Planning an Iceland Road Trip

Planning an Iceland Road Trip


Way Out Far are working people and as such we can’t give you daily destination stories, but we are excited to finally be able to tell you about our planned Iceland road trip in December. There’s quite a bit of research required,such as where to stay, what car to drive and where to stop to try and see the fabled aurora borealis and we thought that we would share some of our research with you in the hope that we may inspire you to do the same this Christmas…

So why an Iceland Road Trip?

Well it has been a dream of ours to see aurora boreali our whole lives. It was something that we both had talked of when we met and we have been waiting all these years to finally do it. Coupled with the fact that we rarely pick icy places to visit, we felt that we needed to mix our destinations up a bit and get our cold on!

Looking for inspiration we managed to find this video from who visited Iceland in May 2012 and documented their trip around the island in this beautiful YouTube video. All we thought whilst watching this was “well we haven’t done a winter road trip yet…” and so this blog post was born!

How to Get to Iceland

At the time of writing, we were able to find flights with Iceland’s budget airline WOW for £303 from London Gatwick. It may that flying directly after Christmas means slightly cheaper than usual (although it’s still quite pricey!), as according to Skyscanner, the most expensive time to fly over that period is on the 25th December. We’ll be checking the flight prices for another couple of weeks and then book both flight and car.

Iceland Transport

It didn’t take us long after watching this to decide to get a car and drive ourselves rather than relying on taxi or tour companies to see what we wanted to see. Well, we would wouldn’t we?

Way Out Far - Iceland Map
The road around Iceland is 1339km which in theory can be driven in 15 hours and 32 minutes (according to Google Maps). We are more than aware that in December there will be A LOT of snow and as such we might not make it round that quickly, if at all. We are planning to leave directly after Christmas and have a week to try and get round the island rather than try to rush it. Iceland is usually sold as short-break destination to the UK, as it’s only a few hours flight away and Reykjavik provides a base to allow for tourists to visit one or two sites. We want more!

Caroline Bishop documents in this Independent article about her own drive around Iceland. We’re fans of bad cars in extreme places (see Mongol Rally or our Ireland Road Trip) but hiring a Hyundai i20 may not have been a great idea for her in hindsight, but they seem to have made it round the island with a lot of stories.

Our new Twitter friends over at have the same advice about taking a car that handle the extreme weather changes and actually took a Toyota Landcruiser to tour the island in. Considering Josh’s reaction at The Panda we hired in Ireland, it’s probably about time that we actually got a car that’s suitable for the place we’re visiting. We’ll definitely need a 4×4 and one with studs ideally, so as not to slip and slide across the road.

Way Out Far - Toyota Rav4 4WD

After looking around, it seems that a Toyota Rav4 4WD would be the best car for our budget (around £400 for the week) and we can hire a GPS and shovel for a few extra pounds a day too. We don’t want to embark on this trip with our noses in the GPS, just so you know, as our firm believers in slow travel and really taking in where we are going, but it might be safe to know where we are in case we get stuck in the snow!

What to See in Iceland

Way Out Far - Blue Lagoon, Iceland

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We have a few items on the itinerary other than chasing the northern lights. Apart from watching the country go back as we travel around the ring road, we also want to get to know Reyjavik a little and will spend the first couple of nights there enjoying the city and preparing for our road trip. We’ll also head to The Blue Lagoon which is a geothermal spa and one of the most visited places in Iceland. Having been to geothermal spa in New Zealand, we are sure to be impressed!

We also want to see some sublime scenery and hope to be able to travel to see the mountain ridges in Þórsmörk and the black sand beaches in Vík í Mýrdal (amongst other places).

If you have any tips about what to see and do in Iceland, how to survive the roads or what car to hire, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below. We’d also love to hear what you have planned for your own Christmas getaways! We’ll be sure to keep you updated on our YouTube channel, Facebook page and Twitter feed about our progress!

1 Comment

  1. You are seriously going to love Iceland! We road tripped around it in the smallest rental we could find – take the stud option and you’ll be fine. (we’re just cheap arses..) We did come across a couple of rolled Arctic trucks along the way, and I promptly slipped over on the road when getting out to see if we could help, but the studs are great. Don’t get a white car. We lost ours for a while, got out to explore one of the many incredible lava fields you’ll stumble on, then had a “wee” blizzard roll through, white cars seem to make it a little difficult to find.. 🙂 You can’t miss it as it’s on the “ring road” but make sure you spend time at the lagoon and beach with all the icebergs in and around it.
    Keep an eye out for all the geothermal areas along the way, there are some neat hot pools / mud pools.
    We stayed in all the back packers we could find – better than most hotels in Asia where we are at the moment. There’s nothing better than relaxing under the northern lights in a hot spa, covered in snow, outside your cheap back packers!
    You are in for a serious treat – enjoy!



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