Free to use Iceland Ring Road Plan

Your free-to-use Iceland Ring Road Guide

One of the most popular road trips in the world is the Iceland ring road. Its popularity is no coincidence. In a short time, you can see some of the most incredible scenery and get to know one of the most beautiful countries on the planet. I have created this free Iceland Ring Road plan for you with suggestions for tours and activities. By subscribing to my newsletter here below👇🏼, you can save on renting a car or camper van rental. Additionally, you will receive discount codes for tours and activities all over Iceland. Since the demand for hotel rooms and accommodation is heavy, I recommend you book early.

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Mt. Lómagnúpur is one of the wonderful sights you see with the free to use Iceland ring road plan
Mt. Lómagnúpur is one of the wonderful sights you see with the free to use Iceland ring road plan

Map of the Iceland ring road road trip plan

Part 1 of the free-to-use Iceland ring road plan – Start at Keflavik International Airport and head to Reykjavik

Most people pick up their rented car at Keflavik airport and then drive to Reykjavik. If you need to take a bus from the airport to pick you your vehicle, sign up for the Stuck in Iceland newsletter to receive a discount code for tickets for the Airport Direct bus service.

About Reykjavik

Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, is home to the world’s oldest parliament and offers beautiful views of mountains and the ocean. Reykjavik and its satellite towns are essentially Iceland; after all, 2/3 of the country’s population lives there. Don’t miss the main street, Laugavegur, known for its shops and cafes. I would also take care not to miss the adjacent Skólavörðustígur road, which also has a lot of great design shops. If you are into architecture and culture, you want to check out the impressive Harpa concert and conference center downtown.

Save on tours and activities in Reykjavk

Sign up now for the free and exclusive newsletter to unlock special discounts on the following activities in Reykjavik with my esteemed travel partners:

Quick tips for things to do in Reykjavik

Sign up for the free and exclusive Stuck in Iceland newsletter to save on the following activities in Reykjavik with my great travel partners partners:

Partners for indoor activities in Reykjavik

Partners for outdoor activities in Reykjavik

Even more activities in Reykjavik!

There is also a great selection of Reykjavik tours.

The Harpa in Reykjavik. Photo by Laila Gebhard on UnsplashYou will be spoilt for choice of tours, restaurants and cafés. One recent feature of Reykjavik is its bustling food halls. Check out the food halls at Hlemmur and the more upmarket Hafnartorg Gallery.

Grótta lighthouse looking pretty great.
Grótta lighthouse is looking pretty great.

Check out my section on Reykjavik; Reykjavik is a family-friendly city with many great places and activities.

Quick tips for things to do in Reykjavik

There is also a great selection of Reykjavik tours.

Part 2 – see the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is the most popular area to visit in Iceland, and for a good reason. This area has many of Iceland´s trademark attractions, such as the Gullfoss waterfall, the geyser field at Haukadalur, and the historic and beautiful site of Thingvellir.

One of the highlights of the Diamond Circle itinerary is Dettifoss waterfall. It in the Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland. It is the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
One of the highlights of the Diamond Circle itinerary is the Dettifoss waterfall. It is in the Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland. It is the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

There are many Golden Circle tours available.

 

Part 3 of your ring road trip- Head towards the village of Vík and explore the South Coast of Iceland

Drive towards the village of Vík. This is a day for beautiful waterfalls, the famous black beach, and the Dyrholaey promontory. Check out the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss, its hidden neighbors Gljúfrabúi, Kvernufoss,  and of course, the well-known Skogafoss.

This is just one example of the scenery which can be enjoyed on Icelandic road trips: Reynisfjara Beach near the village of Vík.
This is just one example of the scenery which can be enjoyed on Icelandic road trips: Reynisfjara Beach near the village of Vík.

After that, it is Reynisfjara, AKA the black beach with the Reynisdrangar sea stacks. You get a lovely view of both from the Dyrholey promontory. Remember to be careful when you are on the beach and the promontory. I would check out my partners at Katlatrack, who run many tours near Vík. You should also stop at the Icelandic Lava Show and see the only exhibition that features flowing lava indoors.

Now we can all go for a tandem paragliding adventure in Vík.
Now we can all go for a tandem paragliding adventure in Vík.

Finally, you can join my partners, True Adventure, who have a Zipline and offer paragliding tours in Vík.

There are many tours available for the south of Iceland.

Part 4 – Head to towards Klaustur (Kirkjubæjarklaustur) village

When you are done exploring Vík, you can head up to the fantastic canyon of Fjaðrargljufur (try to say that after a couple of pints!).

The massive Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon should be a part of your South Iceland Itinerary.
The massive Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon should be a part of your South Iceland Itinerary.

It will take you an hour to drive there. This incredible canyon is probably one of the most photogenic places in Iceland. Just be careful on the edge, as in some places canyon is more than a hundred meters deep. Fjaðrargljufur Canyon is close to the village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur. The scenery there is just beautiful. If you stay there overnight, I suggest you check out the steep rocky hill of Systrastapi and the Systrafoss waterfall. Both of these are connected to the medieval convent which Kirkjubæjarklaustur is named after.

Part 4 – Head to the town of Höfn via the Glacier Lagoon and the Diamond Beach

Since you have come this far, you must check out the Skaftafell national park. Hike to the beautiful Svartifoss waterfall and admire the majesty of Vatnajokull glacier and its highest peak ´Hvannadalshnjukur.´

Mt. Hvannadalshnjukur, the highest peak in Iceland seen from the Hrutfjallstindar peaks
Mt. Hvannadalshnjukur, the highest peak in Iceland, is seen from the Hrutfjallstindar peaks.

On your way, you can stop at the beautiful Fjallsárlón glacial lagoon. A boat ride on the lagoon is great fun. I also recommend two great hotels to those who like class and comfort. These are the Vatnajokull Fosshotel and the Fosshotel Glacier Hotel. And there is another lagoon not far away. This is the world-famous glacial lagoon called Jökulsárlón. I recommend going on a boat trip on the water so you can get a close look at those majestic icebergs floating on the water

The Amazing Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Photo by Martin Schulz.
The Amazing Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Photo by Martin Schulz.

You will hear the rumble of giant icebergs breaking off the main crawling glacier in this distance. Don´t forget to cross the highway and go to the legendary ´Diamond Beach.´

The diamond beach across the road from the glacial lagoon on the south coast of Iceland.
The diamond beach is across the road from the glacial lagoon on the south coast of Iceland.

Visit the town of Höfn. It has a surprising number of great restaurants. Don´t leave town without tasting the L’angoustine!

Part 4 – Head to Egilsstaðir

On this part of the trip, you will see the oldest part of Iceland. The landscape is rugged, the roads are steep, and many beautiful fishing villages are along the way.

Vök baths in Iceland seen from the air
Just look at that design.

Stay overnight in the town of Egilsstadir. It is a relatively short drive from that town to the world-famous Stuðlagil Canyon. It is a must-see destination. The spa Vök Baths is also an essential stop.

Stuðlagil canyon in Iceland
The magnificent Stuðlagil canyon.

Part 5 – Towards the biggest waterfall in Iceland and the town of Akureyri

Dettifoss is a beast of a waterfall 

You should start at my favorite place on the Diamond Circle route. This is the incredible, massive, thunderous Dettifoss Waterfall. It is an absolute beast; it is 44 meters (over 144 feet) high and 100 meters (328 feet) wide. It resides in the massive Jökulsárgljúfur canyon and upriver, some 10 – the 15-minute walk is its neighboring waterfall, Selfoss. I recommend not missing that one.

One of the highlights of the Diamond Circle itinerary is Dettifoss waterfall. It in the Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland. It is the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
One of the highlights of the Diamond Circle itinerary is the Dettifoss waterfall. It is in the Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland. It is the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

Selfoss waterfall is much smaller but has lovely basalt columns around it. Too often, people go much too close to the edge of the Dettifoss waterfall, probably for that perfect Instagram picture. It suffices to say that you won’t take any more pictures if you slip into the gorge.

The Beautiful Lake Mývatn

The next stop on the Diamond Circle is Lake Mývatn. The lake is teeming with birdlife. It holds the world record for the number of duck species gathered in one place. This wonderful lake is a bonanza for bird watchers. The lava formations in and around the lake are also a joy to look at. By all means, check out Mt. Námafjall and the bubbling pools there. This is a testament to the high volcanic activity in this area. As a little boy, I grew up in the town of Akureyri. I remember vividly being frightened by an orange glow in the east from eruptions near Lake Mývatn. My fear subsided when the adults told me that the lava flow could not reach Akureyri.

Dimmuborgir

I recommend spending time at Dimmuborgir—this labyrinth of stunning rock formations and caves created by hot lava flow over a marshy area.

Kirkjan at the Dimmuborgir lava field.
Kirkjan or the ‘Church’ at the Dimmuborgir lava field.

Námaskarð pass

Experience the Martian-like terrain with striking colors, boiling mud pools, and the characteristic Sulphur stench. Walk marked paths and sense Iceland with all the senses!

Myvatn baths

Nice day at the Lake Myvatn Nature baths.
Nice day at the Lake Myvatn Nature baths.

I highly recommend visiting the Mývatn Nature Baths and soaking in the geothermally heated water there. You can also get supplies, food, fuel, and accommodation in the small town there.

The Waterfall of the Gods

Godafoss derives its name from the legend of Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði. He was the chieftain who decreed that Icelanders should adopt Christianity at the Althingi parliament at Thingvellir in 1000 AD. The legend is that Þorgeir threw his pagan idols into the waterfall, and thus the waterfall got its name.

Goðafoss waterfall is located in the Bárðardalur valley in the North-Central Iceland.
Goðafoss waterfall is located in the Bárðardalur Valley in North-Central Iceland.

The role of Þorgeir in adopting Christianity is recorded in the Book of the Icelanders (Íslendingabók), but the book says nothing about him dumping anything in the waterfall. But the waterfall is so beautiful that it deserves a divine name nevertheless. And it certainly deserves to be part of this Iceland Ring Road plan. If you can, fit in a visit to the stunning Aldeyjarfoss waterfall.

Aldeyjarfoss waterfall in north east Iceland.
Aldeyjarfoss waterfall has the best basalt columns!

Húsavík

The northeastern town of Húsavík has probably the best whale watching in the Iceland. Join my partners at Northsailing and see the giants of the sea in the bay of Skjálfandi.

A lucky traveler sees a humpback whale emerge from the deep.
A lucky traveler sees a humpback whale emerge from the deep.

Also make sure you dip into the wonderful Geosea baths where the view of the mountains and sea is just breathtaking.

Chilling out in the GeoSea baths in Húsavík.
Chilling out in the GeoSea baths in Húsavík.

Akureyri, the capital of the north of Iceland

Don´t forget to allocate time to discover the town of Akureyri. It is my hometown, and I can vouch for its niceness. I recommend that you stay at Hótel Kjarnalundur. My brother and sister, Hildur and Guðjón, run it. Rember to say hello from Jón! Hikers can endeavor to hike up Mt. Kaldbakur. It is a great mountain to conquer.

The attractions of Akureyri

Additionally, Akureyri has attractions like its beautiful Akureyrarkirkja church, its historic Old Town, the world’s northernmost botanical garden, Kjarnaskógur forest, and the town’s ski resort. Museums and exhibitions in Akureyri include the quaint Christmas House, the Aviation Museum, the moving Museum of Tuberculosis in Iceland, and more.

Akureyri church.
Akureyri church.

Perhaps the most authentic Akureyri experience is to have ice cream at the Brynja ice cream shop. Finally, I have to recommend the latest attraction in Akureyri, the wonderful Forest Lagoon

The Akureyri swimming pool is nice. Photo credit: Visit Akureyri.
The Akureyri swimming pool is nice. Photo credit: Visit Akureyri.

Part 6 – Head back to Reykjavik

Skagafjörður fjord

This historically significant district is abundant with Icelandic horses; it has the ancient turf farmhouse at Glaumbær, an excellent example of the Icelandic 1% used to live. Don’t believe for a second that ‘regular’ Icelandic peasants of yore lived in such fancy housing. They would be cramped and buried in damp, leaky, stuffy, smelly, smokey, dirty turf huts. 

Outlaws and civil war

Skagafjörður also has the mysterious island of Drangey, which is connected with the legend of the saga outlaw character Grettir. The pool of Grettislaug is also a part of the legend of Grettir, a naturally warmed pool by the sea. In the town of Sauðarkrókur is the 1238 Battle of Iceland exhibition, themed around the civil war that tore Icelandic society to pieces in the middle ages. Finally, it is worth pointing out the wonderful Lýtingsstaðir, where the friend of Stuck in Iceland and farmer Evelyn Ýr welcomes travelers.

Detour: Reykholt and its neighborhood

A good detour is to visit Reykholt, once home to Snorri Sturluson, a 13th-century writer and politician assassinated in his basement by agents of the Norwegian King. He is often mentioned as the likely author of the Icelandic sagas

Waterfalls galore near Reykholt

Nearby are the Hraunfossar waterfall and Barnafoss, which has a grim story attached to it. Brúarfoss waterfall is also a stunningly beautiful place which I recommend you see.

Deildartunguhver hot spring,  Krauma baths and Háafell goat farm

Also close to Reykholt is the largest hot spring in Europe called Deildartunguhver. Krauma baths are next to the hot spring and are great places to soak and relax. Also close to Reykholt is the wonderful Háafell goat farm. This is where the Icelandic goat was rescued from extinction. 

Icelandic goat perched on a tire
The magnificent Snjólfur is a fine specimen of the Icelandic goat. Photo credit:
Ragnhildur Helgadóttir

If you have indeed made this detour and want more Icelandic history, consider visiting the’s ancient bishopric of Skálholt.

Important! Stay safe when driving in Iceland!

Icelandic roads are narrower than roads in Europe so keep your speed down and your eyes open.

NEVER, EVER STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD TO PHOTOGRAPH SOMETHING.

If you are renting a car for use in winter please consider renting a 4×4 vehicle. When driving in Iceland in winter the car and yourself must be ready to handle slippery roads, snow, darkness, low (or zero) visibility heavy rain, gale-force winds, and frost.

Always follow the weather forecast and be mindful of road conditions. Go on the site www.sitetravel.is, study and follow the advice given there.

 

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