Be the master of your time and your wallet on this 13-Day Budget Self-Drive Tour around the Ring Road of Iceland. Don't worry about tour bus schedules or travelling with strangers; this adventure will be at your pace, and you get to decide when to move between all the wondrous locations you'll visit.
You'll get to see all the treasures of the famous Golden Circle sightseeing route, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, just to give you an idea of the natural variety you'll experience. You'll even get to explore the remote and unexampled West Fjords; a treat most visitors tend to miss.
This carefully crafted package provides you with an exclusive vehicle and a detailed personal itinerary so that you can circumference the island of ice and fire on your own accord, trailing between all the primary sights as well as the hidden gems off the beaten path.
It is fair to assume no part of Iceland will be unknown to you after this extensive and locally crafted excursion.
Additionally, there are several exciting adventures you can add to your trip at a discounted price; such as horseback riding and whale-watching in the North, snorkelling in the continental Silfra Fissure, snowmobiling on top of Langjökull glacier, ice caving in Mýrdalsjökull and lava caving in Víðgelmir lava cave, just to name a few!
The best part is, this budget option provides you with all the best deals on accommodation, and you get complete control of your journey's pace and what adventures you want to partake in.
Don't hesitate in booking the road trip of your dreams. Check availability by choosing a date.
On the first day, pick up your car at the Keflavík International Airport and make your way to Reykjavík City.
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 colours 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.
After settling into your accommodation in the capital, feel free to explore the bustling city centre and its myriad of cafés, galleries, bars, museums and restaurants.
You'll spend your first night in Reykjavík.
Your second day sees you leaving the city behind you and kicking off your Iceland adventure with the Golden Circle.
Before you set out on your travels today, you have an incredible opportunity that will forever define your impression of Iceland: a 1-hour helicopter tour over the Geldinadalur volcanic eruption. You’ll depart from Reykjavik Domestic Airport, and after admiring the colourful capital and barren Reykjanes Peninsula from above, make your way to this breathtaking phenomenon. Few adventures can compare to witnessing fire and lava rupture from the earth from such an all-encompassing perspective, and this one even includes a short landing by the site!
First up on the Golden Circle is Þingvellir National Park, a World Heritage site located in a breathtaking and clearly visible gorge between two worlds; the meeting of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Here you can add a snorkelling tour in Silfra fissure to your day for a chance to enjoy one of the top diving sites in the world.
The next sight en route is geothermal Haukadalur Valley; home to bubbling mud pools, steam vents, hot springs and active geysers. Watch Strokkur erupt naturally every few minutes as high as 20 metres in the air with a bravura to last you a lifetime.
The last major highlight of the Golden Circle is Gullfoss Waterfall, or the Golden Falls, which the route is named after. A platform will take you to the edge of the falls, where you can see their beauty and feel their thundering power beneath your feet.
If you're feeling adventurous, you can head out from Gullfoss to go snowmobiling on top of Langjökull glacier or opt for a horseriding tour with the gentle and friendly Icelandic horses.
After an exciting day stock full of sights, you'll spend your night in the area of Hvolsvöllur.
Day three sees you trail along Iceland's south coast. Your first recommended stop will be at Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, which offers up the rarity of an accessible cave to enjoy the view from behind the cascading water. Close by is Skógafoss Waterfall, one of the biggest in Iceland with a drop of 60 metres.
Continue down the road to reach the magnificent glacier Sólheimajökull, where you can opt for both a glacier hike and a snowmobile excursion. If you wish to see the inside of a glacier as opposed to venturing across its surface, there's the option of exploring an authentic ice cave in the Mýrdalsjökull ice cap.
When you reach the idyllic coastal village of Vík, make sure to check out the black sand beach Reynisfjara, where the eerie black sea stacks Reynisdrangar lie visible just offshore. Vík is also an excellent stop for enjoying refreshments and stretching your legs before continuing east, where many more sights wait for you en route.
Finally, you'll spend the night either in the area of Kirkjubæjarklaustur or Skaftafell.
On day four, you'll take in the breathtaking sights of Skaftafell belonging to the great Vatnajökull National Park. Hiking enthusiasts are in for a treat around these parts since a myriad of tracks and trails dot the area.
One recommended route is the path leading up to the waterfall Svartifoss; where it stumbles down a wall of black hexagonal basalt columns that were the very inspiration for the architecture of Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavík. Here is also another option for a glacier hike if you missed it so far.
Down the road, you'll reach what has been called the crown jewel of Iceland's natural wonders; the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. This is where large icebergs have broken off one of Vatnajökull's outlet glaciers and gathered to float serenely to the sea. For a closer look, you can opt for two different boat rides on the lagoon itself, one on an amphibious boat and another on a zodiac.
Just a stone's throw away from the lagoon you'll find the Diamond Beach, a stretch of black sand where chunks of ice have gathered from the lake to sparkle like gemstones on a black satin bed.
Your final destination for the day will be at the village of Höfn, where you'll spend the night.
Day five will see you zig zag through the stunning and desolate East Fjords, where great mountain passes and steep hills meet with hidden villages and sandy plains for a landscape straight out of a fairytale science fiction novel.
Today includes a lot of driving but also a lot of opportunities for solitude and reconnecting with nature. These parts are as well home to roaming herds of wild reindeer and incredible bird life which includes puffins during their nesting season.
You decide where to stop en route until you reach the township of Egilstaðir, where you'll spend the night at a nearby accommodation.
On day six, you'll drive through the breathtaking Möðrudalur Heights to your next destination of Lake Mývatn. There will be plenty to see on your way, including Jökulsárgljúfur Gorge and the most powerful waterfall in Europe; the thundering Dettifoss.
When you reach Mývatn, you'll find its landscape uniquely formed by geothermal activity; boasting of visionary lava fields, pseudo-craters, tuff volcanoes and hot springs. The rocky citadel of Dimmuborgir is also not to be missed.
After exploring this stunning area to your heart's content, you can soak in the Mývatn Nature Baths or embark on a whale watching tour in Húsavík; often referred to as the whale watching capital of Europe.
By the end of the day you'll find yourself in the charming and bustling town of Akureyri, where you'll spend the night.
Day seven finds you waking up in the Capital of the North, Akureyri, so feel free to explore the grounds by visiting the cafés, the museums, the swimming pool or the botanical gardens. You can also kickstart your day with a horseback ride before you continue your journey, or a whale watching tour if you missed it the day before.
Once you're ready, you'll continue your journey to the Troll Peninsula, Tröllaskagi, where you'll trail the coastline and pass several charming fishing villages such as Siglufjörður and Hofsós, the latter of which boasts of a nationally famous 'infinity pool' that comes highly recommended.
A great photo stop is at the ancient Hólar cathedral before you reach your destination of the Blönduós area, which is where you'll spend the night.
On day eight, get ready to venture through the seemingly endless fjords of the West and witness the incredible landscapes en route to your next destination of Ísafjörður; the largest settlement in the Westfjords.
On you way, you can behold the scenic hills of Vatnsdalshólar, the columnar basalt fortress Borgarvirki or the hot pools of Drangsnes. These parts of the island are littered with a history of witchcraft and magic, so if that sounds up your alley, you can pay a visit to the Sorcerer's Cottage or the Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft Museum in Hólmavík.
Once you reach Ísafjörður, you'll fall for the town's unique charm, 18th-century buildings and otherworldly lobster soup at Tjöruhúsið.
You'll spend the night in the area of Ísafjarðardjúp.
Get ready to acquaint yourself with Icelandic history on day nine, where you'll traverse the trail of one of the greatest Saga heroes, the outlaw Gísli Súrsson. On your route to Dýrafjörður you can also visit the botanical garden Skrúður.
A museum dedicated to Jón Sigurðsson, one of Iceland's prime fighters for independence, awaits you in Hrafnseyri before you'll reach the westernmost point of Europe at Látrabjarg Cliffs.
A myriad of birds nest in these cliffs including razorbills and puffins. These adorable creatures aren't easily spooked by humans, so you'll get a chance to venture close and snap some incredible photos.
At the end of the day, you'll find your accommodation in the area of Vesturbyggð, close to the villages Patreksfjörður and Breiðavík.
A real treat awaits you on day ten, where a ferry ride from Brjánslækur across Breiðafjörður Bay is included in your package. The Baldur ferry will take you all the way to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula where it makes port in Stykkishólmur, but we suggest you stop at Flatey island to enjoy the serenity and quietude.
Once you reach Stykkishólmur, you can pack your day with exploring the incredible scenery of Snæfellsnes, often called 'Iceland in miniature' since it boasts of such bounteous and diverse landscapes.
These include Mount Kirkjufell, Snæfellsjökull Glacier, ancient fishing villages, hot springs, lava caves, steep cliffs and dramatic coastlines. You'll have plenty of time to explore the area further the following day, so take your time at each location.
You'll spend the night in the Snæfellsnes area.
On day eleven, you can get better acquainted with this beautiful peninsula and sightsee your heart out.
Visit the villages Arnarstapi and Hellnar, awe at the castle-like structure of basalt columns Lóndrangar, explore the Dritvík Cove or walk along the black pebbles of Djúpalónssandur Beach; the possibilities are endless, just remember to pack your camera.
You'll spend another night at Snæfellsnes.
On day twelve you've almost come full circle, so spend it exploring the west coast and its numerous attractions, such as the settlement exhibition in Borgarnes.
Other notable stops are at Deildartunghver, the hot spring with the largest flow in all of Europe, and the neighbouring waterfalls Hraunfossar and Barnafoss.
At Reykholt, you can locate the medieval research institute Snorrastofa; former home to the one and only Snorri Sturluson, a local poet, chieftain, saga writer and arguably the most influential scholar of the Middle Ages.
Before reaching Reykjavík, you are advised to make one last stop at the waterfall Fossatún, guarded by a troll woman named Drífa according to legend. You can as well opt for three different caving tours; into the lava tubes of Víðgelmir, inside a human-made ice tunnel of Langjökull Glacier, or through the magma chamber of Þríhnjúkagígur Volcano.
While it may seem that you have packed your holiday with all you can by the evening of your last full day in Iceland, no trip to the country would be complete right now without a visit to the currently erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano. Thankfully, there is a guided hiking trip to the site you’ll be able to make it in time for! This breathtaking phenomenon provides a once-in-a-lifetime window into the incredible forces that define Iceland, and there is no greater final impression of the Land of Ice and Fire than this experience!
You'll spend your final night in Reykjavík City.
Your journey comes to an end. Be sure to drop off your car at Keflavík Airport in due time before your departing flight.
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.
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.
This tour can be started either from Keflavik International Airport or the city of Reykjavík.
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), 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.
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, 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.
Are you looking to try some of the best dishes Iceland’s top restaurants have to offer? You can now add delicious meals to your booking without having to research where to find them. Select this option to include dinner every night as an extra, and we’ll provide you with vouchers as part of your booking confirmation. We’ll choose the top-rated restaurants that fit with your vacation itinerary and make your reservations for you. Your server will offer you a set menu of two to three courses at the restaurant, from which you can choose meat, fish, or vegetarian options. If you prefer to try a different dish, the meal voucher will act as a credit that you can redeem at the restaurant against menu items that are not part of the set menu. Save time and effort during your vacation, and let us take care of your meals for you. Choose the meal option today so you’ll be guaranteed to eat well on your forthcoming trip. Please notify the restaurant on arrival about any dietary requirements. Vouchers are non-refundable.