One Week North Iceland Expedition
Join this 7-day summer road trip to explore the best spots in the North of Iceland. On this route, you'll visit the beautiful cities of Reykjavik and Akureyri, the renowned Diamond Circle, Myvatn geothermal area, Trollaskagi peninsula, as well as explore the Arctic Coast Way and the Vatnsnes peninsula. This itinerary is perfect for those keen to take to the road and explore a less ventured part of the country at your own pace.
Frequently overlooked by travelers, North Iceland provides an incredible array of natural attractions, including powerful waterfalls, dormant volcanoes, the biggest geothermal area in Iceland, spectacular fjords, and much more. Taking the path less-trodden is often the recipe for an exceptional adventure.
What is particularly special is that you can tailor this trip exactly to your own preferences. There's no need to worry about tour groups and guides when you're at the wheel. Spend as much or as little time as you prefer in each location to make this a truly incredible experience.
We'll provide you with a custom itinerary that will include all of the better-known attractions as well as a selection of lesser-known hidden gems, making your trip extra unique.
This tour also offers a variety of fantastic additional activities you can opt for on suitable days across your holiday. Visit one or more geothermal spas, take a helicopter ride over a volcanic area, go horse riding or whale watching, or join a caving tour to make your trip the perfect blend of nature and adventure.
Avoid the tourist crowds, get off the beaten track and customize your trip to shape a once-in-a-lifetime holiday to North Iceland. Check availability by selecting a date and book your Iceland adventure.
Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland
Welcome to Iceland! It's time to explore the rugged wilderness and beautiful nature of the volcanic land of fire and ice.
You'll collect your car at Keflavik airport and begin your adventure.
On your way to Iceland's capital city of Reykjavik, 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're ready, you can then head to the capital city of Reykjavik to settle in, freshen up and get ready to explore the city. Check out its abundance of museums, galleries, restaurants, cafes, landmarks, swimming pools, and boutiques. You'll be sure to find something suitable for your tastes.
You'll then spend the night in your Reykjavik accommodation.
Day 2 - Head North to Akureyri
Today, you'll take your journey north, along the famous ring road to Iceland's capital of the north, Akureyri.
There are, however, plenty of great spots to check out along the way. For instance, you should visit Deildartunguhver, home to the largest hot spring in Europe, as well as the picturesque neighboring waterfalls of Hraunfossar and the more powerful Barnafoss.
For those of you with a particular interest in history, a visit to Reykholt is a must. This small village was the home of the famous poet of the early settler Snorri Sturluson, famous for writing the Saga Heimskringla in the 13th century.
We would also highly recommend a stop off at the waterfall, Fossatun. Ancient folklore states that these falls are said to be guarded by a troll woman named Drifa. If history and folklore spark your interest, a quick visit to the Icelandic Settlement Centre in Borgarnes is also a must. This will help you better understand the story of one of Iceland's most cherished heroes, Egill.
While in this region, you could also take a quick stop off at either the delightful Krauma Geothermal Baths for a bit of natural rest or opt to take in some added adventure by joining a tour of Vidgelmir cave.
After you get to Akureyri, you should explore its many landmarks. These include the iconic church in the city center, a variety of boutique shops, some very creative galleries, and the delightfully peaceful botanical gardens. Make sure you also try some of Iceland's best ice cream from the ice cream shop, Brynja.
One of the best ways to take in the dramatic nature of the surrounding area is to take a horse riding tour. You'll get to ride on the iconic and stylish Icelandic horse across the incredible terrains of North Iceland and experience the comfortable and unique gait only associated with this breed of horse.
You will retire for the night in your accommodation in Akureyri town center.
Day 3 - The Diamond Circle
On the third day of your trip, you will have a couple of options to choose from depending on how much driving you would prefer to do.
For those happy to drive much longer distances, you should opt to travel the Arctic Coast Way. You'll, however, want to make sure you set off early to give yourself enough time to complete this route.
On this journey, you'll first visit the quiet fishing village of Svalbardseyri iconic for its black sand beaches and perfectly contrasting orange lighthouse.
Next, you'll head on to Grenivik, which is a small town offering the most spectacular views of the Eyjafjordur fjord. Take some time to breathe in your surroundings in this town. For those keen on photography, this is the perfect setting to get some dramatic photos.
Both of these towns are lesser-known hidden gems that few would include on their tour itineraries. It's a great way to enjoy a couple of unique lesser-known spots away from the crowds.
However, those who are keener to do less driving and more sightseeing should skip the two towns and head to the Diamond Circle trail directly.
Firstly, you'll head across the fjord from Akureyri and north towards the town of Husavik. Known as the whale watching capital of Europe, summer is the perfect time to join a tour and check out some of these magnificent creatures of the deep with your own eyes.
Husavik also hosts the popular Geosea Geothermal Sea Baths, which allow guests to enjoy bathing in naturally warm seawater in a very picturesque setting; this is a great way to relax along your journey.
Next, you will drive towards the vast horseshoe-shaped Asbyrgi Canyon, said to be shaped by the stamping of Odin's eight-legged horse (Sleipnir) from Norse mythology. A little further along this route and you'll come to the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettisfoss, well-known for its ominous presence and feature in the hit movie Prometheus.
After a day of sightseeing, you'll then retire for the night in your accommodation in the Lake Myvatn area.
Day 4 - Myvatn Geothermal Area
On your fourth day, you'll explore the volcanic region of the Lake Myvatn area. It's the perfect time to visit in summer with the snow and ice melted, revealing a landscape of impressive views across the lake surrounded by nesting birds who arrive to nest for the season.
One of the most impressive spots worth visiting in this region is the Dimmuborgir lava field, which translates to 'the dark fortress.' Though not an actual fortress, the lava here formed some incredible shapes resembling castles, turrets, and towers. Its somewhat ominous presence led those in bygone eras to believe it was one of the entrances to hell itself.
Spend some time at Namaskard geothermal area just past the mountain pass. This surreal environment pulsates with steam vents and poisonous gases and is a landmark not to be missed.
Alternatively, you can join a day tour to Askja volcano, where you'll discover the incredible otherworldly lunar landscapes of Iceland. This will give you a better understanding of why this region is the testing ground for the upcoming Mars mission.
After another beautiful day in the volcanic paradise of North Iceland, take your time to relax and rejuvenate in the soothing geothermal waters of the nearby Myvatn Nature Baths under the glorious Midnight Sun.
You will then retire for the evening once more in your accommodation in the Lake Myvatn area.
Day 5 - Troll Peninsula and Arctic Coast Way Route
Your fifth day will take you on a drive to Saudarkrokur while stopping for a selection of breathtaking sights along the way.
We highly recommend taking a drive along the unique and picturesque Trollaskagi peninsula ('The Troll Peninsula') with plenty of Arctic Coast Way sights to take in. Some of the great stops include the beautiful coastal towns of Dalvik and Siglufjordur, Hofsos infinity pool, and the quirky Beer Spa just outside Arskogssandur.
The Beer Spa is a great way to start the day. You'll bathe in a wooden Kambala bathtub of beer, relaxing in the hops and yeast, and enjoy a cold one (as long as you're not the driver!).
If a beer bath is not your thing, taking a whale watching tour from the village of Hauganes is a great activity as well, before continuing along the Arctic Coast Way.
At the tip of the Trollaskagi peninsula, after driving through a one-way tunnel, you'll arrive at the stunning fishing village of Siglufjordur. Known as the fishing capital of Iceland, you should check out the Herring Era Museum to better understand the importance of the fishing industry in Iceland and its economic and cultural impact on this tiny island in the North Atlantic Ocean.
After this, you'll make your way to the west side of the peninsula and head towards the village of Hofsos. Here, you can relax in the famous infinity pool and marvel at the surrounding mountainous and fjord-filled landscapes surrounding you.
Having traveled around this incredible part of Iceland, you'll rest for the night in your accommodation in Saudarkrokur.
Day 6 - Return to Reykjavik
Today, you'll make your way back to Reykjavik. En route, many worthy detours await.
For instance, you can choose to come off of the ring road and visit the Vatnsnes peninsula. The most visited spot of Hvitserkur. This strange rock is the remnants of a dormant volcano. It is now a fan favorite of photographers for its bizarre shape and beautiful setting. Frequently, travelers ask, 'does it resemble a drinking elephant or a dragon more?'
If you choose to continue around the peninsula, you'll find several excellent stops to capture some beautiful photos. Most notably, around the western side near the small settlement of Illugastadir, there's an excellent opportunity to see a local seal colony with the backdrop of Iceland's Westfjords in the distance.
Shortly after, you'll pass through the small town of Hvammstangi and rejoin the ring road on your way back to Reykjavik.
For those of you feeling extra adventurous on this day, you can choose to take a helicopter tour over Iceland's incredibly vast geothermal areas from the domestic airport in Reykjavik.
Alternatively, if you arrive back in Reykjavik in good time, you can join a tour to enter the empty magma chamber of the Thrihnukagigur volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula.
After an exciting day of adventure and exploration, you'll spend your final night in Iceland in Reykjavik.
Day 7 - Final Day in the Capital
On your seventh day, you’ll drive to Keflavik International Airport to drop off your rental car and take your return flight home.
For those of you who have a late flight, you can take the extra time to explore some parts of Reykjavik you missed on the first day of your trip. This is an excellent opportunity to check out some less touristy areas, such as the delightful Seltjarnarnes peninsula, which hosts the poignant Grotta Lighthouse, the relaxing Kvika geothermal foot spa, or the lovely coastal walks in Vesturbaer, the west part of town. Alternatively, you can use the time to do your last bit of souvenir shopping to tempt yourself with a final treat before heading for the airport.
If you happen to have an early flight, we wish you a safe journey home and look forward to welcoming you back to Iceland in the future.
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.