Iceland’s best road trips

There’s no better way to explore Iceland than to hire a set of wheels and road-trip. Iceland's Rte 1 is affectionately known as the Ring Road.

This 832 miles (1340km) tarmac trail loops around the island, passing through verdant dales decked with waterfalls, glacier tongues dripping from ice caps, and velvety, moss-covered lava fields.

It’s supremely spectacular – but don’t forget to detour.

Use the Ring Road as your main artery and follow the veins as they splinter off into the wilderness. Here's what to expect when road-tripping around Iceland.

The Golden Circle & the Southwest

From black-sand Atlantic beaches, spouting geysers and glacier-fed waterfalls to brooding volcanoes and glittering ice caps, this remarkable region is waiting to awe you.

The beautiful Golden Circle and Southwest has many of Iceland’s most legendary natural wonders, and the further you go the better it gets.

The Golden Circle & the Southwest

Tourist faves such as Þingvellir, the former Icelandic parliament at the meeting of tectonic plates, are just beyond the capital. Churning seas lead to the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago.

Then, at the region’s far reaches, you’ll discover the powerful Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull volcanoes, the adventure bases of Skógar and Vík, and the hidden valleys of Þórsmörk and Landmannalaugar.

Southeast Iceland

The mighty Vatnajökull ice cap dominates the Southeast, its huge rivers of frozen ice pouring down steep-sided valleys toward the sea. Vistas are vast and otherworldly.

The 200km stretch of Ring Road from Kirkjubæjarklaustur to Höfn is mind-blowing, transporting you across stark deltas, past lost-looking farms, and alongside glaciers and ice-filled lagoons.

The only thing you won’t pass is a town – but there are properties offering brilliant activities, accommodations and meals (book well ahead, as beds here are in hot demand).

East Iceland

As far as you can get from Reykjavík, Iceland’s sparsely populated east doesn’t announce itself as loudly as other parts of the country, preferring subtle charms over big-ticket attractions.

Most travelers hit the accelerator and follow the Ring Road as it ploughs through the east, but they’re missing some gems by not lingering longer.

This is a region that rewards slow travel: prepare yourself for superb vistas as the road skirts mountain peaks, steep-sided fjords, black-sand beaches and broad valleys.

Stop to admire tiny fishing villages bathed in creativity, and to investigate ancient geology.