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How to Road Trip Around Iceland

Iceland Travel Insider Guides
by Zeb Goodman Feb 1, 2017

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

Driving around Iceland feels more like a rover-ride on a different planet than a different country, and as a rule of thumb, the further you get from Reykjavik, the better Iceland’s offerings become.


The route


The Ring Road is a windy two-lane road circumnavigates the entire island, and since Iceland’s attractions are based predominantly around its perimeter, (that is, unless you’re ready for the Highlands, which you aren’t), the Ring Road becomes a perfect round trip itinerary for checking off some of Iceland’s coolest stops.

Starting in Reykjavik, begin by heading southeast to Vík, where you’ll find epic waterfalls, black sand beaches, abandoned plane wrecks, natural hot springs, and herds of wild horses.

From there, move east to Höfn for a glacier trek and an afternoon with the bobbing icebergs at Jökulsárlón’s lagoon of crystalline glacial runoff.

Next, head north to Akureyri for a glimpse of the northern lights, with pit stops along the way at the Myvatn Nature Baths, and Góðafoss (the “Waterfall of the Gods”).

Heading west from Akureyri, don’t miss the grass — roofed houses at Glaumbær on your way to the Westfjords, where you can climb around on beached oil tankers in Patreksfjörður or play with Iceland’s only native land mammal at the Arctic Fox Centre.

Finally, take a drive around the bony Snæfellsnes peninsula and visit the fantastical Kirkjufellfoss or the iconic Búðir Black Church. From there, it’s only a short drive to Reykjavik.


Things to note


Driving the Ring Road is definitively best in the summer, as the days are literally never — ending and the driving conditions are easy-going. However, summer months mean crowded campsites and tourist traffic-jams, so consider driving the Ring Road in the early fall. Winter and early spring are no-go’s, as weather conditions often render parts of the Ring Road impassable.

Finally, if you’re not diametrically opposed to “roughing it” in the slightest sense of the word, opt for one of the rental car agencies that offer sleep-n-go vehicles with cooking equipment included and a bed in the back of the car. This is doubly important given Iceland’s ‘Law of Survival,’ which states that you can camp on any man’s land for 24-hours and eat anything that you find growing on the property. That means no hotel bills and, if you’re really dedicated, no food bills either.

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