Iceland is full of wonderful places and you could easily spend a month exploring without getting bored. However, most of us have to stick to time and budget limits and have to decide how many days to spend visiting Iceland.
This question depends on many factors, from the weather to your own personal tastes. While if you've only got a few days to spare, you could explore Reykjavik, visit the Blue Lagoon and do a Golden Circle tour, to really make the most of the country's spectacular attractions, we recommend renting a car and spending ten days discovering Iceland via the Ring Road.
10 Day Road Trip around Iceland
Day 1: Reykjavik
As Keflavik International Airport is located just an hour's drive from the Icelandic capital, your arrival day is the perfect opportunity to explore Reykjavik and get a feel for the country's Nordic atmosphere. Depending what time you land, you could spend the day learning more about Icelandic history and heritage at the National Museum of Iceland and The Settlement Exhibition, both located in the historic heart of the city.
If you arrive late, you can just enjoy a leisurely stroll through Reykjavik's picturesque city centre instead, taking in some of its main places of interest: Tjörnin Lake, the Icelandic Parliament, the Cathedral or the Old Harbour. From there, you can walk over to the Sólfar, or statue of the Sun Voyager, the most famous sculpture in the city, before heading to Hallgrímskirkja, the symbol of Reykjavik. After climbing its tower to enjoy unparalleled views of the city, put the finishing touch on your day shopping and eating on Laugavegur, Reykjavik's liveliest street.
Day 2: Golden Circle & waterfalls of southern Iceland
On your second day, rack up the miles on your rental car driving to Thingvellir, the first stop on the Golden Circle. After visiting the impressive landscapes that have become synonymous with Game of Thrones, it's another hour or so drive to Geysir to see jets of boiling water being shot up to 200 feet in the air from the Stokkur geyser.
Complete the Golden Circle trio stopping at the enormous Gullfoss waterfall, before you head south to see more of Iceland's spectacular waterfalls. You won't be able to choose your favourite between Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss - both are incredible! We then recommend making your way to Vík, where there are plenty of hotels to spend the night, as well as the stunning black beach of Reynisfjara.
Day 3: Skaftafell, Vatnajökull & Jökulsárlón
What's the best way to clear your head of a morning? Trekking on the Vatnajökull Glacier will do the trick! Immerse yourself in its icy landscapes and let yourself be captivated by the sheer size of the ice field - it covers almost 10% of the whole of Iceland!
Explore more Icelandic wilderness in Skaftafell National Park: the ideal place for nature lovers to hike along different trails and discover spots like Svartifoss, Iceland's iconic black waterfall. Then continue along Route 1, also known as the Ring Road, to the final stop of the day: Jökulsárlón. The huge icebergs floating in the glacial lake and onto Diamond Beach are the most spectacular sight in the Icelandic southeast. With this unforgettable image in your head, make your way to the village of Höfn, where there's a range of affordable places to stay.
Day 4: Seydisfjordur, Borgafjordur Eystri & Dettifoss
Today will involve a lot of driving around the Ring Road, heading northeast towards Egilsstaðir, where you'll take a turning off to the village of Seydisfjordur. This small road was used as a filming location for the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and you're sure to be enchanted by its beautiful views.
On arrival in Seydisfjordur, we recommend renewing your energy with a delicious meal in a traditional restaurant before enjoying a leisurely stroll around one of Iceland's most picturesque villages. Afterwards, head to puffin sighting paradise: Borgarfjordur Eystri, a tiny village home to a large number of the friendly birds.
Your next stop will depend on the weather and your car, as the road can be difficult to access. If you have a 4x4 and the road is open, head to Dettifoss to see the most spectacular waterfall in northern Iceland. Otherwise, make your way directly to the final stop of the day: Lake Myvtan. You'll find plenty of accommodation options in Reykjahlid and other neighbouring towns.
Day 5: Lake Myvatn
Halfway through your ten-day tour, dedicate the full day to exploring the breathtaking natural landscapes around Lake Myvatn. The order of your visits is entirely up to you, as they're all relatively close to each other. Leirhnjúkur, Hverir, Dimmuborgir, Grjótagjá and Hverfjall are all must-see attractions! Put the finishing touch on your day relaxing in the hot springs at Myvatn Nature Baths.
Day 6: Húsavik, Goðafoss & Akureyri
Get an early start on day six to head to Húsavík, the best place to see whales in Iceland. There, as well as enjoying the unforgettable whale watching opportunities on offer, you can explore the charming fishing village and visit the museum dedicated to these enormous marine mammals.
Later, make your way south to Godafoss, where you'll soon understand why it earned the name "Waterfall of the gods". From there, you'll be able to re-join the Ring Road in the direction of Akureyri, the so-called capital of northern Iceland.
Day 7: Trollaskagi & Stykkishólmur
Take a detour off Route 1 to explore the Trollaskagi Peninsula, known for its spectacular rugged landscapes and picturesque villages like Siglufjörður. Before returning to the Ring Road, you'll pass by Hofsós, known for its infinity pool offering panoramic views over the Skagfjordur Fjord, and Hólar, home to Iceland's oldest stone church. Later, you can take another little diversion down an unpaved road to Hvítserkur, an enormous basalt rock formation located on the coast that some say is a petrified troll! Finally, you'll reach the Snaefellsnes Peninsula: head to Stykkishólmur, the best place in the region to spend the night.
Day 8: Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Begin your day with a tour of Stykkishólmur, one of Iceland's most picturesque villages, before heading further west to Kirkjufell, the most photographed spot in the country. After having driven around the Snaefellsjökull Glacier, you'll reach two of the peninsula's most spectacular landscapes: Djúpalónssandur beach and the cliffs of Arnarstapi. Your final stop before returning to Stykkishólmur will be at Ytri Tunga. This beach may not seem anything out of the ordinary but it happens to be one of the best places to see seals in Iceland. If the tide is low and you're lucky, you'll see them basking on the rocks along the coast.
Day 9: Borgarnes, Hraunfossar & Reikiavik
On your last day on the Ring Road and your penultimate day in Iceland, the first stop on your itinerary will be at The Settlement Center. This museum, located in the picturesque town of Borgarnes, showcases the history of Iceland in a fun and dynamic way.
Your final stop before returning to Reykjavik will be at Hraunfossar, one of the most striking waterfalls in Iceland, where the water seems to flow directly from the lava field. Then, back in the Icelandic capital, you can spend the rest of the day relaxing, exploring the streets or doing some last minute souvenir shopping.
Day 10: Blue Lagoon & back to Reykjavik
Depending when your flight is, the last day of your trip to Iceland is the perfect opportunity to do some of the activities you might have missed at the start of your route, like a whale watching cruise from the Old Harbour, or bathing in the Blue Lagoon. If there's time, you could also visit some of Reykjavik's fascinating cultural attractions, like the Árbær Open Air Museum or the Perlan Museum, where you can learn more about the spectacular nature that you've seen over the past ten days.
When the time comes to say goodbye after an unforgettable trip, you'll have the choice of a number of different ways to get to Keflavik Airport: returning your rental car; getting the airport transfer service; catching a bus or hiring a taxi.
More time to spare?
If you're lucky enough to have more time to spend on your trip to Iceland, take the opportunity to explore some of the island's more remote places, like the Vestmannaeyjar islands and the Westfjords. The possibility of seeing puffins in their natural habitat and discovering the impressive landscapes of Látrabjarg and Dynjandi Waterfall makes extending your trip well worth it!