Iceland has one of the most unique and dramatic landscapes in the world. This small, Scandinavian island earned the nickname The Land of Fire and Ice because of its volcanic activity, black sand beaches, and contrasting glacial lagoons.

Traveling Iceland in a rental car or camper van is the best way to see all of its natural beauty in as little as one week. When driving the famous Route 1, also called the Ring Road, these are the stops travelers can’t miss.

10 The Golden Circle

A short drive from Reykjavík, the Golden Circle comprises three iconic sites that visitors to Iceland can’t miss: Geysir, Gulfoss, and Þingvellir National Park. It’s possible to see them all in one day since they are located close to one another.

Geysir is a famous geyser on this route, and it erupts periodically, sending hot water shooting into the sky. Gulfoss (meaning Golden Falls) is a stunning waterfall set among lush green landscapes. Þingvellir National Park offers a scenic look at Iceland’s natural beauty.

9 Kirkjufell

When driving along the west coast of Iceland, detour from the ring road onto the Snæfellsnes Peninsula for a look at one of Iceland’s most photographed mountains, Kirkjufell. It’s 463 meters tall and is also called Church Mountain.

The distinct shape of the mountain and surrounding waterfalls makes this an incredible spot for photography in any season. When visiting during the winter months, this is the perfect place to view the northern lights.

8 Akureyri

Akureyri is located on the northern coast of the country and is one of the highlights of the drive. When driving nonstop from Reykjavík, it only takes about 4-5 hours to get to the town, but with stops along the way, it’s likely going to be the halfway point of the road trip.

Because of its location on the north coast, Akureyri is a beautiful destination for whale watching and viewing the aurora borealis. November to March is the best time for whale watching when it’s possible to see orcas and humpback whales here.

7 Mývatn Nature Baths

In the north of Iceland, there are natural thermal baths that have the same milky blue water as the Blue Lagoon. The Mývatn Nature Baths are heated naturally by the hot springs in the area and are a beautiful spot to spend an afternoon on this journey.

There is an entry fee to enjoy this natural spa-like experience. The price of a single adult ticket ranges from 5700 to 5900 ISK (approximately 43-45 USD), depending on what time of year travelers are visiting.

Related: Dos And Don’ts When Visiting Iceland For The First Time

6 Höfn and Vatnajökull Glacier

Höfn is a town located on the eastern side of Iceland and is a picturesque spot to spend a night. Höfn is a fishing village with quaint homes, colorful boats in the harbor, and breathtaking landscapes surrounding it. It’s also the place to catch a glimpse of Vatnajökull, the second-largest glacier in Europe. It covers 8% of Iceland’s land area. Popular activities on the glacier include snowmobiling, ice walks, and dog sledding.

5 Diamond Beach

The Diamond Beach in Iceland (also called Fellsfjara) is unlike any other beach in the world. The black sand is dotted with iceberg fragments that make their way to the shore. When they glisten in the sun, they have a diamond-like appearance, which is how this beach earned its name.

While it’s not an ideal swimming spot, walking along the beach in rain or sunshine is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that visitors to Iceland should add to their itinerary.

4 Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

The Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon is just across from Diamond Beach on the southeastern side of Iceland. Jökulsárlón is a glacial lake filled with melted water from the outlet glacier, Breiðamerkurjökull.

The glacial lagoon has many chunks of the iceberg floating in its crystal blue waters that break off from the glacier. Taking a kayak tour at Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon should be at the top of travelers’ Icelandic bucket lists.

3 Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

As visitors near the end of their ring road journey, they come across the most famous black sand beach in Iceland, Reynisfjara. It’s located near the small village of Vik and ranked in National Geographic’s Top 10 Non-Tropical Beaches in the World in 1991.

Icelanders love mythology, and one such tale is that the jagged cliffs that can be seen from the beach, emerging from the ocean, were once trolls. This beach is not a great swim spot due to the massive waves. Instead, enjoy a scenic walk or picnic on the sand with epic views.

2 Seljalandsfoss

There are plenty of impressive waterfalls to see along Iceland’s Ring Road but Seljalandsfoss stands out from the rest. It’s possible to view the falls from in front and behind the water, providing a unique experience that’s not available at other waterfalls in the country.

Seljalandsfoss is 60 meters tall and looks beautiful year-round. During the summer it’s surrounded by green hills and orange sunsets. In winter, the icy landscape and the crashing water are just as breathtaking.

Related: Visiting Iceland? Here Are Some Places You Need To See

1 Blue Lagoon

Although the Blue Lagoon is a tourist hot spot, it’s gained popularity for a reason. A trip to Iceland isn’t complete without spending a few hours soaking in these vibrant blue mineral waters and lathering up in a silica mud mask. There are lockers on-site for travelers to store their belongings while swimming and guests receive a wristband on entry which they use to access their locker and pay for drinks at the bar in the lagoon.

Due to its location on the ring road, the Blue Lagoon is the ideal last stop on the journey. It’s a short drive from Keflavik airport, so travelers can relax in the lagoon for a day before dropping their rental car off and catching a flight home.