Are you planning a visiting to Iceland? Hurray! I am sure that you will love it here. And I would love to help with everything I can from my local knowledge. Whether you’re looking for road trips from Reykjavik or if you are traveling the ring road in Iceland, there is no shortage of incredible sights to see & places to explore.
Common questions are “What are the best road trips from Reykjavik?” Or “the best road trips in Iceland.” How are the road conditions in Iceland? Where should I rent a car in Iceland? And so on and on. I’ll try to answer all of these questions and more here below.
The first thing you should ask yourself is whether you want to explore Iceland by doing tours or by driving yourself (self-drive tours).
For me, the choice is easy – do you want to explore untouched gems of Iceland in a group of 20-50 people, or with your closest ones, when you want and how you want. You can even explore in the middle of the night – or do the best possible thing in my opinion and drive the full ring road of Iceland.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – this blog post is my top 5 list, of the absolute best (self-drive) day tours from Reykjavik. The best of the best road trips from Reykjavik that you can do within a day and back. Are you ready?
Here are the best road trips from Reykjavik available from your Lagoon Car Rental in Iceland that await your worthy presence!
The Golden Circle
(Of course, Best of the lot)
Forever popular as a day road trip from Reykjavik, the Golden Circle is the #1 must-visit if you have planned a road trip from the capital city of Iceland. And there is an excellent reason for it. To begin, have a look at the prime places to tick off on this route.
- Thingvellir National Park (tectonic plates, the oldest parliament in the world, waterfalls & more)
- Geysir (get ready for erupting geothermal power)
- Gullfoss Waterfall (one of the most powerful waterfalls in Iceland).
Other amazing stops are:
- Brúarfoss waterfall
- Secret Lagoon Natural Hot Spring
- The pool at Ion hotel
- Nesjavallavirkjun (Reykjavik Power Plant that provides lighting for half of Iceland).
When you begin this road trip from Reykjavik, you will initially drive through Reykjavik and the nearby small town of Mosfellsbær. There you might just as well stop in the delicious local bakery (Mosfellsbakarí) or grab essential snacks at the supermarket next doors.
Soon after driving through Mosfellsbær you will be greeted by the first major attraction of the day – the Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir in Icelandic).
Don’t be surprised to see astoundingly deep crevices separating the National Park into two halves as these are the naked Eurasian and North American tectonic plates jutting above the ground. Not only is this national park where the tectonic plates of N-America & Europe meet before your eyes and do it offer breathtaking nature – this is also home of the oldest still existing parliament in the world, Alþingi which was founded in 930. Before leaving the premises, make sure to take your camera around the park; and clicking for a few priceless memoirs.
Once done, tighten your seatbelt and head over to your next stop – Geysir which is in just less than 40 minutes drive away.
Note: On your way to Geysir, there are two amazing foodie stops if you are hungry for authentic Icelandic cuisines.
- One is the photogenic Friðheimar tomato farm. Situated in the middle of Iceland’s awe-inspiring topography and adorned by lush green vegetation, savor your taste buds to some exquisite tomato delicacies like homemade tomato soup, tomato ice cream, and their famous bloody mary!
- Another refreshing stop is the Efstidalur farm. There you’ll find homemade ice cream and you can’t miss it as it’s right on the road to our next stop.
Trust me; you will not want to leave either of these places. Every time on the Golden Circle, this is a place where I will stop without fail.
From Geysir, drive your Lagoon car rental adventure explorer to the geographical miracle of Iceland. Spread across an area of 3 km2, the Geysir area decorates itself with a myriad of boiling mud pits, hot water lakes, and the famous ‘Strokkur.’ Witness boiling water erupt high up in the air every few minutes – sometimes almost 30 meters in the air – indeed a sight to behold!
So, as the afternoon sun makes its way to the western horizon, park your commute in front of the Gullfoss Waterfall. Known for its two-stage arrangement, Gullfoss attracts a horde of tourists around the year. Words will not describe this beautiful natural phenomenon.
However, if you are an adventurous soul, park your ride near the cliff. The cold water spouts hitting against your face will be a memory cherishable for the rest of your lifetime.
The South Coast of Iceland
If you plan to experience the beautiful South coast of Iceland, prepare for a long day of adventure. For me, the South Coast is the one area that is the most FILLED with incredible attractions to explore.
Here you want to drive on your own, control the pace and go as far as you can. The South Coast is most commonly done in one day (back and forth in Reykjavik) but is also perfect for a full day if you can explore the whole day and sleep somewhere on the way before you head either back home to Reykjavik or further along the ring road of Iceland.
The “few” attractions on the South Coast that you cannot miss are:
- Seljalandsfoss waterfall
- Gljúfrabúi waterfall
- Skógafoss waterfall
- Kvernufoss waterfall
- Reynisfjara (the Black Sand Beach)
- Dyrhólaey cliffs
- Jökulsárlón (the glacier lagoon)
- The diamond beach
- Sólheimasandur plane crash
So, let’s begin our drive!
Although Google Maps may astound you with a driving duration of 5 and a half hours, time will fly as frequently changing topographies will be a treat to your naked eyes. And note that one of my favorite things about driving the South Coast is not only the most famous attractions but the drive itself. The roads in Iceland are forever winding in both directions, and the sights are just incredible wherever you look.
However, my recommendation would be renting a campervan for your South Coast/Vik drive. Post sunset set your camp underneath the midnight sun / sparkling stars and bask in the glory of the Aurora Borealis as it colors up the northern skies. Renting a camper also allows you to go much further and explore all the attractions further away from Reykjavik than Vík (Glacier Lagoon etc.)
- Note: If it is summer in Iceland and you are in for an overnight halt at Vik, then the next and final day of your trip must include the destinations of Vestmannaeyjar and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. While the former is a picturesque island off the main coast, the latter is a glacier offering a staggering view of the Icelandic coastline.
Once you are done, head back to Reykjavik’s western shores or continue your Ring Road adventure as the afternoon sun travels with you …
- Click here to see our recommended camper rental in Iceland for this road trip from Reykjavik
- Click here to see our recommended car rental in Iceland for this road trip from Reykjavik
– The longest of the road trips from Reykjavik
Comprising a back and forth driving route of around 500 km, the Snæfellsnes peninsula is a strong contender for the longest Iceland road trip in this list. It brings forth a precise amalgamation of basalt columns, waterfalls, lava fields, and a myriad of underground caverns; predominantly everything that Iceland has to offer. If you are wanderlust and fond of travel stories, then Snæfellsnes is the one area in Iceland where most people believe you will explore every single type of Icelandic nature.
Choosing a campervan from Lagoon Car Rental is an excellent idea as you can spend all your time exploring the wonders of Snæfellsnes before heading back home to Reykjavik or continue on an adventure to the Westfjords or even Akureyri in the North.
Among the highlights of Snæfellsnes peninsula are:
- Landbrotalaug natural hot spring
- Erpsstaðir for ice cream (cow farm)
- Háafell goat farm
- Langaholt golden beaches
- Bjarnafoss waterfall
- Búðir (small town and black church)
- Rauðafellsgjá gorge
- Tons of incredible caves
- Snæfellsjökull glacier
- The small town of Stykkishólmur
- & more!
However, the one highlight of this road is probably mounted Kirkjufell. Situated on the western extremes of the Icelandic coast, its lush green slopes amalgamating with snow-white capes is indeed a sight to behold – Making it the most photographed mountain in Iceland!
Note: A personal recommendation would be to traverse the route during summers as some of the smaller roads (off the beaten track) of this peninsula are only traversable via gravel roads.
So, while camper vans will suffice to these off-road tarmacs, these will also provide you with a cheaper and feasible alternative for overnight halts, owing to the absence of significant human habitation in the area.
- Click here to see our recommended camper rental in Iceland for this road trip from Reykjavik
- Click here to see our recommended rental car for this Reykjavik road trip
– The perfect one-day road trip, especially if you plan to visit the Blue Lagoon
If you are staying in Reykjavik and looking for a brief one-day drive around the country, a road trip across the Reykjanes peninsula will suffice your tarmac Iceland dreams. Reykjanes is also the least visited area of all listed in this blog – so here you might find yourself one with nature!
Similar to the Snæfellsnes peninsula drive, most of your trip is met with asphalt stretches. However, a brief time on Road Nr. 42 still has gravel roads, especially just before arriving at Kleifarvatn.
When on the Reykjanes peninsula, do not forget to visit its main highlights:
- Gunnuhver hot mud pots
- Krýsuvík hiking area
- The bridge between continents
- Brimketill pool
- Hafnarberg cliffs
- Keilir (you’ll get serious cool points for hiking up this one)
- and the mighty cliffs all around the coastline of Reykjanes peninsula
Start your trip from the capital city of Iceland and speed along the coastline of Sæbraut, transporting you to Route 41. After passing the towns of Garðabær, Kópavogur and Hafnarfjörður, take a left turn to reach your first destination – the Kleifarvatn Lake.
This place will welcome you with its cliffs and lava stacks, forming a natural barrier around the lake. A brief hike or trek up the western slope of Kleifarvatn will offer a breath-taking panoramic view of the lake along with the cobalt blue skies forming its backdrop.
Now, rev up your engine and pay a visit to the hot springs of Seltún. Situated around 5 kilometers off the Kleifarvatn Lake, it brings forth a blend of hot springs and mud pits.
Don’t be surprised to see occasional mud spouts jutting from the underground caverns!
After transpiring your mud pit dreams, steer your rental car Road Nr. 427, look for a signboard calling out Krýsuvíkurberg. Go off the highway and drive for a couple of kilometers more to reach the Krýsuvíkurberg Lake. A perfect place for hiking and trekking.
When driving further south on Road Nr 427, you will come across a small bridge connecting two ridges.
Hey, wait! Slam on that brake!
It is a bridge connecting two tectonic plates. Step off your car and descend to the area in between. After all, it is not every day that you get a chance of hanging between two tectonic plates!
Now, it’s time to head back! However, on your way to Reykjavik, make a brief halt at the suburban locality of Garður. Known as the birthplace of Icelandic Rock Music, allow your steps to find a pub of your choice.
Allow your eardrums to embrace every beat of the Icelandic pop culture as your dry throat gulps on a few pegs of old rum. Once done, make your way back to the capital city on your Lagoon rental car under a bright night or (hopefully) the glimmering northern lights.
– Hike or drive: The choice is yours
The hike to Iceland’s second highest waterfall is nothing short of mesmerizing. However, getting to the place would require you to opt for a rental car as I don’t know of any tours or public transport going there!
The travel adventure to Glymur Waterfall is the Perfect road trip/day trip/adventure for travelers looking to explore nature first hand and spend less time driving and more time outside!
With the proximity of an hour’s drive from the capital city, the highway offers a ‘#47’ sign enabling you to take a precise turn to the base camp. This hike gains its popularity owing to some varied topographical challenges faced by trekkers.
While the initial stages will greet you with mossy green vegetation and intermittent fogs, with advancing gradients, you will also find some caverns on your way. When it’s time to cross the river, your muscle strengths will be put to the test due to the balance ropes serving as the sole medium of passing the water body.
However, irrespective of all such contingencies, a trek to Glymur waterfall will prove to be an experience of a lifetime. After having completed this priceless trek, descend and allow your rental car to carry you back to the capital city.
I hope from the bottom of my heart that you found this blog post to be helpful and that you will have the-time-of-your-life when you get to explore all these natural gems on your own. I wish you all the best, and we hope to see you soon!
A travel story from our content creator & adventurer at Lagoon Car Rental, Egill Fannar Halldórsson from Wake up Reykjavik, on the top five road trips from Reykjavik.Back