7 Day Self Drive Tour on a Budget | Around Iceland in a Week

Nothing beats the majesty of Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, glistening under a fire-red sky.
The South Coast of Iceland is defined by its towering cliff faces, lush fields and countless waterfalls.
Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall, makes up just one of the natural attractions within Vatnajökull National Park.
Visitors to Dyrhólaey will be blessed with sweeping, panoramic views of Iceland's beautiful South Coast.
Puffins are an instantly recognisable resident of this island; driving around the country, you will likely see these cheeky creatures nesting in coastal cliff faces.
Two horse riders posing dramatically in front of the majestic Skógafoss waterfall.

See it all on a budget with this fantastic 7-day self-drive package touring the famous Ring Road around Iceland. By partaking in a package 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 package with enough space to add extra activities to your trip, including horse riding, snowmobiling, glacier hiking, whale watching 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.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: May. - Oct.
  • Duration: 7 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Hiking, Horse Riding, Whale Watching, Sightseeing, Boat Trip, Hot Spring Bathing, Cultural Activity, Bird watching, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: Golden Circle, Reykjavík, Akureyri, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull, Mývatn, Húsavík, Ásbyrgi, Dettifoss, Snæfellsjökull, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Þingvellir, Vík í Mýrdal, Fjaðrárgljúfur, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, South Coast, Ring Road
Pickup information:
  • Pickup time : Flexible

Included:
  • 6 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast not included, shared bathrooms; more detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 7 days (Toyota Aygo or similar. Upgrades available)

  • CDW insurance for vehicle

  • GPS system

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

  • Taxes

  • Fuel

  • Blue Lagoon entry ticket (please book online in advance if you plan to visit the Blue Lagoon)

  • Meals


What to bring:
  • Driver's License

  • Swimsuit and towel

  • Warm and waterproof clothes

  • 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.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival in Reykjavik


Reykjavik is positively buzzing in the summer with energy; visitors and locals alike are out on mass to soak up those radiant rays.


Welcome to summer in Iceland! To celebrate your arrival in the land of ice and fire, why not first spend some time relaxing in the warm, misty waters of the Blue Lagoon, just twenty minutes from the airport. You will need to book your tickets in advance if you would like to spend some time at this spa.

Alternatively, this experience could be pushed to the last day, alternated for heading to the capital city right away. After forty-five minutes driving through the moon-like landscapes of the Reykjanes Peninsula, you will arrive at your hotel. 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.


Preferred accommodation by Reykjavík

Reykjavík Super Budget

Rooms or dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostel. Located in the capital region. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Breakfast not included.

Reykjavík Budget

Capital Inn is a 2-star hotel 3 km from the city centre, a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.


Day 2 - West Iceland and Akureyri


Akureyrarkirkja Church is one of the most instantly recognisable landmarks of Akureyri.


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 roughly five 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. When you finally arrive in Akureyri, it's recommended to grab a meal in town and enjoy the city’s nightlife.


Preferred accommodation by Akureyri

Akureyri Super Budget

Akureyri HI Hostel is 10-minute's walk from central Akureyri. Dormitory accommodation with shared bathrooms. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Akureyri Budget

Acco Akureyri is centrally located in Akureyri. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Access to kitchen facilities. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.


Day 3 - Akureyri, Lake Myvatn and Egilsstaðir


Visitors to Goðafoss waterfall will be able to get right up close to this feature, making for some excellent photographs.


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.


Preferred accommodation by Egilsstaðir

Egilsstaðir Super Budget

Guesthouse Olga is family run guesthouse located in central Egilsstaðir. Access to terrace and garden. Private rooms with shared facilities. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Egilsstaðir Budget

Grái Hundurinn Guesthouse is located in a forested area 25km south of Egilsstaðir, 15-minute's walk from Atlavík bay. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi available in nearby sister hotel. Breakfast not included.


Day 4 - Egilsstadir to South-East Iceland


Diamond Beach is named as such thanks to the icebergs that routinely wash up on the shore, littering the beach with what appears like glistening frozen jewels.


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.


Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Super Budget

HI Hostel Höfn is located in Höfn township. Dormitory rooms with shared facilities. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Budget

Gerði Guesthouse is located about 13km east of Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi in main building. Breakfast not included.


Day 5 - Southeast Iceland to Hella/Hvolsvöllur


Visitors to Seljalandsfoss can walk directly behind the cascading water, ensuring a unique and surreal perspective of this amazing natural feature.


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.


Preferred accommodation by Hvolsvöllur

Hvolsvöllur Super Budget

Nonni guesthouse is located in the village of Hella on Route 1. All rooms are private rooms with shared facilities. Free Wifi. Breakfast not included.

Hvolsvöllur Budget

Hellishólar Guesthouse is a 2-star hotel in the east of Hvolsvöllur. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.


Day 6 - Golden Circle and Reykjavik


The crystal clear waters of Silfra glacial spring are much beloved by divers across the world; visibility in the fissure will often reach up to 100 metres.


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. When your time in the park is over, you will drive forty-five minutes back to Reykjavík where you will spend the night.


Preferred accommodation by Reykjavík

Reykjavík Super Budget

Rooms or dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostel. Located in the capital region. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Breakfast not included.

Reykjavík Budget

Capital Inn is a 2-star hotel 3 km from the city centre, a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.


Day 7 - Departure Day


In the Reykjanes Peninsula, one will find the Blue Lagoon Spa, a complex that is as relaxing as it is romantic.


It’s your final day in Iceland, meaning time is a touch limited before your flight. Still, you can always spend the day exploring the city for a spot of last minute souvenir shopping or, perhaps, going on a whale watching tour around the adjacent bay. You could even drive out for a closer look at the Reykjanes Peninsula, exploring the lava fields, geothermal areas and conical volcanoes.

If not undertaken on the first day, now would be the best time to visit the Blue Lagoon before leaving the country. Just remember to make sure you book tickets online and in advance of when you want to go.

When you have spent your final few hours in the country, it’s time to head to the airport and say goodbye to Iceland! Well, that is until next time!


Accommodation

See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Single person bookings will be arranged with a dorm bed (super budget) or a single room (budget). Budget bookings of 2 or more people will share twin/double room(s) or triple room(s). Super budget bookings are set to twin/double or triple room(s) depending on availability, or placed in dormitories. Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available accommodation at the time of your booking from our preferred partners. Press choose a date to find availability.

Super Budget

Rooms or 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 guesthouses, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.


Car

Guide to Iceland has a wide selection of vehicles and seeks to provide you with the best available car from our preferred rental operators, who offer the highest quality vehicles and service to our guests. Our self-drive packages include a newer model, usually a maximum of 2 years old and equipped with a GPS and basic CDW insurance. See the categories of available vehicles below. We recommend a comfortable 4X4 as a minimal standard for winter traveling due to icy and challenging road conditions. In the booking process, you can also upgrade to an automatic model for free.

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 the booking of this package and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost of 5,000 ISK per person. The cancellation must be made within a minimum of 48-hours before the listed starting time. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact our service desk by writing to info@guidetoiceland.is no later than 48-hours before departure and declare the cancellation. Please note that this insurance only covers the full cancellation of this entire package. It does not cover cancellations of individual activities and services within the package. The cost of the Cancellation Insurance is neither refundable nor transferable.


Map


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7 Day Self Drive Tour on a Budget | Around Iceland in a Week

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