Driving Ring Road | Iceland

busyXploring Iceland Seljavallaung Pool

Are you planning a trip to Iceland and not sure where to start? Iceland's Highway 1 (Ring Road) is a great place to begin and end your journey. Take it from me - I experienced more than I could have ever imagined by driving the Ring Road. In one week, I was able to view the changing landscapes and stop at some of the most breathtaking landmarks.

I wanted to spend most of my time in the southern region where there are more landmarks, so I planned to travel to the north and eastern parts first and end in the south/southwest areas to wrap up the trip.

Trip Basics:

  • Location: Iceland
  • Date: September 1 - September 8
  • Flight: WOW Air (which is no longer) PIT>Keflavik (direct overnight flight)
  • Car: AVIS rentals available at the airport (Volkswagen)
  • Team: Single/Female/Blonde/26
  • Weather: Rainy/Sunny/Cloudy/Windy/50-60 degrees
  • Average Daily Drive Time: Most days are between 4-8 hours - sounds like a lot but it is worth it!

busyXploring Iceland Audrey Rattay Solo Traveler

 Basic Route Information (Driving Clockwise on Highway 1/Ring Road):

  • Day 1:
    • Arrive at Airport in Keflavik and pickup rental car at 7:00 a.m. 
    • Begin driving to Akureryi, which is about a 5 hour drive
    • Sightseeing: Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls > Hvammstangi (seals) > Hvitserkur ('rhino-rock') > Akureryi city tour
  • Day 2:
    • Drive from Akureryi to the town of Seydisfjordur
    • This is quite a long day of driving but worth it. The landscape begins to change and the drive is beautiful.
    • Sightseeing: Godafoss waterfall > Myvatn bath (good alternative to Blue Lagoon) > Krafla lava field > Dettifoss waterfall > Seydisfjordur
  • Day 3:
    • Take time to explore Seydisfjordur! There are great hiking trails and little shops within the fjord area. A quaint fishing town with lots of charm.
    • Drive from Seydisfjordur to Stafafell (3 hour drive without stopping)
    • Sightseeing: Hengifoss waterfall > Bulandstindur
    • I stayed at the Stafafell Hostel this night, which is on a farm. Its rural setting makes it a lovely place to relax after a long few days of travel.
  • Day 4:
    • Drive from Stafafell to Seljaland
    • You will want to wakeup early this day - Your schedule is packed with black sand beaches, glaciers, waterfalls, and glacier lagoons!
    • Sightseeing: Hofn (cutest church on the hill) > Jokulsarlon (glacier lagoon) > Diamond Beach (across the road from glacier lagoon) > Svartifoss (Cathedral Falls) > Skaftafall Glacier > Vik & Reynisdrangar (black sand beach) > Skogafoss waterfall > Seljalandfoss waterfall (walk behind)
  • Day 5:
    • I hope you rested! Today is full of water and adventure!
    • Wakeup around 6:00 a.m. and find your way to Seljavallalaug swimming pool. It is one of the oldest pools in the world and is set along a stream within the mountains. It is difficult to find but totally worth it when you do. (Reach out if you need directions!)
    • Drive from Seljaland to Selfoss (about 1 hour drive)
    • Selfoss is a cool town to walk around. It sets off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and has great restaurants with yummy fish and chips. 
    • This was the first place I had witnessed the Northern Lights! Being close to the water and in the southern part of the country, it is bound to happen, especially during September. Download an app called 'Aurora' - it will alert you when they are near.
    • Sightseeing: Hot River (a good 2+ mile hike to the hottest river you can relax in, wear or bring your bathing suit) > Gullfoss waterfall > Bruarfoss waterfall (bright blue beauty) > Geysir (the first Geysir discovered in the world) > Selfoss for the night
  • Day 6:
    • Drive from Selfoss to Reykjavik
    • With an early morning flight coming up, I decided to pack my last day in Iceland with sightseeing around the Reykjavik/Keflavik area.
    • Second night of Northern Lights! The Aurora app had me driving out of the city, about 15 minutes, and there they were. I found a field off the main road and watched in amazement for hours on end. Let's just say, I got about 2 hours of sleep that night.
    • Sightseeing: Grindavik > Brimketil > Continental Divide > Blue Lagoon
    • Pickup a city guide/map in Reykjavik for the best places to visit based on your interests. Walking around the city, at any time of the day, is great. The architecture, style, and vibrancy of the people and city is exhilarating. 
  • Day 7:
    • Drop off rental car at the airport and wait for departure. 
    • This is a great time to begin planning your trip back to Iceland. We haven't even explored the inland F-Roads yet...

 Key Takeaways:

  • Iceland is hands-down the best country to visit as a solo-female traveler. It is safe, inviting, and a great place for self discovery.
  • Before you start your journey, stop at a grocery store and pick up snacks. 
  • Do your research before you go. Have a plan. Take a map. Be smart. 
  • Don't wear yourself out. I can guarantee you will be back and you can then stop at places you didn't have time for.

If you have any questions or need more information - drop a note in the comments below. 

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