Explore an island of guzzling geysers, with chasms of ice, steaming volcanoes and geothermal pools. The best way to see it all? On an epic Iceland road trip. Begin your adventure in Reykjavik and drive clockwise along the island across the Ring Road. With our guide to the journey of a lifetime, you’ll quickly discover the magic of this Scandinavian country.
A city to behold
Best for: The capital, wildlife, volcanoes
The journey: 78 miles
Reykjavík to Húsafell
Touch down to Keflavik International Airport and pick up your hire car. Start your 45-minute drive to Reykjavík, the colourful capital of Iceland, with the most spectacular backdrop of snow-dusted volcanoes, surrounded by calm indigo coastal waters. Park in the city centre and see the highlights. Wander along the seafront to gaze at the striking Sun Voyager sculpture, stroll to The Settlement Exhibition to learn about the Vikings, then visit iconic Hallgrímskirkja church which watches over the city.
Before getting back on the road, head to Sægreifinn in the Old Harbour (the restaurant is famous for warming bowls of lobster soup); and take a peek at the converted fishing huts. Next, set your sights on Húsafell, heading north along the coast, then inland, taking around two hours. One of the perks of hiring a car is the freedom to stop whenever you like and savour the ever-changing scenery.
Where to stay:
Hotel Húsafell - with its geothermal pools, outdoor hot tubs and Nordic restaurant, you’ll rest easy. Its location is perfect to drive far west to Snæfellsjökull National Park where you can discover a glacier and active volcano.
Take in the gems of the north west and soak up the mysteries embedded here. On your way back to the hotel stop at the stunning Barnafossar and Hraunfossar waterfalls.
Gaze at the flickering skies and grab your camera to snap a magical moment.
Jaw-dropping northern terrain
Best for: Culture, landmarks, waterfalls
The journey: 199 miles
Húsafell to Akureyri
Make your way through extraordinary landscape and quaint villages before slipping through astonishing mountain passes, on your journey to the north central town of Akureyri. Pull over as often or as little as you like on this four-hour adventure. Whether you drive in the bright sunlight of summer and park up for a picnic, or spot the northern lights flickering in the darkness of winter – Iceland is road trip-worthy all-year-round.
Once you arrive to breathtaking Akureyri, surrounded by majestic mountains and Iceland’s longest fjord, check-in to your hotel before venturing into town. You’ll find an abundance of art galleries and inspiring museums to explore, including the Gallery Listfléttan and Into the Arctic Museum. There are plenty of cafes to warm-up over hot chocolate, or you can try local beers and whiskey at the R5-Beer Lounge.
You can treat yourself to local Icelandic produce at restaurant Strikið, whether you order langoustine, salmon ceviche, tuna tartar or order the surf ‘n’ turf. Book a table for dinner and relish the tasting menu. Set on the fifth floor, look out over waters in summer from the Terrace or sip cocktails from the cosy South Side come winter.
Where to stay:
Icelandair Akureyri - for a few nights in a central location and buffet breakfasts. Just a 10-minute drive away is Hlíðarfjall, you can go for a ski or hike. Across to the east is the ethereal Goðafoss waterfalls, a sight to see all-year-around, then return to the hotel for a delicious dinner by the fire.
Drive a little further and you will arrive at the Hverir/Hverarönd hot springs and mud pits, one of the largest sulphur springs in Iceland. You can explore the dramatic landscape to the east of Námafjall Mountain and soak up the incredible terrain before heading back for a final night in Akureyri.