In short: Stop 2-3 days in Reykjavik -> Fly to Akureyri -> Rent a car -> Drive clock-wise to Reykjavik.
This itinerary combines seeing some of the highlights of the ring-road but also allows for plenty of time to get off the beaten path.
Note: This itinerary is not recommended in winter, and even in the spring and fall there is always a chance of storm, snow or some winter conditions in northern Iceland. Please follow the weather while driving, be ready to make adjustments to the plans, and check out road.is for road conditions when in Iceland.
10 Day Itinerary Idea
Day 1 - Spend a few hours in the Blue Lagoon after arrival to Iceland.
Days 2-3 - Spend time exploring the capital, Reykjavik. Explore the city, see my recommendations for things to do and see and restaurants in Reykjavik here. Highly recommend these guys for a free fun walking tour.
Start your journey with a soak in the Blue Lagoon. Travelade/iStock.
Reykjavik is your first stop after the Blue Lagoon. Travelade/iStock.
Days 4-10 - Drive around and explore the countryside. Here's a good framework, which you can tailor to your needs e.g. stop longer in some places and shorter in others, detours etc. By design, I'm not suggesting an exact itinerary, more of a path which you can tailor to your interests and preferences.
- Take a domestic flight from Reykjavik to Akureyri. Bookable here. If you get a morning flight, I would recommend spending a couple of hours walking around Akureyri before hitting the road, it's a cute little down.
- Rent a car from Akureyri and drive to Husavik via lake Myvatn (worth a stop, even an overnight stay). This is the whale-watching center of the north, you could stay there for a day.
- Drive to Asbyrgi canyon and check out Godafoss waterfall close by
- Drive onwards to the town of Egilsstadir (good place for one overnight stay).
- Drive the east fjords, make sure to allow for time to stop and explore a few tiny fishing villages is fun during the drive
- Drive to the town of Hofn, yet another small cute town :) This is where my cousin is starting a guesthouse. He and his wife are awesome and I know they take great care of their guests and share some great recommendations about the area.
- From Hofn, keep on going to the Southern coast, stop at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon (the Zodiac tours are pretty fun). A little further you will encounter Skaftafell and the Vatnajokull Glacier national park which has ton of hikes, glacier hikes, cave tours etc.
Svartifoss Waterfall, Skaftafell. Travelade/iStock.
- On the southern coast, you have tons of options, waterfalls, black sand beach at Reynisfjara and 1-2 day detours to either Thorsmork (www.volcanohuts.com) or the Westman Islands. This unique swimming pool is also a great place to check out on the southern coast. If you do end up going to Thorsmork, this secret waterfall will be close by.
- For more options and example of what people do on the Southern coast, I wrote these recommendations on what to do on the Southern Coast for a few friends visiting recently.
- Finally, if you are interested in doing an adventure tour such as a Super Jeep Tour, I would highly recommend the team at Midgard Adventure. They also just opened a hostel (which I haven't checked out yet myself). Some of their adventures are on the expensive side, but in case you have budget then these guys are the best I've encountered.