The Ultimate Iceland Expedition | 19-Day Self-Drive Tour Around Iceland
Embark on the trip of a lifetime with this incredible 19-day tour around Iceland. If you want to immerse yourself in the spectacular landscapes of the Land of Ice and Fire, take thrilling adventures that cannot be done anywhere else on earth, and travel on your own terms, this is the vacation for you.
On this epic self-drive Icelandic holiday, you will not just traverse the Ring Road that fully encircles the country but also visit the remote Westfjords, the spectacular Snaefellsnes Peninsula, and the magnificent Highlands. All of the features that make Iceland such an appealing holiday destination will be on your agenda, such as volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs, waterfalls, and fjords.
As you travel at a leisurely pace, you will stay at countryside hotels scattered across the island's most beautiful corners. Some evenings will be spent in towns such as Akureyri and Reykjavik, where you can immerse yourself in Iceland's history and culture. Getting to your accommodations and any chosen excursions are the only obligations you'll have to meet on this tour, as you will be driving yourself and how you spend each day is entirely up to you.
This is aided by two things. Firstly, you will be sent a comprehensive itinerary after booking, detailing all the famous sites and hidden gems you'll be able to reach, allowing you to tailor a trip to your group's passions and needs. Secondly, this is a summer self-drive, so your sightseeing hours can extend well into the night due to the light of the Midnight Sun.
Regarding the excursions you can arrange when booking, almost every day can be packed with adventure. Seeing the crystal clear waters of Silfra fissure on a snorkeling tour; witnessing humpbacks breaching on a whale watch from Husavik; descending into a vast, dormant magma chamber; and hiking magnificent glaciers are just a few examples of what is on offer.
Of course, you will have plenty of opportunities to bathe in the healing geothermal waters that make Iceland such a famous spa destination, including some immersed in nature.
Taking 19 days to explore the wonders of Iceland allows you to truly make the most of the country's landscapes without rushing, providing you with opportunities to find spectacular features few other travelers have time to reach. Furthermore, it allows you to learn more about this island's fascinating folklore, which is intrinsically tied to the untouched wilderness.
Don't miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime, 19-day summer vacation to Iceland. Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Welcome to Iceland
On day one of your 19-day holiday to Iceland, you will land at Keflavik International Airport and pick up your rental car as soon as you clear customs. If you arrive late in the evening, you can take the scenic drive to Iceland's capital across the Reykjanes Peninsula. However, those who arrive early could start their immersion into Iceland's nature.
When booking, you can opt for a visit to the Blue Lagoon. A luxurious geothermal spa located near the airport, its azure waters, filled with minerals such as silica, are world-renowned for their beauty and healing properties. After a long flight, you'll greatly appreciate the rejuvenating pools, saunas, and steam rooms.
Alternatively, you could explore the Reykjanes Peninsula itself. A volcanic wasteland, you will travel across otherworldly lava fields, see countless cone-shaped peaks, and marvel over its seething geothermal areas.
Once you arrive in Reykjavik, it is a good idea to have at least a quick look around the city since you'll be spending most of the holiday out in the country's far-flung nature. It is a beautiful capital with a thriving cultural scene and lively nightlife.
Day 2 - West Iceland Attractions
You will begin your Ring Road adventure on the second day of your epic Icelandic holiday, starting with west Iceland. This is a fantastic place to start your travels, as it boasts both beautiful natural attractions and a wealth of culture. Furthermore, there are three options for a tour you can partake in today.
After you leave Reykjavik, you will either pass under the Hvalfjordur tunnel to reach the major sites more quickly or encircle the beautiful fjord for the scenic route. Nestled in Hvalfjordur is Glymur, Iceland's second-tallest waterfall, which can be hiked through a beautiful valley of wildflowers and birch trees.
You will then come to Borgarnes, a charming coastal town that boasts the Settlement Centre Exhibition. If you are curious to learn about how Old Norse Vikings discovered and settled this land over a millennium ago and how they survived under its harsh conditions, be sure to pay a visit.
The next major sites in the area are two waterfalls, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. Though just a few minutes' walk away from each other, they have nothing in common. Hraunfossar pours through a forested plane of lava, more a series of tiny waterfalls than one distinct one. Barnafoss, meanwhile, is a narrow and furious waterfall that surges through a narrow valley.
Following your time here, you'll head to Deildartunghver, which holds the record for being Europe's highest-flowing hot spring. Not only is it a beautiful site, but it fuels the nearby Krauma geothermal spa. If you elect to do so while booking, you can bask in the therapeutic waters here to break up your day of sightseeing.
Those who would rather embark on an adventure than enjoy a spa visit have two enticing alternatives. The first of these is a classic lava caving adventure. Vidgelmir is a fascinating subterranean tunnel to explore with unexpectedly vivid colors and unusual features formed by a volcanic eruption over a thousand years ago.
Otherwise, you could embark on a tour into the Ice Tunnel. On this excursion, which cannot be taken anywhere else on earth, you'll take a super jeep up the magnificent slopes of Langjokull glacier. At its summit, you'll find a gleaming tunnel carved into its depths, which your guide will lead you through. The chambers and corridors are not only mesmerizing but provide insight into the workings of the ice caps.
Before heading to your accommodation for the evening, you can address your itinerary for any hidden gems in the area you may want to visit before retiring. Reykholt, home to legendary medieval chieftain Snorri Sturluson, is worth a visit for those interested in history, whereas Eldborg crater provides wonderful views over the landscapes of the west.
You'll finish your day at a hotel on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, ready to explore it in depth tomorrow.
Day 3 - Snaefellsnes Peninsula
On the third day of your 19-day Icelandic holiday, you'll tour the magnificent shores of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Nicknamed 'Iceland in Miniature,' this region is packed with a diverse range of unforgettable sites.
As you travel along the southern shore, you'll first see a strange phenomenon on the cliffs of Gerduberg. They are lined with bizarre hexagonal columns, so perfect it almost appears as if they are chiseled. Turning to the coast a little further down the road, you are likely to see plenty of seals playing and resting, part of the colony that resides on Ytri Tunga beach. Next, you will find the abandoned village of Budir, of which just a lonely, windswept, but beautiful black church remains.
You will then come to the highlight of the peninsula, Snaefellsjokull National Park. This area is named after the subglacial volcano of Snaefellsjokull, a monumental feature with two peaks and gleaming white ice.
The glacier, however, is far from the only attraction in the national park. It also has the charming fishing village of Arnarstapi, which boasts stunning coastal geology, such as the Gaetlakkur rock arch. The deserted settlement of Hellnar, meanwhile, has a mystical air of abandonment.
The black sand beach of Djupalonssandur is not only beautiful but tied to local culture, boasting the four 'lifting stones' which historically were used by fishermen to test their strength. Londrangar is an enormous basalt plug, which in summer is home to thousands of nesting seabirds.
Once you leave the national park and begin to travel along the northern shore, you'll have spectacular views over Breidafjordur bay to the Westfjords. You'll find plenty of opportunities to stop and admire at villages such as Bjarnahofn, also home to the Icelandic Shark Museum. Here, you can learn all about how Icelanders create the bizarre delicacy of hakarl or fermented shark.
The highlight of this part of Snaefellesnes is Kirkjufell, a church-shaped mountain featured in Game of Thrones.
Incredibly statuesque, you can admire the feature from an abundance of angles, including from the sea, if you book the alternative tour on offer today, kayaking. Kayaking around Kirkjufell is not just a serene, unique experience but also provides you with a great chance to have a wonderful wildlife experience with seabirds and seals.
After you have explored every nook and cranny of the magnificent Snaefellsnes Peninsula, you'll return to your hotel in the region for the night.
Day 4 - Westfjords Introduction
On the fourth day of your 19-day summer vacation to Iceland, you'll depart the Snaefellsnes Peninsula for one of Iceland's most remote, untouched, and incredible regions: the Westfjords. Before you head to Stykkisholmur, where your ferry is waiting, you are free to head to any local sites you missed the day before.
The ferry that will take you from Snaefellsnes to the Westfjords is large enough to hold your car and will provide you with beautiful views over both regions, as well as countless islands. If you wish, you can make a stop at one of these, the beautiful Flatey. Sleepy, picturesque, and historic, this is a wonderful place to take a serene walk and look out for the local birds. Cars are not allowed on the island. Yours will be parked at the harbor in the Westfjords ahead of you.
Once your ferry journey is complete and you've reclaimed your vehicle, you are free to begin your exploration of one of the world's most primordial and dramatic regions. The plunging fjords, the great flat-topped mountains, the countless waterfalls, and the tiny villages all make driving here an incredible pleasure.
Though you will find plenty of viewing stops and detours to enjoy, there are two sites that it is highly recommended to reach today. First is Raudasandur, a beautiful beach unlike most others around the country. Rather than black, volcanic sands, it has a golden, pinky hue, making it a spectacular place to walk.
Second is Latrabjarg, the longest set of birdwatching cliffs in Europe. Here, you can find hundreds of thousands of nesting pairs throughout summer, including abundant puffins. Due to their lack of fear of people in this area, you will be able to get surprisingly close for a fantastic perspective of their adorable appearance and behavior.
After an excellent beginning of your exploration of the Westfjords, you'll head to the coastal village of Patreksfjordur for the night.
Day 5 - Dynjandi and the Westfjords
On the fifth day of your holiday, you will set out from Patreksfjordur and continue your journey navigating the Westfjords. As you wind up and down the fjords and cross mountain passes, you'll no doubt appreciate the lack of other guests in this area. Few travelers make an effort to reach this part of the country due to its distance from Reykjavik, allowing you to enjoy the sites and wilderness in silent peace.
Though most of the wonders of the Westfjords are found along its coastline, you will want to detour inland to visit the mighty Dynjandi. This waterfall stands at an impressive 328 ft (100 m) tall and cascades down what appears to be a staircase descending a cliff-face, widening as it does. No other waterfall in Iceland resembles this monumental attraction, making it the favorite of many travelers.
Walking to Dynjandi is also a pleasure in itself. The easy trail has many other waterfalls along its route, and though all are small, each is beautiful and boasts a unique appeal.
Another fantastic attraction today is Flateyri. Though it appears as a classic village of the Westfjords, it boasts a range of unique features considering its spectacular surroundings and peaceful charm. It is, for example, home to both the Nonsense Museum and an international doll museum, it has a sandy beach, and its pool has outdoor hot tubs.
A long drive along the fjords is required to reach your final destination for today, the town of Isafjordur. Though by no means long enough to tire you of the incredible views. Be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife on your journey, as the Westfjords boasts arctic foxes inland and seals, dolphins, and even great whales in its waters.
Isafjordur, the region's capital, has some of the most magnificent surroundings of any Icelandic town. It also boasts a strong identity and thriving culture that you can immerse yourself in before retiring.
Day 6 - Westfjords in Depth
On day six of your Icelandic holiday, you will continue to explore the Westfjords. Due to the incredible diversity, beauty, and remoteness of this region, you'll be very appreciative of the fact that you have enough time to give it justice.
Before starting south, it is recommended to detour briefly to the northwest to visit the village of Bolungarvik. The views from the harbor here are magnificent, and the settlement has fascinating associated folklore, said to once be the home of two sparring sibling sorcerers.
Once you begin your journey away from Isafjordur and Bolungarvik, the next major attraction is the Arctic Fox Center. Here, you can meet and learn about Iceland's only native land mammal and discover how it survived for thousands of years in such tough conditions before humans even knew the land existed.
Your next major destination is the town of Holmavik, home to the fascinating Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery. Through engrossing and morbid displays that include a pair of necropants, this place reveals to guests how Icelanders attempted to use magic to protect their families, ward off evil, and cast curses upon their neighbors. Nearby, you can find the associated Sorcerer's Cottage. It is styled after a medieval turf house and has many hidden staves, which was the main way spells were cast.
After another day basking in the beauty and culture of the Westfjords, you'll depart the region to your hotel near Hvammstangi.
Day 7 - North Iceland Introduction
To mark the end of your first week in Iceland, you'll begin your exploration of Iceland's north. This region boasts an incredible amount of diversity and plenty of hidden gems that you'll have time to reach.
The first of these can be found on the Vatnsnes Peninsula. This coastal area boasts several seal colonies that can be admired from the shore, as well as the Icelandic Seal Center, a fantastic place to learn about their biology, history, and conservation. It is also home to the striking rock monolith of Hvitserkur, said to be a troll in folklore but more closely resembling an elephant to many onlookers.
After these sites, it is highly recommended to detour a short distance to Glaumbaer, a farmstead where you can find historic turf houses. These buildings are reflective of how Icelanders lived for centuries and are a fascinating reflection of the culture.
As you continue, there are plenty of stunning coastal towns you can visit. Hofsos, for example, is home to a spectacular infinity pool, whereas Siglufjordur has stunning views of the fjord and the award-winning Herring Era Museum.
Arskogssandur is also particularly notable, as it is home to the unique Beer Baths, a geothermal 'spa' where you can bathe in tubs of fermenting beer. Adults are even welcome to enjoy a pint as they relax during this surprisingly revitalizing experience.
Your final destination of today is Akureyri, the Capital of North Iceland. This town has beautiful feats of architecture, lovely harbor views, and plenty of cultural attractions, as well as bars, boutiques, and restaurants that you can explore before retiring.
Day 8 - Diamond Circle
On the eighth day of your holiday to Iceland, you'll continue to explore the region of north Iceland by visiting some of the sites of the magnificent Diamond Circle. This route is often done in one day, but you will have two, allowing you to give justice to every site.
The main attraction you will want to get to first is the town of Husavik, as there are two tours you are welcome to take from here. Firstly, you could embark on a whale-watching excursion, as this settlement is often nicknamed the whale-watching capital of Europe. The waters outside Husavik boast many humpback whales throughout summer, and other species such as orcas, blue whales, and fin whales are seen on occasion. Such a trip also provides plenty of chances to see puffins.
The second tour on offer in Husavik is a trip to the GeoSea Geothermal Baths. This coastal spa is a fantastic place to admire the seas from geothermally heated waters, made more unique by the fact that it is saltwater you are bathing in. Even so, it is still said to have many healing properties for the mind, body, and soul.
It is possible to book both a whale watching tour and entry to the GeoSea Baths today, but note that travelers who take this option may not have time to comfortably drive to the next two attractions, which you could otherwise get to with ease. Even so, you could make time for them tomorrow or the next day.
The attractions in question are Dettifoss waterfall and Asybyrgi canyon. The former is Europe's most powerful waterfall, thundering into a black canyon with an ominous, breathtaking air. Just up and downriver from this monumental site are two more impressive falls, Selfoss and Hafragilsfoss.
The latter, meanwhile, is a dramatic canyon shaped like a vast horseshoe, said to be the imprint of the hoof of the steed of Odin. Within it is an enormous forest of birch trees and a spectacular island of rock, making it a magnificent place to embark on a hike.
After you have enjoyed these sites, you'll head to the Lake Myvatn area, where you will retire tonight and will have a chance to explore tomorrow.
Day 9 - Myvatn or Askja
On day nine, you have two options for how to spend your day. You could explore the incredible Lake Myvatn area in-depth, alongside some other northern attractions, or you could embark on a super jeep and hiking tour into the untouched Icelandic highlands.
The Lake Myvatn area is packed with attractions. As its name suggests, it is based around a series of beautiful lakes, which are teeming with fauna and flora in summer, most notably an abundance of birds. Their geology makes them most famous, however, with basalt lava columns towering from the waters and pseudocraters lining the shores.
The Dimmuborgir lava fortress sits adjacent to the lakes, a marvelous place used in the shooting of Game of Thrones. It is also steeped in folklore, said to be the home of the Icelandic Christmas trolls or Yule Lads.
It is not just geological wonders that the area holds. There are also geothermal marvels. Namaskard Pass is a prime example. Contrasting dramatically with the bursting life around the lakes, this is a barren stretch lined with steaming fumaroles and hissing vents. The earth dyed strange colors by the rising elements.
A more relaxing place to enjoy north Iceland's geothermal phenomena is the Myvatn Nature Baths, a spa immersed in the beautiful landscapes. You can arrange admission here when booking if choosing to spend the day traveling independently.
If you choose to visit the Highlands instead, you will be picked up early in the morning by an experienced guide who will take you on a thrilling adventure to the Askja Caldera. This tour begins with an epic super jeep ride into the spectacular interior, exposing you to views of mountains, glaciers, craters, and volcanoes far from any crowds.
When you begin to hike, you'll be privy to even more incredible landscapes. The Askja Caldera is part of the rugged Dyngjufjoll mountain range and is renowned for its crater lakes. The most impressive of these is the Viti explosion crater, the waters of which are beautifully heated, so make sure you bring your swimsuit for a hot spring bathe like no other.
However you spend your day, it will no doubt be filled with adventure. You'll retire back in Myvatn for the night.
Day 10 - To East Iceland
On the tenth day of your summer vacation to Iceland, you'll depart north Iceland for the spectacular east. Luckily, you will have time to visit the sites of north Iceland that you had not been able to get to over the past two days first, such as Lake Myvatn, Dettifoss waterfall, and Asbyrgi canyon.
The drive from Myvatn to Egilsstadir, the Capital of East Iceland, takes you along the Ring Road and through some incredible mountain landscapes with views of volcanoes, lava fields, and Vatnajokull glacier, the biggest ice cap in Europe. If you managed to visit all the sites you wished to in the Myvatn area, you could take detours from remote Highland and northern regions few others get to visit.
Egilsstadir itself is a lovely town with a wealth of surrounding sites. For example, it sits on Lake Lagarfljot, a mysterious place that is said to hold a beast similar to the Loch Ness Monster. Just to the south is the country's largest forest, Hallormsstadaskogar, which boasts plenty of hiking and biking routes and many birdwatching hot spots. Just half an hour south of the town are the unforgettable twin waterfalls of Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss, the former of which is one of Iceland's tallest falls.
To unwind after a day of stunning sightseeing, take a dip in the Vok Baths, which are immersed in a serene lake surrounded by peaks. There are no other geothermal spas in this part of the country, meaning this is something you won't want to miss.
Day 11 - Eastfjords Introduction
On day eleven of your 19-day holiday in Iceland, you'll have an opportunity to explore the Eastfjords of Iceland in-depth, visiting incredible places far off the beaten track for most travelers. While, of course, you can make your own plans, spending the day at either Borgarfjordur Eystri or Seydisfjordur are the most highly recommended options.
Borgarfjordur Eystri is a spectacular coastal wilderness with black sand beaches, dramatic fjords, and abundant wildlife - reindeer, foxes, seals, dolphins, and whales are all seen on occasion. There are also several hiking routes in the area, the most picturesque of which is Storund. Those with interest in folklore will find several points on this route, particularly of note due to the area's association with the Hidden People, or elves, who are said to inhabit Iceland's landscapes.
Seydisfjordur, meanwhile, is a minuscule village nestled in the crook of a narrow, steep-sloped fjord of the same name, allowing for some of the region's most picturesque vistas. This is a wonderfully relaxing place to spend hours getting in touch with the authentic local culture.
It may be possible to visit both of these sites within a day, although to do so would be a little rushed. In the region, alternative sights you could head to include Iceland's tallest freestanding mountain, Snaefell, and the Holmanes Nature Reserve.
You'll return to Egilsstadir for the night.
Day 12 - Eastfjords in Depth
On day twelve, you will hug the coast as you explore the rest of the magnificent Eastfjords on one of the most incredible road trips imaginable. This region is little traveled, meaning the views are interrupted, and you can enjoy the mountains and fjords in peace.
As you travel, you will come to countless fishing villages nestled in the most beautiful spots along the coastline. Eskifjordur, Reydarfjordur, and Djupivogur are all examples of stunning settlements, each with their own unique character. The latter is particularly of note for its coastal hot pools and its popular public artwork, the Eggs of Merry Bay.
Furthermore, you are likely to see a wealth of wildlife as you travel. The region is home to countless seabirds nesting along the shore. Seal colonies relax on the beach; whales and dolphins feed in the waters; reindeer roam inland. The East is the only part of the country where herds of these beautiful creatures can be found in the wild.
The last major sites of the Eastfjords are the dramatic mountains of Eystrahorn and Vestrahorn, which are unique for their dark composition of gabbro rock and stark, ominous air. They are particularly favored as subjects for photographers due to their distinct contours.
Once your wonderful road trip through this region comes to an end, you'll retire in Iceland's southeast.
Day 13 - Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
On the thirteenth day of your holiday, you will explore what has been dubbed the 'Crown Jewel of Iceland's Nature,' the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Hours can be spent marveling over this magnificent attraction, so you will be grateful for every minute you have here.
Jokulsarlon is Iceland's deepest lake, separated from the ocean by a narrow channel. It connects with a retreating glacier on its far side, which, as it crumbles, fills the water with enormous icebergs. Many of these tower many feet above the surface, and all are strikingly beautiful, colored vivid shades of blue and white, with streaks of ash from historic eruptions.
Seals are often seen relaxing on the icebergs or swimming around them, making this experience even more special.
While admiring the lagoon from shore is a lovely experience, those who want something even more memorable should book a boat tour on the water. You can navigate the icebergs either on an amphibious vessel or a zodiac.
Though Jokulsarlon is the most famous attraction in the area, two others nearby are also must-visits. The Diamond Beach is a stunning stretch of shore that becomes the iceberg's resting place when they finally become small enough to escape the lake, their blue and white forms contrasting spectacularly with the black sands. Fjallsarlon, meanwhile, is a neighboring glacier lagoon just off the beaten track, with far fewer guests admiring it.
After touring these stunning attractions, you'll return to the Jokulsarlon area for the night.
Day 14 - Skaftafell Nature Reserve
To mark the end of your second week in Iceland, you will explore the stunning Skaftafell Nature Reserve. This area is part of the great Vatnajokull National Park and is shaped by the forces of ice and fire. Glacier tongues pour from the mountains, lava fields spill through the valley, and birch forests bloom throughout the summer.
As such, hiking is incredibly popular in the area. There are plenty of trails, but the most renowned leads to Svartifoss waterfall. This stunning feature is surrounded by hexagonal basalt columns, which form a stunning contrast with the foaming white water.
Glacier hiking is another popular activity conducted on the ice cap of Svinafellsjokull, which is famous for its fang-like ridges. Today, you have two optional excursions that will take you exploring this magical landscape; one goes over three hours, whereas the more adventurous can embark on one that goes over five.
After enjoying the many sites of the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, you will begin your journey along the South Coast. This drive will have you enjoying a beautiful black sand shoreline that hugs the road to the left while a constantly changing scenery of glaciers, mountains, and lava fields passes to your right.
En route, it is recommended to detour to Fjadrargjufur Canyon, a stunning ravine 1.2 miles (2 km) long and 328 feet (100 m) deep. Hiking here is a wonderful way to break up the journey, and it is possible to do so both above and within it. Those taking the latter route will want sandals or waterproof shoes with them, as a shallow river flows through the valley.
As you continue towards Vik, your destination for the night, you will find plenty of other sightseeing stops to marvel over (though, as always, be sure to do this in the sanctioned areas, not just from the road). Once you reach the quaint coastal village, you can crash immediately or visit the adjacent Reynisfjara beach under the Midnight Sun.
Day 15 - South Coast
On day 15 of your 19-day holiday in Iceland, you are welcome to begin with a thrilling tour to the Katla Ice Cave. From Vik, you'll be whisked by a super jeep to the summit of Myrdalsjokull glacier, the third largest glacier in the country, famous for sitting above the notorious volcano of Katla. Once dressed in your safety gear, you'll be provided with the rare opportunity to explore a magical ice cave, rare glacial features that are as mysterious as they are beautiful.
After being escorted back to Vik (or, if you opt for the glacier hiking later, after getting up), it is recommended to visit Reynisfjara beach, even if you went last night. This black sand stretch of coast is renowned for its incredible geology, boasting the sea-stacks of Reynisfjara, which tower offshore. According to folklore, these were once two malevolent trolls caught in the sunlight.
By the beach is the incredible rock arch of Dyrholaey, which is so vast that ships can sail through with ease. Furthermore, the cliffs here are a fantastic puffin-watching hot spot, with thousands of nesting couples hanging around throughout summer.
As you continue along the South Coast, you will see glimpses of Myrdalsjokull and Eyjafjallajokull glaciers through the mountains. You can explore the surface of the former with an alternate tour today, by glacier hiking on its tongue of Solheimajokull. Even if you took a glacier hike yesterday, the landscapes and views from here are very different and just as mesmerizing, making it worth the second trip.
The final major attractions of this afternoon are all beautiful waterfalls. Skogafoss is the most classic, 197 ft (60 m) tall and thunderously powerful, casting vast blooms of spray as it collides with the rocks below. Seljalandsfoss shares its great height but is much more gentle and tumbles before a dramatic canyon. Gljufrabui, meanwhile, pours in a hidden grotto that requires you to wade through a stream to reach, creating a mystical ambiance.
At the end of a day sightseeing along one of the most popular trails in the country, you'll spend the night in the countryside town of Hvolsvollur.
Day 16 - Highlands or Islands
Day 16 of your summer vacation to Iceland can be spent in one of six equally exciting ways, allowing you to visit parts of Iceland many Ring Road travelers do not get the time to get to.
Firstly, you could drive to the highland reserve of Landmannalaugar, a spectacular wilderness of colorful rhyolite mountains and geothermal activity. You are welcome to spend the day here basking in the natural hot springs surrounded by unbelievable nature, hiking to craters and crater lakes, or both.
Secondly, you could take a super jeep tour to this region, meaning you don’t need to worry about driving the highland roads. This also means you will have a friendly guide with you who can tell you about the folklore, geology, and best sites of the area.
Your next choice is to drive to Thorsmork. Another highland area, this forested valley is sheltered by spectacular glacier tongues and has features shaped by the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull. It is so beautiful that it was named after the Old Norse God of Thunder, Thor. Again, you have the choice of experiencing this region as part of a guided super jeep tour.
Your fifth option for today is completely different. Rather than visit the Highlands, you can organize a ferry to the Westman Islands. This stunning archipelago has a fascinating history of pirate attacks and volcanic eruptions. You can learn about it at the local museums and some amazing natural sites, such as the Eldborg crater.
Furthermore, the Westman Islands boasts the largest colony of Atlantic Puffins in the world, and they can be seen in their hundreds of thousands from the shores and cliffs.
Your sixth and final choice today is to check your itinerary and plan a day for yourself. Of course, if you’d simply like to relax and recharge for the final leg of your holiday, that’s an option too.
Day 17 - Golden Circle
On day 17 of your 19-day summer vacation to Iceland, you will tour the incredible sites of the Golden Circle. This sightseeing route boasts three famous attractions and plenty of lesser-known ones just off the beaten track.
The first of the main features is the two-tier waterfall of Gullfoss, which can be witnessed tumbling into a valley with enormous force. In summer, it is possible to approach a platform where you can feel the spray on your face. The second is the Geysir Geothermal Area, a valley where you can marvel over the Strokkur geyser erupt to heights of over 66 ft (20 m) every five minutes or so.
Finally, you will come to Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site between two clearly visible tectonic plates. Filled with forests, lava fields and springs leading to an enormous lake, this area is steeped in fascinating history that dates back over a millennium.
From either Gullfoss or Thingvellir, you can embark on a tour today. From Gullfoss, you can take a snowmobiling excursion that whisks you across the slopes of Langjokull glacier, exposing you to unbelievable views on an adrenaline-pumping adventure. Within Silfra, one of the springs at Thingvellir, you can instead don a drysuit and embark on a spectacular snorkeling tour between the continents, with visibility up to 328 ft (100 m).
After enjoying the Golden Circle, you are welcome to find sites around the area that are less well-known, such as the red-rocked crater lake of Kerid, the Secret Lagoon at Fludir, and the Fontana Spa at Laugavatn. You will end your day, however, back in the capital, where you can find a restaurant or bar and toast to the end of your thrilling road trip around all of Iceland’s greatest attractions.
Day 18 - Reykjavik
On the penultimate day of your holiday, you will be based in Reykjavik. You are welcome to use this time exploring the city; you can souvenir shop on Laugavegur, find the museums and galleries downtown, or relax in a local geothermal pool. Alternatively, there are three optional tours you can embark on.
If you want to add on one more experience in the capital, you could enjoy the incredible FlyOver Iceland ride. You will be suspended over a concave screen and shown a spectacular aerial show of Iceland's landscapes. As you dangle mesmerized from your simulated hand glider, you'll be provided with wind and scent effects to make it even more authentic.
For a tour out in nature, you can embark on a horseback ride, allowing you to meet a friendly Icelandic horse and witness the beautiful wilderness around the capital like an early settler. Alternatively, you could book the once-in-a-lifetime Into the Volcano tour, which can only be embarked on in Iceland. You'll board a mining lift in a far-flung lava field and be lowered into the magma chamber of an extinct volcano.
Considering the unbelievable scale, coloration, and beauty of this space, as well as the uniqueness of this experience, this is undoubtedly the best way you could finish such an epic holiday to Iceland if you have the budget and inclination.
Whatever you do today, you can rest knowing you have made the most of this incredible country over the past 18 days.
Day 19 - Departure
Day nineteen marks the end of your epic holiday to Iceland. Those with an early departure will need to make sure they drop their car off at the airport in decent time before catching their flight home. Those leaving later, however, can create a few last memories of Iceland.
Sightseeing around the capital or Reykjanes Peninsula are great options for those eager to soak up a little more culture or nature. Considering you'll still have your rental car, you could even visit some other attractions around Reykjavik, such as Mount Esjan, the Blue Mountains, or the Reykjadalur Hot Spring Valley.
Alternatively, you can organize your Blue Lagoon visit on this day. Taking a dip in its healing azure waters is a perfect way to rejuvenate and end a week of adventure.
We hope you enjoy your flight home and come back to Iceland soon.
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.
Please note that the Westfjords area does not offer quality-level accommodation. Visitors will thus be placed in the best comfort level accommodation possible in the area during their stay in the Westfjords.
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.
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.