The Top Scenic Drives in Iceland and How to Access Them by Rental Car

Iceland’s a top destination for a road trip with plenty of attractive scenery no matter which part of the country you find yourself in. Many travellers are keen to loop the country’s ring road, but some parts of the country are worth a more in-depth look. Some routes are especially pretty and you are likely to want to seek out at least one of them if you are planning an Icelandic road trip. Here’s what you need to know about the top scenic drives in Iceland and how to access them in your rental car from Konvin.

The Golden Circle

Iceland’s classic driving route is the Golden Circle. Close enough to Reykjavik to be ticked off in a single day, it’s the focus of countless organised tours. Yet driving it yourself unlocks its hidden corners. You’ll still want to visit the trio of key attractions – Gullfoss waterfall, Strokkur geyser at Geysir and the impressive Almannagjá gorge that runs through Thingvellir National Park. Yet there are plenty of other corners that warrant a closer look. Among those you shouldn’t miss are the volcanic crater Kerið, the church of Skálholt and the fabulous Brúarhlöð canyon. If you take your time and complete this route over multiple days, you could also taste rye bread hot from the ground at Laugarvatn, go horseback riding to test out the famous tölt and snorkel between tectonic plates at Silfra Fissure.

The Diamond Circle

North Iceland’s answer to the Golden Circle, this scenic route is just as dramatic and equally rewarding. It loops past some of this region’s most extraordinary landforms, such as impressive waterfalls like Goðafoss and Dettifoss, among the country’s largest. The Diamond Circle is about 155 miles long. Strictly speaking, you could achieve the whole thing in a single day – if so, base yourself in Húsavík which is right on the circular route. However, if you can afford to take your time, it will be far more satisfying to stretch out the route to two or three days. This will give you more time to relax in the geothermal baths at Mývatn, take a whale watching trip out into Skjálfandi Bay or hike some of the trails that snake through Ásbyrgi or Jökulsárgljúfur canyons. Add the Diamond Circle to your ring road trip where you’ll encounter it just a bit further east than Akureyri.

The Arctic Coast Way

The 560 mile long Arctic Coast Way launched in 2019 and is of interest to drivers wishing to explore more of North Iceland. Norðurstrandarleið spans the entire coastline of North Iceland from Hvammstangi in the west to easterly Bakkafjörður; drive the lot or dip in to tackle a shorter section. Though it can be driven at any time of year, the Arctic Way is best in summer. The route connects some of the country’s most fascinating places on the mainland as well as offshore islands such as Grímsey, which falls within the Arctic Circle.

The route is easily combined with the Diamond Circle, yet has captivating places of its own. These include Arctic Henge at Raufarhöfn, the most northerly town on the mainland, and Siglufjörður, a former herring fishing port with a compelling heritage museum. Driving this route is also an enticing prospect for those with a keen interest in wildlife. Seals, whales and seabirds such as puffins are all commonly sighted in this part of the country.

The Westfjords Way

Known locally as Vestfjarðaleiðin, the Westfjords Way is a 590 mile long route that meanders through the wild and wonderful Westfjords region. From September to May, the route is slightly shorter as it takes into account seasonal closures and roads that aren’t routinely cleared of snow. This area is still considered to be relatively off the beaten track and as such is a rewarding destination that will cheer the most intrepid travellers. This is an area that promises unspoilt views, hidden waterfalls, small fishing villages and peaceful stretches of coastline where finding solitude is easy. Most of the route is paved, though there are still some stretches of gravel roads that you will need to conquer if you are to complete the whole thing. Access this loop from the ring road or drive your car onto the ferry at Stykkishólmur on the Snaefellsnes peninsula to begin in the south.

There’s no reason you can’t drive them all, of course. Once you know how long you can stay, get in touch with Konvin and we can help you sort out the right rental car for your needs.

Need a place to stay near the airport?

Check out our Konvin Hotel near the Keflavik International airport