We have done this trip to Iceland twice because we loved it so much and it truly is a magical place no matter how many times you go.
Fly into Keflavik Airport which is about 30-40 mins outside of Reykjavik. Rent a car for your Icelandic Road Trip. We used Sixt car rental.
Note: If you don’t have a long time in Iceland, maybe consider booking your Blue Lagoon tickets for the same day you arrive. The Blue Lagoon is very close to the airport and a great place to relax after a long flight!
Reykjavik: 3 Nights
Center Hotel Plaza is a great affordable option at the end of the main strip in Reykjavik, but still within walking distance to everything. Breakfast was included with our room.
Center Hotel Thingholt is right in the middle of the main shopping and restaurant area. It is a boutique hotel and pricier than the Center Hotel Plaza. It is also a quieter hotel since it is smaller.
Note: Hotels in Reykjavik do not have designated parking for their guests so you will have to find a spot to park on your own. The best thing to do is drop one person off at the door with all the luggage and ask the concierge for a parking recommendation. They do have free parking lots in the city.
Get settled in, recover from jet lag, shop, eat and see the sites in Reykjavik and make sure and save a day for the Blue Lagoon and for visiting Gullfoss in Thingvellir National Park.
On the Way to Vik:
Make a quick stop at Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi then make a quick drive down the road to Skógafoss.
Optional Add-On: If you have time and the will to hike 2 miles round-trip, then take a break at the Seljavallalaug Hot Spring.
Vik: 2 Nights
Hotel: Hótel Kría
Take a day trip to the Eldhraun Lava Fields and Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon then end the day chilling on the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.
Wake up early and head to the Fjallsárlón Glacier View for some quick pictures then go to a boat tour at the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
Optional Add-On: Our first trip we did a glacier hike in Skaftafell with Icelandic Mountain Guides then on our second trip we did a glacier boat tour instead of a glacier hike using the company Glacier Lagoon.
Before you leave Jökulsárlón, walk across the street to Diamond Beach for one-of-a-kind photos. From there, head on to Fáskrúðsfjörður while stopping along the way to eat Langoustines in Höfn, take photos of Vestrahorn Mountain, and walk the Stokksnes Beach. Although this was one of the longest drives of our trip, it was one of the most beautiful drives we have ever taken out of all of our road trips around the world!
Fáskrúðsfjörður: 2 Nights
Hotel: Fosshotel East Fjords (Our favorite hotel of the trip)
We spent two nights here to give us one whole day to sleep in, relax at the hotel, repack, and take in the beautiful hotel views. Sometimes you just have to slow down a bit and take in your surroundings.
Head out to Húsavík.
Optional Add-On: Take a 1 hour round-trip detour to the beautiful mountain town of Seyðisfjarðarkirkja to see Gufufoss and the famous rainbow walkway that runs through the town.
On the Way to Húsavík:
Make a stop on your way to Húsavík at the amazingly powerful Dettifoss. You can also take a small hike southward of Dettifoss to see the smaller Selfoss or northward for Hafragilsfoss.
Note: There are frequent road closures here during the Fall and Winter seasons due to freezing rain or snow so be advised of road conditions using this handy website. Also, you have to decide beforehand which side of Dettifoss you would to see because once you choose a a side, it’ll be a 1 hour round-trip journey to go back out and see the other side. Highway 864 will give you the full view of the waterfall while the Highway 862 view will give you the closest view.
Husavik: 2 Nights
Hotel: Fosshotel Husavik
Plan a whale watching trip for the next morning with North Sailing Company.
Note: You must book in advance.
On the Way to Akureyri:
Make a quick stop at the incredible “Waterfall of the Gods” called Goðafoss.
Akureyri: 1 Night
Really cute town with LOTS of great shopping!! Great place to refresh and take a nice stroll around town.
Hotel: Icelandair Hotel Akureyri
Hellnar: 1 Night
Perfect place to stay a couple nights if you can. It’s very isolated and the hotel is steps away from the ocean and the beautiful Arnarstapi Cliffs. This is also a great place to try to catch the Northern Lights!
Hotel: Fosshotel Hellnar
Reykjavik: 1 Night
We recommend coming back to Reykjavik for one night just to repack, relax, and to be closer to the airport for the flight out the next day.
Fly home out of Keflavik Airport.
TOTAL NIGHTS: 12 Nights
You can do this trip in as fast as 1 week (we did that our first trip to Iceland). We have found that 12-14 days is a good amount of time to see the island and to take it all in without feeling rushed.
We have done the ring road in a very very small two door car and also a 4x4 Subaru XV and the 4x4 was by far more comfortable because the road to Dettifoss is a very rough ride. If you can, we recommend renting a 4x4 especially if you are traveling in the winter months or the months transitioning to and from winter (April/May or Sep/Oct). The weather can change in an instant and you will be glad that you have the extra traction and lift on your car.
Iceland offers you tax free shopping on items over 6,000 ISK. You have to ask for a tax refund form from the merchant. The merchant will fill out one part and then you fill out the other before arriving at the airport for your flight back home. Save all of your tags on your items and their corresponding receipts together. You may be asked to show tags or the actual items at the tax refund counter. We found that it is much easier to already have the tags with the matching receipts in advance so that you do not have to dig through your luggage to find the items.
GO TO THE TAX FREE COUNTER BEFORE CHECKING YOUR BAGS. You need to do this before so that if you do have to show an item you can open your luggage and get it out. You will need to allow AT LEAST an extra hour for this process because the line can be very long.
Airbnb’s in Iceland are usually booked months if not years in advance. We don’t normally plan a trip for more than a few month in advance so they were all booked up when we went.
The Ring Road. This is the main road that goes around the entire island. Our Google Map follows that route for most of the trip with little detours along the way, but that is the road you will follow all the way around the island which makes this trip a breeze.
GET GAS BEFORE YOU NEED IT. Don’t just assume you can make it to the next town. The towns are few and far between and there were many times on our trip where we didn’t pass another car for 100 miles. It is an amazing drive, but not if there is no civilization in sight and the gas light is on LOL.