight was changed and we arrived in Iceland one day later than planned. So, instead of spending half of Day 1 in Reykjavik, we basically lost the first day. On our arrival we rented a car, skipped Reykjavik and drove to Vik making planned stops on the way (basically started with the Day 2 itinerary).
Preparation and planning
Hotels. We recommend booking hotels in Iceland as early as possible. While you probably won’t have any problems booking an accommodation in Reykjavik, there are not that many options in other parts of Iceland. If you leave accommodation booking to the last minute there is a good chance you won’t find anything available in the places you plan to stop. So, plan your trip and stopovers and book accommodation well in advance.
Weather. Don’t forget that Iceland is a cold place. Even in the middle of the summer you will need many layers, and a windbreaker. We visited in July and it was really cold – we usually had to wear sweaters and windbreaker jackets. With rare exceptions when it was not so windy and I could just go with a fleece hoodie on top of a t-shirt. Our advice – plan for cold weather even in summer, pack many layers, so it would be easy to adjust to the changing weather conditions.
Driving in Iceland. Always check road conditions and weather alerts, especially during colder months of the year. Use road.is and safetravel.is to find out the road conditions and weather alerts before you drive. Don’t forget to keep headlights on when driving – that’s required at all times and all year round in Iceland.
Money. Even though Iceland is in Europe, you won’t be able to use euros there. Iceland has its own currency – Icelandic krona (ISK). Though during our trip we barely needed cash, and mostly used a credit card.
Day 1 – Arriving in Iceland and Reykjavik
When we travelled to Iceland (after COVID-19 happened, but before vaccines were created) we had to undergo a covid test upon arrival. Check current rules and regulations on entering Iceland on the official web-site.
Spend the first day in Reykjavik. Depending on your arrival time, spend a few hours walking around the city or just take it slow and have dinner in Reykjavik downtown.
Make sure to try Icelandic rye bread – Rúgbrauð – from a hot spring, Icelandic yogurt (Skyr), seafood chowder and many other varieties of seafood dishes popular in Iceland.
Don’t try to rush through everything you wanted to see in Reykjavik on Day 1, as we have the whole Day 8 planned for it in the itinerary.
For the detailed list of what to see and do in Reykjavik read our post Top things to do in Reykjavik
Ready to travel to Iceland? Book your flight tickets with kiwi.com:
Day 2 – Reykjavik to Vik (Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Sólheimajökull glacier, Reynisfjara beach and Vik)
We started our road trip driving from Reykjavik to the south, and making the circle around Iceland in the anticlockwise direction.
First stop of the day is Seljalandsfoss – a beautiful 60 m high waterfall. When visiting, put on a raincoat and go behind the waterfall. It’s quite wet there, but the view is totally worth it!
Next stop is Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool if you fancy a swim at one of the oldest outdoor swimming pools in Iceland.
Another great waterfall to visit on Day 2 is Skógafoss – an impressive 25 meter wide waterfall, easy walking distance from the car park.
Next stop we made was Sólheimajökull. It was the first glacier our boys experienced in their lives. They were super excited running around the lake in front of the glacier, breaking small pieces of ice and listening to the dripping sound of the ice melting to the lake.
If you are short on time you can skip this stop as there will be more glaciers to see during the road trip.
After that, drive to Dyrhólaey – a peninsula with scenic views. There are two viewpoints you can visit – one near Dyrhólaey Lighthouse and the other one – Reynisfjara viewpoint. You will see the famous rock with a hole from there.
Unfortunately it was getting dark when we drove there and so we skipped the viewpoints. However, the peninsula can also be seen from our next stop – Reynisfjara beach.
You can visit Reynisfjara beach either at the end of Day 2 trip, or on the morning of Day 3 (like we did). It’s a famous beach with amazing rock formations, black sand and simply beautiful scenery.
We recommend spending the night in Vik village. You find there a selection of accommodations, few places to eat and a supermarket.
Day 3 – Vik to Hof (Hjörleifshöfði Cave, lava fields, waterfalls, Dverghamrar and Hof)
In the morning leave Vik and drive to Hjörleifshöfði Cave (about 15 km drive from Vik). It’s a quite tall cave with a bizarre entrance hole.
About halfway between the main highway and the cave, there is a start of a hike (from the Hjörleifshöfði road) to the top of Hjörleifshöfði mountain. We decided to stretch our legs and walked up the hill to enjoy the views from up top.
Next stop of the itinerary is Laufskálavarða – lava fields about 30 mins from Vik. You can see the lava fields – small stone mounds covered in moss – when driving along the main road. There are few places where you can stop to have a closer look or take a small walk in the field. Look for Þjóðvegur Rest Stop and Scenic Green Lava Walk if you want to make a stop there.
One of the most impressive highlights of the day was the 2 million year old canyon Fjaðrárgljúfur. It’s an easy walk from the carpark, and there are few viewpoints to the canyon. It’s really stunning and I would say a must see on the road trip around Iceland.
Next two stops are both for waterfalls. First one is Systrafoss – a waterfall almost in Skaftárhreppur village. Second – Foss a Sidu right before Dverghamrar.
During the trip around Iceland we’ve seen countless different waterfalls. Some of them were on our itinerary, some – we just saw them from the road and stopped to have a better look. From this trip I have so many pictures of different waterfalls that sometimes I don’t even know which one is which 🙂 In this post I mention the most spectacular ones (or the ones I remembered the most), but you will see much more waterfalls on your 10 day road trip around Iceland.
Next, we visited Dverghamrar – basalt rock formations also called The Dwarf Cliffs. There is a car park just off the main road, and then it’s an easy walk through the canyon full of hexagonal shaped basalt rocks.
Last point of interest on Day 3 is Svartifoss in Vatnajökull National park. It’s about a 30 minutes hike that starts at the Visitor center (and there is also a campground there). The waterfall is surrounded by black basalt columns that gave the falls its name – Svartifoss translates to English as Black Falls.
Spend a night at Hof south of Vatnajökull National Park. There are few rental accommodations in the area.
Day 4 – Hof to Egilsstaðir (Fjallsárlón and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoons, Vestrahorn, Skútafoss, Barkináfoss and Eggin í Gleðivík)
In the morning of Day 4 we visited two glacier lagoons. First one is Fjallsárlón – a glacier lake at the south of Vatnajökull glacier only 20 minutes drive from Hof. You can even take a boat tour on the lake to enjoy the ride between huge chunks of ice.
Fifteen minutes drive away from Fjallsárlón and we reach Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon – one of the most remembered highlights of our trip to Iceland. It was a really nice sunny morning. Water, snow and ice shimmered in the sun and the movement of huge ice blocks floating by was simply fascinating.
I think we spent at least an hour at this place – enjoying the views, getting down to the water, watching chunks of ice floating from the lagoon through a short channel and into the ocean.
When you walk from the lagoon towards the ocean you get to Diamond Beach. Its name comes from big pieces of sparkling ice washed ashore from the glacier.
It’s hard to get enough of the views at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, but we need to continue with the trip and so the next stop is Vestrahorn.
Vestrahorn is a striking mountain at the south east coast of Iceland, near the town of Höfn. The whole place (also known as Stokksnes) is truly spectacular with the twin-peak mountain towering over the black sand beach.
We parked at the Viking Cafe and walked to the beach. In the distance we saw what looked like an abandoned old village and decided to check it out closer. It was a Viking Village prop for a movie and it was empty. So, we just walked around it and peeked into the few prop houses (there is nothing inside the houses if you’re wondering).
We continued our trip towards Skútafoss – a waterfall 300m off the main road on the left. And then to the Red Chair (200m on the main road after the turn to Skútafoss) – a big red chair standing on a rock overlooking the seashore.
Next stop is Hvalnes Lighthouse. The lighthouse is not that pretty to be honest, but it stands on a nice spot overlooking the sea and the mountains.
When you continue on the main road towards Djúpivogur village, there will be few nice viewpoints and stops to stretch the legs. Stop at Barkináfoss waterfalls (only 5 min walk off the road) or at Djúpavogskörin Natural Geothermal Pool if you’d like. Djúpavogskörin is a really tiny thermal pool at… well, basically in the middle of nowhere. If you’re lucky and there are no other people already in the pool – it only fits a few people at a time (it’s more like a huge bath than a pool really).
Our last stop before calling it a day is Eggin í Gleðivík at Djúpivogur village.
We had dinner at a cafe overlooking a small harbour with parked boats, and then went to view Eggin í Gleðivík sculptures. The outdoor artwork consists of 34 marble eggs representing local birds.
We spent a night at Egilsstadir town, where you can also visit a local waterfall – Fardagafoss.
Day 5 – Egilsstaðir to Reykjahlíð (Dettifoss, Selfoss, Hverir and Myvatn Geothermal Area, Grjótagjá and Mývatn Nature Baths)
Our first destination on Day 5 of the trip is Dettifoss Waterfall in Vatnajökull National Park – the second most powerful waterfall in Europe.
There are two viewpoints to view the waterfall – Dettifoss East Side and Dettifoss West Side. There is no bridge over the river between these two viewpoints, and so if you want to view the waterfalls from both sides it will take quite a lot of driving.
Road to the East Side viewpoint is mostly unsealed and it takes about 30 mins drive one way from the main road. We actually drove to the East Side, admired the views from there, and then realized that there is another viewpoint on the other side. So, we drove all the way back to the main road, and then to the West Side viewpoint.
Road to Dettifoss West Side viewpoint is sealed, and there is a big car park over there.
It’s a few minutes walk from the carpark to Dettifoss viewpoint. Another track from the car park leads to the nearby Selfoss Waterfall. It’s a short and easy walk and we recommend seeing both waterfalls.
Next stop of the trip is the Hverir geothermal area. Hverir and Mývatn are famous geothermal areas in the north part of Iceland with bubbling mud pools, steaming fumaroles and sulfuric smoker.
For us, people from New Zealand, it was not that exotic as we’ve seen plenty of geothermal areas and geysers in New Zealand. But for most travellers it is a really remarkable experience – there are not that many places in the world where you can see geysers and steaming mud pools.
After enjoying the views and not-so-enjoying the specific smell of the Hverir area (if you didn’t know – sulfide gases stink) drive towards Reykjahlíð village. Before entering the village, take a small detour to the underground cave with hot water – Grjótagjá.
Grjótagjá is a small lava cave with a thermal spring inside.
The last point of interest on Day 5 is Mývatn Nature Baths. Mývatn Nature Baths are large outdoor pools with milky blue mineral-rich hot water.
We checked into our hotel in Reykjahlíð, had a quick dinner and then went to the hot pools. After a day on the road it was such an awesome experience to relax in the outdoor pools – our whole family loved it.
Spend the night in Reykjahlíð – a village on the shores of Lake Mývatn.
Day 6 – Reykjahlíð to Hvitserkur (Goðafoss, Ljósavatn Mirror Lake, Icelandic horses and Hvitserkur)
On Day 6 there is a lot of driving (about 5 hrs) and not that many stops. Though the scenery around is quite beautiful and you can make as many stops as you wish to admire the views 🙂
First stop is Goðafoss waterfall. Even though the falls are not high (only about 10 m high) they are 30 m wide and with lots of water. The fall is very impressive and has a few viewpoints around it.
Not far from the Goðafoss waterfall is Ljósavatn lake. It’s also known as mirror lake due to nice reflections of surrounding hills in the lake. Due to the weather conditions there were no reflections when we stopped at the lake, but it was still a nice view.
Next stop in our itinerary was Reykjafoss waterfall. It’s a bit aside from the main road, located about 7 km from Varmahlíð along road 752.
When driving in northern Iceland we have seen many Icelandic horses grazing along the road. We made a few stops to take pictures of the horses from afar, and were lucky enough to find a place to encounter these beautiful creatures up close.
The Icelandic horse is a breed developed specifically in Iceland. It’s the only horse breed allowed in Iceland and there is a law preventing horses from being imported into the country. Even if a horse was exported it’s not allowed to return the animal back to Iceland.
Our last point of interest on Day 6 is Hvitserkur. Hvitserkur is a 15 m high basalt rock formation that looks like a dragon drinking water.
We spent the night near Búðardalur village in a cabin with beautiful views.
Day 7 – Snæfellsnes Peninsula (Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss, Svortuloft Lighthouse, Londrangar and Raudfeldsgja ravine)
Day 7 we spent at Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Even if you are in Iceland for a few days and staying in Reykjavik, we would recommend going to Snaefellsnes Peninsula for a day. It’s a beautiful place with many things to see on a day trip.
We went around Snaefellsnes Peninsula and visited the places of interest in the anti-clockwise direction. Read all about our day at Snaefellsnes Peninsula in the dedicated post – Perfect One Day Trip to Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland
Depending on how long you spend on Snaefellsnes Peninsula you can stay the night there. Alternatively, if it’s not too late and you’re not too tired then drive to Reykjavik to stay the night in the city.
Day 8 – Reykjavik city
For the last three days we stayed in an apartment in Reykjavik – exploring the city and making a few day trips from it.
Spend Day 8 exploring Reykjavik. Stroll on Laugavegur street, admire Hallgrimskirkja Church, walk the Sculpture and Shore Walkway, spend some time at Lake Tjörnin or visit one of the city’s many museums.
For the detailed list of what to see and do in Reykjavik read our post Top things to do in Reykjavik
Day 9 – Golden circle from Reykjavik (Kerid crater, Geysir and Gullfoss Waterfall)
Day 9 of the itinerary is a one day trip from Reykjavik to see some of the attractions of the famous Golden Circle route in Iceland.
Golden Circle route starts and ends in Reykjavik and includes visiting Geysir Geothermal area, Thingvellir National Park and famous Gullfoss waterfall. The route is approximately 250kmlong and is easily done within a day.
In the Geysir Geothermal area you will find a father of all geysers – Geysir – that gave name to other geysers around the world (English word ‘geyser’ comes from Iceland’s Geysir). Though Geysir has been dormant since 2008, you will find other active geysers in the park, such as Stokkur. Every few minutes Stokkur geyser erupts a steamy hot water up to 60 meters high above the ground.
Entrance to the Geysir Geothermal park is free, and you can wander around to see big and small geysers, hot springs and colorful patches of rocks and land due to chemicals in the soil.
Next big highlight of the Golden Circle is Gullfoss Waterfall. Gullfoss (translates to English as ‘Golden Falls’) is one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls. The waterfall consists of two cascades – first is 11 meters drop and second is 21 meters drop – and is surrounded by a 70 meters deep canyon.
Halfway between Gullfoss waterfall and Reykjavik is a volcanic crater lake – Kerid Crater (Kerið). Kerid crater is located on privately owned land and so it’s one of the very few natural attractions in Iceland with an entrance fee. For a small entrance fee (about 3 euro) you can walk around Kerið crater’s edge and get down to the lake
At the end of Day 9 drive back to Reykjavik to spend the night there.
Day 10 – Reykjavik and Leaving Iceland
Depending on the time of your return flight you may still have part of Day 10 to spend in Reykjavik. If so, visit one of its many museums – The Northern Lights Exhibition, or Reykjavík Maritime Museum or maybe even The Icelandic Phallological Museum.
We really enjoyed our 10 days in Iceland and hope to visit it again. While we really liked warmer weather and longer days in summer, next time we will try to visit Iceland in colder months – to see more glaciers, ice caves and landscapes covered in white snow.
Have you been to Iceland already? If not, we hope this itinerary would help you plan your trip. If you’ve been, what was your favourite place in Iceland? Let us know in the comments below!
Ready to travel to Iceland? Book your flight tickets with kiwi.com: