10 Day Iceland Itinerary – Ring Road & More

10 Day Iceland Itinerary - Ring Road & More

Our 10-day Iceland itinerary uncovers what makes this land so unique from the most popular must-see attractions on the Ring Road, to out-of-the-way places complete with endless scenic indulgence and exciting experiences. Here’s how to spend 10 days in Iceland.

Iceland is a unique destination. Perched on the mid-Atlantic ridge where the Earth’s crust is thin, it’s a volcanic wonderland. Black lava fields drop from towering volcanos, sulphurous vents scar the land and colourful mountains rise above crystal-blue lakes.

It’s a stunningly beautiful country.

The Ring Road which circles the exterior has become a rite of passage for many road trippers. But to appreciate the power of nature and the utter desolation of the country, our 10-day itinerary includes jaunts into the central highlands where the crowds disappear, and the landscapes are at their most magnificent.

We’ve included a day-by-day break down, plus suggestions for how to extend this 10-day itinerary and additional reading to help you plan an epic Iceland excursion.  

For more ideas, read our Iceland itinerary suggestions and our complete guide to the best things to do in Iceland.

Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.

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IN THIS GUIDE

10-DAY ICELAND ITINERARY OVERVIEW


DAY 1 – REYKJAVÍK & REYKJADALUR HOT SPRINGS

Stay – Reykjavík | Travel – None


Spend the morning exploring the streets of charming Reykjavík. In the afternoon head to Hveragerði. From here a 1-hour hike takes you to Reykjadalur thermal river where you can soak in the naturally heated water while staring out at glorious scenery.

Winter – In winter spend the evening searching for the Northern Lights on the outskirts of Reykjavík. This Northern Lights Bus Tour includes free entry to the Aurora Museum on the day of the tour and it is fully transferable if the tour doesn’t go ahead due to bad weather.  

Summer – In the summer, take advantage of Reykjavík’s cool bar scene. Kaffibarinn is a café by day and a bar by night with regular DJ sets and cocktail happy hour. Veður Bar has a wide selection of beer and wines in a cosy space with happy hour from 4pm to 7:30pm.

WHERE TO STAY

DAY 2 – GOLDEN CIRCLE & SECRET LAGOON

Stay – around Selfoss | Travel – 4 hours


Today, leave Reykjavík and start with the Golden Circle – a 3-hour, 30-minute circular drive that visits some of southwest Iceland’s premier sights.

Stops include Thingvellir National Park where a fissure runs through Iceland’s historic parliament, Geysir where geysers erupt every ten to fifteen minutes, and Gullfoss, a powerful and beautiful Icelandic waterfall.

Finish the day at the Secret Lagoon geothermal pool near the town of Flúðir. It’s one of our favourite hot springs in Iceland and remains delightfully natural.

WHERE TO STAY

  • Hotel Rangá – a modern, spacious hotel with an onsite observatory that’s excellent for viewing the northern lights.
  • Álftröð Guesthouse – a great value guesthouse with all the facilities you need for a comfortable stay.

DAY 3 – LANDMANNALAUGAR OR THÓRSMÖRK

Stay – near Hella or Holt | Travel – 5 hours ( return for Landmannalaugar); 20 minutes drive to the Thorsmork bus stop at Hvollsvöllur for Thórsmörk.


Iceland is famous for dramatic scenery, but the best of its impressive landscapes is in the highlands. It’s a wild and remote part of the country but two of the best areas are accessible from the southwest. Today, head into either Landmannalaugar or Thórsmörk.

Landmannalaugar – Landmannalaugar is an area of colourful mountains in the Fjallabak National Park. It has excellent hiking with amazing views and a geothermal pool set under a cooled lava flow. The drive there passes Haifoss waterfall; the picture-perfect canyon of Sigöldugljúfur; and the volcanic crater of Ljótipollur. Read more in our Landmannalaugar Guide.

Thórsmörk – Three valleys converge forming a dramatic wilderness of spectacular scenery at Thórsmörk. Huge moss-covered mountains dwarfed by even bigger glaciers are divided by a swathe of black rivers. It’s a hiker’s paradise but even a short 40-minute walk can take you to some wonderful viewpoints. Read more in our Thórsmörk Guide.

WHERE TO STAY

  • Hotel Rangá – a modern, spacious hotel with an onsite observatory that’s excellent for viewing the northern lights.
  • The Garage – cool Icelandic stay with fully equipped kitchens, private bathrooms and laundry facilities.

DAY 4 – SKÓGAFOSS, DYRHÓLAEY & VIK

Stay – near Hrufines | Travel – around 1 hour, 30 minutes


On day 4, head east along the Ring Road to visit some of Iceland’s best waterfalls. Seljalandsfoss is a 60-metre drop that you can walk behind, Gljufrabui is a smaller waterfall hidden behind rocks, and Skógafoss is a beautiful 25-metre-wide cascade.

Another 30 minutes’ drive brings you to Dyrhólaey. This peninsula has great views of the black sand beach and excellent puffin viewing.

Some other ideas for day 4 –

  • Walk on the black sand beach of Reynisfjara under basalt columns
  • Drive up the rough road to Katla for wonderful views of the canyon
  • Take an Ice Cave tour and Glacier Hike from Vik
  • Walk to the wrecked DC-3 Plane at Sólheimasandur for your Instagram shot

WHERE TO STAY

  • The Garage – cool Icelandic stay with fully equipped kitchens, private bathrooms and laundry facilities.
  • Hotel Katla – a modern comfortable lodging just outside Vik with a superb hot tub and sauna
  • Glacier View Guesthouse – a 40-minute drive from Vik overlooking the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier with well-decorated rooms.

DAY 5 – SKAFTAFELL & JÖKULSÁRLÓN

Stay – Vestrahorn | Travel – 3 hours


Today head east along the south coast to the far southeast of Iceland. This drive takes you under the flanks of Vatnajökull Glacier, the largest ice cap in Europe. First stop at the moss-covered Eldhraun Lava Field, then at the beautiful Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon where a river has cut a jagged path through the gorge.

Next, go to Skaftafell National Park to hike alongside the Vatnajökull glacier. In 45 minutes (each way) you can see Svartifoss, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. In 1 hour 15 minutes (each way) you can reach the Sjónarnípa viewpoint which overlooks the glacier.

Then visit the magical Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon and the massive ice cubes on the black Diamond Beach.

End the day at Vestrahorn taking photos of the pointed mountains reflecting in the tidal lagoon.

WHERE TO STAY

Viking Café is the only accommodation in Vestrahorn where you can wake up right beside the mountain. For other options, read our guide to the best places to stay in Iceland.

DAY 6 – EASTFJORDS & SEYÐISFJORDUR

Stay – Seyðisfjordur | Travel – 3 to 4 hours


Spend this morning getting sunrise shots of Vestrahorn to compliment the sunset shots you got yesterday.

Then begin the long drive (3 to 4 hours) up the east coast of Iceland on Route 1 (the Ring Road).

In the summer months, when the road is open, it is well worth taking the shortcut between Breiðdalsvik and Egilsstaðir on Route 95. It’s about an hour shorter and the scenery, if anything, is better.

Just before Egilsstaðir take a detour on the 931 west to Hengifoss. From the car park it’s a 1-hour hike (each way) to the waterfall and the first 30 minutes is quite steep, but the red rings etched into the rock framing the cascade make it one of the most beautiful falls in Iceland.

There are a host of nice places to stay in the area, but our pick is Seyðisfjordur. It’s an extra 30-minute drive each way from Egilsstaðir, but this colourful town perched at the end of a fjord offers great views and the drive there is breathtaking.

Dinner Tip – The pizza and local beer at Skaftfell Bistro are excellent.

WHERE TO STAY

DAY 7 – STUÐLAGIL CANYON AND MÝVATN

Stay – Mývatn | Travel – around 3 hours


Start today at Stuðlagil Canyon which was revealed only in 2009 after a dam forced water levels to drop. All the details are on our Stuðlagil Canyon guide including the best viewpoints.

From Stuðlagil, follow the Ring Road northeast to the Mývatn area based around the village of Reykahlíð. There are loads of different volcanic oddities to see in the area and all of them are listed on our Mývatn guide. For this afternoon, we suggest you explore the bubbling mud pots of Hverir and/or the steaming lava fields and volcanic crater at Krafla.

Spend the evening soaking in the geothermal pools of the Mývatn Nature Baths.

WHERE TO STAY

  • Fosshotel Myvatn – a modern comfortable chain hotel with good facilities and an on-site restaurant
  • Hotel Laxá – modern accommodation away from the town making it the perfect location to see the Northern Lights                 

DAY 8 – HUSAVÍK & DETTIFOSS

Stay – Mývatn | Travel – 2 to 3 hours


Today, head north on Route 87 and explore the fishing town of Husavík.

From May to September, this is one of the best places in the world to spot whales. They can often be seen from the coast, but increase your chances by taking a Traditional Whale Watching Boat Tour. In July humpback whale sightings are almost guaranteed and from April to August puffins can be seen fishing in the waters.

In the afternoon head back to Mývatn via route 85 and 864, where there are a few spots to stop on the way –

  • Ásbyrgi is a unique horseshoe-shaped canyon that stretches 3.5 kilometres long and 1.1 kilometres wide.
  • Hljóðaklettar is a collection of basalt columns diverging in multiple directions creating swirls, spirals, roses and arches that are known to produce haunting acoustic effects. 
  • Dettifoss is the largest waterfall by volume in Iceland and one of the most powerful in Europe. It plunges 44 metres into a canyon creating a watery spectacle.

WHERE TO STAY

  • Fosshotel Myvatn – a modern comfortable chain hotel with good facilities and an on-site restaurant
  • Hotel Laxá – modern accommodation away from the town making it the perfect location to see the Northern Lights                 

DAY 9 – NORTH ICELAND EXPLORE

Stay – Blönðuós | Travel – 3 hours


It’s a 3-hour drive along the Ring Road from Mývatn to the town of Blönðuós. On the way, stop at Goðafoss, one of the most attractive waterfalls in Iceland.

For the rest of the day, there are several choices –

  • Visit more of the volcanic sights around Mývatn such as the pseudo craters or the lava cave and fissure at Grjótagjá before you leave for Blönðuós.
  • Pop into the fishing town of Akureyri for lunch and a stroll along the harbour.
  • Drive a loop around the Trollaskagi Peninsula where the road twists and turns around steep bends amongst lovely scenery (add 1 hour 30 minutes to the drive).
  • If you have a 4×4 you can take a detour (50 minutes each way on the F26) to the waterfalls of Aldeyjarfoss & Hrafnabjargafoss 

WHERE TO STAY

There are few better places to stay in the north coast than Brimslöð Atelier. This guesthouse has splendid evening meals on a shared table and breakfast is excellent.

DAY 10 – FAGRADALSFJALL VOLCANO & BLUE LAGOON

Stay – Blue Lagoon | Travel – 4 hours


Today, take the 3-hour, 40-minute drive from Blönduós to Fagradalsfjall Volcano, the site of Iceland’s most recent eruption. If you don’t find anything on the way, you can stop for lunch back in Reykjavík.

A range of different hiking trails offer magnificent views of the steaming black lava fields at Fagradalsfjall. The closest viewpoint to the eruption is the Meradalir Viewpoint via Stórhóll which takes around 4-5 hours to complete. All the details are in our Fagradalsfjall guide.

End the day soaking in the upmarket geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon. There are plenty of facilities including restaurants, a 5-star hotel, treatment spa and gift shop. Entrance including the silica mud mask, towel and 1 drink is ISK 8,490 ($58 / £50 / €59). Advanced bookings are required – bluelagoon.com

WHERE TO STAY

The Blue Lagoon is a 20-minute drive to Keflavík airport, so if you have a late flight, you can head home after a soak. Otherwise, here’s where you can stay nearby:

  • Northern Light Inn – a full-service hotel including a wellness spa and restaurant just 5 minutes from the Blue Lagoon.
  • Hotel Berg – a smart hotel with individually designed rooms just 2.2 miles from Keflavík Airport
  • Raven’s Bed – a quirky bed & breakfast in a converted cow house with original wooden beams and an outdoor terrace just 7 minutes from Keflavik Airport.  

ICELAND ITINERARY EXTENSIONS

MAELIFELL

Iceland’s dramatic green volcano, Maelifell, rises out of a sea of black ash and stone creating a spectacular desolate scene. There are 3 ways to get here, two of which are very achievable. Access is from Hrifunes, just east of Vík, so Maelifel could be added in after day 4 of this itinerary. All the details are in our Maelifell guide.

HAHFRAHVAMMAGLJÚFUR

Hahfrahvammagljúfur is a steep-sided canyon in the highlands accessed by a bumpy but very achievable mountain road. A few miles away, the thermal river of Laugavallalaug is one of our favourite hot pots in Iceland. Access is near Hengifoss or Stuðlagil so this could be added before or after day 4. More details about visiting Hahfrahvammagljúfur are in our Iceland highlands guide.

ASKJA

One of the most challenging adventurous day trips is to the calderas and craters of Askja. You’ll need at least a medium-sized 4×4, a sense of adventure, and the ability to control those jangling nerves. Access is near Mývatn so you could squeeze a trip to Askja in before or after day 7. Read more in our Askja guide.

KERLINGARFJÖLL

A mountain range concealing colourful hills and steaming vents, Kerlingarfjöll is a magical place. The mountain road here is easy to drive and makes an excellent route between Blönðuós, Gullfoss, and Reykjavík, rather than via the Ring Road. Kerlingarfjöll could be added to this itinerary after day 9. Read more on our Kerlingarfjöll guide.

SNAEFELLSNESS PENINSULA

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is on the western tip of the country and is often described as a mini-Iceland. Here you’ll find a glacier, basalt columns, and dramatic coasts. In our opinion the sights are less good when compared with other parts of Iceland, so we’d save Snaefellsnes for your second trip. However, it is convenient to Reykjavík at just 2 hours’ drive away.  Allow 1 to 2 days.

WESTFJORDS

Stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean, the Westfjords are a series of rugged peninsulas and massive mountains including spectacular but remote scenery. They include one of the best bird-watching cliffs in Europe and wonderful local bars and restaurants. Allow at least 2 days.

HOW TO PLAN AN ICELAND ITINERARY

Here is some more reading to help you plan your epic Iceland itinerary.

DISCOVERY

Firstly, if you are in discovery mode, our guide to the best places to visit in Iceland also includes 32 cool, somewhat adventurous and thoroughly enjoyable things to do.

To get a feel for what you can see in the highlands, read our guide to the top places in the Iceland Highlands.

Iceland is known for impressive waterfalls; we’ve collated a list of our top 15 waterfalls in Iceland after 4 visits to the country.  

PRACTICALITIES

For general tips on planning your itinerary including a breakdown of the different regions, when to go and how long you will need, read our Iceland trip planning guide.

As this 10-day itinerary is a road trip, read our guide on driving in Iceland with helpful tips, plus advice on how to book your car rental.

If you want to head into the highlands you’ll need to travel on the mountain roads which are unmaintained gravel tracks. Our F-roads in Iceland guide has all the information you need.

MORE ICELAND READING

Iceland is an excellent destination for semi-adventurous travellers who like to get off the beaten track and immerse themselves in stunning scenery. Here’s some more reading from us to help plan your journey to the land of fire and ice.

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ALL ICELAND CONTENT


COOL ICELAND DESTINATIONS

Reykjadalur Thermal River

How to visit the Fagradalsfjall Volcano

Hiking to Stuðlagil Canyon

How to visit Vestrahorn, Iceland

Visiting Thórsmörk in the highlands


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Complete guide for spending 10 days in Iceland including what to see and do, where to stay and how to get around.