An Iceland road trip is something that everyone should experience once in their lifetime, and with my husband filming there, we had to visit! This gorgeous Nordic island nation is full of natural beauty, quaint towns, and majesty that we’ve not found anywhere else in our travels. We recently took an Iceland road trip, and I have to say, it was probably the best trip we’ve ever taken. If you know me you know I was cold in Hawaii, (I’m weird I know), so you are probably wondering how I survived in the bitter cold winter in Iceland?! Truth is it was actually colder in New York than it was in Iceland. The kids who obviously have the husbands hot blood survived with just two layers one being fleece obviously.
An Iceland Road Trip is One Full of Adventure
The first thing you’ll notice about Iceland is its dramatic landscape. This island of vibrant greens and craggy ice is defined by its vast geological variations in one small island. You’ll find volcanoes and lava fields, geysers and hot springs, massive glaciers, and a surprising amount of verdant land close to the coast. It’s a sleeper getaway that begs to be explored at every turn.
Family Iceland Road Trip
When we travel, we like to explore on our own. We’ve taken tours and guided excursions, and they’re usually enjoyable enough. However, you can’t really get to know a place unless you get out there and explore without the crush of crowds, flashes of cameras, and a tour guide’s voice coming at you over a speaker.
Iceland is the kind of place that’s perfect if you enjoy exploring on your own. At every turn, you’ll discover new vistas, beautiful skies, colorful towns, and so much more. It’s as picturesque as any postcard you’ll ever find.
Rutshellir was a stop we made on our way to one of Iceland’s most well-known spots, Yoda cave. Honestly, we had no idea what this place was even used for – everything on the information board was in Icelandic – but that’s part of the fun.
This area was home to an old structure, and as it was a public space, the kids decided to explore it. After climbing the wall, they discovered a loft space within the building. Again, we had no idea what it was used for, but the old log beams and hand-placed stone foundation were incredibly beautiful.
While we’re on the subject of Yoda cave and traveling to it, Seljalandsfoss waterfall is a can’t-miss spot in Iceland. This gorgeous waterfall in southern Iceland definitely did not disappoint. This was the perfect example of the joy of taking an Iceland road trip without a guide. We didn’t even know we would find this!
As we were driving, we noticed the waterfall to the left of us, and we decided to try to get close. After a few minutes of navigation, rerouting, and a few twists, we found our way to it. It’s not incredibly huge, but it is incredibly beautiful as it cascades over a craggy cliff of dark rock that’s accentuated by the surrounding white of snow.
We started each day with three layers and it would dwindle down to one as our adventures progressed.
Vik is a village you’ll find on the way to the Yoda cave. The town itself is a lovely little post filled with classic Icelandic buildings and some of the friendliest people we’ve ever met. What drew us to stop, however, was the horses!
As we drove down the road, we saw a pasture situated right next to a mountain, and in that pasture, we saw the most beautiful shaggy horses. Of course, we had to stop. The horses were absolutely adorable and so friendly. My daughter had an especially good time making friends with one of the horses, a brown and white cutie that was especially friendly.
Stopping to pet horses might not seem like an event worthy of blogging about, but that’s the beauty of trips like these. The simple things are often the ones that make the trip the best. We had no idea we’d discover these guys, but there we were, petting horses out of nowhere on our Iceland road trip.
Hjorleifshofdi ~ Yoda Cave
As a family of Star Wars geeks, we couldn’t take an Iceland road trip without stopping at the Yoda cave. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, you’ll immediately recognize the Yoda cave. Located in Hmorleifshofdi mountain, it wasn’t a well-known spot until Star Wars Rogue One was filmed there. Although you’ll find caves all over Iceland, this one is renowned for its unique shape and the views it offers when you stand inside of it – and that was before the movie.
We stepped into the cave and immediately recognized it from several scenes. It is, in fact, Yoda’s cave. The kids are massive Star Wars fans, so it was amazing to take in both the natural beauty and the pop culture side of this cave.
The Yoda cave was the reason I took this trip to be honest, and while it was my primary reason for traveling to Iceland, it opened up our eyes to everything else to be discovered there. For example, the black sand beaches dotted with stones and the beautiful views from the cave are something that will be etched in our minds forever.
When searching for the Yoda cave put Hjorleifshofdi into your gps, the rentals cars actually have apple car play which is a bonus! You will definitely feel like you are off roading, trust me it is worth the bumpy ride. Although the Hjorleifshofdi Cave is easily accessible, the gps will advise you to park half way down the road, ignore these directions. Continue to drive around the rocks and you will be amazed by the beauty of this cave. We also drove down to the water, and admired the black sand beaches.
Gullfoss waterfall in Golden Circle is absolutely worth a stop if you’re visiting Iceland. Thie beautiful waterfall is absolutely massive. Spilling over an icy, snow drop-off, the roaring water really points out how powerful Mother Nature truly is.
Be aware that this spot can get extremely crowded, but if you time it right, you can avoid the major crush. It’s a beautiful place to take photoss but bring your heavy coats. It gets very cold! There are passes available, but you can also simply drive in on your own and park for free like we did.
Sky Lagoon was one of three places that we actually toured. It’s the only way to get in. This beautiful hot spring lagoon is an amazing experience. The air is frigid, but the water is so warm and cozy! This gorgeous, steaming lagoon was surrounded by rocks and made for incredible scenery as well as swimming. It even snowed on us while we were swimming which was a trip to be sure!
Of the two available options at the lagoon, we chose the Sky Pass with private showers and changing rooms. We were given wristbands that unlocked all of it. They even had tablets on the walls. We placed our wristbands on it, and it told us what locker we chose, because after the experience of the 7 step ritual you will forget it all.
Combining spelunking with a literal deep delve into the power and majesty of Mother Nature, lava tunnel Raufarhólshellir, was the other guided tour that we took on our Iceland road trip. Although we prefer to explore on our own, this lava tube is only accessible via tour. It was absolutely worth it, though!
This massive lava tunnel is easily traversed with the step and platforms that have been placed there, and you’ll have a great view of everything thanks to the installed lighting. When I say massive, I mean massive. It is huge. The entire time, I was awestruck at the fact that at one time it was filled with lava!
The descent begins through an absolutely gigantic, craggy opening in the earth. The rocky structure is so craggy, it almost felt like I had stepped into one of my kids’ Minecraft worlds, if I’m being honest. As you descend further, you’ll see a variety of colors and textures in the tunnel, the result of ancient lava carving through the earth. You’ll also see amazing icy structures on the floor in spots. Along the way, the guide explains how it all happened. It was a great combination of exploration and education.
Iconic Northern Lights
The final guided tour we took was with HappyWorld.is to see the Northern Lights. Surprisingly, you can’t just walk out of your door and see them anywhere in Iceland the way you might think. You have to know where to look. You also have to know that you can’t actually see them with the naked eye unless your eyes have become accustomed to the dark for about 30 to 40 minutes.
Our guide knew exactly where to take us for the most perfect views of the lights. To the naked eye, the lights looked like white streaks in the sky. However, when we opened the aperture on our camera and set it to night mode, we were greeted with the most amazing dancing greens we’d ever seen.
You Won’t Forget an Iceland Road Trip
If you’ve never been to Iceland, add it to your bucket list. If you get the chance to go, make your trip and Iceland road trip. Touring the island by car is absolutely the best way to experience it. If you’re like us, you’ll love finding most of your spots on your own. If you prefer tours, you’ll still experience beautiful countryside with a vast array of geological views as you make your way from one destination to another.