10 Days in Iceland
The Perfect 10 Days in Iceland Ring Road Itinerary
If you are heading to Iceland and want to experience everything that the country has to offer, this itinerary is for you. The 10 days in Iceland Ring Road itinerary is full of hiking adventure, nightlife, and plenty of waterfalls. It will take you along the entirety of the Ring Road of Iceland from the south coast to north coast and the east coast to west coast – whatever you want to do this itinerary has you covered.
Before jumping into the itinerary here are a few important things to note:
» This itinerary cannot be completed during the winter months due to the shorter days and the amount of activities listed below. The best time to complete this trip in 10 days would be around May to September.
» You will want to get a rent a car for the duration of the trip. You can pick the car up once in land in Reykjavik and be on your way from there.
» Be prepared to only stay 1-2 nights in each city/town as you make your way around the country. It is not a trip for those who want to stay in one place for a long period of time. You can check out the other Iceland itineraries I have up that are more so based in two locations.
» You can start this itinerary on day 1 straight from the airport since many flights get to Iceland early in the morning. Alternatively you can stay in Reykjavik for the first day to relax before heading out on day 2.
» For more helpful info be sure to check out the Helpful Tips section to get you prepared for Iceland!
Ring Road Map View
Take a look below at where each attraction falls on the map. Day 1 starts out with the purple pins and the trip then continues counter clockwise from there, with each pin color indicating the attractions for a day.
Detailed 10 Days in Iceland Ring Road Itinerary
Now lets get on to the actual trip! The following is a detailed breakout of the daily attractions and activities on this 10 day in Iceland itinerary. Feel free to scroll through and click on any more in depth posts along the way.
Day 1 – The Golden Circle
If coming off the plane or from Reykjavik, it is time to make your way around one of the more well know parts of Iceland – the Golden Circle. There will be five stops along the way as you start your first day of exploring.
Check out our complete Guide to Iceland’s Golden Circle for an in depth review of what it all entails.
Stop #1 – Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir offers the opportunity to hike, snorkel between tectonic plates and wander around an incredible setting.
Stop #2 – Bruarfoss
If you have the time and are up for a 2 hour round trip hike you can head over to Bruarfoss. A bit more of a hidden gem, Bruarfoss is a majestic blue colored waterfall that is sure not to be missed.
Stop #3 – Geysir
Ever seen tons of water getting shot up a hundred feet in the air? Well now is your chance. At the Geysir geothermal area you will be able to see things like this happen:
Stop #4 – Gullfoss
One of the most powerful and wide waterfalls that Iceland has to offer, Gullfoss offers amazing views from all different angles.
Stop #5 – Kerid Crater
Last but not least is Kerid Crater – a massive formation with a lake down below to hike around and enjoy before calling it a day and heading to the town of Selfoss, where you will stay the night.
Day 2 – Southern Coast
First up on day 2 is Seljalandsfoss which is about a 60 minute drive from Selfoss. This waterfall is unique in that you can actually walk around it in a 360 degree view even getting behind the waterfall. Spend some time taking pictures at different angles and walking all the way around. Here you will also find a lesser known waterfall called Gljufrabui. Walk about ten minutes north of Seljalandsfoss along the path following the signs. Through a narrow rock corridor lies the waterfall, where you will most likely get a bit wet as you are literally inside of a cave. Quite an unique experience being inside this rock as the waterfall comes down behind you. After you spend some time down low, follow the path to the top of the waterfall, where you can climb the small ladder to get a view from above.
Next up is the waterfall Skogafoss and is one that you cannot miss. It is a massive foss with a staircase off to the side which you can walk up to the top. Getting too close to the bottom of the waterfall will most likely result in some wetness so be careful when trying to get the best picture. After hanging out at the bottom, climb up the staircase to get a view from the top. For a real epic hiking opportunity you can continue you way along the Skoga River. For an in depth overview of this hike check out the Guide to Hiking Skogafoss.
After taking in a couple waterfalls, hiking for a bit and eating lunch, continue your way east to Dyrholaey which is the large peninsula with its well known arch. You can walk around to different view points and get a look at the waves crashing nearby. The black sand beach of Reynisfjara is next up. Here you can walk the beach, hang out on the limestone cliffs and take in some amazing views.
After the arches and black sand beach head to the town of Vik. It is a pretty nice small town where you can find some restaurants and also grocery store to pick up some essentials. You can get in a nice viewpoint from the church at the top of the town. One important thing to note is that main towns can be very far apart from one another. So if you see somewhere you would like to eat or add some gas to the tank you should do it sooner rather than later as you won’t know when the next opportunity will be.
You can then head out to Laufskalavaroa, where you will find thousands of small rock piles all around this small hill. Apparently building one these rock piles gives you good luck as you continue your adventures around the country of Iceland. As it is the beginning of your journey it could be a good idea to make one of your own!
Next up is one of the most picturesque places of the entire trip – Fjadrargljufur Canyon. Hike up along the side of the canyon taking in the views. You can get some amazing pictures both all the way towards the top of the trail and bottom of the trail. Enjoy your last attraction of the day before heading to your hotel or guesthouse nearby.
Day 3 – Skaftafell and Jokursalon
After a much needed sleep wake up bright and early to head out to Skaftafell National Park. Here you will have a bunch of different options to choose from. You can check out the Guide to Hiking Skaftafell National Park, which goes into greater detail on what to expect on this day if you opt to hike around the park.
Another option is to a do glacier hike in the national park. You can book the glacier hike in advance through Glacier Guides. There are a few different glacier hikes to choose from anywhere from around 3-6 hours in length. Once you get to the office at the base of Skaftafell you will get your crampons and helmet and then hop on a bus to the glacier with the rest of your group. Once there you will be broken into 5-6 person groups per guide. You then begin your hike towards the glacier, learn the basics and and start to explore the terrain around you. There are plenty of opportunities to ask questions and learn more about the surroundings. One thing to note is that the glacier hike depends on wind conditions so if it does get cancelled you will still be able to take part of one of the hikes mentioned in the above link. Both hiking on the glacier or in the national park are great options depending on your interest level.
After a long morning/afternoon of hiking grab some food back by the visitor center and relax for a bit. After the break continue your day towards some glacier lagoons. Take a quick stop at the smaller Fjallsarlon lagoon before heading to Jokulsarlon. You have the option to tour the lagoon on a zodiac type of boat or a larger amphibian one where you are with more people and higher up from the water. The smaller boat is a really great time with just about 8 people in the boat with your driver. Make sure to book in advance especially if you are opting for the smaller boat.
Your boat driver will give you a tour of the lagoon, answer your questions and even let you take a huge piece of ice from the water. Your driver will then drive the boat towards the back of the lagoon where ice cliffs will be breaking off every few minutes. After about 45 minutes the boat will head back to land, where you will then depart Jokulsarlon and head over to Hofn for the night.
Day 4 – Eastern Fjords
The fourth day of your trip takes you from the town of Hofn up to Egilsstadir along the eastern fjords. As you make your way up north you will pass by plenty of scenic routes and towns. Your first stop will be Stokksnes, which is only about a 20-minute drive away and a great site to start your day. Here you will also be able to see the mountain of Vestrahorn, also known as the Batman Mountain. You can stop here for a bit and walk around to enjoy the mountain in the background and the dunes and black sand beach surrounding it. Note that there could be a small fee to drive on this private land.
After leaving the Stokksnes and Vestrahorn area start the drive up the coast and through the eastern fjords. Hopefully is it a nice clear day out and you will be able to enjoy the scenery around you. There is a good chance that you will want to stop a few times along this route, get out of the car and just take it all in. After about 60-90 minutes of driving in and out of the fjords, there is a small town named Djupivogur. Here you can just drive through or stop for a bit if you would like to experience an eastern Iceland town.
Shortly after you leave the area of Djupivogur you will have a fork in the road – either continue along the coast on Route 1 or take a bit of a shortcut on Route 939. The later is more of a gravel road compared to the pavement of Route 1. If you either don’t want to drive on gravel and/or want to drive more along the coast then continue on Route 1. If not then take the 939 shortcut, which will save you about 45 minutes of driving.
After a morning of driving the fjords it is time to have some food in Skriduklaustur. Here you will find the famous cake buffet. There will be plenty of different food options – cakes, pastries, fruit, homemade breads and more. It will be a great way to fuel up before another beautiful hike. Right close by to the cake buffet is Hengifoss. To get to the waterfall requires a bit of hiking and the start of the hike can be a bit strenuous. The entire hike will take about an hour and a half. You will enjoy walking along the river, passing waterfalls along the way and finally making it to the main attraction.
Depending on your timing you can now make your way to Seydisfjordur. Along this route be prepared to look all around at the fjords and the waterfalls coming from every direction. It is quite the site to see constant waterfalls alongside the road as you drive on by. Once you are finished with the drive head back to your final destination for the day and that is the town of Egilsstadir. Grab some dinner, put some gas in the tank and rest up before starting day 5 of your journey.
Day 5 – Northern Iceland
It is now time to see what the northeast of Iceland has to offer and that is going to start with a ~2 hour or so drive to Dettifoss, which is one of the most powerful and largest waterfalls in Iceland. When driving up there on Route 1 you can either take one of two roads that end up at the waterfall – Route 862 (western side with a little bit more of an obstructed view of the falls) or 864 (eastern side which has a more open view). The 862 route is more paved while 864 is more gravel, so just be aware to drive carefully along these routes. Depending on views and driving preference you can choose between the two. Whatever you do end up doing, you cannot go wrong.
It is now time to head on over to Lake Myvatn, a beautiful lake with plenty of things to see around the area. It is also where many scenes of Game of Thrones were filmed. For an in depth review of the Lake Myvatn area check out our 8 Spots Around Lake Myvatn Guide.
These 8 spots include:
1) Skutustadir Pseudo Craters
2) Hofdi Peninsula
3) Dimmuborgir Lava Fields
4) Grjotagja Cave
5) Myvatn Nature Baths
6) Hverir Geothermal Field
7) Viti Crater
Once complete with your time around Lake Myvatn head to the next massive waterfall of the day – Godafoss. This is a unique foss as it looks like there are several waterfalls making up this gigantic one. Snap some shots and enjoy the area before making it to the capital of the north for the night – Akureyri.
Day 6 – Akureyri
Akureyri is the second largest city of Iceland and now you will be able to spend the day around the area after hopping from town to town over the past several days of the trip. The morning of day 6 however will take you about 60-90 minutes north of the city to Husavik. Here is the base for some of the best whale watching and puffin sightings in all of Iceland. Book a tour through a reputable such as North Sailing, which has plenty of tour options depending on what you want to see for the day. You can just do a whale watching your which is about 3 hours or a whale watching + puffin sighting tour which is 4 hours long. If you do not want to head over to Husavik there are also plenty of whale watching opportunities in Akureyri as well.
Read Up On Some Top Rated Iceland Guide Books Before Your Trip
There are tours going throughout the morning so there are plenty of options to choose from. You will be given some waterproof suits to wear while out on the water as it can get very cold and wet. Over the course of the 3-4 hours you will learn about the different whale species and their history and get to ask questions you might have to your guide. You are bound to see a bunch of whales out there and get to snap some pics of them as they pass by.
After a morning of whale watching make your way back down to Akureyri. Now you will be able to relax and explore the city for the rest of the afternoon and evening. The city is not all that big and you can walk around enjoying the street art and colorful buildings surrounding you. As you walk around you are sure to pass by many local stores, where you can buy any northern Icelandic souvenirs. Right around the city center you can even find the Arctic Botanical Gardens and get to see some of the local flowers and plants.
Day 7 – Heading West
Get prepared for a long driving day as you make your way west to the Snaefellsnes peninsula with a few stops along the way. The first stop being Glaumbaer. I am sure you will have seen small houses from time to time covered with grass roofs. Here you will see a whole section of houses that look like this. After exploring the area head back in the car for a little longer of a drive to the Grabrok Crater. Once you arrive at the crater head up the path that takes you to the top so you get in an amazing view from above. There is a great path/staircase that takes you up and along the crater so you can get pictures from a bunch of different points.
After walking around the crater head out to the best named attraction of your trip – Deildartunguhver. This is Europe’s most powerful hot spring and is used to provide heat for a few neighboring towns. You will probably only need about 20-30 minutes around this area before heading to the two neighboring waterfalls of Hraunfossar and Barnafoss.
Once the waterfall excursion is complete, the Snaefellsnes peninsula awaits. Check into your hotel or guesthouse around this area and relax after a long day of driving and sightseeing.
Depending on how early you started your day, how quickly you were able to drive from one attraction to the next, and where you will be staying overnight it might be possible to get in Kirkjufell now. If not you can enjoy it the next morning as written below. You might also want to check it out twice – once in the evening and once in the morning. It is all up to you.
Day 8 – Glymur & Blue Lagoon
If you were not able to get it in the previous day, the mountain of Kirkjufell is one of, if not the most pictured site in all of Iceland. You will definitely want to walk around this area getting the best picture you can while taking in the waterfalls, greenery and scenic views around you. It should also be mentioned that as you are driving through the Snaefellsness peninsula, you will probably want to stop a few times to take in some beautiful landscapes along the way.
You will then begin the drive to Glymur – the second highest waterfall in Iceland, nearly 200 meters tall, and is also home to one of the best hikes. You should plan on getting there on the earlier end – once it gets to midday/early afternoon there could be many more people on the trail. I put together a complete guide to hiking Glymur to get you all prepared for the one of a kind trail.
Next up comes the most relaxing portion of the trip and that is the Blue Lagoon. Make sure to buy tickets in advance so when you get there you can walk right in and enjoy. Once you get there you can drop your stuff off in a locker and head outside in what is probably pretty cold weather. But don’t worry because once you are inside the Blue Lagoon all is well. The temperature of the water is very soothing and relaxing, and there are definitely spots warmer than others. You can buy yourself a few drinks and wade/walk around the lagoon. You can probably spent 2+ hours there altogether just relaxing your bodies after all the hiking that has been done.
Once finished with the blue lagoon you can shower and change before heading back to Reykjavik. Note at this point you can return your rental car in Reykjavik if you choose so since for the next two days you would just be in the city itself. You can also to push the Blue Lagoon to day 9 or 10 if you feel like making more of a day out of it (and therefore hold onto the car instead).
Hopefully for you this is either a Friday or Saturday night so you will get to enjoy the weekend nightlife in Reykjavik. It is also nice if you are looking to go out and hit the bars to not worry about waking up early the next couple mornings.
Here are a few top accommodation options to choose from:
Day 9 – Reykjavik
There really aren’t too many different sites to see but definitely enough to keep yourself busy for a day or two. You probably won’t make it out of the apartment on days 9 and 10 until later in the morning to catch up on sleep from the previous week. Stroll through the city center as you walk down the main street Laugavegur, and then to the harbor area. Stop by the Harpa opera house, a really modern piece of architecture with many different areas to explore and a glass like structure throughout. Then walk further along the water to the viking ship known as the Sun Voyager. It is really just a silver statue but still pretty neat spot to check out. After a day of exploring the city head back to your apartment before dinner and another night out.
Day 10 – Reykjavik
Grab some lunch and walk around the streets of the city and buy a bunch of different souvenirs from the surrounding shops. Then head over to the main church – Hallgrimskirkja. Spend the few dollars to head to the top of the church and see the view of the entire city of colored houses beneath you. You can see all the way to the opera house and beyond.
That will be your last stop on an amazing trip to Iceland before catching a cab to the airport later in the day or the next morning. Hope you enjoy your 10 days in Iceland!
Head over to our Iceland itineraries and guides page to check out some more helpful posts, and feel free to comment below with any questions!