In-Depth 11 Day Summer Self Drive Tour of the Complete Ring Road with Waterfalls & Hot Springs
Savor your time in Iceland with this in-depth 11-day summer self-drive tour. You'll get to know Iceland's Ring Road better than the average traveler by spending more time exploring the incredible northern region and the phenomenal South Coast of Iceland. Drive the circle of Iceland in a clockwise direction and add or skip as many stops as you see fit.
This self-drive itinerary enables you to see all the essentials plus some lesser-known gems, all at a great price! Visiting Iceland in the summer is an excellent choice. You'll experience unforgettable nights in mild weather under the Midnight Sun.
Soak in the legendary Blue Lagoon before heading on the road trip of a lifetime. You'll start with the area sometimes nicknamed 'Iceland in Miniature,' Snaefellsnes Peninsula for a full day to discover its multitude of natural wonders before a three-day deep dive into the north of Iceland. This beautiful part of the country is often glossed over in trips around the Ring Road, but this travel plan includes many more charming and lesser-known sights. You'll explore Akureyri town, Trollaskagi (Troll Peninsula), the Diamond Circle consisting of Myvatn lake, Husavik village, and much, much more.
Then you'll have a day to look around the Eastfjords. The quaint villages along the shore are one of Iceland's best-kept secrets. After driving through the winding roads of the Eastfjords, you will be greeted by the most popular attractions of Iceland that dot the South Coast: Vatnajokull national park, Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, Skaftafell nature reserve, the town Vik, Reynisfjara black sand beach with its sea stacks, Solheimajokull glacier and of course the waterfalls Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss.
Of course, no trip to Iceland would be complete without the classic Golden Circle: Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir geothermal area, and Thingvellir National Park, which you'll visit before heading to Reykjavik city. You'll have a whole day to soak up the atmosphere of Iceland's capital city before heading home.
You also have the opportunity to add exciting extras to your already fantastic schedule. Activities like whale watching, visiting an ice cave, relaxing in geothermal baths, and going inside a volcano can be added to the appropriate day during the booking process.
This trip is for anyone who wants to explore Iceland in-depth at a comfortable pace. Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland
First things first, you'll pick up your car at the airport in Keflavik. From there, you'll drive through the lava fields of the Reykjanes peninsula towards Reykjavik city, where you'll find your accommodation for the night.
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.
Once you settle in at your accommodation, make sure to take a walk and have a look around. Reykjavik is a vibrant metropolis full of cute little cafés, world-class restaurants, interesting museums, and shops full of souvenirs to bring home.
Your first night in Iceland will be spent in Reykjavik.
Day 2 - Snaefellsnes Peninsula
You'll spend your first full day in Iceland exploring one of the country's most fascinating regions, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. The area is sometimes nicknamed 'Iceland in Miniature' because it is so rich in its variety of natural wonders.
You'll have many chances to stop and explore during your drive around Snaefellsnes. In Grundarfjordur fjord, you could take a look at Kirkjufell mountain, known for being 'the mountain shaped like an arrowhead' on the television show Game of Thrones.
You could also explore another natural wonder associated with foreign literature, Snaefellsjokull glacier, the glacier from which the peninsula gets its name, is known for being the entrance to the center of the earth in Jules Verne's classic novel Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Other attractions include Djupalonssandur, a beautiful black sand beach where you'll see an impressive shipwreck, and the basalt columns off the shore of the small fishing village Arnarstapi. The peninsula also has plenty of charming villages for you to stop in, many of which have swimming pools you can enjoy. Among the towns worth exploring are Olafsvik and Stykkisholmur.
For those who crave even more adventure, there are optional extras to be added on this day. If you would like to explore the insides of the earth, like the characters in Journey to the Center of the Earth, the Vatnshellir Cave Tour is the perfect addition to your day. You will descend approximately 115 ft (35 m) below the surface on this hour-long tour.
If your adventurous side is more of the culinary type, then the Viking sushi boat tour in Breidafjordur is a better choice for you. You'll embark on a voyage to experience the beauty of west Iceland by boat, and at the end of the cruise, you'll get a chance to taste fresh scallops and roe like the Vikings would've enjoyed it.
After an exciting day, you'll stay the night on the Snaefellsnes peninsula.
Day 3 - Heading North
It's time for you to head north to new adventures. On your way to Akureyri, you'll encounter many beautiful sights. We recommend stopping along the way and choosing one of the optional extras for an extra special day.
We suggest you visit Hvitserkur sea stack in Hunafloi bay. The sea stack is home to birdlife and plants that you can see from Vatnsnes peninsula. Sometimes called 'The Troll of Northwest Iceland,' Hvitserkur is believed to be a petrified troll.
From one troll to another, Trollaskagi peninsula, or simply the Troll peninsula, as some choose to call it, is an area full of awe-inspiring mountains and a beautiful coastline.
There are two different but equally fun optional extras that can be added to this day. One is a whale-watching tour departing from Akureyri. Eyjafjordur fjord, which Akureyri town is located in, is a picturesque setting to visit the giants of the ocean. You're likely to spot humpback whales and white-beaked dolphins, and you might even be lucky enough to see blue whales, orcas, and fin whales.
Another optional extra available to you on this day is the Beer Spa. The experience you'll have at Bjorbodin Beer Spa is like no other, you'll relax in a warm bath of beer and beer yeast, which is good for the skin, and of course, those who want can sip on a nice cold beer while in the tub.
This night you'll stay in Iceland's capital of the north, Akureyri.
Day 4 - Godafoss and Husavik
You've got another packed day in the beautiful Northern Region of Iceland ahead of you.
The first stop of the day is at the impressive Godafoss waterfall in the river Skjalfandafljot. After that, you'll drive to the delightful town Husavik, sometimes called the Whale Watching Capital of Iceland. There are two whale watching tours among your optional extras for the day, both departing from Husavik.
After a no-doubt memorable time in Husavik, you'll drive towards Myvatn lake. The shallow volcanic lake Myvatn is surrounded by incredible flora and fauna. The area has plenty of beautiful views, and there are some pretty exciting extras you can add for the full Lake Myvatn experience.
You can choose from two Husavik whale watching tours, either a more traditional boat tour or a thrilling whale and puffin safari on a RIB boat.
You could also choose to spend your time in Husavik soaking in the Geosea Geothermal Baths if you prefer a more relaxing day. Or you could wait until later in the day and take a dip at Myvatn Nature Baths, geothermally heated pools near Myvatn lake, where you can unwind before tucking in for the night.
Your accommodation for the night will be close to Lake Myvatn.
Day 5 - Myvatn or Asbyrgi
Today you have options to choose from. You can explore the Myvatn area further, take the trip to Asbyrgi canyon, or you can choose an optional day tour to Askja caldera and Viti crater.
If you didn't get your fill of the Myvatn region the day before, you can take your time and immerse yourself in the gorgeous nature of the area today. The lake itself is, of course, beautiful, and on the south side of it, you'll see Skutustadagigar pseudocraters. Close by the lake, you'll find Dimmuborgir, or the Dark Fortress, which has gothic-looking rock formations. Within it, you'll find Grjotagja hot spring cave, which some might recognize from the Game of Thrones TV show.
You've seen three of the four attractions that make up the Diamond Circle sightseeing route on the previous day: Husavik, Dettifoss, and Myvatn. If you'd like to complete the Diamond Circle, you could use your day to drive to the last stop, Asbyrgi canyon, a beautiful horseshoe-shaped canyon.
If you choose one of the two options described above, you can add an entrance to Vok Baths as an extra on this day. Vok Baths are geothermally heated pools which extend into lake Urridavatn, allowing you to immerse yourself in Icelandic nature. The perfect addition to an active day.
The other optional extra available on this day will take up the whole day. It's a tour to Askja caldera and Viti crater. This Askja lunar tour takes you into the rugged highlands of Iceland, where astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin trained for the moon landing.
You'll stay the night in Egilsstadir, ready to explore the East tomorrow.
Day 6 - Eastfjords
Today you'll spend your time exploring the wonderful Eastfjords region of Iceland, an area with diverse and beautiful landscapes, which is less visited than many other parts of Iceland.
A great first stop of the day is the town Seydisfjordur. The town's atmosphere is adorable, the houses are colorful, and the church is one of the most Instagrammable locations in Iceland. In Seydisfjordur you can also find lots of lovely places to have lunch.
As you continue your drive along the coastline of East Iceland, there are plenty of other picturesque fishing villages you can stop in. Other places worth visiting are lake Lagarfljot which supposedly has a monster living in it, Iceland's largest forest Hallormsstadaskogur, and the artwork The Eggs of Merry Bay in Djupivogur.
An increasingly popular East Iceland destination for travelers, especially those interested in photography, is Stokksnes peninsula. It's slightly off the beaten track but well worth it for the beautiful views of Vestrahorn mountain.
Your accommodation tonight will be near Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon and the town Hofn.
Day 7 - Jokulsarlon and Skaftafell
Today is dedicated to the wonders of Vatnajokull National Park, a wilderness area in South Iceland. The National Park is full of beautiful sights to see, and of course, it's home to Europe's largest ice cap, Vatnajokull glacier.
The crown jewel of Iceland, Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, is today's star attraction. It's a lagoon full of gorgeous blue and white icebergs which break from the glacier and float peacefully out to sea. Some of the ice washes ashore nearby on Breidamerkursandur beach, which has given it the nickname, the Diamond Beach, since the hunks of ice laying on the black sand beach look like shining diamonds.
An optional extra you can add while at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon is a boat tour on the lake. You can choose either the more thrilling Zodiac tour or the more relaxed and family-friendly amphibian boat tour. Both tours bring you closer to the beauty of the lagoon.
After you admire the loose icebergs of Jokulsarlon and the Diamond Beach, it's time to head to Skaftafell Nature Reserve. There you can find a selection of scenic hiking trails to walk and take in the stunning views. If you're feeling ambitious, you can start the day early to have enough time to hike to Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell.
You could also add an optional extra at Skaftafell if you fancy a glacier hike in the afternoon. There's nothing quite like stepping foot on a real-life glacier. A glacier hike is a worthy addition to your adventure, and Skaftafell is a beautiful location for a walk.
You'll be staying in the village Vik for the night.
Day 8 - South Coast
There is a lot to see today as you make your way down the South Coast of Iceland. There are many exciting stops you can make along the way, including waterfalls and black sand beaches. There are also some exciting extras which you can add to this day.
You could start your day by visiting lesser-known attractions like the waterfall Foss a Sidu and Fjadrargljufur canyon before heading to the must-see attractions around the village Vik. The village itself is worth a visit, but the main draw is the gorgeous views at Reynisfjara black sand beach. There you can see Reynisdrangar sea stacks and Dyrholaey, the peninsula with an arch-shaped hole.
Next up on the South Coast are the two legendary waterfalls Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss. The powerful Skogafoss waterfall is up first. Make sure you have time to stop here and walk up to the waterfall to feel the mist on your face. Seljalandsfoss waterfall is also impressive, and you can walk behind it due to a small alcove in the cliff wall.
If you'd like a more unusual experience in South Iceland, you could hike up to Seljavallalaug pool. This is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland. It is outside under the open skies, and it takes a bit of walking to get there, but the views are well worth it.
You can choose from two options to add extra activity to this day. The first is a visit to the Katla ice cave, a spectacular frozen cave in Kotlujokull glacier. The other option is a glacier hike on Solheimajokull glacier, an unforgettable experience.
You'll stay the night in the area of Selfoss.
Day 9 - Golden Circle
Day nine will bring you to Iceland's classic sightseeing route: The Golden Circle. A three-part circle with plenty of other stops available along the way. This is an essential day for anyone visiting Iceland.
The first stop on your Golden Circle is Gullfoss waterfall, a powerful and beautiful waterfall that you can admire from the conveniently situated viewing platforms, or you can walk down some steps and up to the actual waterfall to hear and feel its power.
Next up is the geothermal area around Geysir hot spring. The main attraction there is Geysir's neighboring hot spring Strokkur which erupts every 8-10 minutes to the delight of onlookers.
To add more geological wonders to your Golden Circle, you can stop at Kerid crater lake or Reykjadalur valley. In Reykjadalur, you can even take a dip in a river that is hot, thanks to the surrounding hot springs.
To finish up the Golden Circle, you'll stop at Thingvellir National Park, the most geographically and historically significant place in Iceland. For hundreds of years, the Icelandic parliament gathered in Thingvellir each summer and many significant moments in the country's history happened there. Thingvellir is also where you can see the rift in the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.
On this day, you can also choose to snorkel in Silfra fissure at Thingvellir, Snowmobile on Langjokull glacier, or go horse riding.
You'll be staying in Reykjavik City this night.
Day 10 - Reykjavik City
On your last full day in Iceland, you'll spend the day in the country's capital, Reykjavik. The city is bustling with life, and you'll have no problem finding things to do. You can visit some of the city's museums, go shopping, or simply take in the atmosphere on a walk in the city center.
If you want more action on this day, we have a few suggestions for activities that you can add as extras to make your day in Reykjavik special. If you'd like to visit lots of different places, we recommend adding the 24-hour City Card, which grants you access to pools in the capital, the zoo, and all sorts of museums in Reykjavik. This lets you customize the perfect day out in Reykjavík.
If you'd prefer a more specific museum experience, you can add an entrance to Whales of Iceland instead. There you'll get to know the gentle giants of the sea through extraordinary displays. You can also enjoy some refreshments at their cafe.
You can also choose to take flight on this day by adding an extra helicopter tour. This Geothermal helicopter tour is a great way to learn more about Iceland's nature and get a unique perspective on the beautiful views near Reykjavik.
If you'd like to get even more immersed in the geology of Iceland, you could opt for the Inside the Volcano tour, where you literally go inside a volcano's empty magma chamber. You'll be brought to Thrihnjukagigur volcano, just outside of the city, and there you'll descend into a cave that once was filled with hot, molten lava.
You'll stay another night in Reykjavik, resting up for departure day.
Day 11 - Departure
All good things come to an end, and this tour is no different. The last day of your Iceland tour has arrived. It might feel like it's come too soon, but you're always welcome to return to Iceland for more adventures.
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.