Iceland, the land of Ice and fire, is becoming a hugely popular destination for tourists and with good reason. Iceland is stunning, truly an outdoor lover’s paradise. But planning an Iceland ring road itinerary can be baffling. With so much to see and do, it can be challenging to create a perfect ring road itinerary ensuring you get to see all the iconic Iceland locations (and many places in between.)
So after completing my own solo road trip around this beautiful country, I decided to write this 8 day Iceland ring road itinerary to help ensure that you have the best Iceland road trip possible.
Prepare to see humongous waterfalls, bubbling geysers, huge floating icebergs, natural hot springs, moss covered lava fields, desolate and beautiful black sand beaches and a million zillion cheeky Icelandic horses…
Consider joining my Facebook group; Iceland Tips & Advice, where you can ask as many questions about your Iceland itinerary or anything else Iceland related and I’ll do my best to answer!
What you can expect from this article...
- 1 How much time do you need to drive the ring road in Iceland?
- 2 When is the best time to drive the ring road in Iceland?
- 3 Is it possible to drive this Iceland Ring Road Itinerary as a solo female?
- 4 How long is the ring road?
- 5 Should I go clockwise or anticlockwise around the Ring Road in Iceland?
- 6 Highlights of Iceland’s Ring Road
- 7 Things to know before you embark on an Iceland road trip…
- 8 An Overview of this 8 day Iceland Ring Road Itinerary.
- 9 Your detailed 8 Day Iceland Ring Road Itinerary
- 10 Day 4 in Iceland
- 11 Day 8 in Iceland
How much time do you need to drive the ring road in Iceland?
Whilst this is an 8 day Iceland ring road itinerary, it can easily be adapted for those with additional time or those who plan to rush around the Iceland ring road in 7 days or less.
Whilst travelling in Iceland, I did hear of people driving the Iceland ring road in 6 days but personally, I feel this would be too rushed and if you don’t have the luxury of at least a week in Iceland, then I’d recommend focussing your energy on visiting the south and the west part of Iceland and doing day trips. This also happens to be where most of the best stuff is anyway! I’ll be writing a shorter Iceland itinerary focusing on these areas soon so watch this space…
In an ideal world, 10-14 days would be the perfect amount of time to explore Iceland. but in reality, many of us struggle to get a full 2 weeks off work and Iceland isn’t exactly cheap so affording 10-14 days in Iceland may be a push. However, I feel 8 days in Iceland is enough to comfortably cover all the main highlights and any extra days will be a bonus and allow you to travel more leisurely and explore more offbeat Iceland locations.
Please bear in mind that if you are visiting Iceland in the winter, then you will need to allow more time for driving the ring road as they days are short and daylight limited. Driving Iceland’s ring road in 8 days is probably a bit ambitious in January and February without making too many unacceptable compromises. So this 8 day Iceland ring road itinerary is probably most suitable for those travelling between March and November.
When is the best time to drive the ring road in Iceland?
This is a difficult question to answer as Iceland is beautiful all year around. In winter the snow makes Iceland look truly magical and there’s a greater chance to see the northern lights. In summer you can experience the beautiful midnight sun and the weather will be warmer, ideal for camping.
I visited in September and I wonder if this might actually be the best time to visit Iceland. The temperature is still fairly mild and the roads easy to drive. The prices are lower than in the middle of summer and the crowds are beginning to disperse. There’s enough light to get plenty of sightseeing done and yet there’s enough darkness that seeing the northern lights will be a possibility.
Remember if you are driving the Iceland ring road in winter, there is the possibility there will be road closures due to inclement weather.
Is it possible to drive this Iceland Ring Road Itinerary as a solo female?
Yes, absolutely. I have to admit, I was nervous before embarking on my solo female Iceland road trip. My car maintenance skills are not great and I was worried it would be so remote. What if I broke down and no one found me?!
Well yes, Iceland’s remote, but these days there are so many more tourists, you will certainly be found quickly if you run into car trouble!
Icelanders are also great at stopping if they see someone in trouble. Please don’t put your hazard lights on just to stop and take a photo. Firstly, you are obstructing the road. Secondly, locals WILL stop to help and get annoyed that you are not using your hazards for good reason!
You will also meet so many people if you stay in hostels as many people travel solo around Iceland. It’s nice to spend time alone in the days and be sociable in the evenings.
How long is the ring road?
The ring road is 1332 kilometres or 828 miles. If you drove it without stopping (please don’t do that) it would take 15-20 hours. Please bear in mind that driving in Iceland takes a lot longer than you’d imagine. You have to allow for unpredictable weather, sheep obstructing the road and compulsory photo stops approximately every 4-5 minutes.
I generally found a 3-4 hours drive with 3-4 scheduled stops plus a few additional photo opportunities along the way, generally took me 9-12 hours each day. That said you could probably do it quicker if you’re not as fussy about your photos as I am. Setting up my tripod multiple times a day definitely ate into my drive time!
Should I go clockwise or anticlockwise around the Ring Road in Iceland?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this though this particular ring road itinerary is based upon a travelling clockwise around Iceland’s Ring road. That said, you can follow it if you are planning to go anticlockwise too, just do everything in reverse!
Personally, I felt since there were more iconic Iceland locations in the South, it would be fun to end on these. Also in the North, there are some long drives and I preferred to get these over and done with whilst I was still feeling fresh and not travel weary!
Whichever direction you choose to drive, you can guarantee to have a fantastic time if you choose to follow this 8 day Iceland ring road itinerary!
Highlights of Iceland’s Ring Road
North West Iceland
The Snaefellsness peninsula is one of my favourite places in Iceland. Expect huge cliffs which rise from nowhere, beautiful beaches, charming villages and waterfalls left, right and centre!
Stunning fjords await you in the North of Iceland but for many, the highlight will be Whale watching from Akureyri – one of the best places in the world to see whales in the wild.
North East Iceland
It’s easy to imagine you are on Planet Mars in this part of Iceland. Huge rocky landscapes stretch for miles and miles, bubbling pools of mud and steam rise from the geysers and it’s home to Europe’s most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss.
South East Iceland
Here you will find beautiful fjords and gorgeous fishing villages, my favourite being Seyydisfjorour.
Some of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls are in the South. You can also visit deserted plane wrecks, black sandy beaches, basalt rock formations, huge glaciers and lagoons with floating icebergs, outdoor springs and stunning canyons.
South West Iceland
Cosmopolitan Reykjavik lies to the west of Iceland with The Golden Circle just on its doorstep. This makes for an easy day trip with varied landscapes from bubbling geysers to power waterfalls and peaceful lakes. Don’t forget to plan a visit to The Blue Lagoon – yes it’s totally worth the price but more on that later..!
Basically, the whole of Iceland is stunning and no doubt, you will be wanting to capture it all on camera. So why not head over to my Landscape Photography Tutorial article to discover easy tips for creating Instagram-worthy landscape photos!
Things to know before you embark on an Iceland road trip…
- Fuel is pricey, budget accordingly It cost me between £150-200 in total
- You will need a chip and pin card to fill up with fuel. Currency cards do not work at petrol stations
- Food is expensive, consider making your own food as you go.
- There are lots of gravel roads. I managed in my 2×2 but if you can afford to rent a 4X4 then I would recommend it
- Toilet stops are few and far between so take advantage of every toilet stop you see. Bizarrely the symbol for a toilet is a square with a heart in the middle!
- Petrol stations are sometimes hard to find, keep topped up with fiuel at all times!
- Do not pay for GPS hire – get maps.me and download an offline Iceland map!
There will be plenty more Iceland travel tips coming soon in a separate article so watch this space. Perhaps sign up for my newsletter so you get alerted when it’s available! See the sign up box at the end of the post…
An Overview of this 8 day Iceland Ring Road Itinerary.
Day 1 Explore Reykjavik’s cosmopolitan city centre.
Day 2 Explore the Snaefellsness Peninsula via Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls. End your day with sunset at Kirkjufellsfoss.
Day 3 Drive to Akureyri via moss fields and volcanic scenery then choose from exploring the northern fjords, visiting Akureyri town or taking an afternoon whale watching trip.
Day 4 Drive east to Seyydisfjorour via the geothermal region of Myvatn. Visit beautiful Godafoss waterfall, the Namafjall Hvenir geysers, Lake Viti Crater Lake, Dettifoss and Selfoss Waterfalls and Myvatn thermal spa.
Day 5 Explore charming Seyydisfjorour before driving along the fjords before reaching Hofn. Stop at beautiful Vestahorn.
Day 6 Take an exhilarating zodiac boat trip out to see the huge icebergs at Jokulsarlon glacial lake then spot some Diamonds on Diamond beach. Visit Fjadragljufur canyon and stop off to take some photos at Eldhraun moss fields before staying overnight at Vik.
Day 7 Start your day at Reynisfjara black sand beach and admire the basalt rock columns. Then head for Dyrholaey for beautiful views of Renisfjara beach and Dyrholaey Archway. Visit the oldest swimming pool in Iceland at Seljavallalaug spring and then visit 3 of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, Skogafoss, the ‘secret waterfall’ and end your day with sunset at Seljalandsfoss.
Day 8 Finish your trip with a trip around the Golden Circle stopping off at Geyser, Gulfoss, Thingvellier national park and Kerid Crater Lake. Then head for The Blue Lagoon to relax and enjoy your last Iceland sunset.
Your detailed 8 Day Iceland Ring Road Itinerary
Day 1 in Iceland
Distance: 49 Km Driving Time: 45 minutes
Almost all flights arrive early in the morning into Keflavik airport which leaves you most of the day to explore.
I would use this opportunity to head to Reykjavik and explore this quirky cosmopolitan city. That said, if you arrive and it’s glorious sunshine, you may want to switch Day 1 and Day 8 and explore the Golden Circle instead. The weather in Iceland is unpredictable so you need to make the most of the sunshine when you get it and get outdoors!
Stop 1: The Hallgrimskirja
Start with the tallest church in Iceland and the 6th tallest structure, Hallgrimskirkja. It’s free to enter and have a look around this unusual church but it will cost you 1000 ISK (about $10 or £7) to take the elevator to the viewpoint where you can look down on the colourful buildings of Reykjavik.
Stop 2: Reykjavik waterfront – The Harpa Concert Hall and the Sun Voyager.
Next head to the waterfront and check out the beautiful Harpa Concert Hall with its quirky architectural design, you could spend hours photographing this place. Just down the road is the iconic Sun Voyager sculpture or Solfar, created as an ode to the sun.
Stop 3: Explore Reykjavik’s colourful street art scene.
Iceland loves its street art. You even see beautiful graffiti art on abandoned barns and outhouses in the Icelandic countryside! So it’s a given that you’ll find plenty of street art as you wander around Reykjavik!
Stop 4: Visit a museum in Reykjavik
There are plenty of museums to visit in Reykjavik – great for if you get a rainy day! From the National Museum of Iceland and the Saga Museum where you can learn about Iceland’s history to a museum about Reykjavik’s punk history, an outdoor museum displaying traditional Icelandic houses (The Abaer Outdoor museum) and even the Phallological Museum. Yep, a museum dedicated to all things related to the male penis! You can even get a selfie next to a giant sperm whale penis!
Day 2 in Iceland
Distance 352km Driving Time 4 hrs 45
Today your Iceland road trip begins properly and you will be heading north to The beautiful Snaefellsness Peninsula. This was one of my favourite parts of my Iceland ring road itinerary – the scenery is just stunning!.
You have the choice to take the direct route and incur a 1000 ISK fee for using the toll road or take a scenic 40-minute coastal drive along route 47. It all depends on how much time you’ve left yourself!
Stop 1 Hraunfossar and Barnafoss Waterfalls in Borgarfjörður
These stunning waterfalls often get missed off most people’s Iceland ring road itineraries which is a real shame. However, it does mean there will be considerably fewer tourists spoiling your view over these beautiful falls.
The star attraction is Hraunfossar where water tumbles over lava rocks creating a short but wide series of waterfalls amongst golden shrubs leading to a fast flowing aqua coloured river. Barnafoss Waterfall is a more traditional waterfall, just a 5-minute short walk away.
Stop 2: Ytri Tunga Seal Spotting
Back on the road, you are now headed for the Snaefellsness Peninsula. Personally, I felt like the Snefellsness peninsula was the most scenic area of Iceland with picture perfect views in every direction. As you drive along the coast, ginormous mountains rise on your right with huge waterfalls visible every few minutes. Look out for a beautiful lake alongside the cliffs which makes for some lovely photos.
I’m gutted that I missed the turning for Ytri Tunga – I blame it on being jet-lagged and sleep deprived having come straight to Iceland from a hen weekend – WHAT was I thinking?! But don’t make the same mistake and make sure you stop here to spot some cute seals on the beach. Though be careful to give them plenty of space. They may look super cute but they can bite if they feel threatened.
Stop 3: The Black Church at Budir
Your 2nd stop in the Snaefellsness peninsula is the Black Church at Budir, One of the most photographed churches in Iceland. Whilst there are many wooden churches all over Iceland, this is one of the few that are black in colour and it’s position between the cliffs and the beach makes it extremely scenic.
I almost missed this spot as there is more than one place called Budir in the Snaefellsness peninsula. Google will probably try to direct you to the west fjords but actually, the Black church at Budir is much easier to visit on the South coast of the Snaefellsness peninsula before you reach Arnastapi.
Stop 4: Arnastapi
Make sure to stop off in this cute village. There are beautiful coastal views aplenty and a brilliant pizza restaurant with a grass roof! I got pizza here to sustain me for my last sunset stop, knowing I wouldn’t reach my guesthouse until about 9 pm. Make sure you ask for your leftovers in a takeaway box – Icelandic food costs a bomb so don’t waste any, it’s lunch for tomorrow!
Stop 5: Sunset at Kirkjufellsfoss
This is possibly my favourite view in the whole of Iceland and my best highlight on my ring road itinerary. That’s saying something considering how gorgeous the South is. You just wait..!
Try and make sure you arrive an hour or so before the sunset so that you get to see the perfectly conical shaped mountain bathed in sunlight in the ‘golden hour.’ The two perfectly positioned waterfalls frame the scene perfectly and I’m pretty sure it’s hard to get a bad photo here!
Day 3 In Iceland
Distance: 415km Driving Time: 4hrs 52
This day is mostly about travelling to Akureyri. But fear not, Whilst there might not be so many specific places to stop at on this part of your Iceland road trip, the scenery in Iceland is so ridiculously amazing that you will be stopping every five minutes to take another photo or investigate a little trail or a waterfall you see from the road.
The scenery as you leave the Snaefellsness peninsula is particularly stunning. There are volcanoes and mountains everywhere you look, beautiful coastline and lava fields covered in soft moss.
There was one viewpoint in particular that I enjoyed which I’m not sure the name of. But you can find it shortly after the moss fields on the right side of the road. You will see a small car park with some picnic tables. Pull over and walk down the hill a little. You will see a beautiful lake with a lava field in the middle of it almost as though the lake is a moat. Just beautiful.
This is the beauty of taking an Iceland road trip. If you were on a tour, you couldn’t just pull over when you see a beautiful view.
Akureyri is one of the absolute best places to whale watch not only in Iceland but in the world. In fact, they boast a 100% success rate for the past few years. Sadly I wasn’t very well the day I drove to Akureyri so I didn’t get the early start I wanted and had to skip the whale watching. But I’ve been lucky to go whale watching in Australia, New Zealand and The Galapagos and my last whale watching experience was just incredible – you can read about it here. But if you haven’t yet had those experiences, you need to get yourself on that whale watching trip in Akureyri.
If you are running short on time in Akureyri, there’s also the opportunity to go whale watching from Reykjavik so feel free to juggle things around a bit! However, bear in mind the success rate of seeing whales from Reykjavik is less than in Akureyri!
Day 4 in Iceland
Distance: 375km Driving Time: 5 hrs 20
This will be a jam-packed day (probably the longest day on this Iceland ring road itinerary) so I’d suggest you get up early and hit the road as soon as possible. The scenery here is so unusual, it’s easy to imagine you are on Planet Mars. With rocky landscape stretching for miles, huge powerful waterfalls and bubbling geothermal geysers.
Stop 1 Godafoss Waterfall
Someone in a hostel told me not to bother with this waterfall as it wasn’t as impressive as Dettifoss. I’m so glad I went anyway proving that travel is different for everyone. What is beautiful to one person is ordinary to the other and there’s only one way to find out which camp you’re in, GO VISIT!
There are two car parks for Godafoss depending on which side you plan to visit. Though there is a footbridge should you decide to do both. The first carpark you’ll come to from the west allows you to get up really close to the falls and feel the power of the huge wall of water. The 2nd car carpark allows you to walk to the prettier viewpoints and is probably better for photos. Personally, I visited both sides and spent ages there.
Stop 2 Myvatn Thermal Spa
A cheaper alternative to The Blue Lagoon, this man-made lagoon is supplied by hot geothermal spring water kept between 36 and 40 degrees Celsius. Prices start from 2700 ISK for students and 4200K for everyone else.
Whilst it’s not as large as the Blue Lagoon and you don’t get mud masks and included drinks, it’s a much cheaper alternative and a really relaxing place to chill out for a few hours. Don’t worry about going it solo either. I did and I ended up meeting loads of people to chat to!
Stop 3 Namafjall Hvenir Geysers
Prepare yourself for the overpowering smell of sulphur but it is still worth it to see this weird landscape of bubbling mud pools and steaming geysers. If you have a drone, definitely fly it here, I got some fab footage. Keep your eyes peeled for a video coming soon.
Stop 4 Lake Viti
Allow 40 minutes or so to walk around this beautiful volcanic crater lake with bright aqua water. On the way there, you’ll drive past Krafla Geothermal power station where you can stop and learn about how they produce electricity from geothermal energy.
Stop 5 Dettifoss and Selfoss Waterfalls
These waterfalls are a must-see on your Iceland ring road itinerary. Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe and standing near it will remind you how small you really are! Selfoss is framed by basalt columns and makes a stunning picture.
To reach these you walk through a rocky landscape which looks like another planet. There are 2 roads you can take. The first you reach is a good road and allows for the best views of Selfoss. The 2nd is a hard going gravel road which takes about 40 minutes. It gets you REALLY close to Dettifoss – you can actually touch the water if you wish but please be careful and don’t underestimate how powerful and dangerous Delfoss waterfall can be!
Think twice before taking the gravel road unless you have a 4 wheel drive!
Day 5 in Iceland
Distance: 221km Driving Time: 3hr25
This is another scenic Iceland drive day with a couple of points of interest along the way. Today you can expect to see some beautiful fjords as you weave along Iceland’s stunning coastline. Satnav may try to direct you over the mountains but do not follow this unless you have good weather and a 4×4 as the road can be dangerous in the wrong conditions. Instead, stay on the ring road and satnav will eventually pick up the coastal route. It’s hard to get lost here though as there really is only 1 road to follow once you get past the turning for the mountain pass.
Stop 1 Seydisfjordur
Seydisfjordur is such a cute little fjord town that I could happily while away many hours at. There’s a lovely little lake to wander around, beautiful colourful wooden houses to ooh and ahh at and a super cute rainbow brick road that you can follow to a little church past some lovely shops. Get your brekkie here and factor in an hour or two to explore this charming town. Seydisfjordur was my favourite town I visited on my 8 day Iceland ring road itinerary.
Stop 2 Vestrahorn / Stokksnes Peninsula
Sadly I had appalling weather so decided to skip this one but I hope you have more luck as I’m told the views are spectacular!
Vestrahorn is a 454m high spikey mountain which is often reflected in the calm sea water locked by land in the Stokksnes peninsula, making a fabulous photography location. There is also a chance of seeing some seals lounging on the beach here.
Day 6 in Iceland
Distance: 278 km Driving Time: 3hr 37
The unusual scenery today is going to seriously amaze you – beautiful moss fields, huge canyons and glacial lakes with floating icebergs! So leave yourself plenty of time to make lots of stops. The actual drive time is about 3 hours but you’ll likely be out all day exploring!
Stop 1 Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon
The scenery here is unreal. Giant icebergs shining bright blue, float in a beautiful glacial lagoon. Seals pop up between the bergs or if you’re lucky, you may see some lounging on top of the icebergs.
The best way to see the icebergs is to get out on the lake and get up close to them. There are two types of boat tours – The Amphibians and The Zodiac tours. The Amphibian is a bigger slower boat which wont get you quite as far or as close to the glacier or the icebergs. The zodiac boats however get you really close so you can see the details on the icebergs and perhaps even hear the glacial ice carving.
The best bit about the boat tours is all the tit-bits of information your guide will tell you. They have some amazing stories and I wouldn’t have believed them when they told me icebergs sometimes flip upside down spontaneously until I saw it myself! Amazing!
Stop 2 Diamond Beach
Another bizarre natural phenomenon which will have you amazed! The icebergs from the glacial lagoon float out to sea often breaking into smaller pieces along the way and getting washed up on the black sand beach. They resemble diamonds littered along the water’s edge which is how this beach got its name. You will no doubt spend plenty of time photographing these beautiful blocks of ice as they glitter in the sunlight (if you’re more lucky with the weather than I was!)
Stop 3 Fjadrargljufur Canyon
Yeah, good luck pronouncing THAT one!
I was amazed when I talked to other people in hostels how few people knew about this place! I mean it’s absolutely stunning and fairly easy to get to if you put aside the 5 minutes along a gravel road!
There is a small car park with toilets (a rare commodity in Iceland) and a path that leads up over a hill. Follow this path and you will be rewarded with a view of the Fjadragljufur canyon – scenery so unusual you could easily imagine it appearing in the film Avatar!
Now most importantly here, you need to keep walking right to the end of the path. The weather was really closing in on me so I decided to run back to the car after absorbing what was a beautiful view but I discovered later was not THE view. The absolute best view of the Canyon is from the far end looking back on the river. It’s one of my biggest regrets that I didn’t carry on walking for another 20 minutes even in heavy rain!
Stop 4 – Eldhraun Moss Fields
By now you’ll have seen plenty of moss fields but without a doubt, these were the most beautiful I saw with bright green soft moss covering lava stretching for miles and miles. Please be careful not to walk on the moss as it may take 70 years to grow back and needs to be protected! I saw so many tourists standing on the moss-covered rocks to pose for photos! Please don’t, let’s protect this beautiful landscape!
Day 7 in Iceland
Distance: 88km Driving Time: 1 hr 35
This is one of the absolute best of days on this 8 day Iceland ring road Itinerary! It’s an absolute overdose of stunning scenery from beautiful beaches to humongous waterfalls. I suggest you make an early start, you have a lot to fit in! That said, you’ll be relieved to know there’s not a lot of driving to do today as all the stops are concentrated in one area.
Stop 1 Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
There are many beautiful black sand beaches along the South Coast of Iceland. However, Reynisfjara stands out for it’s dramatic crashing waves and impending basalt columns.
I suggest you get here super early otherwise it would be impossible to get a nice photo with tourists posing for endless basalt column selfies.
Stop 2 Dyrholaey Arch
Your next stop just 10 minutes away is Dyrholaey Arch. Though admittedly, this is probably even prettier at sunset so if you do have time leftover on day 6, you may want to jiggle things about.
When you take the turning off the road for Dyrholaey, there are two side roads you can take. I recommend you take both as there are lovely views to be had at both.
The 1st takes you up a bit of a dicey steep gravel road. It’s not ideal in a 2×2 but my little car managed it – I just took it really slowly. This is where you’ll find the archway and another panoramic coastal view.
The 2nd turning takes you to the other end of Reynisfjara beach where there is a huge rock formation looming from the black sand beach.
Stop 3 Solheimasandur plane wreck
This is an optional stop that is worth doing if you have the time but if you’ve spent way too long trying to get a photo without tourists at Reynisfjara beach, you may want to skip it so that you have plenty other time for the other stops on today’s route along the South Iceland coast.
This plane wreck has been abandoned for over 40 years and is a popular place for tourists to visit. But please help preserve the wreck and don’t climb all over the plane!
Bear in mind that its a 40-50 minute walk out to the plane wreck and about the same back. The scenery is rocky and flat and it’s one of the few places where you won’t be oohing and aahing over the scenery!
Stop 4 Skogafoss Waterfall
Wowzers, this is one impressive waterfall. You’ll want to wear your waterproofs here as the powerful spray will have you soaked in seconds! In sunshine, the spray helps create a beautiful rainbow in front of the fall. There is a steep walk up the hill on the right side for views from the top of the waterfall.
Stop 5 The Secret Waterfall
Now Skogafoss will be teeming with crowds unless you get there at the crack of sparrows. But there is an alternative close by that hardly anyone knows about. Well until now..! With thanks to Victoria from FollowMeAway who gave me the heads up!
You can reach this stunning waterfall (which may be one of the nicest I saw) by heading towards Skogafoss museum (to the right of the waterfall.) Walk around the back of the museum from the right side. There’s a little fence you will need to hop over and head towards the stream. Walk with the stream on your right and in under 10 minutes, you will discover the prettiest of waterfalls in a hidden valley. You can even walk behind the fall and feel the force of the water but take care on the footpath where it gets slippy in the spray!
Stop 6 Seljavallalaug spring
I have mixed feelings on this one. Seljavallalaug hosts Iceland’s oldest swimming pool in an incredible scenic position sandwiched in a beautiful valley. The 20-minute walk to get there is also gorgeous. However, I cannot say the same for the changing rooms. So disgusting! With slimy floors and rotting clothes in the corner. There is also no differentiating between female and male changing which gets a bit awkward!
I’d heard mixed reports about the pool itself. I didn’t go in as I didn’t have enough time but I’d personally be happy to swim there. Though I don’t think I’d be swimming with my head under the water like one guy – remember this is not your local leisure centre with the same hygiene measures!
However, though I would swim there, I would definitely NOT use the changing rooms. Instead, take a huge towel you can undress beneath to protect your modesty!
This is a classic example of where tourists have had a negative impact upon a place. Previously maintained by locals, they’ve given this place over to the tourists now and built a newer pool nearer the village. It’s so important to respect and look after the places we are privileged to visit. So please, if you visit here, be respectful, take your litter and don’t add to the problem!
I found maps.me and google maps struggled to find directions to the Seljavallalaug car park. Instead, get directions to Seljavellir. Where the road forks, take the right fork and the road slowly turns into a gravel road. There will be a small car park with a more modern swimming pool. Get out here and follow the gravel footpath through the valley. The pool itself is tucked around a corner so you won’t see it until you are actually there!
Stop 7 Sunset at Seljalandsfoss
Wow wow wow. This was one of the places I was most excited to visit on my Iceland ring road itinerary and it did not disappoint. This is seriously one magical waterfall and if you time it right (getting there about 60-80 minutes before the sunset) you will get to see it bathed in glorious golden sunlight. The best time to photograph almost any landscape!
There are various viewpoints from 4 different angles and I suggest you visit them all. Spend the golden hour getting photos from all angles then about 30 minutes before the sun sets, go behind the waterfall for an absolutely stunning sunset. It will be tricky lighting so if your camera has an HDR setting, you may want to try using this.
Make sure you dress for wet weather as you will get soaked behind the waterfall. Also, make sure you properly protect your camera. I used this cheap DSLR rain protector and it has served me well. If you are just using a phone then a waterproof phone case this one will come in handy all over Iceland. I shot the above photos with my brand new Sony A 7 iii and my wide angle Sony 16-35mm f 4lens, the combination of which I am LOVING. I also had my DJI Spark drone for the ariel photo.
Day 8 in Iceland
Distance 320km Driving Time: 4hr 20
It may have crossed your mind that this 8 day Iceland ring road itinerary hasn’t included any of the really well-known places. Well don’t fear, you’ll cover them today on your last day in Iceland. Today you’ll be exploring the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is an area conveniently close to Reykjavik that most tourists flock to on short stopovers to sample some of Iceland’s stunning scenery in just 1 day. There are huge waterfalls, moss fields, lakes and geysers all within a short distance of each other. And of course, plenty of cute Icelandic horses to meet!
Stop 1 Kerid Crater Lake
Probably one of the least visited places on the golden circle but a great place to stop nonetheless. This beautiful crater lake is so colourful but be aware, you will be charged 300ISk ($3) to look about so make sure you’re carrying some change!
Stop 2 Geysir Geothermal Area
Another great place to see some geothermal activity. The highlight here is the huge active geyser Strokkur which blows water 30metres in the air approximately every 8 minutes or so. You will have to be patient and alert to get a good photo here! Just before it blows, for a split second you’ll see a huge aqua coloured bubble blow up before the geyser blows – it’s incredible to see!
Stop 3 Gulfoss Waterfall
This is one of the most visited waterfalls in Iceland and with good reason – it’s seriously impressive! It’s 3-tiered and empties into a 62-metre canyon. I found the best views were actually below the viewpoint. Walk towards the falls and hop over the fence and walk through the long grass until you get a clear view looking back onto Gulfoss. You’ll need wellies or hiking boots for this – it’s VERY muddy!
Stop 4 Thingvellier National Park
Your last stop on the Golden Circle is one of my favourites. Thingvellier national Park is just beautiful. From the pretty lake and streams leading to it, the moss fields and the huge rock formations.
But this place is not just famed for being pretty. It’s also where the first Icelandic government was formed at Law Rock in 930 when laws were then passed on by word of mouth.
Not only that, but this place has geological significance. Here you can see the Mid Atlantic ridge above ground where the Eurasian & North-American tectonic plates pull the country apart by a few centimetres every year!
If you just put Thingvellier National Park into your satnav, you may not reach the correct car park! So I would search for Thingvellier church. There are several carparks but the one nearest the churches is most central for visiting all of the different attractions of Thingvellier National Park.
If you’re feeling brave you should consider diving in the Silfur fissure. If you can tolerate the cold weather, you will be rewarded with the unique experience of diving (or snorkelling) between 2 tectonic plates!
Stop 5 The Blue Lagoon
I’ll admit I was cynical about The Blue Lagoon. The prices seem astronomical just to sit in a hot spring when there are many free springs all over Iceland.
But in the name of research, I reluctantly booked my ticket to the Blue Lagoon. I’m so glad I did and I’d like to report that it is TOTALLY worth the money. I had the most enjoyable, relaxing end to my fantastic Iceland road trip and if I went again, I’d always finish my trip with a visit to The Blue Lagoon. I would urge you to also make this your final stop on your 8 day Iceland ring road itinerary!
I booked the 6pm slot but didn’t get in until about 7pm as there were some glitches on their system and they couldn’t check us in. However, I was very impressed with how they dealt with so many frustrated tourists keeping us informed every step of the way, providing us with free ice creams and biscuits and then streamlining the usual check-in process so they could get us all in quickly. As a travel blogger, I am very aware that technology is not infallible and these things happen. I was impressed with how the staff coped with a stressful situation.
Once inside, the changing rooms are clean and spacious. There is plenty of room for your belongings in lockers if you don’t want to leave your expensive cameras etc in the car!
The pools themselves are beautiful and much larger than I expected. Make sure you go explore all the little pools and nooks and crannies! You will also get a free face mask and a free drink of your choice at the swim up bar.
If you want more drinks, you can use your wrist-band and pay afterwards and prices were actually way better than I thought they would be considering how expensive Iceland is!
I’d definitely recommend going at 6/7pm as I got to see the lagoon first in daylight, then with a. beautiful sunset and then in the dark where little spotlights and steamy water added to the atmosphere. I would get there early too as there is an area outside the Blue Lagoon where you can go to get photos before entering the pool. Make sure you book well in advance as The Blue Lagoon gets booked up weeks ahead of time!
Wow, that turned into a long post! But there is SO much I’m excited to tell you about my Iceland road trip. This 8 day Iceland ring road itinerary is just the start. I have plenty of articles planned over the coming weeks including shorter itineraries and Iceland photography tips. So watch this space… Why not sign up for my monthly newsletter and get Iceland updates to your inbox?!
In the meantime, here are a few more articles you may find helpful;
- The Golden Circle Iceland (Map and planning guide)
- My Iceland Budget – and tips to save a fortune!
- Iceland Hostel Guide (For the ring road)
- The Best Day Trips in Iceland
- Take Instagram worthy landscape photos (so important in Iceland!)
Consider joining my facebook group Iceland Tips & Advice Ask as many questions as you like about travel in Iceland and I’ll do my best to answer!
As always, I love to hear from you. Is there anywhere totally amazing that needs to be included in this article? Would you spend the $$$ to visit The Blue Lagoon? Where are you most excited to visit in Iceland?
And if you are feeling super generous, I would LOVE it if you could share this Iceland ring road itinerary with your family and friends using the buttons and Pinterest pins below! (Just hover over the pin for the pin it button!) Thanks, you are a legend.