Three-Week Epic Summer Self-Drive Around Iceland
Explore everything that the magnificent country of Iceland has to offer with this once-in-a-lifetime, three-week road trip. For those dreaming of an unforgettable holiday packed with unbelievable nature and thrilling adventure opportunities, in which they are obligated to nothing but their travel desires, this vacation is designed for you.
Most guests coming to Iceland have to fret over which of its unbelievable yet vastly different regions to explore. They either rush through too many sites in a day or cover too little ground. By booking this self-drive tour, you will have no such concerns.
You'll be able to take your time marveling at the countless attractions around the Ring Road, the spectacular Highland interior, the primordial Westfjords, and the dramatic Snaefellsnes Peninsula. You'll even have plenty of time in Reykjavik if you so desire, a quirky city that is blossoming into a cultural capital.
Of course, those eager to spend as much time in the wilderness as possible are more than welcome to. A self-drive tour allows you to tailor your holiday how you want. You will be provided with a detailed itinerary after booking. And you are behind the wheel to choose from the myriad of popular attractions and hidden gems.
If you are an animal lover, you can spend your days seeking magnificent wildlife such as puffins and whales. If you have a passion for history and folklore, you'll be awed at attractions steeped in legend. If you are coming to Iceland to bask in its geothermal waters, there are pools, hot springs, and spas across the country.
The only obligations you must meet as you travel are checking into your hotels each evening and meeting any tour guides on time for the adventures you selected while booking.
In terms of these adventures, there is an incredible array to choose from. The bold and active can embark on excursions such as kayaking, snorkeling, glacier hiking, and snowmobiling, whereas tours such as flightseeing, whale watching, and horseback riding are great options for those who want exciting experiences without breaking their relaxed flow.
These tours will all be arranged before your arrival, as will your car rental and all hotels. As such, by booking this holiday, you will alleviate yourself of all the usual niggles and unexpected hiccups that come with organizing and executing the perfect vacation.
Another great bonus of booking a summer self-drive tour in Iceland is that you will be traveling beneath the light of the Midnight Sun. Iceland's polar location means that in the months between late April to early August, the sky never turns fully dark, allowing your days to begin as early and end as late as you desire.
Don't miss this ultimate, three-week road trip exploring every corner of the magnificent Land of Ice and Fire. Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival
Welcome to Iceland! Your epic three-week road trip around the island begins the moment you hit the tarmac at Keflavik International Airport. After disembarking and speedily making your way through customs, you'll find your rental car - and a world of natural wonders - waiting.
On your way to Iceland's capital city of Reykjavik, you could choose to make a stop at the Blue Lagoon. This world-renowned spa is known for its healing waters, vivid azure colors, and luxurious treatments. It is located in the middle of a moss-covered lava field, giving it an otherworldly atmosphere. If you add the Blue Lagoon, it will be arranged according to your flights. If there is no time to visit the lagoon today, it can be added to another day. Your travel consultant will be able to arrange this for you.
There is still plenty to see and do in Reykjavik and the Reykjanes Peninsula if you have extra free time. In terms of the former, Iceland's capital has something for everyone, with galleries, museums, parks, restaurants, bars, and a great live music scene. The latter, meanwhile, presents the perfect introduction to Iceland's nature, with volcanoes, lakes, hot spring areas, and lunar lava fields.
You'll spend your first night at a hotel in the capital.
Day 2 - Reykjavik and its surroundings
On the second day of your three-week summer holiday in Iceland, you'll be based in Reykjavik, allowing you to have a relaxed day in preparation for your epic road trip. Of course, however, this is a self-drive, so if you want to immerse yourself in nature immediately, there are plenty of beautiful landscapes that are less than an hour's drive away.
Those who want to make the most of Iceland's hot spring opportunities could head to the valley of Reykjadalur, where you can relax in a naturally heated river. Avid hikers, meanwhile, could trek up the flat-topped mountain of Esjan, which overlooks the capital. You could also check out the aforementioned sites of the Reykjanes Peninsula if you didn't have time yesterday.
If you choose to stay in the capital, you'll find no shortage of things to do. Just walking through the streets will allow you to witness some amazing architecture, striking street art, and views of nature. There are also museums on every facet of the country, galleries featuring the works of its talented artists, and an abundance of swimming pools at which you can relax and meet the locals.
Those eager to embark on a unique Icelandic adventure opportunity can do so today with a helicopter flight over the city and its surroundings. This thrilling excursion includes a touchdown on a remote, spectacular mountain. This is a magnificent way to marvel over Reykjavik's colorful tin roofs and impressive landmarks and to appreciate the diversity and emptiness of the country's nature.
Before retiring, you may want to check out one of the city's renowned restaurants or find a show at a live music bar. Don't go too wild! Your adventure into Iceland's wilderness begins tomorrow.
Day 3 - West Iceland
Today, you'll set out from Reykjavik to begin your exploration of every corner Iceland has to offer. Your first sites can be found in the nature of west Iceland, a region bursting with natural wonder, historical significance, and adventure opportunities.
You'll head north out of Reykjavik through rural landscapes before reaching the spectacular fjord of Hvalfjordur. Here, you can either take a tunnel beneath the waters to speed up your journey or else follow the road around. The latter choice will expose you to beautiful nature and provide the opportunity to hike to Iceland's second tallest waterfall, Glymur.
Regardless of how you cross the fjord, you'll end up in the scenic, coastal town of Borgarnes, home to the Settlement Centre museum. Here, you can learn all about Iceland's early history, from discovery to the formation of its first parliament and about one of the country's most epic sagas.
Your next major attractions are the waterfalls of Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. The beauty of each of these is unique. Hraunfossar pours serenely across a plain of lava, surrounded by birch trees, whereas Barnafoss rages furiously through a barren, narrow gorge. Despite their dramatic differences, they are just a short walk from each other.
Not far from these waterfalls is the village of Reykholt, renowned for its history as the home of Snorri Sturluson. Snorri's work on Edda, the Old Norse bible, is a vitally important medieval piece, and his role in the Icelandic civil war is fascinating.
Another great attraction of the west is Deildartunguhver, the highest flowing hot spring in Europe. Not only is this a brilliant place to marvel over Iceland's volcanic forces, but it feeds one of the most luxurious geothermal spas in Iceland, the Krauma Spa. You can organize admission here and unwind in its revitalizing waters if you elect to do so while booking.
There are two alternative tours you can embark on today. The first is a caving excursion in Vidgelmir, a beautiful tunnel that winds beneath a lava field. Within this hidden subterranean world, you'll be able to marvel over fascinating formations created by volcanic eruptions and surprisingly vivid colors staining the rocks.
The second is a journey into the world-famous Ice Tunnel carved into Langjokull glacier, the only man-made glacier cave in the world. You will board a super jeep that will take you up the gleaming slopes of Iceland's second-largest ice cap to its opening, exposing you to wonderful views. You'll then be equipped with all necessary safety equipment and have the opportunity to explore its stunning corridors and chambers.
At the end of your day, you will head to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, where you will stay tonight and explore tomorrow.
Day 4 - Snaefellsnes Peninsula
On day four of your three-week summer vacation to Iceland, you'll explore 'Iceland in Miniature', otherwise known as the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Fifty-six miles (90 km) long and lined with features on both sides, you'll want to wake up bright and early to make the most of every site.
Traveling along the southern shore, you'll witness geological marvels and wonderful wildlife almost immediately; the Gerduberg cliffs are lined with perfectly symmetrical, hexagonal basalt columns, whereas Ytri Tunga is a reliable seal-watching beach. You'll then come to the windswept church of Budir, a beautiful monument that stands alone in an abandoned hamlet.
With nature reclaiming the land, this air of abandonment can also be found at Hellnar, a fishing village that was largely deserted as Iceland industrialized. However, Arnarstapi is still a thriving community nearby and a great place to learn about the local culture.
Both Arnarstapi and Hellnar are located just before the tip of the peninsula, which forms the Snaefellsjokull National Park. The park is named after its most magnificent feature, the Snaefellsjokull glacier, and volcano. Dramatic, beautiful, and dominating much of the scenery, you'll be left in no wonder as to why many spiritual people consider this to be one of the world's energy centers.
For a personal experience with this inspiring landmark, you can take a glacier hiking tour on its surface. Glacier hiking is a fantastic way to explore the ice cap. You'll have incredible views over the peninsula, Westfjords, and the distant Reykjavik from the summit in clear weather.
Snaefellsjokull, as impressive as it is, is not the only attraction in the National Park. You can also explore the mighty basalt plug of Londrangar, a vast rock formation with tens of thousands of nesting seabirds. Nearby, you can also find the black sand beach of Djupalonssandur, which is not only naturally beautiful but historically significant. Here, you can try your strength against four lifting stones, which were used to test potential sailors for their suitability to the seas for centuries.
Moving out of Snaefellsjokull National Park and traveling east along the north shore, you'll be exposed to even more incredible views of the Westfjords across Breidafjordur Bay. These waters are also home to countless islands. You can stop to admire the seascapes at villages such as Bjarnahofn, also home to the Icelandic Shark Museum.
The most notable major attraction on this part of the peninsula, however, is undoubtedly Kirkjufell. This mountain is a standalone peak shaped like a pyramid, church, or arrowhead. It is a favorite subject for photographers due to its distinctive, dramatic appearance. It is especially beautiful when viewed beside Kirkjufellsfoss, its adjacent waterfall.
If you would rather kayak than glacier hike today, you can embark on such an adventure beneath this mountain. Breidafjordur is sheltered, still, and spectacular, and there is no better place to admire Kirkjufell than from its surface. If you are lucky, you may also see a wealth of wildlife, such as white-tailed eagles and seals, as you splash through the serene waters.
After a full day of adventure and exploration, you'll retire for the night on the peninsula.
Day 5 - To the Westfjords
On day five of your three weeks in Iceland, you will head to one of the country's most primordial regions: the Westfjords.
Getting there from Snaefellsnes could not be easier. You simply have to drive to the region's largest town, Stykkisholmur, and take the Baldur Ferry. This ferry can comfortably hold your car below deck while you admire the views of Breidafjordur Bay from above.
If you wish, you can catch the morning ferry and stop for a wander on the beautiful island of Flatey. Vehicles are not allowed on the island, but the ferry staff can park your car at the harbor in the Westfjords. Flatey is a wonderful gem that can be walked around with ease, boasting a huge population of birds, a tiny population of people, and several historic buildings.
When you arrive at the Westfjords, you'll make your way to the quaint village of Patreksfjordur, where your hotel is waiting. Your journey there, however, promises to be a spectacular trip. The fjords are deep, majestic, and great places to look out for seals and whales. The mountains are ancient, with sheer sides and countless waterfalls, and the villages are tiny, historic, and beautiful.
Using your itinerary, you can make plenty of detours to some spectacular locations that very few guests even know about. Because the Westfjords are far from Reykjavik and off the Ring Road, each of the places you will visit will be free from the tourist crowds that tend to gather at the more famous locations throughout summer.
As such, the Westfjords presents the opportunity to connect with untouched, silent landscapes far from the hassles of urban life, which many guests come to Iceland seeking.
You'll finally retire in Patreksfjordur after marveling over its incredible surroundings.
Day 6 - Puffins and the Red Sand Beach
On day six, you will get to see two of the most beautiful features the Westfjords has to offer: the Latrabjarg cliffs and Raudasandur beach.
Latrabjarg is fascinating for two main reasons. The first is that it is the longest set of birdwatching cliffs in the world and home to hundreds of thousands of nesting couples throughout summer. Amongst the many species that can be found here, the most popular are the Atlantic Puffins. Burrowing into the rock, they can be approached within mere feet because they have never learned to be afraid of people here.
The second reason Latrabjarg is so famous is the fact that a daring rescue occurred here. After a British trawler capsized beneath the cliffs one night, the fates of its sailors would have been grim were it not for the locals. Practiced in scaling the rocks on ropes to gather eggs, they descended to the wreckage and saved every marooned seaman.
Raudasandur, meanwhile, is a beautiful stretch of shoreline, unlike the volcanic beaches around the rest of the country. Here, the sands are shades of gold, pink, and orange rather than black. The reason for this is the age of the Westfjords. It is the first part of Iceland to be formed over 16 million years ago and the least volcanically active part of the island.
Raudasandur has great appeal to lovers of both wildlife and history. It is a seal-watching hot spot, with a colony often seen frolicking in the surf. Furthermore, it was the site of one of the country’s most notorious murders, when a couple having an affair allegedly killed their spouses to be together.
Though these are the most famous local attractions, Patreksfjordur is central to many hidden gems in the Westfjords you can use your itinerary to seek out. You’ll spend a second night here.
Day 7 - The most beautiful waterfall in Iceland
To mark the end of your first week in Iceland, you'll continue exploring the magnificent sites of the Westfjords as you travel to its largest town, Isafjordur. This route is one of the most beautiful journeys in Iceland, winding in and out of spectacular fjords in the shadow of colossal mountains.
On your travels, it is highly recommended to detour to what many consider to be the most beautiful waterfall in Iceland: Dynjandi. Three hundred and twenty-eight feet (100 m) tall, its cascade tumbles down what seems to be a set of steep steps, ever-widening as it reaches its base. Its beauty is so raw and dramatic that it feels as if it were ripped from the pages of a fantasy novel.
Walking up to Dynjandi is also very pleasant, as there are many other smaller waterfalls to admire, each with its own name and distinct character. Furthermore, this path is surrounded by verdant greenery, quite different from the stark lifelessness found around much of the rest of the country.
The settlement of Flateyri is another site worth visiting, not only for the beauty of the fjords around it but for its unique culture. The village is home to several strange museums, with one focused on international dolls and another appropriately called the Nonsense Museum for its collection of strange items. There is also a more traditional museum about Flateyri's history that doubles as a rustic second-hand bookshop.
Once you finally reach Isafjordur, you'll be impressed by the remote town's distinct charm, as well as its magnificent surroundings. There are many hiking trails that take you winding up the nearby mountains, where you can marvel over the incredible views of the glistening fjord.
You'll spend the night at a hotel in town.
Day 8 - Fjords and folklore
Your three-week summer holiday to Iceland continues as you explore the final major attractions of the Westfjords on your way out of the region. Your entire journey will be breathtakingly beautiful from beginning to end, and your itinerary will direct you to many natural attractions. There are a lot of cultural sites en route you won't want to miss.
The first of these is Bolungarvik, one of the country's oldest fishing ports. The town is so scenic that it has been used as a central location in two great Icelandic films, Sparrows and Noi Ambinoi. It also boasts fascinating associated folklore about a brother and sister who cast evil curses upon each other. There is also a natural history museum here with a polar bear specimen. These beautiful beasts are not native to the Westfjords but appear on very rare occasions.
Furthermore, Bolungarvik is a birdwatching hot spot and boasts beautiful views over the most remote area in Iceland, the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve.
In the town of Sudavik, you can combine a wildlife experience with a cultural one by visiting the Arctic Fox Center. This establishment is dedicated to studying, protecting, and educating visitors about Iceland's only native land mammal, which can be seen on site. As a side note, Arctic Foxes are abundant in the wilds of the Westfjords, so keep a keen eye out as you travel.
Another fascinating place to visit is the Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery at Holmavik. Here, you can see a range of bizarre artifacts associated with Icelandic magic in medieval items, some of them quite disturbing. Furthermore, you can learn how early Icelanders tried to use staves and spells to ward off evil and bad luck, or direct misfortune onto their enemies.
About 12 miles (20 km) away is the associated Sorcerer's Cottage, an old turf building styled authentically to resemble how a local would have lived in the past. As you look across the antique items, keep an eye for details in the metal and woodwork; you're likely to find a range of markings Icelanders used to leave charms and curses.
After a day packed with natural and cultural opportunities, you'll retire in Holmavik, which perfectly positions you to leave the Westfjords for new adventures tomorrow.
Day 9 - North coastline
On day nine, you will leave the Westfjords, return to the Ring Road around Iceland, and set out to explore the magnificent north of the country. This region boasts stunning coastal geology, abundant wildlife, lunar landscapes, and seething geothermal activity.
The first area you may want to visit is the Hvitserkur Peninsula. The best seal-watching location in the country, many colonies can be found along the shoreline. In the peninsula's largest town, Hvammstangi, you can find the Icelandic Seal Center to learn about the biology and conservation of these gorgeous creatures and the role they have played in Iceland's history and folklore.
The peninsula is also home to the dramatic rock monolith of Hvitserkur and the basalt fortress of Borgarvirki. The former stands in shallow water just off the coast, resembling a great elephant drinking from the water. The latter, meanwhile, is a natural landmark that was historically used as an impenetrable fort by early clans.
Further along the road through north Iceland are an abundance of wonderful hamlets and villages with their own unique culture, nature, and mythical tales. Hofsos, for example, is a tiny town with an infinity pool that looks over a beautiful fjord. You can also find hexagonal columns of basalt in the cliffs here.
Siglufjordur, meanwhile, is a historic village nestled in a spectacular fjord with towering mountains on either side. Not only are the views from the harbor gorgeous, but the settlement is home to the award-winning Herring Era Museum. Here, you can learn about how vital fishing was to the survival of Icelanders until the modern era and how it was conducted in such tumultuous waters.
Your main destination for today is Akureyri, the capital of North Iceland. The largest town outside of Reykjavik, Akureyri, can be seen as a smaller version, with stunning architecture, natural views, galleries, museums, boutiques, restaurants, and bars. It is also home to the world's northernmost botanical gardens, where you can admire a range of arctic flora.
Though you'll be retiring in Akureyri, you can organize a trip to the Beer Spa today, which is reached by traveling north up the fjord of Eyjafjordur. Here, you can hop into a tub of young beer, with a pint in hand if you are twenty or over, for a surprisingly relaxing, revitalizing experience.
Day 10 - Gentle giants and geothermal baths
On day ten of your three-week road trip around Iceland, you'll head to the whale-watching capital of Europe, Husavik. In the adjacent waters of Skjalfandi bay, a wealth of life can be discovered.
If you select a boat tour while booking, you'll set out from the harbor, surrounded by incredible landscapes and gleaming waters, as a guide tells you about the creatures you may see. Humpback whales are the most abundant, up to 50 ft (15 m) long, renowned for their acrobatic surface behavior, often breaching dramatically.
White-beaked dolphins are another common sight, often congregating in large groups and bow riding alongside your vessel.
On occasion, other great whales are seen, such as the largest creatures ever to exist, blue and fin whales. Orcas are also spotted several times a year, and even belugas make rare appearances.
It is not just the gentle giants of the deep to look out for. Skjalfandi bay has a wealth of birdlife living on its islands and surrounding cliffs, including thousands of charming Atlantic Puffins.
If the idea of several hours on a boat does not appeal to you (even though seasickness tablets will be available), you could try Husavik's other main attraction, the GeoSea Baths. These geothermal pools are unique in Iceland because they are filled with saltwater, providing a unique and refreshing experience.
Those who do not want to choose between a whale watching trip or a dip into the baths need not worry. It is possible to arrange both for today.
However, combining these experiences will take up several hours, meaning the number of other sites you can reach today will be limited. Even so, you'll have tomorrow and the following morning to further explore the attractions of the north.
If you only elected to book one excursion - or chose to skip both - you'll have time to travel a little more. The two most highly recommended destinations are Dettifoss and Asbyrgi, which are particularly magnificent though a decent drive from Akureyri and Husavik.
Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe. It thunders with unbelievable force into an ancient valley of grey, lifeless rock, providing an ominous and alien atmosphere. It is little wonder why Hollywood has taken notice of this incredible site. It was, for example, used in the opening sequence of Prometheus.
Asbyrgi, meanwhile, is an enormous horseshoe-shaped canyon filled with birch forest and with a beautiful central 'island' of rock. According to the Old Norse religion, it was created by the horse of Odin when it stomped one of its eight legs on the earth. Avid hikers will not want to miss a walk through this dramatic place.
When it's time to retire, you will head to your hotel in the Lake Myvatn area, the most popular part of North Iceland, which you will explore in-depth tomorrow. En route, be sure to check out the beautiful waterfall of Godafoss nearby, which is steeped in fascinating history.
Day 11 - Mars landscape
On day eleven, you have two choices of how to spend the day. The first is to tour around the many sites of the Lake Myvatn region.
Despite its name, this area is a series of lakes. The birdlife here is unbelievable, with thousands of individuals from many species. Similarly, the flora is spectacular, with unique specimens such as underwater moss balls that are incredibly rare around the world.
Furthermore, it has impressive geology. Pseudocraters, formed in rows, line many of the shores, and rising in great towers from the waters are several basalt columns. Furthermore, the great lava fortress of Dimmuborgir stands nearby, which is naturally dramatic and steeped in fascinating folklore, said to be home to the Icelandic Christmas trolls.
Though Myvatn is a vibrant place of life, with verdant grassland and bountiful waters, the nearby geothermal area of Namaskard contrasts with it dramatically. An entirely barren mountain pass, steam hisses furiously from many vents here, filling the air with the overpowering sulfur smell and dying the surrounding earth strange colors.
If you wish to break up your tour of Myvatn with a visit to a geothermal spa, you can organize admission to the Myvatn Nature Baths. The steam rooms, warm waters, and gorgeous surroundings make a dip here a wonderful experience. Like at many of the spas in Iceland, the Myvatn Nature Baths are said to have many healing qualities.
Although these sites and experiences make for a magical day, those who wish to see the Highlands in depth can opt to do something entirely different with a once-in-a-lifetime super jeep tour to the volcanic system of Askja.
Those who take this option will have time to see Myvatn before heading east tomorrow, as the excursion will take twelve hours in total.
This highland adventure will introduce you to unbelievable landscapes that seem more to belong to Mars than Earth. The mountains, lava fields, and oases you will drive and hike through are similarly otherworldly. Shaped by the forces of ice and fire over thousands of years and home to not a single soul, your journey to the Askja caldera will be nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Your main destination for today is the Viti crater lake in Askja, which is geothermally heated to a comfortable swimming temperature. It's also filled with minerals that give its waters a vivid blue coloration, making it an incredible place to bathe; doing so in such a desolate, remote, and breathtaking place is an unforgettable experience.
Whatever incredible adventures you choose to fit into today, you'll return to Myvatn for the night.
Day 12 - To the East
On day twelve on your three-week summer self-drive in Iceland, you'll make the most of your final time in the north.
If you packed the last two days with tours, you'd appreciate the opportunity to see any sites you weren't able to reach, such as Dettifoss, Asbyrgi, and those around Myvatn. Even if you spent the time sightseeing, you can still check out your itinerary and find some local hidden gems, such as the geological wonders around the stunning waterfall of Aldeyjarfoss.
After visiting all the sites you want to see in the north, you'll begin your journey to East Iceland. The Ring Road here goes through the northern reaches of Vatnajokull National Park, a spectacular, dramatic place in the shadow of the park's namesake, Europe's largest glacier. Detours along this route will either introduce you to the desolate Highlands or traditional fishing villages well off the beaten track, nestled in remote fjords.
You will be spending the night in Egilsstadir, the largest town of the east and the perfect place from which to explore the magnificent East Fjords. If you reach it in good time, you'll find a wealth of things to do in and around town.
It is, for example, right beside the largest forest in Iceland, Hallormstadasskogar. A birdwatcher's and hiker's paradise, there are dozens of trails through this beautiful woodland which lead to some stunning viewpoints. Egilsstadir also sits on the shores of Lake Lagarfljot, which, other than being very serene, has been deeply tied to local folklore for centuries, said to hold a monstrous wyrm.
North of Egilsstadir, located within a similarly wonderful lake, one can find the Vok Baths. These geothermally heated pools make for the only spa in east Iceland, and there are few better places to relax and unwind after a day on the road. If you wish to bathe in their luxurious waters, marveling over the surrounding views, be sure to select a ticket while booking.
Day 13 - Deep into the East Fjords
There'll be nothing unlucky about day thirteen of your three-week summer holiday in Iceland as you begin your exploration of the magnificent East Fjords. Like the Westfjords, this is one of the country's most remote regions, allowing you to marvel over each site and spectacular landscape far from the tourist crowds.
You'll be spending another night in Egilsstadir so that you truly get to make the most of the beauty of this region, allowing you to visit two sites even far off the beaten track: Borgarfjordur Eystri and Seydisfjordur.
Borgarfjordur Eystri is one of the most spectacular villages in the country, with just 100 residents, unbelievable surrounding fjordlands, and 106 miles (170 km) of hiking trails to a range of gorgeous locations. Regardless of your fitness and what you have come to Iceland seeking, at least one of these treks will appeal to you.
Those who want to focus on breathtaking nature can head to the long-deserted bay of Lodmundarfjordur and the untouched cove of Vikur. Those fascinated by the facets of Iceland's folklore could instead head to Alfaborg, an elf-rock said to be the court of the queen of the Hidden People. Birdwatchers and wildlife lovers, meanwhile, should head to Hafnarholmi, which sits right by the harbor, for an intimate experience with the local puffins. Seals, dolphins, and even whales are also frequent visitors to the village's waters.
Seydisfjordur, meanwhile, is a gorgeous town nestled in a fjord of the same name. Driving there from Egilsstadir, it is highly recommended to detour to Gufufoss, a beautiful waterfall en route. The town itself has a wealth of attractions, with a charming blue church, an arts center, a technical museum, a pool, and a cinema.
Furthermore, its history is fascinating, with the ruins of a stave church dating back to the 10th century and graves dating back even earlier. It even has remnants from the Allied military effort to protect Iceland in World War Two scattered throughout the fjord.
Seydisfjordur's greatest attraction, however, is unsurprisingly the nearby nature. For example, it is very close to the Skalanes Nature Reserve, which is a center of wildlife, boasting nearly fifty bird species, an abundance of Arctic Foxes, and even herds of wild reindeer, which can only be found in the east.
While it is possible to visit both Borgarfjordur Eystri and Seydisfordur in a day, it is recommended to only spend time at one to truly make the most of it.
After a great day introducing yourself to the East Fjords of Iceland, you'll retire back in the region's capital.
Day 14 - Vatnajokull National Park
To mark the end of your second week in Iceland, you will fully immerse yourself in the wonders of the East Fjords.
The Ring Road throughout this part of your journey is potentially at its most beautiful, winding up and down the fjords and crossing dramatic mountain passes, exposing you to some of the most wonderful landscapes and seascapes this country has to offer.
Furthermore, there are fantastic views inland, as you'll be traveling alongside Vatnajokull glacier and sites such as Mount Snaefell, Iceland's tallest freestanding mountain.
Furthermore, the lack of humans in this area has allowed a wealth of animal life to blossom. Similar to yesterday, puffins and other seabirds can be sought out as you travel, and seals, whales, dolphins, and reindeer may also make an appearance if you are lucky and keep a keen eye out.
Though sparsely inhabited, the villages you will find, nestled in the corners of fjords, are all wonderful examples of traditional Icelandic life and fishing culture. Furthermore, each has a unique charm, appealing to a range of visitors.
Stodvarfjordur, for example, sits by a beautiful river, which you can hike alongside to marvel over several waterfalls. Furthermore, it has an archaeological site of two Viking longhouses said to date back to 800 AD - thirty years before Iceland was originally thought to be settled. Mjoifjordur, meanwhile, is renowned for being Iceland's smallest town. Aside from its surrounding nature, it is famous for its folklore, lighthouse, abandoned prison, and an abandoned whaling station.
Djupivogur, one of the last settlements you'll reach on your journey, is best known for its chilled way of life, coastal hot pools, and public works of art, most notably the Eggs of Merry Bay.
As you travel, you'll no doubt want to reference your itinerary for some natural hidden gems. Eystrahorn is one such example, being a dramatic, 'horned' mountain, composed of gabbro rock, providing an ominous air. Its cousin, Vestrahorn, is very similar and can be found by the town of Hofn.
Hofn is a beautiful place on the border between the East Fjords and the most famous sites of Vatnajokull National Park, making it the perfect place to retire for the night.
Day 15 - The Glacier Lagoon
On the fifteenth day of your holiday, you will see the most incredible wonders of Iceland's largest and most diverse national park, Vatnajokull.
First is Jokulsarlon, the most expansive and famous glacier lagoon in the country. Located between a retreating tongue of Vatnajokull glacier and the ocean, this vast lake fills with enormous icebergs as the outlet glacier breaks apart. Many of these are so large that whole seal colonies can find a comfortable place to relax on a single one.
You can walk up and down either shore to admire this fantastical, otherworldly place, although those who want a more immersive experience have the option of one of two boat tours.
The first of these is in an amphibious vehicle that will effortlessly leave the land and escort you into the magical waters. The second option is a zodiac boat tour which provides an even more intimate, if marginally more expensive, encounter. On either one of these tours, you'll get close enough to the ice to touch it and can even snap a piece off for a taste.
When these beautiful icebergs break down to a small enough size, they can fit in the narrow channel that connects the lagoon with the ocean. After passing through it, they usually will wash up on the black-sand-shoreline, where they glisten like gems as they melt away. Due to the beauty of these unusual contrasts, this stretch of coast has been nicknamed the Diamond Beach.
Overlooked by the vast majority of group tours and travelers without your detailed itinerary is the nearby Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon. Though a little smaller than Jokulsarlon, the fact that it is virtually unknown means you'll be able to marvel over and photograph the ice formations without crowds of other tourists trying to do the same.
The final major attraction of this spectacular corner of Vatnajokull National Park is the Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Before Vatnajokull was protected in its entirety, this used to be a national park in its own right. Here, one can find an incredibly diverse array of attractions, with the area boasting glaciers, more glacier lagoons, volcanic wonders, plains of lava, and even some forest.
One of the most popular hiking routes leads to Svartifoss waterfall. This majestic feature falls amongst dramatic hexagonal basalt columns that have inspired architecture across the country, such as at Hallgrimskirkja church and the Harpa Concert Hall. A second route will take you to Svinafellsjokull, an outlet glacier you can embark on a tour upon if you choose to do so when booking.
Svinafellsjokull is one of the most dramatic ice caps in the country, renowned for its fang-like ridges, deep crevasses, and unusual formations, often boasting ice caves and other such phenomena. The views of Skaftafell from its heights are beautiful, and such an excursion provides an interactive way to get to know the glaciers.
Please note that unlike on many of the other days on this self-drive package, you do not have to choose between a boat tour or glacier hike today. You can easily fit both in, and both are highly recommended.
After marveling over the wonders and adventure opportunities offered in Vatnajokull National Park, you will travel a little way along the South Coast to the village of Vik, where you'll retire for the night.
Day 16 - The South Coast
On the sixteenth day of your three-week road trip around Iceland in summer, you'll traverse the beautiful South Coast sightseeing route. Most guests visit this route by driving from Reykjavik. Traveling against the normal flow, you'll see most sites outside of their peak times and thus with far fewer crowds.
The first major attraction you are recommended to visit is Fjadrargljufur, a spectacular canyon carved out in the last Ice Age. With walls 330 ft (100 m) tall and winding for 1.2 miles (2 km), it is a magnificent place to walk alongside from above or within.
Note that if you choose to explore the canyon by hiking inside it, you may be required to wade through the low waters of the river Fjadra, although for the adventurous, this only adds to the fun.
Traveling further down Route 1, the landscape will change from mountains and glacier tongues to beautiful lava fields. If you wish to explore across this barren, otherworldly terrain, be sure to stop off at a car park along the road and follow a trail.
Drive a little more along the Ring Road, and you'll come to the quaint little village of Vik, which sits beside the ominous yet breathtaking beach of Reynisfjara. Covered with black volcanic sands as far as the eye can see, this stretch of coastline is beaten daily with the enormous rolling waves of the Atlantic. Furthermore, it is home to the great basalt sea-stacks of Reynisdrangar, which are integral to the local folklore.
Before departing this area, note that there is a unique and thrilling tour you can take from Vik, on which you'll go ice caving on Myrdalsjokull, the glacier that famously covers the notorious volcano of Katla. Ice caving is a breathtaking activity usually only possible in midwinter in Iceland, making this an opportunity interested travelers should lunge at.
Regardless of whether you choose to immerse yourself in the hidden world within an ice cap or not, your next destination is the rock arch of Dyrholaey. Not only is this formation monumental, being large enough for ships to sail beneath and small jets to soar through, but it is one of the country's best places to admire puffins from the shore. Thousands of nesting pairs can be approached within mere feet.
Your final three major destinations of the day are equally enticing waterfalls. The first and most powerful is Skogafoss, which thunders from a 197 ft (60 m) tall cliff with breathtaking force, throwing off vast blooms of spray as it smashes into the rocks below.
Seljalandsfoss is second. Though just as tall as Skogafoss, it is far less powerful and far more serene, cascading in a gentle trickle. What makes this feature special is the enormous cavern that opens behind it, allowing guests to fully encircle the falling water and take photographs from a unique perspective.
Just by Seljalandsfoss, but hidden from most guests in a cliff-side cleft, is the third waterfall, Gljufrabui. Though smaller than the others, it attracts far fewer crowds and is mesmerizing to admire as it shatters over a moss-covered boulder in a magical grotto.
After an action-packed day, you'll retire for the night at a hotel in Selfoss or a similar nearby countryside village.
Day 17 - Highlands or islands
On the seventeenth day of your three-week self-drive summer holiday around Iceland, you have three choices of how to spend your day based on your group's interests. You could explore the Highland reserve of Landmannalaugar, the forested oasis of Thorsmork valley, or take a ferry to the volcanic, historical, and wildlife hotspot - the Westman Islands.
Landmannalaugar is a magnificent part of the country's interior. It boasts stunning rhyolite mountains in a range of different colors, dyed greens, pinks, and yellows from volcanic activity, as well as many beautiful natural hot springs that you can bathe in. Furthermore, the reserve has plenty of hiking trails that will take you to craters, lakes, and viewing spots where you can fully admire the unbelievable landscapes of the Highlands.
You are welcome to make this journey yourself, but if you'd prefer a guide to point out the sites and super jeep to make the journey more fun, you can elect to take a tour to Landmannalaugar from the nearby village of Hellnar.
Landmannalaugar connects to the valley of Thorsmork by the country's most popular multi-day hiking trail, Laugavegur. Despite this, they could not be more different. While at Landmannalaugar, very little life grows, and the land is exposed to the highland elements. Thorsmork is a sheltered valley guarded by three stunning glacier tongues and thus full of vibrant forests. Many hiking trails connect the marvelous sites that can be found here.
Like the above, you can either explore Thorsmork on your own or on an informative guided tour (this one from Hvolsvollur). While it is possible to independently visit both sites on either end of the Laugavegur trail, it would require a very early start to your day and a very late end.
Your third option for what to do is somewhat more unique: a visit to the Westman Islands. After driving to a port on the South Coast, you'll be escorted to this volcanic archipelago, where a world of wonder awaits all sorts of guests.
Interested in history? You'll be fascinated by the pirate attacks on the Westman Islands in the 17th Century, which you can learn about at the Sagnheimar folk museum. Obsessed with Iceland's volcanic activity? Visit the Eldborg volcano and learn how it erupted in the middle of town in 1973 at the Eldheimar museum, almost eradicating life on the island.
If, however, your main interest is in Iceland's nature and wildlife, the Westman Islands have even more appeal. They are, after all, home to more nesting Atlantic puffins than anywhere else on earth. They number in the millions. You can hike around the main island of Heimaey and marvel over those cute creatures in many places.
Regardless of which wonderful way you decide to spend your seventeenth day, you will return to your previous hotel for the night.
Day 18 - The Golden Circle
The eighteenth day of your three-week summer vacation to Iceland will be the last you spend on the road. Luckily, it is dedicated to traversing the Golden Circle, the most popular sightseeing route in the country.
The first attraction you will come to will immediately demonstrate why this trail is so beloved. Gullfoss waterfall is a spectacular feature, thundering down two steps into a canyon carved out in the last Ice Age. Just over 105 ft (32 m) tall in total, the beauty of Gullfoss comes from its power, serene surroundings, and the rainbows that burst from its spray in sunny weather.
The adventurous can add a snowmobiling tour onto their day that leaves from the car park at Gullfoss. You'll board a super jeep that will take you up the slopes of Langjokull glacier, the meltwater that feeds the falls, to your waiting vehicle. There are few better ways to get your adrenaline pumping than on such an excursion, nor to achieve such magnificent views of the Highlands.
The second attraction of the Golden Circle is the geysers of the Geysir Geothermal Area. The most active of these is Strokkur, which erupts every five to ten minutes, and occasionally exceeds heights of 66 ft (20 m). Watching it blast a column of water into the summer sky is awe-inspiring, particularly after a bit of anticipation. There is plenty to look at between eruptions in the area, with many hot springs, vents, and mud pools.
The third and final main location you'll come to on this sightseeing route is Thingvellir, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Icelandic mainland and the third and final National Park you'll visit in the country. Located bang in the middle of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, this wonderland of lava, forests, and intriguing history is unlike anywhere else in the country.
Because Thingvellir is located directly between two continents, it is filled with ravines that open as the plates pull apart. Groundwater, traveling from Langjokull glacier, fills these ravines. Considering it has been filtered through porous basalt for years, it emerges crystal clear. Because of the beauty, cleanliness, and clarity of these springs, snorkeling and diving have become increasingly popular here.
If you did not elect to snowmobile, you can, therefore, opt for a snorkeling tour into the waters of Silfra ravine. With a drysuit protecting you from the cold, you'll be exposed to some of the most magnificent underwater views the world has to offer, with visibility exceeding 328 ft (100 m) and more shades of blue than you ever thought could exist.
Though Gullfoss, Strokkur, and Thingvellir are the three main sites of the Golden Circle, there are dozens of hidden gems just off the route that you can visit before returning to Reykjavik. Kerid crater lake is particularly alluring for its scale, the easiness of the hike around it, and the dramatic contrasts between the red rocks and azure waters.
After making the most of your final day on the road, you'll return to the capital of Iceland for the night, no doubt feeling a great sense of accomplishment following such an intrepid adventure.
Day 19 - Volcano adventure
On your nineteenth day in Iceland, you could be forgiven for wanting to unwind and relax in the capital. Lazily strolling through its charming streets, lounging in a pool, or dedicating an afternoon to one of the quirky bars are all perfectly wonderful ways to chill after a sixteen-day road trip.
Those who wish to keep their adventure going with classic Icelandic experiences are in luck, as two equally appealing adventures can be added onto today.
The first is a two-hour horseback riding tour in the valley of Mosfellsdalur on the outskirts of Reykjavik. Despite this area's proximity from the capital, it boasts rural bliss, with rolling countryside and far-flung churches and farmsteads. Exploring such beauty by riding is a marvelous experience, made all the more wonderful by the renowned charm of Icelandic horses.
Whether a novice or expert equestrian, this tour will be tailored to you.
Your second option may be more expensive, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that cannot be experienced anywhere else on earth: the Into the Volcano tour. After meeting your guide, you'll hike across a seemingly innocuous plain of lava until reaching a mining lift. Here, you'll be dressed in safety equipment, board, then descend into an enormous, vividly colored magma chamber.
When volcanos cease erupting, their magma chambers drain as they become dormant and usually collapse in on themselves; this did not occur at Thrihnukagigur. Instead, a vast, magnificent space was left behind, large enough to fit giant man-made monuments like Hallgrimskirkja church and the Statue of Liberty. Residue from the minerals in the lava stains the walls reds, yellows, and greens, adding to the spectacular appearance.
You'll have time to disembark the lift and explore the empty magma chamber, no doubt left in awe over its subterranean beauty.
Once back in Reykjavik, be sure to check out a restaurant, bar, or some of the city sites under the Midnight Sun before retiring.
Day 20 - The Northernmost Capital
On the penultimate day of your three weeks in Iceland, you'll once again be based in Reykjavik.
Considering how immersed you have been in nature over your holiday, now is a great time to fill up on the country's culture. The capital city boasts a broad range of fascinating museums to help you do this, whether interested in music, folklore, history, or nature. Similarly, there are plenty of galleries exhibiting the works of local sculptors and painters, both past and present.
Pools such as Laugardalslaug are marvelous places to chat with locals and fellow travelers, while you can find solitude and peace at parks and nature spots such as Seltjarnarnes and Videy Island. Meanwhile, last-minute souvenir shopping can be done along the main street of Laugavegur, at the quirky flea market of Kolaportid, or in the up-and-coming Grandi area of town.
Regardless of what you do, you should at least be sure to check out some of the capital city's most iconic landmarks. Hallgrimskirkja church, the Harpa Concert hall, the Perlan exhibition center, and the Sun Voyager statue are particularly worth seeing.
To add one more spectacular activity onto your penultimate day, it is highly recommended to book the FlyOver Iceland experience, which will provide you with incredible aerial views of the country's most magnificent areas without you having to leave the city. This interactive experience is basically a ride in which you'll be dangled like you are paragliding over an enormous screen, revealing stunning nature, complete with special effects providing wind, fog, and scents.
However, do not forget that this is a self-drive in which you have almost complete freedom. If you don't want to spend any more time in the urban jungle than you have to, then simply don't. You'll still have your car, so why not head to more sites in the south and west of Iceland that you could not fit into your trip before or return to some old favorites.
You'll spend your last night in Reykjavik.
Day 21 - See you next time
Sadly, day 21 marks the end of your three-week summer holiday in Iceland. Thankfully, however, you can leave knowing you explored each of its spectacular regions in-depth and enjoyed an epic road trip that you will never forget.
You'll need to get your car back to the airport in time for your departure. 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.
We hope to see you again soon, to visit old sites, explore Iceland in its winter colors, or better plumb the depths of its untouched Highlands. Thanks for coming!
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.
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 their 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 a 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.