Off-the-beaten-path 10 Day Summer Self Drive Tour of Iceland's Westfjords, Snaefellsnes & Flatey
Travel into the undisturbed nature and visit lonely fjords, turf houses, hot springs, remote islands, and deserted towns with this 10-day self-drive tour of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and the Westfjords. Those wanting a relaxing holiday, freedom to choose their own path, and a glimpse of the simple life before modernity need to look no further.
On this tour, you will visit the great Snæfellsnes Peninsula and journey through the area's dramatic landscapes before heading to the Westfjords and Flatey island, the country's most isolated regions where time seems to stand still.
While on the road, you will spend your evenings in lovely country hotels located in the idyllic fishing villages and coastal towns on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and the Westfjords. You will also have the chance to spend a night on the secluded Flatey island, where life moves at a little slower pace.
Enjoy the freedom to explore on your own time, as on a self-drive tour, you are not bound by any tour guides or time limitations. Upon booking, you will receive a personal itinerary that you can tailor to best suit your interest by adding some exciting adventures, such as whale watching, caving, visiting ice cave tunnels, or descending into a dormant volcano. These activities even come at a discounted price if you add them during the booking process.
Spend the long summer days relaxing in the hot tubs of the Westfjords, hiking on the white and black sand beaches of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and enjoying the company of the puffins on Flatey island with this ten-day summer self-drive tour. Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival
Welcome to Iceland!
On the day of your arrival, you’ll land at Keflavík International Airport, located in the barren lava desert of the Reykjanes Peninsula. Collect your bags, pick up your vehicle for the next ten days, and head to Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík.
On your way to Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik, 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.
You can start your Iceland adventure by exploring the Reykjanes Peninsula. As Keflavík International Airport is the main port for those visiting Iceland, most guests drive through this 31-mile (50 km) stretch of land. However, few take the time to stop and explore it, making the Reykjanes Peninsula the perfect place to discover some hidden gems and secret spots.
Much like the Þingvellir National Park on the Golden Circle route, Reykjanes lies on the plate boundaries along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. So it is home to many unique geological formations.
Once in the city, settle into your hotel and unwind. If the explorer in you still wants more, stroll around the streets of Reykjavík and check out the city’s architectural wonders, such as Harpa Concert hall and Hallgrímskirkja Church.
Day 2 - Vikings in Western Iceland
As this is a self-drive tour, you get to decide when you hit the road.
Once you are ready, you’ll bid farewell to the city and head out into the wild Icelandic nature. The next few days will be filled with green valleys, magnificent mountain ranges, remote villages, and off-the-beaten-path attractions.
Drive to the Borgarfjörður region in West Iceland. Nestled between the roaring waves of the Atlantic ocean in the west and mighty glaciers on the eastern horizon, Borgarfjörður fjord was an oasis for Vikings more than a thousand years ago. It remains an oasis today.
Make your way to the town of Borgarnes where you can learn about life before modern days at its two museums. The Settlement Centre focuses on both the age of settlement in Iceland and the Saga of Egill, a Viking-era poet and warrior. At the Borgarnes Museum, you can see a visual progression of the last 100 years through photographs of the children in this little Icelandic town.
You could make a quick detour before you reach Borgarnes, to the waterfalls Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. Hraunfossar is a series of trickling waterfalls that flow over cliffs of black lava while the nearby Barnafoss rush violently through a narrow, rocky chute.
Keep driving through verdant farmlands and valleys of western Iceland until you reach the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, a stretch of land filled with cascading waterfalls, dramatic coastlines, black pebble beaches, majestic mountains, lava fields, and a mighty glacier.
Stop at the hidden gem of the Gerðuberg cliffs, a serene but striking feature made of hexagonal columns created by this volcanic land thousands of years ago. From there, move on to one of Iceland’s few white sand beaches, Ytri-Tunga, where you can watch seals laze on the shore.
Make sure you don’t miss the tiny hamlet of Búðir, located in the Búðahraun lava fields. Here, you can capture some hauntingly beautiful photographs of the hamlet’s jet-black church and surrounding graveyard. You can also stop at the charming village of Arnarstapi, for some extraordinary views of the surrounding cliff formations and mountains, before reaching your accommodation in the little Hellnar village.
Day 3 - The Fantastic Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Take in the view of the stunning coastline at Hellnar village before continuing your journey of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and its namesake national park. Today will be filled with otherworldly attractions, plucked straight out of a fantasy novel, while the great Snæfellsjökull glacier, the source of many legends and folklore, watches over you.
Drive a little way to the Lóndrangar basalt plugs, a pair of twin peaks that rise out of the Atlantic Ocean like a dark castle. The rocks are the remains of a crater which the sea has eroded over the ages. Avid hikers will find delight here as many trails and tracks provide different views of these majestic peaks.
Today, you can opt to travel into Iceland's underworld on a caving expedition. A short drive away from Lóndrangar is Vatnshellir lava tube, where you can walk the path the flowing magma created thousands of years ago.
From there, you'll move to the beautiful Djúpalónssandur black pebble beach. To get to the shore, you will have to follow a path through a beautiful natural labyrinth made of jagged lava rocks, undoubtedly giving you a feeling like you have stepped inside a fairytale. The beach itself is stunning but has an eerie feel and a dark history; scattered on the shore are remains of a trawler that wrecked there in 1948, taking the lives of five men.
You'll continue your journey through Snæfellsnes National Park, making your way to the peninsula's northern side which faces the great Breiðafjörður Bay. Breiðafjörður is known as the home of countless islands and islets and a wealth of marine and birdlife. Should you want to pay a visit to some of the gentle giants of the bay, you can stop in the village of Ólafsvík for a whale watching tour.
Head towards the town of Grundarfjörður, which is surrounded by spectacular mountains, one of which is the arrowhead-shaped Kirkjufell. Kirkjufell has been one of the peninsula's most popular features in recent years because a famous fantasy television series has used it as a backdrop, earning Kirkjufell the nickname "The Game of Thrones Mountain".
Make your way to the charming coastal town of Stykkishólmur, famed for its colorful houses and great seafood, where you'll find your accommodation for the night.
Day 4 - The Secluded Flatey Island
Today you'll head to the high seas, sailing across the beautiful Breiðafjörður Bay, which is ringed with mountains and dotted with countless islands that are only inhabited during summer. Your destination is one of those islands, the secluded Flatey.
You can choose to head straight to Flatey in the morning, or you can leave in the afternoon and spend the day exploring flora and fauna of the islands in Breiðafjörður Bay on a Viking Sushi Adventure that ends with a feast of fresh scallops and roe.
When it is time to leave Stykkishólmur for Flatey island, you will board the ferry Baldur and hand your car keys to the staff. They will then transport your vehicle to Brjánslækur on the other side of the Bay, as there is no need and, in fact, no room for your car on this remote, little island.
After sailing for a while, seeing the great Snæfellsjökull glacier fade away in the distance, you'll dock at Flatey. A gravel road from the pier takes you to the island's village, a place that seems to have been frozen in time; colorful houses line the street, most built over a century ago.
You'll be greeted by the island's only all-year residents: sheep, chickens, and a single dog, as you walk the short distance to your accommodation for the night, the island's only hotel situated on the Grýluvogur cove. When the tide is low, children play on the beach at Grýluvogur, searching for seashells, crabs, and jellyfish.
You can visit the Flatey's restaurant in the evening, located in a converted warehouse on the old market square. After dinner, you can make your way to the nearby bar found in the abandoned salt cellar of the warehouse, then use the rays of the midnight sun to walk around the island, savoring the unique ambiance of this enchanting place.
Day 5 - To the Remote Westfjords
Make use of the morning and explore this beautiful island. Flatey is teeming with birds, and you will likely come across a few Arctic terns, but if you look out on the cliffs on the north side of the island, you might spot an Atlantic Puffin or two.
You can spend the morning hiking around the unspoiled nature, checking out the unique murals inside the Flatey church, and visiting Iceland's smallest library before boarding the ferry again, this time heading to the little-visited Westfjords.
After you dock at Brjánslækur port, pick up your car and make your way to the little-hidden gem of Birkimelur swimming pool and hot spring. It is a beautiful place, situated at the mouth of the river Móra, surrounded by nothing but distant mountains. From there, explore Rauðasandur, a beautiful red sand beach that stretches from the craggy mountains in the east to Látrabjarg, the westernmost part of Europe.
Látrabjarg is also Europe's largest bird cliff, home to millions of puffins, gannets, guillemots, and razorbills. Due to the Látrabjarg's remote location, the birds are particularly fearless, knowing no enemies save for Arctic foxes. This provides you with an excellent opportunity to get close to the puffins and razorbills and capture them on film.
At the end of an eventful day, make your way to the little coastal town of Patreksfjörður, where you will find your accommodation for the night.
Day 6 - Dynjandi Waterfall
You’ll wake up on day six in the remote Westfjords, where tranquillity and breathtaking landscapes dominate the region. Due to the isolation of these fjords, your travels will be mostly void of other people, allowing for true off-the-beaten-path adventures.
Today, you’ll venture deep into this region, where the impressive waterfall Dynjandi lies at the bottom of Arnarfjörður fjord. The road to Dynjandi leads up rugged hills and jagged mountains that will provide you with a fantastic bird’s eye view of the surrounding fjords and valleys.
Along the way, you can stop at geothermal pools and hot tubs where you can enjoy the warm waters while breathing in the pristine mountain air. The first of these pools, Pollurinn just outside the village of Tálknafjörður, provides a clear view of the beautiful mountains of Tálknafjörður fjord. The second one, Reykjafjarðarlaug, is located further east. Hidden in the tall grass near the pool is a little turf shed inside a grassy hill.
As you approach Dynjandi from the road, you will be greeted by the thundering noises of this mighty cascade as it falls down 328 ft (100 m), fanning out at the bottom and creating the unique pyramid shape for which it is famous.
Close to the waterfalls is the town of Hrafnseyri, where you can find the restored turf house of Jón Sigurðsson, the leader of the 19th-century Icelandic independence movement. You can also drive further north and visit the quirky Nonsense Museum in Flateyri village or Holtsfjara beach, a white, sandy beach, which is great for building sandcastles.
Your accommodation tonight will either be in the village of Flateyri or the nearby town of Ísafjörður.
Day 7 - Capital of the Westfjords
Today, you will be based in Ísafjörður, a fascinating town and the largest settlement of the Westfjords. Not only does it have a bustling culture and incredible natural surroundings, but it is close to more authentic fishing villages where you can immerse yourself in the region's history.
Most notable amongst these are Bolungarvík, which boasts an excellent maritime museum; Suðureyri, renowned for its swimming pool; and Flateyri, a port with an interesting past. Driving to these locations either requires you to drive through mountain tunnels or the around the magnificent fjords.
Those seeking adventure today can find it in an optional kayaking adventure; you do not need to be experienced to embark on this breathtaking tour. Not only will it get your adrenaline pumping and expose you to some magnificent views, but it provides you with a chance to marvel over sea birds, seals, and maybe even whales.
Some travelers also use their opportunity of being in Ísafjörður to visit the magnificent nature reserve of Hornstrandir. It cannot be accessed from any other town.
You'll spend tonight in the Ísafjörður area.
Day 8 - Western Fjords
Today you will drive the road that winds through the smaller inlets of the mighty Ísafjörður fjord. Before you leave, make sure to explore the Ísafjörður town first. It has some of the oldest houses in the country, dating back to the 18th century, and is also reported to have the best seafood restaurant in Iceland.
You can get a glimpse into the Icelandic past with a visit to the island Vigur, located a short boat ride from Ísafjörður town. There, you can see how the people utilized both the land and sea to survive in the harsh Icelandic climate without modern technology. The island is also teeming with birds, and you might spot a few seals lounging on the shore.
Before making your way south, you can take a quick detour to the village of Bolungarvík. There, you can find a Maritime Museum comprised of 19th-century fishing bases and huts with turf roofs, and the curator of the museum will greet you in a traditional Icelandic fisherman outfit. Avid hikers will love Bolafjall mountain, located just above the village. The view from atop is spectacular, and on a clear day, you might see all the way to Greenland.
When you are ready to hit the road, you will drive the winding fjords all the way to the village of Hólmavík, where you will spend the night.
Day 9 - Back to Civilization
Now it is time to bid farewell to the mythical Westfjords of Iceland. The drive back to Reykjavík city is long but scenic as you will travel past the verdant valleys of the west coast.
Before you reach the modernity of the city, you can stop and see what life was like a thousand years ago at the Eiríksstaðir. There, you will find an open-air museum with a reconstructed Saga-age turf house, and the ruins of an ancient farm believed to be the homestead of the Viking Erik the Red and the birthplace of his son, Leif the Lucky.
Further south lies Iceland's second-largest glacier, Langjökull. An intricate tunnel system has been carved into the ancient ice, and today, you can opt for a tour into these tunnels where you can explore the blue and white world inside the glacier.
If you'd rather explore a different underworld, you can take a tour from Reykjavík city, where you descend into the empty magma chamber of a dormant volcano. There you will see bizarre rock formations and vibrant colors of the volcano's walls, but it is the sheer scale of the magma chamber that will surely leave you in awe.
You will then spend your final night in Iceland at accommodations in Reykjavík. If you are not too tired after your journey, you can stop at one of the city's many restaurants or bars for a meal or a nightcap.
Day 10 - Departure
Today is the last day of your adventures in Iceland. If your flight leaves late, you can explore the vibrant city of Reykjavík a little. Just remember to be at the airport in good time to drop off your car and catch your departing flight.
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. If you have an early flight back home, we wish you a pleasant journey.
If you haven’t been to Hallgrímskirkja church already, you should head over there in the morning. The architecture of the church was inspired by some of Iceland’s many basalt columns, like the ones you visited at Gerðuberg on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Across the street from the church is the Einar Jónasson sculpture garden. Entry to the garden is free, and you can spend your last hours in Iceland, looking at the beautiful sculptures, which were mostly inspired by Icelandic mythology and folktales.
When it is time to hit the road, you will drive to the black lava desert on the Reykjanes Peninsula to Keflavík International Airport. Have a nice flight and come back soon.
What to bring
Good to know
Please note that accommodation in Flatey is highly limited and cannot be guaranteed. In the event where Hotel Flatey is fully booked during your chosen travel date, you will board the Baldur ferry to Flatey in the morning and spend the day on the small island before boarding the ferry again in the afternoon to the Westfjords, where you will spend the night.
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.
Wearing cotton or jeans as the outer layer during your trip to the Þríhnjúkagígur volcano tour is not allowed. Please wear suitable waterproof clothes and sturdy hiking shoes for this trip. It's always the same temperature inside the crater – about 5–6°C (42–43°F). The Þríhnjúkagígur volcano tour involves a hike of approximately 3 km (2 miles) each way. The walk usually takes around 45–50 minutes (depending on the condition of people in the group). A guide will be with you at all times during the walk.
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. For other levels, 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.
Please note that not all locations offer quality level accommodation. Comfort level accommodation will be arranged at those particular locations, which is reflected in the quality level upgrade price.
We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. Press choose a date to find availability.
Rooms with shared bathrooms in farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.
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, of maximum 2 years of age. Super Budget levels come with standard CDW insurance, while all other levels also include Gravel Protection (GP) insurance. Please note that off-road driving is illegal for all types of cars.
All levels come equipped with 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.