Road tripping around Iceland in a campervan/RV is hands-down the most appropriate way to explore the rugged country! You’ll save a ton of money (hellooo, car rental and hotel all in one) and you won’t have to backtrack or go out of your way to find lodging. There are low-cost campgrounds in every town and public pool houses that you can use to take a cheap shower! This 5-day Iceland road trip itinerary includes all of the most epic spots on the southern half of the ring road!
Best Time to Go to Iceland
If you’re on a mission to see the Northern Lights, the winter months with long dark nights are best, but if you want a total taste of Iceland’s epic-ness, go when the days start getting longer and the sun doesn’t sleep!
Summer is the busiest in Iceland, when the island is warmest and gets about 20 to 22 hours of sunlight a day! The Midnight Sun is in June, around the solstice. However, June to August are also the most expensive months. Going on the shoulder of the busy season in May or September is your best bet to save money and avoid crowds!
Getting Around Iceland
Iceland is known for its “Ring Road” (Route 1) which is a 828 mile (1,322 kilometer) loop around the volcano-glacier-lagoon-iceberg-hot spring-filled Nordic island. The Ring Road makes it super easy to get around the country and almost everything you’d want to do along is right along the ring route!
To drive around the entire Ring Road and stop at all of the main attractions, you’d need at least 7 days to pack it all in. You may not have a full 7 days and honestly, you don’t really need it!
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5 Day Iceland Road Trip Itinerary
Day 1 – West Iceland – Reykjavik to Súgandisey
Day 1 starts in Reykjavik. You will fly into Keflavik Airport and pick up your campervan. If you can, try to fly to Iceland over night so you get there as early as possible to start your day!
From Reykjavik, you will head West towards the Snæfjellsnes Peninsula, a small peninsula in Western Iceland known for its dramatic lanscape of lava fields, glaciers, beaches, and mountains.
Make sure you have a full tank of gas and plenty of snacks and water!
Stop 1 – Geirabakari Bakery and Café
Geirabakari Bakery and Café is a family run bakery famous for their snúðar, a giant, light and fluffy cinnamon bun pastry topped with a layer of thick chocolate!
Stop 2 – Búdakirkja
A tiny, wooden 19th century black church in Búðir that’s gained popularity with photographers.
Stop 3 – Gatklettur
A naturally formed stone arch in the water along the coast of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Day 2 – Southern Iceland – Súgandisey to Vik
Day 2 will take you from the Snæfjellsness Peninsula to Iceland’s southernmost town, Vik. The second day of your adventure is all about chasing waterfalls and black sand beaches! Iceland has countless waterfalls and there are a ton along the southern Ring Road.
Day 3 – Eastern Iceland – Vik to Hofn
Day 3 is full-on adventure mode. Get ready to hike into the most magnificent canyon and atop gigantic glaciers! You will end your day in Hofn in the East Fjords.
Day 4 – Golden Circle – Hofn to Gullfoss
Day 4 will be a heavy driving day from Hofn back towards Reykjavik, to the Golden Circle! The Golden Circle is a smaller ring route made up of the Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park. Instead, you could also break up your long drive back by stopping for a walk out to Sólheimasandur or any of the stops from Day 2 you may have missed or had to postpone due to weather!
Day 5 – Gullfoss to Reykjavik
On Day 5 you’ll head back to Reykjavik to spend time exploring the capital city before heading home. Book a flight home as late as possible so you have the full morning and afternoon to explore and soak in the Blue Lagoon!
Money Saving Tips For Your 5 Day Iceland Road Trip
Straight up, Iceland isn’t cheap. While low-budget airlines have made it rather affordable to get there… but being an island, things are expensive once you land.
To make your trip as affordable, but awesome, as possible, here are a few pieces of empty-wallet wisdom:
- As mentioned, campervans can save you money because it’s a car rental and lodging all in one! Most van rentals are also well-equipped to cook your own meals. You’ll just have to pay small reservation/parking fees at the town campgrounds.
- Go during the off season. Seriously! A camper-van rental from Snail Motorhome is 50% off its normal price when visiting during the low season and mandatory vehicle insurance is included in the price!
- Bring your own food – lots of it! Food is pretty pricy in Iceland (oh, importation). Pack as many snacks as you can: jerky, meat bars, protein bars, trail mix, dried fruit, coffee and oatmeal packs.
- Once you get there, you should also stop at a grocery store (Nettó, Bónus, or Krónan) and stock up on more food rather than eating out every meal. If you have a campervan, you should have a small fridge to store some chilled items and cookwear to make your own meals. If you’re eating out, meals can easily be $40-$50 USD per person in touristy areas but luckily, you don’t have to tip!
- Skip the alcohol or pick some up at a duty-free store before you leave the airport. Alcohol in Iceland is very expensive.
- Bring refillable waterbottles and fill up literally anywhere, Iceland has amazing tap water.
- Use a credit card without foreign transaction fees!
- You can also get by without paying for cell service or renting a GPS by downloading the MAPS.ME app Iceland map beforehand. The app works via GPS without cell service and you can use free public WiFi to post pics and check in.
- Fly PLAY Airline – Iceland’s newest airline with low budget flights!
- Aside from Svinafellsjokul glacier hike, skip the guided tours! Navigating Iceland is extremely easy and adventuring on your own is way more fun!
If you do want to take guided tours, here are some afforable ones:
- Small-Group Day Tour of Snaefellsnes Peninsula Natural Park
- Reykjavik Walking Tour – Walk with a Viking
- Reykjavik Food Lovers Tour – Icelandic Traditional Food
- Golden Circle Full Day Tour from Reykjavik by Minibus
- Horseback Riding in the Icelandic Meadows with Mountain Views
- South Coast Adventure with Glacier Hike Full-Day Tour
Packing List For Your 5 Day Iceland Road Trip
Your packing list is going to depend on the time of year you are visiting, and the weather can even change a lot while your there, but here are some basics you will definitely need are:
Iceland is the adventure enthusiast’s dream! There is so much to do and see and it can be hard to nail down your top list of things to do and route to take. If you need some help deciding, make sure to read 10 Unique Things to Do in Iceland! Happy planning!