Updated: Sep 28
You may have heard already, but Iceland is an extremely popular tourist destination. In fact, we get six times as many visitors a year as there are residents. Kind of crazy, right? The country’s infrastructure is best suited for traveling by car, camper, or motorhome, so lots of people rent vehicles. There are several reasons why an Iceland road trip is the ultimate bucket list item. Let’s get into some of the island’s main highlights, attractions, and things to do.
Iceland’s Ring Road
There are a million contributing factors to why you should take an Iceland road trip. First and foremost, it’s super easy! Not only does everyone speak English, but the country was made for road trips.
If you look on Google Maps, you’ll see that there’s the main highway called Route 1. This is Iceland’s Ring Road, and it circumnavigates the whole island. You’ll find some of the best attractions by the Ring Road of Iceland. From Vik’s black sand beaches to the floating icebergs at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
Your Ultimate Iceland Road Trip Bucket List
There are so many natural wonders to be found on your Iceland bucket list. No Iceland travel itinerary would be complete without excursions to the country’s glaciers, waterfalls, volcanoes, hot springs geothermal areas, lava fields, fishing villages, and hiking zones. And let’s not forget the most popular things to do outdoors. This includes attending summer festivals, looking for the Northern Lights, going on a whale watching excursion, seeing North Atlantic puffin colonies, and more. There’s also the island’s mountainous interior region, known as the Highlands.
Iceland’s Frosty Glaciers
Iceland is known for these icy giants, and you’ll find them all over the island. From Snaefellsjökull to Langjökull to Vatnajökull. The largest of these is Vatnajökull glacier, located in Vatnajökull National park. Have a fun day out doing a glacier hike, exploring a glacier cave, doing ice cave tours, or snowmobiling on the glacier's frozen surface.
Land of Volcanoes
Obviously, if there’s an active volcano in the middle of erupting, then I would advise staying away. But there are plenty of extinct volcanoes, craters, and crater lakes to visit. Askja caldera and Eldborg crater are some of the best places to experience extinct volcanoes. Eyjafjallajökull and Hekla are perfect if you’re looking for a volcano tour of an active volcano. There’s also the Vatnshellir cave on the Snaefellsnes peninsula.
The Most Famous Iceland Waterfalls
Iceland has over 10,000 waterfalls, which is pretty impressive for a country half the size of the UK. There are several that have become must-sees for anyone road tripping through Iceland. These include Gullfoss, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Svartifoss, Dettifoss, Godafoss, and Kirkjufellsfoss. They are all magnificent and different in their own way. Photography in Iceland is very popular, and the country’s cascades make great subjects for photographers.
The Northern Lights
You can’t talk about traveling in Iceland without mentioning the Northern Lights. This gorgeous nighttime spectacle in the sky is visible from late September through mid-March. While there are plenty of tours, it’s also quite easy to do a DIY Northern Lights excursion. Just make sure you go on a clear night and check the aurora forecast on the Iceland Meteorological Office website.
The Blue Lagoon Spa and Geothermal Hot Springs
Visiting the Blue Lagoon spa is probably at the top of every Iceland traveler’s bucket list. The milky, turquoise hue of the healing silica-infused waters welcomes you and keeps you warm on those chilly Icelandic days. Can you Imagine watching the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of a geothermal bath?
If the crowds of the Blue Lagoon aren’t for you, maybe go for one of the smaller hot pots and geothermal baths around Iceland. The Mývatn Nature baths are a great option as is the Reykjadalur valley hot river, which is close enough to Reykjavik for a day trip. You can’t pass up visiting hot springs in Iceland.
Landmannalaugar and the Laugavegur Trail
This territory and its colorful volcanic mountains are the perfect introduction to Iceland’s Highlands. The hiking trails in this zone are famous for their stunning landscapes, and there are paths for hikers of all levels.
Whale Watching and Puffins
In the summer, head to Iceland’s whale watching capital, Húsavik. There are over 20 species of cetaceans that frequent our waters. Around different parts of the island, you’ll see killer whales, blue whales, minkes whales, fin whales, dolphins, and more. Make some new friends on a whale-watching excursion.
We’ve also got the adorable Atlantic puffin. They return to Iceland every summer to mate, socialize, and form colonies. It’s quite a sight to see thousands of these beautiful birds flocking together on the cliffs of Látrabjarg.
An Iceland Road Trip: The Ultimate Bucket List Item
This is just a taste of what’s available and should help you with planning your trip. If you’ve got any questions or need advice for your Ring Road trip, please feel free to reach out. We’re happy to help.