See it all on a budget with this fantastic 7-day self-drive touring the famous Ring Road around Iceland. By partaking in a self-drive such as this, you will not only experience the freedom of your vehicle but also manage to see all of the highlights Iceland has to offer without the hassle associated with larger tour groups.
This cheap and cheerful package is the perfect mixture of action-packed adventure, beautiful sightseeing and unique natural phenomena, including the Golden Circle, the impressive Jökusárlón Glacier Lagoon, Geysir hot spring, Reynisfjara black beach and so much, much more. With you in the driver’s seat, you’re sure to save enough time to fully explore the settlements of Reykjavík and Akureyri, and experience Iceland’s urban delights.
Despite the wealth of attractions along the ring road, many visitors enjoy leaving the beaten track to experience something a little different. That is why we have left this self-drive with enough space to add extra activities to your trip, including snorkelling, snowmobiling, glacier hiking, caving and boat tours.
After booking this tour, you will receive a special itinerary which will further list some of the hidden experiences and stop-offs available during your trip around the ring road, all of which can be discovered without loosening the purse strings.
Hurry now and you too can make the most out of your trip to Iceland, experiencing an eclectic wealth of beauty and adventure. Check availability by choosing a date.
Welcome to summer in Iceland! You will begin by picking your car up as soon as you exit Keflavik Airport.
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.
From there, it’s up to you whether you relax for the night or take to the town to explore all Reykjavík has to offer.
If you do decide to explore the city—and you really should do!—you’re sure to find something to your liking. If not the plethora of art galleries, museums, street art and cafes, you can check out the city’s vibrant nightlife or simply take an amble exploring the cultural landmarks, such as Perlan, Hallgrímskirkja church or Harpa Concert Hall.
You will be spending your first night in Reykjavík in a downtown hotel.
Before you set out on your adventures today, you have an incredible opportunity that will forever define your impression of Iceland: a 1-hour helicopter tour over the Geldinadalur volcanic eruption. You’ll depart from Reykjavik Domestic Airport, and after admiring the colourful capital and barren Reykjanes Peninsula from above, make your way to this breathtaking phenomenon. Few adventures can compare to witnessing fire and lava rupture from the earth from such an all-encompassing perspective, and this one even includes a short landing by the site!
Otherwise, your second day in Iceland will see you making the journey towards the northern capital, Akureyri. Along the way, you could stop for some ice cream in Borgarnes (perfect for a summer’s day) before taking a short hike up Grábrók tuff volcano further inland in Borgarfjörður. From the top of the crater, you will have incredible views over the region.
Other attractions en route include the historical site Reykholt, the hot spring Deildartunguhver and the sublime and beautiful waterfall, Hraunfossar (“Lava Falls”). Whilst in the area, it is also highly recommended to inspect Hvítserkur rock formation, found just near Hvammstangi.
It takes a few hours to drive from Reykjavík to Akureyri without making any stops, so be ready for a day filled with driving. Fear not, however, for the scenery along the way makes for a pleasant journey.
If you are not in a hurry to get to Akureyri, you could add on a tour where you'll visit the man-made ice cave tunnel inside Langjökull glacier or descend into the lava cave Víðgelmir which was formed in an eruption over a thousand years ago.
When you finally arrive in Akureyri, it's recommended to grab a meal in town and enjoy the city’s nightlife.
On the third day of your trip, you will have ample time to enjoy the sights and sounds of Akureyri; the city boasts a botanical garden, boat trips, beautiful scenery and excellent shopping possibilities. When you have finished in Akureyri, you will head towards Lake Mývatn.
Whilst on your journey, it is recommended that you stop off at the stunning Goðafoss waterfall, the Námaskarð geothermal area and the dark volcanic fortress known as Dimmuborgir. Though naturally formed, the lava formations at Dimmuborgir make it appear like some fantastical spooky castle.
After exploring Dimmuborgir and Lake Mývatn, you should end your day at the Mývatn Nature Baths. These warming baths are open until midnight during the summer, but make sure to leave enough time for the two-hour drive to Egilsstaðir, the capital of the East. If you would rather skip the baths, you could make a diversion to Iceland’s most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss.
You will then continue over the Möðrudalsöræfi heights to reach your accommodation for tonight, in the town of Egilsstaðir by the Lögurinn Lake.
From your overnight base at Egilsstaðir, it is only a short drive to Hallormsstaðaskógur, Iceland’s largest forest and a perfect stop off on your way to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Whilst driving through East Iceland, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for reindeer as this is the only part of the country where they can be found roaming wild.
The main highlight of your day, however, is inarguably the glacier lagoon, Jökulsárlón, and the nearby Diamond Beach. Visitors here cannot help but be captivated by the enormous glittering icebergs floating down from the glacial tongue out toward the ocean.
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.
You will be staying in accommodation in the near area overnight.
On your fifth day, you can spend further time checking out the glacial lagoon, given the fact that its beauty is transient and ever changing depending on the weather. You could also fit in a boat trip here, but photography and nature enthusiasts will want to take special care looking for the playful seal colonies. You can book a place on a Zodiac boat trip or on an amphibian boat here to get a closer look. When your time at the lagoon is finished, you will your drive towards Skaftafell Nature Reserve.
This is the day when we highly recommend the glacial hike as it adds an entirely new level of adrenaline and adventure to your trip. It is also the best way to experience a glacier up close in all its glory. From the summits of Vatnajökull, you will have truly magnificent views over the surrounding area.
You will continue to drive along the South Coast enjoying the views of Vatnajökull, finally arriving at the charming town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. From here, you can also explore the picturesque Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon.
Next along the Ring Road is the fishing village of Vík, which in turn is very close to Reynisdrangar rocks and the black sand beach, Reynisfjara. Be careful whilst exploring this beach, however, as the waves here are strong and unpredictable.
On the final part of your days’ journey, you will stop off at two of the South Coast’s most gorgeous waterfalls, Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, the latter of which can be walked behind to view the landscape around through a veil of falling spring water. Here is just one other location where the Icelandic nature is sure to take your breath away. You will be spending the night in either the town of Hella or the village of Hvolsvöllur.
One option for starting your sixth day is by partaking in an ice cave tour at Mýrdalsjökull glacier that departs from Vík, where you can actually venture into the frozen, subterranean world of the glacier itself. If you’d rather not, you will continue westward to the famous Golden Circle route where you are able to catch three of Iceland’s most popular spots in one sweep. On your way to the Golden Circle, there is the option for stopping at the town of Flúðir for a spot of bathing in the Secret Lagoon.
Where you decide to go first on the Golden Circle is up to you entirely. You could choose to see Gullfoss first, a mighty waterfall that demonstrates the sheer power of Iceland’s nature by cascading glacial water 30 metres into the gorge below. Snowmobiling tours are also available from this location, where you travel via superjeep to the Langjökull glacier for an unforgettable ride.
Next along the route is the geothermal valley Haukadalur, home to Iceland’s famous geysers. Though the most famous geyser, Geysir, now lies dormant, its neighbour Strokkur erupts every five minutes or so, guaranteeing you’ll see this spectacle in action.
You will finish your Golden Circle tour with a visit to Iceland’s largest national park, the UNESCO protected Þingvellir. This is not only the location where the first Icelandic parliament was formed in 930 AD, but it is also where you can see both the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates exposed from the earth.
In between these plates is the world-famous Silfra Fissure, one of the most breathtaking snorkelling and scuba diving location in the world, and you can end your journey around Iceland with a tour where you swim between the continents on a snorkelling tour.
When your time in the park is over, you will drive forty-five minutes back to Reykjavík.
While it may seem that you have packed your holiday with all you can by the evening of your last full day in Iceland, no trip to the country would be complete right now without a visit to the currently erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano. Thankfully, there is a guided hiking trip to the site you’ll be able to make it in time for! This breathtaking phenomenon provides a once-in-a-lifetime window into the incredible forces that define Iceland, and there is no greater final impression of the Land of Ice and Fire than this experience!
It’s your final day in Iceland. 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.
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.
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. Budget level 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. 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.
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, 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.
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 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.
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.