7 Day Self Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland

7 Day Self Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland
While in winter, watching the aurora borealis over the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is a much sought-after experience, the destination is quite as magnificent by night in summer, under the midnight sun.
The waves that once crashed against the cliff that Seljalandsfoss waterfall tumbles from carved a cave in it, meaning that it is now possible to encircle the cascade in summer, when conditions allow.
The Jökulsárgljúfur canyon holds three of North Iceland's most iconic waterfalls, one of which is the most powerful in Europe, Dettifoss.
Shaped strangely like an elephant drinking from the surface of the ocean, the Hvítserkur monolith in north Iceland is a fascinating feature to admire.
By taking a self-drive tour, you will expose yourself to magnificent Icelandic landscapes from the road; which you see, however, will be entirely up to you.
By taking the Ring Road of Iceland in summer between May and September, you will find multiple locations from which to admire Atlantic Puffins.
4.8
Based on 22 traveller reviews

Make the most of just one week in Iceland on this 7-day, self-drive tour. You'll drive the complete circle around Iceland to all the highlights while having plenty of time to explore the capital.

This tour is the perfect combination of nature-loving outdoor fun and the comforts of Iceland's most beautiful historic cities: Reykjavík and Akureyri in the north. On a self-drive tour, you can control where you go and what you see. There are no tour guides or other guests to worry about on this trip - you're in the driver's seat.

You will travel the Ring Road around the whole of Iceland and visit two national parks, see some of Iceland's prettiest fishing villages, and in between, marvel over countless waterfalls, volcanoes, craters, mountains and hot springs. At the end of the day you will rest in full comfort with an ensuite bathroom and of course, breakfast is included at all accommodations.

The Ring Road will get you to the most famous of all Iceland’s attractions, but most visitors seek to escape the crowds on their travels as well. There are many secret locations which will allow you to break free of that tourist feeling and get back to nature. You will receive a special itinerary after you book, full of hidden gems and old favourites so that your holiday will be second to none.  

You can also add some extra activities to your tour during the booking process at a discounted price. There are options such as snowmobiling, glacier hiking, visiting the Blue Lagoon, and a boat tour around Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon you can add onto your trip.

The summer days in Iceland are long, so make the most of them by starting early and finishing late—you won't ever need to reach a destination 'before it gets dark' since during the season of the midnight sun it doesn't get dark; between the months of May and August. 

Pack in as much stunning scenery as you can with this 7-day self-drive tour! Check availability by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: May. - Oct.
  • Duration: 7 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkelling, Snowmobile, Horse Riding, Whale Watching, Sightseeing, Boat Trip, Hot Spring Bathing, Cultural Activity, Bird watching, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, East Iceland, North Iceland, West Iceland , Reykjavík, Akureyri, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull, Mývatn, Dimmuborgir, Húsavík, Ásbyrgi, Goðafoss, Dettifoss, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Eyjafjallajökull, Dyrhólaey, Þingvellir, Hraunfossar, Deildartunguhver, Strokkur, Mýrdalsjökull, Skaftafell, Silfra, Sólheimasandur, Borgarfjörður, Þingvallavatn, Reykholt, Borgarnes, Barnafoss, Langjökull, Hallgrímskirkja, Vík í Mýrdal, Svartifoss, Egilsstaðir, Hella, Hvolsvöllur, Laugarvatn, Kerið, Akureyrarkirkja, Gljufrabui, Keflavik International Airport, Fjaðrárgljúfur, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Reynisdrangar, Hvítserkur, Haukadalur, Faxi, Námaskarð, Harpa – Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre, Secret Lagoon, Grábrók, Hallormsstaðaskógur, South Coast, Diamond Beach, Ring Road
Pickup information:
  • Pickup time : Flexible.

Included:
  • 6 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included. More detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 7 days (VW Polo or similar. Upgrades available)

  • CDW, SCDW and gravel protection insurance for vehicle

  • GPS system

  • Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland

  • Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary

  • Taxes

  • Blue Lagoon entry ticket (can be added during booking process)

  • Fuel

  • Dinner

  • Lunch


What to bring:
  • Driver's License

  • Swimsuit

  • Camera

  • Hiking shoes


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.

If you book the extra activities alongside this tour, you will get them at a lower price.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival in Reykjavík


Reykjavík can be explored in many ways throughout summer: by foot, bicycle, segway, bus and even helicopter.


When you land in Reykjavík, you'll likely feel energised by the endless summer sun; if so, why not make the most of your arrival by spending a few hours basking in the warm, azure waters of the Blue Lagoon? It is just a short drive away from Keflavík Airport!

In case you don't, however, you can spend the first day of your trip to relaxing Reykjavík. After a drive through the otherworldly landscape of the eerie lava fields of the Reykjanes peninsula, you'll reach the city. 

Reykjavík is full of galleries, cafés, museums, designer shops, restaurants, street art and some interesting architecture, such as Harpa Concert Hall or Perlan, which translates to 'the pearl' because of the shape of its huge dome. You can spend your day strolling down the main street of Laugavegur, visiting Hallgrímskirkja church tower, and popping into the charming shops and buildings of the old harbour.

Spend your first night in Reykjavík, in a central and cozy hotel.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Comfort

The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 2 - West Iceland and Akureyri


Reykjavík's architecture is often regarded as the most interesting in Iceland, but the northern town of Akureyri gives it some great competition.


On day two, you will drive from Reykjavík to the capital of the North, Akureyri.

On your way, you can take an ice-cream stop in the town of Borgarnes (considered mandatory by many locals) and a short hike (approximately one hour) up Grábrók, the smallest of three craters in a short volcanic fissure. If you feel like stretching your legs, a marked trail will take you from Route 1 to the very edge of the rim. Once you get up there, you'll see beautiful landscapes across the Borgarfjordur area. 

You can also take a detour and visit the historical site Reykholt, Europe's highest hot spring Deildartunguhver, and the gorgeous waterfalls Hraunfossar, meaning 'Lava Falls'. Another option would be to drive to the 15 m (50 ft) tall Hvítserkur rock formation, near Hvammstangi.

The drive from Reykjavík to Akureyri takes about 4.5-5 hours without any stops at all, so be prepared to drive for a while today! You'll be rewarded with your first view of the charming and lively town of Akureyri, where you can rest after the long trip.


Preferred accommodation by Akureyri

Akureyri Comfort

Hotel Norðurland is a 3-star hotel centrally located in Akureyri town. Spacious and bright private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Akureyri Quality

Icelandair Hotel Akureyri (Deluxe room) is a 3-star hotel centrally located in Akureyri town, right next to the swimming pool. Private bedroom with a living room area and a private bathroom. Great views from the 5th floor. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 3 - Akureyri, Lake Mývatn and Egilsstaðir


Travelling from Akureyri east, the first breathtaking feature you will come upon by the road is the horseshoe shaped waterfall Goðafoss.


On day three, enjoy Akureyri, then head east towards the stunning area around Lake Mývatn.

In between Akureyri and Mývatn, you'll see the gorgeous Goðafoss waterfall. Also, make sure you check out Námaskarð geothermal area close to Mývatn, as well as the stunning area of Dimmuborgir (the Dark Fortress) and its imposing lava rock formations.

The Mývatn Nature Baths are open until midnight during the summer, so its a perfect end to the day to bask and relax here.

Just make sure you still have energy for a 2-hour drive to Egilsstaðir, the capital of the East, where you'll spend your night.

If a long soak in a hot spring is not for you, then consider a detour to Dettifoss waterfall, Iceland's most powerful waterfall, on your way to Egilsstaðir instead!


Preferred accommodation by Egilsstaðir

Egilsstaðir Comfort

Lake Hotel Egilsstaðir is a 3-star hotel located within a short walking distance from the centre of Egilsstaðir town, by the lake Lagarfljót. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Spa on site for additional price. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Egilsstaðir Quality

Icelandair Hotel Hérað is a 3-star hotel centrally located in Egilsstaðir town. Bright, private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included, with focus on local ingredients.


Day 4 - Egilsstaðir to Southeast Iceland


The surf swirls around and surges against stranded icebergs on the Diamond Beach in the south-east of Iceland.


Near Egilsstaðir is Hallormsstaðaskógur forest. As Iceland's largest forest, you may want to explore it before your drive south towards Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Admire the spectacular beauty of the East on your way, and remember to look out for reindeer as well; they can only be found in this part of Iceland!

The main highlight of day four is the glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón and the nearby Diamond Beach. Take your time to explore the intense beauty of the lagoon.

You will find yourself captivated by the huge chunks of ice floating down from the glacial tongue. Ensure you keep your eye out for seals, however; they like to play on the ice and may be curious enough to come closer. They often want to see you just as much as you want to see them.

From the lagoon, it is a short stroll down to the black beach nearby, called Diamond beach due to the many icebergs scattered along it. With the Atlantic Ocean's waves crashing on them, you can expect an incredible view.

Spend your night near the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.


Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Comfort

Hotel Höfn is a 3-star hotel centrally located in the town Höfn. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Quality

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is a 4-star hotel located right between Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Ocean or mountain views. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 5 - Southeast Iceland to Hella/Hvolsvöllur


Around the summer solstice in June, visitors can stand behind Seljalandsfoss waterfall at midnight and see the sun balance on - and never descend beneath - the southern horizon.


On day five, you can return to the glacier lagoon for an optional boat ride out to the ice flows. These can be taken on either a zodiac or amphibious vessel. Continue your road trip towards Skaftafell Nature Reserve.

It is recommended that you enjoy the optional glacier hike in Skaftafell today, taking in the magnificent Vatnajökull glacier and giving you a spectacular view.

After enjoying the beauty of this reserve, continue driving along the south coast of Iceland. Interesting stops along the way include the wreckage of a bridge destroyed in a glacier flood; if you take a moment to rest here, you'll have a great view of Vatnajökull glacier. The charming town Kirkjubæjarklaustur is also well worth a visit, as is the stunning Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon.

At Vík, you'll have a view of Reynisdrangar rocks from the town's black beach, and nearby you can explore the gorgeous Dyrhólaey cliff, with a view towards the glacier, the sea, and the nearby black sands of Reynisfjara. Be extra careful if you go down to the beach here, because the waves can be very dangerous and unpredictable.

Finally, explore the gorgeous waterfalls Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. The astonishing power of nature cannot be denied as you watch the water crash down from craggy cliffs above into the waiting waters of the river below. You can even walk all the way around Seljalandsfoss.

Spend the night at either the small town of Hella or the quaint village of Hvolsvöllur.


Preferred accommodation by Hvolsvöllur

Hvolsvöllur Comfort

Hotel Hvolsvöllur is a 3-star hotel centrally located in Hvolsvöllur village. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Hvolsvöllur Quality

Hotel Rangá is a 4-star hotel situated between the towns Hella and Hvolsvöllur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Views towards Rangá river or Hekla volcano. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 6 - Golden Circle and Reykjavík


Meltwater from Langjökull glacier sinks into a lava field, and travels underground to ravines in Þingvellir National Park; this long filtration process means the springs here have some of the best naturally occurring visibility in the world, year-round.


After waking up in Hvolsvöllur or Hella, you'll continue your journey west and head to the famous Golden Circle and take in three of the most popular and well-known sites in Iceland in one go. 

On your way to the first stop, Gullfoss, or the Golden Waterfall, you might want to make a stop by the town of Flúðir and soak in the Secret Lagoon. The pool’s natural surroundings and steam rising into the air give the place a mystical ambience. The water stays at a luxurious 38-40° C all year. There, you can also join a snowmobiling tour to the Langjökull glacier and experience the endlessness of the Icelandic highlands. 

Gullfoss waterfall is an incredible sight, cascading down two drops over 32 m (105 ft). In good weather, you can reach a viewing platform right at its edge, to truly appreciate its awesome power. If you wish, you can opt for a snowmobiling tour from here.

After a short drive, you'll get to see Geysir, or 'the Great Geysir', a world-famous hot spring in the Haukadalur valley. Though it does not often erupt these days, its brother, Strokkur, erupts every 10 minutes or so, hurling water up to 30 m (98 ft) into the air.

Finally, finish your Golden Circle experience with a visit to Þingvellir National Park. Þingvellir is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the parliament that was founded there in 930 AD. It is surrounded by a beautiful mountain range and is the site of a rift valley, marking the crest of the Mid-Atlantic range. You can walk through the magnificent gorge Almannagja, which marks the eastern boundary of the North American tectonic plate, and into which the beautiful waterfall Oxararfoss falls. Popular HBO series Game of Thrones has filmed here to take advantage of these beautiful surroundings.

For a more intimate experience at Þingvellir, you could go for a snorkel in the SIlfra fissure. The crystal clear water fills an underwater gorge where the two tectonic plates meet, so you will literally be swimming between the continents in one of the most celebrated diving and snorkelling spots on the planet.

From the national park, there's a short 45-minute drive back to Reykjavík. Spend your last night relaxing in Reykjavík.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Comfort

The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 7 - Departure Day


Before taking a flight home or to another destination, the Blue Lagoon Spa on the Reykjanes Peninsula offers a great chance to recharge.


It's your last day in Iceland, so do what feels right. You can simply relax in Reykjavík or cram in some last-minute shopping.

You may also choose to visit the Blue Lagoon to enjoy its warm waters, enhanced by skin-softening silica and nourishing blue-green algae. Relaxing in the Blue Lagoon may be the best way to say goodbye to Iceland; you'll feel calm yet rejuvenated for your flight back home.

After you have enjoyed your last hours in our beautiful country, drop your car off at the airport and enjoy your flight.


Accommodation

See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Comfort 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). For quality level, odd number groups will always be allocated a single room. 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.

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, maximum two years of age, and come equipped with a GPS, CDW, GP, and SCDW insurances. You can also upgrade to an automatic model.

Budget

A small 2WD vehicle fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions, such as VW Polo, Toyota Yaris or similar. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities.

Comfort 4X4

A medium sized jeep or SUV with 4WD (4x4) fit for most travel, and good for snow and off-asphalt travel, such as Toyota Rav4 or similar. This vehicle has basic highland capabilities.

Luxury 4x4

A large sized jeep with 4WD (4x4) such as Toyota Land Cruiser or similar, fit for nearly all traveling. This vehicle has full highland capabilities to drive on accessible mountain roads.


Cancellation Insurance

This insurance guarantees that you can cancel tour and package bookings and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost of 5,000 ISK per person.

The cancellation must be made more than 48 hours before the listed starting time on your voucher. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact info@guidetoiceland.is and declare full cancellation.

Please note that this insurance covers the cancellation of the whole tour or package. Individual services cannot be cancelled and refunded separately, but are all covered and refunded in case of a full cancellation.


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Our 7 day self drive tour was amazing! Iceland was so beautiful and the ever changing scenery was spectacular - never have we taken so many pictures on a vacation! All of the car rental and hotel arrangements made by Guide to Iceland made for a seamless and worry-free vacation. Thanks Josef!
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Our trip to Iceland was amazing! We did the 7 day self drive booked through Guide to Iceland. The service we received was excellent throughout from the pick up of the rental car at the airport, the accommodations, and the itinerary. The car was comfortable and problem free and the GPS was very helpful. Our only regret was that we did not have more time to stay each of the cities we visited. The people we encountered in Iceland were very welcoming and extremely helpful and the sights, the waterfalls, glaciers, geysers, geothermal pools, mountains, lava fields, etc. were out of this word. The bookings we did through Guide to Iceland, snowmobiling and the Blue Lagoon were both wonderful. Our guides on the snowmobile tour were extremely attentive and very helpful. We also booked an Iceland Horseback riding tour and a food tour in Reykjavík which were also great. We hope to return to Iceland some day.
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This tour was incredible! All of the hotels booked for us we're great and truly added to the experience. Our guide Mariachiara was extremely helpful and did everything to set this trip up to be one we will never forget. Also it seemed like guide to Iceland booked everything in reverse of how everyone else is doing it. This was perfect because we rarely had any cars in front or behind us for hours. Truly a wonderful experience and we will book with guide to Iceland again the next time we are in Iceland.
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Thank you so much Guide to Iceland for arranging a fantastic self-drive trip. It all worked beautifully and you even arranged fantastic weather for us ;) The car hire was great - we were greeted at the airport by a friendly local with a great 4x4 who ran through driving in Iceland with us and we were soon on the way. The driving each day was between 2 hours and 4 hours, so never too much, although by the time we visited each place along the way it took us a full day. The information you provided us with on things to see was great, we were easily able to pick out what we wanted to do and we managed to find a few hidden gems ourselves too. We had chosen to stay in upgraded hotels, and my goodness, you booked some fantastic places for us to stay! The hotels were all immaculate and staff there were so friendly. Thank you so much for arranging a holiday of a lifetime. We will be back!!
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Trip was great, itinerary was detailed. We went in September, and because the days were shorter, we had to pick and choose. Guide to Iceland made it easy for us, especially since we booked one week prior to our arrival in Iceland.
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Our trip was wonderful! The itinerary was detailed and organized, which we really appreciated because we customized the stops we wanted to make from their information. Guide to Iceland was always easily reachable and reaponsive. We loved all the hotels that were booked for us! Thank you for a wonderful trip!!
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We had a spectacular time! - of course there were not enough hours in the day to do everything - but we never had a bad day or lousy experience. The flexibility was fantastic! We bought food (smoked salmon, yogurt, frozen berries to use as an ice pack, crackers, etc - we brought a little soft cooler) at grocery stores and typically had one meal from that stash each day - typically dinner - often in the hotel room, on its balcony, or its patio. Pack for all weather - we went from shirt sleeves on day one to long sleeves, sweaters, down jacket + windbreaker 2 days later -- the water proof windbreaker is an absolute necessity! If you think you'll be exploring the secondary roads (not even the F roads for which you need specialized vehicles) you might consider renting a 4-wheel drive. We had a 2-wheel drive Toyota though (manual transmission) and did fine though. All in all though, a great, once in a lifetime trip.
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Wow!! What a great itinerary! I wish we'd had more time because this itinerary leads to some very long days, but I would not have given up a single stop! Remember that this is about 1,000 miles on narrow, winding roads, so getting to your next stop may take longer than you anticipate. Every hotel was clean and beautiful though we did not spend much time at any of them! Guide to Iceland was incredibly responsive and I would book through them again in a heartbeat. If you have the time, going all the way around Iceland is the way to do it!! My only tip is to make sure you make a dinner reservation ahead of time at hotels if they are not near other restaurants. Otherwise, enjoy the beauty of Iceland!
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This was our first trip to Iceland and Guide to Iceland was recommended by an acquaintance. We decided on the 7 day self drive tour around the Island and added a boat ride among the glaciers. We also added three days in Reykjavik at the end of our vacation and our agent, Embla did the rest. No stress on our part. Embla found perfect hotels/guesthouses for us. The itinerary she supplied had places of interest along with the GPS coordinates which made it so much easier to locate. Whenever we had a question, she always responded quickly. We are happy with our experience with Guide to Iceland and we highly recommend this agency to anyone thinking about visiting Iceland.
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