A 9 day Iceland Itinerary Around the Ring Road

Need an Iceland itinerary?

Look no further.

Hot pots, lagoons, mountains, waterfalls, black sand beaches, glaciers, horses- this Iceland itinerary has them all for the perfect day trip.

My husband, Harrison, and I recently spent 9 days in Iceland driving around the Ring Road.

I planned meticulously for months ahead of time, and came up with a Google map and the ultimate Iceland itinerary that we followed each day!

We followed it step by step and our trip was honestly amazing. After our nine days of touring the South Coast were up, we felt like we had spent plenty of time really experiencing Iceland in all its beauty. It was incredible!

As a general tip, you may want to schedule your trip during the summer months, or anytime from May or June to September. You’ll get to enjoy longer daylight hours by then, meaning longer hours spent outside – so your plans can accommodate a few short detours here and there!

However, if you’re scheduling your trip around winter, you might want to allow some time to join ice cave tours. After all, ice caves are only accessible during winter months!

So here you go, a nine-day Iceland itinerary around the entire Ring Road. You’ll go all around Iceland’s Ring Road on Highway 1, catching all of the most beautiful sights and highlights along the way!

I hope this Iceland ring road itinerary helps you plan your Iceland road trip whether you’re here for a week or a month! Modify it to suit exactly what you want to get out of your Iceland trip!

Map of Places

Scroll through my Iceland itinerary below to see the most stunning views and hidden gems in this beautiful country that I captured on camera!

Iceland Itinerary Day 1

Total driving time: 1 hour

Location: Reykjavik

  • Keflavik International Airport – Land in the morning. Pick up your portable WiFi at Dunkin Donuts (we got ours through TraWire) and get your rental car by the airport (we used 4×4 Icerentals through Guide to Iceland).
  • Blue Lagoon – **Advanced reservation required** Enjoy the Blue Lagoon right after the airport since it’s right next to it! It’s also a great way to decompress.
  • Lava Restaurant – Splurge a little and have lunch at the Lava Restaurant at the Blue Lagoon.
  • Hotel – Check into your hotel in Reykjavik. We stayed at the Center Hotel Plaza and loved it. I highly recommend upgrading your room to the top floor! It’s not too much extra (I think it’s around $30 USD) and the view is worth it!
  • Reykjavik – Explore the city! Be sure to check out Hallgrímskirkja, the famous Icelandic church, the Sun Voyager sculpture, and the Harpa Concert Hall. If you have time to spare, you can even take a scenic 1-hour Puffin and Bird Watching boat tour to see puffins from Reykjavik’s Old Harbor.
  • Dinner – Grab some dinner in Reykjavik. The options are endless, so I’ll let you choose whichever one sounds best!
Plan for at least 3 hours at the Blue Lagoon. It’s so relaxing- the perfect way to decompress after a long flight!

Click here to learn about the things that no one tells you about the Blue Lagoon!

Food at Lava Restaurant may be pricey, but heads up! Pretty much all restaurant food is pricey in Iceland! Expect to spend at least $20 USD per plate for lunch and $30-45 per plate for dinner!
We arrived to see gorgeous blue skies in Reykjavik!
This is why I recommend upgrading to the top floor of the Center Hotel Plaza- the view is unbelievable! It’s also in a great location and a very walkable area.

Iceland Itinerary Day 2

Total driving time: 3 hours, 19 minutes

Location: Driving around the Golden Circle, from Reykjavik making a circle to end up in the Selfoss area.

  • Hotel – Enjoy breakfast at your hotel. The Center Plaza Hotel has a fantastic breakfast! (Time to next destination: 48 minutes)
  • Thingvellir National Park – This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for the Alþing, the oldest parliament in the world. On the site are the Þingvellir Church and the ruins of old stone shelters. The park is also famous for the Silfra fissure, or the gap formed between two tectonic plates (North America and Eurasia). It is also one of the best places in Iceland to see the northern lights! (Time to next destination: 1 hour)
  • Haukadalur Hot Springs – There is an active geyser, Strokkur, which goes 30 meters (98 ft) high every five to ten minutes and can be found within the Geysir Geothermal Area. (Time to next destination: 10 minutes)
  • Gullfoss (and lunch) – This is the famous “V” shaped waterfall in Iceland. While you’re there, grab some lunch at the cafe- it has great soups, sandwiches, salads, and cakes. (Time to next destination: 15 minutes)
  • Brúarhlöð Brúarhlöð is a narrow gorge in the Hvitá River about three kilometers south of the Gullfoss. When we went, no one was there, except for a group rafting on the river! (Time to next destination: 17 minutes)
  • Secret Lagoon Hot Spring – **Reservation recommended but not required** This lagoon is much smaller than the Blue Lagoon but is just as fun. It’s only 3300 ISK per person with a towel. There are changing rooms and showers here. (Time to next destination: 4 minutes)
  • Hrunalaug – A tiny hot pot, you might see a line of customers before you get in! It’s located in Hruni, tucked away over a hill, so secluded that you can’t see it from the parking lot. It’s on private land but the owners don’t charge a fee! There’s a tiny changing room as well. (Time to next destination: 2 minutes)
  • Minilik Ethiopian Restaurant – This place has great reviews! If you’re up for a new cuisine while in a new country, try it out! Note that it is closed on Sundays. (Time to next destination: 31 minutes)
  • Kerid This is a famous crater lake with gorgeous turquoise waters that might have formed from the explosion of volcanoes. There is a small entrance fee of 400 ISK to preserve and protect the crater. (Time to next destination: 15 minutes)
  • Akurgerdi Guesthouse – This guesthouse is basically a perfectly decorated tiny home set on a horse farm! You have your own private hot tub and a kitchen!
The view at Þingvellir National Park.
The famous Gullfoss waterfall! You will get sprayed a bit by the mist.
Brúarhlöð was one of my favorite spots- we were practically the only ones there!
It started raining while we were at the Secret Lagoon Hot Spring, but it was no problem- the hot water felt so good!
Doesn’t Hrunalaug look like something out of the Shire in Lord of the Rings?
Heading down the stairs at Kerid. You can go all the way to the lake at the bottom!

Iceland Itinerary Day 3

Total driving time: 3 hours, 57 minutes

Location: Starting in Selfoss, ending in Kirkjubæjarklaustur.

  • Hotel – If you stay at the Akurgerdi Guesthouse, start the morning with a dip in the hot tub, or by playing with the horses! (Time to next destination: 10 minutes)
  • Breakfast in Selfoss – We enjoyed breakfast at Kaffe Kruz in Selfoss. They’ve got great prices for Iceland. (Time to next destination: 1 hour)
  • Seljalandsfoss – Easily accessible walking trails lead you behind the waterfall. Wear a waterproof jacket as you will get soaking wet from the drizzle! We brought a camera jacket for our DSLR as well!  (Time to next destination: 22 minutes)
  • Seljavallalaug – No entry fee to this pool. Turn of the Ring Road onto Road 242. You drive until you reach the parking lot (there are two, park at the further one since it is closer!) then walk for 15-20 minutes towards the bottom of the valley. You can’t see it until you get to it! Note that you’ll have to cross a tiny creek. Seljavallalaug is pretty but feel free to skip it. The changing rooms were littered with trash and the water had quite a bit of algae in it (and wasn’t very warm!). But it’s definitely a unique experience! (Time to next destination: 13 minutes + a hike)
  • Skógafoss Waterfall – Skógafoss is 60 m high and 25 meters wide, and you can walk right up to it. Again, there is a drizzle, so protect your camera. There’s a really long staircase that leads up to the top of the hill above the falls. (Time to next destination: 12 minutes + 4km hike)
  • Sólheimasandur plane crash – This famous plane crash is set on a black beach. We didn’t go because it was pouring rain, but I’ve heard it’s worth the 4km hike!  (Time to next destination: 19 minutes)
  • Reynisfjara Beach – A famous black sand beach with beautiful basalt columns. Have a late lunch/early dinner in Vik nearby! (Time to next destination: 1 hour, 2 minutes)
  • Eldhraun – The largest lava field in the world! It looks like the trolls in Frozen to me! (Time to next destination: 2 minutes)
  • Hotel in Kirkju-bæjarklaustur – We stayed in Hotel Geirland. It wasn’t anything special, but honestly, there aren’t many options out here!
We loved our stay at the Akurgerdi Guesthouse!
These were some sweet Icelandic horses at the Akurgerdi Guesthouse farm.
I literally got soaking wet taking this picture of Seljalandsfoss!
Good thing I was pretty much wearing entirely waterproof gear!
Hiking to Seljavallalaug.
I look happy enough here but I was actually really grossed out by the water- so much algae!
The view of Skogafoss from the top of the stairs! Trust me, going up that stairs-like hiking trail will give you a great workout.
It was pouring rain at Reynisfjara Beach, but the black sand and basalt columns (not pictured) are really beautiful regardless!

Iceland Itinerary Day 4

Total driving time: 4 hours

Location: Starting in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, ending in Höfn

  • Hotel – Enjoy breakfast at your hotel (Hotel Geirland, where we stayed, has a decent breakfast) (Time to next destination: 17 minutes)
  • Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon – Fjaðrárgljúfur is a canyon with the Fjaðrá River running through it. Stairs/ramps take you to a gorgeous view of the canyon. (Time to next destination: 25 minutes)
  • Fagrifoss – You can only get to Fagrifoss by crossing a river by car! So only attempt to reach this if you’re in a sturdy 4X4 that’s good for offroading. We actually turned back once we saw the river, so maybe we’ll see Fagrifoss on our next trip! (Time to next destination: 1 hour, 26 minutes)
  • Svínafellsjökull – Turn left on to Route 998, which will take you on a very bumpy ride to the car park. The glaciers here are absolutely beautiful! If you have enough time, absolutely go for one of their glacier hikes here. (Time to next destination: 51 minutes)
  • Diamond Beach – This beach is called Diamond Beach because of the glacier ice that washes up on the black sand beach. (Time to next destination: 2 minutes)
  • Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon– This lake is filled with stunning blue glaciers and is right across the Ring Road from Diamond Beach. (Time to next destination: 1 hour)
  • Dinner – We loved the lobster pizza at Z Bistro. They also have delicious desserts! (Time to next destination: 5 minutes)
  • Hotel Höfn – This was one of my favorite hotels. They offer complimentary bike rentals, so definitely bike down to the water- it’s beautiful at sunset!

Need ideas for where to stay along the Ring Road? Check out this post for detailed information on the best spots!

A view of the canyons of Fjaðrárgljúfur.
Though we didn’t make it to Fagrifoss, we did see some GORGEOUS views and falls along the way, like this one!
We also saw plenty of Icelandic sheep along the way. How cute are these guys?
You’ll see a ton of waterfalls as you drive along the Ring Road! This one was on our way to Svínafellsjökull. 
Stunning glacier views at Svínafellsjökull.
Check out those gorgeous glacier pieces on the black sand at Diamond Beach. Such a beautiful contrast!
Right across the Ring Road, you’ll find the stunning blue icebergs at Jökulsárlón.
We ended the day with this sunset in Höfn. How incredible is this reflection? It was absolutely mesmerizing.

Iceland Itinerary Day 5

Total driving time: 3 hours

Location: Höfn to Eskifjörður or Egilsstaðir, driving inland. You can also drive along the coast, but we wanted to see what we’d find inland. Note that you might need a 4X4 vehicle if you’re wanting to leave the Ring Road.

  • Hotel Höfn – The breakfast at Hotel Höfn is beyond delicious. Definitely one of the best breakfast spreads we had! (Time to next destination: 2 hours, 35 minutes)
  • Waterfalls galore – As you drive inland, you’ll be on a smaller road that is paved in some parts and gravel in others. Be prepared to see SO many waterfalls along the drive.
  • Lagarfljót – Lagarfljót is a lake near Egilsstaðir. There are legends of a lake monster in the lake!  (Time to next destination: 6 minutes)
  • Vallanes Restaurant – You’ve got to try this restaurant if you take the route that leads to the lake. It’s in Egilsstaðir and serves all organic food made from theirs and their neighbors’ crops! (Time to next destination: 5 or 52 minutes, it depends on where you’re staying)
  • Hotel – We stayed at an Airbnb in Eskifjörður, but anywhere in East Iceland will be a good place to stop. If you stay in Egilsstaðir, your drive will be shorter on this day and the next.
Waterfalls are all along the drive inland. It’s truly a magical sight!
It’s easy to go chasing waterfalls here!
Yet another gorgeous water feature you might stumble upon.
You’ll have a view of the crops and greenhouse while eating a meal at Vallanes.
They even show you where your food is coming from!

Iceland Itinerary Day 6

Travel time: 4 hours, 23 minutes

Location: Eskifjörður or Egilsstaðir to Laugar

  • Hotel – We started off at our Airbnb in Eskifjörður. If you’re starting in Egilsstaðir, the drive is a little over 2 hours to Dettifoss. (Time to next destination: 2 hours, 45 minutes)
  • Dettifoss – This waterfall in Vatnajökull National Park is the most powerful waterfall in Europe! (Time to next destination: 1 hour)
  • Namaskardh – A sulfuric martian-like landscape that smells like it sounds- like sulfur. There are hot sulfuric mud springs and steam springs. (Time to next destination: 3 minutes)
  • Mývatn Nature Baths – This is the Blue Lagoon of the north. It’s far less crowded with visitors and much cheaper. It is also smaller, but still beautiful. They don’t do advanced reservations! (Time to next destination: 35 minutes)
  • Guesthouse Storu-Laugar – This guesthouse has a great hot tub, but there isn’t much to do in the area. If you want to order dinner, you need to let them know by 5PM.

Did you know that Dettifoss in Iceland is the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe?

Dettifoss: the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe!
Here’s the view looking the other way- the falls create a gorgeous rainbow!
Namascardh, the land of sulfur! Be prepared- it is quite smelly here!
The Mývatn Nature Baths are the Blue Lagoon of the north.
We ended the day with a soak in the hot tub at our hotel.

Iceland Itinerary Day 7

Driving time: 3 hours, 25 minutes

Location: Laugar to Sauðárkrókur

  • Hotel – Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. Depart by 8:30 to leave enough time for whale watching reservation! (Time to next destination: 13 minutes)
  • Goðafoss Waterfall – Goðafoss Waterfall is considered a part of the Diamond Circle sightseeing route. You can actually go down to the water where the falls reach it. (Time to next destination: 44 minutes)
  • Akureyri – The colorful “capital” of northern Iceland. Walk around the main shopping street, Hafnarstræti. (Time to next destination: 34 minutes)
  • Whale watching in Dalvik – Make sure you make a reservation for your whale watching tour. We did ours through Extreme Iceland. The tour is about 2.5-3 hours long. You are supposed to arrive 20 minutes ahead of time! (Time to next destination: 35 minutes)
  • Siglufjörður – Siglufjörður is a gorgeous northern coastal town, and a great place to grab some dinner. (Time to next destination: 1 hour, 19 minutes)
  • Airbnb in Sauðárkrókur – We stayed at an Airbnb that allowed us to go horseback riding the next morning! They had the best riding rates that I was able to find.
Gulfoss is known as the waterfall of the gods because of the pagan idols thrown into it after Iceland became a Christian country.
A view of Akuyeri. This is such a pretty, colorful town. It’s the capital of the North, the biggest city in northern Iceland.

Whale watching in Iceland is a must! Like I mentioned above, we booked our reservation through Extreme Iceland. Scroll up to my day 7 itinerary to learn more about it.

When whale watching in Dalvik, it takes about 45 minutes of boating before you see any whales.
It’s always breathtaking seeing humpback whales! They are so huge! We saw several.
We ended our day with a pretty sky over Sauðárkrókur .

Iceland Itinerary Day 8

Driving time: 5 hours, 18 minutes

Location:  Sauðárkrókur to Stykkisholmur

  • Horseback riding in Sauðárkrókur – We started off the day getting a trail ride at the Airbnb. (Time to next destination: 8 minutes)
  • Breakfast in Sauðárkrókur – We drove into town to grab some breakfast at the local bakery, Sauðárkróksbakarí (Time to next destination: 19 minutes)
  • Grettirs Pool – There are two hot pots at Grettirs Pool, and they are both clean and beautiful. It is about 1000-1500ISK per person. There is a small but clean changing room. (Time to next destination: 1 hour, 45 minutes)
  • Hvitserkur – This rock formation is known as “the troll of NorthWest Iceland.” There is a steep hike down a cliff if you want to get right up to the water where Hvitserkur is. (Time to next destination: 2 hours, 55 minutes)
  • Dinner in Stykkishólmur– There are some excellent dining spots in this little fishing town: Sjávarpakkhúsið and Narfeyrarstofa were the two that caught my eye. The first was closed, so we ate at the latter and it was delicious! (Time to next destination: 13 minutes)
  • Hotel Stundarfridur – This is a pretty new hotel that doesn’t have many rooms, but the ones they do have are large and beautiful!

Horseback riding is an excellent way to experience the beautiful scenery of Iceland!

We began our day with horseback riding at our Airbnb, Icelandhorsetours. This was the best rate for horseback riding that I found! Even if you don’t stay overnight, contact them for a riding tour!
The first of the two hot pots at Grettirs Pool.
Such a quaint, quiet, and clean hot pot- definitely a hidden gem!
What animal do you think Hvitserkur looks like? I think it looks like a rhinoceros!
Yet another colorful sky as the sun went down on our eighth day.

Iceland Itinerary Day 9

Total driving time: 3 hours, 48 minutes

Location: Stykkishólmur to Reykjavik

  • Hotel Stundarfridur– Breakfast at the hotel is included. (Time to next destination: 29 minutes)
  • Kirkjufell/ Kirkjufellsfoss -The falls are right on the road. There’s a parking area and path that takes you all the way around the falls. (Time to next destination: 46 minutes)
  • Arnarstapi -This beautiful town has extraordinary basalt columns and cliff formations, as well as an epic rock stack. (Time to next destination: 2 hours, 30 minutes)
  • Hotel in Reykjavik -We stayed at the Eyja Guldsmeden and it was a perfect last night in Iceland. The hotel is gorgeous and incredibly eco-friendly! (Time to next destination: 15-minute walk)
  • Old Iceland Restaurant-**Reservation recommended** Have the best dinner you’ll ever have at this restaurant! Be sure to try the salmon appetizer!
This was our all-time favorite waterfall, and it’s not even on a list of tourist attractions! We just stumbled upon it while driving.
Does this part of Arnarstapi look like a scene from Lord of the Rings or what?
I recommend ordering this delicious salmon appetizer. It’s a MUST!
Our best meal in Iceland was at Old Iceland in Reykjavik.
Our last night was finished off right- under a canopy bed, feeling like royalty at the Eyda Guldsmeden in Reykjavik.
The Eyda Guldsmeden serves the most delicious breakfast spread! Our favorite hotel breakfast in Iceland.

Iceland Itinerary Day 10

If you’re staying at the Eyda Guldsmeden, the breakfast there is a must, even though it costs extra.

After that, return the rental car and your portable Wi-Fi hotspot, and head to the airport!

I hope your trip is absolutely amazing and I really hope this Iceland itinerary helps!

For more Iceland posts and more details about our Iceland itinerary, check out this one on where to stay around the Ring Road!

The Mysterious Stone Structures of Iceland

When you drive through Iceland, one of the first things you’ll notice is the strange piles of stones placed sporadically throughout the countryside.

These stone piles range in type and size from a pile of a few rocks to huge structures that provide shelter.

These rock piles (known as cairns) were actually ancient guides set up by travelers to help each other traverse the sometimes treacherous country of Iceland.

Travelers used them as guides or markers to help them know where they were and how far they needed to go to their destination.

Some of the cairns are big enough to provide shelter during a storm or otherwise.

These old-fashioned guideposts represent the history of Iceland, and it is actually illegal to disturb them or make new ones.

So please don’t touch them!

The Best Hot Springs in Iceland

Although I included them all in the itinerary above, I know some people prefer to see the best hot springs in Iceland in list format.

So here’s my ranking of the Icelandic hot springs, nature baths, and hot pots I visited from my favorite to least favorite (also shown in the photos below from left to right).

  1. Blue Lagoon
  2. Mývatn Nature Baths
  3. Secret Lagoon Hot Spring
  4. Grettirs Pool
  5. Seljavallalaug

Be sure to scroll back through my itinerary above if you’re looking for more information about a particular hot spring.

Where to Eat in Iceland

Again, although I included where we ate in the itinerary above, I know some people prefer to see food options in list format.

So here are my some of my favorite places we ate in Iceland!

  • Old Iceland
  • breakfast at hotel Eyda Guldsmeden
  • Lava Restaurant (at the Blue Lagoon)
  • Hotel Höfn
  • Kaffe Kruz in Selfoss
  • Z Bistro
  • Vallanes Restaurant
  • Narfeyrarstofa

The Most Amazing Waterfalls in Iceland

Lastly, though I have mentioned these waterfalls throughout my itinerary above, I wanted to provide a consolidated list of Icelandic waterfalls to visit for those interested.

  • Gulfoss
  • Seljalandsfoss
  • Skógafoss
  • Fagrifoss
  • Dettifoss
  • Goðafoss
  • Kirkjufellsfoss

Safe travels!


If you found this post helpful, please pin it to your Iceland Pinterest board! You can click on the red Pinterest button to save an image or use either of these!

Jasmine Alley

Jasmine Alley

I'm a Dallas-based, full-time travel blogger with a serious case of wanderlust! Through my website and Instagram, I hope to help others plan picture-perfect trips to the most beautiful places in the world! When I travel, I like to emphasize nature, hidden gems, and unique places.
Jasmine Alley

Jasmine Alley

I'm a Dallas-based, full-time travel blogger with a serious case of wanderlust! Through my website and Instagram, I hope to help others plan picture-perfect trips to the most beautiful places in the world! When I travel, I like to emphasize nature, hidden gems, and unique places.

17 Responses

  1. Iceland is on my husband and I’s MUST SEE list in the next few years! Thank you for putting together such a comprehensive guide!! This is how my husband and I do trips, too — self-planned, self-paced, and all over the place! I’ll definitely be using this as a guide whenever we plan our trip there because it seriously looks like it was incredible. Hope you had an absolutely AMAZING time! (Looks like you did!)

    1. Yay, I’m so glad it’ll be useful for you guys! It really was such a phenomenal trip- I can’t wait for you to experience Iceland hopefully soon!! And yes- planning makes trips so much easier to me! Glad you can relate!!

    1. Hi Olivia! Yes, we spent $5510.22 on our entire trip all in, which includes our flights. $1800 of that was for food. We definitely did it “comfortably” where we ate out for every meal and stayed at some nice places. You can definitely do it cheaper (or for more money if you want!!).

  2. Where did you get your yellow skirt from in these pictures? STUNNING! I am doing research for a Ring Road itinerary and this has been so helpful.

  3. Hi Jasmine! We are considering planning a trip to Iceland with our three daughters, ages 12-17. Did any of the places you stayed have rooms that could accommodate 5? We would rather not have to book 2 rooms every time we stop for the night.

    1. Hi Andrea! Some had two queen beds but I’d recommend looking at each hotel individually to see if they have another bed they could set up for your fifth! Wish I had a better answer for you!

  4. I’m thrilled to hear that you find the information helpful! My trip to Iceland was truly phenomenal, and I’m eagerly looking forward to the day when you get to experience it too. Planning ahead has always made my trips much smoother, and I’m glad to know you can relate to that approach. If you’re thinking about packing for your adventure, consider checking out the Yellowstone Costume collection for some fantastic options, including Yellowstone Halloween Costume, Jackets, Coats, and Vests. Safe travels!

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Hi, I’m Jasmine! I’m a nature-obsessed, beauty-finding, Jesus-loving dreamer with a serious case of wanderlust. I love to create photo-worthy travel content and hope to fill your travel plans with incredible beauty and breathtaking views! Thanks for following along on my adventures!

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