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Best 7 day itinerary in Iceland

The Northern Lights dancing over a lake in Iceland.
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Perfect travel plan
Fully customizable
Car & accommodation
Starting time
Flexible
Duration
7 days
Available
Sep. - Apr.
Minimum age
None

Spend a week exploring the majesty of Iceland’s nature on your own terms with this seven-day self-drive holiday. Guests who want to take their time exploring the wonders of the south and west, without worrying about the whims of other travellers, should not hesitate to book this excursion.

After picking up your rental car on your first day, you will set out on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation around some of the world’s most incredible natural attractions. Geysers, waterfalls, glaciers, volcanoes, hot springs and all three of Iceland’s national parks can be explored at your own leisure on this journey.

Not only that, but you will get the option to partake in a range of adventures throughout your trip. Winter snorkelling, glacier hiking, snowmobiling and lava caving are all classic, adrenaline-pumping activities that will expose you to unique landscapes. Guests looking for something even more special, however, will even be able to partake in an ice caving tour and expedition inside a volcano.

The ice caves, which can be found in very few places on earth, are unbelievably beautiful, boasting otherworldly colours and textures. The Into the Volcano tour, meanwhile, will allow guests in September or October to explore an enormous, empty magma chamber, on an adventure that cannot be embarked upon anywhere else on earth.

Of course, as this holiday is conducted in the winter months, you will also have an excellent chance to spot the spectacular phenomenon of the Northern Lights. As you are driving yourself, you’ll be able to hunt for them as long as you like, wherever you like, without the time constraints of tour guides or the needs of other guests.

In fact, on self-drives such as this one, the only commitments you have are reaching your excursions at the meeting time, and getting to your hotels each evening. Otherwise, how you spend each day is entirely up to you. 

To help you in tailoring the ideal trip for you and your travelling companions, you’ll be sent a detailed itinerary after booking detailing all of the places you could visit each day.

Don’t miss this slow-paced, seven-day self-drive around Iceland’s south and west in winter. Check availability by choosing a date.

Included

6 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)
Vehicle for 7 days (Toyota Aygo or similar. Upgrades available)
CDW insurance for super budget level vehicle; other levels also include SCDW and gravel protection insurances
GPS System
Detailed itinerary
Personal travel agent
Taxes

Activities

Snorkelling
Caving
Snowmobile
Sightseeing
Northern lights hunting
Hot Spring Bathing
Cultural Activity
Ice Caving
Self drive

Daily itinerary

Day 1
The Blue Lagoon Spa in the Southwest of Iceland.

Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik

Welcome to the Land of Ice and Fire! As soon as you’ve cleared the customs at Keflavík International Airport, you’ll find your rental car company waiting to give you your keys. Once you’re in your vehicle for the week, you will set out towards Reykjavík across the volcanic landscapes of the Reykjanes Peninsula.

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 colours 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.

In terms of the city, Reykjavík has everything a modern capital should: beautiful architecture, excellent museums and galleries, esteemed restaurants and a lively nightlife. In terms of the Reykjanes Peninsula itself, the adventurous will be able to seek out volcanoes, lava fields, hot springs and coastal wonders that few guests make the effort to reach.

You’ll spend your first night in the capital. If your trip to Iceland did not exhaust you, why not drive into the nature surrounding the city in hopes of catching your first aurora display.

Day 2
Mount Kirkjufell on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, looming over an icy river in winter.

Snaefellsjokull National Park

On the second day of your seven-day winter vacation to Iceland, you will set out to explore the most spectacular part of the country’s west: the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Many in the country have deemed this area ‘Iceland in Miniature’, because of both the number of attractions here and their diversity.

To reach this region, you will drive through some splendid countryside; if you want to reach the peninsula quicker, you can take a tunnel under the fjord of Hvalfjordur, whereas those who’d prefer the scenic route can drive around it. En route, there are plenty of detours you can make, to sites such as Glymur waterfall, the village of Borgarnes and the Eldborg crater.

Once you reach the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and start to travel along its southern shore, you’ll quickly notice the region’s diversity. The first major site is a cliff face defined by rows of perfectly formed hexagonal columns, creating quite the geological marvel, named Gerdbergl. The next attraction, however, is a wildlife hot-spot; Ytri Tunga is one of the best beaches in the country for spotting seals.

As you continue to travel, your destinations will continue along with this trend of contrast. The enormous cleft in the mountain of Raudfeldsgja, the abandoned hamlet of Budir and the towering basalt fortress of Londrangar, are all examples of the natural variation that defines Snaefellsnes.

At the tip of the peninsula, you will find Snaefellsjokull glacier, the main feature of Snaefellsjokull National Park. This twin-peaked wonder, which conceals an enormous volcano, is simply spectacular and forms a beautiful backdrop to the surrounding sites. It is, however, far from the only feature in the national park; you’ll also be able to find incredible sites such as Djupalonssandur beach and the villages of Arnarstapi and Hellnar.

As you round onto the northern shore of Snaefellsnes, you will be blessed with magical views over Breidafjordur bay; in clear weather, you’ll be able to witness countless islands and a breathtaking perspective of the Westfjords. There are countless villages, all with a distinct charm, that you can stop at en route for a moment to take in the beauty.

The main attraction in this part of the region, however, is Mount Kirkjufell, which avid Game of Thrones fans will recognise from the seventh season. A ‘peak shaped like an arrowhead’, it stands lonely and striking by the coast, with just a serene waterfall for company.

While you could easily spend all day marvelling over the sites of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and its surroundings, travellers arriving in September or October have a once-in-a-lifetime tour opportunity they will not want to miss.

The Into the Volcano excursion will begin when you drive to a barren lava field in west Iceland; here your guide will take you on a short hike across the terrain to an unassuming mining lift. You will board, then begin your descent into one of the world’s most magnificent, otherworldly places.

Large enough to easily hold Hallgrimskirkja church, the biggest man-made monument in the country, this vast and vivid space is all that is left of a once active volcano. While most magma chambers collapse when the volcano becomes dormant, Thrihnukagigur did not, instead leaving a vast cavern dyed brightly with the elements of the earth.

Not only will you be able to enjoy an exciting lift ride into and out of this natural wonder, but you will also have time to explore its base.

Though this tour will take up a chunk of your day, the longer daylight hours in September and October mean that you’ll still have plenty of time to sightsee around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

Once you have packed your first day on the road full of adventure, you’ll retire for the night on the peninsula.

Day 3
Thingvellir National Park in South West Iceland under a brilliant Aurora-filled sky.

Lava Cave & The Golden Circle

On the third day of your week-long winter holiday to Iceland, you will depart the Saefellsnes Peninsula and make your way towards the Golden Circle, a sightseeing route in the south-west packed with attractions. Of course, as this is a self-drive tour, you have the freedom to check out any of the sites you missed the day before, or to revisit your favourites.

On your way to the first site of the Golden Circle, you are welcome to take a detour to Vidgelmir cave if you selected a lava caving tour here when booking. Such an excursion is a fantastic way to explore the primordial subterranean world beneath Iceland’s lava fields and to learn about the dramatic volcanic forces that shaped the island.

Though not quite as dramatic as the magma chamber, this tour is somewhat more adventurous, as there is no lift to help you get in or out of this underground phenomenon.

The second excursion on offer today is conducted at one of the locations of the Golden Circle: a snorkelling tour in the ravine of Silfra, which is part of Thingvellir National Park. Often voted one of the top ten underwater sites in the world, the water in this spring is so clean you can drink it, so clear that you can see over a hundred metres, and so beautiful that memories of it will last a lifetime.

Drysuits ensure you remain warm and dry throughout this adventure, and a gentle current in Sifra makes it surprisingly easy.

Thingvellir National Park has enormous appeal even for those who want to keep both feet firmly planted on dry land. Located between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, this wide valley boasts a range of spectacular terrain, with forests, twisted lava fields, and plenty of waterways leading to the country’s largest lake. Furthermore, its role in Iceland’s history, folklore and sagas is fascinating and integral.

The second site of the Golden Circle is the Geysir Geothermal Area, which, as can be guessed, is home to some of the world’s most famous geysers. While the Great Geysir is mostly quiet, erupting only a few random times over the past few years, Strokkur more than redeems it, shooting pillars of steam and water into the sky every five minutes.

The final major site of this area is the majestic, powerful and iconic Gullfoss waterfall. Though these are the three most renowned attractions, however, your itinerary will list plenty of lesser-known sites and hidden gems in the area that you can visit before retiring.

When you’ve finished your adventures for the day, you’ll head to a hotel in the countryside nearby; be sure to look out for the aurora borealis from this dark spot before you crash if the weather is clear.

Day 4
The sun setting over the coastline near the small  village of Vik on Iceland's South Coast.

The South Coast & Glaciers

The fourth day of your week in Iceland will be spent traversing the spectacular South Coast, another one of the country’s prime sightseeing stretches.

The waterfalls you will come to early in your journey, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, are two of the most spectacular in the country. Both are sixty metres tall and can be found pouring from sea-facing cliffs; the former, however, is renowned for the enormous cavern behind it, whereas the latter is more famous for its sheer power.

As you continue along the South Coast, you are likely - if the weather is clear - to see glimpses of the glaciers of Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull between the mountains to your left. The former is famous for its mighty eruption in 2010 that grounded planes across Europe, whereas the latter boasts two tour opportunities, one of which you can take advantage of today.

The first is a snowmobiling tour, which will allow you to race across the ice cap’s gleaming, snowy plains. Such an excursion is the perfect choice for adrenaline junkies, although those who are seeking out the country’s most spectacular views will also appreciate the magical vistas from the summit.

Alternatively, you could partake in a glacier hike on the outlet of Solheimajokull. This adventure is perfect for those who don’t mind a little extra physical activity and want to see the formations of the glaciers, such as its crevasses and ice walls, in more detail. The panoramas from its heights are just as beautiful.

Your next major site is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, famous for its eerie volcanic sands and powerful waves: Reynisfjara. Adding to this mystical place are the offshore basalt towers of Reynisdrangar, incredible volcanic monuments that are steeped in folklore.

You will be able to wait until nightfall here in hopes of Reynisfjara forming a foreground to a beautiful aurora viewing. After all, your accommodation will be in the village of Vik, which sits adjacent.

Day 5
The green, pink and purple colours of the Northern Lights as they dance above Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon

Jokulsarlon & Vatnajokull National Park

You will continue your South Coast adventure on the fifth day of your week-long holiday to Iceland, focusing on the wonders of Vatnajokull National Park. As you travel towards this spectacular region, you will pass through beautiful, diverse scenery and some historic locations, such as the village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur.

The best place to admire the spectacular landscapes and vistas of Vatnajokull National Park is within the Skaftafell Nature Reserve. This area is sheltered by several tongues of the glacier that gives the park its name and is defined by a terrain of lava fields, lagoons and geological marvels. It is possible to organise a second glacier hiking tour while here, on the ice cap of Svinafellsjokull, which is famous for its distinctive ridges and formations.

Besides the glacier tongues, the most famous feature in the nature reserve is the waterfall of Svartifoss. Not only is it beautiful in and of itself, but it is surrounded by the rare hexagonal columns formed only in the world’s most volcanic places.

After enjoying Skaftafell, you will head to another incredible corner of Vatnajokull; the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Icebergs clutter here in an enormous lagoon, some taller than multi-story buildings. Not only are their numbers and scale mesmerising, but their colours are particularly striking; electric blue veins, gleaming white snow and stripes of ash, left from ancient eruptions, all add to their beauty.

Next to here is the Diamond Beach, where the icebergs, after passing through a narrow river after many months of cruising the lagoon, wash ashore and slowly melt away. Hours can be spent strolling the shores at both locations, and wildlife enthusiasts will find even more joy in spotting the many seals that call the area home.

You will be grateful that this weeklong holiday gives you time to explore the locations of today in-depth, as they truly are some of the most beautiful places on earth. You’ll retire for the night in the area, hopefully following an incredible Northern Lights show over the lagoon.

Day 6
A visitor marvelling at the colours from the inside of an ice cave in Iceland.

Ice Caving & Reykjavik

On the sixth day of your winter holiday in Iceland, those travelling between November and March are in for an unforgettable adventure into the ice caves. You’ll be picked up from Jökulsárlón in a super jeep and driven to a remote, far-flung corner of Vatnajokull, where an opening will have formed in the glacier.

After being dressed in all the safety gear, you’ll be guided into the mouth of the ice cave, and enter a world of wonder. The way light slices through and reflects off the strange textures and formations in the ice makes this place seem like it was drawn from the pages of fantasy, as do the intensities of the blues and whites.

You’ll delve into the depths of this mystical place with plenty of time to take photos before you return - no doubt still awestruck - to the glacier lagoon.

From here, what you do is entirely up to you. You will need to return to Reykjavík to reach your hotel for the night but are in no rush to do so. You are, for example, welcome to spend more time at Jokulsarlon, the Diamond Beach, and Skaftafell, to admire their beauty under new conditions; you could return to any of your favourite sites along the south.

Of course, however, your itinerary will be able to direct you to lesser-known sites you may not have been able to reach. It would be possible, for example, to detour to hidden gems such as the Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon, Kvernufoss waterfall or the Reykjadalur hot spring valley en route back to the city.

Be sure to look out for the aurora borealis one final time before reaching the capital. As this is your last evening, you may also want to check out the city’s nightlife before bed, as it is renowned for its live music and friendly atmosphere.

Day 7
The Sun Voyager Monument on the shoreline of Reykjavik.

Farewell

At the end of your week in Iceland, you’ll need to travel back along the Reykjanes Peninsula to Keflavik airport a few hours before your departure to get your car back in good time. If you are not leaving until the evening, feel free to drive to some of the beautiful sites around the city, such as Mount Esjan, or visit its most iconic attractions, such as Hallgrímskirkja church.

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 you have an early flight back home, we wish you a pleasant journey.

We hope to see you back again to see more of Iceland soon!

What to bring

Warm and waterproof clothing
Winter hiking shoes
Swimwear & towel
Driver's license

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.

The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, and therefore cannot be guaranteed, but this itinerary is designed to maximise your chances to see them if weather allows.

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. Please note that though the tour is available to book from September to May, the ice caves are only accessible from November to March each year.

Some optional activities might need either a valid driver's license, or you might need to send additional information to your travel planner. Please note that you might need to present medical documents should you choose to go snorkelling.

Note that Icelandic roads and pavements can be slippery in the wintertime. We recommend you bring shoes with slip-resistant soles or ice-grip shoe covers. The covers can be purchased in most supermarkets and gas stations around the country.

This self-drive is set to take place at wintertime. Conditions in Iceland can vary greatly during that season; snow and ice are commonplace, and Iceland has limited daylight hours. Please consider your ability to drive in winter conditions before booking this tour. If you feel insecure about driving in these conditions, we recommend a package tour instead.

Wearing cotton or jeans as the outer layer during your trip to the Þríhnjúkagígur volcano tour is not allowed. Please wear suitable waterproof clothes and sturdy hiking shoes for this trip. It’s always the same temperature inside the crater – about 5–6°C (42–43°F). The Þríhnjúkagígur volcano tour involves a hike of approximately 3 km (2 miles) each way. The walk usually takes around 45–50 minutes (depending on the condition of people in the group). A guide will be with you at all times during the walk. Please note that the volcano is only accessible from May to October each year.

Accommodation

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.

Super Budget

Dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels. Located in the region of the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.

Budget

Rooms with shared bathrooms in farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.

Comfort

Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.

Quality

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.

Car

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. In wintertime, all cars have winter tyres.

Super Budget 2WD

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.

Budget 2WD

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.

Budget 4x4

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.

Comfort 4x4

A medium sized 4WD (4x4) jeep or SUV such as a Toyota Rav4, or similar. Comfortably fit up to 4 travellers 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.

Luxury 4x4

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.

Van

A large 9-seater van such as a Renault Trafic (2WD manual), Mercedes Benz Vito (4WD automatic, has highland capabilities and better suited for winter driving), or similar. Comfortable for 5 to 7 travellers. If seated full, luggage space is limited. The driver must be of 23 years of age or above.

Meals

Are you looking to try some of the best dishes Iceland’s top restaurants have to offer? You can now add delicious meals to your booking without having to research where to find them. Select this option to include dinner every night as an extra, and we’ll provide you with vouchers as part of your booking confirmation. We’ll choose the top-rated restaurants that fit with your vacation itinerary and make your reservations for you. Your server will offer you a set menu of two to three courses at the restaurant, from which you can choose meat, fish, or vegetarian options. If you prefer to try a different dish, the meal voucher will act as a credit that you can redeem at the restaurant against menu items that are not part of the set menu. Save time and effort during your vacation, and let us take care of your meals for you. Choose the meal option today so you’ll be guaranteed to eat well on your forthcoming trip. Please notify the restaurant on arrival about any dietary requirements. Vouchers are non-refundable.

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