10 Day Self Drive Tour on a Budget | The Ring Road with Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Explore the best Iceland has to offer on this extensive ten-day self-drive tour. Travel the complete circle around Iceland, including the Snaefellsnes peninsula and the Golden Circle, and do so on a budget. This tour is perfect for all free-spirited travelers who want to see the country's most famous sights and still save a buck.
Using the ring road as your guide, you will travel across the country, past countless natural wonders such as the stunning waterfalls of the South, the charming fishing villages of the East, the otherworldly nature of the North, and the legendary glaciers in the West.
The best part is, you are behind the wheel, so you get to decide where to go and when to leave. There are no tour guides to rush you past incredible places in a hurry to get to the next site. You are free to spend as much time as you like at each spot.
During booking, you can add on some exciting adventures to spice up your holiday. You can snorkel between two continents in Thingvellir National Park, sail amongst icebergs at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, venture inside a volcano, and ride an Icelandic horse through the scenic countryside.
So don't hesitate any longer. Travel the country in a wallet-friendly way and create your perfect holiday on this 10-day self-drive tour. Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival
Pick up your car at Keflavik International Airport and make your way towards Iceland's capital Reykjavik. Along the way, you'll drive past the vast fields of black lava and moss-covered rocks of the Reykjanes Peninsula.
On your way to Iceland's capital city, you could choose to make a stop at the Blue Lagoon. This world-renowned spa is known for its healing waters, vivid azure colors, and luxurious treatments. It is located in the middle of a moss-covered lava field, giving it an otherworldly atmosphere. If you add the Blue Lagoon, it will be arranged according to your flights. If there is no time to visit the lagoon today, it can be added to another day. Your travel consultant will be able to arrange this for you. There is still plenty to see and do in Reykjavik and the Reykjanes Peninsula if you have extra free time.
After settling in your accommodation, you are free to explore the city. You could check out a museum, go shopping or visit one of Reykjavik's many restaurants and bars. You'll spend your night in the city.
Day 2 - The Golden Circle
On day two, you'll visit the iconic Golden Circle. This route includes the historically and geographically significant Thingvellir National Park, the erupting hot springs of the Geysir geothermal area, and the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall.
Thingvellir is your first stop of the day. This national park is where Iceland's parliament, Althingi, was founded over a thousand years ago, making it the world's oldest still-running parliament.
The park is located in a rift valley between two tectonic plates that are drifting apart, tearing up the landscape around it in the process. Traversing the region are numerous cracks and fissures, which are a direct result of this continental drift.
One of those fissures, Silfra, is in Þingvallavatn lake, and you can opt for a snorkeling tour of the crystal clear waters of this underwater canyon. There you will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim between two continents.
Next up is Geysir geothermal area, the home of bubbling mud pools, and Geysir, a 10,000-year-old erupting hot spring. Although Geysir is mostly dormant now, its neighbor, Strokkur, certainly is not. This hot spring erupts every 5-10 minutes, creating a 49-66 ft (15-20 m) high water column each time around.
The last stop on the Golden Circle route is the majestic Gullfoss waterfall. Fed by Iceland's second-largest glacier, Langjokull, the river Hvita rushes southwards before plummeting in two 'steps' into a 105 ft (32 m) gorge, creating this gorgeous cascade of unharnessed power.
At Gullfoss, you can opt for a thrilling snowmobile tour where you'll race across the icecap of Langjokull glacier. If you prefer something a little less speedy but equally exciting, you can go on a horse riding tour in Reykjadalur valley.
On your way to the town of Selfoss, where you will be spending the night, you can stop at scenic crater lake Kerid to awe its sapphire blue water contrasting with red rocks of lava.
Day 3 - South Coast and Skaftafell Nature Reserve
Today you'll travel along Iceland's south coast, famed for its waterfalls, volcanoes, glaciers, and beautiful coastline.
Your first stop of the day is the unique Seljalandsfoss waterfall. A pathway will lead you around the waterfall, even behind the cascading water, so you'll be able to view the landscape through a curtain of falling spring water.
Next up is Skogafoss, one of Iceland's biggest waterfalls with a width of 82 ft (25 m) and a 197 ft (60 m) drop. On sunny days you might see a double rainbow forming in the mist from this majestic cascade.
As you travel from Seljalandsfoss waterfall to Skogafoss, you'll be driving by the infamous glacier Eyjafjallajokull. The volcano beneath this glacier caused all air traffic in Europe to halt when it erupted back in 2010.
If you'd like, you can use this unique opportunity to visit a natural ice cave in Myrdalsjokull. Departing in the morning from the village of Vik, this tour will take you inside the magnificent glacier to see all its wonders. You could also use the morning and take a refreshing glacier hike on an outlet glacier of Myrdalsjokull, Solheimajokull, or a thrilling snowmobile ride.
Vik is located further south of the glaciers. It is a perfect place to stop, relax and refuel before continuing on your journey. Lining the village is the black sand beach Reynisfjara, known for its dark cliffs of hexagonal basalt columns and 217 ft (66 m) high volcanic stacks that rise directly from the ocean.
Next up is the Skaftafell area of Vatnajokull National Park. It is a paradise of green fauna growing between black sands and a white glacier. You'll find numerous hiking trails here that lead to stunning locations, such as the waterfall Svartifoss, which was the very inspiration for the architecture of the famous Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavik City.
If you didn't opt for the morning glacier hike, you could end your day with a glacier hike in Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Afterward, you will find your accommodations near Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon (don't worry, you'll have time tomorrow to explore the lagoon).
Day 4 - Jokulsarlon and Diamond Beach
You can start your day exploring one of Iceland's most sought-after places, Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. There, you will witness enormous icebergs that have broken off a nearby glacier drift peacefully in the aquamarine water. You can opt for a boat ride on the lagoon to get a closer look at the icebergs and perhaps the seals that call the water their home.
A stone's throw away from the lagoon is the dazzling Diamond Beach, where chunks of ice from the lagoon have washed up onshore. As they glisten in the sun on the ebony sand, they resemble diamonds laid out on black satin.
From there, you will zig-zag your way through the eastern fjords, past magnificent mountains and tranquil fishing villages, before making your way to the town of Egilsstadir, where you will spend the night. The town is located on the banks of Lagarfljot river, where a serpent-like monster is said to live according to local legends.
Day 5 - The Myvatn Area
Today, you'll make your way to the many natural wonders of the Myvatn area.
Lake Myvatn is Iceland's fourth-largest lake and set with numerous small islets, some of which are pseudocraters. A steam explosion formed these craters some 2,500 years ago when the flowing hot lava crossed the wet surface.
Close by rests the area of Dimmuborgir, a vast field of strangely shaped lava formations and mystic caves. According to legend, this is where fallen angel Lucifer landed when he was exiled from heaven.
The options for sightseeing this day are limitless. You can hike to the rim of the tephra cone volcano Hverfjall, and a little further away sits the geothermal area of Namafjall, littered with boiling mud pools and steaming springs.
After exploring the sights, you can take a relaxing dip in the soothing waters of the Myvatn Nature Baths before heading to your accommodation in the Myvan region.
Day 6 - Dettifoss and Husavik
If you'd like to explore the Myvatn area a bit further, now is your chance. You can also drive through Jokulsargljufur Canyon to locate Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, and the mythical Asbyrgi Canyon, where Odin's horse is said to have stepped his hoof down.
When you are ready to move on, head to the town of Husavik on Skjalfandi bay, known as the whale watching capital of Iceland. There are around 24 whale species in the bay, so this is the perfect place to discover the country's rich marine life. You can even add on a puffin watching segment to your whale watching tour.
If you would like some relaxation time, you could choose to visit the GeoSea Baths in Husavik. This concept spa is a little different from other geothermal spots around the country. The waters of GeoSea are from the ocean. Here you can relax in the warm salt water while you enjoy incredible views of the natural landscape.
You could also drive around the Eyjafjordur area and visit the tiny farming and fishing villages around, or hike up the mountain Sulur before getting back to your accommodation in Akureyri, which is where you'll spend the night.
Day 7 - Akureyri and Trollaskagi Peninsula
On day seven, you'll have more time to explore the 'Capital of the North' Akureyri. You could visit one of the northernmost botanical gardens in the world or go whale watching if you missed your chance in Husavik.
You'll then head towards Skagafjordur, a valley favored by all local riders as it is abounding with horses. There you can get to know the friendly and gentle creature, the Icelandic horse, on a riding tour around the valley.
You will then travel further north through the mountainous Trollaskagi area to the old fishing village of Siglufjordur. This historic and beautiful town is where you'll find the Herring Era Museum, Iceland's largest maritime museum.
In the village of Hofsos, you can relax in one of the most beautiful geothermal swimming pools in the country and enjoy the stunning view of the fjord and its islands before heading to your accommodation at Saudarkrokur.
Day 8 - The Snaefellsnes Peninsula
The Snaefellsnes Peninsula boasts of virtually all the landscapes of Iceland in one spot. You can see the colorful houses of the harbor town Stykkisholmur or drive out to Berserkjahraun lava field, where you'll find the beautiful Selvallavatn lake.
From there, you can head further out on the peninsula to see the mighty glacier Snaefellsjokull. Like Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull, this glacier's ice cap covers an active volcano. The volcano was used as the entrance to the legendary subterranean excursion in Jules Verne's classic science fiction novel Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Close to the glacier lies the black pebble beach Djupalonssandur, where you will find four ancient 'measuring stones.' These stones are of different weights and were used to test young men to see if they were strong enough to become fishermen.
From there, you can visit two tiny hamlets called Hellnar and Arnarstapi before finding your accommodation on the Snaefellsnes peninsula.
Day 9 - West Iceland
On day nine, you will get to explore West Iceland some more, and a perfect place to start is the town of Borgarnes, home to the Icelandic settlement exhibition. There, you can learn everything about one of the Icelandic Saga's best-known heroes, Egill Skallagrimsson.
From Borgarnes, you can travel to Deildartunguhver, the hot spring with the largest flow in Europe, and to the two waterfalls Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. You can go further inland and take a tour to the colorful underworld of Vidgelmir lava cave, one of Iceland's largest and grandest caves.
You could also opt for a tour into Langjokull glacier through a manmade ice tunnel. There you can travel through several thousands of feet of hallways inside the glacier, while an expert guide tells you everything from how they were formed to the dangers they face.
After getting back to Reykjavik, you can either spend the day exploring the city or, if you are feeling adventurous, you can go on a tour where you descend into the now-empty magma chamber of Thrihnukagigur Volcano.
You will spend your last night in Iceland in the capital of Reykjavik.
Day 10 - Farewell
On your final day, you'll need to head on out to Keflavik International Airport. For those who have a later flight and choose to visit the Blue Lagoon today, you will finish off your stay unwinding before you head to the airport. This is the perfect place to relax as you bathe in the warm, mineral-rich waters as you look back on the incredible adventure you have just taken in the land of fire and ice. If your flight is later, there are plenty of things to do in Reykjavik. You can, for example, book admission to the fascinating Whale of Iceland museum, or else the breathtaking FlyOver Iceland experience.
You can spend the day shopping or sightseeing in Reykjavik City or visit the gems of the Reykjanes peninsula, such as Seltun geothermal area or the Icelandic Museum of Rock' n' Roll in the town of Keflavik.
If you have an early flight back home, we wish you a pleasant journey.
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.
See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Super budget level accommodations will be arranged in hostel dorm beds. Budget level bookings for one person will be arranged in single rooms, and bookings for two or more people will share a twin/double or triple room(s). Teenagers and children will be arranged in the same room with parents. If additional room(s) is needed, additional costs will incur. Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available accommodation 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. If our preferred partners are fully booked at the time of your booking, we will find another suitable accommodation for you of similar level. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. Press choose a date to find availability.
Dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels. Located in the region of the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.
Rooms with shared bathrooms in farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.
Below you can see the car rental options available for this self-drive tour.
All our vehicles are new or current models, of maximum 2 years of age. Super Budget levels come with standard CDW insurance, while all other levels also include Gravel Protection (GP), and Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW) insurances. Please note that off-road driving is illegal for all types of cars.
All levels come equipped with a GPS and free Wi-fi. You can enjoy unlimited data with the Wi-Fi device, which can be connected to up to 10 devices at once. The car rental will provide 24-hour roadside emergency services.
Age requirement for each level can be found below. For all levels, the driver must possess a valid driving license for at least one year before the date of the rental.
We recommend Budget 4X4 level for summer driving and Comfort 4X4 for winter driving.
A small 2WD vehicle such as Toyota Aygo or similar, fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions. Compact and comfortable for up to 2 travellers with very little luggage. No highland capabilities. The driver must be of 20 years of age or above.
A basic 2WD vehicle, such as a Toyota Yaris or similar, suitable for travelling in everyday conditions. Comfortable for 3 travellers with light luggage. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities. The driver must be of 20 years of age or above.
A basic 4WD (4X4) jeep or SUV such as a Dacia Duster or similar. Comfortably fit up to 3 travellers with 2 large pieces of luggage. Fit for most travel and decent for snow and off-asphalt driving. Has basic highland capabilities. The driver must be of 20 years of age or above.
A medium-sized 4WD (4x4) jeep or SUV such as a Toyota Rav4 (automatic) and Suzuki Vitara (manual), or similar. Comfortably fit up to 4 travelers with 3 large pieces of luggage. Fit for most travel and good for snow and off-asphalt driving. Has basic highland capabilities. The driver must be of 21 years of age or above.
A large 4WD jeep such as a Toyota Land Cruiser or similar. Comfortable for up to 4 travellers with 4 large pieces of luggage. Fit for nearly all travelling. Has full highland capabilities to drive on accessible mountain roads. The driver must be of 21 years of age or above.
A large 9-seater van such as a Mercedes Benz Vito (4WD manual, has highland capabilities and better suited for winter driving), or similar. Comfortable for 5 to 7 travelers. If seated full, luggage space is limited. The driver must be of 23 years of age or above.