7 Day Budget Self Drive Tour of the Complete Ring Road of Iceland with Waterfalls & Myvatn
See it all on a budget with this fantastic seven-day self-drive around the famous Ring Road around Iceland. By partaking in a self-drive such as this, you will get to see all of the highlights Iceland has to offer without the hassle or costs associated with larger tour groups.
This cheap and cheerful package is the perfect mixture of action-packed adventure, beautiful sightseeing, and unique natural phenomena. The route includes the Golden Circle, the Jokusarlon Glacier Lagoon, the Geysir hot spring, Reynisfjara black beach, and much more. With you in the driver's seat, you're also sure to save enough time to fully explore the settlements of Reykjavik and Akureyri in-depth to experience Iceland's urban culture.
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 snorkeling, snowmobiling, glacier hiking, caving, and boat tours.
After booking this self-drive, you will receive a special itinerary that 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.
Make the most out of your trip to Iceland without breaking the bank with this budget seven-day experience. Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival in Reykjavik
Welcome to summer in Iceland! You will begin by picking your car up as soon as you exit Keflavik Airport.
On your way to Reykjavik, 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 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.
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 cultural landmarks, such as Perlan, Hallgrimskirkja church, and Harpa Concert Hall.
You will be spending your first night in Reykjavik.
Day 2 - West Iceland and 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 Grabrok tuff volcano further inland in Borgarfjordur. 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. A bit further north, you could also detour to inspect the Hvitserkur rock formation, found just near Hvammstangi.
It takes a few hours to travel from Reykjavik 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 artificial ice cave tunnel inside Langjokull glacier. Alternatively, you could descend into the lava cave of Vidgelmir, which was formed in an eruption over a thousand years ago.
When you finally arrive in Akureyri, grab a meal in town or enjoy the city's nightlife before retiring.
Day 3 - Akureyri, Lake Myvatn and Egilsstadir
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 Myvatn, stopping at the stunning Godafoss waterfall en route.
The Namaskard geothermal area and the dark volcanic fortress known as Dimmuborgir are also well worth the detour. Though naturally formed, the lava formations at Dimmuborgir make it appear like some fantastical spooky castle.
After exploring Dimmuborgir and Lake Myvatn, you should end your day at the Myvatn 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 Egilsstadir, 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 Modrudalsoraefi heights to reach your accommodation for tonight, in the town of Egilsstadir by the Logurinn Lake.
Day 4 - Egilsstadir to South-East Iceland
From your overnight base at Egilsstadir, it is only a short drive to Hallormsstadaskogur, Iceland's largest forest, which is unlike any other landscape in the rest of the barren country. From here, you can continue into the magnificent Eastfjords for some awe-inspiring vistas.
While 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 Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. 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 sand shore nearby, called the Diamond Beach, because of 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 area.
Day 5 - Southeast Iceland to Selfoss
On your fifth day, you can spend additional 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, and 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 an amphibian boat.
When you've enjoyed your time at the lagoon, you will drive towards the Skaftafell Nature Reserve. You have an excellent opportunity to book a glacial hike here, which will add an entirely new level of adrenaline and adventure to your trip. It is also the best way to experience an ice cap up close. From the summits of Vatnajokull, you will have truly magnificent views over the surrounding area.
You will continue to drive along the South Coast before arriving at the charming town of Kirkjubaejarklaustur. Close to here is the picturesque Fjadrargljufur canyon, a haven for hikers.
Next along the Ring Road is the fishing village of Vik, which in turn is near the Reynisdrangar basalt pillars and the black sand beach, Reynisfjara. Be careful while exploring this beach, however, as the waves here are unpredictable.
On the final part of your journey, you will stop off at two of the South Coast's most gorgeous waterfalls, Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss, the latter of which you can fully encircle.
You will be spending the night in the town of Selfoss.
Day 6 - Golden Circle and Reykjavik
One option for starting your sixth day is participating in an ice cave tour at Myrdalsjokull glacier, departing from Vik. You can venture into the frozen, subterranean world of the ice cap itself for an unforgettable experience. If you'd rather not, you will continue westward to the famous Golden Circle route, where you can catch three of Iceland's most popular spots in one sweep. First is Gullfoss, a mighty waterfall that demonstrates the sheer power of Iceland's nature by cascading glacial water 105 ft (32 m) into the gorge below. Snowmobiling tours are also available from this location, where you travel via super jeep to the Langjokull glacier for a thrilling 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 neighbor 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 Thingvellir. 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 world's most breathtaking snorkeling and scuba diving locations. You can end your journey around Iceland with a tour where you swim between the continents here.
When your time in the park is over, you will drive forty-five minutes back to Reykjavik.
Day 7 - Departure Day
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 and look back on the incredible adventure you have just taken in the land of fire and ice.
If your flight is very late, there are plenty of things to do in Reykjavik. If you have an early flight back home, we wish you a pleasant journey.
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. 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) 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.