Iceland is mind-blowing, and it’s not a surprise that it’s on every traveler’s bucket list, considering its beautiful scenery. From expansive glaciers to shimmering Northern lights and hot springs, there’s so much to see in Iceland. But you must go close to most of these attractions to absorb their beauty. What better way to do this than a self-drive adventure around Iceland? The roads in Iceland are in excellent condition, especially for an Arctic location, so you’ll enjoy every bit of your trip. Here’s a guide that provides enough information to help you have a fascinating time navigating this mystical land.

Iceland’s Top  Road Trips 

Whether you’re looking for an action-packed express tour, an adrenaline-arousing sightseeing trip, or a leisurely adventure, Iceland offers it all. This means there’s something to suit your road trip desires, irrespective of how strange it is.

That said, here are some of the best road trips you can take in Iceland.

  • The Golden Circle Route – 1 Day

If your definition of a fun road trip is coasting through stunning countryside to see dramatic cliff sides, spouting geysers, and thundering waterfalls, all at your pace, you definitely want to enjoy a road trip through Iceland’s Golden Circle route. This breathtaking trip spans around 300 kilometers, allowing you to soak up as many natural wonders as you’d want in a day. The route starts from Reykjavik and passes through three top Iceland tourist destinations (Þingvellir National Park, the popular Gullfoss Falls, and the geothermal wonders of Strokkur and Geysir that feature erupting boiling water).

Depending on how adventurous you are, you can also extend your trip to cover other noteworthy detours like the  Fontana Geothermal Baths, Kerið Crater, Langjökull Glacier, Þjórsárdalur (Thjorsardalur) Valley, etc., whatever your choice of attractions, be sure to have enough memory space in your camera because this route has enough picturesque sceneries to last you a long time.

  • The Wild and Wonderful Westfjords – 3 Days

There are good reasons a 3-day tour of the wonderful Westfjords is on most travelers’ bucket list, but the scenic mountain views, charming villages, and fabulous fjords stand out most. This road trip thrills you with majestic mountains towering above bright blue fjords, while tons of beautiful coastal roads connect the thrilling small fishing villages to stunning waterfalls and bird-filled cliffs.

There’s so much that this tour offers you, but most people are captivated by the adrenaline rush that comes with standing on tall cliff edges while feeling the mist of cascading waterfalls splash on their faces as they gaze at serene fjords that stretch beyond the mountains.

  • The Ring Road Route – 7 Days 

Your Iceland adventure may never be complete without a trip through the Ring Road route. Formally referred to as Route 1, the Ring Road route is one of Iceland’s most popular road trips. Its popularity is largely because it is a gateway to some of Iceland’s most breathtaking landscapes. The 1322 km loop connects most towns and villages, treating you to various unforgettable sceneries.

The road trip takes you through some of Iceland’s most remote areas, providing you with a rare opportunity to see a side of the country that only a few tourists have ever seen. Since it’s the main highway running around the island, you can expect that many of its highlights will feature in other fly-drive tours. So, beyond the length of the trip, it offers you the opportunity to see more within one trip.

  • The South Iceland Route – 5 Days

Here’s the favorite option for travelers who have more than a few days to play with during their Iceland visit. Although an ideal option for a 5-day self-driving jaunt, the astonishing southern coast of Iceland gives you more than enough experience to last you a lifetime. The route features some of Iceland’s most popular sights, although it doesn’t require you to spend huge stretches of your day in the car.

This part of Iceland offers a lot of wonders to even the most enthusiastic travelers. Most tourists will start from Reykjavik because it offers them enough grip on Icelandic culture. Whether you start from Reykjavik or not, you can always switch to Route 1, from where you can access the magical Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Golden Circle, or the Glacier Lagoon.

Practical Tips and Tricks for a Successful Iceland Road Trip

Now that you know some of Iceland’s most fascinating drive tours, you’re probably itching to jump on the next flight. Well, not so fast, travel lovers. There are a few more survival tips you should learn before your Iceland adventure. Here, take a look at some of them.

  • Plan your stops and itinerary

Given Iceland’s vast landscapes and relatively sparse population, it’s a no-brainer to plan your tour by detailing every route and stop before any road trip. You should be sure about accommodation locations, fuel stations, and restaurants. You should also consider Iceland’s seasonal changes (limited daylight in winter and almost unlimited daylight in summer) during your trip. This way, you can get the best out of your road trip without being stranded midway.

  • Respect the environment

There’s a good reason Iceland is often referred to as an ecological paradise. It is a well-planned country with organized landscapes and beautiful natural attractions. Iceland citizens are friendly and accommodating, but they typically want visitors to respect their environment. The best way to do this is to stick to the principle of leaving no trace (don’t litter, don’t loiter, respect wildlife, etc.)

  • If you’re not so confident about driving, don’t

Unless you’re an expert driver, we recommend joining a tour over renting and driving yourself. Don’t worry; you will still enjoy all that an Iceland road trip offers when you travel with a guided driving tour. You just need to stare out of the window to enjoy the surrounding scenery.

  • Check the weather forecast

One of Iceland’s most important features is its unique climate. The weather often switches without warning. So, paying attention to weather forecasts before embarking on your trip makes sense. These forecasts may not always be 100% accurate, but they give you a glimpse of what to expect throughout the day. You don’t want a storm to cut your trip short when you’re yet to experience everything you want to.

  • Bring essential supplies

Every traveler knows the importance of traveling with essential supplies. However, these supplies are even more important when you’re embarking on long road trips that will last days. Pack warm clothes, snacks, rain gear, GPS, maps, and a first-aid kit to help you mitigate different situations throughout your tour.

Renting a Car in Iceland

The two most popular options for road trip enthusiasts in Iceland are:

  • Self-driving
  • Joining a tour

If you choose to self-drive, you should be looking to rent a car in Iceland. Fortunately, there’s a wide range of different vehicle types for renters to choose from in Iceland. There are also a variety of car rentals in different locations.

If you’re touring outside the city limits, we recommend four-wheel drives like mini trucks and SUVs. Beyond their ability to hold more luggage, these cars can also navigate most terrains in any part of Iceland.

Alternatively, you can choose the four-seat Yaris if you’ll travel more on paved roads and within city limits. These cars are typically cheaper than SUVs, although they also do not contain enough space to hold the amount of luggage an average SUV would hold.

Conclusion

That’s it: a detailed guide to help you get the best road trip experience in Iceland. Remember that road trips allow you to explore this beautiful country on your own terms. However, while making the most of your trip, prioritize safety and always follow all driving rules to avoid issues. Locals are mostly friendly and welcoming, so you’ll surely enjoy your trip. Don’t forget to send us your experience when you finally decide to embark on your first or fifth road trip around Iceland.

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