11 Day Budget Self Drive Tour of the Complete Ring Road of Iceland with the East Fjords & Myvatn
Travel all around the island of ice and fire on this eleven-day budget self-drive tour. This wallet-friendly tour is the perfect adventure for those who wish to experience the versatile wonders of the ring road on their own.
Forget bus schedules and take control of the wheel, as you are in charge of your adventures and the time spent at each site. A personal itinerary will guide you to all the top attractions, such as volcanoes, glaciers, and waterfalls.
During the booking process, you can add an array of extra activities. These include snorkeling between two continents in the crystal clear waters of Silfra, whizzing across the ice cap of a glacier on a snowmobile, venturing into a volcanic magma chamber, and riding the friendly Icelandic horse through the countryside.
The personal itinerary you'll receive includes the perfect balance of highlights and hidden gems, allowing you to enjoy a diverse holiday that will last you a lifetime.
So don't wait any longer. Book your self-drive tour now for eleven action-packed days of fun that won't break the bank. Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arriving in Iceland
Pick up your car at Keflavik International Airport and make your way to the capital city, where you will spend your first night in Iceland. On your way, you'll drive past the dark lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula.
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.
This day is entirely yours, so feel free to explore the friendly city of Reykjavik. It is bustling with restaurants, quirky cafés, museums, galleries, shops, and sights.
Day 2 - Golden Circle & the South Coast
On your second day, your ring road adventure begins with Iceland's most popular sites, those on the Golden Circle. First up is Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site nesting on the boundary of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where two continents meet.
If you're up for getting wet, you can opt to swim between two worlds in the crystal clear waters of Silfra Fissure, one of the top diving sites in the world.
Next up is Haukadalur, a valley stock-full of hot springs, steam vents, mud pools, and last but not least, active geysers. Watch as Strokkur hot spring erupts, spouting boiling water 66 ft (20 m) into the air every 5-10 minutes.
You'll finally reach the world-renowned Gullfoss falls, where you can marvel at the unharnessed power of this cascade. A river originating in the Langjokull glacier rushes southwards before plummeting into a 105 ft (32 m) gorge, creating this beautiful waterfall.
At Gullfoss, you can add a snowmobile excursion on top of that same glacier to race across the pearly-white ice cap. You can also get to know the fantastic Icelandic horse on a horse riding tour through the countryside.
As you continue along the south coast, make sure to stop and visit the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, both located just off the ring road. Your final destination of the day is the coastal village Vik, home to the black beach Reynisfjara and its eerie sea stacks Reynisdrangar.
You'll spend the night at an accommodation in Vik.
Day 3 - Glaciers & Icebergs
On your third day, allow the fresh icy air to fill your lungs. You will have the option of adding an adventure in Myrdalsjokull glacier, where you descend into a natural ice cave.
Then, you'll continue down the south coast to explore the many sights of Vatnajokull National Park. Hiking enthusiasts will find an array of trails and tracks at Skaftafell Nature Reserve. One such trail leads to the natural gem Svartifoss Waterfall and its hexagonal black basalt columns. You can opt for a glacier hike at Skaftafell, where you'll trek across the ice cap of a glacier.
Once you are back on the road, make sure to stop at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon to marvel at the icebergs that have broken off one of Vatnajokull's outlet glaciers. The bergs float and glisten on the lagoon in an ever-changing scenery of serene and natural beauty.
If you want to venture a bit closer, you can add a boat tour of the lagoon. Remember to check out the nearby Diamond Beach, where chunks of ice wash up on shore and sparkle like gemstones on a blanket of black sand.
Your final destination will be the fishing village Hofn, where you will spend the night.
Day 4 - The Eastern Fjords
Your fourth day will see you traversing the breathtaking route of the Eastfjords, a rural and unspoiled part of Iceland dotted with rugged mountains, coastal landscapes, roaming reindeer, and sleeping fishing villages.
The road at hand is spectacular all the way through, and you can decide where to stop along the way. The village Faskrudsfjordur has a fascinating history of relating to France, while the town of Reydarfjordur boasts of a World War II museum.
You'll find a maritime museum in an old 1816 trade house in Eskifjordur town, and two summer-music festivals are held annually in the village of Neskaupstadur.
Your final destination will be Egilsstadir, the largest settlement in the Eastern region with just over 2,000 inhabitants. You'll spend the night at a local accommodation in the area.
Day 5 - Deep into the East Fjords
Today you'll get to explore the Eastern Fjords further. Lake Lagarfljot is a great first stop, as according to legend, a giant worm-like creature lives here.
You could also pack a picnic basket and head to Atlavik Cove, home to lush greenery and a beautiful country river. You can find the cove in Hallormsstadaskogur, Iceland's first national forest.
In the woods, you'll find numerous hiking trails. Two of them lead up to the stunning waterfalls Litlanesfoss and Hengifoss.
If you've upgraded your vehicle to a 4x4, you could drive further inland to Mount Snaefell or the great dam at Karahnjukar. Nearby are the two spectacular canyons Dimmugljufur and Hafrahvammagljufur, the latter of which is 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) in length.
You could also drive to the town of Seyfisfjordur, see its charming old wooden houses and visit the Technical Museum of East Iceland and Seydisfjordur local history heritage museum.
You'll spend another night in your Eastfjords accommodation.
Day 6 - Borgarfjörður Eystri
On your sixth day, you'll make your way to the village of Borgarfjordur Eystri and spend the day exploring its mountainous surroundings.
Here you'll have a myriad of hiking trails to choose from, each varying in length and will lead you to different attractions. One course will take you along the coastline near Husey farm, where seals are often spotted as they search for food in the waters.
Another trail takes you to the giant boulders Storurd. There, the stark contrast of the azure waters, the dark green moss, and the rocky terrain will surely amaze you.
Depending on the season, you can also go bird-watching at the village's bird-watching site. You could spot the adorable Atlantic puffin as the creatures make the area their home in June and July.
After a full day of connecting with nature, you'll spend another night in Egilsstadir or its surrounding areas.
Day 7 - Lake Myvatn
On day seven, it is time to say farewell to the wonders of the East and head up North to your next destination: Lake Myvatn.
The whole area surrounding the lake was formed by a volcanic eruption some 2,500 years ago. Evidence of this explosion can be seen in the free-standing lava pillars which dominate the lake's landscape.
The highlights of the Myvatn area include the geothermal area of Namaskard Pass, the active volcano Krafla, and the haunting lava formations of Dimmuborgir field.
Visitors should also visit Grjotagja, a lava tube cave with a hidden treasure inside: a volcanic hot spring.
Another highlight of the area is the Myvatn Nature Baths. There you can let the silica minerals in the water work their magic on your body and soul after a long day of sightseeing.
Afterward, make your way to Myvatn and get settled into your accommodation.
Day 8 - North Iceland
Get ready to explore the North further. You could head back out to Lake Myvatn for a better look at the area's many sights, or you could drive through Jokulsargljufur Gorge and visit the forest-clad canyon Asbyrgi and the mighty waterfall Dettifoss.
Today you also have the option of embarking on a whale watching tour from Husavik by Skjalfandi bay. The town is known as the 'Whale Watching Capital of Iceland.' You can find up to 24 species of whales in the bay. If you opt for a RIB boat, you'll add a puffin segment to that authentic wildlife experience.
If you feel like heading further, another option is to visit the picturesque island Hrisey located in Eyjafjordur Fjord.
You'll spend the night in Akureyri. If you have more time, you can explore this charming town. Visit its many cafés, restaurants, and shops, and don't forget to take a trip to Brynjuís, the most famous ice-cream shop in Iceland.
Day 9 - Trollaskagi Peninsula
On day nine, you could start your day by going horseback riding in the incredible landscapes of the North. You can also go whale-watching if you missed it yesterday.
Then it is time to head for Skagafjordur, the valley of the roaming horses. After passing through the majestic mountains of Trollaskagi, you'll reach the herring-fishing village Siglufjordur. We recommend stopping at the award-winning Herring Era Museum to quench your thirst for history and ancient Icelandic culture.
Then you'll continue to the tiny village Hofsos. It is the home of a unique geothermal infinity pool where visitors can witness an incredible ocean view that seemingly seamlessly joins the pool's waters.
Close by lies the village Saudarkrokur, where you will spend the night.
Day 10 - West Iceland
Day ten belongs to the West, an area rich in Icelandic settlement history. If that sparks your interest, be sure to visit the Settlement Center in Borgarnes or the medieval research institute Snorrastofa in Reykholt.
Snorrastofa is where some of the greatest Icelandic Sagas were born. Many of them are works of the institute's former resident Snorri Sturluson, a critical scholar of medieval Europe.
Close to Reykholt, you'll find the waterfalls Hraunfossar and Barnafoss, both captivating in a unique way. You can also visit the waterfall Fossatun, which, according to folklore, is guarded by the troll woman Drifa.
While traveling the West, you can opt for two exciting tours. The first one takes you to the colorful underworld of the lava cave Vidgelmir, and the second one leads you through the hallways of an artificial tunnel inside Langjokull glacier.
Then it is time to make your way back to Reykjavik City, but feel free to take a detour of Hvalfjordur and hike to Iceland's second tallest waterfall, Glymur. You can also opt for the fjord tunnel to cut down on your driving time if you are hurrying to get back to the city.
Once back in Reykjavik, you can spend the rest of the day exploring the city. However, if you are up for one last adventure, you can take a tour to descend into the magma chamber of a dormant volcano.
You'll spend your last night in Reykjavik.
Day 11 - Departure
All adventures must end, so be sure to drop off your car at Keflavik International Airport in due time before your flight home.
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.
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. Budget level 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. 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.
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.