Route 1 is the road of your dreams. This cyclical journey around Iceland takes you through the dramatic beauty of a wild and impressive country. The landscape is rough and natural. People respect the land. There are no trains to guide you, no flights to the remote north. The only way is on the road. Travelers are becoming obsessed with the authentic wilderness of Iceland. In a world of growing civilization, the untainted beauty it offers is rare and unique. People are drawn north, all yearning for the same travel experience – the epic Iceland road trip.
Table of Contents
The Van: the vessel of your Iceland road trip
Not sure where to start? First things first – get a van. This way, you have space and freedom. Put a mattress in the back and sleep under the stars. Or, maybe even the Northern Lights. There are various companies in Iceland offering rental vans to travelers. Such firms as Happy Campers provide room for solo travelers to groups of four or five. Fly into Reykjavik and you will quickly find somewhere in the capital.
The Iceland road trip is available to all – groups of friends sharing the journey or singletons taking the way at their individual place. Single travel in Iceland is entirely possible. As one of the safest countries, you don’t need to feel intimidated. Plus, unless you go off track, it’s difficult to get lost. Just keep going straight – follow the road. These captivating views take on a whole new meaning from an isolated perspective. In total seclusion, you feel close to the raw essence of Icelandic wilderness.
Iceland allows wild camping. Honestly, even if it didn’t, there aren’t many people around to stop you. And camping here really is wild. In Iceland, you will see barren land stretching out into the distance, with only sketches of mountains on the horizon. A remote house will pop up every now and again. The land is barren and extensive but scattered with remarkable natural features. The van is all you need. Travel light and get lost in the land. Absorb the immediate experience of an epic Iceland road trip.
Where to stop
Most visitors to Iceland stick to a smaller cyclical route called The Golden Circle. It loops from the capital to the south of the island and is an excellent way to begin your further Iceland road trip. This area is rich with spectacular natural beauty. A particularly impressive display is the Gullfoss Waterfall. In a canyon of the Hvítá River, water drops relentlessly. Wide, dark and strangely threatening, this waterfall is sublime. The only movement in the surrounding expanse, it greatly makes up for the stillness of the land around it. Just this one impressive feature captures the infinite power of Iceland. But there are even more natural marvels to witness.
Close by is Sólheimajökull Glacier. You will pass through miles of gray, deserted rock before the white of the glacier stands in contrast before you. Seeing this is necessary for the Iceland road trip. Walk up and explore the hidden nooks of the edge. Or, join a tour and get on top of the glacier itself. Companies offer guidance if you want to hike here. An exceptional experience, this is an excellent way to embrace the grandness of Iceland. The glacier is growing smaller over the years. You can see its receding pathway in the chasm of rock it has left behind.
Continuing your Iceland road trip, travel the coastline of the East. Mountains spill into the sea, and the beaches are not like any you have seen before. Far from your usual relaxing white sands, the coast is rugged – powerful and enticingly dangerous. The waves are high and dramatic. The sand is brown with the broken down rock. The ocean extends into the distance and reminds you of your isolation the wild, untamed rock of Iceland.
What to do
There are some uniquely Icelandic experiences to embrace during your Iceland road trip. One of these draws you north to the most remote areas of the country – watching the Northern Lights. On one level, the Aurora is simply beautiful – a dancing display of color enlightening the night sky. On another level, it is a symbol of the ancient, powerful mysticism of the land. Iceland is the real north. And the exceptional beauty of the Northern Lights reveals the wonder to be found in such natural, uncivilized land. One way to embrace this truth is to journey as far away from city lights as possible. Head to the Westfjords or Borgarnes to watch the unpolluted Northern Lights.
Another unique experience is to walk between two tectonic plates. The Iceland road trip offers this extraordinary opportunity at Thingvellir National Park. It is where the North American and Eurasian plates are moving apart. The land you walk between belongs to neither – allowing a worldwide phenomenon. The park lies in a rift valley and is home to the largest lake in Iceland.
Another opportunity for a unique natural perspective is to walk behind a waterfall. The Seljalandsfoss is on Route 1. From millions of years of water erosion, a cave has hollowed out behind it. Now, it is more than thick enough to walk through. A pathway leads you into the mist and spray of the water. At one point, you see the extensive land stretching into the distance behind the flooded window of the falls. It acts as a screen in front of you. You are as close as you can be to the tumbling water from the cliffs above.
Travel tips for your Iceland road trip
When traveling through a wild and barren land, it is good to prepare in advance. During an Iceland road trip, you will drive for miles without any evidence of human civilization. Be sure to stock up on food before you go. Don’t worry too much – there are gas stations selling supplies along the way. But being prepared gives you freedom. You can stay longer in a place you love. Or continue on the road if you are enjoying the drive.
Although you might save money on accommodation, gas is expensive. Budget in enough to complete your travels and fill up whenever you can. Not up for the camping experience? There are some youth hostels scattered around Iceland. B&Bs and guesthouses also offer accommodation. Roughing it in the van might be a wilder experience. But Icelandic buildings provide warms beds, log fires, and stunning window views.
Final travel tip – bring a camera! The beauty of Iceland is one you are lucky to experience. Capture the moment and share the stunning scenery. It is truly unique; you should appreciate it slowly and mindfully. A camera is a great way to decelerate your journey. Plus the natural wonders are just too good to be left uncaptured.
Iceland is a place of unrivaled, honest beauty. To explore this wild mysterious and powerful land is a unique, once in a lifetime experience. There are unmissable sights to see during your Iceland road trip. You should use them to guide your route. However, this land is untamed enough to indent your paths through the landscape. Find hidden waterfalls that others pass. Explore secret ravines that only some are lucky to discover. Join in the epic Iceland road trip and take this dramatic beauty as your own.