There are very few places on earth as unique as Iceland. Iceland’s landscape and skies look out of this world, from the enthralling black sand beaches to the mesmerizing Northern Lights. And the best way to get the most out of your Iceland trip is a road trip through Iceland’s Ring Road. So if you are one of the adventurous kind who loves to be on the road for most of your travels, the Iceland Ring Road trip is made just for you. Let’s find out more about what road tripping in Iceland is going to be like.
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What is the Iceland Ring Road trip all about?
As the name suggests, Iceland’s Ring Road runs along the periphery of this mystical land, giving you stunning views at almost every turn around every corner. It is the only major highway in Iceland, aptly named Route 1, making it all the more fascinating. The Ring Road connects almost all the towns across the country, including the only city, Iceland’s capital – Reykjavik.
Well, being born for adventure, you would have made numerous road trips by now. If that is true, the Iceland Ring Road trip will be another feather in your cap. But if you are a first-timer or a less frequent road tripper, you are in for an experience like no other. Driving through Iceland will be an adventure worth remembering while also being one of the safest road trips for you to try.
Driving along the Ring Road
Iceland’s Ring Road covers about 800 miles (1288 km approx.) around the country, connecting some of the most stunning spots, including the Glymur Waterfall, Godafoss, Dettifoss and Selfoss, the Golden Circle, and more. Technically, the entire length of the journey can be covered in 24 hours without stops. But not stopping anywhere on your Iceland road trip would neither make sense nor is it possible. You will come across something worth staring at every five minutes throughout your journey, and you will be stopping more often than you thought.
The Ring Road is well-maintained and great to drive on, so that a self-driving trip would be much more fun here. The conditions on the road may differ in summer and winter, which is why an Iceland road trip in winter may take you longer. The journey you can usually complete in a week during summers may take you about two weeks in winter due to snowfall and unusually long nights. Summers are the best time to drive through the Iceland Ring Road, but winter has its perks – the elusive Northern Lights.
How to plan your Iceland Ring Road trip
When planning a road trip, road trip, it is always advisable to plan ahead. For example, you will need an itinerary and a vehicle to start with for your road trip through Iceland.
You will have to start your journey from Reykjavik since it is the capital city and has the Keflavik International Airport. Being the biggest city in Iceland, you will also have many options for car rentals here. Another place where you can start is Akureyri, Iceland’s second-largest urban region, which also has an international airport. But we would recommend sticking to Reykjavik if you can as you are likely to find better services there.
The good thing about taking the Iceland Ring Road trip is that you don’t have to travel back and forth from the best spots every day. You can cover them as you keep moving ahead on your course. It saves you a lot of time.
When planning your itinerary, it may be a little overwhelming because there is so much to see. You don’t want to miss anything. But if you are short on time, it would be best to pick out the spots you will be stopping at beforehand. You can also search through the itineraries made by other Travel Wise community members and find one that works best for you.
A few spots you don’t want to miss
The Golden Circle – This can be a good start for the long road trip ahead. The Golden Circle comprises Thingvellir National Park, the hot springs of Geysir, and the Gullfoss waterfall. This can be a one-day trip, and you can get it done on the very first day before you set out on the Ring Road towards farther destinations.
Black sand beaches in Reynisfjara – These volcanic black sand beaches are a sight to behold and different from anything else you’ve ever seen. The rugged black sand is formed by lava mixing with the ocean water.
Whale watching – Your adventurous road trip would be incomplete if you don’t witness the sheer majesty of Iceland’s whales. Whale watching is one of the highlights of any Iceland trip, and Husavik is considered the best place for this activity.
Dettifoss and Selfoss – These are two of Iceland’s most enticing waterfalls. Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe, while Selfoss is a more elegant, smaller waterfall. However, both are equally worth your time.
Vatnajökull Glacier – If glacier hiking is on your bucket list, Vatnajökull Glacier makes one of the best sites for it in Iceland. The natural ice caves under a glacier will transfer right into a fairytale, like Disney’s Frozen. The sun shining through these ice crystals makes for a breath-taking sight.
Fjords – If there is one thing you can’t miss on your Iceland Ring Road trip is the fjords. These beautiful cliffs are visible both on the east coast and west coast of the country. The Eastfjords are best viewed from Egilsstaðir, where you may also experience the Northern Lights if you are lucky.
This list can go on and on, and we will run out of space. Every site in Iceland is a highlight, but these are certainly some of our favorite picks.
A car rental or a camper van for your Iceland Ring Road trip?
You will need to make an important decision is whether the Iceland Ring Road trip will be best completed with a rental car or a camper van. A camper van will cover accommodation too so that you can stop anywhere you like and rest for the night.
Suppose you book a rental car, too, some designated camping sites along the Ring Road where you can stop as long as you have your camping gear. Then, wherever you can find a hotel, there are no worries about halting for the night.
So, either of these options works well. Pick one that fits your plan and your budget.
The Iceland Ring Road trip is one of those road trips you won’t be able to stop boasting about for the rest of your life. Just do your research, plan your itinerary, and you are good to go. Pack well because it can get cold in Iceland, even during summers, and drive safe. You can thank us later for the recommendations!