One of the most iconic things to do when visiting Iceland is to explore its famous Ring Road (Route 1). The Icelandic highway circles the country for 1,322 km (820 miles), and along the way, you can experience some of the world’s most stunning natural wonders, including glaciers, waterfalls, and hot springs. For first-time visitors, it’s one of the best ways to get an overview of the country, but deciding where to stay can be a little overwhelming!
Have no fear; I recently returned from an epic Ring Road journey and will share all of the hotels and guest houses where I stayed, along with other recommendations — all you need to do is reserve your stay!
In addition to helping you decide where to stay on the Ring Road, I’ve also answered some of the most popular Ring Road FAQs at the bottom of the article, but if you have others, don’t hesitate to reach out!
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Where to Stay on Iceland’s Iconic Ring Road
We will start our Ring Road hotel adventure in the country’s capital, Reykjavik! If you’re still trying to decide how to get from the airport to your Reykjavik hotel, I suggest booking a bus ticket (in advance) with Flybus. It’s very efficient, affordable, and reliable all year long.
The other option is to book a private transfer, which is quite a bit more expensive. If you decide to go this route, make sure you book ahead because if you wait and try and just grab a taxi, you could pay even more (the airport suggests asking the driver for the price before you get in the car — it sounds pricey, doesn’t it?) and have to wait during the high season.
Don’t Want to Drive all 820 miles Yourself?
Check Out These Fabulous Ring Road Tours, Including the One I did with G Adventures!
- Best of Iceland G Adventures Review or skip the review and check out the full tour
- Best of Iceland: Ring Road + Snaefellsnes Peninsula Tour
- Arctic Adventures 8-Day Iceland Ring Road Tour
Don’t forget to book your ticket with FlyBus before you head to Iceland! It’s the most affordable ground transfer option from the airport to Reykjavik.
Hotels in Reykjavik, Iceland
Most itineraries start and end in Reykjavik because of its proximity to the international airport — makes sense, right? In addition to that, it is the largest city in Iceland and is a great place to kick off and end your Icelandic adventure. No matter your budget, one of these hotels will be the perfect place to add to your Ring Road itinerary.
Best Luxury Hotel in Reykjavik
Austurbakki 2, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
This beautiful luxury hotel is the first of its kind in Reykjavik (possibly the country!) and boasts gorgeous views of the Harbor — their rooftop is a terrific place to see the Northern Lights in the winter. In addition to the views, the hotel also offers a relaxing onsite spa, fitness center, and plenty of dining options, some of which are vegan-friendly.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Reykjavik
4 Þórunnartún, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland
This Nordic-inspired modern oasis is ideally located to explore Reykjavik (a short walk to the Hallgrimskirkja Church and shopping); plus, it won’t break the bank! Breakfast is also included in your hotel stay and includes vegan and gluten-friendly options.
Best Budget Hotel in Reykjavik
2-Star HostelBankastræti 7, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
If you’re on a tight budget, you can’t beat this hostel right in the heart of Reykjavik! The hostel offers eight and six bedrooms and private rooms with private bathrooms. One of the best parts of staying here is hanging out on their rooftop terrace in the summer.
Choose Your Own Iceland West Side Adventure
From Reykjavik, depending on time, you might want to make a detour off of the Ring Road and spend a day or two on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula or head to Iceland’s gorgeous Westfjords Region (or do both if you have enough time).
The drive from Reykjavik to the start of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is about two hours (it’s also a great day trip option from Reykjavik), then from the Snæfellsnes Peninsula to the beginning of the Westfjords it’s another two hours.
Although these two spots aren’t technically on Iceland’s Ring Road, I will still give you hotel suggestions since they are beautiful places to visit. Now, if you don’t have the time to add on these two spots, I suggest heading north to Iceland’s northern capital, Akureyri (so keep scrolling and skip over this next section of suggestions).
Hotels in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Vegamót, 311 Vegamót, Iceland
This family-run hoteldelights guests with its comfortable accommodations but also with all of its house-made bread and treats. In addition to the hotel, there is also a café and restaurant onsite.
Hotels in the Westfjords Region
Aðalstræti 100, 450 Patreksfjörður, Iceland
If you’re interested in seeing puffins, stay here! This lovely, modern hotel is close to the Látrabjarg Nesting Cliff, Dynjandi Waterfall, and Rauðisandur red sand beach. In addition to those terrific sights, it’s located right on the water, providing guests with beautiful sea and fjord views.
Ring Road Hotels in Northern Iceland (Akureyri)
I chose Akureyri as your stopping point because it’s right in the middle of the northern part of the country, and it’s considered Iceland’s northern capital. After you’ve explored the town, I suggest taking a detour and heading an hour north to Húsavík, which is Iceland’s whale capital (there are whale-watching tours in Akureyri, but Húsavík is the best spot). One other unique thing — you’re also less than an hour away from Arctic Heli Skiing (definitely not something you’ll catch me doing, but maybe that’s interesting to you, dear reader)!
After leaving Akureyri, make sure you stop at the Goðafoss and Dettifoss waterfalls, Dimmuborgir lava field, Mývatn Lake, and Námafjall geothermal area.
As you might imagine, the variety of hotels is starting to shrink. Akureyri doesn’t have a luxury hotel, so I will provide you with the best all-around options, including where I stayed.
Best Hotel & Guesthouse Accommodations in Akureyri
Hafnarstræti 87-89, 600 Akureyri, Iceland
This modern hotel is right in the heart of town and offers beautiful fjord views. You’ll be within walking distance of many restaurants and cafes and within easy reach of hiking trails, the Akureyri Botanical Garden, and the city’s swimming pool.
Where We Stayed Near Akureyri
601 Svalbarðsstrandarhreppur, Iceland
We stayed just 15 minutes north of Akureyri at this modern little hotel with the best fjord and mountain views. You can hike the mountain directly behind the hotel for even better views. Breakfast is included with your stay, and has vegan and gluten-free options (let them know after booking). They also have a dinner buffet in the evening for an additional fee (unsure if it’s vegan or gluten-free friendly, but there are plenty of friendly places to eat in Akureyri).
Hotels Near The Ring Road in North East Iceland (Bakkagerði)
Instead of taking you all the way to the eastern side of Iceland, I want to suggest a stop in the northeast for two reasons. First, getting to about the middle of the east side would take almost six hours — you could definitely do it, but with stops, it would be a super long day. Second, I want to give you an opportunity to see puffins (now, who else would include that in their hotel guide)!
From Akureyri, we will head to the tiny town of Bakkagerði. It is about an hour north of the Ring Road, but I think the detour is absolutely worth it! To see these feathered friends head to the aptly named Puffin Wall or Marina (it’s in Borgarfjörður Eystri). This is one of the few places in Iceland where you can see large colonies of them and see them safely because there are boardwalks and viewing platforms. The best time to see puffins is from late April or May – mid-August.
After saying hi to the puffins, there is no need to trek back to the Ring Road for a place to stay; there is a charming, hotel just two minutes from the puffins!
Where to Stay in Bakkagerði
Merkisveg, Borgarfirdi Eystra, 720 Bakkagerði, Iceland
You’ll fall in love with this family-run hotel’s lovely sea and mountain views. The husband-and-wife duo who run this hotel go out of their way to make guests feel welcome, from special meal requests (thank you!) to daily guided hiking and walking tours of the area. It’s the perfect place to base yourself to see the puffins or stay awhile and explore the untouched countryside.
Ring Road Hotels on the Eastern Side of Iceland (Höfn)
On the eastern side of Iceland, a popular town to stay in or near is Höfn. The small town has a few restaurants and a supermarket and is in an ideal location to explore nearby glaciers, lagoons, and waterfalls as you make your way to the south coast.
The drive from Bakkagerði to Höfn is almost four hours, but you’re not going to drive straight through — there are too many beautiful things to check out on the way! A couple of those things include the Hengifoss and Foldafoss waterfalls. Getting to the Hengifoss waterfall involves a moderate 3-mile (roundtrip) hike.
After the hike, head just a few minutes up the road to Klausturkaffi — they have a terrific lunch buffet. The buffet generally has vegan and gluten-free options, but if they know someone is coming, they’ll make a few special items.
Just like in Akureyri, there isn’t a luxury hotel option, so I will provide some solid recommendations, including where we stayed.
Mid-Range Hotel in Höfn with Glacier Views
Lindarbakki, 781 Höfn
Having sea views is always a really terrific selling point, but what about glacier views? This modern hotel offers guests picturesque views of the Vatnajökull Glacier (the largest glacier in Europe) and the surrounding mountains. In addition to the views, the hotel also offers a few different room types, which makes this an excellent choice for groups or families.
Where We Stayed Near Höfn
781 Þjóðvegur, Iceland
This family-run hotel is just 30 minutes south of Höfn and 30 minutes north of the fantastic Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon — the location is ideal! The hotel is right off the Ring Road and offers comfortable accommodations that include blackout curtains (it’s kind of surprising the number of hotels that don’t provide this — it’s essential in the summer! Bring an eye mask just in case). Because of its location, it is pretty popular, so reserve your rooms in advance.
Ring Road Hotels in Southern Iceland (Vik)
As you make your way further south, you’ll notice that sights are getting busier than they were in the north or east of the country, and that’s because you’re starting to get within a day trip range of Reykjavik! Especially in the summer, the south coast is generally busy. It’s best to leave yourself extra time to explore areas and add extra drive time.
From Höfn, the drive to Vik is about 3 ½ hours, but of course, just like with all the others, there are plenty of stops to make! You’ll want to make sure you leave time to take a glacier lagoon boat ride in Jökulsárlón and plan a glacier hike on either Vatnajökull or Sólheimajökull. It’s crucial for the glacier hikes or ice cave tours you book with a guide; these aren’t activities you should try and do on your own (even if you’re the world’s best hiker).
In addition to boat rides and hikes, you’ll want to stop at one of the most beautiful and dangerous beaches in Iceland, Reynisfjara. This black sand beach is stunning, but the warning signs aren’t kidding around. Swimming is prohibited due to the unpredictable currents and sneaker waves.
A Little Fancier Hotel in Vik
3- Star Hotel
Sléttuvegur, 870 Vík, Iceland
This modern, sophisticated hotel is right off the Ring Road and has gorgeous mountain views. The cozy rooms are equipped with all the creature comforts you could need for a comfortable stay. Breakfast is included, and if you’re looking for dinner options, check out the chic Drangar Restaurant. The restaurant menu has some vegan options, but contact them directly to see what else they can provide.
Luxury Hotel Near Vik
Hótel Rangá, 851 Hella, Iceland
Between Vik (about an hour from Vik) and the Golden Circle is this luxury countryside hotel that’s attracted the likes of celebrities and dignitaries over the years. Hotel Rangá is renowned for its unique features — it is the only hotel in Iceland with a built-in observatory. You’ll have he opportunity to observe and learn about the celestial wonders of the night sky. Additionally, you can soak in the hotel’s own geothermal hot tubs while enjoying the breathtaking natural surroundings.
Where We Stayed in Vik
1, 871 Vík, Iceland
If you look at the map, you’ll see that this hotel is a smidge outside of the center of Vik, and that’s totally fine because Vik is tiny! There is really no reason to stay right in town as the town is made up of a few hotels, a gas station, and a rest area/mini-mall. This family-run hotel is right in the beautiful countryside of southern Iceland and, on a clear day, has stunning views of the Mýrdalur Valley and Dyrhólaey Peninsula. The onsite restaurant is vegan and gluten-free friendly — breakfast is included with your stay.
Budget-Friendly Hotel in Vik
Víkurbraut 26, 870 Vík, Iceland
The name is misleading; there are no puffins onsite! But the staff might be able to point you in the right direction to find them! The budget-friendly hotel is right in the heart of Vik and only a short walk from Vik’s black sand beach. You’ll find a variety of room types to fit your budget, but if you don’t see anything that works for you, they also run a hostel. Guests who stay in the hotel are treated to a breakfast buffet in the morning, and hostel guests have access to a shared kitchen.
Where to Go After Visiting Vik
As you leave Vik, you have two options: head back to Reykjavik or explore the Golden Circle. If you choose to explore the Golden Circle, you can easily do it within a day; there are only three main sights (Geysir Geothermal Area, Gullfoss Waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park), and it’s less than two hours (from the furthest point) from Reykjavik.
No matter which you choose, make sure you also plan stops at these beautiful spots on your way: Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, and if you missed the glacier hike in Vatnajökull, you could hike Sólheimajökull! The Sólheimajökull glacier is only 30 minutes from Vik on your way to Reykjavik or The Golden Circle.
How Many Days Do You Need to Explore Iceland’s Ring Road?
You can explore Iceland’s Ring Road in as little as seven days (some even say five, but that would be a sprint); I will say from experience that it would be better to have 8-10. You can get a fabulous overview of the country in seven days, but it will require you to get up early every day and have some long driving days. It would be more enjoyable to rush a little less and have a bit more exploration time.
Also, if you plan for 8-10 days, this would make it ideal for adding on a trip to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula; if you can spare 12 days, I would add on a trip to the beautiful Westfjords region.
Guided Tours of the Ring Road
If you don’t really want to drive the Ring Road yourself, you don’t have to! Check out this fantastic Ring Road tour that we did with G Adventures. Not only is this ideal if you don’t want to drive, but a local guide accompanies you the entire way and provides great history and commentary that you wouldn’t get going solo.
Local guides can also share recommendations on other things you should check out and things you should skip.
What is the Best Month to Drive the Ring Road?
If you’re driving yourself, I would only recommend doing it in June, July, or August. Most people think spring or fall are safe bets, but Iceland can still get snow or blizzard-like conditions during that time, especially in the north.
We visited in May, and in the south, we had wet and windy weather around 40°F (4°C), but in the north, we hit a blizzard. We’re used to snow (we live in Michigan), but these were whiteout conditions that I’ve probably only experienced one other time in my life. We hit the whiteout as we were going up a mountain. Luckily, we had an experienced guide driving, but the road became impassable, and since we didn’t have snow tires, we had to go in reverse down the mountain (it was an experience that I will never forget)!
No matter the time of year, it’s always important to check the weather and road conditions before you go out. For the most accurate information, skip Google and use the Icelandic Met Office website.
Is the Ring Road Worth it?
Yes! Absolutely the Ring Road is worth it. It’s the best way for first-time visitors to experience the country’s diversity. Once you have an overview of the country, you have a better idea of what you might want to return to and explore further.
How Long Does It Take to Drive the Ring Road?
Well, how long it takes to drive the Ring Road depends on the seasons! If you’re visiting in the summer (and possibly the spring/fall), you could drive and explore sights on the Ring Road in as little as five or six days (at least seven days is suggested). If you’re visiting in the winter, you should pretty much double the amount of time that it will take. If you’re driving yourself, be sure to rent a car with four-wheel drive and snow tires and download any Maps before you head out.
How Long is the Ring Road in Iceland?
The scenic road is 1,322 km (820 miles) and circles the entire perimeter of Iceland.
Wrap It Up: More Iceland Travel Help
Now that you know all of the best Ring Road hotels and sights, you might be curious about what else there is to discover. Well, you’ve come to the right place! Check out these fabulous guides and articles to plan your entire Icelandic adventure.
The Best Day Trips from Reykjavik
Is the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Worth it?
The Best Iceland Vegan Guide: Where to Eat & Stay
The Ultimate Vegan Reykjavik Guide: Restaurants, Shops, & More
Is the Golden Circle Worth Visiting?