In-Depth 10 Day Summer Self Drive Tour of the Ring Road of Iceland with Waterfalls & Glaciers
Enjoy exploring the most beautiful Ring Road attractions in-depth with this ten-day summer self-drive. This tour will allow you to take your time to enjoy the country’s south, east, and north, as well as the city of Reykjavík.
Self-drive tours provide a wonderful opportunity to explore Iceland without stress. Before your arrival, your accommodation, car rental, and excursions will be sorted for you, and you don’t have to worry about other guests or impatient guides. You can explore on your own terms, and on this tour, you’ll have plenty of time to see all that you want to.
After your arrival, you will explore the famous sites of the Golden Circle before crossing the length of the beautiful South Coast. From there, you will wind your way up the gorgeous Eastfjords, then cross the North to Lake Mývatn and the town of Akureyri. After nine days packed with sightseeing, you will drive back to the capital of Reykjavík, allowing you to enjoy the city to the fullest.
You will also have the chance to join plenty of tours on your journey. Excursions such as snorkeling, snowmobiling, glacier hiking, ice carving, and whale watching, to name a few, can all be added during booking.
Explore the sites of Iceland in-depth and experience this country with complete freedom on this ten-day summer self-drive tour. Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival
Welcome to Iceland! You will land at Keflavík International Airport, located on the Reykjanes Peninsula. After collecting your luggage, pick up your car, and set out in the direction of Iceland's capital, Reykjavík.
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.
Once you arrive in Reykjavík, you can drop your bags off at your hotel and set out to see the capital. Stroll down Laugavegur street and check out the street art, boutiques, restaurants, and bars.
After seeing the city's beautiful architecture, you can head back to your hotel to rest for the night in preparation for your travels tomorrow.
Day 2 - The Golden Circle
On your second day, you will embark upon the most popular tourist route in Iceland, the Golden Circle.
The first destination on the Golden Circle route is Þingvellir National Park. This beautiful place of ravines, springs, forest, and lava fields is nestled between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It is also the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on Iceland's mainland, which it earnt due to the fact that it was here where Iceland's parliament, Alþingi, was founded way back in 930 AD.
Next, you will visit the Geysir Geothermal Area. This is home to the geyser Strokkur, which erupts to heights that regularly exceed 66 ft (20 m), every five to ten minutes. While waiting for it to go off, you can admire the surrounding hot springs and fumaroles.
Finally, you will come to Gullfoss waterfall, perhaps the most iconic waterfall in the country. Plunging into an ancient valley, throwing off clouds of spray, it has come to define Iceland's beauty and incredible power.
On this day, you can opt for one of three tours. The first is a riding tour where you can meet the Icelandic horse and ride through beautiful fields. At Þingvellir is a ravine called Silfra that is filled with crystal-clear spring water. You could elect to snorkel there as the water provides over 328 ft (100 m) of visibility. From Gullfoss, you can go on a snowmobiling tour on the magnificent Langjökull glacier.
You will have time today to see other, lesser-known destinations detailed in your itinerary. These could include waterfalls, mountains, geothermal areas, and many villages. Of particular note is Kerið Crater Lake, the vivid contrasts of which must be seen to be believed.
You will spend the night in a hotel in the Golden Circle area.
Day 3 - South Coast
On Day Three, you will start your journey along the South Coast, a stretch lined with countless attractions.
The first of these you will stop at are three waterfalls. The first two are very unique and located right next to each other. Seljalandsfoss is the more famous of them, 197 ft (60 m) tall and with a cave behind it that will allow you to fully encircle it. Gljúfrabúi, meanwhile, is hidden inside a cleft in a mountainside, falling into a fantastical grotto. The third waterfall you will come to is much more classic, but the most powerful is called Skógafoss.
As you travel between these, you will notice that to your left are mighty glaciers. One of these is Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted in 2010, and the latter is Mýrdalsjökull, which conceals Katla volcano. You opt for a tour today where you hike on one of the tongues of Mýrdalsjökull, with a glacier walk on Sólheimajökull, or you could also choose a tour where you ascend the glacier to explore a magnificent ice cave.
You will then continue onto the black sand beach of Reynisfjara. This is a stunning stretch of coastline with fascinating geology; just offshore are two towering rock stacks called Reynisdrangar that are said to be petrified trolls.
Your final major destination is Dyrhólaey cliffs and rock arch. This is a magnificent coastal feature, though its greatest draw in summer is that it is the nesting grounds for puffins and one of the best places to watch them from shore.
You will then spend the night in Vík.
Day 4 - South-East
On your fourth day, you will see two of Iceland's most incredible natural sites, Skaftafell Nature Reserve and the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
Skaftafell sits in the shadow of Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajökull, and is full of diverse landscapes. There are many trails and tracks in Skaftafell, and you can take hikes to go to beautiful waterfalls and magnificent glacial tongues. At one of those, you can take a tour onto the ice cap for unbelievable views of the surrounding area.
Following this, you'll head to the glacier lagoon. Jökulsárlón is a spectacular, vast lake that is filled with enormous icebergs coming from Vatnajökull. It is also home to many seals. Walk around the shores and marvel over the wonders here. If you wish to get a better view of the icebergs, you can elect to take a boat tour to immerse yourself further, either in a slower amphibious vessel or RIB speedboat.
While you are here, don't forget to visit the Diamond Beach, which sits adjacent to the lagoon. This is where the icebergs end their lives after they've washed up on shore here. They melt in the sun and glisten like precious gemstones.
You'll find your accommodations for the night in either the area near Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon or in the nearby town of Höfn.
Day 5 - The Eastfjords
On Day Five, you will explore the Eastfjords. This is one of Iceland's least traveled regions, so you will avoid most of the crowds and be able to enjoy the area in peace.
The Eastfjords are defined by gigantic mountains, stunning ocean views, coastal towns, and diverse wildlife. In the cliffs, you may see puffins; on the coast, you may see seals; and in the waters, you may even see whales or dolphins. East Iceland is also the only place you may see reindeer as they roam free here.
While there are no activities to book today, there is so much to see and so many hidden gems to explore. You'll be grateful to have the whole day free. You could stop in many sleeping fishing villages that dot the area or hike in Hallormsstaðaskógur, Iceland's largest forest.
You'll spend the night in the Eastfjord's largest town, Egilsstaðir, which sits on the banks of a large lake, said to be the home of a great wyrm monster.
Day 6 - To Lake Myvatn
Your sixth day can be spent in one of two ways. You could either further enjoy the peaceful and beautiful Eastfjords before heading to the Lake Mývatn area in the evening or head straight to Mývatn so that you can explore more of its sites. You will, however, also have tomorrow to enjoy this area.
Regardless, en route to Mývatn, there are some incredible places you should stop at to explore. For example, you can see the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss, which sits in an ancient, beautiful gorge. You can also visit the enormous, verdant canyon Ásbyrgi if you have a 4WD vehicle or the seething, sulfuric geothermal area at Námaskarð Pass.
When you reach your accommodation in Lake Mývatn, you can spend the evening exploring the surroundings or bask in the gorgeous Mývatn Nature Baths.
Day 7 - The Lake Myvatn Region
You will have all of Day Seven to explore the Lake Mývatn region, meaning you can give each site the time it deserves.
There are a huge wealth of things to see. Of course, the lake itself is worth spending time at due to its bountiful birdlife and bizarre geological formations. You can head to the Dimmuborgir lava fortress for even more geology, where the rocks are so great they somewhat resemble a castle. This area was used in the shooting of Game of Thrones, as was the nearby hot-spring-cave Grjótagjá.
At Skútustaðir are rows of pseudocraters that were formed in an eruption some 2,300 years ago. You can walk along the rim of these craters and marvel at this fantastic phenomenon. There are also geothermal areas to explore in the Lake Mývatn region and incredible expanses of lava.
You will spend another night in the Mývatn area, so you will have another opportunity to bask in the Nature Baths if you choose.
Day 8 - North Iceland
On Day Eight, you will have a chance to better explore north Iceland. Leaving from Mývatn heading west, you will first come to the waterfall Goðafoss. This feature is as historic as it is beautiful; it was here, in 1000 AD, where Iceland’s law-speaker of the time threw away idols of the Old Norse Gods to symbolize the nation’s conversion to Christianity.
You can then head up to the town of Húsavík, which has many cultural sites and picturesque coastal views. This is renowned as the whale-watching capital of Europe, and here, you have the choice of opting for a whale watch to see creatures such as humpback whales, white-beaked dolphins, and Atlantic puffins, amongst many other species.
If you do not go out on the seas - or simply want to see more puffins - you can head to the Tjörnes Peninsula, where you can watch them nesting in the cliffs; there are also many places to go fossil hunting here. Otherwise, you can explore the mountainous Tröllaskagi Peninsula or the stunning Eyjafjörður fjord.
Nestled in Eyjafjörður is the capital of the North, Akureyri. This is a bustling cultural capital, with a wealth of places worth visiting, such as the world’s northernmost botanical gardens and some magnificent architectural sites. You can use your evening to explore here before heading to your nearby hotel.
Day 9 - To Reykjavik
On your ninth day, you will head back to Reykjavík. The drive might be long, but you can break it up with several scenic stops along the way.
If you haven't had a chance to explore the Tröllaskagi Peninsula, now is your chance. You could visit the herring era museum in Siglufjörður or the beautiful infinity pool at Hofsós. Further south, you'll find the wonderful Borgarfjörður region with its historical Saga museum and the stunning waterfalls Hraunfoss and Barnafossar.
However, if you are eager for one last adventure, you can book a tour back in Reykjavík and head straight to the capital, skipping all sightseeing stops. Once there, you can take an amazing helicopter flight over the city and its surroundings. Otherwise, you can take a once-in-a-lifetime excursion into the magma chamber of a dormant volcano. You'll descend into an enormous, vividly colored cavern via a lift and have the opportunity to walk around its base.
Make the most of the day before arriving at your hotel in the capital, as tomorrow you will be leaving Iceland.
Day 10 - Departure
Sadly, this is your departure day. 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.
Once it is time to leave, you will travel through the lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula and to Keflavík International Airport to catch your departing flight.
Have a great flight, and come back soon!
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.
Some optional activities might require you to have a valid driver's license, or you might need to send additional information to your travel planner. Please note that you might need to present medical documents should you choose to go snorkeling.
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. 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.
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.
Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.
Rooms with a private bathroom in a four star hotel or superior rooms in a quality three star hotel at the best locations in Iceland. 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.