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 10-day summer self-drive tour in Iceland. This tour will allow you to take your time to enjoy the country’s south, east, and north, as well as the city of Reykjavik.
Self-drive tours provide an excellent opportunity to explore Iceland without stress. Before your arrival, your accommodation, car rental, and excursions will be sorted for you. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about other guests or impatient guides.
You can explore on your own terms and have plenty of time to see everything you want. You can change the pace of your adventures depending on your group’s preferences.
By booking this tour, you’ll avoid spending weeks planning that perfect Iceland itinerary. We’ve already covered the planning part to save you from all the hassle. We also made this tour available for a great price.
Organizing your trip may sound exciting, but you risk missing out on some of the best attractions. By letting us handle the planning, we’ll ensure that all the essential stops you need to see and experience during your self-drive tour are included. You’ll get a detailed itinerary you can use as a guide on your daily adventures.
After your arrival, you’ll explore the famous sites of the Golden Circle before crossing the length of the beautiful South Coast. From there, you’ll wind up the gorgeous Eastfjords, then travel north to Lake Myvatn and the town of Akureyri.
After nine days of sightseeing, you’ll drive back to the capital of Reykjavik, allowing you to enjoy the city to the fullest. You’ll also have the chance to join plenty of tours. Excursions such as snorkeling, snowmobiling, glacier hiking, ice carving, and whale watching, to name a few, can all be added during booking.
These extra stops add to why people love this self-drive trip that has earned high ratings and positive reviews. It’s also one of the easiest tours, perfect for guests of all ages.
Aside from having control and flexibility during the tour, you’ll also get the necessary support you may need. Our packages come with a personal travel agent you can contact any time of the day, seven days a week.
Should you wish to cancel your trip for any reason, you may do so for free and get a full refund 24 hours before departure.
Explore the sites of Iceland in-depth and experience this country with complete freedom on this 10-day summer self-drive tour. Check availability now by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival
Welcome to Iceland!
You'll land at the Keflavik International Airport, located on the Reykjanes Peninsula. After collecting your luggage, you can pick up your car and set out toward Iceland's capital, Reykjavik.
You can stop at the Blue Lagoon on your way to the city. This world-renowned spa is known for its healing waters, vivid azure colors, and luxurious treatments. It's in the middle of a moss-covered lava field, giving it a unique atmosphere.
Interestingly, the lagoon's water features silica and sulfur, which can help improve various skin problems. In addition, the water has an average temperature of 98 to 102F (37 to 39 C), providing a comfortable and relaxing feeling while bathing.
If you add the Blue Lagoon, it will be arranged according to your flights. If there's 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.
If you have extra free time, there's still plenty to see and do in Reykjavik and the Reykjanes Peninsula.
Once you arrive in Reykjavik, you can drop your bags off at your hotel and explore the capital. Stroll down Laugavegur street and check out the street art, boutiques, restaurants, and bars.
From there, head to the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center, the city's leading cultural hub. It's the favorite venue for concerts, exhibitions, and festivals. Moreover, it has a beautiful facade featuring 714 glass panels with LED lights, illuminating the building at night.
Next, about 2.4 miles (3.9 kilometers) from Harpa, is the Perlan museum. It features interactive displays and exhibits about the country's rich nature. Check out the museum's hemispherical rotating glass dome that doubles as a viewing deck for visitors to appreciate the cityscape.
Remember to stop at the Hallgrimskirkja church, about 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometers) away. Standing 245 feet (74.5 meters) tall, the church is Iceland's tallest and one of Reykjavik's most famous landmarks.
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'll embark upon Iceland's most popular tourist route, the Golden Circle.
The first destination on the Golden Circle route is theThingvellir National Park. This beautiful place of ravines, springs, forest, and lava fields is between North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
It's also the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on Iceland's mainland. The park earned the distinction because it was where Iceland's parliament, Althingi, was founded in 930 AD.
Next, you'll visit the Geysir geothermal area, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) from the park. It is home to the geyser Strokkur, which erupts to heights that regularly exceed 66 feet (20 meters) every five to 10 minutes. While waiting for it to go off, you can admire the surrounding hot springs and fumaroles.
Finally, you'll come to Gullfoss waterfall, about six miles (9.7 kilometers) from Geysir. It's the most iconic waterfall in the country. Plunging into an ancient valley and throwing off clouds of spray, the waterfall has come to define Iceland's beauty and incredible power.
On this day, you can also join one of three tours. The first is a riding tour where you can meet the Icelandic horse and ride through beautiful fields.
The second tour is at Thingvellir, home of Silfra, a ravine with crystal-clear spring water. You can snorkel here as the water provides over 328 feet (100 meters) of visibility.
Lastly, you can go on a snowmobiling tour on the magnificent Langjokull glacier from the Gullfoss waterfall. You'll also have time today to see other lesser-known destinations detailed in your itinerary. These could include waterfalls, mountains, geothermal areas, and many villages.
The most notable is Kerid crater lake, with its vivid contrasts you must see to believe.
After an eventful day, you'll spend the night in a hotel in Southwest Iceland.
Day 3 - South Coast
On day three, you’ll start your journey along the South Coast, a stretch lined with countless attractions.
The first of these you will stop at are three waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss, Gljufrabui, and Skogafoss.
The first two are unique and located right next to each other. Of the two, Seljalandsfoss is the more famous. It measures 197 feet (60 meters) tall and has a cave behind it that will allow you to encircle it fully. Meanwhile, 0.56 miles (900 meters) away is Gljufrabui, hidden inside a cleft in a mountainside and falling into a fantastical grotto.
The third waterfall you’ll visit is Skogafoss, one of the biggest and most powerful in Iceland. It’s 82 feet (25 meters) wide and cascades from 197 feet (60 meters). Check out the water as it hits the ground, as you may see a double rainbow when the sunlight reflects through the waterfall.
You’ll notice mighty glaciers to your left as you travel between these. One of these is Eyjafjallajokull, which erupted in 2010. Interestingly, the incident disrupted air travel in Europe, creating extensive flight cancellations.
Another is Myrdalsjokull, the third-largest glacier in Iceland. It covers nearly 600 square kilometers (232 square miles). Because of its sheer size, the glacier conceals the Katla volcano.
You can join a hiking tour today toward one of the tongues of Myrdalsjokull, with a glacier walk on Solheimajokull. Alternatively, you can choose a tour to ascend the glacier to explore a magnificent ice cave.
You’ll then continue onto the black sand beach of Reynisfjara. It’s 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 the Dyrholaey cliffs and rock arch. It is a magnificent coastal feature, though its biggest draw in summer is the puffins. The area becomes a nesting ground for puffins, making it one of the best places for bird-watching from the shore.
With another exciting day in the books, you’ll spend the night in a countryside accommodation in South Iceland.
Day 4 - South-East
On your fourth day, you'll see two of Iceland's most incredible natural sites: the Skaftafell Nature Reserve and the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon.
Skaftafell sits in the shadow of Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajokull, 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.
One tour you can join features a hiking trail that leads to an ice cap for unbelievable views of the surrounding area. If you're up to the challenge, the hike toward the glacier is about five miles (eight kilometers) long. It also goes up 1,280 feet (390 meters).
As you explore Skaftafell, you'll see the contrasting but beautiful scenery of white glaciers, lush flora, and black sand. Another notable trail in the area is the one leading to the Svartifoss waterfall. Also called the "black waterfall," Svartifoss cascades into hexagonal basalt columns, a unique sight to marvel at.
Following this, you'll head to the glacier lagoon, about 35 miles (57 kilometers) further east. Jokulsarlon is a spectacular, vast lake filled with enormous icebergs from Vatnajokull. It's also home to many seals that stay on the ice.
Jokulsarlon is often considered the crown jewel of Iceland's nature, and walking around the shores will treat you to various wonders. If you wish to get a better view of the icebergs, you can take a boat tour to immerse yourself further in a slower amphibious vessel or RIB speedboat.
While you are here, remember to visit Diamond Beach, which sits adjacent to the lagoon. It 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, which earned the beach its name.
As you end another thrilling day, you'll find your accommodations for the night in either the area near Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon or the nearby town of Hofn in Southeast Iceland.
Day 5 - The Eastfjords
On day five, you'll explore the Eastfjords. It 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. It's a majestic coastline stretching 75 miles (120 kilometers) from Berufjordur in the south to Borgarfjordur Eystri in the north.
As you drive along the area, you'll see puffins flying around. You may also encounter seals on the coast and dolphins and whales in the waters. East Iceland is also the only place to see reindeer as they roam free here.
Moreover, East Iceland is home to idyllic towns hiding at the bottom of deep fjords. It has many dense forests and beautiful lakes that contribute to its fantastic scenery.
While there are no activities to book today, there's so much to see and many hidden gems to explore. You'll be grateful to have the whole day free, as you can stop in many sleeping fishing villages that dot the area. You can also hike in Hallormsstadaskogur, Iceland's largest national forest.
The forest covers about 740 hectares of land and has two camping areas you can visit: Atlavik and Hofdavik. The first area is found in the inner part of Hallormsstadaskogur, while the second is a site offering more luxurious services.
Another essential stop to visit is Lake Lagarfjlot, about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) from Hallormsstadaskogur. The lake is known for its fishing opportunities and impressive natural beauty. It's also famous for its folklore, with many Icelanders believing it to be where a beast lives.
The monster is called the Lagarfljot Wyrm and is considered by many as the Loch Ness Monster's cousin. People also claim that the beast disrupts the lake's surface.
After visiting the lake, you'll drive to Eastfjord's largest town, Egilsstadir. It sits on the banks of Lagarfjlot and has many shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions.
You will spend the night in one of the accommodations in East Iceland.
Day 6 - To Lake Myvatn
You can spend your sixth day in one of two ways. First, you can further enjoy the peaceful and beautiful Eastfjords before heading to the Lake Myvatn area in the evening. Second, you can head straight to Myvatn to explore more of its sites. You will, however, still have tomorrow to enjoy this area.
Regardless, there are some incredible places you should stop to explore en route to Myvatn. For example, you can see Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, in an ancient, beautiful gorge.
Dettifoss has an average water flow of 6,186 cubic feet (193 meters cubed) per second. It drops from 150 feet (45 meters) with a width of 330 feet (100 meters). The waterfall cascades toward the Jokulsargljufur canyon.
Interestingly, the Myvatn area also boasts rich wildlife. You’ll find different bird species, led by harlequin ducks that love to nest in the area. Check out the ducks’ unique white markings that made others call them the “white-eyed divers.”
Moreover, you’ll find the arctic fox, Iceland’s only native mammal. It’s a type of fox with a thick white, blue, or brown coating. These colors also change depending on the current season.
Aside from abundant wildlife, the Lake Mayvatn area is also dynamic in terms of volcanic activity. It has various lava fields, tuff volcanoes, pseudo-craters, and geothermal springs.
An interesting stop to consider is Dimmuborgir, a lava expanse east of Lake Myvatn. Dimmuborgir features ridges, columns, and caves made of lava rocks. These features gave it a castle-like appearance and the nickname “Dark Fortress.”
In addition, its popularity further increased when it was featured in the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones.”
Meanwhile, about 6.8 miles (11 kilometers) from Dimmuborgir are the Skutustadagigar pseudo-craters. These fascinating wonders were formed around 2,300 years ago when boiling lava flowed over the wetlands, creating gas explosions.
If you have a 4WD vehicle, you can visit the enormous, verdant Asbyrgi canyon. You’ll see the canyon in all its glory, highlighted by its shape resembling a horseshoe. Folklore also says that the canyon was formed after one of the horses of the Norse god Odin stomped its foot on Earth.
You may also drive to the sulfuric geothermal area at Namaskard Pass. Here, you’ll see hissing steam with strange colors filling the air.
When you reach your accommodation in Northeast Iceland, you can spend the evening exploring the surroundings or bask in the gorgeous Myvatn Nature Baths.
Day 7 - The Lake Myvatn Region
You’ll have all of day seven to explore the Lake Myvatn region thoroughly. You can give each site the time it deserves without rushing your schedule.
The region has a wealth of things to see, starting with the lake itself. It’s nearly six miles (9.5 kilometers) long and four miles (6.5 kilometers) wide. It also spreads across 14 square miles (36.5 square kilometers), making it the fourth-largest lake in Iceland.
Despite its size, Lake Myvatn is shallow, and the river and lake draining is known for char, salmon, and trout fishing.
The area is worth spending time in due to its bountiful birdlife and bizarre geological formations. You can head to the Dimmuborgir lava fortress for even more geology, where the lava rocks form ridges, columns, and caves. Their shapes resemble a castle, earning the fortress its nickname, “Dark Fortress.”
Additionally, the area was used in the shooting of Game of Thrones.
Also nearby is the hot spring lava cave Grjotagja, about 2.5 miles (6.4 kilometers) from the lava fortress. The cave is considered a hidden gem of North Iceland because finding the thermal spring can be challenging. Like the lava fortress, the cave was also used as a filming location for the Game of Thrones series.
Meanwhile, about 9.3 miles (15 kilometers) from Grjotagja are the Skutustadagigar pseudo-craters. These fascinating wonders were formed around 2,300 years ago when boiling lava flowed over the wetlands, creating gas explosions. You can walk along the rim of these craters and marvel at this fantastic phenomenon.
You’ll spend another night in Northeast Iceland, giving you another opportunity to bask in the Myvatn Nature Baths if you choose. With temperatures ranging from 97 to 104 F (36 to 40 C), dipping in the baths is an excellent way to relax after a long day of sightseeing.
Day 8 - North Iceland
On day eight, you’ll get the chance to explore North Iceland better.
Leaving from Myvatn heading west, you’ll first come to the waterfall Godafoss. It’s a stunning natural wonder that drops from a height of 39 feet (12 meters) and boasts a width of 98 feet (30 meters). Moreover, it’s integral to the famous Diamond Circle sightseeing route.
As you marvel at the waterfall’s beauty, you’ll see it flowing over a semi-circular arc. You’ll also witness a magical display of blue-green swirling patterns below. Also, you’ll notice the cascading water split into two, resembling a horseshoe.
The Godafoss waterfall is also as historic as it is beautiful. In 1000 AD, Iceland’s law-speaker of the time threw away idols of the old Norse gods into the waterfall to symbolize the nation’s conversion to Christianity.
You can then drive about 29 miles (47 kilometers) to the town of Husavik, which has many cultural sites and picturesque coastal views. It’s also known as the whale-watching capital of Europe. Here, you can join a whale-watching tour to see creatures such as humpback whales, white-beaked dolphins, and Atlantic puffins, among many other species.
The whale-watching tours come in two forms. The first involves riding a standard boat into the bay, while the second features a RIB boat that takes you closer to the whales without disturbing them.
Husavik is also home to the Geosea Baths, featuring hot geothermal pools that use heated seawater. The waters of Geosea are chemical-free, rich in minerals, and constantly flowing from the sea.
If you don’t go out on the seas or only want to see more puffins, you can head to the Tjornes peninsula. Here, you can watch the birds nesting on the cliffs. Moreover, there are many places to go fossil hunting here.
Otherwise, you can explore the mountainous Trollaskagi peninsula or the stunning Eyjafjordur fjord. Nestled in Eyjafjordur is the capital of the North, Akureyri. It’s a bustling cultural capital with notable spots to visit, like the world’s northernmost botanical gardens and magnificent architectural sites.
You can use your evening to explore here before heading to your hotel in North Iceland.
Day 9 - To Reykjavik
On your ninth day, you'll head back to Reykjavik. The drive might be long, but several scenic stops can break it up.
If you still need to explore the Trollaskagi peninsula, now is your chance. You could visit the Herring Era Museum in Siglufjordur or the beautiful infinity pool at Hofsos.
Herring Era is Iceland's largest maritime museum, housing exhibits and items revolving around the herring fishery and processing in the country. You'll see various fishing facilities and learn about how the herring industry affected Icelandic society in general.
You'll see old photographs, machines, fishing equipment, and preserved herring products. There are also guided tours, interactive exhibits, and a simulation of an old herring salting station.
Meanwhile, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) from Siglufjordur is Hofsos, one of Iceland's oldest trading posts, dating back to the 1500s. Today, it boasts a thermal pool surrounded by incredible scenery.
Further south, you'll find the wonderful Borgarfjordur region with its historical Saga museum and the stunning Hraunfoss and Barnafossar waterfalls. Hraunfossar is a series of waterfalls flowing from the Hallmundarhraun lava field. Seeing the water pass through the lava field's rock ledges is incredible.
Meanwhile, Barnafoss waterfall is just nearby. It's a rapid waterfall with sheer power, contrasting the calmness of Hraunfoss.
If you're eager for one last adventure, you can book a tour back to Reykjavik and skip all sightseeing stops. Once there, you can take a thrilling 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 you'll be leaving Iceland tomorrow.
Day 10 - Departure
Sadly, day 10 is your departure day.
If you have a later flight and choose to visit the Blue Lagoon today, you’ll cap off your stay unwinding before you head to the airport. It is the perfect place to relax as you bathe in the warm, mineral-rich waters while reminiscing about the incredible adventure you’ve just experienced in the land of fire and ice.
There are plenty of things to do in Reykjavik while waiting for your flight. You can do some last-minute shopping on Laugavegur street. You can also visit the historical landmarks you may have missed during your first day in the city.
We wish you a pleasant journey if you have an early flight back home. You’ll travel through the lava fields of the Reykjanes peninsula and to Keflavik International Airport to catch your departing flight.
Have a great flight, and we hope to see you 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 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.