The ultimate 10 day guide to Iceland!
Hi friends! We just got back from our 10 day, Ring Road trip around Iceland and it was phenomenal. We did a lot of research before we made the trip, pulling resources from friends, blogs, and the internet. We decided to go during a shoulder season to bring costs down and to avoid the summer tourism. Our trip was from March 27 - April 5. This time of year still has winter-like conditions, with ice, snow, and freezing temperatures.
Below is the ultimate guide for everything you need to know for an Iceland Ring Road trip! Includes our tips on camper van rental, overall budget, packing list, tips about Iceland, and our day by day breakdown of what we did.
Camper Van Rental
For our 10 day trip, we rented a camper van with CampEasy. We did a lot of research comparing different rental van companies, and CampEasy seemed to have the set up we wanted for the best price.
- Rented the Easy Fun model, which was plenty spacious for the two of us. Selecting a manual transmission brought the cost down as well.
- The Easy Fun was not a 4 wheel drive vehicle, so we stayed on primary and secondary roads.
- We recommend getting the gravel protection insurance. The unpaved roads tend to kick up a lot of rocks. We didn't see a need for any other insurance options.
- The van comes with pretty much everything you will need on your trip. Bedding (which was plenty warm), all cooking supplies, a heater that you can use throughout the night, and cleaning supplies. We purchased wifi as an added option.
- Get extra propane when you pick up the van, and they refund whatever canisters you don't use.
- Our only criticism... we lost a hubcap on the gravel roads and didn't notice. When we returned the van, it cost us 7000 ISK as a damage fee (which is about $70 USD).
Here is a break down of what we spent for the 10 day trip. Keep in mind, we didn't set a budget... looking back, maybe we should have.
- Flight - $596 total
- Washington D.C. to Iceland: $298/ RT ticket on Iceland Air. We did the cost comparison to WOW Air, and it would have cost us about $200 more on WOW due to hidden fees.
- Van rental - $1907.33 total
- This includes the base rental price, wifi and insurance add on, propane, our lost hubcap, and FlyBus tickets ($25/each) back to the airport.
- Grocery - $182.44 total
- We brought some of our own food into Iceland to lower some costs (peanut butter, coffee, quinoa, protein bars).
- Gas - $472.57 total
- Even with the N1 discount card, gas is still expensive, as it's per liter/ diesel.
- Camping - $255.02 total
- You have to pay per person for campgrounds. You have access to all the facilities, but sometimes still have to pay for showers. Sites cost us between 1200 ISK and 2000 ISK ($12 - $20 USD) per person.
- Pro-tip: You can bring camping costs down by finding a place to legally park over night. Just keep your eyes out for "no overnight parking" signs so you don't get kicked out.
- Hotel - $225.00
- We stayed one night at Hotel Odinsve in Reykjavik. Good hotel and awesome central location to walk around the city.
TOTAL SPENT: $3,638.36
We were prepared for the cold, but nothing can prepare you for an Iceland windstorm. Here's a list of what we brought for our end of March trip:
- Good base layers. We brought a few heavy weight Patagonia tops and bottoms
- Mid layers, fleece jackets
- Down jacket
- Rain jacket
- Waterproof / water resistant pants. We brought our Patagonia Alpine Pants
- Warm beanies, gloves, face guards, wool socks
- Sweatpants for the van
- Danner hiking boots: his & hers
- We debated bringing our Sorel's in addition, but didn't. All you need are good waterproof hiking boots, sock liners and heavy weight socks. And don't stand in snow for 3 hours.
- Kammok blankets
- Aero press for coffee, and YETI tumblers
- Micro fiber bath towels
What we ate
- Breakfast: Eggs, toast, avocado, potatoes
- Lunch: Peanut butter banana sandwiches or tuna fish and crackers
- Snacks: Almonds, protein bars, hummus
- Dinner: Quinoa, tofu, veggie stir fry
- * buy sriracha
Iceland Tips & Tricks
- Take advantage of duty free in the airport for alcohol
- Use www.road.is for updated road details
- Use www.hotpoticeland.com for hot springs around the country
- Fill up with gas whenever you get a chance. Better safe than sorry. We never went under half a tank before refueling.
- Pro-tip: Buy pre-paid gas cards, or if you have a credit card with a pin number, bring it.
- If gas stations are open, you can use a credit card inside. If they are closed, you have to use a self service station outside that requires a card with a pin number. If you use a debit card, there will be about a $100 hold on your card until it clears PLUS any international transaction fees your debit card may have.
- Take advantage of the amenities at the campsites. We had no idea how nice the facilities would be! The kitchens were great to cook in and save the propane we had purchased.
Day by Day Breakdown
Here is the breakdown of our entire trip. Below is our GoogleMap that contains color coded pins for each day (sights and campsites).
Day 1: red pins
Total driving: 129 miles, 3 hours 14 minutes
- Arrive in Keflavik. CampEasy provided us with free FlyBus shuttle tickets to take us into Reykjavik bus terminal and a free taxi to CampEasy.
- There is a duty free store near the airport gates, and there is another one in baggage claim. *Note if you go down to baggage claim, you cannot get back upstairs to the gates. If you need food or coffee after your flight, get it in the gate area. There is limited / no food options near baggage claim.
- Got set up at CampEasy. There is a donation area where campers leave their extra food and supplies. Take what you want! This was super helpful to start our trip off.
- Went to a Bonus grocery store to get our supplies and food.
- And off to our first day of driving!
- Stops included Hveragerdi, Bruarfoss Waterfall, Gullfoss Waterfall, Secret Lagoon, and down to our campsite in Selfoss.
- Bruarfoss was a great first waterfall to start our trip. The trail was a little hard to find in the snow, but head towards the access bridge and you'll see the trail through the brush.
- We made a reservation at Secret Lagoon prior to our trip. Was $25/person
- Selfoss campsite was great. Free amenities. We took advantage of the dining areas at the sites when available. Offered more room for cooking and cleaning and then we used less of the propane we had to buy from CampEasy.
Day 2: orange pins
Total driving: 137 miles, 3 hours 11 minutes
- Drove 50 minutes down to Gljufrabui and Seljalandsfoss
- Park at Gljufrabui because it's free! And then walk the short distance to the waterfall
- Skogafoss waterfall!
- We had plans to go to the arches and the black sand beach outside of Vik, but we caught the tail end of the crazy storm where winds were up to gusts of 80mph, so we were unable to get to the beaches and have good views. A bummer, but we knew we had to be flexible going into this trip due to weather
- Also wanted to see the canyons at Fjadrargljufur but the road was closed.
- Got up to our campsite at Kirkjubaer and sat out the storm. This was the furthest we could go that day due to road closures
Day 3: yellow pins
Total driving: 200 miles, 4 hours 30 minutes
- The roads were open! So we were able to drive up to Skaftafell National Park. If you have the opportunity to camp here, do it.
- Did a 30 minute each way hike to Svartifoss Waterfall
- Followed by a 20 minute walk each way to the edge of a glacier
- Made our way to the glacier lagoon
- Off to the cute port town of Hofn
- And finally to our campsite in Djupivogur at the Hotel Framtid.
- This was our most expensive campground at 1900 ISK/ person. And showers were 300 ISK. But the views were phenomenal
- And we treated ourselves to a beer at the hotel bar :)
- Also realized we were traveling on Easter weekend and most things were going to be closed on Friday, Sunday, and Monday.
Day 4: blue pins
Total driving: 158 miles, 3 hours 40 minutes
- We had plans to keep it a shorter driving day, but when we got to our originally planned campsite an hour and a half away, it was so early in the day and we wanted to cover more ground. You can cruise around the east side of the island pretty easily. So onward we went!
- Got all the way to Myvatn where there was plenty to occupy us for the day
- Checked into our campsite, where there is Daddi's Pizza on site, offers 15% off for campers. But pizzas were still around $30 so we stuck with our planned meals
- Went to the Game of Thrones sex cave
- Explored the lava fields
- And ended our day in the Myvatn Nature Baths! No reservation necessary, but it was pricey. 4200 ISK per person, bring a student ID and it's 2700 ISK. You can also get a beer bracelet and they will serve you beer in the bath. Due to all the sulfuric gas, it smells like rotten eggs... but you get used to it.
Day 5: purple pins
Total driving: 119 miles, 2 hours 43 minutes
- We slept in and got a later start which was nice.
- You can hike the volcano, but it's about a 5 mile hike and it was 20 degrees outside... so we skipped.
- On to Godafoss Waterfall! Which translates to "Waterfall of the Gods"
- Made our way to Akeyuri, which is considered the capital of the north.
- Went up to Dalvik on the coast, and got tea at a cute rustic coffee shop
- Back down to Akeyuri to explore the city! Had happy hour at a Backpackers Hostel so beers were 500 ISK! Amazing deal in Iceland
- And what we were very excited for, was checking out the Einstok Brewers Lounge. You can get a flight of beers (about 2 beers total) for 2400 ISK. Pricey, but we were excited to try them. Definitely worth it for half way into our adventure.
- Stayed at the Hagar campsite for the night, which was on the honor system of paying.
Day 6: pink pins
Total driving: 232 miles, 5 hours 15 minutes
- Something we really enjoyed doing was waking up, making coffee in the van, and hitting the road. And then pulling over somewhere beautiful to make breakfast. Was a special way to start the day.
- Stopped at the Glumbaer turf houses
- And off the the Grettirs Pool! Holy crap this hot spring is amazing. Isolated, beautiful, and private (and free!). And we met a father/ daughter duo from Holland taking a vacation. Arthur and Floor were so incredibly awesome and became friends we met up with later in the trip!
- Made our way to the Rhino Rock on the beach
- Ended at our campsite that had limited facilities. 1500 ISK per person, no dining area, but free showers and bathrooms.
Day 7: brown pins
Total driving: 103 miles, 2 hours 40 minutes
- Made our way to the ferry town of Stykkisholmer. Super cute, and has an awesome bakery called Nesbraud ehf. Had one of the best cinnamon rolls ever
- Last minute stop at the Shark Museum! Got to learn about the family history of sharking hunting and got to eat fermented shark. Museum entry was 1000 ISK per person.
- Drove by the Kirkjufellfoss waterfall. It was right off the road and had very limited parking. People were parking all over the place, so we just viewed from the car and moved on.
- Made our way along the peninsula to the Freezer Hostel for the night. 1900 ISK to park and use the facilities. Awesome lounge area, great to hang out in. Met a pal from Portland, OR who was working there through Work-Away. Hi, Nate!
Day 8: grey pins
Total driving: 177 miles, 4 hours 7 minutes
- Made our way around the peninsula, through the national park.
- Stopped off along the way, Arnastapi was our favorite little pull off.
- Tried to go to the Landbrotolaug Hot Spring. Super remote, but only 1 small pool big enough for 2 people. There was a wait, so we moved on.
- Had lunch in Borgarbyggo, cute little town
- Headed inland to the Barnafoss Waterfall trail. Easily paved road to walk around to see a few waterfalls and canyons.
- Camped for the night on a private farm. Nice amenities. Super super windy night, wind gusts around 70mph.
Day 9: black pins
Total driving: 68 miles, 1 hour 46 minutes
- On our last day, we did limited driving into the Pingvellir National Park
- Saw the tectonic plates, waterfalls, and where you can schedule a snorkling tour!
- Made our way back to Reykjavik, checked into our hotel and dropped off our rental van.
- Spent the afternoon walking around, exploring the city.
- Had happy hour at Apotek and ran into our friends from Holland! Had a great dinner with them at Grillmarkadurin as our one night out in Iceland.
- After dinner went to the English Pub for a drink.
Day 10: dark purple pins
- Walked from Hotel Odinsve to Reykjavik Roasters for coffee
- Had breakfast at Sandholt Bakery, which was great.
- And spent our last day in Iceland exploring the city. Paid 1000 ISK to go to the top of the church tower for a beautiful view of the city.
- Stopped at a juice bar and then a great bakery to end the day.
- Took the FlyBus back to Keflavik airport, which was $25/person.
And that's just about it! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or reach out via email. We're happy to help and can't wait to go back to this amazing country.
CampEasy prepared a map of all the open winter campsites. We used this map throughout our trip and it was extremely helpful!