5 Day Budget Summer Self Drive Tour of the Golden Circle, South Coast & Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Grab this budget opportunity to partake in this action-packed self-drive tour, spending five summer days exploring the best sights and activities the South Coast has to offer, all without breaking the bank.
You will begin your holiday by spending time in Reykjavik, exploring the Nordic culture, cuisine, and attractions. Afterward, you will partake in the famous Golden Circle tour, visiting the mighty waterfall, Gullfoss, the geothermal valley of Haukadalur, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Thingvellir National Park.
The remainder of your trip will be equally full of adventure. Not only will you see the majestic waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, but also the crown jewel of the South Coast, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Here, you can view the incredible floating icebergs and even walk along the glittering Diamond Beach, all illuminated by the stunning rays of the midnight sun. No one can put on a price on nature like this!
By choosing an affordable self-drive tour such as this, you can skip the hassle associated with larger tour groups, ensuring you will have a more personal and budgeted summer holiday. You will also have the time to engage with many other extra activities, including horse riding, snowmobiling, glacier hiking, and visiting the Blue Lagoon.
So don't delay! Hurry now not to miss this budget opportunity to see some of Iceland's best attractions in just five days. Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival Day - Welcome to Iceland
Welcome to Iceland! First things first, after landing, you need to pick up your car at Keflavik International Airport. From there, you will drive through the craggy, volcanic landscapes of the Reykjanes Peninsula, leaving you in immediate awe at the country's untouched and undeveloped environment.
On your way to Iceland's capital city, you could choose to make a stop at the Blue Lagoon. This world-renowned spa is known for its healing waters, vivid azure colors, and luxurious treatments. It is located in the middle of a moss-covered lava field, giving it an otherworldly atmosphere. If you add the Blue Lagoon, it will be arranged according to your flights. If there is no time to visit the lagoon today, it can be added to another day. Your travel consultant will be able to arrange this for you. There is still plenty to see and do in Reykjavik and the Reykjanes Peninsula if you have extra free time.
It's then time to head to Iceland's capital. Despite its small population, Reykjavik is an exciting city, boasting a unique nightlife, modern shopping, and some of the best seafood this side of the Arctic circle.
It's entirely down to you whether or not you spend the evening recuperating in the hotel or getting a taste of this unique and vibrant city.
Day 2 - Golden Circle Trails and South Coast Waterfalls
Today, you will experience Iceland's most popular tour, The Golden Circle, boasting some of the country's most famous sights.
Your first stop on the Golden Circle route is the UNESCO World Heritage site, Thingvellir National Park. Historically, culturally and geologically important, Thingvellir not only saw the 930 AD founding of the first democratically elected parliament but is home to the American and Eurasian tectonic plates exposed from the earth.
During your time at Thingvellir, you can partake in a snorkeling tour at Silfra Fissure, one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. The glacial water is so clear in Silfra that visibility can sometimes reach 328 ft (100 m).
Next up is Haukadalur, home to the country's world-famous hot springs, the largest of which has lent its name to all geysers in the English language. Though that one now lies dormant, the nearby Strokkur erupts every few minutes, sometimes reaching heights of 66 ft (20 m)!
Finally, only a short distance away, you will visit the incredibly photogenic waterfall, Gullfoss. A part of the glacial river Hvita, Gullfoss translates to "Golden Falls," dropping 105 ft (32 m) down two tiers. From this stop, you could also opt for a snowmobile tour across the nearby Langjokull glacier. Alternatively, gallop away on a horse riding tour through the region. You will spend the night near the town of Selfoss.
Day 3 - Black Sands and White Glaciers
The third day will see you traveling eastward, passing over the black sands of Solheimajokull glacier. At the glacier, you will have the option to either go snowmobiling or glacier hiking, both of which will offer the perfect blend of adrenaline-fuelled adventure and incredible sightseeing.
Eventually, you will reach the small fishing of Vik, where you can choose to partake in an ice caving tour at Myrdalsjokull glacier. This excursion is the only ice cave tour of its kind that is available in the summer. While in town, you could also choose to stroll down to the black sand beach Reynisfjara, where you can check out the distinctive basalt columns that have formed into the cliffsides. Beware, waves can be unpredictable here, so always keep a good distance from the shoreline.
You will next head toward Vatnajokull National Park, where you will be able to hike numerous trails through the sublime and beautiful and Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Of particular recommendation is the 3.1-mile (5 km) path toward Svartifoss waterfall. Ask at the Visitor's Centre, and the staff will be eager to point you in the right direction.
After some hiking, you will make your final stop of the day at the crown jewel of the Southern Peninsula, the gorgeous Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. For nature lovers and photography enthusiasts, this is truly a paradise, with enormous icebergs floating in the pale blue water, the stillness of the scene interrupted only by the playful splashing of nearby seals. It is also possible to walk a short distance to Diamond Beach, where icebergs make their way out to the ocean from the lagoon.
For accommodation, you will spend the night in the area around Vatnajokull National Park.
Day 4 - Ice Wonderland
Today, you will be heading back to the capital, Reykjavik, but why not first revisit some of the spots that have thus far made your holiday so exciting? Jokulsarlon, in particular, changes every day, always displaying a transient natural beauty. This morning is the perfect opportunity to take a boat trip for a new perspective of the icebergs and glaciers.
During your journey back to the city, there are still numerous stops for you to explore. Fjadrargljufur Canyon, for example, boasts an oasis of luscious flora, while Dyrholaey mountain might be your chance of seeing one of Iceland's most famous residents, the puffin! You could also make a stop in the Skaftafell nature reserve for a glacier hike in the shadow of Iceland's tallest peak, Hvannadalshnjukur.
When you arrive back in the city, you will have one final chance to indulge in Icelandic culture. You could check out some of Reykjavik's most famous landmarks, including the shining Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik City Hall, and Hallgrimskirkja church. If you're looking to relax, you could always hit one of the city's many jazz nights or even stroll through a late-night museum. You will spend the night in the town.
Day 5 - Departure Day
Today is your last day and, unless you’re planning on extending your trip (which can happily be arranged), you will have to fill your last hours here with something memorable. For those who have a later flight and choose to visit the Blue Lagoon today, you will finish off your stay unwinding before you head to the airport. This is the perfect place to relax as you bathe in the warm, mineral-rich waters as you look back on the incredible adventure you have just taken in the land of fire and ice. If your flight is later, there are plenty of things to do in Reykjavik. If you have an early flight back home, we wish you a pleasant journey.
What to bring
Good to know
Self-drive tours begin either in Reykjavík City or at Keflavik International Airport. A valid driver's license is required, along with a one-year-long on-road experience. Please be aware that your itinerary may be rearranged to better fit with your arrival date and time.
Although it is summertime, the Icelandic weather can be very unpredictable. Please bring appropriate clothing.
See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Super budget level accommodations will be arranged in hostel dorm beds. Budget level bookings for one person will be arranged in single rooms, and bookings for two or more people will share a twin/double or triple room(s). Teenagers and children will be arranged in the same room with parents. If additional room(s) is needed, additional costs will incur. Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available accommodation at the time of your booking from our preferred partners. Please keep in mind that hotel quality in Iceland varies among locations and availability is highly limited. If our preferred partners are fully booked at the time of your booking, we will find another suitable accommodation for you of similar level. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. Press choose a date to find availability.
Dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels. Located in the region of the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.
Rooms with shared bathrooms in farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.
Below you can see the car rental options available for this self-drive tour.
All our vehicles are new or current models, of maximum 2 years of age. Super Budget levels come with standard CDW insurance, while all other levels also include Gravel Protection (GP) insurance. Please note that off-road driving is illegal for all types of cars.
All levels come equipped with free Wi-fi. You can enjoy unlimited data with the Wi-Fi device, which can be connected to up to 10 devices at once. The car rental will provide 24-hour roadside emergency services.
Age requirement for each level can be found below. For all levels, the driver must possess a valid driving license for at least one year before the date of the rental.
We recommend Budget 4X4 level for summer driving and Comfort 4X4 for winter driving.
A small 2WD vehicle such as Toyota Aygo or similar, fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions. Compact and comfortable for up to 2 travellers with very little luggage. No highland capabilities. The driver must be of 20 years of age or above.
A basic 2WD vehicle, such as a Toyota Yaris or similar, suitable for travelling in everyday conditions. Comfortable for 3 travellers with light luggage. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities. The driver must be of 20 years of age or above.
A basic 4WD (4X4) jeep or SUV such as a Dacia Duster or similar. Comfortably fit up to 3 travellers with 2 large pieces of luggage. Fit for most travel and decent for snow and off-asphalt driving. Has basic highland capabilities. The driver must be of 20 years of age or above.
A medium-sized 4WD (4x4) jeep or SUV such as a Toyota Rav4 (automatic) and Suzuki Vitara (manual), or similar. Comfortably fit up to 4 travelers with 3 large pieces of luggage. Fit for most travel and good for snow and off-asphalt driving. Has basic highland capabilities. The driver must be of 21 years of age or above.
A large 4WD jeep such as a Toyota Land Cruiser or similar. Comfortable for up to 4 travellers with 4 large pieces of luggage. Fit for nearly all travelling. Has full highland capabilities to drive on accessible mountain roads. The driver must be of 21 years of age or above.
A large 9-seater van such as a Mercedes Benz Vito (4WD manual, has highland capabilities and better suited for winter driving), or similar. Comfortable for 5 to 7 travelers. If seated full, luggage space is limited. The driver must be of 23 years of age or above.