10 Day Self Drive Tour | Best Ring Road Attractions with Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Make the most of your time in Iceland with this extensive 10-day, self-drive tour. Over the course of your adventure, you will discover all the popular natural wonders Iceland has to offer, and many sights you may not even know exist.
This self-drive package helps you save money without sacrificing anything! It circles the Ring Road, taking you around the whole country, including the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, the famous Golden Circle and a visit to the healing waters of the Blue Lagoon. Better yet, it offers full comfort, - your accommodation will always have an ensuite bathroom and breakfast is included.
Best of all, you choose where to drive, and when to leave. There are no bus schedules or impatient tour guides to worry about. You're free to spend as much time in each spot as you'd like.
At Guide to Iceland, we want you to experience the best of the natural beauty this country has to offer. We hope you’ll leave feeling revitalised and exhilarated by the beauty of the Icelandic landscape. To help with this, we've handpicked hidden locations across the land where you can be almost entirely alone, far from noisy people or busy streets. These are included in our travel plan, which you'll receive after you book.
Customise your vacation during booking so that it's exactly what you've been dreaming of. On your way around the Golden Circle, snorkel in the space between two Continental plates, go snowmobiling on Langjökull glacier or explore the inside of a volcanic magma chamber (if you're here between May and November). There is even the option to visit a natural ice cave in the Mýrdalsjökull glacier.
Furthermore, you can hike a glacier, or board a ship to see the giants of the deep in the whale-watching capital of Europe. You can also get the lay of the land with a horse riding trek, journey into dark lava caves, or even walk inside man-made channels within Langjökull glacier.
Check out how many stunning sights and activities you can see and do in Iceland on this amazing trip! Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: May. - Oct.
- Duration: 10 days
- Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkelling, Caving, Diving, ATV, Snowmobile, Horse Riding, Whale Watching, Sightseeing, Hot Spring Bathing, Bird watching, Ice Caving, Self drive
- Difficulty: Easy
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa and is the single most popular attraction in Iceland.
The water is rich in silica and sulphur that helps make your skin shine like a baby. The Blue Lagoon also operates a Research and Development facility that helps find cures for skin ailments using the mineral-rich water.
The temperature in the bathing and swimming area is very comfortable, and averages 37–39 °C (98–102 °F). There´s a restaurant there and it´s a truly romantic and beautiful place one should not miss while in Iceland.
Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and the northernmost capital of a sovereign state in the world.
Despite a small population (120.000 and more than 200.000 in the Greater Reykjavik area), it is a vibrant city that draws an ever increasing number of visitors. It is the financial, cultural and governmental centre of Iceland. It also has a reputation of being one of the cleanest and safest cities in the world.
The city of Reykjavik is located in southwest Iceland by the creek of the same name. Throughout the ages, the landscape has been shaped by glaciers, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and the area is geothermal. Much of the current city area area was subglacial during the Ice Age, with the glacier reaching as far as the Álftanes peninsula, while other areas lay under the sea. After the end of the ice age the land rose as the glaciers drifted away, and it began to take on its present form.
The coastline of Reykjavik is set with peninsulas, coves, straights and islands, most notably the island of Videy, and seabirds and whales frequent the shores. The mountain ring as seen from the shore is particularly beautiful. Mount Esja is the highest mountain in the vicinity of Reykjavik and lends its distinct feature to the whole area. This majestic mountain is also highly popular for climbing. Other notable mountains that can be seen from the seaside are Akrafjall and Skardsheidi and on clear days one may even see as far to the legendary Snaefellsjokull glacier, at the end of the Snafellsnes peninsula.
The largest river to run through the city is Ellidaa in Ellidaardalur valley, which is also one of Iceland‘s best rivers for salmon fishing.
There are no trains or trams in Iceland, but most people travel by car. The city also operates a bus system. There are two major harbours in town, the old harbour in the centre and Sundahofn in the east. The domestic Reykjavik Airport is located at Vatnsmyrin, not far from the city centre and close to Oskjuhlid and Perlan. The international Keflavik Airport at Midnesheidi heath then lies around 50 km from the city. Cars, jeeps and bicycles can be readily rented in the city and many organized tours are also being offered.
What to See & Do in Reykjavik
The local arts scene is strong in Iceland, with both annual events and single ones, many of whom have hit the international stage. For the annual ones please check our articles Best Annual Events in Iceland and the Top Ten Festivals in Iceland. Major events taking place in Reykjavik include the Iceland Airwaves, Gay Pride, RIFF (The Reykjavik International Film Festival), The Reykjavik Literature Festival, Cultural Night, the Reykjavik Arts Festival, Food & Fun, the Reykjavik Fashion Festival and the Sónar music festival.
Among famous people from Reykjavik are artists Bjork Gudmundsdottir, Sigur Ros, writers Halldor Laxness (born in Laugavegur) and Arnaldur Indridason and mayor Jon Gnarr. For more well-known and fairly-well known Icelanders, check our article on the subject.
You might also want to check our article on some of the many things to see and do in Reykjavik, such as visiting the city‘s many museums, exhibitions and galleries, checking out live music, visiting the Harpa music hall or the theatres, visiting the lighthouse at Grotta, the main shopping street of Laugavegur, visiting the old harbour and the flea market, going on a bird- and whale watching tour or visiting Videy island. We also have a top ten list of things to do.
Make sure to visit the public square of Austurvollur, one of the city‘s most popular gathering places, where you‘ll also find the national parliament, Althingi, the state church a statue of independence hero Jon Sigurdson, as well as cafés, bars and restaurants. Austurvollur was central in the 2008 protests, along with Laekjargata, home to the House of Government. You are also not likely to miss the great church of Hallgrimskirkja that towers over the city from the hill of Skolavorduholt, wherefrom you‘ll get a great view of the city.
Try a walk by the city pond, greet the many birds that frequent the area and visit the city hall, stationed by its banks. The Hljomaskalagardur is a beautiful park that lies by the pond, it ideal for a nice walk and sometimes concerts get held there. Further off is the campus of the university of Iceland, the Nordic house and the Vatnsmyri wetland, a particularly pleasant place, but be mindful of not disturbing the wildlife there and keep to the pathways.
For a nice swim on a warm day, we particularly recommend Nautholsvik beach.
Visit the Laugardalur valley, home to one of the city‘s best swimming pools, as well as the Asmundarsafn gallery, a beautiful botanical garden and a domestic zoo. A walk by the Aegissida beach, with it‘s old fishing sheds, in the west part of Reykjavik also holds a particular charm. The aforementioned Elllidaardalur valley is also a popular resort.
Another place that offers one of the city‘s best (and free) views is Perlan, up in Oskjuhlid hill. The hill itself is a popular resort, with over 176.000 trees and great opportunities for walking and cycling.
Travel to Alftanes to see the president‘s house at Bessastadir, which is also a historical site in it‘s own right, having been the educational centre of Iceland for centuries. Nearby is a beautiful lava field, Galgahraun, well worth a visit, though there is currently an environmental struggle going on as to it‘s future state.
The city is furthermore a short drive from many of Iceland‘s major attractions, most famously the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon. In close vicinity you‘ll also find the Heidmork preservation area, a favourite pastime resort of the people of Reykjavik, as well as the Blue Mountains, one of Iceland‘s most beloved skiing venues.
Check our Best of Reykjavik guide further for tips on the best cheap things to do in Reykjavik, some of the best restaurants in the city, happy hours, the top ten value places to eat and our two articles on the famous Reykjavik nightlife; Nightlife in Reykjavik and Nightlife and mating.
Finally, we‘d like to stress that these are only some suggestions of the many things you might check out in Reykjavik. Whatever you choose to do, we hope you‘ll be able to make the most of your visit and we wish you a pleasant stay in our capital.
Akureyri, ‘The Capital of the North’ is a town in the fjord Eyjafjordur in North Iceland. It lies just 100 km away from the Arctic Circle. It is Iceland’s second-largest urban area with a population of about 17,800.
Akureyri is an important fishing centre and port, but in the last few years tourism, industry, higher education and services have become the fastest growing sectors of the economy.
An international airport is located about 3 km from the center. A large number of cruisers also stop at Akureyri. One of Iceland's best skiing sites is found by Akureyri, at Hlidarfjall.
Traditionally Akureyri has survived on fisheries and some of Iceland’s largest fishing companies, like for example Samherji, have their headquarters there. Other large companies include Brim, Nordurmjolk, and Vifilfell hf, the largest brewery in Iceland.
FSA/Akureyri Hospital is a major employer in the area and is one of two major hospitals in Iceland.
Akureyri has excellent facilities for travelers and is located a short drive from many of Iceland’s top natural, cultural and historical attractions.
Nature & Landscape
Akureyri is surrounded by mountains, the highest one being Kerling (1538 m). The area around it has rich agriculture and a beautiful mountain ring.
The innermost part of the fjord, Pollurinn ('The Pool') further lends the town a special character. The climate in Akureyri is generally very pleasant.
The islands Hrisey in the middle of Eyfjordur and Grimsey, straddling the Artic Circle, both belong to the municipality of Akureyri. Hrisey is often called 'The Pearl of Eyjafjordur' and Grimsey 'The Pearl of the Artic' and these beautiful and peaceful islands are highly popular with travelers.
History & Culture
During World War II the town was an important site for the Allies and the town grew considerably after the war, as people increasingly moved to urban areas.
Akureyri has a strong cultural scene, with several bars and renowned restaurants. Folk culture in general is more prevalent there than in Reykjavik. During the summer there are several notable festivals in Akureyri and its surroundings.
Sites of interest in Akureyri include the brand-new Hof concert hall and Akureyri’s many museums, The Nature Museum, Nonnahus, a.k.a. Jon Sveinsson Memorial Museum, for the writer, David's house or David Stefansson Memorial Museum, for the poet, Akureyri Art Museum.
Akureyri also has several churches, Akureyrarkirkja being the most notable, as well as beautiful botanical gardens. The old town is particularly charming, ideal for a nice walk.
Jökulsárlón is Iceland’s most famous glacier lagoon. Conveniently located in the southeast by Route 1, about halfway between the Skaftafell Nature Reserve and Höfn, it is a popular stop for those travelling along the South Coast or around the circular ring road of the country.
It stands out, however, due to the fact that it also fills with icebergs breaking from the glacier, some of which tower several stories high.
These icebergs, other than their scale, are notable for their colouration. Although they are, as expected, largely white, most are also dyed electric blue in part, with black streaks of ash from eruptions centuries past.
When the icebergs finally make it across the lagoon, they either drift out to sea or wash up on the nearby shore. Because of the way they glisten against the black sands of Breiðamerkursandur, this area has been nicknamed ‘the Diamond Beach’.
In spite of being a rather recent formation, Jökulsárlón is the deepest lake in the country, with depths reaching 248 metres. With a surface area of 18 square kilometres, it is also growing to be one of the largest.
Jökulsárlón has not been around since Iceland’s settlement; it only formed around 1935. This was due to rapidly rising temperatures in the country from the turn of the twentieth century; since 1920, Breiðamerkurjökull has been shrinking at a dramatic rate, and the lagoon has begun to fill its space.
Today, the expansion of Jökulsárlón is accelerating. As recently as 1975, it was just 8 square kilometres, and now that size has more than doubled.
In the relatively near future, it is expected that the lagoon will continue to grow until it becomes a large, deep fjord.
Though a dark omen for Iceland’s glaciers and ice caps in general, the retreat of Breiðamerkurjökull has resulted in an incredibly beautiful, if temporary, site. This has not been overlooked by Hollywood.
Jökulsárlón has been featured in the James Bond films A View to Kill in 1985 and Die Another Day in 2002, 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and 2005’s Batman Begins.
In 2017, Jökulsárlón was enveloped into the Vatnajökull National Park, thus it is now fully protected by Icelandic law.
Because of the wealth of herring and capelin that the tides bring into the lagoon, Jökulsárlón is somewhat of a hot-spot for Iceland’s wildlife.
In summer, it is a nesting site for Arctic Terns; stay well away from this area, as these birds are notorious for the fierceness with which they protect their eggs, dive-bombing the heads of any they see as a threat. Skuas also nest on the lake’s shores in this season.
Seals can be reliably spotted here throughout the year, swimming amongst or else hauling out on the icebergs. Jökulsárlón provides them with a safe haven to rest and socialise, especially considering the waters of southeast Iceland are renowned for their population of orcas.
Dimmuborgir (e. ‘Black Forts') is a large area of chaotic lava, situated right east of Lake Myvatn, in North Iceland. With its dramatic view, Dimmuborgir is one of Iceland's most popular attractions.
The area is composed of various volcanic caves and rock formations, reminiscent of an ancient collapsed citadel. In folklore the Dimmuborgir lava field has been connected with hell, Satan was to have landed there after being cast from heaven and the Norwegian symphonic black metal band derives its name from the region.
Husavik in Skjalfandi Bay in North Iceland is called the whale watching capital of the world.
Whale watching is highly recommended from Húsavík and visiting the village whale museum. Other places that visitors might like to visit are the wooden Húsavíkurkirkja church, built in 1907, and the civic museum for culture and biology, which amongst other things features a stuffed polar bear and ancient boats, bearing witness to the history of seafaring in Iceland.
In Húsavík you'll find cute cafés and restaurants offering tasty treats, and you'll have a gorgeous view over the Skjálfandi Bay from this small town of about 2,000 inhabitants.
Ásbyrgi Canyon is a horseshoe-shaped depression in the northeast of Iceland, found only fifty miles east of Húsavík along the popular Diamond Circle route.
This beloved natural feature measures approximately 3.5km in length and 1.1km in width, making up only a small part of the extensive and dramatic Vatnajökull National Park. Visitors to Ásbyrgi will quickly take note of the canyon’s 100m high cliff faces, as well as the thick woodland of birch and willow below, creating an area quite unlike that found anywhere else across Iceland. Other tree species include spruce, larch and pine, and there is a small lake called Botnstjörn which visitors can hike to. One of the canyon's most distinctive features is Eyjan ("The Island"), a 25m rock formation that divides Ásbyrgi for almost half its length.
Formation and Folklore
Geologists estimate that Ásbyrgi Canyon began to form roughly 8 - 10,000 years ago, just after the last Ice Age, following a catastrophic glacial flooding of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river. This flooding likely occurred due to a volcanic eruption beneath the ice-cap, Vatnajökull glacier. Later, only 3000 years ago, this process repeated itself, further sculpting the soul-stirring, spectacular gorge that we know and love today.
With that being said, Icelandic folklore dictates an alternative theory. Given the canyon’s horseshoe shape, legend has it that Odin’s eight-legged steed, Sleipnir, placed one of his feet on the ground here, leaving a deep imprint on the earth. Ever since, a wealth of art and literature has depicted Sleipnir as Ásbyrgi’s true creator. Other myths claim that Ásbyrgi is the capital city and true home to Iceland’s ‘hidden people’, the Huldufólk and elves; self-professed psychics have claimed that they can see and hear these mystical beings living in cracks and ravines of the canyon.
Thankfully, a number of other fascinating attractions are easily accessible from Ásbyrgi Canyon. One could visit Hljóðaklettar, a strange and enchanting cluster of columnar rock formations located in the neighbouring Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. Nearby, there is also Europe’s most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss, a striking and mighty spectacle for any observer; glacial water from the Jökulsá á Fjöllum cascades 44m over the lip of the falls, culminating in a misty, roaring spray.
The video below shows one of Iceland’s most famous post-rock bands, Sigur Ros, who chose to play an outdoor concert at Ásbyrgi in 2006, only adding to the area’s rich and ethereal atmosphere. This and the rest of their performances can be seen in the film Heima (2007).
Dettifoss, in the glacier river Jokulsa á Fjollum, flowing from the glacier Vatnajokull, is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
This thunderous fall has an average waterflow of 193 m3 per second. It is 100 meters (330 ft.) wide and plummets 45 meters (150 ft.) down to Jokulsargljufur canyon.
Skogafoss is one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls of the island with an astounding width of 25 meters and a drop of 60 meters.
This is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland for travellers to visit. It is located in South Iceland, not far from Skogar, which itself features a highly interesting regional museum. Due to the amount of spray the waterfall often produces a single or double rainbow on sunny days.
Seljalandsfoss in the river Seljalandsa in South Iceland is one of the most sought waterfalls in the country.
Seljalandsfoss has a narrow cascade but is one of Iceland's highest waterfalls, at 63 meters. The waterfall is highly picturesque and has the rare distinction that one can actually walk behind it.
Geysir is a famous hot spring in Haukadalur valley in South Iceland. Part of the ‘Golden Circle', Geysir gives its name to hot springs all over the world.
Though Geysir itself is hardly active anymore, the area features spectacular hot springs such as the powerful Strokkur, which spouts a vast amount of water every 10 minutes, around 15-20 meters into the air, Smidur and Litli-Strokkur.
North of Geysir are fumaroles, i.e. unlike the hot springs that emit hot water, only steam and gas emanate from these. You may be able to observe bright yellow stains at the fumaroles, this is native sulphur, which crystallizes from the steam. At the southern part of the geothermal area, called Thykkuhverir, you‘ll find various mud pots. Such mud pots are actually fumaroles that boil up through surface water/groundwater and may become steaming fumaroles during dry spells, rather than the usual boiling mud pots.
About 2 km from Geysir is an old preserved natural pool called Kúalaug. One can bathe in it and it has room for 3-5 people at a time, but care should be taken, as the area around the pool is very delicate. The temperature is 39-43°C, depending on how you are positioned in the pool. The water is slightly muddy, as the pool is built on soil, and the bottom is slippery due to algae, so caution is advised.
In Haukadalur there has also been tree planting in recent times and today the forest Haukadalsskógur is one of the largest in South Iceland. Aspen, various types of pine, and other plants have been tried out there and experiments and research continue. We also recommend visiting the tree museum, built in the memory of forester Gunnar Freysteinsson. There are good paths and roads in the forest and the wood is specially designed to accommodate wheelchairs.
Haukadalur has been a church site since ancient time. The current wooden church was last rebuilt in 1938 but the variety and appearance of the church dates back to 1842, making it one of the oldest of its kind in Iceland.
Haukadalur is indeed a historical place. It was settled during the age of settlement and scholar Ari “The Wise“ Thorgilsson grew up there. The first pastoral school in Iceland was also built there.
For accommodation, Hotel Gullfoss is about 7 km from the Geysir area, and closer still is the Hotel Geysir.
Gullfoss (translated to ‘Golden Falls’) is one of Iceland’s most iconic and beloved waterfalls, found on the Hvítá river canyon in south Iceland. The water in Hvítá river travels from the glacier Langjökull, finally cascading 32m down Gullfoss’ two stages in a dramatic display of nature’s raw power.
Because of the waterfall’s two stages, Gullfoss should actually be thought of as two separate waterfalls. The first, shorter stage of the waterfall is 11m, whilst the second stage is 21m. The canyon walls on both sides of the waterfall reach heights of up to 70m, descending into the 2.5km long Gullfossgjúfur canyon (geologists indicate that this canyon was formed by glacial outbursts at the beginning of the last age.)
In the summer, approximately 140 cubic metres of water surges down the waterfall every second, whilst in winter that number drops to around 109 cubic metres. With such energy, visitor’s should not be surprised to find themselves drenched by the waterfall’s mighty spray-off.
In the early days of the last century, Gullfoss was at the centre of much controversy regarding foreign investors and their desire to profit off Iceland’s nature. In the year 1907, an English businessman known only as Howells sought to utilise the waterfall’s energy and harboured ambitions to use its energy to fuel a hydroelectric plant.
At the time, Gullfoss was owned by a farmer named Tómas Tómasson. Tómas declined Howell’s offer to purchase the land, stating famously “I will not sell my friend!” He would, however, go on to lease Howells the land, inadvertently beginning the first chapter of Icelandic environmentalism.
It was Tómas’ daughter, Sigríður Tómasdóttir, who would lead the charge. Having grown up on her father’s sheep farm, she sought to get the lease contract nullified, hurriedly saving her own money to hire a lawyer. The ensuing legal battle was an uphill struggle; the case continued for years, forcing Sigríður to travel many times by foot to Reykjavík if only to keep the trial moving. Circumstances became so difficult that Sigríður threatened to throw herself into the waterfall if any construction began.
Thankfully, in 1929, the waterfall fell back into the hands of the Icelandic people. Today, Sigríður is recognised for her perseverance in protecting Gullfoss and is often hailed as Iceland’s first environmentalist. Her contribution is forever marked in stone; a plaque detailing her plight sits at the top of Gullfoss.
Restaurant / Cafe
Besides Gullfoss, visitors can enjoy the views from Gullfoss Cafe, a locally run delicatessen that serves a wide variety of refreshments and meals. The menu has options to tantalise everyone’s taste buds; hot soups, sandwiches, salads and cakes. There is also a shop on site where visitors’ can browse and purchase traditional Icelandic souvenirs.
The 120 meter high promontory Dyrholaey is the southernmost part of the mainland, only a short drive south of the Ring Road. It offers a breathtaking view and features spectacular outcrops and rock formations.
A notable attraction is the massive arch that the sea has eroded from the heartland, giving the island its name (‘dyr’=door’). One daredevil pilot even flew through it!
Dyrholaey has an abundance of birdlife, the most common being puffins and eider ducks. You can also enjoy the black beach, where the waves can provide an impressive sight. As these can be very wild, we do however advise uttermost caution.
Thingvellir is one of the most important sites to visit in Iceland for its landscape, history and cultural value.
The Icelandic parliament was founded in Thingvellir in 930 and remained there for centuries.Thingvellir is surrounded by a beautiful mountain range and is the site of a rift valley, marking the crest of the Mid-Atlantic range. Today it is a natural park, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and considered a vital part of the ‘Golden triangle’ (with Geysir and Gullfoss). Of particular note is the magnificent gorge Almannagja, which marks the eastern boundary of the north American plate and into which the beautiful waterfall Oxararfoss falls.
Other notable attractions within the park include the beautiful lake Thingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland, the Silfra fissure, one of the world's top dives, and Gjabakkahellir, one of Iceland's most interesting lava tubes.
Snaefellsnes is a large peninsula extending to the west from West Iceland ending with a national park, Snaefellsjokull National Park, where the glacier towers over the scenery, as can sometimes be seen from Reykjavik, lending its beauty to the area.
The peninsula stretches over 100 km to the west as a mountain ridge that includes active volcanoes and is unique in the variety of mountains found.
A few small and beautiful villages are located on the south side and a few fishing villages are on the north side: Rif, Hellissandur, Olafsvik, Grundarfjordur and Stykkisholmur. The last one is highly popular for travelers, featuring a volcano museum and a ferry that takes you across the fascinating Breidafjordur bay to Brjanslaekur on the south border of the Westfjords.
Other museums you might want to check out are the Maritime Museum at Hellissandur, the regional museum Pakkhusid at Olafsvik, and, last but not least, the shark museum at Bjarnarhofn, indeed listed as the nr. 1 Snafellsnes attraction by Lonely Planet Travelers. Also, many of the Icelandic sagas take place at Snaefellsnes.
Snaefellsnes has an abundance of interesting sights. At the national park, you can witness the impressive lava formations of Djupalonssandur creek and test your strength on its four stones, see the two massive lava formations that compries Londrangar, explore the Saxholl volcanic crater and enjoy the echo of 'The Singing Cave', Songhellir. You may also hike on the majestic Snaefellsjokull glacier. The glacier has strong ties with folklore and was the setting for Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Other sights we can recommend at Snaefellsnes recommend include Raudfeldsgja canyon, east of the national park and the rugged and colourful Berserkjahraun lava field, near Bjarnarhofn, on the north side of the peninsula.
Last, but not least, Snaefellsnes is one of the main setting for Laxdaela saga. Chieftain Snorri godi, Gudrun Osvifursdottir, Bolli Thorlakssson all lived there as well as his namesake Bolli Bollason, the first West Norse member of the Varangian guard, an elite unit of the Byzantine army. Iceland's most famous mass murderer, Axlar-Bjorn, also lived at Snaefellsnes.
Hofn a Hornafirdi, is a fishing town in southeast Iceland, with a population of 1641 (as of 2011). It has a strong harbour and its main industries are fishing and tourism.
Of note are several interesting museums and the annual Humarhatid (lobster festival). The area is also rich and varied birdlife and migratory birds from Scotland land here around April and leave around August/September.
Borgarnes is a town of less than 2000 people, located on a peninsula at the shore of Borgarfjörður. It's a commerce centre for a large part of western Iceland.
Borgarnes' main industry is service and commerce. It is near to many natural attractions and the view over the fjord and its mountains is highly scenic. The river Hvítá runs through this valley but should not be confused with its namesake, which is the home of Gullfoss and one of Iceland's major rafting rivers. Among major cultural attractions of Borgarnes are the Settlement Centre and the Centre for Puppet Arts.
For those with children, or wanting to bring out their inner child, we recommend the Bjössaróló environmental playground which Björn Hjörtur Guðmundsson spent years developing, using salvaged materials for all the play equipment. Here you'll find slides built into the surrounding hillocks, many slings, a jungle gym, spinning top and several lookout points. There's also a castle, an old boat, seesaws and a climbing dome. Courting couples have also been attracted to the place. In short, it's renowned as the best playground in the country, a wonderland of endless fun activities. It further gives an excellent view of the sea, so guests can take in the breathtaking scenery.
Vik in Myrdalur valley is the southernmost village on the Icelandic mainland, located 186 km from the capital Reykjavik.
Vik is important as a service centre for the inhabitants and visitors of the marvellous Reynisfjara beach.
Reynisfjara is widely considered one of the most beautiful beaches on earth (see for example Islands Magazine). This black pebble beach boasts an amazing cliff of regular basalt columns called Gardar, which resembles a rocky step pyramid and out in the sea are the spectaculary shaped basalt sea stacks Reynisdrangar. The area has rich birdlife, including puffins, fulmars and guillemots.
Egilsstadir is the largest town in East Iceland, with a population of 2257 people as of 2011. It is located on the banks of the river Lagarfljot in the wide valley of the fertile Fljotsdalsherad district.
Egilsstadir is the main center for service, transportation and administration in East Iceland.
The town provides all basic services and features an airport, a college and a health center. Egilsstadir also has an annual jazz festival that we can recommend. The town is furthermore close to many of East Iceland's and indeed Iceland's main attractions and as a center of the area, many East Iceland tours are directed from there.
The area of Fljotsdalsherad has many notable points of interest, whether natural, historical or cultural. Click here for further information about those.
Siglufjordur is a town of about 1300 people, located it North Iceland. It is the northernmost town of the mainland. Along with its natural beauty, its Herring Era museum, Folk Music Museum and the annual Folk Music Festival attract ever more travelers.
Siglufjordur has one of Iceland's best harbours and the fishing industry has been the mainstay of the economy for a long time, but in recent years services have become and increased part of the economy. Since the tunnels through the fjord Hedinsfjordur opened in 2010 there has been a large increase in visits to the town, as the town indeed has much to offer for travelers.
History & culture
Siglufjordur has an eventful history and saw a steady rise in the 20th century, from being a tiny village in the early 1900s to becoming a town no later than as 1918. In the middle of the 20th century it was one of the largest towns in Iceland. For a long period it was the capital of herring fishing in the North Atlantic, and the town's cod fishing museum bears proud witness to this history. The old houses there are charming and its nice to take a stroll through the town and enjoy the architecture and the surrounding nature.
The Herring Era Museum is one of Iceland's largest seafaring- and industry museums in the country. The museum is split into three houses were one can learn about the fishing and its processing. One can see many ships and boats in the Boathouse, recreating the feel of the 50's. The salting station retains the old look of the place and on good summer days traveleres may observe the salting process in action and there is a dance. The old Grana factory shows how herring was transformed into meals and oil.
The Folk Music Center is located where the reverend Bjarni Thorsteinsson, 'The father of Siglufjordur', lived and brings the old folk songs to life. Here you can here recordings of people singing quint songs or tvisongur, chanting the epic rhymes (rimur), playing langspil (similar to dulcimer, featuring one melody string and one to five (usually two) drone strings), and the old Icelandic (two strings), nursery rhymes, doing folk dances etc. The center also depicts the life of reverend Bjarni.
The Folk Festival
In early July, Siglufjordur hosts it annual Folk Music Festival, introducing the folk music of various nations and ethnic groups, with a special focus on Icelandic folk music. Various events take place, including lectures and courses on music and handicraft aklong with dances, concerts and overall partying.
Siglufjordur is a particularly beautiful fjord, and high and dramatic mountains tower of the town. The birdlife is varied and some 2000 birds of 16-18 species may usually be found in the fjord. Popular hiking trails include the passes Holsskard and Hestsskard, which lead to the beautiful fjord Hedinsjordur, which may also be accessed by boat or car.
The deserted Hedinsfjordur is set by steep and impressive mountains and has a beautiful valley with good trout fishing in the Hedinssfjardarvatn lake. The last farm of Hedinsfjordur was abandoned in 1951. In the 20th century there would on average be five inhabited farms in the fjord. The vegetation is rich and food could be obtained from land and sea, but the winters were hard and saw many avalanches. The fjord was also hard to reach.
Northeast of Hedinsfjordur you'll find the remnants of one of the remote farms in Iceland, Hvanndalir. Hvanndalir can be reached from Hedinsfjordur through the Hvanndalaskridur ('Hvanndalir landslides'), though we would only suggest this to seasoned hikers, accompanied by professional guides.
Blönduós is the largest urban area of Húnaflói bay in northwest Iceland, with a population of around 880 people. It is a service centre for the local area and a common stop for travellers of the ring road.
Economy, accommodation and services
Blönduós’s main economy is acting as a serving centre, particularly for dairy products, as well as fishing and light industy and tourism. A creamery and a butchery are both operated at Blönduós, as well as a hospital and a health service. The town has a hotel and a guesthouse, as well as summerhouses and a camping area and offers general commerce and services.
Attractions and activities
Birdwatching is popular in the area, as well as horse riding tours and the nearby lakes and rivers are some of the best in the country for fishing trout and salmon. Among these is the river Blanda, one of Iceland's longest rivers. In it is the beautiful island Hrútey, rich with vegetation and is a habitat for many bird species, such as geese. The Yndisgarður is a nice park with a variety of beautiful plants. A small golf course is also located in the town. The town is further a good set off point when travelling in Húnaflói bay.
You might also want to check out the handicraft museum, the Sea Ice Exhibition Centre and the textile museum, the only one of its kind in Iceland. The local church, i.e. 'the new church' with its interesting architecture, is also worth a look, inspired by nature and made to resemble a volcanic crater. The older church, built in 1894 is a real beauty, built in Romanesque style from ca. metre thick granite blocks. The ceiling is painted with a thousand stars and the church has a thousand small windowpanes. The altarpiece was made by Jóhannes S. Kjarval, one of Iceland's foremost painters.
The South Coast of Iceland is the country's most visited sightseeing route, along with the Golden Circle.
The famed South Coast shoreline stretches from the greater Reykjavík area and is dotted with natural wonders such as cascading waterfalls, volcanoes both active and dormant, black sand beaches and glacier lagoons.
Geography, Nature & Wildlife
Iceland is divided into eight geographical regions. Out of these, the Southern Region is the largest, as it spans over 24.000 square kilometres with its administrative centre in the municipality of Selfoss.
What is known as the South Coast embodies the shoreline of this particular region. The area consists of a lowland that is mostly composed of marshlands, bays and cultivated pastures that are met by a series of black beaches where the estuaries to the east and west of the district close off the coastal body.
Underneath the soil rests a vast lava field, known as Þjórsárhraun. Its edges reach several hundred metres offshore where the ocean waves crash upon them, thereby protecting the lowland from the invasion of the sea. This results in the South Coast being unusually lacking in the deep fjords that so distinctly characterise the rest of Iceland's shore line.
The region boasts vibrant bird life during all seasons. It is not only rich with both marshland birds and seabirds but also migrating birds such as the North Atlantic puffin. Some species stay throughout the harsh Icelandic winter, including the northern diver, the loom and various species of gulls and ducks.
Highlights of the South Coast
The South Coast offers an unprecedented array of natural wonders that draw thousands of visitors each day. When driving the route from Reykjavík City, the highlights in their correct order are:
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
- Vestmannaeyjar; The Westman Islands
- Eyjafjallajökull Glacier Volcano
- Skógafoss Waterfall
- Sólheimajökull Glacier
- Dyrhólaey Peninsula
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
- Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks
- Coastal Village Vík í Mýrdal
- Skeiðarársandur Glacial Sand Plain
- Vatnajökull National Park
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
These attractions count for but a fraction of what the South Coast has to offer. The vast sand plains of Sólheimasandur are home to a crashed DC-3 Plane Wreck, and close to Seljavellir by the Skógar Village there's Seljavallalaug, one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland.
- Explore the many wonders of the area on these South Coast Tours
Iceland has one main ring road: Route 1. This ring road goes all around the island and is 1332 km long (828 miles). The road connects the capital, Reykjavík, to the second biggest city in Iceland, Akureyri, in the north of the country. Other notable towns that are connected via the ring road are Borgarnes, Blönduós, Egilsstaðir, Höfn, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Vík, Hella, Hvolsvöllur, Selfoss and Hveragerði.
A number of popular tourist attractions are also found by the ring road, such as Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Lake Mývatn and the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss and Goðafoss.
The ring road consists mainly of paved two lanes road (one each direction). Some parts of the ring road are still unpaved however. In various places the road contains single lane bridges, especially in the east part of the country. The speed limit is 90km per hour on the paved section of the road (lower when it passes through towns), but 80km per hour on gravel.
The road was only completed in 1974, with the opening of Iceland's longest bridge, that crosses Skeiðará river in southeast Iceland. In 1998 a tunnel below the fjord Hvalfjörður shortened the drive around Iceland by about one hour (or 45km along a winding fjord). Hvalfjörður tunnels are the biggest tunnels in Iceland, 5,8 km and 165m below sea level. The ring road has another tunnel called Almannaskarð in the southeast by Höfn and by 2017 the Vaðlaheiðar tunnels should be open in north Iceland, shortening the distance between Akureyri and Mývatn.
Some sections of the ring road are original 1940's country roads, and a number of sharp curves, blind curves, blind summits as well as single lane bridges mean that people need to drive cautiously. In wintertime most of the ring road is kept open, with the exception of a short passage in the east part of the country that may be closed due to heavy snow (a detour is needed to travel from the north to the east during wintertime).
Guide to Iceland would advise people to drive cautiously on the ring road both in summer and wintertime, but also to explore other roads leading from it to multiple attractions.
Starting time : Flexible
9 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included. More detailed info below)
Vehicle for 10 days (VW Polo or similar. Upgrades available)
CDW, SCDW and gravel protection insurance for vehicle
Blue Lagoon standard entrance (upgrades available)
Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland
Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary
What to bring:
Good to know:
Self-drive tours begin either in Reykjavík City or at Keflavik International Airport. A valid driver's license is required, along with a one-year long on-road experience. Please be aware that your itinerary may be rearranged to better fit with your arrival date and time.
Although it is summertime, the Icelandic weather can be very unpredictable. Please bring appropriate clothing.
Day 1 - Arrival in Reykjavík
Collect your car at the international airport in Keflavík before driving to your accommodation in downtown Reykjavík. The world-famous Blue Lagoon spa is in between the two, so you may want to check it out if you aren't too excited to get to the capital city. You can also choose to save the Blue Lagoon for the final day of your stay with us, as one last relaxing treat before bidding Iceland a fond farewell.
After settling in your hotel in Reykjavík, make the most of your proximity to one of Europe's most vibrant city centres. Explore the abundance of museums, galleries, restaurants and bars to your heart´s content.
Spend the night in the beautiful city of Reykjavík.
Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík
The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
Day 2 - The Golden Circle
Day two sends you off to some of the best-known natural phenomena in Iceland on the Golden Circle route. The first stop on the Golden Circle tour is Þingvellir National Park. Here, you can walk between the rift valley of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and explore an area which played a huge role in Iceland's heritage; its history as the site of the world's first representative parliament has warranted its place on the UNESCO world heritage list. You can even opt into a snorkel in the crystal clear fissure Silfra, which runs right between the tectonic plates.
Next up is the geothermal valley of Haukadalur, where you can see the geysers Strokkur and Geysir amongst many beautiful hot springs. Only a few kilometres away is Iceland's most popular attraction, the powerful waterfall named Gullfoss. A pathway takes you right to the water's edge, where you can get a real sense of the enormous, natural power of the falls.
You also have the chance to go on an optional snowmobile tour on Langjökull glacier; you'll be picked up at Gullfoss waterfall. This is an excellent way to add some adrenaline to your trip - and to see some sweeping glacial vistas. You can also book a horse ride on this day, if neither of these appeal to you.
Spend the night in or near the quiet town of Hvolsvöllur.
Preferred accommodation by Hvolsvöllur
Hotel Hvolsvöllur is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Hvolsvöllur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
Day 3 - South Coast - Vatnajökull National Park
On day three, you will take in the sight of two majestic waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. Further down the coast near the town of Vík, take a slight detour to admire the black volcanic beach and the dramatic Dyrhólaey and Reynisdrangar rock formations. This is a great place for puffin watching.
If you'd like, you can use this unique opportunity to visit a natural ice cave in the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Only accessible via super jeep, this is the only cave that is open to visits all year long, leading deep into the age old ice.
Other sights as you head east include the Mýrdalsjökull glacier and the quaint village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. At the glacier tongue of Sólheimajökull, you can partake in a glacier hike or snowmobile tour.
Spend the rest of your day taking in the stunning landscapes of the Skaftafell area of Vatnajökull National Park. This place is great for any outdoor enthusiast, particularly if you enjoy hiking. There are many excellent tracks and trails, including one that leads to the stunning Svartifoss waterfall, which plunges over a wide cliff of hexagonal basalt columns.
Spend the night in the Vatnajökull area.
Preferred accommodation by Skaftafell
Hotel Geirland is a 3 star hotel located in the countryside 2 kilometres away from Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
Day 4 - Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Today, you have the option to start your day with a hike on Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajökull, starting back in Skaftafell Nature Reserve.
Afterwards, drive further east to one of Iceland’s most famous natural wonders, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Here you can hop on an optional boat tour, which takes you on a meandering path through the lagoon, amongst stunning icebergs of all shapes and sizes. You can choose between an amphibious boat, and a smaller zodiac.
Make sure you stroll down to the black sandy beach nearby, affectionately named Diamond Beach due to the number of sparkling icebergs that are scattered along it.
Finally, you'll start on a zigzagging journey along the East Fjords, passing tranquil fishing villages and sweeping coastal landscapes along the way.
Spend the night in the secluded Egilsstaðir area.
Preferred accommodation by Egilsstaðir
Lake Hotel Egilsstaðir is a 3 star hotel located in a short walking distance from the centre of Egilsstaðir but also right by the lake. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Spa on site for additional price. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
Day 5 - Mývatn Area
The driving on day five brings you north to Lake Mývatn, which is known for its geothermal landscapes, including the Námaskarð hot springs, the Skútustaðagígar pseudo-craters, the Dimmuborgir lava formations and Volcano Krafla, one of Iceland’s most visited volcanoes.
After exploring these many wonders, relax by taking a dip in the soothing geothermal waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths. Afterwards, head to the town of Húsavík for a whale-watch, or the capital of the north, Akureyri, where you'll spend the night.
Preferred accommodation by Akureyri
Hotel Norðurland is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Akureyri. Spacious and bright private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
Day 6 - Dettifoss Falls - Ásbyrgi Canyon - Húsavík
Use the sixth day to explore a little more of Lake Mývatn and its unique surroundings. A drive through the Jökulsárgljúfur part of Vatnajökull National Park, with a visit to the Ásbyrgi canyon and Dettifoss waterfall, is highly recommended.
Alternatively, explore the fantastic Eyjafjörður area, and climb the Súlur peak.
There are two tours you can add on to today: a whale-watch from Akureyri, and an hour-long horse-ride.
Stay another night in the charming town of Akureyri.
Preferred accommodation by Akureyri
Hotel Norðurland is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Akureyri. Spacious and bright private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
Day 7 - More of Akureyri - Fishing Villages and Historical Settlements
On day seven, you'll have more time to explore the area around Akureyri. You will then pass through the beautiful, mountainous area of Tröllaskagi, to the old herring-fishing village of Siglufjörður, and then to Hofsós, where you can enjoy the wonderful scenery while relaxing in the town’s thermal pool.
If you like local Icelandic handicrafts or if you are traveling with children, then we recommend a stop at Stórhóll farm where the gallery Rúnalist is located. Children can play with and pet some sheep, goats, horses, ducks, chicken, rabbit, dogs and cats while you browse the crafts showroom, filled with handmade items of natural wool, salmon leather or cod skin.
Spend the night in nearby Blönduós.
Preferred accommodation by Blönduós
Hotel Blanda is centrally located within Blönduós town in north Iceland with a view towards Blanda river and the sea. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast is included.
Day 8 - The Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Head to Snæfellsnes peninsula today. On the way, you will pass the rolling hills of Vatnsdalshólar and the beautiful Þingeyarkirkja church.
You might also want to stop at a longhouse at Eiríksstaðir, home of the infamous Viking Erik the Red, father to Leif the Lucky who was the first European to sail to North America. You can also pay a visit to Stykkishólmur, a picture-perfect fishing village overlooking Breiðafjörður Bay.
Here, you can travel out to a small island, accessible from the harbour. This is Súgandisey, and you'll see a wonderful panorama of the town, the sea, and the surrounding mountains from here.
The crown jewel of Snæfellsnes peninsula is the Snæfellsjökull glacier and volcano, nestled in the heart of a national park. Nearby are many beautiful attractions, such as Djúpalónssandur beach and the picturesque towns of Hellnar and Arnarstapi.
Spend the night at charming accommodation on Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Preferred accommodation by Snæfellsnes
Fosshotel Stykkishólmur is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Stykkishólmur. Spacious hotel with a view towards the bay. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
Day 9 - West Iceland
On day nine, you can explore West Iceland with its diverse attractions, including the Icelandic settlement exhibition in Borgarnes, and Deildartunguhver, the largest hot spring in Europe.
Further along, be sure to visit the captivating Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls.
History buffs may also enjoy a visit to Snorrastofa, the medieval research institute in Reykholt, where the politician, poet, and historian Snorri Sturluson wrote the saga of the Norwegian kings, Heimskringla, in the 13th century. He is also famous for writing the bible of old Norse mythology, Edda.
On this day, you can opt into one of two exciting caving tours. You can explore the incredible, man made ice caves at Langjökull, or else take a lava tube adventure into Viðgelmir cave. You can also explore the inside of a magma chamber on the incredible 'Into the Volcano' tour.
On the way back to Reykjavik, take a short break at Fossatún, a waterfall said to be guarded by a troll woman named Drifa, before spending another night in the capital.
Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík
The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
Day 10 - Farewell to Iceland
Drop off your car at Keflavík airport in time for your departure. If you are taking an afternoon or evening flight, you have time to fit in one last fantastic Icelandic experience. You can visit the Blue Lagoon (if you didn't go there on your first day).
Of course, a revitalising visit to the world-famous Blue Lagoon spa is a great way to end your Icelandic adventure. The water is rich in silica and blue-green algae, which gives the lagoon its reputed healing powers, as well as its captivating turquoise tint. It is sure to set you up for a great flight, and leave you aching to come back for more!
See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Single person bookings will be arranged in a single room, while bookings of 2 or more people will share twin/double room(s) or triple room(s). Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available hotels and guesthouses at the time of your booking from our preferred partners. Please keep in mind that hotel quality in Iceland varies among locations and availability is highly limited. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. The sooner you reserve the higher quality accommodation we can provide. Press choose a date at the top to find availability.
Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.
Below you can see the car rental options available for this self drive tour. All our vehicles are new or current models, maximum two years of age, and come equipped with a GPS, CDW, GP, and SCDW insurances. You can also upgrade to an automatic model, free of charge.
A small 2WD vehicle fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions, such as VW Polo, Toyota Yaris or similar. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities.
A medium sized jeep or SUV with 4WD (4x4) fit for most travel, and good for snow and off-asphalt travel, such as Toyota Rav4 or similar. This vehicle has basic highland capabilities.
This insurance guarantees that you can cancel the booking of this package and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost of 5,000 ISK per person. The cancellation must be made within a minimum of 48-hours before the listed starting time. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact our service desk by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 48-hours before departure and declare the cancellation. Please note that this insurance only covers the full cancellation of this entire package. It does not cover cancellations of individual activities and services within the package. The cost of the Cancellation Insurance is neither refundable nor transferable.
My family and I had the trip of our lives with Guide to Iceland! The 10 day Ring Road Tour was unbelievable, and the support that Gustav gave us booking the trip was phenomenal! We saw a whole pod of whales in Akureyri and I would absolutely recommend the " Inside the Volcano" tour. The Blue Lagoon, was a perfect way to jet lag from the plane. This trip is a must do for your bucket list!
Had a very exciting trip. Our plans got interrupted due to heavy rains and roads being flooded. However Gustav from Guide to Iceland really helped us with an alternate plan! Very prompt! Recommend Guide to Iceland to everyone who wants to visit this beautiful country!
Overall my son and I had a marvelous adventure! Hotels were booked and waiting for us, as were excursions. Our main issue was with the Itinerary. We didn't feel the daily itinerary was in the right order and needed better directions. For the cost of this "tour" the itinerary seemed cookie cutter. I also didn't understand that the stops were just suggestions (like I've come all this way to miss something!) so we raced everyday (not once stopped for lunch) and were exhausted every night. Also, it would have been nice to know that Lagoon Car Rental was offsite from the airport. We are travelers and understand every trip is an adventure so we learned to adapt. Your country is magnificent and we thank you for your assistance in visiting! We took wonderful photos which we will treasure for years.
Rita and. Larry Westgate Fabulous tour , love love Iceland !!! Only problem we found were the way the itinerary was written. Found we had to back track a little before destination hotel. Room for improvement as the way notes were written , some sites seemed like we should have done first not after the destination hotel !!! This was the 10 day self drive tour. Great sightseeing, lots of driving for my husband but so worth it . Loved the waterfalls and took a whale watching g tour out of Dalvik. Fabulous saw several Humpbacks , topped my bucket list . Thanks
Our 10 Day Self-Drive tour of the Ring Road was very enjoyable. The planning done by Guide to Iceland worked out fairly well, with a few glitches. Iceland is a gorgeous place and the people were very friendly and helpful. I could go on about the sights and activities, but it might be more useful to readers to know some of the challenges. We were a group of three couples and rented two cars and three bicycles. We scheduled four activities over the 10 days: Snorkeling at Silfra; a Glacier Hike; a Zodiac Boat Tour of the Glacier Lagoon; and Whale & Puffin Watching at Husavik. One person in our group did extensive research and planned sights to see each day. We got up and out early and stayed busy until we arrived at our hotel in the late afternoon each day. The driving distances were manageable but there were often more sights than we could get to in the time we had. Several days we were able to do a bike ride after we got to our hotel. Our rental cars were good and the Garmin essential. The rental car company was a bit overloaded when we arrived at 6:30, so shuttle to their location and checkout took longer than planned. Since Guide to Iceland had booked us for 8:00 at the Blue Lagoon, we could not get there on time. When we tried later to reschedule our Blue Lagoon vouchers, we were told that we had to use them on the scheduled day. None of our Guide to Iceland representatives had ever asked us when we wanted that scheduled, so in the end the vouchers were wasted. All of our hotels were clean and comfortable. All of the breakfasts were fine, some very good. Some bathrooms were cramped but we consider that normal for foreign travel. Check-in and out was easy. Beds were all comfortable. A few hotels were exceptionally good. One area that Guide to Iceland could definitely improve is with their Itinerary information. It has the feel of a cut-and-paste document, with a lot of redundancy and some essential information missing. For example, it did not include distances or estimated driving times between our hotels. That was one of the first things we looked for in order to decide which days we would want to take time for activities. Another thing that would have been useful is to know the open hours of museums, pools, etc. Because we traveled the first week of September, many places had limited open hours or were closed. As for our extra activities, Guide to Iceland made one mistake in booking our Whale watching tour. Our voucher said that our tour was scheduled for 9:30 but when we checked in at 9:00, we were told that Guide to Iceland had booked us for a 12:30 tour. The tour company said that Guide to Iceland does the booking directly on the tour company's website. Other than that, our activity bookings were accurate. One final positive note: be sure to get off the Ring Road here and there. Amazing sights are waiting with fewer people around, such as Detifoss and Selfoss. So much to see. I hope to go again some day!
Our 14 day tour of beautiful Iceland was spectacular from beginning to end. Our Guide to Iceland rep, David Kristjansson, worked closely with my wife and me throughout the planning phase of our trip, which began months before our August 3 flight. He adjusted his original plan several plans as we learned more about where we wanted to go and how we wanted to do it. We like to get out of the car to hike and explore. We did not want to have any day on our two-week excursion when we would have to drive for too many hours. We now know that David listened well and planned a trip that accomplished all our goals. From the moment we landed and picked up our sweet mid-sized SUV at the airport and every stop along the way, everything was as smooth as silk. Our accommodations around the entire magnificent island were nice and occasionally very interesting. All the special tours David arranged were perfect, especially snowmobiling on a glacier. What a wonderful way it was to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary! Joe and Kristine Hope
The 10-day self drive tour was fantastic! Our agent Melkorka listened to our requests and made sure to include everything in our itinerary, finding us wonderful places to stay each night. The country is absolutely beautiful with breathtaking views and landscapes, and the tour and activities that Guide To Iceland put together for us just made it even more fantastic. We were given a suggested itinerary with the option to do whatever we wanted, provided we made it to our accommodations for the night. Having that flexibility, but also recommendations on what to do along the way, was a great way to see the country and experience it at our own pace. We were a family of 4 traveling and Iceland had something for everyone to enjoy. Thanks!
There isn't enough words to say how much we loved our trip and Iceland. It doesn't matter where you drive, the entire country is stunning in different ways, from farms to turf houses to waterfalls and mountains, to glaciers and geysers to volcanos to fjords and Basalt columns, craters to lava fields. The entire country is beautiful!! We chose to do a 10 day self guided tour and the inside the magma chamber of a volcano. We are so happy that we chose to do a self guide tour as there are points of interest all over the country so this tour allowed us to see that major sites as well as the smaller points of interest along the way. It also allowed us to manage our time ourselves so we could continue on our way when we felt we were done seeing a site. Guide to Iceland booked us a reliable vehicle that could go in the highlands, nice and clean hotel rooms and gave us an itinerary with a full days worth of sites to see. Embla with guide to Iceland heard what we wanted to see and made sure she added those sites to our itinerary. With a map and the directions to sites from guide to Iceland, we had no problems finding our way around the country. We are so happy with our trip and all the planning that guide to Iceland did for us! They were so kind and helpful! A great company to deal with!!
ANA CLAUDIA GUERRA DE ARAUJO
Fantastic !!! Everything worked as expected, efficiently and nicely. We were a couple, with an eighteen years old son. We were not received on arrival and thanks to the airport information service, who called up the company (ss car rentals's), the car arrived in 15-20 minutes. The car was ok, although small. I would pick a larger one. With the helpful GPS and coordinates in the vouchers, we got everywhere, with no worries. Off course that friendly Icelanders also helped us a lot!!! The south region is amazing and the north is awesome. I loved Akureyri, where by the way, we stayed in a ‘perfect’ apartment (acco hostel). That was the best stay and in such a nice city. Even lost wallet was found more than 24h later at the police station. Although the room was very nice, the hotel hallormstadur had not the best mood for me … far from the lake, a bit fancy (air of fancy), expensive restaurant … the extra activities worked nicely, as well , with just one of them that we had to be re-schedule (whale whatching), otherwise we would not get there on time. Just a phone call and it was re-organized for early afternoon . All of the activities were very fun and safe. I loved the snowmobile. Beautiful whale watching, jokulsarlon boat trip, glacier hiking, ice cave, blue lagoon. I would stay longer at the Snæfellsnes peninsula if we could… but the top is the landscape !!! Everywhere, anytime !!! Followed of course, by frinedly and talking people. We struggled a little bit in our way back to Reykjavik for car parking, since our hotel did not include parking. It was very good and I would recommend. My thanks to Ólafur Ólafsson and all Guide to Iceland and associated staff.
We were extremely happy with the way GTI organized our 10 day self drive trip. Gustav was very helpful all along. The hotels mere mostly good - the Foss hotels all being outstanding. The only issue was regarding the cars. Whilst we upgraded to Luxury 4X4 and were promised Toyota land Cruisers, we got only one Land cruised and the 2nd vehicle was a Mitsibushi Pajero which was not that good. Again we had to pick up the 2 vehicles from 2 different companies which was not convenient. The GPS provided were not great and we had to rely on Google maps on our phones. We were not received on arrival and had to call up Gustav who was ofcourse very helpful. Overall a wonderful trip and would recommend Guide To Iceland to friends.
Wonderful trip! Easy to organize and everything went without a hitch.
Very pleased with our communication with Embla. Trip accommodations and the vehicle were as expected. Research surrounding areas for other sites nearby on the itinerary. ( we missed a few spots and a large mountain) Guide to Iceland took the hassle out of planning for hotels , all but two were satisfactory. We would recommend using Google maps on your phone as the GPS that came with the car was too difficult to navigate. We liked the freedom of renting our own vehicle and exploring at our own pace. We would highly recommend GTI for any first time visitor and enjoyed the beautiful country.
I did this tour with my husband and 10years old son. I chose Guide to Iceland as I did not know Iceland much, and had very little time to plan as I have a very busy work schedule. I must say it was the best decision I made. Everything was well planned, hotels were exceptional. Jonathan, our liaison, was very prompt with emails and made changes that suited our requirements. My only disappointment was a lodging provided at the town of Saudakrokur which did not meet our expectations. All in all, I was very pleased with services rendered by Guide to Iceland and I will definitely recommend them.
My husband and I chose to use Guide to Iceland because we knew nothing about the country, and were hoping for a thorough overview of an introduction. We were thrilled to be on our own schedule, to have a "menu" of activities to choose from that suited our interests, and to immerse ourselves in Iceland for 10 days. Guide to Iceland took care of everything and we had no issues with regard to any reservations. Some items suggested as activities we found impossible to find, including some suggested hiking trails, so unfortunately we lost some time there. The hotels were mostly excellent, although there were 1-2 that we found somewhat unsatisfactory. We're already looking forward to our next trip back, since thanks to Guide to Iceland we know the country better, and what we'd still like to see and experience (there's so much left to see!). It was so nice to not have to worry about logistics and just enjoy the country, and we have Guide to Iceland to thank!
Guide to Iceland was a great choice for us. We opted for the mid-level accommodations, and they were clean and comfortable with helpful staff. We enjoyed being able to drive ourselves and to pick and choose from the menu of suggested activities on the itinerary. We had a couple of minor issues (neither Guide to Iceland's fault), and when I contacted them, they responded promptly with the information we needed. It was a fantastic experience, and Guide to Iceland took the stress out of planning so that we could just enjoy our stay.
William R Lahs III
Thank you Mita Erika for making our trip to Iceland a memory we will never forget. The waterfalls were spectacular, the people were nice. The hotels were clean and in very accessible locations. Unfortunately we did not get to see any whales on either of our whale watching cruises, but both companies took our names and told us, if we ever get back to Iceland, our next cruise would be no charge. We ate some spectacular meals with very nice Icelandic beers. The highlight of the trip had to have been the ride up to the glacier cave. Unbelievable view, and an awesome guide while in the cave. I will definitely recommend "Guide to Iceland" to anyone interested in traveling to this fine country.
Best 10 days of my life. Guide to Iceland planned this trip for us perfectly. Thanks to Unnur Helga all our expectations of this beautiful island were met. We found the solitude and peacefulness that were looking for after a hard year and for that we will be forever grateful.
Had a magnificent time with my girlfriend on this trip. Truly an unforgettable experience. We loved every detail of the itinerary and all the hotels were clean and of good quality. First time to book a self drive tour but clearly not the last. We might even visit Iceland again!
This journey was amazing. The people at Guide to Iceland were so helpful in planning our trip we could not believe it. We even had a flat tyre one day and they sent a car to help us change it! We asked them to help us avoid the crowds and show us unique locations and the result was an incredible 10 day road trip where we felt as if we were alone on the island without any other tourists there except us. North Iceland was by far the highlight of our trip. We had a picnic in the big horse shoe canyon (can never remember any Icelandic names) and that was so lovely. We also went river rafting which was very exciting and beautiful. I have recommended Guide to Iceland to everyone I know who is planning to visit Iceland. Thank you for making our trip unforgettable!
The only way to travel Iceland. With excursions almost everyday, our agent Helga did an amazing job planning our itinerary. I couldn't imagine doing it from the US. We got the comfort hotels and it was great! The roads are fun to drive, the excursions are incredible ( we did the silfra dive, snowmobiles, ATV tour, whale watching, the ice cave tunnel, and the blue lagoon), and the landscape is breathtaking. What a memorable 2 weeks.
Using this company to arrange your daily itineraries is a no brainer. I chose the 10 day Ring Road tour. Unnar Helga was my booking agent and she did a great job arranging the rental car, hotel accommodations and add on tours. I picked the comfort level hotel category which was fine. Buffet breakfast was included at all hotels. The only minor issue (not really a complaint) was that every single hotel had nearly the exact same spread- sliced hams and salamis, sliced cheeses, various breads, fruits, cereals, yogurts, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and a few other things. Almost all had in room coffee makers (instant coffee at most). The SUV I rented was as ordered. All tours (glacier hike, snowmobile on glacier and glacier lagoon boat tour were great and worthwhile. I also did an all day super jeep tour from Reykjavik to landmannalaugar on my own which I highly recommend. I believe I lucked out with the weather as I only had 1 1/2 days of rain out of 12. When it does rain, it is absolutely miserable. But when the weather is nice, pure joy. Great trip, fantastic country
Anne M. Cohn, R.N.
My daughter and I just returned from a 14 day stay in Iceland, 10 of which were driving the self guided tour booked with Guide to Iceland's Unur Helga. Just under 2 weeks prior to our date of departure for Iceland, "Oops, we'd better start planning where to go, where to stay, and where to rent a car!" Fortunately, we came across Guide to Iceland, and within a few days we had rooms, car rental, and itinerary offerings all in place. Unnur listened to what we wanted to experience and what we could afford, and adjusted the tour offerings accordingly. When we arrived in Iceland, we had in hand: our itinerary , vouchers for each of our stays, really helpful information about comfort, driving safety, etc provided by Olafur (Travellers' Happiness and quality assurance agent), and a car that was delivered (A Car Rental) to us at the airport. We cannot express, accurately enough, how smoothly and epic everything about this tour was. The car: clean and economical, rooms: comfy with amazingly snuggable duvets, the country: astoundingly beautiful, with crazy and amazing vistas seemingly at every turn. The 10 day tour is so do-able. We never felt pressed, felt that we could really explore and enjoy the various stops and just relax. The Golden Circle will blow your mind, and by day 9 you wonder if you can really stand more stunning beauty. Please, if you do this tour, tell me if this isn't true!! Thank you Guide to Iceland Unnur and Olafur......, one day I hope to return and I will be contacting you for another memorable vacation! Annie, Vermont, USA
We very much enjoyed the spectacular landscapes of Iceland, especially the glaciers, the coastal villages and harbors, the lava fields, the cliffs, the geysers, and the farming regions. The natural beauty is truly unique in this world. In addition the wildlife is unbelievable, whether it was the whales we saw, the puffins and other birds, or other species. The trip however had several inherent problems beginning with the amount of travel involved in such a short time. There were several days where it was over 3 hours to drive to our next destination, leaving very little time to see the beautiful places you described on our itinerary. In particular, we were unable to go on the Jokulsarion Boat Tour on August 6th because the day before we had gone on the Glacier expedition, which did not end until 17:00, and then had to drive 4 hours to Hofn, arriving at 21:00. To go on the boat ride would have meant adding another 2.5 hours to the next day’s trip, making for a 6 hour drive to our next destination, and having very little time to sleep. I contacted the tour operator and he has agreed to refund the cost. I hope you will credit this to our account. I hope you will consider making this a 15 day trip at least, or perhaps a 17 day trip so there is time to relax and explore. Most of the lodgings were adequate but not what I would call comfortable. The bathrooms were very small and so were the rooms in Akureyri. In addition the final night of our trip at the Hotel Keilir the single room was on an extremely noisy street due to its location across the street from a pub that did not close until 5am. We had requested a room across the hall but the operator said none was available. In conclusion we would like to return to Iceland so that we can see some of the places we were not able to. And I do hope you will refund the fees for the Jokulsarion Boat Tour.
Admin Ingólfur Shahin
Reply to Nancy Solomon
Hi Nancy, this tour does pack in as many attractions as possible in 10 days and thus does require some traveling between places. We have other tours that offer a slower itinerary and leaves room for more relaxation. Hopefully next time we can help you find exactly what you are looking for and of course we will refund you the boat tour. We hope you had a great time in Iceland, thank you for your feedback and have a great day!
We had a great time exploring Iceland. We had no prior experience with Iceland so using Guide to Iceland was very helpful. We had a few snags-with only gps coordinates, we had some difficulty getting to some locations. We booked comfort level hotels. There was one hotel in Lake Myvatn that was unacceptable. The room was smaller than a single dorm room, not even a chair to sit in. We were at that location for two nights. Overall a good experience though.