If you’re itching for an epic road trip, look no further than Iceland. It’s filled with epic waterfalls, craters, beaches, hot springs and canyons. With seemingly endless spots to explore, you could spend a few days or a few months in this glorious country.
There are always pros and cons about traveling in the summer no matter where you go. I know I’m not the first to say that there are a lot of tourists during these months and that flights, accommodation, car/campervan costs may be slightly higher. That said, there are a lot of great reasons to travel to Iceland in the summer. From May to August, the sun doesn’t really set in Iceland which is due to the Midnight Sun. It’s a natural phenomenon where the sun is visible at midnight and it’s caused by the tilt in the Earth’s axis. It allows for longer hours of sunlight in the higher latitude locations, like Norway, Sweden, Canada, and of course, Iceland! I visited in early July and it looked like the sun just dipped below the horizon at around 2am and then popped right back up a few minutes later. The best part about all of this is that with a simple flip of your sleeping schedule, you could travel through Iceland and not see loads of people. You’re probably wondering what I’m talking about. Well, here is how it works. If you sleep during the day and stay up to explore during the ‘night’, most people will still sleeping, locations and roads are empty and, to make it even better, you’ll be able to witness beautiful golden light as the sun is close to the horizon. On my trip, I was awake from 4pm-6am on most days and many of the photos you see in this post were taken around midnight! This is what a lot of photographers do, so if you see people out and about around midnight, you can safely assume that they are shooting. The Midnight Sun makes you feel like you’re not traveling during peak season—and it’s awesome.
I spent a total of 10 days in a campervan exploring Iceland and I’d say that it’s a great amount of time to drive the entire ring road (Route 1)—which is the main road that goes all around the island. While I recommend staying at least a week in Iceland, it’s popular to only stop in Iceland for a few days as it’s on the way to Europe or North America. Iceland has exploded in popularity for being the perfect “stopover” within the last few years—and for good reason. There is so much to see along the South Coast which is a short drive from the airport (many spots are on this list). Keep in mind that because of the close proximity, the South Coast is the busiest area of Iceland. Right when you start going North, there is a fraction of tourists! My suggestion? If you can allocate more time to spend in Iceland, do it! It feels like there is a never ending list of things to see and experience—and each of these things can be completely different. In one day you could walk along the beach, feel small beside Basalt towers, hike along a canyon, soak in hot springs and be refreshed by a waterfall. Whether you have a few days or a few months, you’ll find some rad spots on this blog post.
HOW TO GET TO ICELAND
Getting to Iceland has never been easier. There are usually plenty of flights going into Keflavik International Airport! From there, you will have a plethora of car and campervan options. If you know me, you know that I chose the campervan option.
WHICH CAMPERVAN YOU SHOULD ROLL WITH
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with the campervan options in Iceland because there are so many. I’m going to make it easy for you and let you know that Happy Campers is the best out there. I’ve whipped around Iceland with them twice now, in both the summer and winter, and I couldn’t of asked for a better experience. The team is incredibly welcoming and will tell you everything you need to know about Iceland—like details about driving, camping, sightseeing, and more. The vans are equipped with everything you could ever need and they make planning trips so easy. All you need to do is buy a flight and book a campervan, then, they’ll help with the rest.
This is one of my favourite spots from the entire trip! Stokksnes is in the southeast of Iceland, not far from Höfn. It is where the ocean meets the mountains, specifically Vestrahorn mountain (pictured below). We were here around 3am and had it all to ourselves! You can either park in the parking lot and walk to the water (takes about 15-20 minutes depending on the tide) or you can pay about $20 Icelandic Króna to drive down a road that gets you way closer to the water.
Iceland is home to many craters, and Viti crater is one of them. It’s located in Northern Iceland far away from the crowds of the South Coast. From the parking lot, we walked around for 5-10 minutes to be able to see it from this spot pictured below. It’s my understanding that it would take about an hour to walk all the way around.
Dyrhólaey is at the southernmost part of Iceland and is massive rock arch right on the coast. From this viewpoint, you’ll also be able to see views of the Black Sand Beach below. The road up to the parking lot is steep and gravel, but doable. Just go slow and watch out for potholes! Along with epic views, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a puffin. They like to hang out up here so keep an eye out!
Other than the Midnight Sun, another great reason to visit Iceland during the summer months is to be able to see lupines! While most people think they are a flower, they actually are an invasive species (or weeds). Whatever they may be, I am obsessed with them. They are incredibly beautiful and I loved incorporating them into my images. If you are in Iceland from early June to mid-July you will likely see them. There is no ‘one particular place’ that they will be—they are everywhere! The photo below was taken right by a pull off along the ring road (and was taken around 11pm).
Oh, Skógafoss. It’s one of Iceland’s biggest waterfalls and top tourist attractions. It’s located on the South Coast and is incredibly accessible to anyone and everyone. I recommend checking it out later in the night when most people are sleeping under the Midnight sun. It’s lives up to the hype!
This canyon is a lesser known spot and is located on the South Coast of Iceland. You’ll need to drive down a gravel road and then hike for about an hour. There are two waterfalls, Hangandifoss and Múlafoss, that fall into the canyon so be sure to look for both! I used AllTrials to find the trailhead and used it while hiking.
Even though this spot is incredibly busy, like its close neighbour, Skógafoss, it was another spot on the road trip that I loved. I think it resonated well with me because I was there at sunset, which was around 11-pm 12am. There was this beautiful golden light that illuminated the water as it was falling. This waterfall is a couple minute walk from the parking lot and is worth the stop!
Kvernufoss feels like it’s hidden away from the rest of the popular waterfalls on the South Coast. It is beautiful from any angle, but my favourite would be from behind. Make sure to walk all the way around the waterfall. Another great thing about this spot is that I saw more goats than people. Hot tip: walk here after visiting Skógafoss so you don’t need to fuss about parking. The hike starts behind the Skógar museum and takes about 20-30 minutes. I found this waterfall on AllTrails so for more information, head to their website.
There are so many incredible spots in Iceland, that I could go back over and over again and still find new areas to explore. It’s such a unique country and couldn’t recommend it to you enough.