Spectacular 5 Day Self Drive Wildlife Tour of Iceland with Whale & Puffin Watching
Explore the wildlife of Iceland at your own pace on this 5-day self-drive tour! This tour is sure to thrill any animal or nature lover, allowing you to experience the Icelandic horses that fill Reykjadalur Valley, the whales and dolphins swimming off the coasts, and the famous puffins of the Westman Islands.
On a self-drive tour, you control how much you want to see each day. You can make the most of every minute and visit all the attractions in the area that you can, or just choose a few special places where you can linger and really take in the moment.
In one short holiday, you'll see all this and take a spin around the famous Golden Circle. There's even enough time to take a dip in the healing waters of the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.
The long summer days give you plenty of time to explore each location, meaning you can rise early and turn in late. The ongoing sunshine and pure, fresh air mean that you never feel too tired during Icelandic summer.
Most travelers to Iceland are excited about the must-see locations and seek secluded places where they can rest their minds and bodies amongst the peaceful Icelandic landscape. That is why you will be provided with a unique itinerary of hidden gems and lesser-seen places after you book, which will allow you to get back to nature without all the crowds.
Book this tour to immerse yourself in the vibrant wildlife of Iceland! Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Hello, Iceland - Hello, Reykjavik!
After landing at the airport in Keflavik, collect your vehicle and drive to your accommodation in downtown Reykjavik.
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.
After settling in, the rest of the day is free for you to explore the capital city. There is a vast range of museums, galleries, theatres, restaurants, and bars to suit all tastes. Consider sampling some of the capital's exciting nightlife before bringing an end to day one.
Day 2 - Reykjadalur
Aim for an early start, and head for the town of Hveragerdi, where you will have a half-day horse-riding tour waiting for you. You will meet the Icelandic horses for the first time here and quickly see that there is a lot more to them than their best-known quality, which is having a sixth gait when it comes to dressage. They are also intelligent, friendly, curious, and sweet, and you are almost guaranteed to fall straight in love with them.
You will then ride to the geothermal valley of Reykjadalur, over a mountainous pass dotted with steaming vents and twisting lava formations. Your destination is a naturally heated river, surrounded by high peaks and bubbling hot springs, where you can dismount and bask. This setting is so mystical and ideal. It feels more fantasy than real-world. When fully refreshed, you can mount back up and ride through the mountains back to town.
From there, you will drive along the south coast until you reach the Selfoss area, where your accommodation awaits.
Day 3 - Vestmannaeyjar - The Westman Islands
On day three, head to Landeyjahofn harbor and take an hour-long sailing trip to the Westman Islands, known locally as Vestmannaeyjar. The volcanic island is also referred to as the Pompeii of the North after a massive eruption happened in 1973. It now has fascinating museums regarding the volcanism and history of the area.
When you reach the Westman Islands, you can take a boat trip to see its puffin breeding colony. Prepare to be blown away, as it is the largest in the world. There are thought to be around 1.1 million birds nesting in the cliffs. These puffins, elusive in much of the world, cannot be seen better anywhere else.
After the voyage, you will have the rest of the day to wander around the island, with the option to take a small hike to the volcanic crater. Head back to the mainland and spend another night in the Hvolsvollur area at the end of the day.
Day 4 - The Golden Circle
Drive back to the capital, but don't miss the world-famous Golden Circle en route. Witness the mighty power of Gullfoss waterfall, as it cascades from a height of 105 ft (32 m), and marvel over Strokkur geyser in the Geysir geothermal area, as it blasts water over 66 ft (20m) high. The third and final stop is Thingvellir National Park, where you can walk between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates while immersing yourself in Iceland's heritage. It was here that the world's longest-running representative parliament was started in 930 AD; Iceland converted to Christianity in 1000 AD; the nation declared independence from Denmark in 1944.
After a fantastic sightseeing adventure, end the day with a whale-watching tour out of Reykjavik harbor. Faxafloi Bay is home to minke and humpback whales, white-beaked dolphins, and harbor porpoises and is sometimes frequented by orcas, beaked whales, and even fin and blue whales.
After a hopefully very successful whale watch, you can spend your last night in the capital city.
Day 5 - Departure Day - Goodbye, Iceland!
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. 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.
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.
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.