7 Day Budget Self Drive Tour of Iceland’s Snaefellsnes Peninsula & the South Coast
Make the most of a week in Iceland without going over your budget with this affordable seven-day self-drive tour. This tour will allow you to see the incredible sights of Iceland without being bound to anyone else or breaking the bank.
Self-drive tours allow you to have control every day. You do not need to worry about tour guides hurrying you along or other group members slowing you down. What you do and see is entirely up to you so long as you reach your next accommodation each night.
Over seven days, you will be able to see many of the awe-inspiring sites that make this country so famous, from the beautiful Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon to the exciting Geysir geothermal area.
Not only will you get to see these famous locations, but the personal itinerary provided to you will direct you to the places in Iceland that few get to visit, where you can immerse yourself in nature far from anyone else.
The landscapes you will see are incredibly diverse. Black sand beaches, geothermal areas, dramatic volcanoes, powerful waterfalls, and beautiful valleys wait for you all across the country, interrupted with idyllic villages and stretches of rolling countryside.
This tour does not need to be just a week of sightseeing as there are many activities you can choose to partake in as you travel.
In Thingvellir National Park, you can snorkel in the crystal clear waters of Silfra, and at Langjokull glacier, you can explore an ice tunnel or go snowmobiling. There are two places you can hike on Iceland's magnificent glaciers, two different boat tours you can take at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, and you can descend into its magma chamber at Thrihnukagigur volcano.
So don't hesitate. Immerse yourself in the Icelandic landscape and do so on a budget. Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival
You will pick up your car upon arrival at Keflavik International Airport and start making your way to the city of Reykjavik.
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 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.
You will then settle into your accommodation and get to know the quirky capital and its many museums, galleries, shops, cafés, and restaurants.
Day 2 - Snaefellsjokull National Park
You will head to 'Iceland in Miniature, 'also known as the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, on the morning of day two. This 56-mile (90 km) stretch is most famous for Snaefellsjokull, the mighty subglacial volcano that crowns the peninsula, although this is far from the only attraction to see.
Others include the dramatic Londrangar basalt plug, the frequently photographed Kirkjufell mountain, the beautiful coastal scenery around the villages of Arnarstapi and Hellnar, the windswept Budiir church, and the seal colony at Ytri-Tunga.
You will be busy all day as you enjoy the peninsula's geology, landscapes, and settlements. You can, however, add some extra adventure to it by booking a tour into the now empty magma chamber of Thrihnukagigar volcano. This volcano is the only place where such a trip is possible globally, making it now of the country's most exceptional sites.
You'll spend the night on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Day 3 - The Golden Circle
On day three, you will take Iceland’s most popular tourist trail, the Golden Circle. This route brings you to three awe-inspiring, famous sites: Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and the waterfall of Gullfoss.
Before reaching the Golden Circle, you can opt for a tour of the colorful underworld of Vidgelmir lava cave or explore the icy tunnels of Langjokull glacier.
The first stop on the Golden Circle route is Thingvellir, which translates to ‘fields of Parliament,’ as it was here, in 930 AD, that early Icelanders formed their first National Assembly. This assembly continues today in Reykjavik, making it the oldest ongoing parliament in the world.
Thingvellir is also located directly between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. The movement of these plates has led to some incredible geology, with lava fields and ravines filled with spring water all around. If you like, you can take a snorkeling tour in one of these ravines, Silfra Fissure.
After enjoying the national park, you will drive to Haukadalur Valley. Here, you can find two geysers; Geysir and Strokkur. The former is not active, but the latter erupts every five to ten minutes, creating a water column that reaches over 66 ft (20 m) in the air. The surrounding area is dotted with hot springs and boiling mud pots.
The final stop on the Golden Circle is Gullfoss Waterfall, a majestic feature of enormous power. You can witness it from many viewing platforms, including one right beside the lip of the falls. From Gullfoss, you can opt for a snowmobiling tour on the same glacier that feeds the waterfall’s river.
You will end your day near Laugarvatn, where you can enjoy the geothermal spa there before retiring; you could also bask in the Secret Lagoon in Fludir.
Day 4 - The South Coast
Today, you will head to the South Coast. However, if you'd like to start your day with an icy adventure, you can do so on a thrilling snowmobile ride on Langjokull glacier.
Your first three sightseeing stops will all be at waterfalls. The first of these, Seljalandsfoss, falls off a concave cliff, meaning you can walk around it for some spectacular views. Nearby and often overlooked is Gljufrabui, nestled in a magical grotto within a cliff. Finally, you will see Skogafoss waterfall, which thunders down to the earth from a height of over 197 ft (60 m).
The following site along the route is Solheimajokull glacier, a tongue of the vast Myrsdaljsokull ice cap. It is possible to take a tour to explore this cap's otherworldly surface on an informative glacier hike. A little further along the coast is the Reynisfjara black sand beach, where you can see the impressive Reynisdrangar sea stacks out in the ocean.
You will spend the night in the adjacent village of Vik.
Day 5 - Jokulsarlon & Skaftafell Nature Reserve
The fifth day will take you across the rest of the South Coast to what many describe as the crown jewel of Iceland's nature, the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. There is no need to rush here, however, as there are some great places to visit on the way.
You can start this day by taking another tour on Myrdalsjokull glacier, this one leading you into an ice cave. The cave is the only one of its kind in Iceland accessible the whole year-round. If you prefer to continue your journey, you could stop at the historic village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur or the verdant Fjardrargljufur canyon.
These sites are found just before the Skaftafell Nature Reserve in the Vatnajokull National Park. The reserve is a hiker's paradise, and you can opt for a different glacier trekking tour to get an incredible view of the national park.
The Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon will no doubt take your breath away when you reach it. This enormous lagoon fills year-round with icebergs, the colors, and sizes of which defy belief. If watching them cruise towards the ocean from the shore is not satisfying enough, you can opt for one of two boat tours that will take you right amongst the bergs, one on an amphibious vessel and another on a zodiac boat.
Before heading to your accommodation around Jokulsarlon, make a stop at the nearby Diamond Beach, where these bergs wash up on the black sand shore and glisten in the sun.
Day 6 - Drive Back to Reykjavik
On day six, you will head back to Reykjavik. Before departing, you could opt for another glacier hike or a boat ride if you missed it the day before.
As you travel, reference your itinerary to see what unique places you missed on the way, as there are plenty along the South Coast.
When you reach the city, you can unwind at your accommodation after a long journey of traveling, or if you have some energy left, check out Reykjavik's many restaurants, cafés, and bars.
Day 7 - Departure
Sadly, today is your final day. 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 spa 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 even later, 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.
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.
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 (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.