Looking for a done-for-you Iceland Ring Road itinerary to see everything in a week or less? Read on.
Disclaimer: This blog post is sponsored by Lava Car Rental, an Icelandic car rental company specializing in new and cheap rental cars in Iceland. All thoughts are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. If a product is purchased using one of the following links, I may earn a small commission from the brand at no cost to you.
Iceland, also known as the land of fire and ice, is home to some of the most jaw-dropping scenic spots in the entire world.
From active volcanos and colorful geothermal activity to mountain-size glaciers and massive waterfalls, there is no wondering why Iceland is on the top of many travelers’ bucket lists.
However, because there is so much to see in Iceland, trip planning can become stressful, especially if you are planning a relatively short trip like we did.
Regardless, we managed to drive the entire Ring Road circumference and see everything we hoped to with this jam-packed 5-day Ring Road itinerary.
Without further ado, here’s the best Iceland Ring Road itinerary for 5 days to see it all.
How long does it take to drive the Ring Road in Iceland?
Without stopping, the Ring Road in Iceland takes about 20 hours to drive.
However, obviously, you’ll want to make frequent stops to sightsee, so plan to spend at least 5 days driving around Ring Road.
Many people recommend to spend at least two weeks in Iceland, and while this timeframe would be ideal, it’s not practical for all tourists.
Contrary to popular opinion, you can see everything (that is, all the main tourist attractions) in Iceland in 5 days.
Iceland Ring Road Itinerary 5 Days
Day 1: Arrive, Explore Reykjavik And Blue Lagoon
Arrive In Reykjavik (Keflavik airport)
If you’re traveling from the US, your flight will likely be overnight, arriving in Iceland early on day one. This is perfect, as you’ll still have an entire day ahead of you to explore the country.
Reclaim your luggage, pick up your rental car and get ready for a full first day in Iceland.
I highly recommend Lava Car Rental, a local Icelandic car rental company.
The rental pickup site is located outside of the airport (they have a free shuttle from the airport), which means they can offer some of the best prices.
I have a complete guide to whether or not you should rent a car in Iceland here if you are unsure.
After you pick up your rental car, pick up some budget-friendly groceries at Kronan. You’ll want to pack food every day to make the most of your 5 days in Iceland. Then, head into Reykjavik city center to see the city.
Although there is not a ton to see in Reykjavik compared to other places in Iceland, it’s definitely worth visiting for an hour or so.
Head to Hallgrimskirkja Church to see the most iconic piece of architecture in Iceland: a concrete church that resembles the volcanic basalt columns you’ll see throughout the country.
Then, walk down the street directly in front of the church for a cup of coffee, a souvenir or two, and the famous Rainbow Street.
In the afternoon, visit the envied Blue Lagoon, a natural geothermal hot spring that has been converted into a full-service spa and resort. It is known globally for its healing mineral qualities.
At Blue Lagoon, you’re guaranteed to witness some of the bluest water you’ve ever seen.
Furthermore, all visitors get both a free silica face mask and a free beverage from the swim-up bar with admission.
Don’t wait until the last minute to book your tickets like I did, or you might end up with a late-night admission time. Once you’re admitted into Blue Lagoon, you get to stay as long as you want. So, to get the most value for your dollar, book your tickets for a time slot earlier in the day.
Finally, head to your accommodations in either Selfoss or Vik to have dinner and catch up to your jet lag.
Day 2: Seljalandsfoss Waterfall And Skogafoss Waterfall
After waking up refreshed, drive to the magnificent Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
Iceland has tens of thousands of waterfalls. As you drive this Iceland Ring Road itinerary, you’ll be blown away by more massive waterfalls than you can count. So, what makes Seljalandsfoss stand out?
Not only does this 200-foot waterfall behemoth boast an epic view, but the unique shape of Seljalandsfoss actually allows you to walk completely behind it.
You will get wet, so make sure to bring a warm rain coat, like this Eddie Bauer jacket that I brought.
Now, this 5 day Iceland Ring Road itinerary wouldn’t be complete without visiting Iceland’s most popular waterfall, Skogafoss.
Like its neighbor Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss is a skyscraper of a waterfall, coming in at just under 200 feet tall.
The wide shape of the waterfall is what makes Skogafoss so appealing to visitors. Plus, here, you can take stairs up to the top of the waterfall to see the fall’s powerful crest.
It can get extremely windy here, though (as can every place in Iceland), so do not get too close to the edge of the crest overlook.
Afterward, head back to your accommodations in Selfoss or Vik, and rest up for very full Iceland Ring Road itinerary day tomorrow.
Day 3: Kirkjufjara Beach, Dyrholaey Peninsula, Vik, Diamond Beach And Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Kirkjufara Beach (Black Sand Beach)
Now that you’re fully rested and acquainted to the time change, start your day early and drive to the legendary Kirkjufara Beach, also known as Black Sand Beach, in Vik.
As the nickname suggests, Kirkjufara Beach is a long black sand beach that runs along the coast of Vik.
Here, you can find huge basalt columns right on the beach, as well as a volcanic rock cave and, of course, rare volcanic black sand.
Originally, we planned to visit Kirkjufara on day two after Skogafoss. But, unexpected bad weather conditions prevented us from doing so. Check the weather before your trip, and adjust your Ring Road itinerary as necessary.
Likewise, do not get close to the water, and never turn your back to the ocean. Kirkjufara is home to monstrous “sneaker waves,” which notoriously sneak up on tourists and pull them out to sea. There is a warning sign with lights by the beach entrance, so be sure to follow the daily warning recommendations.
Weather permitting, drive onto the Dyrhrolaey Peninsula for an epic bird’s eye view of Kirkjufara, as well as incredible views of the ocean and surrounding cliffs.
Keep your eyes peeled for seals swimming below you, too.
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite and probably need a second to warm up before adventuring further, drive into the town of Vik for a hot lunch at The Soup Company.
The Soup Company is a very busy restaurant, so either arrive when it opens or be prepared to wait in a line. The wait is worth it, though.
I opted for the broccoli cheddar soup, which was delicious. And, I definitely recommend the homemade hot chocolate with whipped cream.
Also, while in Vik, check out the Icewear store for souvenirs and warmer clothes if you want them. Souvenir stores are scarce throughout the rest of this Iceland Ring Road itinerary, so make sure to stop here if you’ll want them.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
After lunch, make your way through Vatnajokull National Park (where you’ll pass giant Icelandic glaciers) toward the southeastern corner of Iceland to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is an absolute hidden gem on the Iceland South Coast, and it was honestly the highlight of our entire trip.
From the road, Jokulsarlon looks like nothing but a parking lot and a few dirt hills. But, once you walk up the hills, you will be blown away with a glacier-fed lagoon filled with floating icebergs.
If you want the chance to see icebergs and be reminded of your proximity to the Arctic circle during your five days in Iceland, do not skip this road trip stop.
Just down the street, you’ll find the iconic Diamond Beach of Iceland.
Diamond Beach, which happens to be another black sand beach, was put on the map for its icebergs that drift to the ocean from the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.
The combination of the beach sunshine, dark black sand and contrasting bright blue icebergs gives the iceberg fragments a diamond-like appearance — hence the name Diamond Beach.
If you’re underwhelmed here at first (Instagram photos can be deceiving), walk down the beach away from the parking lot entrance. There, you should be able to find bigger, more impressive icebergs.
Afterward, drive to your next accommodations near Egilsstadir, Iceland.
Day 4: Studlagil Canyon And Namafjall Geothermal Area
Less than an hour outside of Egilsstadir, down several unpaved roads, you’ll find the marvelous Stuglagil Canyon.
Studlagil Canyon, unlike any canyon on Earth, is surrounded by tall black volcanic basalt columns and has a milky aquamarine glacier river running right through it.
As someone who loves seeing natural basalt columns and is determined to discover the bluest water in the world, Studlagil Canyon was an Iceland Ring Road itinerary highlight.
Although, know ahead of time that there is a mild hike to Studlagil Canyon, and that you will likely get very muddy if you hike down into the canyon. I suggest parking in the second parking lot (bumpy road, but 4WD is not necessary) to cut the otherwise six mile hike in half.
Also, don’t wear white shoes. Learn from my mistake.
Namafjall Geothermal Area
After a spectacular morning at Studlagil, prepare for a long drive back toward the west coast.
The drive will last about eight hours, so make sure to fill up your gas tank in Egilsstadir in the morning because gas stations are sparse along the north side of Ring Road.
Along the drive, you’ll find yourself in luscious green mountains, black volcanic deserts, and even bright orange and red mountains that steam from local geothermal activity. The latter area is known as Namafjall Geothermal Area.
This Ring Road itinerary stop will leave you absolutely breathless — both figuratively and literally. The bright mountain colors, volcanic vapor and bubbling hot springs transport you to a dinosaur era. Meanwhile, the sulfurous odor, caused by the geothermal activity, will take your actual breath away.
No doubt, though, the otherworldly sights here outperform the strong sulfur scent.
After a few more hours of driving, you’ll arrive to your last night of accommodations on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Day 5: Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall And Depart
To finish off your Iceland Ring Road road trip, visit the photogenic Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall.
The uniquely shaped mountain that backdrops the waterfall is what makes this spot one of the most photographed places in Iceland.
Plus, it’s the perfect way to end your trip, as the waterfall is a relatively quick stop (the parking lot is steps away from the falls). And, it is not far from the airport.
Lastly, you’ll head back to Keflavik airport for your return flight, which, if traveling back to the US, will likely take off in the late afternoon.
Well, there you have it! As you can see, with this Iceland Ring Road itinerary, you can indeed see everything in just 5 days.
If you have any questions about your upcoming trip to Iceland, don’t hesitate to reply in the comment section below or send me a message on Instagram. I’m here to help!
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