Slow-Paced 10 Day Summer Self Drive Tour of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Golden Circle & South Coast
Immerse yourself in Iceland without rushing a single site by booking this slow-paced summer self-drive holiday. For ten days, you'll be able to enjoy a wealth of destinations on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the Golden Circle, and the South Coast, all in your own time.
Those looking to explore Iceland in-depth need to look no further. On this tour, you will spend two nights in a row at each location outside of Reykjavík, allowing you to fully comprehend why Snæfellsnes is called 'Iceland in Miniature', marvel at natural and historical sites on the Golden Circle, and explore the South Coast all the way up to the unbelievable Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, giving every landmark en route the time it deserves.
Throughout your travels, you'll have options to add all manner of excursions, such as snorkeling between continents, snowmobiling on glaciers, visiting an ice cave and lava tubes, sailing a boat on Breiðafjörður Bay or the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, relaxing in the Blue Lagoon or Krauma spa, and descending into an empty magma chamber of a volcano.
You don't need to worry about sorting accommodation, car rentals, or individual tours in booking a self-drive holiday. All of it is organized for you before arrival. What's more, you don't have to concern yourself with the needs of other guests, tour guides, or time limitations. Your one goal each day is to enjoy Iceland at your pleasure until reaching your next hotel.
Don't miss your chance to see Iceland in depth at your own pace. Book this family-friendly adventure now and discover all that Iceland has to offer. Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Welcome to Iceland
On day one, you will arrive at Keflavík International Airport and pick up your car. From there, you will take a drive along the haunting, volcanic Reykjanes Peninsula to the city of Reykjavik.
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.
If you are not in a rush to get to the capital, you can use this time to better explore the lunar landscapes around you. Just south of the airport is Gunnuhver geothermal area, where you'll find bubbling mud pools and colorful hot springs.
Once you reach your hotel, you can either relax and sleep off your journey to ready yourself for the day tomorrow or use the opportunity to introduce yourself to the many wonders of Reykjavik City.
Day 2 - The Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Day One
On your second day, you will head to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. This 56-mile (90-kilometer) long stretch of land is home to a wealth of wonders, and the scenic drive there takes you past mighty mountains, long fjords, and rolling hills.
You'll get to see a wealth of geological formations as you enter Snaefellsnes, such as at Eldborg crater and the Gerduberg hexagonal basalt cliffs, as well as bountiful animal life. The Peninsula is home to a wealth of seabirds, and at Ytri Tunga beach, there is a good chance you'll spot a colony of seals hauling out.
You'll then come to the charming fishing villages of Arnarstapi and Hellnar, where you can enjoy a stop for coffee, ice cream, or Icelandic pancakes at a local café.
The coastline will only get more dramatic as you travel, culminating at the enormous basalt plug of Londrangar. While this site is spectacular, it is overshadowed by the glacier and volcano that crowns the tip of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Snaefellsjokull.
Snaefellsjokull, which sits in a National Park with its name, gained fame when it was used as the setting of the Jules Verne novel 'A Journey to the Centre of the Earth'. Between its two peaks, a cave is said to lead into a fantastical underworld.
While you cannot follow directly in the footsteps of the novel's adventurers, you can opt for a caving tour this day and enjoy the otherworldly space of a lava tube on your own subterranean journey.
If you'd rather stay above ground, you can take a whale-watching tour from Olafsvik. Though there are no guarantees, more Orcas, Pilot Whales, and Sperm Whales are found around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula than in most other parts of Iceland.
After a day of adventure that will no doubt extend long into the hours of the midnight sun, you will head to a nearby hotel for a well-deserved rest.
Day 3 - The Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Day Two
Due to the enormous wealth of sites on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, you will be able to pack another day full of adventure here.
You could start by heading to Bjarnahofn, home to the Shark Museum. Icelanders have for centuries enjoyed fermented Greenlandic shark as a delicacy, and here you can see the processes used to create it and taste the results. Just note that the smell can be quite strong.
You could also enjoy more natural sites, such as the Raudfeldsgja gorge, a cleft in a giant cliff face you can climb into to reach a waterfall. Just make sure you bring waterproof clothes and shoes as you will get wet. You can also see the iconic Mount Kirkjufell and its adjacent waterfall Kirkjufellsfoss, a favorite amongst avid photographers.
An option that blends nature and history is to visit Djupalonssandur beach. Here, you can find rusty pieces of metal from an old shipwreck on the beach's jet-black pebbles, as well as four 'lifting stones', against which fishermen of old used to test their strength.
The largest town on the Peninsula is called Stykkisholmur, and it is filled with folklore and culture. From here, you can take a boat tour into Breidafjordur fjord, which will plow up some shellfish for you to have prepared to eat right in front of you in the form of sushi. This tour also provides more opportunities to see whales, seals, and seabirds, including puffins.
With the sites of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula enjoyed in-depth, you'll return to your hotel here for one more night.
Day 4 - West Iceland
On your fourth day, you will head towards the Golden Circle, but as this tour emphasizes a slow and steady pace, you'll make sure you enjoy all the sites en route first.
West Iceland has incredible natural landmarks. It is home to the highest-flowing hot spring in Europe, Deildartunguhver, and two iconic waterfalls, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. You can explore the fjord Hvalfjordur and even hike to see the second tallest waterfall in the country, Glymur.
It also has many historical sites. The town of Borgarnes is in a beautiful coastal setting and houses the Settlement Center Museum. Reykholt, meanwhile, has the Snorrastofa Research Centre, an institution based on the life and works of the village's most famous son, Snorri Sturluson. He wrote the Bible of Old Norse mythology, Edda.
While booking, there are three tours you can opt for today. You could head to the mighty Langjokull glacier, take a monster truck journey to its peak, and explore man-made ice tunnels that lead into its depths. If you missed caving on Snaefellsnes, you could take a tour here into Vidgelmir lava tube, the largest cave in Iceland.
If you'd rather relax, you can book admission to the Krauma Spa, where hot water from Deildartunguhver is mixed with cold water from Iceland's smallest glacier, Ok, to create the perfect bathing temperature.
You'll finally reach your hotel on the Golden Circle, perfectly poised to explore it in depth tomorrow.
Day 5 - The Golden Circle
On day five, you will embark on Iceland's most renowned and beloved sightseeing route, the Golden Circle. The trail consists of three points, all equal in beauty and allure.
The most famous waterfall in the country is Gullfoss, otherwise known as 'the Golden Waterfall'. Its name is where the title 'the Golden Circle' came from. Falling in two tiers and plunging into a canyon that slices through the countryside, it has the awe-inspiring power for which this country is known. You can observe and photograph it from many surrounding platforms.
Just ten minutes from Gullfoss is Haukadalur Valley, home to the Geysir Geothermal Area. Though named after the Great Geysir itself, this feature is currently inactive. The star of the show here is, however, the incredible Strokkur. Every five to ten minutes, it blasts a column of boiling water to heights that can reach 66 ft (20 m). Surrounding it are many other hot springs, fumaroles, and steam vents.
Finally, you will come to Thingvellir, a fascinating National Park situated directly between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. As they pull apart, they tear the landscape up, creating ravines and making it both dramatic and beautiful. This is also the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Icelandic mainland. Here, Icelanders first founded their parliament in 930 AD, which is now the longest-running institution of its kind in the world.
After enjoying these sites, there are a wealth of other places you can visit. Kerid is a crater lake with beautiful contrasts between its crimson rocks and azure waters. There are geothermal power plants which you can enter and explore, and many more waterfalls.
You could also use the time to enjoy a tour. In Thingvellir, there is a ravine filled with crystal clear glacial water called Silfra that you can snorkel in for a fantastic adventure between the continents. You could also return to Langjokull glacier for a thrilling snowmobile ride on top of the ice cap.
After making the very most of the Golden Circle, you will return to your accommodation in the area.
Day 6 - The South Coast, Day One
On your sixth day, you will begin your three-day exploration of Iceland's marvelous South Coast.
As you leave the Golden Circle, you will find your route descends to run alongside the ocean. On your right, you will be able to see across to the Westman Islands in clear weather, and to your left, the notorious subglacial volcanoes Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull will begin to materialize.
Your first stop is at Seljalandsfoss waterfall. This beautiful cascade tumbles from over 197 ft (60 m) and is unique in the sense you can walk all the way around it. This provides the opportunity for some gorgeous views over the South and for some unique photographs. As you have the time to enjoy the sites in-depth, you can also walk over to another mesmerizing waterfall hidden in a gorge called Gljufrabui.
Next, you will see Skogafoss. This one has a more classic shape than the other two. It is also over 197 ft (60 m) tall but much more powerful. The clouds of spray rising from where it crashes to the earth often hold many rainbows when sun rays fall upon it.
You will next see some amazing coastal attractions around the charming village of Vik. The most well-known is the black sand beach Reynisfjara, a haunting, otherworldly, yet beautiful stretch of shoreline. Jutting from the water nearby, off the cliffs of Reynisfjall mountain, are the sea-stacks known as Reynisdrangar. These are, according to local folklore, all that remains of two petrified trolls.
Near here is another famous coastal location. Dyrholaey is a set of cliffs and a gigantic rock arch that juts into the ocean, magnificent in its own right but beloved for its bird-watching opportunities. This is one of the closest places to Reykjavik, from which you can observe puffins up close from the land.
On your journey, you have the option to take one of two tours. You could stop at an outlet of Myrdalsjokull glacier, Solheimajokull, and enjoy an exciting glacier hike. Otherwise, you could elect to take an ice caving tour higher on the ice cap, where you can descend into a beautifully formed feature that sits directly above Katla volcano.
Finally, you will head to your hotel in the village of Vik where you will spend the night.
Day 7 - The South Coast, Day Two
On day seven, you will see two marvelous sites of the southeast, considered by many to be the most beautiful in Iceland, both located within Vatnajokull National Park.
The first of these is Skaftafell Nature Reserve, so otherworldly that it was the first National Park in the area. It is a hiker's paradise, with trails leading to a wealth of sites through diverse environments. It is home to lava fields, rivers, forests, and glacier tongues stretching from the largest ice cap in Europe, Vatnajokull. Most famously, it holds Svartifoss waterfall, which is surrounded by black basalt columns.
If you'd like to breathe in the fresh mountain air from atop a glacier, you can opt for a glacier hike in Skaftafell today. A certified guide will lead you up the ice cap, past deep crevasses and incredible ice formations, so you can get an incredible view of the surrounding landscapes.
Secondly, you'll come to the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Here, mighty icebergs break from an outlet glacier into a gigantic lake and slowly drift across it, making for an ethereal arctic wonderland. To add to the beauty, many seals call the lagoon home, and seabirds nest all around it. To truly immerse yourself here, you can choose to take either a slow boat ride on an amphibious boat or a faster ride on a RIB speedboat.
Adjacent to the lagoon is the Diamond Beach, which no visitor should overlook. The black-sand stretch of coastline is where many of the icebergs end up after finally reaching the ocean. They lie there, scattered on the shore like glistening diamonds.
Although you could spend all day at these sites, you could also head a little further east to Mount Vestrahorn before checking into your accommodations in Klaustur. Mount Vestrahorn is a beautiful, stark feature that photographers flock to, trying to capture the perfect photo of the mountain reflecting in the surrounding water.
Day 8 - The South Coast, Day Three
On your eighth day, you will drive from Klaustur back to Reykjavik. This journey gives you ample time to enjoy any sites you missed the following days or return to your favorites under different conditions. Of course, you can also rush back to the city to get more time in the capital.
Today, there is one incredible tour that you can choose to take. Iceland is the only place with a frozen magma chamber of a dormant volcano that you can descend into, so it is possible to enjoy the Into the Volcano tour into Thrihnukagigur.
On this excursion, you will descend in a lift into a colorful, enormous cavern, which could comfortably hold the Statue of Liberty. You can explore the chamber at its bottom, which is the size of a football field.
Once back in Reykjavik, you can settle into your hotel and enjoy your night.
Day 9 - Reykjavik Free Day
On day nine, you have a free day in Reykjavik and a wealth of options for how to spend it.
You could, of course, use it to explore the city itself. The main street Laugavegur has a wealth of boutiques, bars, and restaurants, and there are many architectural sites, such as Hallgrimskirkja Church and Harpa Concert Hall, to explore.
If you’d rather maintain your adventures, you could whale watch from the city’s Old Harbor. This 3-hour excursion will provide you with an amazing opportunity to see Humpback Whales, Minke Whales, White-Beaked Dolphins, and Harbour Porpoises, as well as puffins, amongst other species of cetacean and seabird.
A final choice is a different helicopter tour of the city and its surrounding nature. This will provide you with a fantastic aerial perspective over the landmarks and an exhilarating rush as you swoop through the skies.
You will spend your final night in Iceland at your accommodations in Reykjavik.
Day 10 - Departure Day
Today is your last day in Iceland. 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.
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.