Drive the entire ring-road of Iceland in ten days, on this immersive winter tour. Carefully designed by local travel experts who know the land and the Icelandic winter, this itinerary takes road conditions and daylight hours into consideration to create a journey suitable for winter travel in Iceland.
This trip should appeal to anyone who seeks to make the most of this country as possible, who has a great sense of adventure, and who wants the freedom to decide where to go and when.
On this self-drive, you will get to see some of Iceland’s most iconic sights, seeing the floating icebergs at Jökulsárlón, the serene lava fields of Lake Mývatn and the world renowned Golden Circle while enjoying the evening glow of the Northern Lights above. You'll also receive a personal itinerary guiding you to unique, lesser-known locations where you can truly immerse yourself in the untouched nature, far from the crowds.
If you'd like to experience something even more unique or get some amazing thrills, you can always add some adventure to your journey. Throughout the booking process, you can add on tours such as dogsledding, glacier hiking and snowmobiling. If you visit between November and March, you will also have the rare opportunity to take a trip into an authentic ice cave.
Travelling around all of Iceland in winter will expose you to an incredible wonderland of snowy terrain. It does, however, make driving a challenge for those without experience on icy roads. This tour, therefore, should only be booked if the group you are travelling with has a confident driver, preferably with experience under similar conditions.
Don't miss out on this Icelandic adventure. Book now to create the winter holiday of a lifetime. Check availability by choosing a date.
You will arrive in Iceland via Keflavík International Airport, find your vehicle and head on out to the dark lava field of the Reykjanes Peninsula in the direction of Iceland's capital, Reykjavík.
How you chose to spend this day is up to you; you could explore the raw volcanic landscapes of Reykjanes, visiting such places like Kleifarvatn Lake or the Rock and Roll museum in Keflavík town. You could also just head straight to Reykjavík and settle into the vibrant city.
Another great way to start your trip is to bask in the healing waters of the Blue Lagoon. The azure lake is visible from far away as the clouds of steam from the hot, geothermal water rise into the sky in the winter cold. Set in the middle of a stunning lava landscape, this spa is the perfect way to relax after a long flight, surrounded by ink black lava topped with snow, surrounding the brightest blue of the lake itself.
You will spend your first night in the capital.
Your second day will be largely spent marvelling over the three wonders of the Golden Circle. The first of these is Þingvellir National Park, a site located between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The two continents are drifting apart, creating cracks and fissures in the terrain as they tear up the landscape around.
One of those fissures, Silfra, is filled with crystal clear glacial water and is thus a popular snorkelling and diving site. If you opted to during the booking process, you can enjoy the unparalleled visibility of Silfra's waters as you snorkel between two continents.
Following Þingvellir, you will head to the Geysir geothermal area, which is home to, as the name suggests, geysers. The most impressive one, Strokkur, erupts every five to ten minutes, creating a water column that can reach heights of up to forty metres.
Just a short drive away is Gullfoss Waterfall, one of the most iconic falls in Iceland. Here, you can watch the Hvítá glacier river cascade into an ancient gorge in two tiers with enormous power. If you want more thrills today, you can add on an exciting snowmobile tour.
Departing from Gullfoss falls, you can hop on a bus taking you to the great Langjökull glacier where you can whizz across the white expanse both for the thrill and the feeling of ultimate freedom in Icelandic wilderness.
Your accommodation for the night will be in Hvolsvöllur on the South Coast, so as you head towards it, you can use your itinerary to find unique locations en route, such as the crater-lake Kerið, or the eco-village Sólheimar.
On day three, you will immerse yourself in the waterfalls, glaciers and coastal wonders of the South Coast. As you start your drive, you may be able to see a notable feature immediately to your left; you will, after all, be passing the notorious Eyjafjallajökull which erupted in 2010 and caused a disastrous effect on air travel.
The first site you will reach is Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall you can fully encircle for some wonderful views; right near here is Gljúfrabúi, another beautiful waterfall most miss out on due to the fact it is hidden in a cleft in a mountain. The next destination is another waterfall, called Skógafoss, renowned for its awe-inspiring power.
You will next head towards the glacier Mýrdalsjökull and its surrounding tongues. Here, you will have an opportunity to explore the otherworldly landscape atop an ice cap in two different ways. You can take a snowmobiling tour atop this great glacier for an hour of exhilaration, or else a glacier hike on the nearby Sólheimajökull for a more extended period of excitement and a deeper insight into how these natural marvels form and change.
A little further along the South Coast, you will reach Reynisfjara black-sand beach, a stunning stretch of coastline. You can admire geological wonders here, such as the Dyrhólaey rock arch and the Reynisdrangar sea stacks. Just beware of the water, as this beach is renowned for its dangerous sneaker waves.
A short journey from here is the village of Vík, where you will spend the night.
You will head from Vík to Höfn on your fourth day, via two incredibly spectacular areas. The first of these is Skaftafell Nature Reserve, often referred to as a hiker’s paradise. Dozens of trails, catering to most abilities, wind through the lava fields and forests to glacial tongues and unique waterfalls. If you missed the glacier hike the day before in place of a snowmobiling tour, you could partake in one here today. For the early birds, you can opt for the morning glacier hike and still leave ample time to zip across the calm waters of Glacier Lagoon on a Jokulsarlon boat tour, if you are visiting in September and October.
Following your time in Skaftafell, you will head further east, to the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. This is one of Iceland’s most famous and well-renowned sites, and for good reason; its beauty is mesmerising. Here, icebergs break away from a glacial tongue and slowly and serenely make their way across a great pool of water towards the ocean. To add to the appeal of this location, it is the home of many seals, which you may be able to spot playing in the water or hauling out on the bergs.
Starting from October or November, depending on the conditions each year, you will be able to join a tour to the incredible ice caves of Vatnajökull in the early afternoon. It promises to be an awe-inspiring opportunity so make sure to get up a bit early to reach the meeting point at Jokulsarlon in time.
Beside the lagoon is the Diamond Beach, where these chunks of ice wash up upon the shore and create a beautiful, sparkling phenomenon. After admiring this area, you can continue onto Höfn, where you will spend the night.
On day five, you will drive through the little-travelled Eastfjords.
The Eastfjords are a remote and beautiful area, with dramatic mountains, deserted inlets, and a wealth of wildlife; keep your eye on the beaches for seals, and on the surrounding country for reindeer. This is the only part of Iceland where you can see the latter.
Using your itinerary, you will be able to find many unique locations to stop and admire the deserted nature. The two most visited sites in the area, however, you will find beside Egilsstaðir. The first is Iceland’s largest forest, Hallormsstaðaskógur, where there are many trails for avid hikers. The second is a serene lake called Lagarfljót, said to hold a terrible beast, legends of which far out-date those of the Loch Ness Monster.
You will spend the night in the largest settlement of the east, Egilsstaðir.
For your sixth day, you will travel through the rest of the Eastfjords, to the Lake Mývatn region. The scenery promises to be as spectacular as the day before, as you wind between great peaks and a beautiful stretch of coast.
You will reach Lake Mývatn, and can start to explore the many sites in the area. Because your arrival is likely to be quite late and you have the full day here tomorrow, however, it may be preferable to just bask in the Mývatn Nature Baths to recharge before retiring to your accommodation in the area.
Take your time soaking in the mineral-rich waters, surrounded by the unspoilt nature. If the night is clear you might be able to enjoy the northern lights while relaxing in this geothermal paradise.
Visiting the sites around Mývatn will take up your seventh day. The lakes themselves, with the strange basalt formations that rise from their shallow waters, are fascinating enough, but barely scratch the surface of what there is to see.
You can visit the Dimmuborgir lava fields, called the ‘Dark Fortress’ due to the scale and colouration of the rocks in the area; Grjótagjá, a hot-spring cave that was used as a setting in Game of Thrones; the pseudo-craters of Skútustaðagígar; the geothermal areas of Námaskarð; and so on. Your itinerary will no doubt be packed.
If you're still looking for adventure, you could choose to go dogsledding, enjoying the day with a pack of fluffy and friendly huskies on the white planes near the lake.
You will retire again at Mývatn.
On your eighth day, you will drive over to the capital of the North, Akureyri. Before reaching it, you could detour to the coastal town of Húsavík, the surrounding seas of which are renowned for their abundance of marine life. You could also visit the magnificent waterfall Goðafoss.
In Akureyri, there is plenty to do. The town has the world’s most northerly botanical gardens, a festive Christmas House, excellent ski slopes, and a geothermally heated pool.
Retire for the night in the capital of the North.
On day nine, you will journey south from Akureyri to Reykjavík. This drive is long, but it won't feel that way, as the entire route dotted with dozens of sights worth seeing.
You could make a stop at the rock formation Hvítserkur, which rises from the waters of the coast in the shape of a drinking elephant. A little further South, you could head to the historical town of Reykholt, the home of the legendary medieval historian, chieftain and writer Snorri Sturluson, and visit the museum dedicated to him, called Snorrastofa.
There are also beautiful waterfalls en route; Barnafoss rushes down a narrow, twisting gorge, while its neighbour, Hraunfossar, is much wider, shorter, and more serene, trickling out of the edge of a large lava field. Nearby, you can find Europe’s highest flowing hot-spring, Deildartunguhver, which pumps up over 180 litres of near boiling water every second.
You could opt for a guided tour into Víðgelmir lava tube. This large cave is just shy of 1600 metres long and is one of the largest lava caves in the world. If you're in the mood for some cold, rather than the warm embrace of the earth, you can visit the ice tunnels of Langjökull glacier instead. These man-made tunnels reach deep into the ice, creating halls and corridors of brilliant blue and white.
You will reach Reykjavík by late afternoon or evening and will spend your night here.
On your tenth day, you will have to return your vehicle to Keflavík airport and take your flight home. If you have a late flight, you can use the hours to get to know Reykjavík better, see Hallgrímskirkja church or do some last minute shopping.
If you missed it after you landed, you could head on out to the Blue Lagoon to recharge in the silica filled waters before your journey home.
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.
The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, and therefore cannot be guaranteed, but this itinerary is designed to maximise your chances to see them if weather allows.
It can happen, in the case of extreme weather, that an activity is cancelled. If your chosen activity is cancelled, we will assist you with rearranging or booking other activities when possible, and any potential price difference will be refunded to you. Please note that though the tour is available to book from September to May, the ice caves are only accessible from November to March each year.
Note that Icelandic roads and pavements can be slippery in the wintertime. We recommend you bring shoes with slip-resistant soles or ice-grip shoe covers. The covers can be purchased in most supermarkets and gas stations around the country.
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 budget and comfort 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). For quality level, odd number groups will always be allocated a single room. 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.
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, maximum 2 years of age, and include standard Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), 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. In wintertime, all cars have winter tyres.
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, or similar. Comfortably fit up to 4 travellers 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 Renault Trafic (2WD manual), Mercedes Benz Vito (4WD automatic, has highland capabilities and better suited for winter driving), or similar. Comfortable for 5 to 7 travellers. If seated full, luggage space is limited. The driver must be of 23 years of age or above.
You can now add meals to your booking. Select to include dinner on every night as an optional extra, and we will provide you with vouchers as part of your booking confirmation. We will choose from top-rated restaurants that fit with your vacation itinerary and make your reservations for you. At the restaurant, you will be offered a set menu, from which you can choose from meat, fish or vegetarian options. If you would prefer something else, the voucher will act as a credit that you can redeem at the restaurant against menu items that are not part of the set menu. Please notify the restaurant on arrival about any dietary requirements. Vouchers are non-refundable.
This insurance guarantees that you can cancel tour and package bookings and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost. The cost of your cancellation insurance depends on the duration of your tour or package. A base cost of 5,000 ISK per person is applied to all tours and packages with a duration of 5 days or less. An additional 1,000 ISK per person will be added to the insurance cost for each day after. The cancellation must be made more than 48 hours before the listed starting time on your voucher. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact firstname.lastname@example.org and declare full cancellation. Please note that this insurance covers the cancellation of the whole tour or package. Individual services cannot be cancelled and refunded separately, but are all covered and refunded in case of a full cancellation.