Quick Q&A: Can I do the ring road in five days?

Because I’m always short of time (seriously, I feel like I’ve been in one long time crunch for 5 or so years now) I’ve decided to introduce a new section to the blog, Quick Q&A, where I will answer some of the questions I get sent through e-mail for everyone to enjoy. The idea is that these posts won’t take too long to write, since I seem to be set on taking at least a week to write all my normal posts these days (have you ever tried having  self-diagnosed Adult ADD and being really really busy – it’s not a good or efficient combination let me tell you) and I already have the time set aside because I have to answer the e-mail anayway. Do you feel you know to much about my frazzle mind now? I apologize and welcome to the dark side.

skogafoss

Anyway, an unmentioned reader (I think it’s best we keep things anonymous, don’t you?) asked about what was the absolute must sees for five days on the ring road. Instead of answering that question I’m going to address the question of whether or not you can actually do the ring road in 5 days because that’s a probably something a lot of people wonder about. At least I always get this question every now and again or some form of it.

Question: Can I do the ring road in five days?

The short answer is yes. However, even if you can do it in five days it’s not necessarily something I would recommend you do. The ring road is somewhere around 1332 kilometers and that doesn’t include any side roads you may be tempted to take to get to places like Snæfellsnes or Dettifoss for example and it completely excludes the Westfjords. You can drive 1332 kilometers in 24 hours or so (around 16,5 hours without stops according to Google Maps) but why would you want to do that? Unless you want to drive the ring road just to say that you’ve driven the ring road I would imagine that you want to make stops along the way and enjoy everything Iceland has to offer. All the beautiful nature, all the friendly people and the yummy food. Isn’t that why we travel? To really enjoy a place and not just check it off our list?

So although the short answer to this question is yes I always recommend that people at least allot a week if they want to do the full ring road but 10 days would be better. 14 days ideal. That way you would be able to take your time, do some activities along the way, whether it would be a glacier walk in Sólheimajökull or just hiking a inviting a mountain you see on your way, and really enjoy it This is your holiday right so you don’t want to return home exhausted wishing you had more time to explore all the amazing things you saw out the window as you passed by at high speeds so you could make it to the next hotel.

“But, I only have five days in Iceland”, you might be saying to yourself at this point, “and I want to see as much as I can.”. First of all: I hear you! I understand where you are coming from but my advice, and don’t forget that you can choose to completely ignore it, is that if you only have five days to explore Iceland that you limit yourself to one or two areas and really enjoy all that the area has to offer. Whether you go south, west or north (the east is a bit more difficult in five days unless you fly to Egilsstaðir and rent a car from there) there’s something out-of-this-world beautiful to discover all around and I guarantee that you will enjoy it.

black sand beach

As for the original question: what are the must see stops for five days on the ring road? There’s no way to answer that. I can’t tell you to ignore one beautiful place to fit in another. What you may find really interesting I might find boring and vice versa. Like how visitors love the black sand beaches in Iceland while the locals ooh and ahh over the few white sand beaches  that we have because we are so used to the other. It’s all relative.

It goes without saying that this is really not advisable in winter. You never know what the conditions are like and you might get stuck somewhere along the way that messes up your whole schedule.

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12 thoughts on “Quick Q&A: Can I do the ring road in five days?”

  1. April says:

    We were in Iceland for 8 days just a few weeks ago, and I cannot imagine driving the whole ring road in that short of time. To get out of the car and explore the riches of the landscape. I told my husband that if we came back with two weeks and older kids (our twins are 6) then we would do the ring….but only in summer!

  2. Lauren says:

    Hello! I’m visiting Iceland for my first time at the end of September to beginning of October (and I am soo excited). I’m looking to do some driving around Iceland (though definitely not the entire Ring Road, just sections of it). How is the weather during October? Thank you!!

      1. Lauren says:

        Sweet! Thank you!

  3. Sassenach (Belgium) says:

    May I give some advice too?
    5 days for the ring road? Would be silly. If one goes to Iceland, he/she wants to explore the country, isn’t he/she? Even “nearby” the ring road. I did it in 5 weeks (Westfjords and all nice peninsula’s and Westman Islands too) and in the end I even was in a hurry. There is sooo much to visit, to DO!
    So let’s say: 3 weeks is a minimum to drive the ringroad AND explore.
    Unless you are a person who’s driving, getting out of the car, making pictures of this waterfall and that geysir, who gets in the car again, drives, makes pictures…x 100. 🙂
    Exploring is visiting the main attractions like Skaftafell, Gullfoss, then, leave the car on a parking place, find the nice tracks and start hiking. Nobody else to see (2 people each hour ;-), but beautiful nature, views and animals…
    This takes time, but shows you the Real Iceland. 😉
    Take your time in Iceland. 🙂

  4. aditi says:

    Hello!

    I am planning to do a self drive trip from 3rd March to 12th March to see the Northern Lights.

    Could you guide me on how I can get about? I am travelling from India and will be driving in a cold country for the first time ever.

    I am on a stringent budget.

    Please Help!

    1. mm Auður says:

      If you can’t find the information you need on this blog to plan your own trip I suggest you find a good travel agent to work with that can help you with the details.

  5. Jessica says:

    I have about 6 real days while I’m in Iceland next May and I’ve narrowed down my experience to maybe seeing the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the Westfjords, and Husavik for some whale watching. I know it’ll still be an intense journey with just those three places because they are so spaced apart. I would love any suggestions about where to stay between Flateyri (where I might be staying while trying to experience the Westfjords) and possibly Laugar (where I’ll be staying perhaps so I can see Husavik). According to google maps, it’s a good 6-8 hours of a drive between those two places depending on where I stay. Is there a good in-between place in case I get tired from driving?

    1. mm Auður says:

      Maybe Sæberg hostel – http://www.hostel.is

  6. Robert says:

    We were in Iceland for three weeks in summer 2014 and didn’t make it all the way around the ring road.

    In five days? Reykjavik itself is worth a day at least. Inside the Volcano. The Golden Circle. A day trip to the Snaefellsnes. The Blue Lagoon. There’s five days gone already.

  7. My mother and I just completed our Icelandic adventure (we’re sitting in the airport waiting on our final flight) and wanted to let you know that we accidentally drive the entire ring road in 4 days. I say “accidentally” because we had a flight scheduled from Höfn to Reykjavik which was cancelled due to very heavy fog and we thought “what the hell, let’s do it” and just drove from Höfn to Stykkishólmur in one day. While it was exhausting, I wanted to make you aware of a few things which made it well worth it, and so much better than a simple plane flight across the country. Firstly: just North of Djúpivogur is a”shortcut” to cut off a chunk of road 1 in the form of the 939. Although it saved us no time, it was some of the most dramatic and intense landscape of the entire country, all wreathed in that same dense fog. The whole experience was otherworldly.
    And secondly was the road from Akureyri to Varmahlíð, which was so beautiful and so wonderful. We wound through the valleys and up the hillsides – and I would not have missed that for the expedience of a plane flight.

    1. mm Hrannar - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      It’s great to hear that you got to enjoy more of Iceland than you expected. The drive is terribly long. Next time you come, you should include the westfjords, they are a totally different thing from what you experienced this time 🙂

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