We experienced a lot of adventures in Iceland: 4 days full of driving through crazy, long highways surrounded by epic mountains, powerful rivers, and waterfalls. We definitely connected to nature in another level. Everyone should have the chance to have a similar experience in this stunning country. In our Iceland road trip guide, we will provide you with all the information you need to get the best out of your time in this country.
Of course, this is a guide for budget travelers as well, we’re going to share with you our tips as well. If you have more time, you can definitely explore more of Iceland, you can spend up to 2 weeks in this beautiful land.
Before you head to Iceland, don't forget to check out our article about the 10 Things To Know Before You Go To Iceland.
When is the best time to visit Iceland?
The perfect time to visit Iceland totally depends on your plans and budget. If you want to visit Iceland during the best weather conditions, the summer is the best option: the months from June to September have the highest temperatures and the less rainy days, but the crowds will be gigantic as well as the prices of everything.
If you want to visit Iceland during the best time to catch the Northern lights, the fall and late winter are the best options. The months from late September to late March are the darkest, so your chance to see the Northern Lighst is higher. This is the low season as well. he bad thing is that is also the coldest season, and the weather conditions get even more crazy during the winter time.
Why should you choose getting around by car?
Well, the practical reason is: there is almost no public transport. You can get to Reykjavik from Keflavík airport, but it’s a mystery how would you get to the waterfalls or to other very interesting places without a car.
Other options to get around:
- Book tours: if you don’t want to take a road trip, but it’s definitely more expensive.
- Hitchhike and sleep in camps.
- Rent a camper van with your friends or with your partner, in that case you can also sleep in your van.
In Iceland the currency is Icelandic crowns. Iceland is an expensive country, so it's important to know the exchange rate from ISK to EUR, or from ISK to USD, of course depending on the country where you come from.
Example (March 2019)
|kr 1,000 ISK|
kr 1,000 ISK
|€ 7.27 EUR|
How to travel on a budget?
- You can save a lot of money if you just buy your groceries in a store and cook in your hostel. So definitely book an accomodation with kitchen. The cheapest stores in Iceland are t\two:: Bónus and Krónan. (Don’t forget to try the famous Icelandic Skyr, it is a delicious yogurt look like, high in proteins dessert, and it is perfect for the long road trips that you will make.)
- Travel with a group or with your couple, so that you can share the costs of the accommodation and of the car.
- Planning months in advance and booking your accommodation in advance can reduce your expenses.
Are you ready for the adventure? Do you already have a travel insurance?
World Nomads has the best insurance options for backpackers, young travelers and digital nomads.
The Northern lights, also known as Aurora borealis are one of the most amazing natural phenomenons in the world. They are caused when the radiation issued by the sun hits the surface of the magnetosphere of the Earth.
The best moment of the year to catch them on the northern hemisphere is between September and March. But the best months to catch them particularly in Iceland is between August and April.
There are several tours that can take you to watch them, but they can be very expensive.
What we recommend is to chase them by yourself. In case you are staying in a little town, watch them from there!
The best way to know where and when to watch them is through the Official aurora forecast website of Iceland. There you will find the current weather and cloud conditions to know if the aurora borealis will be visible or not.
The best places to watch: Thingvellir National Park, Kerid Crater, Reykjavik Lighthouse, Plane Wreck
When we were driving from Vik to Reykjavik we were lucky to watch them a little bit. It was a very magical experience. We visited Iceland in February and unfortunately the weather was foggy the whole week, so we couldn't see the Nortnern Lights again. Hopefully next time 🙂
If you will rent a car in Iceland, there is something that you need to keep in mind. It doesn’t matter how good you drive or how much driving experience do you have. Iceland is a challenge to every driver because the weather conditions can be crazy! It's not just something that we read somewhere, we really experienced that! At some point it can be sunny, and after two seconds you are driving in fog on a slippery road. Always be aware of the road conditions, take care of the signs and of course: get a good insurance for your car!
It's really important to stay updated about the weather conditions in Iceland. We were constantly checking the official website of Safe travel in Iceland.
Arrival to the airport
International flights arrive to the Keflavik’s International Airport.
The beauty of Iceland resides in the natural wonders that you can find all along the country. We wanted to get the best out of our time in Iceland, so we rented a car. There will be several car rental companies offering you cars at the airport, but we really recommend you to rent your car in advance. Don’t worry about special features like snow tires or fog lights, because usually in Iceland all the cars have those features.
In our case, we decided to rent a 4 door car with Procar (not paid ad), we booked it 3 weeks before the trip and we paid a total of 120 euros for 5 days including the full insurance. They picked us up at the airport and drove us to the office where we got our car.
It"s very important to get a full insurance with your rental car, Icelandic weather is really crazy! In 5 days we drove in rain, fog, storm, snow and wind! You can even face a sudden “rock storm” that can damage the glass or some other parts of the car without even noticing it. So it’s better to be fully protected on your road trip 😉
Our first stop after getting our car was arriving to the capital city of Iceland, Reykjavik. The city is approx. 30 minutes from the airport by car.
You can read about our favourite things to see in Reykjavik in our article: Reykjavik - Top Things To See in One Day.
Where to stay in Reykjavík?
Accomodation in Iceland can be very expensive, but it depends on the season as well. If you book in advance, you can also spare some money.
Booking.com is the biggest collection of hostels and hotels all over the world. Click here to explore all the accomodations in Reykjavik and book the best deal 🙂
Hlemmur Square - We stayed at a backpackers hostel called Hlemmur Square and we would totally recommend it. It was clean, it has a kitchen, a bar and a restaurant, and the staff is nice and helpful as well.
But if you want to find other accomodation that fits more to your needs, click on our Booking.com deals finder for Reykjavík:
Snæfellsnes peninsula is the representation of the Icelandic feeling. It’s very close from Reykjavik (2 hours by car).
Unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to visit all the interesting places here because we didn’t plan this day well and the weather conditions were also bad, so it took us much more time to arrive to the destinations. But we will show you all the places that you can visit when you drive around the peninsula.
- Time from Reykjavik by car: 2 hours.
This was our first stop in this region of Iceland, and it was actually the best decision! This rocky beach is very special because you can find there-during the last days of winter and the whole summer- a large group of beautiful seals. You can watch them from very close swimming and chilling on the shore.
- Time from Ytri Tunga by car: 20 minutes
A little and beautiful black church appears in the middle of the little town of Búðir. The first Búðakirkja was built on the spot in 1703, but was deconstructed due to the area lack of parishioners. The current church was reconstructed in 1987. It has a historic graveyard as well as relics such as a bell and chalice from the time the church was first erected. You can walk along the fields or down to the coastline as well. The fields feel unending and the landscape with this single black-painted church is surreal.
Time from Búðakirkja by car: 35 minutes.
This amazing mountain is one of the most famous places in Iceland (mainly because of instagram).If you are here during the Northern Lights season, you will be able to take some magical shots here. Maybe you know already the place because the mountain appeared in a chapter of the Game of Thrones series.
Time from Kirkjufell by car: 41 minutes
This little mountain is just 5 kilometers away from Stykkishólmur. Before the christian conversion of Iceland, the vikings gave cult to Thor in this place, and they were burying their loved ones when they passed away.
The legend says that if you climb to the top of this little mountain you can make three wishes! So you should give it a try 😉
Time from Helgafell by car: 8 minutes.
If you want to see some cute Puffins flying, fishing, you can come to Stykkishólmur and take a boat trip with different ferry companies. You can appreciate a lot of birds and if you’re lucky enough you may even find some whales on the way!
We didn't stay anywhere in this region, but you can use our deals finder for the Snæfellsnes peninsula and get the best accomodation for you:
Day 3 - Golden Circle
We dedicated this day to Golden Circle. We were actually very lucky because the weather that day was amazing, and it gave us the chance to see all the natural wonders. This day we also checked out from our hostel in Reykjavik, and we spent the next night in Flúðir.
The Golden Circle is the most popular route in Iceland due to the natural wonders that can be found in the road like the Þingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss waterfall or the Geysir. But even if it"s so popular, you will have a pleasant journey because the highways are in very good condition and the landscapes are stunning!
You can read about all the amazing spots that we visited on the Golden Circle route in our article: How to drive the Golden Circle in one day - Including the Secret Lagoon and Flúðir
Where to stay in Flúðir ?
Booking.com is the biggest collection of hostels and hotels all over the world. Click here to explore all the accomodations in Flúðir and book the best deal 🙂
Efra Sel Hostel- We stayed at an apartment called Efra Sel Hostel and we would totally recommend it. It was clean, it has a kitchen, the owner is helpful and kind, and of course let's not forget about the hot tube 🙂 It’s perfect if you don’t want to return to Reykjavík after exploring the Golden Circle road. There is even a vegan friendly restaurant near to the hostel.
But if you want to find other accomodation that fits more to your needs, click on our Booking.com deals finder for Flúðir.
Day 4 - South coast of Iceland
The last day we decided to explore the south coast of Iceland. You can start your route in Reykjavik or in Fludir (the second one is a bit closer). We took the most famous and oldest road in Iceland, the Ring Road or Hringvegur road. This surrounds the whole country in a circle. This part of Iceland has the most famous waterfalls like Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. You can find on your way the most popular photo spots like the Black Sand beach, and the wreck plane spot as well. All these places can be visited in one day following the Ring Road without complications and Vík is the perfect place to stay for the night if you're planning to visit the east side of Iceland as well.
You can read about the places we visited on the Ring Road here: South coast of Iceland: 5 Top things to see
Where to stay in Vík?
We didn’t stay in Vík because as our last day, we needed to book accomodation close to the airport, but you can always use our deals finder for Vík to find the best option for you.
Iceland was one of the best adventures of our whole life. It's such a perfect country for discovering hidden natural wonders! We got (re-)connected to the nature and to the Earth. We can’t wait to visit it again and explore the parts that we missed, because there's still a lot to explore <3
If you have any questions, send us and e-mail or leave a comment here!