Iceland 4x4 Roadtrip


July 11, 2022☕️☕️ 8 min read 57

This summer, Ann and I decided to ditch warm, sunny destinations to explore the land of ice and fire - Iceland. It’s a destination unlike any other in Europe. Its unique landscapes, smouldering volcanoes and blue glaciers complement the modern lifestyle and especially the coffee culture of the capital city of Reykjavik.

Car rental

The most convenient way to get around the country is to rent a car. There are two options to consider, either a regular 2WD or a 4x4 car suitable for driving on highland gravel roads, called F-roads. We opted for the latter and on many occasions, it proved to be an absolute necessity for us to get to our planned destinations. One thing to note, most 4x4 rentals don’t have insurance for river crossings - which are not as uncommon as it sounds on F-roads. Even with an off-road car, we avoided river crossings, as we witnessed others flooding their cars. I snapped a photo (it’s at the end of this post) of the rescue team preparing to get a car out of the river. It’s recommended to check current road conditions on


Camping is an ideal way to immerse yourself in Icelandic nature. It’s also cheaper and more available than sparsely scattered hotels and guesthouses. Since we had the gear we opted for sleeping in a tent rather than a car. We took a lightweight three-season tent, (very) warm sleeping bags (0°C and -20°C comfort) and lots of warm and waterproof clothes. In the summer months, the sun never fully sets, so we could always pitch the tent in daylight.

Between June and August the mean temperature is at its peak. It doesn’t mean there is much sunlight. The weather during our stay was fairly cloudy with 2 “sunny” days, a bit of rain, and a few fairly cold nights (around 5°C).

8 Day Roadtrip

We stayed in Iceland for 8 days. We decided not to go 1,400km along the famous ring road, as we didn’t have enough time to see all the sights on the way. Also, following the ring road means staying on the tarmac all the time. Since we had a 4x4 car we wanted to enjoy highland gravel roads. We decided to focus initially on the western and then southern parts of Iceland. On our way back to Reykjavik we followed F-roads through the Fjallabak Nature Reserve and Landmannalaugar - the most scenic part of our road trip.

Roadtrip Itinerary

Day 1: Ride to Snæfellsnes Peninsula

We landed at Keflavik airport in the afternoon and picked up our car from IcePol - a local car rental company (we had a great experience). There, we also rented some camping gear: a folding table and chairs, cutlery and a gas stove - so we could have a proper morning coffee. Car pickup proceeded smoothly and soon after landing we were already in the car driving towards Snæfellsnes Penninsula. Passing by Reykjavik, we stopped by a big store to buy food for the next few days. On the way, we stopped by Gerðuberg Cliffs and Bjarnarfoss. After a few hours, we arrived at Hellissandur Camping. It was a nice campsite to spend the night on with suitable grounds for pitching a tent.


Day 2: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

We explored Snæfellsnes Peninsula by following a rocky road to Skarðsvík Beach and Svörtuloft Lighthouse. Then we got to the main road which took us to a Hellnar View Point with Fjöruhúsið café nearby. They offer great coffee and delicious fish soup. Highly recommended. We also walked around Kirkjufell Mountain - known as Arrowhead Mountain from Game of Thrones. On the way to our next campsite, we stopped at Landbrotalaug Hot Spring. It was empty when we arrived. We spent the night at Mosskogar Camping - an excellent outpost for starting the Golden Circle tour the following day.

Scenic mountains

Day 3: Golden Circle

The Golden Circle follows the “must-see” Iceland tourist destinations. It includes Þingvellir National Park located in a rift valley created by the drifting apart of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. You can view the plates’ edges when walking around the park. The next stop is at Geysir park, where the Great Geysir erupts every 10 minutes. Another landmark on the way is Gullfoss, a huge waterfall, definitely worth seeing. We also jumped into Kualaug hot spring, which was muddy and small, but warm. We camped at Camping Fljótshlið which is located on the way to waterfalls and glaciers.

Tectonic plates park

Day 4: Foss Day

Foss is the Icelandic word for waterfall, so on a Foss day, we’ve seen many beautiful waterfalls. We visited Gluggafoss, Seljalandsfoss (there is a path leading “inside”) and Skógafoss (a great location for photos). We also hiked to Seljavallalaug Pool to relax in the warm water from a local hot spring. It’s an outdoor swimming pool located in the mountains, built in 1923 by a local who wanted to teach kids how to swim. Nowadays, it’s open to everybody willing to hike up the mountains to jump into the pool. We ended our day with a hike to the Solheimasandur Plane Wreck. However, I don’t think taking a photo is worth walking there and back for 1.5 hours.

Big foss
Swimming pool

We spent our 4th night in Þakgil camping, located high up in Katla geopark, on Katla volcano - one of Iceland’s largest and most active volcanoes. It’s located near Vik city. The road leading there requires a 4x4 car and is one of the most scenic routes we’ve driven in Iceland. The campsite is situated in a valley with many hiking trails around the geopark.

Katla park road

Day 5: Glacier Day

My favourite part of the trip started that day. First we needed to leave the campsite, driving down rough gravel roads to Vik. Then we headed south-east towards one of Europe’s biggest glaciers. On the way, we stopped by a beautiful foss: Svartifoss which is surrounded by hexagonal basalt columns. Their geometric shape is the result of physical processes occurring inside a lava flow during a cool-down. The main attractions of the day were glacier lagoons, whose still blue waters were dotted with icebergs from the surrounding glaciers. We’ve also had a very pleasant chat with a bike-packer - Chris Hankey - who is spending two months this summer cycling around Iceland.

Glacier 3
Glacier 6

Day 6: F-Roads Day

Not driving on F-roads with a 4x4 rental is a sin. We spent this whole day driving on a rocky road to Landmannalaugar located in Fjallabak Nature Reserve - known for its natural geothermal hot springs and surrounding landscape - my favourite, the most picturesque spot of the trip.

Landmannalaugar view
Landmannalaugar baths
Landmannalaugar campsite
Icelandic road

Day 7: Reykjavik and Chill

We took it slow, spent some time in Reykjavik - tried the famous hot dogs and got delicious coffee at Reykjavik Roasters cafe. Then we indulged ourselves with the 7 Step Icelandic Ritual in the Sky Lagoon - located just outside the capital city.

Day 8: Reykjanes Volcano and Airport

It was a short day. We only had time for a hike to the Fagradalsfjall volcano, which erupted in 2021. We could still see fumes coming out of cooling lava. (Un)fortunately there were no active volcanic eruptions during our stay, so seeing red, hot, flowing lava was impossible.

Useful Resources