Best Things to See Near Iceland’s Ring Road

When you visit Iceland, you must take a loop around Ring Road. This amazing road trip route is one of the most inclusive paths in the country as it allows you to see a little bit of everything!

From volcanoes to hot springs, Ring Road will take you through Iceland’s most beautiful regions to give you a glimpse of some of the nation’s most iconic features.

Explore the best things to see near Iceland’s Ring Road, including volcanoes, hot springs, geysers and more!

Book Your Trip to Iceland’s Ring Road

What is Iceland’s Ring Road?

Curve raod to the mountain with motion blur, Iceland

“Þjóðvegur 1” is Icelandic for Route 1, but this route is more commonly known as Iceland’s Ring Road. It loops around the entirety of Iceland, hitting everything from beach and lighthouses to mountains and lava fields.

Ring Road is much larger and more inclusive than other routes in Iceland, such as the Golden Circle or the Diamond Circle. It is perfect for those who want to take their time to enjoy some of the best things that Iceland has to offer.

Road Tripping Along The Ring Road in Iceland

Typical Iceland landscape with road and mountains.

Grab some snacks and fill up your tank because it is time to cruise around Ring Road. Prepare for many stops and excursions that allows you to experience the beauty of Iceland in brand new ways!

Each stop along your journey will bring something new. From horseback riding excursions to hiking volcanoes, you’ll never fall short of fun and excitement.

Something that you should keep in mind when driving Iceland’s Ring Road is that there may be less than desirable travel conditions. Stay on top of all weather advisories and prepare accordingly.

Renting a 4×4 vehicle is a way to play in safe, especially in the winter. Afterall, you don’t want to get stuck out in the middle of nowhere with a herd of reindeer, right?

How Long is The Ring Road?

While we recommend that you take your time to enjoy Ring Road, it can be traveled in less than 16 hours. It is approximately 1,333 kilometers in circumference.

Some guides suggest that a week on Ring Road is enough, but we suggest closer to 10 days or two weeks. Do not try to rush to fit everything in. Choose the sites you’d like to visit and enjoy them.

View on Iceland glacier tongues with tour van on gravel road, rocks, moss, fog, clouds, cliffs, mountains

Make sure you book your flights with a little bit of wiggle room in case you decide to deviate from your plan and let adventure take over. If you are only coming to Iceland to travel Ring Road, you can easily fly in and out or Reykjavik. Depending on where you are coming from, consider that you may be a bit jet lagged the first day of your trip.

The length of your trip really depends on which attractions you’re set on seeing and how long you plan on exploring each. Figure out which places you’d like to stop at and whether or not you’ll need reservations. This will help you determine the structure of your trip.

Where to Stay Along the Ring Road

Since extending your trip around Ring Road is the best way to go, you are going to want to find the most suitable accommodations in the cutest towns around the loop.

Take that extra couple of days to enjoy the beauty of Iceland. Map out your trip and book ahead or just stop and search for a place to stay when you are ready each day!

You’ve got tons of options when it comes to finding a place to stay along Ring Road.

Different Accommodation Options on the Ring Road

View from driver's seat while driving the ring road in Iceland

When traveling around Ring Road, there are a few different accommodation options to choose from.

Since many nature-lovers come to Iceland to connect more intimately with the land, camping is a popular option. Search out cabins or a place to pitch a tent before you embark on your journey around the loop because different areas have rules and regulations regarding campers.

AirBNB is another great option that allows you to immerse yourself in Icelandic culture. You may choose to stay in a private apartment or in the spare room of somebody’s home. Staying with locals can be very interesting.

If you’d rather a more affordable options, hostels are a great choice, too! Again, you’ll want to scope out the safest and cleanest hostels before your trip so that you have the best experience possible.

Hotels and motels are a great way to play it safe. They may be a bit pricier, but you can ensure private quarters and security.

The only wrong way to travel is with a closed mind. Travel in the style that is the most comfortable and makes the most sense for you.

Best Towns to Stay in Along the Ring Road, Iceland

Borgarnes view during winter which is a town located on a peninsula at the shore of Borgarfjordur, Iceland

When planning your trip around Ring Road, there are a few cities, towns and villages that are not to be missed! Whether they are known for their rich history or undeniable beauty, each town brings something special to the table.

Check out some of the best towns along The Ring Road:

  • Vík: This little tiny village is home to just about 300 residents. It is very cute and welcoming. If you don’t stay here, you should at least stop for gas and snacks because it may be a while before you hit your next town!
  • Kirkjubæjarklaustur: Known for its romantic scenery and hiking paths, Kirkjubæjarklaustur is even less populated than Vík. This little village is certainly not one to be missed.
  • Höfn: Stop by this little fishing town for lots of fish and lobster! Höfn is known for its Lobster Festival in the summertime.
  • Egilsstaðir: This town is the largest in eastern Iceland and is full of amazing camping locations for travelers who prefer this type of accomodations.
  • Húsavík: This northern town is known as the best whale watching spot in all of Iceland!
  • Akureyri: Being the capital of the north, this town has all that you could hope for. From rich history to exciting nightlife, you will not be disappointed.
  • Reykholt: This town is a history buff’s dream. Home to some famous figures from the viking age, you will not want to miss this history rich spot.
  • Reykjavik: The nation’s capital is bustling with fun and excitement! Head out for a night of singing, dancing and bar crawling before hitting the hay in this city!

Which towns will you be adding to your agenda?

Where to Eat Along Ring Road

Fish is drying on a rack

When in Iceland, you’re going to eat a lot of fish, lamb, langoustine and lobster. You’ll never go hungry.

Check out some of the best places to grab a bite to eat on your trip around Ring Road.

  • Friðheimar Farm (Reykholt): This restaurant in a greenhouse is known for its delicious tomato soup.
  • Bryggjan (Akureyri) – For fish, fish and more fish, stop by Bryggjan.
  • Systrakaffi (Kirkjubæjarklaustur): At Systrakaffi, you’ve got to try a unique Icelandic treat: cheese pizza with jam.
  • Humarhöfnin (Höfn): Try the langoustine bisque at Humarhöfnin.
  • Hlaðan Kaffihús (Hvammstangi): If you are in the mood for soup, this is the restaurant for your!

Icelandic cuisine is simple but rich. The local cuisine will surely satisfy your tastebuds.

Fun Attractions and Activities Around the Ring Road

The Ring Road is one of the best road trip routes around Iceland because it hits so many wonderful attractions. From beaches to lava fields, there is so much beauty to be seen!

Explore the different attractions along Ring Road. We’ve organized them by region so that you can plan your trip more easily!

Attractions in The North Around Ring Road

Northern Iceland is full of phenomenal landscapes and natural attractions. This area of Iceland is a nature lover’s dream!

  1. Dimmuborgir: Often referred to as the “Gateway to Hell,” this area is filled with amazing caves and rock formations that are truly unmissable.
  2. Hverfell/Hverfjall: This volcano is known is ease of hiking. If you’re looking for a great hiking spot in northern Iceland, Hverfell is the attraction for you!
  3. Mývatn Nature Baths: Thought of as the north’s version of the Blue Lagoon, this hot spring provides a relaxing way to spend your afternoon.
  4. Ásbyrgi: This horseshoe shaped valley is teeming with myths and tales of folklore. It truly is something out of a story book.

Getting connected with nature is not hard in this beautiful region of Iceland.

Attractions in The South Around Ring Road

The southern section of the Ring Road is certainly the area with the most attractions, so you’ll probably want to spend the most amount of time down around there.

From historic sites to black sand beaches, the adventure is endless.

  1. Hveragerði: This small town is known for its geothermal activity areas and hot rivers.
  2. Hofskirkja: This small church was the last church in Iceland to be built in the turf style. It looks like a cute little cottage in the woods! Perfect for lovers of history or those who never miss a great photo op.
  3. Reynisfjara: This beautiful black sand beach is known for its deadly past. Waves come out of nowhere and steal the lives of visitors, so it is advised that you behave with extreme caution when visiting this spot!
  4. DC Plane Crash Site: Check out the crash site of the abandoned US Navy airplane in Sólheimasandur. Although everybody involved in the crash walked away unharmed, wreckage was left on a black sand beach and is now a history buff’s favorite!
  5. Fjaðrárgljúfur: Explore this lovely canyon with incredible rock formations! You’ll be blown away.
  6. Jökulsárlón: Have you ever heard of people getting excited over a chunk of ice? This ginormous glacier is one of Iceland’s most visited destinations. You don’t want to miss out on the magic of this beautiful ice slab.
  7. Skaftafell: Formerly dubbed a national park, this location is a great place to spend an afternoon exploring and hiking. You will not want to miss its black waterfall called Svartifoss. This natural phenomenon is caused by the minerals in the rocks that the water runs through!
  8. Diamond Beach: Picture this: a black sand beach decorated with millions of ice crystals. Seals dance around, clapping with glee. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, at Diamond Beach, it’s a reality!

If you have a limited amount of time or are interested in out of the ordinary attractions, focus your time on the southern part of Iceland’s Ring Road.

Attractions in The East Around the Ring Road

Head over to the eastern side of Iceland for some more exciting attractions.

Want to know our favorite thing to see in eastern Iceland? We will give you a hint: Santa Claus has got a few of these bad boys!

  1. Hallormsstaðaskógur: Since Iceland doesn’t have many trees, this forest is a rarity and is highly cherished. This spot marks the halfway point in Ring Road if you’re coming from Reykjavik.
  2. Vestrahorn Mountain: This spiky mountain is among the most photographed location in all of eastern Iceland even though it is neighbored by a variety of other beautiful attractions.
  3. See Reindeer: Reindeer are not native to Iceland, but at some point they were brought from another country and released into the wild. They can only be spotted in the east of Iceland.
  4. Egilsstaðir: Famous for The Lagarfljot Worm, a monster that is weaved into Icelandic folklore, Egilsstaðir is the largest town in eastern Iceland.

Which destinations are you adding to your must see list?

Attractions in The West Around the Ring Road

Attractions in western Iceland are typically some of the most popular due to the close proximity to the nation’s capital. Explore some of the hottest locations in western Iceland.

  1. Westfjords: This series of fjords is very famous in Iceland. Westfjords is a region that is very remote, but is not to be missed. It is advised that you travel to this areas in the winter with extreme caution.
  2. Esjan: This mountain is one of the greatest hiking spots in western Iceland because its views are phenomenal! It over looks the nation’s capital.
  3. Reykjavik: Reykjavik is Iceland’s capital. This city has so many attractions within. It is particularly famous for its delicious cuisine and nightlife.
  4. Hraunfossar: This lava waterfall in western Iceland is not to be missed.

Definitely stop at these locations at the beginning and end of your loop around Ring Road. We’d encourage spending a few days in Reykjavik and exploring some daytime excursions from there.

Volcanoes Around the Ring Road in Iceland

Young woman in Iceland contemplating famous Kirkjufell mountain

Volcanoes are an iconic part of Iceland. This small country has over 130 volcanoes total, some being much more active than others.

The volcanoes are part of the geothermal activity that gives Iceland its identity because they are responsible for much of the nation’s beautiful landscapes and landforms.

Waterfalls Around the Ring Road in Iceland

Iceland’s waterfalls are absolutely spectacular. During the warmer months. many are beautifully framed by lush foliage, and during the winter, some freeze over, creating the most picture perfect scene of a winter wonderland.

From Hengifoss to Barnafoss, explore some of the best waterfalls around Ring Road.

Seljalandsfoss

At the back of Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland

This magnificent waterfall is visible from the Ring Road, but takes a short hike to get closer. Seljalandsfoss is one of the only waterfalls in Iceland that you can walk the whole way around! You can even come right up and touch the wall.

Seljalandsfoss is one of the most popular waterfalls in all of Iceland because of its absolute beauty.

Skógafoss

Skogafoss waterfall in South Iceland

This waterfall is an important Icelandic landmark because it is the head of a hiking trail called Fimmvörðuháls. This trail is so major because it takes you to the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano. Skógafoss is particularly beautiful in the summertime when it cascades through a mossy runway.

Dettifoss

A man is looking at the Dettifoss waterfall near the ring road in Iceland

This massive waterfall is said to be the most powerful in all of Europe. It is particularly beautiful when it is lit up by the Northern Lights. Remember that you may get very wet at this location due to all of the water vapor in the air. Dress accordingly.

Goðafoss

Godafoss Waterfall near the iceland ring road

This waterfall has a very rich Christian history. It is the place where statues to idols and Norse gods were discarded after Christianity was dubbed the official religion of Iceland. Goðafoss is a very spectacular waterfall that you should visit on your trip around the Ring Road.

Hraunfossar

Hraunfossar series of waterfalls formed by rivulets streaming over a distance of about 900 metres

This dreamy lava waterfall is one that cannot be missed. The water trickling down from underneath a lava field makes for one of the most picture perfect sights in all of Iceland.

Hot Springs Around the Ring Road in Iceland

When you visit Iceland, you’ve got to take a dip in some of Iceland’s beloved hot springs. These hot springs are the result of geothermal activity beneath the Earth’s crust.

Some of the springs are naturally occuring and others were dug by humans, but all are heated naturally.

Seljavallalaug

Seljavallalaug hot spring, in southern Iceland near the Ring Road

Seljavallalaug is one of the most popular hot springs in all of Iceland. It is on the route between the Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, so you don’t want to miss it!

Deildartunguhver

Deildartunguhver hot nature steams in iceland

This hot spring is one of the most powerful in all of Europe. Since it is so harsh, it is not very safe to swim in. It’s water is used to heat homes and local swimming pool.

Grjótagjá

Underground hot spring Grjotagja in Iceland

This hot spring in northern Iceland is located inside a cave and was featured in an episode of Game of Thrones. Visitors are not allowed to bathe in this magical area, but it is absolutely beautiful and certainly should not be missed.

Other Things to Do in Iceland

Driving Iceland’s Ring Road is just one of many ways to see all that the island has to offer. We’ve created a collection of travel guide that will help you plan the most memorable trip to Iceland! Check them out.

Which aspect of Iceland is the most appealing to you?

Your trip to Iceland will truly be the holiday of a lifetime. Begin by booking your airfare so you can start planning your trip today!

Plan Your Trip to Iceland

It is time to plan your Icelandic holiday. There is truly so much to do around Ring Road, so you could spend your whole trip cruising this scenic route.

If you are having difficulty with your planning or if you’d rather pass the planning baton on to the professionals, Hekla is here for you. We have been traveling Northern Europe for decades and have gotten out tours down pat.

Check out some of our best Icelandic tours or contact us today to let us know how we can help you plan your trip to Iceland. Grab your passport and a notebook because it is time to plan the holiday of your dreams.