The Best 5-Day Ring Road Itinerary

The Best 5-Day Ring Road Itinerary

James Taylor James Taylor
19. Sep 2020 (Updated: 30. Dec 2022) ∼ 12 min. read

A 5-Day Ring Road Itinerary for Campervans

Iceland’s ring road is ready-made for epic road trips. And while we always recommend taking your time while traveling, we also understand not everyone can be here for two weeks. For those campers who are keen to zip around the ring road in Iceland in 5 days, we’ve got you covered. This itinerary around route 1 will have you around the island and back in Reykjavik in no time at all – without missing any highlights along the way.

Iceland Ring Road Map

Driving the Ring Road

This Iceland ring road itinerary in just 5 days offers all the highlights you'll want to see. There are waterfalls and lava fields, hot springs and glaciers, black sand beaches, and volcanic valleys. Driving in Iceland in a campervan is to see all these things and more, discovering the country’s fantastic nature and friendly culture.

A campervan trip around the ring road is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to travel in Iceland. There are plenty of campsites to choose from (although you'll only need 5!) and a lot to pack into your days.

Can You Drive Iceland’s Ring Road in 5 Days?

This itinerary wouldn’t exist if driving Iceland’s ring road in spending 5 days in Iceland on the ring road wasn’t feasible! It’s certainly going to be a fast trip, and you will have to give up on seeing everything, but you will be able to have a good time on a 5-day ring road itinerary.

In winter, trying to attempt the ring road in only 5 days isn’t such a fantastic idea. If you only have a short time to visit Iceland, we recommend planning a trip in summer, when there is less chance of the weather disrupting your plans. 

And don't forget, if you want a personalized 5-day itinerary tailored to your interests in the country, let our local travel expert plan your itinerary for you!

Without further fuss, here's a sample 5-day ring road itinerary for a campervan trip in Iceland. Feel free to follow it to a tee or make any changes you see fit!

Day 1: Golden Circle and Vik

Highlights: Thingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.

After picking up your camper (we’ll hustle you out of the office quick-smart) it’s time to discover Iceland’s Golden Circle. There’s no escaping this well-trodden tourist route, made up of Thingvellir National Park, the explosive Geysir, and waterfall Gullfoss. It’s busy with day-trippers from Reykjavik, but a great introduction to Iceland’s natural wonders nonetheless. In half a day you can tick off three boxes: a bit of history, a bit of geothermal activity, and your first stupendous Icelandic waterfall.

We’ve got no time to lose, so after you’ve had your fill of the different views of Gullfoss it’s time to link up with the ring road. Drive south through the knot of roads and rivers, and then turn east on the ring road towards Vik (our campsite for the night).

On the way make sure to stop off at Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, two gorgeous waterfalls tumbling off the highland shelf. Right before you reach Vik, you’ll also see the turn-off to Reynisfjara, Iceland’s most famous black sand beach.

Spend the night at the Vik campsite, which has greatly improved over the years. While in town, it’s well worth walking up to the church for the view of the Reynisdrangar sea stacks off the coast. If you're visiting during a time when the skies get dark, don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for the northern lights as well!

Day 2: Skaftafell and the Glacier Lagoon

Highlights: Skaftafell, Svartifoss Waterfall, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach.

It’s going to be a big day, so we need to prepare properly. If you’re craving coffee, Skool Beans is a giant yellow school bus at the campsite that has been refitted as a café. Get a couple of brews to go and buckle up for the 2-hour drive along the south coast to Skaftafell, part of the vast Vatnajökull National Park.

Once its own national park, Skaftafell has since been incorporated into the vast territory of Vatnajökull National Park. Comprising of the glacier itself and all the landscapes surrounding it, this is the biggest national park in Europe.

Skaftafell is the perfect place for a hit-and-run visit to get acquainted with the area. After parking at the visitor center (750ISK), hit the trail that leads you to Svartifoss – about 40 minutes one way. This waterfall in Iceland is one of the country's most famous, tumbling over a cliff of black. basalt columns.

Afterward, make your way to the Sjónarnípa viewpoint – about another 45 minutes from the waterfall. From this viewpoint, hikers are granted an incredible view over the glacier tongue Skaftafellsjökull spilling out through the valley. Unfortunately, that’s probably all we’ve got time for, so head back to the camper and continue along the ring road.

But you won’t be sad for long, because next up is the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach. This is probably the most popular attraction in the entire country. Spend some time wandering up and down the lagoon’s edge admiring the glaciers within. This part of the country is spectacular; don't forget to take the time 

Later, head to the coast, where the glaciers wash up on the black sand at Diamond Beach. Afterward, make the drive to the campsite in Höfn, a great town to sample some of Iceland’s lobster.

Day 3: The East Fjords and Egilsstaðir

Highlights: Incredible Scenery, Petra’s Stone Collection, Hengifoss, Seyðisfjörður

The East Fjords were the first part of Iceland to be discovered by the Vikings who sailed west from Norway. They were amazed at the views from the mountains, and how there wasn’t anybody around. 1000 years later, and not much has changed - for a major part of the ring road, this region feels remote and far removed from the rest of the country.

The mountains here are some of the most awesome, the fjords the deepest. The ring road hugs the coast, diving into the v-shaped fjords and passing through fishing villages of yesteryear.

There aren’t a lot of big-hitting natural attractions in the east; rather, it’s the fjords themselves that inspire awe in visitors. After a big day 2, today is going to be spent slowly driving along the coast, admiring the jagged mountain peaks, the crashing ocean, and the colorful towns. There's time to pull over and enjoy the view, browse the quiet towns, and delve down some side roads as well.  

For a quirky and unique cultural stop, visit Petra’s Stone Collection in Stöðvarfjörður. For a wonderful waterfall, visit Hengifoss, reached with a gorgeous drive alongside one of Iceland's greatest glacial rivers. If you fancy a bit of long driving day, head over the stunning mountain pass into Seyðisfjörður, the prettiest town in the area.

For puffins, hit up the remote town of Borgarfjörður Eystri further north - an adventurous and remote place to visit. Whatever you end up deciding, make sure you camp overnight in Egilsstaðir, one of the best campsites in the country. There are also a handful of fantastic places to eat in town if you feel like enjoying a meal out, and you'll be well-positioned to make a quick getaway to the north when you wake up. 

Day 4: Dettifoss, Mývatn and Akureyri

Highlights: Dettifoss Waterfall, Hverir Geothermal Area, Lake Mývatn, Goðafoss, Akureyri

Get an early start on day 4, as we’ve got a lot of stops to make - some of the biggest and most impressive in the country. First up is Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. It’s not the size or the drop that’s impressive here – it’s the sheer amount of water barreling over the side every second – an immense 200m³ on your average ‘slow’ day. The roar of this waterfall shakes the ground. 

If it recently rained, expect that figure to jump up to 500m³. The waterfall also marks the southern edge of the Jökulsárgljúfur Nature Reserve, another territory of Vatnajökull National Park. You might have thought you’d left the glacier behind, but this entire canyon was carved out of a powerful glacial flood caused by a volcanic eruption.

Back on the ring road, continue west and you’ll arrive at the burnt geothermal wasteland of Hverir, worth a quick stop. Over the hill is Lake Mývatn, which is probably the most-visited area in the whole of North Iceland, and our focus for the day. Stop off at a few of the main sights around the lake, but mainly just enjoy the volcanic scenery and the birdlife. A highlight is the Grjótagjá hot spring cave, a popular stop among Game of Thrones enthusiasts. 

From here, Route 1 continues toward Akureyri. Along the way, make a stop at the waterfall Goðafoss. Rumor has it that after Iceland adopted Christianity as its official religion, one of the country’s lawmakers threw his Pagan idols over the falls here. Hence the name ‘waterfall of the Gods’ - although it's so pretty it would deserve that name even without the legend that goes with it. 

Camp the night at Akureyri Hamrar campsite, a beautiful sprawling area in the woods south of the city where you can enjoy peaceful walks in the forest. Otherwise, there's a campsite in the middle of town as well. 

Day 5: Tröllaskagi Peninsula and West Iceland

Highlights: Tröllaskagi Peninsula, Hofsós Infinity Pool, Hvitserkur, Awesome Landscapes.

It’s another long day of driving, of watching the incredible landscapes pass by from behind the windshield. By now, you’ve probably realized just how big Iceland is, and how every fjord, valley, and mountain range hides its own secrets. Alas, we’re running out of time to explore this hit-and-run itinerary of the ring road, so it’s time to head back toward Reykjavik. 

But we’re not going to take the quickest route there. From Akureyri, take the detour north around the Tröllaskagi Peninsula. This mountainous area is an adventurous drive, with the road hugging the jagged coastline and diving through a series of tunnels that connect the towns along the way. The scenery is beautiful, with deep valleys cutting into the mountains of the peninsula. Take your time and enjoy the drive; then, stop off at the swimming pool in Hofsós for a quick dip. This stunning infinity pool offers great vistas over the fjord. 

The ring road traveling through northwest Iceland is a pleasant drive, but like the east, doesn’t contain a lot of big attractions. Rather, it’s the glimpse into the life of rural Iceland that’s fascinating. The towns are unique, there are loads of farms and horses everywhere, and every rock, river, and road are linked to the Icelandic Sagas.

Another peninsula here beckons: Vatnsnes. Along the eastern side is where you'll find Hvítserkur, or the elephant rock, jutting out of the sea. The peninsula is also known for its seals; there are several areas on the western edge where you can stop off to see them lazing on the rocks.

Otherwise, just enjoy the drive, stop off at a gas station for a hot dog, and have a poke around the rural towns. You could either camp the night at Akranes, where an atmospheric lighthouse is worth a visit, or complete the drive to Reykjavik. If you choose to stay in Akranes, it's only a quick trip to Reykjavik in the morning to drop off the camper, and voila! You’ve just crushed Iceland’s ring road in record time.

Travel Tips for a 5-day Ring Road Itinerary

  • Make use of the daylight. We recommend visiting during the summer when days are long, giving you plenty of daylight hours to visit the attractions. 
  • Eat on the road! Keep your meals simple and easy to prepare so that you can hit the road sooner. We're talking about things like simple sandwiches, quick bowls of cereal in the morning, and plenty of road trip snacks. 
  • Book activities ahead of time. This might go without saying, but you should book any activities you plan to do ahead of time. If you're planning on going to the Blue Lagoon or somewhere similar, you'll need to know what time is best for your itinerary. 
  • Change Drivers. With so much driving, it’s best if you’re changing drivers every so often so that you can share the long distances you’ll be covering.
  • Leave the campsites early. The same as staying up late, you’ll also want to wake up early and hit the road before anyone else. You’ll have plenty of time to catch up on sleep after you’ve returned!
  • Stick to the Plan! Whether you're following this itinerary to a tee or have changed little parts, it's important on such a tight schedule to stick to what you have planned. You could be tempted to pull over a lot in Iceland; around every corner lies a beautiful view, another steamy hot spring, and another glimpse of a glacier. Of course, a few detours are always encouraged, but in such a short time, you may have to skip over a few. 

So, there you have it - a quick 5-day ring road trip to Iceland! If you're ready to hit the road, check out the availability and prices of campervans today! And don't forget to download our ring road map from above, letting you navigate Iceland with ease. 

If you want a personalized itinerary custom-made to your liking, check out our custom itinerary option

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