No road trip would be complete without catchy tunes to sing along with. Just you, your friends, the open road, and views of diverse and stunning landscapes. If you are coming to Iceland for any period of time, you have to get out of Reykjavik and explore the countryside. It’s a must. There are certain essentials required for every road trip such as games and snacks. But one of the best ways to feel relaxation and freedom while you travel is through a great list of road trip songs.
Best Road Trip Songs
I’ve compiled the best songs to listen to on an Icelandic road trip. To help you along your way, I have polled my friends, I’ve spoken with researchers at top laboratories, and I’ve even consulted a medium, on which song will perfectly match the mood of your Icelandic journey. These types of trips are the perfect getaway, and offer us a great opportunity to go on an adventure.
Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild
This is the quintessential road trip song. Just about every movie that has ever had a road trip montage, they probably sample from this song. As you finish packing up your car and you are all set to go, roll down the windows, feel the breeze in your hair, play Born To Be Wild, and head straight for the Icelandic countryside. There is no better song to listen to while you make your way out of Reykjavik. Listen here
Sheryl Crow – Every Day Is A Winding Road
Sheryl Crow after Steppenwolf?! I know, I know. Its unconventional, but so is Iceland. Crow’s lyrics in this song perfectly match the sense and adventure you get when you finally leave the city behind (and what sometimes feels like civilization) and cruise along into unknown territory. Listen here.
Smokey Robinson – Cruisin’
Smokey Robinson offers a nice departure from the two previous selections. There is an art to making a great road trip playlist; you have to let the music ebb and flow. Also, it doesn’t hurt to surprise your co-pilots. It will keep the conversation lively, and will probably spark the retelling of some kind of story. I actually listened to this song driving along the black sand beaches near Vík. I highly recommend you do the same. Listen here.
U2: Where The Streets Have No Name
Moving right along we have U2’s catchy and captivating, all-time great single, Where The Streets Have No Name. This song pairs perfectly with Cruisin’, because it picks up with the same gentle melody, and then gradually ratchets things up from there. Great song to help you get lost in thought as you watch lava fields and waterfalls pass you by. A truly great song to build a sense of adventure for your Icelandic road trip. Listen here.
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
I may be dating myself, but I always think of Wayne’s World when I hear this song come on the radio. In the movie, Wayne and company are crammed into a little jalopy, which resembles an RC car more than a functioning automobile, and they perfectly lip-sync the entire piece. Bohemian Rhapsody exists in the distinguished realm of songs that can make anyone belt their hearts out. The sheer scale and size of the sonic landscape Queen creates is sure to make anyone giddy. This tune is especially great to listen to if you are driving through the Western Fjords. The sizzling guitar riffs match the steep mountains in the area. Listen here.
Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run
The Boss, Bruce Springsteen. There is a reason they call him the Boss. His music has an innate visceral emotion tied to it. I think it’s because Springsteen is particularly deft at tapping into his own emotions and conveying them through music. This choice is tailor-made for driving. The imagery and lyrics are rooted in exploration and a sense of movement. Pop this on if you need to liven the mood, or to match the epic scale of your picturesque surroundings. I prefer to listen to this classic ballad around dusk. Listen here.
Martha & The Vandellas – Dancing in the Streets
Even though the lyrics are deeply rooted in American culture, this song is so catchy that it is universal. Also, I am pretty sure it is impossible to be sad while this song is playing. Martha & The Vandellas will brighten up any gloomy overcast Icelandic driving days for you and your trip companions. Turn this song up to eleven and let her vocals warm your soul. I would also like to add that this, for me, is one of those songs where you know 40% of the lyrics, but you still try to sing the whole thing anyway. I never succeed, but always have fun doing it. Listen here.
Tom Cochrane – Life Is a Highway
There is literally no explanation needed on this one. Life is a highway, go ride it all night long. Family Guy fans can listen to the Tom Cochrane version here and Cars fans can listen to the Rascal Flatts version here.
Counting Crows – Mr. Jones
I’ve heard that the story behind the lyrics are based in the unfortunate truth that fame isn’t all that its cracked up to be. The words to this song may have arisen from stark and troubling realizations, but all it makes me want to do is sing and dance, even when behind the wheel. Just about everyone will recognize this song instantly, and it will have your passengers reeling with memories of when they first heard it. The somber mood of the lyrics combined with the catchy melody makes it a great accompaniment to Iceland’s otherworldly landscapes. Listen here.
Rusted Root – Send Me On My Way
Nothing is better than ending a day of endlessly winding Nordic roads, than with a little Rusted Root. This song instills a sense of adventure and wonder in everyone who hears it. Whenever I hear this song, I instantly start seeing my life in terms of travel montages and close-ups. The very nature of this song is cinematic and larger than life. Nothing matches Iceland’s landscapes better than this song. Listen here.
Road Trip Playlist Extras: Icelandic Bands
Of Monsters And Men – Little Talks
Of Monsters and Men gained regional fame when they won the annual battle of the bands’ competition in 2010, and their meteoric rise hasn’t stopped since. Little Talks is arguably one of the best, and catchy, songs to date. The loud, poppy intro is sure to wake you up during an early morning Icelandic drive. The ebb and flow of the melody, combined with the number of instruments featured, make this song a must listen to on any Icelandic road trip. Listen here.
Sigur Rós – Gobbledigook
Sigur Rós have established themselves as Iceland’s greatest avant-garde band for the better part of 25 years now. They are the only band I can think of, off the top of my head, that creates such dense and layered auditory landscapes. The beats and vocals all build from the beginning of each of their songs and eventually turns into a monstrous and powerful musical spectacle. And, this song, in particular, is arguably one of the best driving songs ever. Listen here.
Iceland Road Trip Essentials: A List of Car Songs
So, the elephant in the room. This isn’t a complete Icelandic playlist. More than likely you will be spending hours, if not days on the road carving through Iceland’s magical countryside. This is more of a template for any first timers to Iceland. I find that music that conveys a sense of adventure, combined in quick succession of songs with a totally different melody or rhythm work best for driving in Iceland. You want your music to match your landscape, and Iceland is so diverse you need to mix things up a bit. Let me know down below what your favorite road trip songs are.