Icelandic Road Trip Ideas: Stops, Activities, and Unique Stays

Icelandic road trip, namafjall

Namafjall by

I was reminiscing about my incredible time hitchhiking and Couchsurfing Iceland on my 6-day stopover en-route to Puerto Rico from Morocco in 2009. The eerie geography, outworldly landscapes, and relatively-easy way to get around captured my attention. Then, it dawned on me–my next visit has to involve an Icelandic road trip.

In fact, I should come up with my own Iceland self drive tour!

Everything from camping to dropping by unique guesthouses to even crashing a local couch or two all over again. Season? The summer, in order to see those stunning frozen landscapes in vibrant greens under the intriguing midnight sun.

But…where to go?!

There’s so much ground I was unable to cover on my first trip there. Moreover, there are dozens of other unique activities I would like to include in my itinerary. So! To narrow it down, I came up with this Icelandic road trip ideas photo essay:

Icelandic road trip, diamond beach

Diamond Beach under the midnight sun by

Icelandic Road Trip Ideas: Route Options

My first dilemma is routes. Most options follow the famous Ring Road with little to no detours. Yet, how many stops will I make? This depends on how much time I have.

My top two itineraries thus far include a straightforward 8-day Ring Road trip, including the following stops: Reykjavík, Akureyri, Jökulsárlón, Dimmuborgir, Geysir, Gullfoss, Dyrhólaey, Þingvellir, Hraunfossar, Deildartunguhver, Höfn, Vik i Mýrdal, Blönduós, Kerið, Godafoss Waterfall, and Lake Myvatn.

I’ve already been to 5 out of 16 of those highlights, though. This is when option B becomes more attractive: 12 full days, visiting all 3 Icelandic National Parks, hitting most of the aforementioned highlights, in addition to zigzagging the East Fjords:

  • Reykjavík: the world’s northernmost capital
  • Akureyri: northern city with cool restos
  • Jökulsárlón: stunning glacial lagoon
  • Snæfellsjökull: 700,000-year-old stratovolcano
  • Skógafoss: my fave waterfall with interesting rock formations
  • Seljalandsfoss: to see it in full force, not frozen
  • Geysir explosions: they are always sweet to look at
  • Gullfoss: I wonder what it looks like lush, under the midnight sun?
  • Dyrhólaey: spectacular promontory, black sand beaches
  • Þingvellir: so I can finally swim between 2 continents!
  • Snæfellsnes Peninsula: wild, Western Iceland + EarthCheck community
  • Höfn: to take in the Hornafjörður Fjord and surrounding landscapes
  • Stykkishólmur: coastal town, gateway to countless of islands
  • Borgarnes: to visit Fljotstunga, the largest lava cave in Iceland
  • Lake Myvatn and Dimmuborgir: as I’m obsessed with lava formations
  • Seydisfjordur: to visit Skálanes reserve and adorable puffin colonies

From what I can see, itinerary B only excludes a few towns such as Blönduós and popular attractions I’ve already seen (i.e. Kerið).

Icelandic Road Trip Ideas: Activities

Either road trip route includes several outdoor activities and uniquely-Icelandic pastimes I wish to try out. Here’s my preliminary list:

  • Ice climbing: hello intimidating glaciers!
  • Geothermal springs: dipping beyond the touristy Blue Lagoon
  • Cruising: sailing by dramatic icebergs and small fishing villages
  • Camping: midnight sun equals fabulous weather, endless sunlight!
  • Hiking: from expansive pastures to rugged coastlines and lava fields
  • Couchsurfing and Meal Sharing: meeting locals is always my top priority
  • Horseback Riding: the small, mostly pony-sized breed is so stinking cute
Icelandic road trip, horseback riding

adorable Icelandic horses by

Icelandic Road Trip Ideas: Unique Accommodation

While I love Couchsurfing, I want to ensure I have some “us” romantic time if my man tags along. For this reason, I also looked into unique accommodation options around the spots on my wish list. Here are some ideas:

Happy Campers: what about a camper van, rented from a local family?

ION Luxury Adventure Hotel: or floor-to-ceiling glass windows to stargaze (while cuddling indoors!) nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site Þingvellir? Hmm…

Volcano Hotel: or undisturbed stargazing on a remote black sand beach after a day of glacier hiking nearby? Sounds dreamy!

Cabin Rental: luxurious log cabin, with hot tub, and walking distance to geyser. SEXY.

Viking Hotel: live like them, be kidnapped by them 15 min. from Reykjavík. I’m intrigued.

Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort: pick between traditional cabins or campground to rest at after a full day hiking Iceland’s largest geothermal area. Both mountainside, surrounded by hot springs. Ahhh

Hotel Glymur: four-star, Jacuzzi included, plus stunning views of Whale Fjord.

Icelandic road trip, Hraunfossar

Hraunfossar by Aconcagua, Wikipedia

Phew. That’s quite some planning and unique ideas alright! I’m not sure when I’ll be able to finally go on this dreamy getaway to my favorite country in the world. However, I’ll be more than ready when the opportunity arises 😉

Have you gone on an Icelandic road trip? Share your ideas below!

While I was asked to share my dream Icelandic road trip by Guide to Iceland, these are my honest plans. I can’t wait to go back to this beautiful island!

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About Maria Alexandra

Maria Laborde, aka latinAbroad, is an open-minded, highly-energetic woman with the spirit of a child. A world citizen, Puerto Rican at heart, carrier of an American passport. A passionate translator and writer, sprinkling Latin spice around the world!

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