Go off the beaten path on a road trip through Iceland's remote and rugged landscapes. Over 14 days during the pleasant summer months, you'll drive from Reykjavík up the scenic west coast, visiting national parks, fjords, waterfalls, geothermal areas, and more. Then continue to Iceland's east and south, where you'll go whale watching, explore lava caves, and soak in the famous Blue Lagoon.

Highlights

  • Discover delicious Icelandic cuisine on a food tour in Reykjavík
  • Snap Instagram-worthy pics as you drive along the famous Golden Circle
  • Explore ice caves, lava tubes, and glaciers 
  • Visit fishing villages and shipwrecks, and go whale watching
  • Marvel at natural wonders like waterfalls and soak in the Blue Lagoon

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Iceland, Reykjavík City Tour & Culinary Delights Reykjavík
Day 2 Drive to Hella via the Golden Circle: National Parks, Geysers & Waterfalls Hella
Day 3 Day Trip to Highlands, Waterfalls & Hot Springs Hella
Day 4 Drive to Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Waterfalls, Coast & Ice Caves Kirkjubæjarklaustur
Day 5 Drive to Höfn, Canyons, Glaciers & Diamond Beach Höfn
Day 6 Drive to Egilsstaðir, Stop at Fishing Villages Egilsstadir
Day 7 Drive to Lake Mývatn, Visit Waterfalls, Canyons & Caves  Lake Mývatn
Day 8 Drive to Hvammstangi, Whale Watching & Hvítserkur Hvammstangi
Day 9 Drive to Ísafjörður, Visit the Arctic Fox Center Ísafjörður
Day 10 Drive to Bildudalur, Westfjords Tour & Dynjandi Waterfall Bildudalur
Day 11 Drive to Stykkisholmur, Shipwreck & Látrabjarg Cliffs Stykkisholmur
Day 12 Snæfellsnes Peninsula Beaches, Waterfalls & Villages Húsafell
Day 13 Drive to Reykjavík, Lava Cave & Waterfalls Reykjavík
Day 14 Visit the Blue Lagoon, Depart Iceland  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Iceland, Reykjavík City Tour & Culinary Delights

View of downtown Reykjavík from the Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran church

Welcome to Iceland! This volcanic nation near the Arctic Circle has a rich history dating back over 1,000 years to the days of the Vikings. The country has more than earned its nickname, "Land of Fire and Ice," as you'll find marvels of geology everywhere, including volcanoes, glaciers, natural hot springs, and more.

You'll see Iceland's wonders soon enough—the first order of business on arrival is a city tour. After transferring to your hotel in the capital of Reykjavík, you'll meet your local guide and hit the streets. Pass through the colorful downtown, which abounds with street art and cool bars, on your way to the waterfront. There, you'll see the Sun Voyager dreamboat sculpture and the gleaming Harpa Concert Hall. You certainly don't want to miss Hallgrimskirkja, Iceland's tallest church, which sits on a hill overlooking downtown. If you like, you can also head to the harbor and join a whale watching tour.

Later, you'll embark on a different kind of excursion entirely—a gastronomic journey through Reykjavík. Discover everything from traditional Icelandic cuisine to innovative fusion dishes on this well-rounded foodie tour. Highlights include stopping at Fiskmarkaðurinn (The Fish Market) to try fresh seafood, enjoying gourmet cuisine in chic eateries, and sampling old family recipes like lamb soup and pancakes rolled with sugar. 

Day 2: Drive to Hella via the Golden Circle: National Parks, Geysers & Waterfalls

Gullfoss is one of the most powerful waterfalls in Iceland

Pick up your rental car after breakfast and head southeast on Route 1 (Ring Road) out of Reykjavík for a drive along the famous Golden Circle. This 190-mile (300 km) route features some of southern Iceland's most popular natural attractions. First up is Þingvellir National Park, home to many natural wonders. One highlight is the Silfra Fissure, a rift located in a crystalline lake on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It's the only place in the world where you can dive between two continents. Also here is Brúarárfoss, a small waterfall on the Brúará River whose rushing cascades are a vivid ice blue.

Next is the Geysir geothermal area. With its bubbling mud pits, steam vents, and erupting geysers, this is one of the most impressive geothermal zones in the country. The geyser is rarely active these days but can reach up to 230 feet (70 m) when it does erupt. However, the area, which covers much of the Haukadalur Valley, is also home to the Strokkur Geyser, which erupts like clockwork every 5-10 minutes and can reach up to 130 feet (40 m).

Then, it's on to Gullfoss, one of Iceland's most impressive waterfalls. You can follow trails to the top of the falls or view them above the canyon's edge. Another highlight is Kerið Kerið, a 180-foot (55 m) volcanic crater lake whose steep slopes resemble an ancient amphitheater. Cap the day with a visit to the Secret Lagoon. Created in 1891 in the Hverahólmi geothermal area, this is the oldest human-made swimming pool in Iceland, with water remaining between 86°F-104°F (38°C-40°C) year-round. After enjoying the lagoon, continue to the nearby town of Hella, where you'll overnight.

Day 3: Day Trip to Highlands, Waterfalls & Hot Springs

Explore the highland mountains and canyons of Landmannalaugar

Today, you'll venture off the tourist trail and visit some incredible landmarks in and around the country's highlands. One major landmark is Hjálparfoss, a beautiful waterfall in the Thjorsa Valley whose double cascades point toward each other and appear as mirror images.

Nearby is Gjáin, known as the "Oasis of the Highlands." This area is famous among locals for its stunning landscapes, which include green valleys, trickling streams, moss-covered rocks, wildflower-dotted fields, and romantic waterfalls. It's a great place to stop for a brisk hike, as is Háifoss, a dramatic waterfall in the area that plunges 400 feet (122 m) over a cliff. 

Another area you'll visit in the highlands is Landmannalaugar. This region is famous for its multicolored mountains, volcanic terrain, and geothermal landscapes, including hot springs, steam vents, and bubbling mud pools. End the day with a soak in one of the natural springs here, which are geothermally heated and surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. Afterward, you'll return to Hella and your hotel.

Day 4: Drive to Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Waterfalls, Coast & Ice Caves

Skogafoss
See if you can find the Viking treasure hidden at the Skógafoss waterfall

Continue south this morning on Route 1 to the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. The drive takes a little over two hours, but you'll stop at a few dazzling landmarks on the way. One example is Seljalandsfoss, a romantic waterfall that plunges 200 feet (60 m) into a lagoon. Next up is Skógarfoss, a thundering waterfall cascading 200 feet (60 m) over a cliff into the Skógá River. According to local legend, a Viking hid a treasure chest behind these falls, and it has yet to be found. On the coast near the town of Vík is Reynisfjara, a beach famous for huge hexagonal rock formations rising up out of the sand. 

Just north of Vík, you'll immerse yourself in the wonders of the Katla UNESCO Geopark, the first such designated area in Iceland. You'll arrive near a glacier in the geopark, where you'll meet an expert guide and prepare for an ice-caving adventure. After receiving your equipment and going over safety protocols, you'll enter the cave and explore shimmering walls and vast chasms of ice for an hour or two. 

Then, from Katla, continue south to the coast and Dyrhólaey, a massive rock promontory and natural arch home to colonies of puffins. You can stop to admire the panoramic clifftop views looking out to the ocean, plus the arch is one of the most photographed coastal features in Iceland. Afterward, continue to Kirkjubæjarklaustur, check into your hotel, and enjoy dinner at a cozy restaurant in town.

Day 5: Drive to Höfn, Canyons, Glaciers & Diamond Beach

Visit southern Iceland's most unique landscapes, like the Fjaðrárgljúfur river canyon

After breakfast, continue on Route 1 up the southeast coast from Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon. The drive takes 1.5 hours, but you'll stop on the way to hike around natural attractions, like the otherworldly rock formations of the Fjaðrárgljúfur river canyon. A couple of famous waterfalls are on the way, too, including Skaftafell and Svartifoss. The latter plunges 65 feet (20 m) over basalt cliffs and is accessible via a scenic 3-mile (5 km) trail.

Later, you'll visit the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, an outlet glacier extending from Vatnajökull, which at 3,130 square miles (8,100 sq km) is Europe's largest glacier. Except you won't merely be admiring it from afar—you'll strap on crampons, grab an ice ax, and hike across its surface. Upon arrival, meet your guide and receive your equipment and a safety demonstration. Then, step onto the ice and enjoy a walk over what seems like an alien planet. The scenery on this three-hour excursion is spectacular, as you'll pass ice formations, glacial ridges, and deep crevasses.

Afterward, head back to the coast and Diamond Beach. This black-sand beach is famous for the iceberg fragments that drift ashore from the lagoon and which gleam like diamonds in the sunlight. Enjoy a stroll on the beach, then continue the drive about an hour up the coast to your hotel in Höfn, a charming fishing village on a narrow peninsula. 

Day 6: Drive to Egilsstaðir, Stop at Fishing Villages

Travel by coastal mountains and stop at fjord-side villages in the Eastfjords

Today, you'll venture into the heart of the remote and untamed Eastfjords on your way to Egilsstaðir, the main town in the region. The route is a real treat, as few tourists see the east side of Iceland, which boasts a ruggedly beautiful coastline, vast fjords, charming fishing villages, and a rich history. For example, on today's drive you'll visit one of Iceland's first-ever settlement farms near Höfn. Other highlights you'll pass include Hvalnes, a village with a black-pebble beach backed by soaring mountains.

As you continue driving up the coast, you'll have the freedom to make more stops to snap photos, do some hiking, or possibly even a horseback ride or boat trip. Another fun stop is at Breiddalsvik, which sits on a cove of the same name. It's a great place to stop for lunch and try regional cuisine like locally-raised reindeer and fjord-fresh seafood. A little ways north lies the town of Fáskrúðsfjörður. If you like, you can stop here and learn about the 19th-century French fisherman who first settled the area. 

Eventually, you'll arrive in Egilsstaðir, which claims a population of around 3,000 people. After checking in to your hotel, you can spend the rest of the day exploring the area. Egilsstaðir is a great hub for exploration—on its doorstep is Lagarfljót, a lake that may or may not be home to a monster, plus scenic hiking trails and roads leading to neighboring fjords, forests, highland farms, waterfalls, and open valleys. Right outside town are the Vök Baths, geothermal pools where you can relax after a day of hiking.

Day 7: Drive to Lake Mývatn, Visit Waterfalls, Canyons & Caves 

Dettifoss is one of Iceland's most famous falls, as well as the most powerful in Europe
Plan your trip to Iceland
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Continue the adventure on a drive to the far north of Iceland and the geothermal wonderland at Lake Mývatn. There will be plenty of stops along the way, including at Stuðlagil Canyon, a stunning blue glacial river that flows between sheer walls of polygonal basalt columns. Here you can take a brief hike to an observation platform to snap photos and enjoy panoramic canyon views.

Another highlight of the region is Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall. This cascade is 144 feet (44 m) high, and 330 feet (100 m) wide, and its thundering water can be heard from afar. You'll also stop at Ásbyrgi, a forested glacial canyon. It's accessible via a network of hiking trails leading to viewpoints where you can marvel at this vast gorge's unique horseshoe shape.

Later, explore some more of the area's top sites, including the mud pools and steaming sulfuric vents at Hverir. Next up is Grjótagjá cave, filled with a crystal-clear azure hot spring made famous as a romantic setting in the HBO series "Game of Thrones." Eventually, you'll arrive in the town at Lake Mývatn. If you like, end the day with another soak, this time at the Mývatn Nature Baths, a series of geothermally heated pools and steam baths. 

Day 8: Drive to Hvammstangi, Whale Watching & Hvítserkur

The rock formation Hvítserkur is supposedly the remnants of an ancient troll

An hour's drive west takes you to Akureyri, Iceland's second-largest city with a population of around 18,000. Once here, you'll head to the harbor and board a boat for a three-hour whale watching tour to spot the humpback whales that congregate in the Eyjafjord.

Later, continue to Skagafjörður, home to one of Iceland's most iconic human-made sites: the Víðimýrarkirkja Turf Church. Turf structures are symbolic of historic Icelandic architecture, as they were constructed with traditional materials, featuring turf walls, timber framework, and a wooden roof. Víðimýrarkirkja stands out because it dates to 1834, making it one of the last turf churches to be constructed in Iceland.

After visiting the waterfalls at Kolugljúfur canyon, you'll travel up the Vatnsnes Peninsula to Hvítserkur, an enormous rock formation rising out of the water off the coast. According to legend, the rock is actually a troll that was caught in the sun and turned into stone. This area is also home to one of the largest seal colonies in Iceland, so don't forget your camera. Later, you'll continue to Hvammstangi, a fishing village on the Vatnsnes Peninsula, where you'll overnight.

Day 9: Drive to Ísafjörður, Visit the Arctic Fox Center

Ísafjörður is known for its soaring mountains, hiking trails, exotic wildlife, and villages

Leave Hvammstangi after breakfast and continue road-tripping up northwest Iceland for about two hours to the fishing town of Hólmavík. You're now officially in the Westfjords, another remote Icelandic region defined by its wild, unspoiled beauty. The town is located on the Steingrímsfjördur fjord and offers a few fun activities. Fans of the occult will love the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft. It recounts the history of the craft and the witch craze that swept Iceland in the 17th century.

After Hólmavík, continue north to the Ísafjarðardjúp fjord and the historic fishing village of Ísafjörður. On the way, you'll stop again in the town of Súðavík at the Arctic Fox Center. This research center features exhibits on the history of the arctic fox and even rehabilitates orphaned foxes.

Later, you'll arrive in Ísafjörður and check into your hotel. With the rest of the day free, you can explore on your own. Perhaps go hiking in the table mountains surrounding the town, or hit the water with a kayak ride on the fjord. You can also walk around Ísafjörður's well-preserved town center and visit the Maritime Museum to learn about the region's seafaring history. The area is also known for its wildlife, and here you can often spot puffin colonies along hiking trails, seals on the coast, and whales breaching the waters.

Day 10: Drive to Bildudalur, Westfjords Tour & Dynjandi Waterfall

Hike to the bottom of the massive Dynjandi waterfall and enjoy a picnic lunch

You're in for a treat, as this morning you'll head out on a scenic drive through the Westfjords, passing fjordside fishing villages and settlements like Suðureyri, Flateyri, and Þingeyri. The first major stop of the day is at Dynjandi Falls. These cascades plunge 330 feet (100 m) down a rocky mountain to the Arnarfjörður fjord below. The falls are the widest at their base (197 ft/ 60 m), and in this area are a few smaller waterfalls that are nice spots for a picnic lunch.

After relaxing at the falls and snapping photos, you'll get back on the road for another hour or so. The route will eventually lead you to the village of Bildudalur. Interestingly, this small town is a regional hub for fish farming, plus it has a vibrant music culture. Locals host a yearly folk festival and an Icelandic music memorabilia exhibition. Upon arrival in Bildudalur, you'll check into your hotel and have the rest of the day free.

Day 11: Drive to Stykkisholmur, Shipwreck & Látrabjarg Cliffs

Enjoy a hike around Iceland's soaring sea cliffs on the Látrabjarg promontory

In the morning, you'll continue your journey into the far south of the Westfjords. Here, you'll be treated to more natural splendor as well as some interesting human-made landmarks. One of the most prominent is the Garðar BA 64 shipwreck, which is Iceland's oldest steel ship.

Continue to the southwest tip of the Westfjords and the soaring cliffs of Látrabjarg. Besides great ocean views, this part of Iceland is significant because it marks Europe's westernmost point. These cliffs are also the habitat for millions of seabirds like puffins, razorbills, fulmars, and guillemots. 

From there, make your way to Brjánslækur, where you'll board a ferry that will take you across the Breiðafjörður fjord to the Stykkisholmur, a beautiful town on the north side of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, famous for its rugged sea cliffs, unique rock formations, and waterfalls. You're now officially back in western Iceland, and you'll spend the night in town.

Day 12: Snæfellsnes Peninsula Beaches, Waterfalls & Villages

Tour highlights of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, like Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall

You'll have the morning free to explore the highlights of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Head first to the southwest and Lóndrangar. The unique lava rock formations and coastal sea cliffs here are actually the remains of a volcanic crater that the sea has shaped over time. Its most famous landmarks are two incredible rock pillars, which rise as high as 246 feet (75 m). The peninsula's visitor center is farther up the road, where you can learn more about this area's volcanic system.

A short drive up the coast is Djupalonsandur. This beach is also dotted with towering rock formations, but its volcanic black sands are the real star. It claims an interesting history in the form of a shipwreck from 1948, and back in the Middle Ages, the area was a prominent fishing village. Left on the beach from that era are four stones of various sizes that sea captains used to test the strength of potential sailors.

One of the day's highlights is a visit to the three-tiered waterfall of Kirkjufellsfoss, which is backed by the rounded peak of Mount Kirkjufell and was featured in "Game of Thrones." You'll also want to make a quick detour to the Saxholar crater, where you can stretch your legs with a walk up the stairs that take you right to the top of the crater and great views of the countryside. At the end of the afternoon, return to your hotel in Stykkisholmur.

Day 13: Drive to Reykjavík, Lava Cave & Waterfalls

Lava Cave Explorer Tour
The Víðgelmir lava tube is the largest lava cave in Iceland

Say goodbye to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and head south back to Reykjavík in the morning. The drive takes about two hours, but you'll enjoy some memorable excursions along the way. Near the village of Húsafell is the Víðgelmir lava tube. With a length of approximately 5,184 feet (1,580 m), this is the largest lava cave in Iceland. During a 1.5-hour guided tour, you'll enter the tube and witness the vivid colors and unusual rock formations within this geologic marvel, which was created by molten lava over 1,000 years ago.

Later, stop at the village of Reykholt, which is located near the Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls. Also here is Deildartunguhver, Europe's most powerful hot spring. After some time to enjoy the village and hot spring, you'll continue to Reykjavík and check into your hotel.

Day 14: Visit the Blue Lagoon, Depart Iceland

Spend your last day in Iceland soaking in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon

The adventure isn't over yet! Wake up early on your departure day and drive 45 minutes back toward the airport and the Reykjanes Peninsula. The geothermal fields here are the site of Iceland's most famous destination: the Blue Lagoon. During a visit before your flight, you'll soak in its milky blue waters, which hover around a luxurious 98-104°F (37-40°C). The water is rich in mineral content and, combined with its algae and silica, offers myriad health benefits, including as a psoriasis treatment.

After the Blue Lagoon, if there's still time, you can visit other locales in the area, like Reykjanesviti, the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, which was built in 1878. Nearby is a footbridge over a fissure separating the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. A walk across it means you're taking a stroll between two continents. Later, continue to the airport, drop off your car, and catch your flight home. Bless!

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Map

Map of Iceland Summer Ring Road Adventure - 14 Days
Map of Iceland Summer Ring Road Adventure - 14 Days