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Campervan around Ring Road

Hello all,

This will be our first time in Iceland. Decided to rent a Campervan and drive the ring road. Looking for feedback on my itinerary. I've planned 6 days to drive the Ring Road and will be going clockwise.

Updated to add specifics on itinerary:

Day1- arrive 7:30am, campervan pick up, grocery shop, volcano hike, drive to Varmaland campsite.

Day2-Travel to Husavik area visiting stops along the way. Spend the night.

Day3- Whale watching in Husavik in A.M. then travel to Myvatn Baths area for exploration. Night in Myvatn area.

Day4-Drive to Hofn area visit the canyon along the way. Spend night in Hofn.

Day5-Jokulsarlon Lagoon Kayaking then Drive to Kirkjubaejarklauster for overnight.

Day 6- Drive to Vik, Katla cave tour, Dyrholey and drive to Kaffe Longbrook for overnight.

Day 7- head back to Reykjavik for camper drop off and hotel stay overnight.

We'll be stopping to see other attractions along the way but have scheduled the ones listed. Is this doable? We plan on making 2 of our meals in the csmper and eating at a restaurant for 1 meal a day.

To add clarity, we arrive on June 4th and return flight is June 11th. We've rented a 4x4. We're in the northern part of Wisconsin so we're familiar with driving icy roads.

Thank you all for you feedback!

Posted by
4616 posts

I don’t think this is doable, you will need 6 nights minimum on the Ring Road to see things and do activities. I’m counting 4-5 nights in your itinerary.

I think the highlight of the northern half of the Island is the Troll Peninsula. Husavik is a cruise ship port so skipped it. I didn’t think much of the Myvatn Nature Bath, expensive and nearly all foreigners.

The East fjords are a highlight of the ring road and you are racing thru them.

Getting from Katla all the way to Reykjavik and taking covid tests is not desirable because some of the highlights of Iceland are located on the South Coast and will take more time than short stops incidental to a day’s drive can provide.

One of the problems of such a tight schedule is what will you do during rain or high wind when you have to wait for the weather to clear, or will you miss the site and keep driving. The volcano near the airport is one place pretty sensitive to the weather.

For pricing compare the camper and extra fuel costs with driving a car and using the Guesthouse network.

Posted by
506 posts

In September 2021 we spent two weeks driving in the Westfjords and on the Ring Road; we opted to rent a car and stay in small hotels/guesthouses. This was our second trip to Iceland, so we had already visited the South Coast and Golden Circle area. With just six days you will spend a lot of time driving and will have little time actually enjoying stops along the way. When you divide the number of miles on the Ring Road by your days it seems like you will have short driving days. The roads are generally good, but it is not like driving on a freeway in the US. Plus, there are SO many possibilities for stopping along your way-but they may require a short drive away from the main road.

What time of year are you visiting? In mid-September we encountered snow in the Husavik-Lake Myvatn area, but we had enough wiggle room in our schedule to make adjustments. We had a vehicle with all-wheel drive; my husband has experience driving in icy conditions but was overjoyed that day when we got off the road. He remarked that he would NOT want to have been responsible for a camper van.

It was easy to find grocery stores; even small stores had prepared sandwiches and marinated/seasoned meat or fish in meal-sized portions.

Posted by
2462 posts

You need 10 to 14 days to do the ring road. With your short time frame, all you will be seeing is the inside of your vehicle. I don’t think you will have icy roads in June but the driving can be treacherous due to sometimes very high winds, rain and fog that you may encounter. You need to factor in the weather. At one point of our trip, the winds were 70 mph. And the roads will require your full concentration as there are no shoulders so the driving will be slower than you think. I would suggest concentrating on the south coast and Reykjavik. There is plenty to see there. You can do a whale watch, go see the puffins on one of the south coast islands or take a small boat cruise from Jokulsarlon to float among the icebergs. There will be plenty to keep you engaged on the southern coast. Iceland is an amazing country. Don’t short change it.

Posted by
2157 posts

We have been there 3 times, including a ring road trip of 12 days. I honestly cannot imagine trying to do the ring road in less time. The drive times are MUCH longer than what you will find on Google Maps and there are SO many more places you will want to stop. With 8 days you will be driving, not seeing or experiencing Iceland. I would either extend the trip to do the ring road, or just do one area such as the south coast up to maybe Seydisfjordur and then back.

Posted by
4616 posts

I don't agree with others that the Ring Road requires more than 6 nights, but this assumes that you are looking to have half days of driving interspersed with short/medium hikes. It means not leaving the Ring Road for places like Husavik and no major activities like whale watching, ice cave hiking, and kayaking which can take up a half day and almost require 2 nights in that vicinity. I really enjoyed my 7 nights/8 days on the Ring Road and did not miss the group tour activities-- I didn't want to do them. But you want to do the group activities. With really only 4 nights on the RR because going all the way to the volcano, 2-3 hours of hiking, then all the way back to Reykjavik doesn't get you a good start on the RR, it isn't really possible to do what you want.

Adding that you won't need a 4x4 for the RR. As already mentioned, supermarkets have ready to eat breakfast and lunch foods so the camper kitchen may not be much of a savings. Unfortunately you have probably let the cheaper lodging fill up with just a few months to go.

Posted by
708 posts

Which volcano hike are you planning for Day 1? Isn't that in the opposite direction of where you are headed for your Varmaland campsite?

In the Myvatn area, are you planning on also seeing Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe? We spent two nights exploring the Myvatn area. It looks like you are giving yourselves a half day.

Myvatn to Hofn is another really long day, and even with visiting Stuðlagil Canyon you'll be missing so much other stuff. I know that Google Maps says you can do the drive in 5 hours, plus at least an hour for the canyon, but it will probably take much longer. We took three days to do that drive.

What you don't realize is that you'll see so much beautiful scenery that you'll want to pull over and not fly right past. We stopped to explore glaciers and black sand beaches and waterfalls and horses that we hadn't even planned for.

Posted by
7 posts

We plan to see the volcano near Grindivik. It's in the opposite direction, but many of the suggested itineraries completely left it off. We do not plan on driving the Golden Circle as we feel we'll see a lot of the same stuff if we do the ring road. We're not much into waterfalls as we've see Niagara and all waterfalls at Yellowstone. Never seen Whales, Puffins, natural made ice caves, or glaciers.

Posted by
708 posts

Why not see the volcano on your way back to Reykjavik on your last day? Then it will actually be on your way and not going in the opposite direction as you would on your first day. An interesting quick stop in the area would be the Bridge Between Continents.

I, too, have seen Yellowstone and Niagara Falls. The waterfalls in Iceland are HUGE. If you don't want to drive all the way to Dettifoss, at least plan to stop at Skogafoss (it's not far off the Ring Road) and you will be overwhelmed. And at Seljalandsfoss you can walk behind the waterfall. SOOO many amazing waterfalls there.

Where have you added in time to stop to see puffins?

I think most natural ice caves are only visited in the winter, and, regardless, you need a guide.