Express 6 Day Summer Self Drive Tour of the Complete Ring Road of Iceland
Drive the whole circle around Iceland in only six days. If you don't have much time but still want to see as much of Iceland as possible, then this trip around the country is your best bet. It involves a lot of driving, but you are behind the wheel and can forget about the pressures of tour guides and other group members.
To make your holiday relaxing as well as adventurous, you will lodge in full comfort with an ensuite bathroom and breakfast included around Iceland, so you can be certain that you will rest well between days of adventure.
On this trip, you will get to enjoy Iceland's most famous highlights, such as the Golden Circle, Reykjavík, and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. If you wish to avoid the crowds to enjoy Iceland's peaceful, secluded places, you are in luck! You will receive a custom itinerary, which will show you locations off the beaten path where you can truly get back in touch with nature.
You'll see many impressive waterfalls, geothermal areas, volcanoes, lakes, glaciers, and charismatic Icelandic towns as you travel. The south, east, north, and west are all dramatically different from each other, so instead of focusing on one area, you'll get to know it all, one region after another.
Make the most of the long summer days, start early in the mornings, and finish late at night. You should feel more energetic in the constant sunshine, and even if you do not, the spectacular scenery and beautiful fresh air will jolt your senses awake.
During the booking process, you can also add more exciting activities to fill the sunny days. Options include cruising the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, buzzing along an ice cap on a snowmobile, descending into a stunning ice cave, hiking the glacier at Skaftafell, and unwinding in the Blue Lagoon. You can even take a tandem paragliding flight over the incredible South Coast.
Jump on this opportunity to see all parts of Iceland in record time. Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival in Reykjavík
After arriving at Keflavík, pick up your car and head towards Iceland's capital, Reykjavík. 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.
Explore the museums, restaurants, and nightlife of Reykjavík city, and get a good sleep at a cozy hotel in the center of town before hitting the road early next morning.
Day 2 - Reykjavík to Lake Mývatn
Start your road trip by heading north towards Akureyri, the capital of the North.
Although you will be driving for longer today than on any other day, there are many little side tours you can take en route. For example, it is only a short detour to the impressive Hvítserkur rock, which rises 50 ft (15 m) tall from the ocean in the shape of an elephant (if you're looking at the right angle).
The charming town of Akureyri has plenty of things to check out, such as an impressive church, a vibrant main street, a botanical garden featuring over 700 species, and a great swimming pool. After spending some time exploring, continue towards Lake Mývatn. On your way, you'll see the mighty Goðafoss waterfall and some impressive geothermal areas.
You'll want plenty of time at Lake Mývatn, as it is known for its impressive beauty. If you have the opportunity, it is highly recommended you look at Dimmuborgir lava fields, also known as the Dark Fortress, and the hot spring cave of Grjótagjá.
You can also soak in the Mývatn Nature Baths if you feel like doing something relaxing in the late evening. The time is no problem; they stay open until midnight in the summertime.
Spend your night in Lake Mývatn or the town of Akureyri.
PLEASE NOTE: Today consists of approximately 6 hours of driving.
Day 3 - Lake Mývatn to Southeast Iceland
Spend the first part of your day exploring the gorgeous area around Lake Mývatn, the Námaskarð geothermal area, and the magnificent Dettifoss waterfall before continuing towards Egilsstaðir, the capital of the East. This drive will take you through the magnificent Vatnajökull National Park, which has many spectacular vistas.
Near Egilsstaðir is Iceland's largest forest, Hallormsstaðaskógur, and the lush and popular camping spot Atlavík, both of which are must-stop locations for avid birdwatchers. There is also a serene lake that contains Iceland's most famous monster, the Wyrm of Lagarfljót, a much older cousin to Nessie in Scotland's Loch Ness.
After enjoying these areas, drive to a quaint village in southeast Iceland, such as Höfn, where you will spend the night.
PLEASE NOTE: Today consists of approximately 5 hours of driving.
Day 4 - Southeast Iceland to Vík
Begin your day by heading south to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon from your accommodation. Be sure to enjoy the views en route of the stark Mt. Vestrahorn and the glistening Vatnajökull glacier, the largest glacier in Europe.
When you reach the glacier lagoon nestled into the south side of Vatnajökull, you will see why it is such a popular attraction. The icebergs, breaking from the glacier and sailing across the water, are incredibly beautiful. Take your time exploring the lagoon and the nearby Diamond Beach, where huge pieces of crystal clear ice strand on the black, volcanic sand, sparkling in the sunlight like jewels.
If you like, you can go on an optional boat tour of the lagoon before continuing your journey along the south coast of Iceland. You can jump on a zodiac or an amphibious vessel.
Make sure you stop at Skaftafell Nature Reserve and try out their numerous hiking trails. If you feel energized, take the longer trail to the impressive waterfall Svartifoss, which rushes down unique, hexagonal basalt columns. If you are feeling adventurous, you can also opt for a glacier hike here.
Continue to drive to the stunning canyon Fjaðrárgljúfur, perhaps with a stop for dinner at the charming town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. From there, you will keep driving through an impressive diversity of landscape towards Vík, where you'll have a view of the sea stacks Reynisdrangar and where you will spend the night.
PLEASE NOTE: Today consists of approximately 4.5 hours of driving.
Day 5 - Vík to Reykjavík
A little further on from Vík, you'll reach Dyrhólaey and Reynisfjara beach, where you'll have an impressive view of long stretches of black sand, all the way down the coast towards the nearby glacier Mýrdalsjökull. You can opt for an ice cave tour to Mýrdalsjökull glacier that departs from Vík.
There are many interesting geological features along Reynisfjara beach. It is a popular place for watching puffins. Be cautious of the waves here, as they are notoriously unpredictable and dangerous.
After you have enjoyed the beach, keep going west along the South Coast. Admire the beauty of Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls before driving to Iceland's most popular tourist attractions, Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir geothermal area, and Þingvellir National Park, otherwise known as the Golden Circle. Each of these sites is world-famous for a reason, and none of them should be missed.
If you want to soak in a warm pool as well, you will want to stop by the Secret Lagoon in the town of Flúðir. Alternatively, you could bask in the warm waters of the Fontana Spa at Laugarvatn.
There are three different tours you can opt into on this day. Another glacier hike or a snowmobiling tour on Sólheimajökull, and even a tandem paragliding flight.
After an eventful day, head back to Reykjavík, where you'll spend your last night.
PLEASE NOTE: Today consists of approximately 4 hours of driving!
Day 6 - Departure Day
Unwind in Reykjavík after a long but incredibly satisfying road trip.
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.
You may choose to go on an optional whale watching tour if you'd like one last glimpse of Iceland's incredible environment. If you have an early flight back home, we wish you a pleasant journey.
Return your car at Keflavík International Airport and have a great flight back home, full of memories of Iceland.
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.