icelandringroadmap

We have officially returned to the real world after two weeks of exploring some of the most breathtaking places we’ve ever seen. I spent months creating our Iceland camper van road trip itinerary and drooling over pictures. But nothing could have prepared me for what we experienced while we were there. And since our return, I have been struggling with answering one seemingly simple & inevitable question: “How was your trip?”

We saw waterfalls, canyons, glaciers and cliffs. We hiked a haunted mountain path, drove on terrifying dirt roads with steep inclines, almost got blown away by insane wind, saw where a troll-man used to live, experienced Reykjavik on a Saturday night and laughed hysterically while being herded by a sheep dog … plus so much more! So, when I blurt out “great” or “amazing” when I’m posed with this deceptively difficult question I feel extremely guilty, like all the Icelanders in the world are collectively shaking their heads at my verbal inadequacy.

Iceland

As much as I’d like to, I’m really not sure if I’ll ever be able to give a concise answer that truly describes how wonderful, amazing, crazy and intense our Iceland trip was. But, in an effort to communicate the indescribably awesome everything-land of Iceland, I’ll be going into detail about the places we explored and the wonderful memories we made.

There is so much to share, but first, I’ll start with the basics…

Planning Our Iceland Trip

When planning our trip, I wanted to keep it flexible so we didn’t have to rush through any areas we were enjoying. And since we would be living in an awesome camper van during our stay, we didn’t have anything booked that we had to get to except the ferry from the West Fjords. And, of course, our flight home. This plan worked perfectly for us!

I had a list of what I wanted to do most, plus an “in case we have extra time” list. And from that I made a rough estimate of how long we could stay in each area of the country in order to make it all the way around in time. I added at least a half day of extra time to each major part of the trip so we would have plenty of flex-time too! My estimates ended up being pretty right-on and we never felt rushed which was fantastic.

Planning our trip for the beginning of September also worked out wonderfully! We saved on prices because it was the shoulder season. And it gave us a chance to see the northern lights (which we saw 3 times)! Read more about why we suggest visiting at this time of year: 4 Reasons to Visit Iceland this Fall.

Two-Week Iceland Ring Road Itinerary:

Click on each location below to read more details & check out photos.

South Iceland: Days 1-4

1: Keflavik Airport – Reykjavik (to pick up van) – Geysir – Gullfoss

2: Þingvellir National Park– Friðheimer Greenhouse – Seljandsfoss – Skógafoss  – Vik

3: Dyrhólaey – Reynishverfisvegur – Hjörleifshöfði – Kirkjubæjarklaustur

4: Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon – Systravatn – Skaftafell – Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon – Höfn

East Iceland: Day 5

5: Back to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon (it is that awesome!) – Eastern Fjords – Egilsstaðir

North Iceland: Days 6-7

6: Dettifoss – Myvatn  (Hverir Mudpots – Grjotagja – Myvatn Nature Baths) – Akureyri

7: Akureyri (Botanic Gardens – The Christmas Garden) – Víðimýri Turf Church – Sæburg

Iceland’s West Fjords: Days 8-9

8: Laugar Natural Bath – Látrabjarg Cliffs – Breiðavík

9: Rauðasandur – Natural Bath near Flókalundur – Ferry to Stykkishólmur

West Iceland & Reykjavik: Days 10-13

10: Snæfellsjökull National Park –  Reykjavik (Harpa Concert Hall – Laugarvegur)

11: Blue Lagoon – Reykjanesbær (Lighthouse – Northern Lights!)

12: Reykjavik (Hallgrímskirkja Church – Arbær Museum – Icelandair Reykjavik Natura)

13: Perlan in Reykjavik – Keflavik Airport – Home!

For a quick preview of our favorite places, check out our Iceland highlights video:

Getting to Iceland: Flying with Icelandair

We trusted Icelandair to get us to our much-anticipated vacation spot. I’d highly recommend this airline, especially if coming from Denver since they offer an affordable nonstop flight. They handed out Icelandic Glacial water as we got on board, and had complimentary movies, tv shows and music at each seat. Plus the usual coffee, tea and sodas. (This is when our addiction to Appelsin began). Food was also available for purchase.

Icelandair

I also really liked that the pilot announced when the northern lights made an appearance. Otherwise we would have totally missed it! Overall, Icelandair truly gave a great first impression of Iceland! They also offer free stopovers to Iceland on your way to other European countries, which we plan to take advantage of next time!

Transportation & Accommodations in Iceland

In order to be able to have an extremely flexible vacation in Iceland, we opted to rent a camper van from Happy Campers. The freedom from time restrictions was amazing! And, the campsites in Iceland that we stayed at were all very well maintained and beautiful! The van truly became our home-away-from-home.

Happy Campers

Our Happy Campers Review

We loved working with this company! The Happy Campers employees nicely answered all of my questions via email before the trip and provided us with all the supplies and camper van knowledge we needed once we got there. Each employee that we interacted with was great too! From the guy driving the shuttle (who gets bonus points for having Gangster’s Paradise on his iPod) to the girl who gave us words of encouragement that we could indeed navigate the country with just a map (which we did!). And who can forget the guy who explained the ins & outs of the van with a smile on his face despite the fact that he was getting rained on.

Happy CampersIncluded in the rental price is unlimited kilometers (a super important thing for me, since we planned to do a ton of driving), basic insurance (it is just a little extra if you want gravel protection too), sleeping & cooking supplies (they gave us plenty of blankets, plates, etc.), a ride from the airport to pick up our van and to our hotel in Reykjavik after dropping the van off, road side assistance if needed and a Happy Campers map as a souvenir!

I also loved that other people in Happy Campers waved to us on the road and chatted with us at campsites and points of interest. It was like being part of a little family!

Happy Campers


Our experiences with Icelandair & Happy Campers were just the first of many amazing moments in Iceland! After getting our van and stopping for some groceries (PB&J supplies are a road trip must, dontcha know?), we headed south to the Golden Circle – one of Iceland’s top tourist attractions, which includes Geysir, Gulfoss & Þingvellir National Park!

For more on the Golden Circle & South Iceland check out the next part of this series: Searching for Soup (& Waterfalls) in South Iceland.

And for more Iceland travel stories from our fall camper van road trip, check out our Iceland page!