Doing a road trip around Iceland has been one of the best things I've done hands down. There's so much more to Iceland than just the Northern lights and the scenery there is just so spectacular and unique that even driving around for 9 days I couldn't close my eyes for a second as there was so much to see. So here's a list of my do's and don't's for the ring road.
- DO rent a campervan as it gives you so much flexibility and is a fun experience within itself. We have actually never been camping on our own before but we really enjoyed it and the campsites were well maintained and had all the necessary amenities - showers, toilets, kitchen space and a few had some pretty amazing views too - particularly in Vik and Hofn. The van was also well equipped so we didn't have to bring anything but clothes and shower stuff.
- DON'T forget to check if it's a manual van. We both drive manual so it was OK for us but a lot of Europe mostly just do manual or charge exorbitant prices for an auto vehicle so double check.
- DO bring a credit card with you as pretty much everything is cashless though I did take out a small amount of cash just in case some campsites didn't have a card machine. All of them did.
- DON'T forget to pack lots of layers. The weather will vary a lot and though it was on most party sunny for us we had a few bitingly cold nights and rainy days. Remember the swimsuit too!
- DO stop when you see something interesting happening. We almost missed one of the highlights of the trip which was the Jokusarlon iceberg lake as it wasn't on our itinerary for some reason but stopped because there was so many cars about. It was a pretty amazing surprise and I would be burning if we'd missed it.
- DON'T just go for the Northern Lights. Yes, they are amazing if you're lucky enough to see them however Iceland in the Summer is just so stunning and everything is still accessible. We went in late August and due to good weather we got the best of both worlds but we certainly didn't go JUST for the lights.
- DO check the cloud and aurora forecast. We had one night where we completely missed the aurora but everyone else had seen it because we got lazy and fell asleep. Luckily we caught the Northern lights on our last night there but we did have to drive 2 hours out of Reykjavik for some clear sky. Even though I said not to go just for the lights it's good to be vigilant because you never know...
- DON'T buy a map. They're pretty pricey and if you get yourself a phone holder for the car then google maps worked just fine. Plus the road signs are pretty straightforward and you are technically just going down one road.
- DO the main ring road which will cover all our favourite spots like the black beach at Vik in the Southwest, Jokarlson iceberg lake Southeast, Myvatn in the Northeast and Grettislaug in the Northwest.
- DON'T worry about petrol stations as there are so many of them and some you will get discounts for free coffee and free wifi. We read in some blogs that you should fill up when you can but the tourism has increased dramatically over the past few years to make this advice outdated.
- DO make your own meals as eating out is expensive and you can make a pretty decent meal from a supermarket shop. We made pancakes with caramelised apple for breakfast, marinated lamb and pasta for dinner and lots and lots of warm tea for those chilly nights.
I can't recommend doing this enough, Iceland is so much more than just the blue lagoon and the Northern lights. It's vast and beautiful and really is the adventure of a lifetime.