5-Day Summer Self Drive (On a Budget) | The Golden Circle, South Coast & Glacier Lagoon

5-Day Summer Self Drive (On a Budget) | The Golden Circle, South Coast & Glacier Lagoon
Enjoy Iceland in the summer exploring the waterfalls of the South Coast and the Golden Circle on this easy going self drive tour.
The Arctic Lupin is a beautiful flower that has spread all around Iceland.
Þingvellir National Park is amongst Iceland's most cherished areas.
Strokkur is one of Iceland's most active geysers, erupting once every five to ten minutes.
The sea stacks off Reynisfjara black sand beach are steeped in folklore and legend.
The magnificent Strokkur geyser regularly erupts, sometimes spouting water 60 m (198 ft) into the air.
Based on 3 traveller reviews

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 Reykjavík, exploring the Nordic culture, cuisine and attractions. Afterwards, you will partake in the popular Golden Circle tour, visiting the mighty waterfall, Gullfoss, the geothermal valley of Haukadalur and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Þingvellir National Park.

The remainder of your trip will be equally full of adventure. Not only will you see the majestic waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, but also the crown jewel of the South Coast; Jökulsárlon 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, all at a discounted price if you add them in during the booking process.

So don't delay! Hurry now so as not to miss this budget opportunity to see some of Iceland's best attractions in just five days. Check availability by choosing a date.

Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: Apr. - Aug.
  • Duration: 5 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkelling, Caving, Snowmobile, Horse Riding, Sightseeing, Boat Trip, Hot Spring Bathing, Cultural Activity, Bird watching, Ice Caving, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, Reykjavík, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Dyrhólaey, Þingvellir, Reykjanes, Sólheimajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, Skaftafell, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Langjökull, Vík í Mýrdal, Svartifoss, South Coast, Diamond Beach
Pickup information:
  • Pickup time : Flexible.

  • 4 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast not included, shared bathrooms; more detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 5 days (Toyota Aygo or similar, upgrades available)

  • CDW insurance for vehicle

  • GPS system

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

  • Taxes

  • Blue Lagoon entry ticket (can be added during booking process)

  • Meals

  • Fuel

What to bring:
  • Warm and waterproof clothes

  • Swimsuit & towel

  • Driver's License

  • Hiking shoes

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.

It can happen, in the case of extreme weather, that an activity is cancelled. If your chosen activity is cancelled, we will assist you with rearranging or booking other activities when possible, and any potential price difference will be refunded to you.

Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival Day - Welcome to Iceland

Welcome to Reykjavík, the world's northernmost capital.

Welcome to Iceland! First things first after landing, you need to pick up your car at Keflavík 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.

It is your choice as to whether you would first like to make a stop at the famous Blue Lagoon, one of the world’s best stops for a spot of luxury and relaxation. The water is renown for its healing properties and works as a good introduction to the clean-living Icelanders cherish. The warm silica mud can even be used as a makeshift face mask. 

When your muscles are thoroughly relaxed, it's time to head to Iceland’s capital. Despite its diminutive population, Reykjavík 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, alternatively, getting a taste of this unique and vibrant city.

Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Super Budget

Rooms or dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostel. Located in the capital region. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Breakfast not included.

Reykjavík Budget

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

Day 2 - Golden Circle Trails and South Coast Waterfalls

Strokkur geyser erupts every few minutes, sometimes reaching heights of 60 m (197 ft).

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, Þingvellir National Park. Historically, culturally and geologically important, Þingvellir not only saw the 930 AD founding of the first democratically elected parliament but also boasts the American and Eurasian tectonic plates, exposed from the earth.

During your time at Þingvellir, you can partake in a snorkelling tour at Silfra Fissure, one of the Top 10 dive sites in the world, though this will have to be booked in advance. The glacial water is so clear in Silfra that visibility can sometimes reach 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 60m!

Finally, only a short distance away, you will visit the incredibly photogenic waterfall, Gullfoss. A part of the glacial river Hvítá, Gullfoss literally translates to “Golden Falls”, dropping 30m down two tiers. From this stop, you could also opt for a snowmobile tour across the nearby Langjökull glacier, alternatively, gallop away on a horse riding tour through the region. You will spend the night near the village of  Hvolsvöllur.

Preferred accommodation by Hvolsvöllur

Hvolsvöllur Super Budget

Árnes HI Hostel is located close to the village of Hella. Dormitory rooms with shared facilities. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Hvolsvöllur Budget

Hotel Hvolsvöllur is a 3-star hotel centrally located in Hvolsvöllur village. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Day 3 - Black Sands and White Glaciers

Glacier hiking tours make for adrenaline-fuelled adventures that are brimming with incredible sightseeing opportunities.

The third day will see you travelling eastward, passing over the black sands of Sólheimajökull 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 Vík where you can choose to partake in an ice caving tour at  Mýrdalsjökull glacier. This is the only ice cave tour of its kind that is available in the summer. Whilst in town, you could also choose to amble 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 at least 20 metres from the shoreline.

You will next head toward Vatnajökull 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 5 km trail 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 Jökulsárlón 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. From the lagoon, it is also possible to walk a short distance to Diamond Beach, the shoreline where icebergs make their way out to the ocean.

For accommodation, you will spend the night in the area around Vatnajökull National Park.

Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Super Budget

HI Hostel Höfn is located in Höfn township. Dormitory rooms with shared facilities. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Budget

Guesthouse Hvammur is located in the centre of Höfn town and a short drive from Vatnjökull National Park. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

Day 4 - Ice Wonderland

The Diamond Beach is a shoreline in South Iceland where icebergs make their way out to the ocean.

Today, you will be heading back to the capital, Reykjavík, but why not first revisit some of the spots that have thus far made your holiday so exciting? Jökulsárlón in particular changes every day, always displaying a full and transient natural beauty. This morning is also the perfect opportunity to take a boat trip across the lagoon in order to get an as of yet unseen perspective of the icebergs and glacier.

During your journey back to the city, there are still numerous stops for you to explore. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, for example, boasts an oasis of luscious flora whilst Dyrhólaey 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; Hvannadalshnjúkur.

When you arrive back in the city, you will have one final chance yo indulge in Icelandic culture. You could check out some of Reykjavík’s most famous landmarks, including the shining Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavík City Hall and Hallgrímskirkja 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 city.

Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Super Budget

Rooms or dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostel. Located in the capital region. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Breakfast not included.

Reykjavík Budget

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

Day 5 - Departure Day

Top off your adventure in Iceland with a visit to the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa.

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. If you haven’t already visited the Blue Lagoon, now might be the perfect opportunity - that is, if tickets have been booked in advance!

If you have some extra time, you could visit the Krýsuvík geothermal area or the Gunnuhver hot spring on your way to the airport. Make sure to arrive at Keflavík International Airport at least two hours before your departure.

Until next time, we hope you’ve had a wonderful trip to Iceland.


Below you can see the car rental options available for this self drive tour. All our vehicles are new or current models, maximum five years of age, and come equipped with a GPS and CDW insurance. You can also upgrade to an automatic model.

Super Budget

A small 2WD vehicle fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions, such as Toyota Aygo, Hyundai i10 or similar. A simple, compact vehicle with very little luggage capacity. Comfortable for up to 2 travellers. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities.


A basic 2WD vehicle suitable for basic travelling in everyday conditions, such as VW Polo, Toyota Yaris or similar. Comfortable for 3 travellers with light luggage. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities.

Comfort 4X4

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


See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary.
Single person bookings will be arranged with a dorm bed (super budget) or a single room (budget). Budget bookings of 2 or more people will share twin/double room(s) or triple room(s). Super budget bookings are set to twin/double or triple room(s) depending on availability, or placed in dormitories.
Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available accommodation at the time of your booking from our preferred partners. Press choose a date to find availability.

Super Budget

Rooms or 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 guesthouses, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.

Cancellation Insurance

This insurance guarantees that you can cancel the booking of this package and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost of 5,000 ISK per person.
The cancellation must be made within a minimum of 48-hours before the listed starting time. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact our service desk by writing to info@guidetoiceland.is no later than 48-hours before departure and declare the cancellation.
Please note that this insurance only covers the full cancellation of this entire package. It does not cover cancellations of individual activities and services within the package. The cost of the Cancellation Insurance is neither refundable nor transferable.



Verified reviews

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We did the self tour. It was great. We got the itinerary early enough to get an idea of what we wanted to do. Since we had been in Reykjavìk for a few days, we split up days 2 and 3 of the plan to cover more territory in days 1 and 2. Having the hotels precooked for us took a ton of stress off of the travel. The roads were easy to navigate, but the sheep are not the brightest and will walk out in front of a moving car. We were able to spent plenty of time in (th)ingvellir national park and found that to be such wonderful collection of nature and culture. We skipped out on the Blue Lagoon Spa, but went to the Secret Lagoon in Fudar. That was great. I would advise that to anyone. The only thing that I would consider dropping a star for (but I didn't) was a little bit of communication issues. The paperwork had office addresses, but the offices are now closed. We got quick responses on the email messages.
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Loved every second of it! Super helpful staff, and great itinerary - made it easy to read and navigate! Got to see literally everything and was on the road majority of the time - didn't want to miss a single thing! Thank you Guide to Iceland! Until next time :)
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Package was good overall, but when we arrived, we did not get greeted by a staff and had to just figure things out on our own. The package is for 2 person, but the car rental charges additional fees for adding drivers and gravel protection It would be great if the trip description include the entrance fee or parking option, because we may have spend additional 100usd just for admission/parking in misc Stopping at höfn for the night was also a little too far and there was nothing much along the way, and the very next day we had to drive like 5.5 hours to get to the destination from our hotel in Höfn
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