Our Epic Iceland Road Trip - Things to See and Do in Iceland
Our Trip in Video
Our Trip in Words and Images
What we think you MUST see and do.
Scroll to bottom to find details on locations and such.
Get a 4X4
Well you can't have a road trip without a car can you??
The reason we did this by road was so we were in our own time, and weren't herded around on tour buses. And we are glad we did. With so much beautiful scenery and things to see, being in your own time is GREAT! The main thing is get a 4x4.
Lots of roads are hard to get to even in September when we were there. We got a Dacier Duster and you'll see LOTS of these around. People were in little campers, but they must have struggled on some of the roads unless they stayed completely on the beaten track with their tiny wheels. You could get a more expensive one than the Duster, this suited us great though.
There's so many waterfalls to see. Iceland actually has around 10,000. Now, obviously you can't see them all, but don't just stick to looking at 2/3.
Haifoss for instance was our favourite, jaw dropping waterfall, but what was crazy is there were only a handful of people there compared to the ones where bus tours visit. Why you ask? Because you needed to drive the off track and buses can't get there.
This doesn't mean we didn't like popular ones. Goðafoss is stunning, and Seljalandsfoss is cool to walk behind! Give yourself enough time to go to a lot of waterfalls :D
5 of my favourites were:
Goðafoss (pictured above)
Get Yourself in a Thermal Spring
Hot Springs are all around Iceland due the volcanic make up of the country. There are some really popular ones, and there's one called Seljavallalaug which is an old outdoor geothermal pool. While it's definitely worth visiting, it can get busy as it's super popular. Visit it for sure, but then we recommend finding the Hrunalaug Natural Hot Spring (pictured below), we went at 8 am and were the only people there for an hour.
Oh and unlike a lot of things in Iceland- these are FREE (Small parking charge for Hrunalaug)
Silfra Diving or Snorkelling
How cool does snorkelling between tectonic plates sound? Well this is the only place in the world you can do it! I've dived before and have my open water certification, but you need to be dry suit certified to dive. So I'd recommend just snorkelling like we did if you're short on time. The water's crystal clear so visibility is immense. There's nothing living here though in the water so don't expect to be finding Nemo!
We booked this tour with Get Your Guide who you can also book things like mountain biking, and whale watching with.
You can see their full list of Iceland excursions here
Warning though, glacier water is as cold as it sounds.....and a little colder than that!!
Stop Off and See Horses
If you love horses, you'll love Icelandic horses. You'll see these driving around so take a stop off for a break. They are very welcoming and while closer to the size of ponies than large horses, they are a delight to see!
Black Beaches and The Glacier Lake
So you're not going to need your factor 50 and a bikini for this trip, and if you're expecting to come back with a tan you'll probably be disappointed, but let's be honest you aren't coming to Iceland for the weather!
We loved the beaches here, especially Diamond Beach, which is on the edge of the glacier lake. (well worth the visit too).
The lumps of Ice wash up on the beach that's linked to the Glacier Lake, giving it a surreal beach element.
There's 3/4 other popular beaches dotted around. So pick which ones you think look ideal!
We paid for Kayaking n the Glacier Lake but as with most things in Iceland it's weather dependant and after a rocky 10 minutes in the kayak we returned. We got a full refund though, so nothing lost nothing gained. Hopefully weather would be more on your side!
Also worth a look:
The Icelandic Phallological Museum- If you like to look at the biggest collection of mens penis, like the girldfriend couldn't wait for, you''re in luck. From human, to troll, yes I said troll, and a plethora of other creatures, it's all on show here.
Geysirs - Cool to see on the Golden Circle. Don't plan to stay too long though if you don't like the smell of rotten eggs.
The Scenery- oh the scenery. It needs another mention that you need to remember to stop off and just admire it. Enjoy the journey as much as the main attractions!
Some Info to Help on your Trip
Our trip was incredible, but road trips with so much to do can take a lot of planning. So here's a few hints and tips about what we liked and didn't like so much on our trip. So you can make the planning a little quicker, and possibly get to see some of the things that we loved!
Flights - Flying into Keflavik Airport was super cheap from Luton. We got a £55 return with Wizzair through Skyscanner. So keep a lookout for bargains.
Time of Year- We went in September which meant we couldn't do some things like walking through a Glacier. But chances of seeing northern lights was higher (although we still didn't), and we didn't freeze to death. So we could do good outdoor activities.
Food and Drink - If like us you like a drink or three, then make the most of your night in Rejkavik. As elsewhere in the country some towns literally have a restaurant and that's it. With 9pm closing times common! You're here for the beauty of the country, not for a piss up :)
Food out is expensive on wine, you won't get them for less than £40 a bottle.
If you're in Hofn, Pakkhús Restaurant was great right by the harbour.
In Rejkavik the fish soup was unreal at Matarkjallarinn foodcellar. It's fine dining, and they had a grand piano playing while we ate. So romantic (hold the puke), plus us there's more bars here than the rest of Iceland put together so save your liver and kidney damage for here! :)
Accommodation- There's plenty of guesthouses on route. We stopped at:
Hotel A- Our best breakfast and a cool cabin room with great views and private bathroom. Highly recommended.
The Castle- was right by the sea, and where we saw baby seals. Pleasant and family run but a REALLY quiet location (everything closed at 8:30PM).
Stracta - Nice hotel rather than guesthouse in quiet village. Busiest hotel we were in with a popular internal restaurant (you'll need to probably book a table).
Night in the car- After our lovely meal in Hofn, we stopped in our car due to arriving late and being up early. Make sure you have a very good sleeping bag if you choose to do this. We were actually fairly comfy in the back of our new mate Duster.
Centric- Good location to stumble home from a night in the capital. Shared tiny shower/toilet wasn't great but a nice enough room. If we were booking again I'd probably book somewhere close but better.
Other things we didn't get round to:
Blue Lagoon - looked a little commercial to us so didn't fit it in. Heard good things though.
Whale Whatching- Apparently is unreal, but again a bit short of time.
West Fjords- We wanted to see the magnificent Dynjandi Waterfall, but it would need an extra day for that.
Walk Inside a Glacier- Only available in Winter but looks unreal. Top of our wish list.
See the Northern Lights - Atmospherics didn't work for us.
Kayaking- We did attempt it but as mentioned cancelled, but would be great in good conditions.
In a Snapshot
There's so much to do in Iceland, and we think we'll definitely be back to see some more of it.
Our trip was 6 days, and to fit in everything I'd probably say you could do with 10.
But it's expensive and some things are only available in certain seasons. So we would rather just go back and split it into two trips.
Lot's of people just come here to see the Northern Lights. We didn;t but it doesn't mean you won't. But don't plan your trip around these.
Get Your Guide have lots of things so pick what takes your fancy and make your own unique trip, just hopefully you'll enjoy some of our tips for your trip too :D
Here's one final last map to show you places we have mentioned. We've plotted nearly all the points we've spoken about, to work off as you wish.