Take a road trip along the ring road of Iceland to its most beautiful regions like East Iceland.

The Best Itineraries in Iceland | Self-Drive Summer and Winter Adventures

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Gullfoss waterfall in the Golden Circle is breathtaking to see up close.Find the best itineraries in Iceland. Learn about the self-drive tour packages that will take you to the most beautiful and diverse places. Plan your trip to Iceland today and choose from our wide selection of summer to winter adventures.

Planning your travel to Iceland can be very fun and exciting. The Nordic island nation, also known as the land of fire and ice, offers many spectacular sceneries you can’t find anywhere else. 

With its diverse natural beauty, from thousands of waterfalls to more than a hundred volcanoes, touring Iceland for just one day is rarely enough. Most travelers want at least five days to explore its best sites, whether from the capital city of Reykjavik or the remote Eastfjords region.

To help you prepare for the ultimate Iceland getaway and narrow your options, Guide to Iceland created this list of itineraries you can book and follow. These detailed self-drive itineraries include your car rental, accommodation, tours, and a thorough plan provided by local experts.

 

 

Are Self-Drive Tours in Iceland Worth It?

Take a road trip along the ring road of Iceland to its most beautiful regions like East Iceland.Self-drive tours are the rage these days in the tourism industry, especially in Iceland. Travelers who prefer a more customized and personalized travel experience are enjoying the advantages of choosing this type of tour.

Contrary to some beliefs, a self-drive tour remains a type of organized tour. Although you drive and travel alone or with your companion, a tour company prepares the itinerary for you. For example, the best tour companies in Iceland will organize a travel package days or weeks before you arrive in the country.

Additionally, it’s valuable to know that Guide to Iceland can tailor itineraries to your budget and interests to lay out the best journey for you. The tour packages provide just as much freedom as renting a car and finding the best accommodation in Iceland, but without the additional research needed to plan an extensive itinerary.

While the itineraries below are self-drive tours, there are also excellent guided tours in Iceland that cater to your travel needs and desires. These are led by an expert guide, who will lead your excursion and give you additional information you might otherwise miss.

 

 

What is Included in Icelandic Self-Drive Tours?

For summer and winter self-drive tours, accommodation in different hotels is already included. You can choose from the budget, comfort, and quality levels. While budget accommodation usually has shared bathroom facilities and sometimes shared rooms, comfort and quality have private rooms, bathrooms, and often complimentary breakfast.

While booking, you can also choose the car rental you want, from budget to luxury manual and automatic vehicles to 2WD and 4WD transmissions. However, some winter and highland tours will limit your options to 4WD cars because of the more challenging terrain caused by snow and ice.

Ultimately, Guide to Iceland and its partners provide travel packages and itineraries that cater to all types of Icelandic vacation needs. Whether you prefer a short weekend getaway in the Golden Circle or a more extended two-week northern lights road trip from Reykjavik, an exciting itinerary will match your Icelandic dream holiday. 

So what are you waiting for? Pack your summer or winter apparel now and head out to see the beautiful landscapes that Iceland offers to visitors.

 

 

Best Summer Itineraries in Iceland

The summer season, which runs from April to September, is the most popular time to visit Iceland. These months typically get the most visitors because of the relatively warmer weather. 

However, you may still need some layers of clothing when going outdoors because the temperature during summer in Iceland averages 50 to 59 F (10 to 15 C). 

As is the case for all travel journeys, taking a trip during the summer provides more opportunities for getting out and exploring. With Iceland’s midnight sun, you won’t be as restricted regarding daylight hours, as the sun does not set in June or July. 

Wild horses enjoying the summer season in Iceland.During these months, you can participate in several outdoor activities, providing the best time for sightseeing, hiking in the Icelandic Highlands, and whale watching from Reykjavik

The itineraries below offer an assortment of activities you can participate in during your visit.

The Three-Day Summer Itinerary in Reykjavik

The beautiful Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavik features a unique architectural design.If you are strapped for time, settling in to see the capital city and its surrounding attractions is your best option. On this three-day Reykjavik summer itinerary, you can see the vibrant Icelandic city, the Golden Circle, and the South Coast.

You will start in the capital city and explore landmarks such as the Hallgrimskirkja church, Harpa Concert Hall, and the Reykjavik harbor. Additionally, you will be in a prime location for taking a stroll down Laugavegur, Iceland’s most prominent shopping street.

Depending on the time you have during the three-day self-drive tour, you can drive to both the Golden Circle route and the South Coast. If not, you can visit one of the two to have more time to admire the attractions. Fortunately, both ways allow you to see an essential piece of Iceland in a short period. 

As you end your weekend getaway, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s most famous tourist attraction. Upon booking this tour, you can experience a geothermal bath in the lagoon by adding an entrance ticket.

 

 

The Five-Day Summer Itinerary of the Golden Circle and South Coast

If your travel plans permit you a few extra days to explore, extend your Icelandic vacation to include more attractions to visit and adventures to experience. This five-day summer itinerary of the Golden Circle and South Coast takes you on an unforgettable journey where you can chase waterfalls, hike on a glacier, and see icebergs on the iconic Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon

On the first day, you can stop for a dip in the legendary Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, known for its rich, healing mineral waters. After, you’ll head into Reykjavik to settle into your accommodation and explore the lively city.

On your second day, you will head toward the Golden Circle. One of the highlights of this travel route is the UNESCO world heritage site of Thingvellir National Park. You can add on a snorkeling tour here to enjoy the crystal-clear waters in the Silfra fissure

The trip’s highlight is your time at the Vatnajokull National Park, the largest glacier in Europe. You can go hiking at the Skaftafell outlet glacier or go straight to the Jokulsaron glacier lagoon, the deepest lake in Iceland and 236 miles (380 kilometers) from Reykjavik.

Thousands of icebergs drift away in the stunning Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon.A boat ride is one of the best things to do at the glacier lagoon during summer. You can take a larger amphibian boat to glide past the icebergs floating around you or a smaller zodiac boat to get up close and personal with the icebergs themselves.

Your last day is up to your imagination! You can explore the Blue Lagoon again (or for the first time) or spend the day going through Reykjavik, shopping, visiting museums, or seeing the city’s beautiful parks.

 

 

The Ten-Day Summer Self-Drive Tour of the Ring Road of Iceland

What best way to spend your Nordic holiday than driving along the famous Ring Road of Iceland? On this 10-day summer tour of the Ring Road with waterfalls and glaciers, you will have an in-depth exploration of Iceland’s scenic regions.

After picking up your rental car at Keflavik International Airport, you’ll begin your self-guided journey in the land of fire and ice. You will start in Reykjavik to learn about its rich culture and historical landmarks. You may also purchase a Reykjavik city card to conveniently access the area’s museums, galleries, and parks.

The next three days are focused on locations near the capital, such as the Golden Circle and the South Coast. You will drive along the 190-mile (300-kilometer) loop of the Golden Circle to see its three major attractions, Thingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall.

Meanwhile, as you drive along the beautiful coastline of South Iceland, you’ll make stops in the must-see places of the region. 

Be amazed by the majestic Seljalandsfoss waterfall in the South Coast of Iceland.You’ll be able to explore Seljalandsfoss waterfall and a cavern on the cliffside. Nearby are two more majestic waterfalls, Gljufrabui and Skogafoss waterfalls. There’s also Dyrholaey, a huge rock arch big enough for boats to pass through. 

As you continue your Ring Road journey until the ninth day, you’ll head northwards to discover the awe-inspiring sites of North Iceland and the Lake Myvatn area. Myvatn is the fourth-largest lake in Iceland, with some of the most spectacular geological formations in the world, from the Dimmuborgir lava fields to the Grjotagja cave

Iceland’s Ring Road covers approximately 825 miles (1328 kilometers) of paved road. 

 

 

The 11-Day Ring Road and Eastfjords Summer Itinerary

If you wish to see the Ring Road but with more days away from rubbing shoulders with tourist crowds, then this Ring Road and Eastfjords summer tour is perfect for you.

Like the rest of Ring Road excursions, you’ll explore Reykjavik, the Golden Circle, South Coast, and the Vatnajokull National Park in the first few days. Apart from sightseeing, you also have the opportunity to experience top activities like horseback riding in South Iceland and glacier hiking at Skaftafell glacier.

The most notable feature of your journey is three days in the picturesque East Iceland region, where you can have a fantastic time seeing the most beautiful fjords of the land of fire and ice.

Djupivogur is a charming village in East Iceland.Make sure to stop by the peaceful villages in the Eastfjords, from Djupivogur to Seydisfjordur. These coastal towns are inhabited by only hundreds of locals, ensuring you a quiet time while surrounded by stunning natural scenery. Some landmarks you should notice are the Eggs of Merry Bay and Rainbow Street.

On the other hand, you can spend more of your hours driving and strolling around Egilsstadir, the capital of East Iceland. This Icelandic town is close to lesser-known yet great tourist spots like the Hallormsstadaskogur national forest and the Lagarfljot lake

Before driving back to Reykjavik on the 10th or 11th day, you will also visit North Iceland and West Iceland.

 

 

The Two-Week Summer Itinerary of the Whole Ring Road with the Westfjords and Snaefellsnes Peninsula

This epic two-week summer tour of the Ring Road with the Westfjords and Snaefellsnes Peninsula is the ultimate experience of the self-drive tours. For 14 days, you’ll rent a car and take a road trip through many beautiful landscapes in the land of ice and fire. 

The first week of your Icelandic tour is the time to drive from Reykjavik to North Iceland. This will include stops at the Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Skogafoss waterfalls, three of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. You will also visit the icy wilderness of the Solheimajokull glacier, where you can ice climb, glacier hike, or snowmobile.

You’ll have the opportunity to see many of Iceland’s most renowned sights, including the Blue Lagoon, the Reykjanes Peninsula, the magnificent village of Vik i Myrdal, Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, puffins along East Iceland, Lake Myvatn mysteries, and so much more.

A fascinating cliff in the Snaefellsnes peninsula.The highlight of your adventure is a week along the remote region of the Westfjords and the breathtaking Snaefellsnes Peninsula. You’ll find out why locals call Snaefellsnes “Iceland in miniature” because of its wealth of natural landscapes.

During this Icelandic holiday, you’ll have many opportunities to see the best of the Westfjords and the many locations that make it unique. You’ll have ample time to see attractions, including Borgarvirki natural fortress, the Hvitserkur monolith, and the Latrabjarg cliffs, where you can see millions of seabirds like puffins and arctic terns.

 

 

Best Winter Itineraries in Iceland

Iceland is like an entirely different country during winter, from November to March. The country transforms into a winter wonderland that attracts visitors from across the globe.

While the summer months provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy yourself while taking an Icelandic vacation in winter. There are also top activities in Iceland that you can enjoy more during the colder months.

The most popular thing to do in the Icelandic winter is northern lights hunting. These magical lights, also known as the aurora borealis, are breathtaking to see up close while snow-covered landscapes surround you. 

The northern lights are the main attraction of winter in Iceland.In addition, winter is also the best time to explore a natural ice cave in Iceland. During the colder months, glacier ice caves become more stable and safer to visit.

You should, however, note that several schedule elements of add-on activities will depend on availability and weather conditions. For context, these activities are often part of guided packages, so availability can fill up quickly. 

In addition, as is the case when it comes to winter weather in all areas of the world, keep an eye on any cancellations or severe alerts that come through the immediate place where you are staying. Navigating new terrain in treacherous conditions can be difficult in a foreign country.

If you wish to experience the best winter adventure in Iceland, below are five itineraries you should consider. While these routes are similar to the summer itineraries, the activities, adventures, and overall experience differ slightly.

 

 

The Four-Day Winter Itinerary in Reykjavik with Glacier Adventures

Having a short stopover in Iceland has never been as exciting as this four-day winter itinerary in Reykjavik. Travelers who want to see the capital city of Iceland and its nearby sites will enjoy the sightseeing and activities included in this self-drive tour.

Like the summer itineraries and all self-drive tours, you will get your rented car at the Keflavik Airport area. From there, you’ll start your 28-miles (45-kilometer) journey to Reykjavik, with an opportunity to stop at the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.

Reykjavik transforms into a wonderland during winter in Iceland.During your four-day trip, you can dedicate your first and last day to roaming around Reykjavik. The beautiful city has fascinating attractions like the Hallgrimskirkja church and Perlan museum. You can also tour the downtown area to visit some of the best restaurants in Reykjavik.

During this travel journey, opportunities are available to marvel at the top attractions near Reykjavik and participate in glacier hiking and Silfra snorkeling. You can do these add-on activities while visiting the Golden Circle and the South Coast.

 

 

The Five-Day Winter Itinerary of the Golden Circle and South Coast

A fantastic opportunity to see the northern lights of Iceland is during this five-day winter tour in the Golden Circle and the South Coast. The attractions on these travel routes look exceptional during winter, especially when partially covered by snow.

In the Golden Circle, Strokkur geyser is one of the main attractions. Its eruption of superheated water 66 feet (20 meters) into the air is a sight to behold in contrast with the snowy plains around it. This dramatic show happens every five to 10 minutes, so you’re sure to witness it bursting during your stay.

Witness a dramatic eruption of Strokkur geyser in the Golden Circle.Meanwhile, on the South Coast, don’t miss the chance to see Reynisfjara beach, Iceland’s most famous black sand beach. The Icelandic beach has a long stretch of volcanic sands, basalt columns, and sea stacks continuously pounded by massive Atlantic waves.

Other places of interest during your itinerary are Jokulsarlon lagoon, Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, and Skaftafell glacier. You can also add optional activities like ice caving, buggy tours, and glacier hiking.

 

 

The Seven-Day North Iceland Winter Self-Drive Tour of the Golden Circle and North Iceland

Godafoss waterfall is one of the highlights of North Iceland.If you have seven days available on your calendar, taking part in this week-long winter tour of the Golden Circle and North Iceland allows you to self-guide your way through the Ring Road and Diamond Circle route of Iceland.

After exploring Reykjavik on your first day, you’ll slowly drive to Akureyri, the capital of North Iceland, 240 miles (387 kilometers) away. You’ll be able to visit the Christmas House or see some areas of the Akureyri Botanical Gardens with over 7,000 plant species while in town.

Your trip will also take you to see the lava field of Dimmuborgir, known in English as the “dark fortress.” These are black pillars and caves that dominate the lava field.

Hraunfossar waterfall flows on a large area of lava fields in West Iceland.As you continue exploring the Diamond Circle route, take time to see Dettifoss and Godafoss waterfalls. While the Dettifoss waterfall is hailed as the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Gofafoss is a beautiful attraction with a fascinating history. The fishing village of Husavik, where you can see the Whale Museum, is also nearby.

Before returning to Reykjavik, you’ll have time to explore West Iceland. You can stop to see two waterfalls, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss, and Deildartunguhver, the largest hot spring in Europe.

 

 

The Ten-Day Winter Itinerary of the Whole Ring Road and Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Travelers who want to see Iceland in its full glory during winter will enjoy the itinerary of this ten-day self-drive tour of the whole Ring Road and Snaefellsnes peninsula

In addition to renting a car, your tour will start in Keflavik, in the southwest of Iceland. On day one, you can head straight to Reykjavik or explore the black lava fields in Reykjanes Geopark. You can also book a stop at the Blue Lagoon to enjoy its mineral-rich hot pools.

Although driving along the Ring Road will let you see the most beautiful places in Iceland, the highlight of this package is the Snaefellsnes peninsula.

This 56-mile (90-kilometer) long peninsula is completely different in winter. The most notable attraction in the area is the glacier-capped Snaefellsjokull volcano, which you can see even from afar as it towers at 4744 feet (1446 meters).

Kirkjufell mountain is easy to recognize because of its remarkable peak.Other must-see tourist spots in Snaefellsnes are Kirkjufell mountain, Londrangar basalt cliffs, Budir black church, and Arnarstapi village. Fans of the popular TV series Game of Thrones will recognize the spectacular Kirkjufell as the “arrowhead mountain.”

During the rest of your tour, you’ll visit the Golden Circle, South Coast, and the Vatnajokull National Park. Towards the end, you can take in the beauty of Kirkjubaejarklaustur village and visit the frozen waterfall Systrafoss or swim in Iceland’s oldest swimming pool, Seljavallalaug in South Iceland.

 

 

The Two-Week Winter Itinerary of the Whole Ring Road and Snaefellsnes Peninsula

This 14-day Ring Road and northern lights self-drive tour offers an epic holiday that encompasses all exciting Icelandic travel plans. This tour is for locals and international travelers who want the ultimate winter experience in the land of fire and ice.

Like any Route 1 or Ring Road tour around Iceland, you’ll have a road trip near the coastline of the Nordic country. From Keflavik and Reykjavik, you’ll slowly drive to the Snaefellsnes peninsula, North Iceland, the Eastfjords, then to the Vatnajokull National Park, South Coast, and finally to the Golden Circle.

While on a sightseeing expedition, you can also include optional activities to make it memorable. You could go horseback riding, ice climbing or caving, snowmobiling, whale watching, or even take a helicopter tour in Iceland.

During your self-drive winter tour in Iceland, you'll have plenty of chances to see the aurora borealis.The highlight and most awaited part of your journey are seeing Iceland’s magical northern lights. Each night you spend on the road presents the best opportunity for northern lights spotting. 

The aurora borealis is a natural phenomenon, so its appearance during your tour is not guaranteed. Fortunately, Iceland is one of the best places to see it, so with the right conditions and a bit of luck, you’ll see the lights shining above you before your flight back home.

 

 

Which Itinerary in Iceland Should I Pick?

While this list incorporates the best itineraries in Iceland, that doesn’t mean they are the perfect fit for you and your travel needs. Instead, prospective travelers must make that decision in combination with various elements that pertain specifically to you and your situation.

Winter is the best time to see a natural ice cave in Iceland.

How Long Do I Have?

You need to consider your time available for travel. If you only have five days to devote to an itinerary, that instantly reduces the number of options you can choose from on the list. 

Size of Your Travel Party

If you are traveling alone, you don’t need to consider anyone else’s interests when visiting Iceland. However, suppose you are embarking on this adventure with one or more people, it’s necessary to consider their travel desires and the excursions fit for your number.

Physical Restrictions

Suppose you or anyone in your group have physical limitations, you can consider an itinerary with an appropriate amount of activities that those with restrictions can participate in during the trip. 

Additionally, if traveling with children, consider which itinerary best fits their interests and tolerance level. A minimum age requirement is also included on the itineraries and the optional activities to provide guidelines for family planning and safety levels.

Experience an unforgettable geothermal bath at the Blue Lagoon as an add-on in your self-drive tour.

Comfort Level

If you are a solo traveler who hasn’t traveled frequently in the past, you may not be up to tackling a long trip with many challenging elements. For example, if you want a self-drive tour, you may feel better choosing a shorter itinerary (such as the three-day Reykjavik option).

Cost

Keep in mind that looking at the cost associated with each itinerary isn’t the overall total price. You must also consider other travel fees during planning, including food and gas. 

If your budget only allows you to entertain half of the itinerary options on the list, this can help to drill down further on which schedule to choose for your upcoming trip. 

Driving around Iceland can be one of the most memorable travels you'll have in life.We hope this list helps you plan your first or next travel to Iceland. If you have booked and tried out any of these tour packages, let us know in the comments how your experience was. Don’t forget to mention your favorite Icelandic attractions and activities you enjoyed while exploring the land of fire and ice.