Last August, my friends and I took a trip to Iceland. To be honest, this insanely beautiful country was barely on our radar. One night I just found cheap flights, texted Jessica and Ashley, and within the hour we had our trip booked.
We didn’t know the first thing about planning a trip to Iceland, but quickly learned because we had to! All three of us are pretty adventurous people. We like our trips jam packed with early mornings and late nights. Because of this, we got ambitious while planning and decided to do the ring road.
I wanted to write this post for people who are considering traveling the ring road in Iceland, but aren’t sure if it’s the best decision. I share all the things to consider + my personal opinion on the matter.
What is the Iceland ring road?
The ring road is a highway in Iceland that circles the entire country. Iceland isn’t very big, (it’s the same size as New York), so driving around the whole country during one trip is totally feasible.
How many days do you have in Iceland?
The first thing to consider when choosing your Iceland journey is how many days you will be there. Though Iceland is small, it still takes quite a bit of time to drive around the whole country, especially if you want to do it well.
We had 7 days to explore when we went and felt it was just barely enough time. I’d say in a perfect world, you’d have at least 9 full days of exploring to do the ring road. If you are planning on taking a short trip to Iceland, the ring road probably won’t be the best fit.
The thing about Iceland is that every.single.place is beautiful: the attractions and the random roadside stops. You could spend an entire month on the ring road and never once get bored. Iceland’s landscape is ever changing and incredibly diverse, which makes time go fast on trips!
How packed do you like your trips?
I’m assuming that if you are looking at Iceland in the first place, you are a pretty adventurous person. Traveling the ring road is no joke, so if you typically like a laid back trip, it might not be the best route for you.
Every morning we were out the door by 8am (usually earlier) and we typically didn’t get to our AirBNBs until around 10pm. In fairness, we went in August when there is about 20 hours of daylight. It didn’t feel that unnatural to wake up at 5:30am and go to bed at 11pm, but still! It was a packed trip, y’all.
Nothing about traveling around an entire country in one week is relaxing. Fun? Yes. Beautiful? Incredibly. Worth it? 100 percent. But it’s not relaxing. If you decide to travel the ring road, no matter how much time you have, your days will be packed.
How much planning do you want to do?
If you’ve been hanging out around here for a while, you know that I am not too keen on trip planning. It’s not that I can’t do it, it’s just that I really don’t like doing it. (and find it largely unnecessary, but that’s a whole different post)
Unfortunately, doing the Iceland ring road takes quite a bit of planning. If you aren’t camping, you will need a different AirBNB every night. You’ll need to make sure they are evenly spaced throughout the country.
Tourism is a relatively new thing in Iceland making the options for accommodations pretty limited. We booked our trip kind of last minute, so we had some trouble finding affordable places to stay every night.
As you are planning, just take it day by day. Pull up a map, type out a general itinerary, and just start searching AirBNB and Expedia. It’ll take a lot of time, but it does eventually all work out!
If you are a fellow plan hater, don’t forget that renting a camper van is totally an option. It’s not necessarily a luxurious option, but an option nonetheless. 😉
My Personal Opinion on the Ring Road
I don’t think this will come as a shock, but I am a huge fan of taking the ring road route in Iceland. There is just so much in Iceland that goes unseen if you don’t. Our favorite moments of the trip we were when we got to enjoy huge waterfalls and beautiful landscapes with no other people around. This is only possible when you get out of the Golden Circle and escape the crowds. (Don’t get me wrong, the Golden Circle is incredibly gorgeous! It’s just very tourist friendly as well.)
Iceland’s landscape changes around every corner, from wide open moss fields to black sand beaches to 200ft waterfalls rolling over the edge of a bluff. As you drive around the country, each turn will blow your mind.
Of course I know that this kind of trip isn’t for everyone, but if you love adventure and waterfalls and beautiful landscapes, it’s probably a safe bet for you!
Do you have any upcoming trips planned? I’d love to hear all about them in the comments!
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