The Iceland ring road is a popular trip you can do when you come to visit our little island. By traveling around the country you explore and experience the best Iceland has to offer. Renting a car or a camper, buying food from the supermarket, and enjoying our natural geothermal pools will result in a lot of great memories from your trip. In this blog, I will write about whether you should go to the north or south first, which sceneries you need to check out and what to bring.
Should you go to the north of Iceland or the south of Iceland first?
This is a tricky question and depends a lot on each individual. Here below I’ll go over the options you’ll have on either side.
The south of Iceland is usually more crowded as it’s closer to the airport and has a ton of fantastic sceneries such as;
- Black Sand Beach
- Secret Lagoon
- Glaciers and Glaciers hikes
- Reykjadalur Valley
These are just a few of the things you’ll find in the south since there are a TON of beautiful places to see along the way.
The north of Iceland is a bit more rural and less crowded but also has some of the most breathtaking and fantastic places in Iceland, such as;
- Krafla Volcano
You will definitely not be bored when you see these amazing places.
But which is better to visit first?
It depends on the weather!
The weather can be sunny on one side and pouring rain on the other side at the same time. It’s quite common for Icelandic weather to have a breeze coming from the north, so in that case, it’s better weather in the south of Iceland. When the breeze is coming from the south it’s usually nicer weather in the north. You can see the weather forecast for all of Iceland here. If possible, try to stay in the sun and the less cloudy part of Iceland to get as good a view as possible when you visit places with amazing scenery!
What do I need when driving the ring road?
Though it is definitely possible to travel overloaded and over-prepared, the key is to be aware of the things you might need.
To name a few things:
A place to stay (Who’d a thunk it!)
Whether it’s hotels, hostels, AirBnB’s, camping outside or a camper van you’ll need to book these with a lot of notice for the summertime since Iceland is very busy during that season. If you’re exploring the Icelandic ring road in the winter season, you’ll have more time on your hands to book a place to stay, but we recommend doing this as soon as you decide to come to Iceland! Though if you plan on traveling in a camper van, you won’t need to book ahead before arriving at a campsite!
A good vehicle.
We absolutely recommend driving yourself. Generally, you can choose between a rental car and staying at hotels, hostels, Airbnb. A beautiful way to experience Iceland is to rent a camper van and sleep on camping grounds. This depends a lot on what you want, but it’s good to think about the pros and cons of each option.
Waterproof clothes when visiting waterfalls.
Warm clothes when doing scenery stops.
When you stop the car to get out and look at places such as;
It can make your day to be able to stay outside as long as you’d like, not worrying about the weather. Our parka is a fantastic option for that.
It’s a very good thing to have some idea when you plan on traveling the Icelandic ring road, such as, where you’ll go and for how long you’ll be there. Check out this blog to get a few ideas on what you can do on your trip around Iceland
Website and apps to be aware of
- Vedur.is – Stay up to date on the weather in your part of the country!
- Safe travel Iceland – Tips and updates on safe travel in Iceland. They also have an app!
- Iceland hot pot guide (App)
How long does it take to drive the ring road in Iceland?
The Icelandic ring road is just over 1,300 kilometers so you’ll need at least 5 days if you want to make some stops along the way. This excludes the Westfjords. You’ll need at least 2 extra days to include them.
Of course, you can do what many people choose to do, which is to only drive the South coast and turn back around Fjaðrárgljúfur, but if you have the time and budget for it, we absolutely recommend doing the full circle!
I recommend if you’re planning on doing the full circle, to give it 10 days and that included the Westfjords. This is because if you plan to drive around the country in 5 days, you’re going to miss out on a lot of stuff that makes traveling in Iceland so special.
Whale watching in Húsavík
Visiting the geothermal baths in Mývatnssveit
Enjoying our capital
Natural geothermal pools
And so many other things! So if you plan on traveling the entire circle, definitely make sure to allocate at least 10 days on the road!
I hope this short blog has been informative and has helped you decide which part of Iceland to start with and what you can do in each section of the country. Have a great trip and enjoy our nature!