My thought: it's like the Isle of Skye on steroids. (If you've been to the Isle of Skye, that statement will floor you.) The landscape is dramatic and diverse and unlike anywhere else in the world. There are volcanoes and lava fields, glaciers and glacial lagoons, geysers and hot springs, mountains and plateaus. Steam rises up from the earth and cloud formations seem to reach the ground. If nature is what you want to see, Iceland is an absolute must.
However, if you want to meet Icelanders and have a low-to-the-ground cultural experience, it's more challenging than most countries.
Driving the full ring road is a classic Iceland road trip but at over 800 miles, or more than 1300 km, it requires at least a couple of weeks to cover well. Yes, it's only about 14 hours of driving, but if you want to do more than just see the landscape fly by, and want to spend a few days in the capital city of Reykjavik, I would recommend 12-14 days.
We had 8 full days in Iceland so we focused our trip on the southeast coast.
-started in Reykjavik. - drove to Kirkjubejarklaustur on our arrival day. - spent two days and three nights in that area exploring. As you can see on the map, we went farther east to Jokulsarlon and beyond to a museum celebrating forbergssetur, an Icelandic author. - went to Geyser for two nights. I don't have an alternative for you but I don't think it was the best place to stay. There's not much there except for the geysers, which are pretty cool, and hiking. Gullfoss is close by. It is on what is called the Golden Circle in Iceland which basically covers highlights accessible from Reykjavik.
- stopped in Reykjavik for three nights. It's a small city with lots of tourist shopping. But there are also museums and a spectacular concert hall. Check out Reykjavik Culture Travel for some of their options.