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, 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.
Read on to learn more about what 10 days in Iceland is all about, and how to best prepare for a trip to the country.
What's in this article?
- The Perfect 10 Days in Iceland Ring Road Itinerary
- Iceland Ring Road Map View
- Detailed 10 Days in Iceland Ring Road Itinerary
- Day 1 – The Golden Circle
- Day 2 – Southern Coast
- Day 3 – Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon
- Day 4 – Eastern Fjords
- Day 5 – Northern Iceland
- Day 6 – Akureyri
- Day 7 – Heading West
- Day 8 – Glymur & Blue Lagoon
- Day 9 – Reykjavik
- Day 10 – Reykjavik & Depart
- Iceland Weather
- Iceland Packing List
- Renting a Car in Iceland
The Perfect 10 Days in Iceland Ring Road Itinerary
This 10 day Iceland itinerary will take you along the Ring Road for 10 exciting days in the country. Before jumping into the itinerary though I did want to list out a few important things to note about this trip in particular:
» One of the top considerations for Iceland is the time of year to visit. In general, the summer months are going to bring longer days and some more optimal weather conditions. As you get closer to the winter, those days will continue to shorten and you will have less daylight to take part of activities.
Due to this, I would highly recommend taking part of this itinerary in particular during the summer and neighboring months from May to September. This will give you the best chance to enjoy all the activities listed out and actually give you the time to do so.
It is certainly possible to go to Iceland at other times of the year, but just note that you probably will not be able to take part of every activity & attraction listed out in this itinerary.
» Although summer offers the longest daylight hours, the weather in the country can be highly unpredictable at any time of year. Sunny days can turn to rain & clouds in an instant, so you really need to be prepared for all types of conditions. I would recommend packing accordingly for all types of weather (a topic I will touch upon later on).
» You will want to get a rent a car or campervan for the duration of the trip (check out Rentalcars.com for some options). Having your own rental car will give you the best chance to see the country at your own pace and create the exact type of route that you want.
When it comes to the Ring Road, there is no better way to experience it than by driving it on your own. 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 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.
» Take a look at this guide on Where to Stay in Iceland for some of the top hotels/guesthouses in cities around the country.
» For more helpful info be sure to check out the Iceland Helpful Tips section to get you prepared for Iceland!
Iceland Ring Road Map View
The below map shows each and every attraction mentioned in this itinerary. This should give you a better visual view of what a Ring Road trip is all about.
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 (the small icon in the top left corner expands to show the day by day attractions).
Detailed 10 Days in Iceland Ring Road Itinerary
Now let’s 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. Depending on interest level and time, you can do all five or pick and choose which are best for you.
» Check out the complete Guide to Iceland’s Golden Circle for an in depth review of what it all entails.
Stop #1 – Thingvellir National Park
The first stop of the day is Thingvellir National Park. Thingvellir offers a whole bunch of different options for its visitors. If you are interested in hiking, there are some short and long hiking trails that can take you around the park.
You can decide to just take a stroll to the nearby Oxararfoss Waterfall and small church as you come across the gap between the two tectonic plates.
And if you are up for a unique experience, you can decide to snorkel or scuba dive between the tectonic plates. Whatever you decide on, you are sure to enjoy your time exploring the area.
» Feel free to sign up in advance for a Thingvellir Snorkeling Tour between two tectonic plates!
Stop #2 – Bruarfoss
One of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of Iceland is that of Bruarfoss. If you have the time and are up for a 2 hour round trip hike you can head over to Bruarfoss from a small parking lot off the main road.
A bit more of a hidden gem, Bruarfoss is a majestic blue colored waterfall that is sure not to be missed.
Stop #3 – Geysir
Have you 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.
Iceland Night #1
After visiting the Kerid Crater, the first night of the trip will be spent in the small town of Selfoss. Feel free to take a look at a variety of Selfoss hotels & guesthouses for your one night stay.
→ Recommended Option: 360 Hotel & Thermal Baths
Day 2 – Southern Coast
The second day of the Ring Road itinerary will be spent exploring the southern coast of the country. Here you will find a whole variety of waterfalls, beaches, and more stunning landscape.
Seljalandsfoss & Gljufrabui
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 as you take in a 360 degree view of the waterfall, even getting behind it.
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.
It is quite a 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 waterfall with a staircase off to the side which you can walk up to the top of.
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
Dyrholaey & Reynisfjara
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.
Iceland Night #2
The second night of the trip will be spent in or near the town of Kirkjubaejarklauster (Lauster for short). Take a look at some Kirkjubæjarklaustur Hotels & Guesthouses that can work for you.
Recommended Option: Hotel Laki
Day 3 – Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon
Day 3 of your Iceland itinerary will be focused on two main areas on the southeast part of the island. The first is Skaftafell National Park and the second is Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.
Skaftafell National Park
After a much needed sleep wake up bright and early to head out to Skaftafell National Park. Here you will have two main options to choose from – hiking in the national park on your own or heading on a glacier hike as part of a guided tour.
» There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from in the national park ranging from just around an hour to full day hiking options. The Guide to Hiking Skaftafell National Park will go over what you need to know to hit the trails.
» Taking part of a Skaftafell Glacier Hike will have you experience what it is like to hike on ice. There are also several options to choose from ranging from a couple hours on the glacier to a full day activity. I put together a Skaftafell Glacier Hike Guide for you to learn more.
» If you are interested in the glacier hike you can book a Skaftafell Glacier Hike Tour in advance to reserve your spot!
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
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.
Iceland Night #3
The southeast town of Hofn will be your next overnight stay, before continuing northbound along the coast. Feel free to check out some Hofn Hotels & Guesthouses for your time there.
Recommended Option: Fosshotel Vatnajökull
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.
Stokksnes & Vestrahorn
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.
Iceland Night #4
After making your way up the coast, it is time to spend the night in the small town of Egilsstadir. Take a look through some Egilsstadir Hotels & Guesthouses for your stay.
Recommended Option: Lyngas Guesthouse
Day 5 – Northern Iceland
It is now time to explore some of the top highlights of northern Iceland as part of this 10 day Iceland itinerary. The day will start and end with two incredible waterfalls, and include a visit to the Myvatn Geothermal area in between.
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 the 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 waterfall 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.
Iceland Nights #5 & #6
For the first time on the trip, you will be able to spend a couple nights in one place. Akureyri is the largest city in northern Iceland and is the perfect spot to spend a couple days before moving westbound. Check out some Akureyri Hotels & Guesthouses for your stay.
Recommended Option: Hotel Nordurland
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.
You can book a tour ahead of time to reserve your spot and have yourself all set to take part of some whale watching. If you do not want to head over to Husavik there are also plenty of whale watching opportunities in Akureyri as well.
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. Don’t feel obligated to stop at each place if you are short of time. Just pick and choose what you would like best as you head towards the peninsula.
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.
Hraunfossar and Barnafoss
You will probably only need about 20-30 minutes around Deildartunguhver 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.
Iceland Night #7
You can choose from a variety of places all along the peninsula. Be sure to take a look at some Snaefellsnes Hotels & Guesthouses for plenty of options.
Recommended Option: Bikers Paradise
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 too.
Glymur Waterfall Hike
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 in the country.
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
NOTE: 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.
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.
Iceland Nights #8 & #9
The capital city of Reykjavik has plenty of hotel options to choose from for your last stay of this 10 day Iceland itinerary. Spend the last couple nights of your trip in the capital as you wind down after a long Ring Road experience. Browse some Reykjavik Hotels & Guesthouses to end your trip!
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 your hotel 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.
» The One Day Reykjavik Itinerary will walk you everything you need to know about the capital city
Day 10 – Reykjavik & Depart
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 heading to the airport later in the day or the next morning. Hope you enjoy your 10 days in Iceland!
→ Be sure to read through the next several sections for more helpful tips about Iceland in general.
As mentioned, the ideal time of year to visit to get the most daylight hours is going to be those summer months. But just because there is a lot of daylight during the summer, doesn’t mean the weather is always going to be ideal.
Iceland is notorious for its constantly changing weather patterns. In a day’s time it very well may feel like you just went through all four seasons.
To give you a better understanding of the weather over the course of the year, I have included a couple screenshots courtesy of Meteoblue. I would recommend using Meteoblue to get more accurate day by day Iceland weather forecasts. The forecasts give you a better idea of how many hours of sun to expect, amount of precipitation, and other helpful metrics.
The first chart below will show the average temperature along with the rainfall by month. As you can see, the summer does bring those higher temperatures. Although they may be the highest temperatures, does not mean it is warm (average highs in the summer reach just the mid 50’s F).
You can also see there is quite a bit of precipitation throughout the year, even in the summer months. Although historically, the Spring/Summer months bring the least amount of rain/snow, you should always be prepared for some rainfall.
The second chart shows the amount of cloudy vs. sunny days throughout the year. You can see that pretty consistently throughout the year over half the days of the month can have overcast weather. That is not to say the entire day will be overcast but the clouds definitely do roll in and out.
Iceland Packing List
The weather really goes hand in hand with what an Iceland packing list will look like. As mentioned, you really need to be ready for all sorts of weather possibilities during a trip. Sun, wind, rain, and more will be frequent throughout your days in the country.
So, when you are heading off for a hike or visiting a certain attraction, don’t just plan to wear whatever your base outfit may be for the day. Instead, you very likely will need to bring along additional layers and items just in case the weather turns one way or another.
If you will be outside and away from your car for long portions of the day, be sure to take a backpack with you to carry any items that you currently aren’t wearing.
Overall, I would recommend taking a this hiking packing list I put together that has many of the items you will want to consider bringing. The list talks about layers, which will be of upmost importance for a trip to Iceland. Below are the main layers you will want to bring along:
→ Hiking Shorts
→ Hiking Pants
→ Short Sleeve Shirt
→ Long Sleeve Shirt / Sun Hoodie
→ Mid Layer Fleece
→ Puff Jacket
→ Packable Rain Jacket
You want to be sure to bring appropriate waterproof hiking shoes along with solid hiking socks as well.
Additional packing list item recommendations include:
→ Hiking Backpack & Rain cover
→ Water Bottle & Nutrition
→ Portable Charger
→ Hat & Sunglasses
Renting a Car in Iceland
The last main topic I wanted to cover is renting a car in Iceland. As mentioned, a car rental is going to be the easiest option when it comes to exploring Iceland in general.
You will have the ability to go at your own pace, visit the places you want to visit, and always be on your own schedule. For renting cars in general, I would highly recommend just taking a look at Rentalcars.com. That way you can get a good understanding of the various options out there across multiple car rental companies.
Note that there are some considerations to think about when renting cars in Iceland including:
→ When choosing a car, note that there can be a mixture between Manual and Automatic options. So, be sure to choose correctly (especially if you don’t know how to drive Manual).
→ While there are unpaved roads throughout the country, basically all of the main attractions and activities on an itinerary like this will be on paved roads. So, you will not need to worry much about getting a 4 X 4 car. However, if you are looking to extend this itinerary to include some more off the beaten path options or you are thinking about visiting in the winter time, then a 4 X 4 car will be your best bet.
→ You may also see additional add ons such as gravel protection or sand/ash protection. This will just be up to you in case you want to be insured for the variety of protections offered by the rental companies.
That wraps up a 10 day Iceland Ring Road itinerary! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them in below.
Also don’t forget to check out the other Iceland itineraries and guides on the site for some more helpful posts.
Have fun out there and safe travels!