12 Day Self Drive Tour | Circle Of Iceland | National Parks

Book now for a magical 12-day tour of Iceland. See all the famous spots, and discover some secret, unspoiled treasures on this self-drive trip of a lifetime.

You'll get to see the famous Golden Circle, the incredible Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, all three of our national parks, the East- and Westfjords, and so much more. The beauty of this self-drive is that you are behind the wheel; there are no tour guides, meeting points, or other groups to worry about. You go wherever you want to, decide when to arrive, and when to leave.

We understand that you are visiting Iceland to encounter the outdoors at its best, and to escape the metropolitan world. That's why we've included spectacular places in our custom made itinerary not known to many others, along you to truly immerse yourself in the untouched nature. You will receive this plan, sculpted by local experts, after you book.

To add some extra adventure to your trip, you can choose to book additional activities with this package. These include: snorkelling in Silfra gorge; boating across the glacier lagoon; hiking on or snowmobiling across a glacier; caving; whale watching; and horse-riding. You can even take a walk inside Langjökull glacier itself, or descend into the magma chamber of an extinct volcano. Take what you want and leave the rest, to help create the holiday you have always dreamt of.

Enjoy our beautiful summer doing what you love, and explore every region of Iceland with this complete trip! Check the booking availability by pressing 'Choose a date'.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: Apr. - Oct.
  • Duration: 12 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Hiking, Snowmobile, Whale Watching, Sightseeing, Boat Trip, Hot Spring Bathing, Bird watching, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: Reykjavík, Akureyri, Jökulsárlón, Snæfellsjökull, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Dyrhólaey, Þingvellir, Snæfellsnes, Höfn, Stykkishólmur, Borgarnes, Egilsstaðir, Arctic Comfort Hotel, Lake Myvatn, South Coast, Ring Road
Pickup information:
  • Starting time : Flexible

Included:
  • 11 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 12 days (VW Polo or similar. Upgrades available)

  • CDW, SCDW and gravel protection insurance for vehicle

  • GPS system

  • Blue Lagoon standard entrance (upgrades available)

  • Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland

  • Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary

  • Taxes

  • Fuel

  • Dinner

  • Lunch


What to bring:
  • Warm Clothes

  • Camera

  • Swimsuit

  • Driver's license


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.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland and Exploring Reykjavik




Welcome to Iceland! Your car will be waiting for you at the airport, ready to go. If you're on an early flight, you will probably have some time to drive around the Reykjanes Peninsula, which is full of geological wonders, or even visit the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. 

The entrance to the lagoon is included in the price, and is an excellent way to relax after a flight. It can be just as nice, however, as a final goodbye to Iceland, so you could save it until your last day.

A horseback riding tour is also optional in the afternoon.

Once in Reykjavík, settle into your accommodation, and start to explore the city on foot. Check out the many boutiques, galleries, museums, restaurants and bars, and see some of the architectural sights, such as Harpa concert hall.

Spend the night in Reykjavík.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík budget

Capital Inn is a 2 star hotel 3 km out of the city centre, with a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

Reykjavík Comfort

The Centerhotel chain has six 3-4 star centrally located hotels in Reykjavík, with a short walk to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 2 - The Golden Circle Attractions




Day two brings you to some of the best-known natural phenomena in Iceland on the Golden Circle route. The first stop is at the Þingvellir National Park.

This incredible location is in the rift valley between two continental plates; you can walk between Europe and North America here. The area is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site due its history; in 930 AD, early settlers founded the world's first representative parliament here. You may opt into a snorkelling tour in the park, within the crystal clear Silfra ravine.

The next stop is the Geysir geothermal area. The famous Geysir is not too active, but amongst the many hot pools and steaming vents, you'll see Strokkur blast water 20 to 40 m (66 to 131 ft) high every few minutes.

A few kilometres away is Iceland's most popular attraction, and the final stop on the Golden Circle, the mighty waterfall Gullfoss. A pathway takes you right to the water's edge, where you can get a real sense of the enormous power of the falls. From Gullfoss waterfall, you have the option to add an adrenaline-filled snowmobile trip on Langjökull glacier. On this day, you can also book an Inside the Volcano tour, where you can descend into the vast, vividly coloured magma chamber of a sleeping volcano.

Head south when you are ready; your accommodation for the night will be in the Hvolsvöllur area.


Preferred accommodation by Hvolsvöllur

Hvolsvöllur Budget

Hellishólar Guesthouse is a 2 star hotel located a few kilometres east of Hvolsvöllur, heading towards Þórsmörk. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Hvolsvöllur Comfort

Hotel Hvolsvöllur is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Hvolsvöllur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Hvolsvöllur Quality

Hotel Rangá is a 4 star hotel situated between the towns of Hella and Hvolsvöllur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Views towards Rangá river or Hekla volcano. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 3 - South Coast Waterfalls and Black Sands




Day three is the start of your Ring Road drive, as you head to the south coast. Your first stops are two magnificent waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. You can walk all the way around the former, and hike a staircase for views from the top of the latter.

Next along the way is the glacier Sólheimajökull. Here, you can stop to take a fascinating glacier hike or exhilarating snowmobiling tour; whichever you choose, you will not be disappointed.

Along the coast near Vík, take a slight detour to stop and admire the black volcanic beach Reynisfjara. Be careful, however, as the waves here are unpredictable and dangerous. From the shore, you can see the dramatic promontory of Dyrhólaey and Reynisdrangar rock formations. At the peak of summer, keep an eye out for puffins and other seabirds, which nest in the area.

More sights along the way include the Mýrdalsjökull glacier and the quaint village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Spend the night in the town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur or the Skaftafell area.


Preferred accommodation by Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Budget

Klausturhof Guesthouse is centrally located within Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Comfort

Hotel Geirland is a 3 star hotel located in the countryside 2 kilometres away from Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Quality

Icelandair Hotel Klaustur is a 3 star hotel centrally located within Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Modern private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 4 - Skaftafell Park - Jökulsárlón and Diamond Beach




Spend the day taking in the many sights and optional activities available in the beautiful Skaftafell area of the Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland's largest national park.

If you enjoy hiking, you will find many trails here, tailored for all levels of experience and mobility, including one that leads to the beautiful Svartifoss waterfall. You can also choose to go on a guided glacier hike on the nearby Skaftafellsjokull if you like.

Soon after the national park, you'll reach one of Iceland’s most famous attractions and top photo opportunities, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Here you can watch icebergs break from a glacier and sail out to the ocean; their beauty is mesmerising. You can opt into a boat tour into the lagoon for a closer look. Be sure to check out Diamond Beach after, where these bergs wash up on the black sands.

Spend the night in Höfn.


Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Budget

Gerði Guesthouse is located about 13km east of Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi in main building. Breakfast not included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Comfort

Hotel Höfn is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Höfn. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Quality

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is a 4 star hotel located right between Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Ocean or mountain views. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 5 - Eastern Fjords of Iceland - Egilsstaðir




Spend your fifth day on a zigzagging journey along the East Fjords, passing by tranquil fishing villages and sweeping coastal landscapes. The East Fjords are incredibly beautiful; keep your eye out when you are driving for puffins, seals, and reindeer.

A cousin of the legendary Loch Ness monster is lurking in the milky waters of Lake Lögurinn. This monster serpent was first described in 1345 and has since entered into local legend. Keep an eye out if you stop here. You may also want to visit Iceland's largest forest, Hallormsstaðaskógur, for some hiking and bird-watching.

Spend the night in the Egilsstaðir area.


Preferred accommodation by Egilsstaðir

Egilsstaðir Budget

Grái Hundurinn Guesthouse is located in a forested area 25km south of Egilsstaðir, and a 15 minute walk from Atlavík bay. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi available in nearby sister hotel. Breakfast not included.

Egilsstaðir Comfort

Lake Hotel Egilsstaðir is a 3 star hotel located in a short walking distance from the centre of Egilsstaðir but also right by the lake. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Spa on site for additional price. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Egilsstaðir Quality

Icelandair Hotel Hérað is a 3 star hotel centrally located within Egilsstaðir town. Bright, private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included, with focus on local ingredients.


Day 6 - Lake Mývatn - Volcanoes, Craters & other Mysteries




Day six takes you north to Lake Mývatn, an area known for its geothermal landscapes and popular hot spring area, the Námaskarð hot springs. Make sure to visit Dimmuborgir, the Dark Fortress, named as such because of the dramatic formations the lava takes here. You'll also enjoy the volcano Krafla with its crater lake called Víti. There's another crater in Iceland with that name, so make sure you don't confuse the two!

The hot spring lava cave of Grjótagjá is also very much worth a visit, and you can test its waters if you like. The highest temperatures recorded were in 1984, when the temperature topped 50 degrees C (122 degrees F). Since then, the temperature has steadily dropped but is still incredibly warm.

If the idea of a hot soak catches your fancy, you may look forward to the nearby Mývatn Nature Baths with their more bearable temperatures and silica-rich waters instead. Afterwards, head even further north and find your accommodation in the town of Akureyri.

Explore this charming town; it has plenty of good shops and museums, as well as one of the world's northernmost botanical gardens.


Preferred accommodation by Akureyri

Akureyri Budget

Acco Akureyri is centrally located in Akureyri. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms and a shared kitchen. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Akureyri Comfort

Hotel Norðurland is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Akureyri. Spacious and bright private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Akureyri Quality

Icelandair Hotel Akureyri (Deluxe room) is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Akureyri, right next to the swimming pool. Private bedroom with a living room area and a private bathroom. Great views from the 5th floor. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 7 - Vatnajökull National Park & Dettifoss Falls




Use the seventh day to explore a little more of the Lake Mývatn area and its unique surroundings. A drive through the Jökulsárgljúfur part of Vatnajökull National Park and a visit to Dettifoss Falls, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, are recommended in this area.

Another great option is to join a whale watching tour at the nearby village of Húsavík, renowned as the whale watching capital of Europe. If not, you could enjoy a day in the Eyjafjörður fjord, exploring the beautiful valleys, and hiking to Súlur peak for some amazing views.

Spend another night in the capital of the north.


Preferred accommodation by Akureyri

Akureyri Budget

Acco Akureyri is centrally located in Akureyri. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms and a shared kitchen. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Akureyri Comfort

Hotel Norðurland is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Akureyri. Spacious and bright private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Akureyri Quality

Icelandair Hotel Akureyri (Deluxe room) is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Akureyri, right next to the swimming pool. Private bedroom with a living room area and a private bathroom. Great views from the 5th floor. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 8 - Ljósavatn Lake - Troll Peninsula




On day eight, stop at Ljósavatn Lake before continuing towards Skagafjörður, a valley known for its abundance of Icelandic horses. You can opt into a horse riding tour in this region.

You will also pass through the beautiful, mountainous area of Tröllaskagi (Troll Peninsula), the old herring-fishing village of Siglufjörður, and Hofsós, where you can enjoy the wonderful scenery from the town’s thermal pool.

Nearby you can also find interesting, local, Icelandic handicrafts, in the galleries Alþýðulist or Rúnalist. Spend the night in the area around Blönduós.


Preferred accommodation by Blönduós

Blönduós Budget

Blanda Hostel is centrally located within Blönduós town in north Iceland. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom, lounge and kitchen. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast not included.

Blönduós Comfort

Hotel Blanda is centrally located within Blönduós town in north Iceland with a view towards Blanda river and the sea. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast is included.

Blönduós Quality

Hotel Laugarbakki (Superior room) is a 3 star hotel situated in the countryside south of the town Hvammstangi with a view over nearby river. Spacious private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to outside hot tubs and an indoor gym. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 9 - Kirkjufell - Snæfellsnes Peninsula




On your ninth day, aim to reach the charming village of Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. On the way, you might want to make a little detour and visit the sea stack Hvítserkur, near the town of Blönduós.

The iconic mountain of Kirkjufell is near the village of Grundarfjörður and offers truly impressive photo ops that you may not want to miss; it is situated by a stunning lake and picturesque waterfall. Together, the three make a portrait of Iceland that can't be beaten.

Spend the night in the Snæfellsnes area.


Preferred accommodation by Snæfellsnes

Snæfellsnes Budget

Hof Guesthouse is situated on the southern side of Snæfellsnes peninsula, just a few hundred metres from the beach. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom, living room and kitchen. Free access to a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast not included.

Snæfellsnes Comfort

Fosshotel Stykkishólmur is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Stykkishólmur. Spacious hotel with a view towards the bay. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Snæfellsnes Quality

Hotel Búðir is a 4 star hotel on the southern side of Snæfellsnes peninsula, with a view towards Snæfellsjökull glacier and to the sea. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 10 - Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Depth




Snæfellsnes peninsula has a plethora of beautiful spots and exciting activities to discover.

The stratovolcano Snæfellsjökull in Snæfellsjökull National Park is located a the tip of the peninsula. Around here you can visit some beautiful stretches of coast, such as at Dritvík cove, and the beach of Djúpalónssandur.

You can take your time in the small, charming hamlets of Arnarstapi, Hellnar, and Búðir and hike along the cliffs. You might also want to visit the lava tube cave Vatnshellir.

Spend another night in Snæfellsnes.


Preferred accommodation by Snæfellsnes

Snæfellsnes Budget

Hof Guesthouse is situated on the southern side of Snæfellsnes peninsula, just a few hundred metres from the beach. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom, living room and kitchen. Free access to a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast not included.

Snæfellsnes Comfort

Fosshotel Stykkishólmur is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Stykkishólmur. Spacious hotel with a view towards the bay. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Snæfellsnes Quality

Hotel Búðir is a 4 star hotel on the southern side of Snæfellsnes peninsula, with a view towards Snæfellsjökull glacier and to the sea. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 11 - History and Cascades of Hraunfossar




On day eleven, explore West Iceland with its diverse attractions. These include the Icelandic Settlement Centre in Borgarnes, which explores the history of the beginning of this nation, and Deildartunguhver, the largest hot spring in Europe. Further along, be sure to visit the captivating Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls.

History buffs may also enjoy a visit to Snorrastofa, the medieval research institute in Reykholt, where the early settler Snorri Sturluson wrote Saga Heimskringla in the 13th century. He also wrote the bible of old Norse mythology, Edda.

On this day, you can take one of two radically different cave tours. You can go down the more traditional route, and opt into the exploration of the lava tube Viðgelmir; otherwise, you can travel to Langjökull and explore the glacier from the inside, down some incredible man-made channels.

On the way back to Reykjavik, you could choose to drive along the very scenic Hvalfjörður fjord instead of taking the toll tunnel. At the bottom of the fjord, you can stretch your legs on a 2-hour hike to Iceland's tallest waterfall, Glymur.

Spend the night in the capital.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík budget

Capital Inn is a 2 star hotel 3 km out of the city centre, with a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

Reykjavík Comfort

The Centerhotel chain has six 3-4 star centrally located hotels in Reykjavík, with a short walk to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 12 - Departure and Farewell to Iceland




Drop off your car at Keflavík airport in time for your departure flight. If you are lucky enough to be taking an afternoon or evening flight, consider fitting in one last fantastic Icelandic experience.

If you didn't go to the Blue Lagoon on your arrival day, then a revitalising visit to the world-famous spa is a beautiful way to end your Icelandic adventure. Alternatively, you could go on a short horseback riding tour just outside of Reykjavík in the morning.

We hope this has been the trip of a lifetime, and you'll come back soon.


Accommodation

See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Single person bookings will be arranged in a single room, while bookings of 2 or more people will share twin/double room(s) or triple room(s). Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available hotels and guesthouses 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. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. The sooner you reserve the higher quality accommodation we can provide. Press choose a date at the top to find availability.

Budget

Rooms with shared bathrooms in farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.

Comfort

Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.

Quality

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.


Car

Guide to Iceland has a wide selection of vehicles and seeks to provide you with the best available car from our preferred rental operators, who offer the highest quality vehicles and service to our guests. Our self-drive packages include a newer model, usually a maximum of 2 years old and equipped with a GPS and basic CDW insurance. See the categories of available vehicles below. We recommend a comfortable 4X4 as a minimal standard for winter traveling due to icy and challenging road conditions. In the booking process, you can also upgrade to an automatic model for free.

Budget

A small 2WD vehicle fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions, such as VW Polo, Toyota Yaris or similar. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities.

Comfort 4X4

A medium sized jeep or SUV with 4WD (4x4) fit for most travel, and good for snow and off-asphalt travel, such as Toyota Rav4 or similar. This vehicle has basic highland capabilities.

Luxury 4x4

A large sized jeep with 4WD (4x4) such as Toyota Land Cruiser or similar, fit for nearly all traveling. This vehicle has full highland capabilities to drive on accessible mountain roads.


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