Unforgettable 7 Day Self Drive Holiday on North Iceland's Arctic Coast Way
Explore the incredible North of Iceland on this 7-day self-drive tour. The main focus of this itinerary is to visit the attractions on the Diamond Circle and Arctic Coast Way. Incredible sites such as Lake Myvatn, Akureyri, Asbyrgi canyon, and Dettifoss waterfall will be all at your fingertips.
This North Iceland itinerary is packed full of action. You will spend a night in Reykjavik before going to Akureyri, the 'Capital of the North.' After that, it's off to visit the stunning geothermal landscapes and mystical wonders of Lake Myvatn.
This self-drive tour focuses on the lesser-known route, the Arctic Coast Way. This stunning coastal route takes you along the rugged fjords in North Iceland, allowing you to explore Iceland off-the-beaten-path. Discover some of the most remote attractions on the edge of the Arctic Circle. The route is split into three sections: the coast of sagas and mythology, the coast of fishing towns and heritage, and the coast of elemental nature. It is specifically designed to allow travelers to explore the unspoiled and experience the remote tranquillity on offer.
To help you find these places, you will receive a custom itinerary shaped by local experts so that you don't miss a chance to recharge your batteries in peace. This way, you can arrange the perfect blend of popular sites and hidden gems.
Not only that, while booking this self-drive, you can add on extra activities to spice up your holiday. You have the opportunity to whale watch in Husavik, hop in the saddle and go horseback riding in Akureyri, explore a lava cave, bathe in a Beer Spa, or take a helicopter over Iceland's magnificent geothermal landscapes. There is even the opportunity to discover the vivid colors inside the vast magma chamber of a dormant volcano.
If you want to experience this country at your own pace, without worrying about guides, departure times, or other group members, then this is the perfect choice for you.
So don't hesitate. Book now to see some of Iceland's most stunning locations. Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland
Collect your car at Keflavik International Airport, and you're ready to begin your adventure.
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.
When you are ready, drive to Reykjavik, settle in, and the rest of the day is yours to explore one of Europe's most vibrant cities. With its abundance of museums, galleries, restaurants, and bars, you're sure to find something that suits your taste.
Spend the night in Reykjavik.
Day 2 - Head North to Akureyri
Today, you'll begin your journey north as you take the Ring Road and head towards the town of Akureyri.
On your way, there are plenty of beautiful spots to visit. These can include Deildartunguhver, home of the largest hot spring in Europe, and the beautiful Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls.
History buffs may also enjoy visiting Snorrastofa, the medieval research institute in Reykholt, where the early settler, poet, and historian Snorri Sturluson wrote the Saga Heimskringla in the 13th century.
It is also recommended that you take a short break at Fossatun, a waterfall said to be guarded by a troll woman named Drifa. You may also want to check out the Icelandic Settlement Center in Borgarnes. There are two entertaining and educational exhibitions at the Settlement Center. One tells the story of the first settlers, while the other reveals the story of one of Iceland's most beloved heroes, Egill.
While you're in the area, take a tour of Vídgelmir cave or relax in Krauma Geothermal Baths.
When you get to Akureyri, there is plenty to do. Visit the iconic church in the city center, check out the shops, go for a swim, explore the botanical gardens or buy some of Iceland's best ice cream in the ice cream shop, Brynja. There is a forest just to the south of the town, and many beautiful mountains that you can explore.
A great way to take in the nature of the surrounding area is on a horse riding tour. Learn more about the Icelandic horse and its unique gait as you venture off-the-beaten-path into the remote landscapes of Iceland.
You will spend the night in Akureyri town center.
Day 3 - Arctic Coast Way or Diamond Circle Route
On day three, you have a couple of options open to you.
Depending on how far you'd like to travel, today is a great day to travel some more of the Arctic Coast Way. Set off early and enjoy exploring the remote landscapes in North Iceland.
Visit Svalbardseyri, a quiet fishing village with a black sand beach and an iconic orange lighthouse.
Head on to Grenivik, where you can truly experience a different way of life. This small town and the accompanying pier offer beautiful views of Eyjafjordur.
These sites are lesser-known and less often visited by travelers, giving you more of an experience of life in remote Iceland.
Alternatively, the Diamond Circle route is popular among travelers. Head to the northern village of Husavik, known as the whale watching capital of Europe, where you can opt to join a traditional whale watching tour. Enjoy the brisk sea air as you cruise out over the water in search of tail fins breaking the waves!
Here you can also bathe in Geosea Geothermal Sea Baths and enjoy the feel of the naturally warm seawater on your skin.
Visit some of Iceland's most beautiful locations, such as the Asbyrgi Canyon, a woodland oasis amidst a deep ravine filled with birch and willow trees. Another gorgeous site is Dettifoss waterfall, the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe.
You will spend your night in the Lake Myvatn area.
Day 4 - Myvatn Geothermal Area
Today you will enjoy exploring the Lake Myvatn area. There are many beautiful views to be enjoyed here, across the lake and the geothermal areas. One of the most impressive sites is the lava field of Dimmuborgir, which translates to 'the dark fortress.' The lava here forms incredible shapes, which some say resemble castles, turrets, towers, and walls.
Otherwise, you can take a day tour to Askja to discover the lunar landscapes of Iceland.
At the end of an action-packed day, wind down with a soothing soak in the geothermal waters of the nearby Myvatn Nature Baths.
You will spend the night in the Lake Myvatn area.
Day 5 - Troll Peninsula and Arctic Coast Way Route
On the fifth day, drive to Saudarkrokur, stopping at the sites on the way.
We recommend a trip along Trollaskagi Peninsula ('The Troll Peninsula'), where there are plenty of Arctic Coast Way sights to take in.
A great way to start the day is with a visit to the Beer Spa. Soak in the beer, water, hops, and yeast that fill the stunning Kambala wood bathtubs.
Nearby sits Hauganes, where you can take a whale watching tour out into Eyjafjordur before continuing on your journey of the Arctic Coast Way.
On the tip of Trollaskagi, you'll find the charming village Siglufjordur, the former herring fishing capital of Iceland. A visit to the Herring Era Museum is highly recommended to understand the importance of the fishing industry to Iceland's culture and economy. This is the only Icelandic museum that has won the European Museum Award.
As you make your way around the peninsula, enjoy stunning views of unspoiled nature.
Further south, you'll find another charming village, Hofsos, where you can enjoy the surrounding landscape as you relax in the town's thermal Infinity Pool.
Spend the night in Saudarkrokur.
Day 6 - Return to Reykjavik
Today you will drive back to Reykjavik.
There are still plenty of Arctic Coast Way attractions that you can visit on your way back.
Take a little detour and drive to a rock called Hvitserkur, which, from the right angle, looks like an elephant standing on the surface of the ocean. Take a stroll on the beach, where seals are often spotted playing by the shore.
After returning to Reykjavik, make the most of the long daylight hours and take a helicopter tour over Iceland’s beautiful geothermal areas. Alternatively, take a tour inside the magma chambers of a dormant volcano.
After a day full of adventure, spend your final night back in Reykjavik.
Day 7 - Final Day in the Capital
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.
Be sure to reach the airport in time to drop off your car, and have a wonderful flight home.
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), and Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW) insurances. Please note that off-road driving is illegal for all types of cars.
All levels come equipped with a GPS and 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.