9 days 8 nights summer in Iceland - Road Trip Guide
9 days 8 nights summer in Iceland - Road Trip Guide
We navigate round the virtual globe deciding on the experience we’d want for our honeymoon. As we pinpoint Northern Europe, we know we couldn’t stay our eyes away from missing this terribly expensive yet incredibly stunning island of Iceland.
We started our research 9 months before the trip, started booking everything 6 months before when we have finally landed on the decision for 9 days 8 nights in Iceland. Considerably sufficient for a ring road (Route 1) in summer!
We do think that it is best to start booking your accommodations as early as you could if you are traveling during the peak summer season from mid-June through August. We came down with limited choices just 6 months before our trip that starts on 26th July as we browsed through some of the best rates available in Airbnb.
Pros for summer season: Long daylight from 4am up to 11pm for us, not as cold but still chilly when the wind blows. Best for day hikes, especially the central region where the highland roads are open only in summer.
Cons: Extremely pricy, it doesn’t get dark enough to spot Aurora Borealis.
If your schedule works out, opt for the shoulder seasons from September onwards, and you may stand a chance to see Aurora Borealis. During winter the weather gets even more unpredictable, you definitely need longer days to travel around the island with a four-wheel drive.
Think about going clockwise or counter-clockwise, whichever works best for you? Someone told us that the highlights in North Iceland is best to be covered during the first few days, leaving the less ‘impactful’ sight of South Iceland at the end. We enjoyed ring road as much even though we cover South Iceland first, and be it East, West, North or South, they have all been equally mesmerizing. We noticed there were more cars going clockwise, so I presumed there’s no harm going anti-clockwise after all?
Prioritize your experience with your budget in mind. For the 2 of us, renting the campervan is still expensive. I was eager about camping, but after comparing the rates for equipment rental, entrance fees for camping grounds, and most importantly we are amateurs when it comes to camping, we stick to comfort instead. You may also consider day hikes in the central region and camp along the way. The hikes easily take up a few days and we ditched the idea this time. It’s a pity I know!
With all the information you could already access out there, let me also share some key things here.
1. Book early! Expenses for our accommodations were the highest amongst other expenses.
2. We did our own research even though our friend recommended Lotus Car Rental. Turns out it is the cheapest and everything turned out smooth and great. They sent us our two-wheel drive to our Airbnb in Reykjavik as we explore the city by foot on the first day.
3. Don't rush through. Give yourself ample time to just stop and admire the wondrous landscape. Road trip in 7 days is workable in summer, but be prepared to keep driving for an average of 4 hours a day.
4. We used credit card all the way without the need for PIN number. However, do try to pump petrol at larger towns where you can pay at the cashier counter instead of using self-service petrol kiosk that requires 4-pin credit card. Ours didn’t get through so we had to go for payment counters.
5. Personalized your trip. Choose from hot spring hopping, to caving or hiking, there are just so many off the beaten tracks, provided that your vehicle is suitable for the road outside of Route 1. Plenty of information out there and each never fail to give you a different insight.
A little checklist for you here!
How to pack for Iceland in summer:
1. Basic Emergency First-Aid Kit - If you're going for a hike, lava-caving and etc, be sure to bring some antiseptics, cream, plaster etc.
2. Swimsuits! Sandals and small towels are an extra you can bring.
3. Torch (if you're exploring in the night, or lava-caving)
4. Hiking boots is a must, especially at waterfalls and short hikes. Bring an extra pair of sports shoes though.
5. Waterproof winter jacket and pants - You do not want to be soaking wet and shivering cold. You need them for most of the waterfalls.
6. Sunglasses - Need not to mention
7. Eye cover - If you're sleeping in the car or camping, you'll need this to get a better rest, as the sky is bright even at night.
8. Sunblock and moisturizing cream - Use a familiar product and keep your skin moisturized! Reapply sunblock whenever it is necessary.
9. Thermos flask, and probably IKEA food storage bags for you to pack sandwiches etc.
It still gets cold and there will be occasional rain, pack enough to keep yourself warm. A beanie, a cap, a pair of gloves would all be put into good use. Bring foldable umbrella, or else you can make do with just raincoats or waterproof jacket.
9 days 8 nights Itinerary Overview
We landed at about 11pm in Iceland on the first night, so the below itinerary count from the second full day as Day 1.
DAY 1: Reykjavik – Capital of Iceland
Sightseeing at Hallgrímskirkja, Harpa, Sun Voyager all within walking distance, Go for an Icelandic feast to challenge your taste buds.
DAY 2: South Iceland
Short hike up Reykjadalur Hot Springs, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, stay near Eyjafjallajökull and Skógafoss
DAY 3: South to Southeast Iceland
Dyrhólaey Lighthouse, Reynisfjara (Black Sand Beach), Laufscalavarda, Fjadrargljufur valley, Fjallsarlon Glacier and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Pakkhus Restaurant, stay in Höfn
DAY 4: East Iceland
Gamlabúð Höfn Visitor Centre, Fardagafoss, Seyðisfjarðarkirkja, Tvisongur Sound Sculpture, stay in Seyðisfjörður
DAY 5: North Iceland
Dettifoss, Krafla Caldera, Námaskarð, Grjótagjá Cave, Goðafoss Waterfall, Akureyrarkirkja, stay in Akureyri
DAY 6: Northwest Iceland
Akureyri Fish and Chips, Blönduóskirkja, Hrutey Island, stay in a farm house near Blönduós
DAY 7: West Iceland (northern shore of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula)
Pingeyrakirkja, Kolugljufur, Stykkishólmur, Kirkjufell, stay in Stykkishólmur
DAY 8: Back to Reykjavik
Höfrungur Ghost Ship Wreck and Lighthouse in Akranes, Blue Lagoon
|He immediately pointed out the shape of this lighthouse resembling a man's penis.|
This isn’t just it! I will go into details for each day in the upcoming posts, hang in there if you are interested to read on. Well you probably think, “Yeah I can definitely cover more places with 8 days!’ The truth is, yes you can, depending on how worn out you are after each day especially with long drives. And also depending on where you are staying throughout. Some days were more relaxed for us partly due to the available Airbnbs at the rate we want.
Throw in as many places as you can into your itinerary, plan out your journey, travel distance and time before accommodation bookings to fully utilise your visit.