Iceland – The land of Vikings is blessed with stunning landscapes, ever-changing weather and scenery. There is a popular saying here – If you don’t like the weather wait for 15 mins. Little did I know it would be such a true story. While, the Euro trip 2018 was planned with Northern lights in mind, a 7 day Iceland road trip itinerary was the next biggest thing on the agenda.
Iceland is also the mythical home of my favourite animated character – Toothless. The Night Fury dragon from How to train your dragon.
Iceland is well known for its dramatic landscapes. It has myriad volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, lava fields and massive glaciers in Vatnajökull and Snæfellsjökull national parks and it’s also the land where you need to be Spelling Bee Champ just to get the names and pronunciations right. Sasura jabaan tedhi ho jaat he!!
Best way to Explore Iceland
The best and the only way I would recommend to explore Iceland is in a self-rented car. Depending on your budget and leaves, I would recommend either a 7 or 10 day Iceland road trip itinerary. If you really have the time, then you can follow the same route but at a leisure pace and follow a 2 week Iceland road trip itinerary instead of 7 days.
Driving around the ring road is one of the best experiences that you can have in your lifetime. Every 10 mins the landscapes change drastically. I can assure you, its something you have never seen before, unless you have been to Iceland before.
By tour bus or day tours
The other next best option would be to stay in hostels and opt for tours with agencies. But again I wouldn’t recommend it. There is another option of taking a hop on hop off bus, but considering the landscape and the size of Iceland, I wouldn’t recommend it either. Also, everything in Iceland is damn expensive so unless you are renting a car, Iceland will be pricey.
Flying in from Norway to Iceland
We arrived at the Keflavik Airport around 11-12PM in the afternoon. As per the car rental booking, we had to wait till 3PM or pay for an extra day. So as you must have guessed, we decided to spend 3 hours at the airport chit-chatting. We also had some awesome but expensive hot dogs and sandwiches at the airport.
TIP – If you have spare time and you know about it beforehand, you can spend some time in the duty free section. Also re-stock your alcohol because more than anywhere else in the world, you would need it here just for survival purposes.
Iceland road trip itinerary – Based on days
Depending on the time you have, you can follow this rough guideline. The routes are already marked in the image at the top of the post. A rough Iceland road trip itinerary would look like this:
- 1 day: Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon
- 2 days, add: South Coast
- 3 days, add: More time in Reykjavík
- 4 days, add: South east Iceland
- 6 days, add: East Iceland
- 8 days, add: North Iceland
- 10 days, add: West Iceland & Ring Road drive
- More time: Add more nature excursions, slow down
7 day Iceland road trip itinerary – My experience
I have tried to keep the day-wise details very concise to fit them in 1 post. If you want to get the complete details of each day with the accommodation, cost of stay, sightseeing places etc, check out the detailed post links mentioned below each day.
Day 1 – Reykjavik
As you can see we landed at Keflavik Airport and left for Blue Lagoon (Grindavik).
We spent lot of fun time there and then headed towards our guesthouse – Alba Guesthouse in Reykjavik.
For dinner, we went to a Chinese restaurant that was in the lane right opposite to the Reykjavik Cathedral. We all were hungry and finally coming to the term wind chill in Iceland. While the temperatures were still in the positive, the wind was just killing us. I made a mental note to wear my wind proof jacket from tomorrow onwards till we were in Iceland.
After the dinner, we clicked some photos of the Cathedral and crashed at our guesthouse soon after.
For more details about the day and Blue Lagoon, check out – Complete Guide to Blue Lagoon
Day 2 – Golden circle & Sólheimasandur
As per the Iceland road trip itinerary, today was an aggressive day, so we started early, as we had a lot to cover. We left early and the first stop apart from a Sunrise break was Silfra in Pingelliever National Park.
Some of us did snorkelling at Silfra. After that we headed to the Gullfoss waterfall. The walk from the car parking till the waterfall is a hellish experience and this is where your clothing + alcohol (if you had stocked some up) would be life savers.
Next, we headed to the Geyser and had our lunch break.
After the Geyser next stop was Sólheimasandur plane crash – Yup the iconic plane made famous by Justin Bieber and Sharukh Khan (Gerua song), this again is a good 2-3 kms walk from the parking lot and its an open stretch with the vast ocean ahead of you. So one hell of a walk.
For a detailed day log with all expenses, read – Golden Circle Tour & Sólheimasandur.
The perk of driving late in the night – You get to experience the Aurora Borealis while driving. After driving close to 14 hours we reached Seljavellir guesthouse by 9 PM.
Note – We missed out on Seljalandsfoss, Vik & Dyrhólaey because initially Silfra snorkelling wasn’t part of the Iceland road trip itinerary. So we had to drive straight to our guesthouse. I would highly recommend extending the trip by 1 day to accommodate these places as well.
Day 3 – South east Iceland & East Fjords
Today was a comparatively relaxed day, yesterday’s drive was pretty hectic. But we decided to cover a few spots that were left behind yesterday.
First among them was Jökulsárlón – A big glacial lagoon. Big blocks of ice break from the glacier and float around in this lagoon until they make their way out to sea.
If you walk down to the coastline you can see waves playing with big chunks of ice dotted around the black sandy beach – the Diamond Beach.
After that we stopped at Hvalnes Lighthouse – A stunning lighthouse overlooking the cliff. After clicking lots of photos next we headed to Álftafjörður – Swan-fjord is very pretty, especially when flocks of swans gather there. And you get great views of Eystrahorn mountain.
Last stop was our guesthouse – Gisthus Olgu in Egilsstaðir. Also, the weather apps predicted a snow storm and for the first time in the trip, we experienced snow fall. We were all like little children playing in the snow, till our fingers and hands went numb.
For a detailed Day 3 log with all expenses, read – Eastern and Southeast Iceland
Day 4 – North Iceland
There was a snowstorm yesterday evening and as result all the roads were covered with a thick white blanket of snow. For the Iceland road trip itinerary in winters, I would recommend keeping a few spare days as the weather can change pretty quickly.
First Stop – Town of Lagarfljót where rumours are that the Icelandic ‘Loch Ness’ lives in the Lagarfljót river. There is even a youtube video on it.
Next, we headed to Dettifoss (oh by the way, foss means water fall in Icelandic, should have mentioned that earlier). Due to the snowstorm, the place had turned into a set of GOT. Selfoss is located upstream from Dettifoss and you can walk along the trail to visit it.
After that, we had some small breaks in between for photography and had our lunch at Mylla Restaurant. Tried the Icelandic lamb soup, which was delicious but very salty for my liking (Yeah, I did check with the staff and they mentioned that thats exactly how its supposed to be.)
Next up on our route was Godafoss. Only a couple of us ventured outside as most of the folks were tired of seeing waterfalls. Yeah again such people do exist. Unlike most waterfalls in Iceland, this one doesn’t fall from a great height.
Last stop was our hostel Hafnarstraeti (A Capsule hostel). By the way they have an offer in winters – Stay for 5 nights and if you don’t see the Northern lights you get some refund.
Day 4 log with all expenses & details – Top attractions in North Iceland
Day 5 – North Iceland
Today was more about driving through the pristine white landscape of Northern Iceland and of course, covering Myvatn which we couldn’t yesterday.
We visited the Myvatn Lake in the morning after an hours drive from our hostel. Some of us wanted to spend some time in Myvatn Nature Baths, as a couple of them had missed the Blue Lagoon.
Rest of us went to explore Dimmuborgir – the dark city located close to the lake. The only issue was it wasn’t dark anymore due to all that snow. It had turned into a white snow carpet. Anyways we spent some time, got back and picked up others from Myvatn baths and then drove all the way upto our accommodation – Riishus Guesthouse in Borðeyri. I really wish if we could have someway fit in Husavik – Whale watching capital of the world in our Iceland road trip itinerary.
Day 5 log with details & expenses – Diamond Circle North Iceland
Day 6 – West Iceland
Probably the most boring day of the Iceland road trip itinerary, we were driving from our guesthouse all the way down to our hostel – Base Hostel near Keflavik. There were no notable sightseeing attractions and also the car had to be returned today before 3 PM.
So we drove all the way to Reykjavik and headed straight to the Reykjavik Cathedral (Hallgrimskirkja). Inside the church we spent quite a lot of time and took the elevator all the way to the top. It gives you panoramic views of the city of Reykjavik.
We had a fulfilling lunch at Cafe Loki (God of Mischief). It was probably some of the best stuff I had in this trip. After that we spent the day roaming around the hostel premises.
For today, there is no separate day wise log as we didn’t do much sightseeing. For the day wise expenses (which I usually cover in the detailed day logs/posts) I’ll post them right here for today.
- Lunch at Cafe Loki – Around 1000 INR.
- Reykjavik Cathedral Elevator – ISK 1000
- Dinner at the hostel – Ready to cook packets from India and some fresh fruits from supermarket – 200 INR
We had to book an airport shuttle through the hostel, which costed approx 1400 Rs/person for a distance of hardly 4-5 kms. That’s how expensive Iceland can be.
It was time to say good-bye to Iceland and that too with a heavy heart. When we travel we always talk about food, people and the culture. But in Iceland, it’s almost always about the landscapes. The local population is sparse so except Reykjavik you won’t find many locals here.
I do believe in one thing for sure, that I just scratched the surface of what Iceland is during these 7 days. If given enough time ( and of course buckets of money), I would be budgeting at least 3 weeks to explore it.
Trust me there is so much more to explore. If you noticed we just covered the ring road, as almost the entire center of Iceland is covered by glaciers. During my next trip (whenever that happens) I would love to explore this part as well through glacial walks, 4*4 vehicles and some amphibious vehicles specially made for these terrains.
Road trip Expenses
This is one expense that will greatly vary based on the kind of deal you can get and the number of people and the season in which you visit. More the people, cheaper the cost.
- Vehicle – 9 seater 2WD Renault Traffic 9-seater
- Extras – Apart from Unlimited KM’s and mandatory taxes, almost none.
- Cost – 1,30,000 ISK for 6 days. (Roughly 70000 INR)
- Fuel Expenses – 3500$ Approximately.
- So overall road trip expenses – 100000/6 folks, so around ~17000 INR.
In case you are visiting in late winters, a 4WD is highly recommended and do opt for emergency RSA.
TIP – If you want to do it solo or duo go for the Suzuki Jimny – perfect car. In fact whenever I visit Iceland again, that’s the car I am going to opt for.