Take in the top spots of Iceland and more on this 8-day self-drive tour with a focus on the South Coast, where the most famous attractions of Iceland abound. Discover the natural beauty of the country as you travel around the Ring Road in a complete circle from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík; taking advantage of the longer days under the midnight sun.
This itinerary is perfect for those who would love to see the full variety of landscapes and attractions Iceland has to offer while having the ability to go at your own pace.
Your tour will begin as soon as you land in Iceland. You won’t have to worry about transfers because you will pick up your car straight from the airport. Then for the next 8 days, you will explore this nation to the fullest.
You will visit the must-see attractions around the Ring Road with an in-depth focus on the South Coast. You will begin with the famous Golden Circle; then head south stopping at the incredible waterfalls, pristine coast, staggering cliffs and black sand beaches.
You will visit the otherworldly Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, with its floating icebergs, before heading to the untouched Eastfjords. You will then make your way through the geothermal northeast of Iceland, then after stopping in the capital of the north, Akureyri, you will complete your circle, arriving back in Reykjavík.
To make this trip even more memorable, you will be able to add extra activities when you book. You could visit the adored Blue Lagoon Spa, take a whale watching tour from Húsavík, go horse riding, hike a glacier, visit an ice cave or delve deep into a volcano.
A massive benefit of this vacation is that your itinerary and accommodation are taken care of, so while you’re travelling around the country, you can focus on the sites that spark joy for you and not worry about the finer details.
This road trip is a great way to get the most out of your stay in Iceland while still having the freedom to take things at your own pace. Revel in the natural wonders of Iceland bathed in the hues of the midnight sun, making for a truly unforgettable vacation.
Don’t miss the chance to make a dream summer vacation in Iceland a reality. Check availability by choosing a date.
You will arrive in Iceland and make your way through customs. Once you have passed through those automatic doors in the arrivals gate, your journey will begin.
You will pick up your car right here at the airport and start your journey towards the heart of Iceland’s capital Reykjavík.
Along the way, you will pass through the rolling lava fields of the Reykjanes peninsula. This part of the country is reminiscent of the lunar surface. If you are feeling like a bit of relaxation on the way, you can stop off at the Blue Lagoon spa. This world-famous facility harnesses the geothermal power of Iceland to create a once in a lifetime experience.
Visiting the Blue Lagoon is a must-do on a trip to Iceland, and it can be the perfect way to shake off your flight and prepare for an adventure.
Once you have made your way to Reykjavik and checked into your accommodation, you can spend some time taking in the incredible sights of the city.
Take a walk around town, stop in at one of the many restaurants, bars and cafes, and get to know the world’s northernmost capital city.
Today is all about getting an introduction to some of the most popular attractions in Iceland. The Golden Circle is a collection of must-see attractions that includes Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and the Geysir Geothermal Area.
You will start by heading off from your accommodation with the three main attractions in mind.
Thingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Listed site. This part of the country is beautiful, but it’s also incredibly important to Icelanders. It was here that the world’s first parliament was formed by early settlers around the year 930 AD.
The Thingvellir area is filled with cliff faces, lava rocks covered in Icelandic moss and views of distant mountain peaks. This is a great spot to take in some views and learn about the history of this nation.
While you are visiting Thingvellir, you could also choose to go snorkelling in the mesmerizing Silfra Fissure. This body of water sits in the middle of the point where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. The waters of Silfra have been filtered through lava rock for over a century, making them crystal clear. On a snorkelling tour of the fissure, you will see incredible underwater canyons, with a visibility of up to 100 metres.
Another stop is the impressive Gullfoss Waterfall. This is one of the most iconic waterfalls in Iceland. Its name means ‘Golden Falls’, and it sits below the Hvíta River Canyon. Gullfoss stands at the height of 32 metres; it’s powerful flow cascades down two levels, creating a mighty spray.
The next attraction on the Golden Circle is the Geysir Geothermal Area. Geysir perfectly demonstrates the geothermal force that shaped Iceland. This part of the country is filled with hot springs and fumaroles. The main attraction that brings people to this area is the explosive geyser Strókkur. Strókkur erupts almost 20 metres into the air about every five minutes.
If you want to add some other attractions to this day on the Golden Circle, you could also check out the Kerið Crater. This volcanic crater is not far from the attractions of the Golden Circle. It is a relatively young crater at just 3000 years old. Kerið’s colours paint a vivid palette. It’s bright red rocks sit beautifully against the deep azure blue waters that rest at the bottom.
Reykjadalur is a steam-filled valley that is also not far from the Golden Circle. This area of Iceland offers rolling hills with eerie steam vents popping out all over and numerous hot pools.
If you would like some extra thrills on this day, there are a few things you could add.
You could choose to go on a horseback riding tour. The Icelandic horse is a unique species that have been isolated here for over a thousand years. They are sturdy, short and very friendly creatures, making them an ideal horse for riders of all abilities. Seeing the Icelandic countryside on horseback is a unique experience.
For those who want a bit more adrenaline, you could opt for a snowmobile tour of Langjökull Glacier. In this experience, you will hop on the back of a snowmobile and take off along the snowy expanse of a natural glacier. The rush of feeling the glacial breeze rush past you as you travel where few ever get to is second to none.
You will finish your day, retiring to your accommodation not far from the Golden Circle area.
Today you will continue your Ring Road adventure and start heading south. The south coast of Iceland is known for its incredible mountains, glaciers, black sand beaches, waterfalls and an abundance of birdlife.
A great first stop along the south coast is Seljalandsfoss waterfall. This waterfall is incredibly popular for visitors to Iceland due to its proximity to the Ring Road, and fascinating structure. The water of Seljalandsfoss drops a steep 60 metres in front of a rocky enclave. In the summertime, weather conditions make it possible to walk behind this magnificent natural wonder. If you choose to do so, it is recommended that you have wet weather gear because the powerful spray will get you wet.
Not far from Seljalandsfoss is an equally enchanting waterfall, Skógafoss. Skógafoss is one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland. It cascades from a height of 60 metres and 25 metres wide. The waters fall onto the almost flat ground creating a terrific mist. On some days, as the light reflects through the falls, visitors have been known to see a double rainbow.
As you continue along the south coast, you will pass Sólheimajökull, an outlet glacier of Mýrdalsjökull. If you want some additional adventure today, you can choose to hike this landmark.
On this glacier hike, you will meet your guide and be given a safety briefing as well as some gear you will need to take on this icy wonder; this includes a helmet, crampons and an ice axe. You will then take a pleasant hike to the foot of the glacier. Next, you will ascend the ice like an arctic explorer. Once you are on top of Sólheimajökull, the experience of standing on the ice while being surrounded by uninterrupted views of the surrounding landscape will give you unforgettable memories.
The next stop is Dýrholey. This is a small peninsula, famous for its staggering cliff formations and abundance of birdlife. It is also the southernmost part of mainland Iceland. Here you will have a great viewpoint of the shoreline and great opportunities to spot native birds.
Nor far from Dýrholey is the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. This part of the Icelandic shore is known for its incredible waves crashing against black volcanic sand.
On the beach, you will also spot a cliff face with unusual hexagonal basalt rock columns. These form naturally as lava cools and contracts, and they have also inspired a lot of architecture around Iceland.
Just offshore from Reynisfjara are the Reynisdrangar rock formations. These natural ocean monoliths point skyward from the sea. Icelandic folklore is filled with stories of how these rocks were once a couple of trolls who ventured into the cold waters of the Atlantic to drag a ship to the shore. The pair, unfortunately, timed their mischief wrong and were turned to stone by the rising sun, doomed to spend eternity as the rock formation that is now Reynisdrangar.
Further along is the quaint seaside town of Vík. Vík is a great place to stop and stretch your legs. You might want to head to the hilltop church that looks out to sea.
There are some other great activities you can take part in not far from Vík. You could choose to take a shuttle out to the famous DC-3 plane wreck. This was an American navy plane that crash-landed on Sólheimasandur in 1973. Remarkably all passengers survived, and the aircraft was abandoned. Today the wreckage makes for incredible pictures. A shuttle can take you directly to the wreck in about 15 minutes, saving a lot of time.
You could also choose to visit an ice cave. Ice caves are an incredibly unique attraction in Iceland. They form during the regular melt and freeze cycles of glaciers. Each year ice caves disappear, and new ones are created, meaning no two ice caves are ever the same. Inside an ice cave, you will witness what at times can look like a crystal palace. Curves and layers of ice, marbled with blues, greys, whites and black volcanic ash create a time capsule of hundreds, if not thousands of years into the past.
After an incredible day of sightseeing and adventure, you will retire to your accommodation in Kirkjubæjarklaustur.
Today is all about exploring more of the south coast and heading towards the east of Iceland.
You will begin by travelling through Skaftafell Nature Reserve which sits in Vatnajökul National Park. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could choose to start your day with a morning glacier hike of Skaftafell.
This rugged landscape is known for its flora and presents a multitude of photograph opportunities. Skaftafell also has many incredible hiking trails featuring easy treks that make it a ‘hiking paradise’.
You will then head on to the crown jewel of south Iceland, Jökullsárlón Glacier Lagoon. This body of water is the deepest lagoon in Iceland, reaching depths of up to 250 metres. Jökullsárlon fills with the meltwater from a tongue off Vatnajökul glacier, called Breiðamerkurjökull. The icy waters are filled with icebergs that have broken off the glacier (a process called ice calving). As they travel through the lagoon, these massive ice monuments seem to glow in whites and blues.
When visiting here, you can choose to take a boat trip into the waters of Jökullsárlón. You can choose to take an amphibious boat tour, which will gently slide into the water, allowing you to get a deeper understanding of how this lagoon is formed. You might even be lucky enough to spot some seals playfully swimming around, or sunning themselves on icebergs.
You could also choose to take a zodiac boat tour of the lagoon. A zodiac boat will allow you to get even closer to the massive icebergs of Jökullsárlón to gain a real appreciation of their size.
Next to Jökulsárlon is the famous Diamond Beach. This is a short stretch of shoreline where the waters of the lagoon meet the sea. As icebergs are pushed around and melted by the saltwater, some of them rest on the black sands of the beach, giving it a jewelled appearance; hence the name Diamond Beach.
Your next stop is the eastern town of Höfn. This quaint, picturesque fishing town is famous for its lobster. This could be the perfect place to stop for dinner. Many of the restaurants in town offer plenty of menu items that include the town’s most precious commodity.
You will then spend the night near Jökulsárlon.
Today you will head into the remote Eastfjords. This part of Iceland is known for its remarkable beauty and abundance of untouched nature. There are many places you could visit today, as the Eastfjords are filled with numerous mountains, cliffs, coastal views and quaint towns.
Vestrahorn mountain is an impressive and very photogenic formation that sits close to the ocean. Throughout the summer months, it casts incredible shadows and reflections against its backdrop.
Djúpivogur is a coastal fishing town that sits beneath a large pyramid-shaped mountain called Búlandstindur. If you are lucky enough to visit Djúpivogur during the longest day of the year (summer solstice), Búlandstindur is said to grant wishes.
Fáskrúðsfjörður was once settled as a French fishing village, and the French influence of the town can still be seen today. In the early settlement, French seamen set up a hospital and harbour. Eventually, most of these settlers were called away during the first World War, and the town eventually went on to become mostly Icelandic. Many of the street signs in Fáskrúðsfjörður are in both French and Icelandic, and the original French hospital has been converted into a hotel, with an attached museum dedicated to the French connection of this village.
Egilsstaðir is the largest town in the Eastfjords. It’s a great place to stop, refuel and possibly grab a bite. The larger population of Egilsstaðir means an abundance of options for dining, groceries and tourist information. It is also a great midway point between some of the other attractions of the Eastfjords.
From here you could choose to visit the Vök Baths. This geothermal spa is only 5 km northwest of Egilsstaðir and boasts incredible relaxation in warm pools, among enchanting scenery.
To the east of Egilsstaðir is the magical town of Seyðisfjörður. This harbour town looks like it came out of a fantasy film. It’s surrounded by mountains and waterfalls. The old Norwegian architecture that established the town still stands today. The town is known for its art and culture. Seyðisfjörður hosts a youth art festival called LungA every year in summer. It also as a permanent rainbow street that leads to a quaint blue church.
To the west of Egilsstaðir are three other attractions. There’s Lake Lagarfljót, which is said to be the home of a mythical worm monster. Further along is Hallormsstaðarskógur, the largest forest in Iceland. Finally, there is Hengifoss, an intriguingly beautiful waterfall that falls in front of a dramatically coloured basalt rock cliff.
After exploring the east, you will spend the night at your accommodation in Egilsstaðir.
Today you will head through the northeastern part of Iceland. This area of the country is well known for impressive waterfalls, sweeping planes and incredible hot spots of geothermal activity.
There are so many places you could visit here, so you will need to pick your favourites.
On your way north, you might want to take your first stop at Dettifoss waterfall. It is a very large and very powerful waterfall. Dettifoss is 100 metres wide and drops 43 metres with an average flow rate of 193 cubic metres per second. When you stand next to Dettifoss you can feel its powerful roar. This waterfall is so impressive, director Ridley Scott used it in the opening scene of his 2012 film ‘Prometheus.’
The Lake Mývatn Area is active with a lot of geothermal activity. This region is home to the fourth-largest lake in Iceland, Lake Mývatn. Its name means ‘Fly Lake’ and is a reflection of the small flies that are very common here. If you visit Mývatn, you might want to take a bit of a break at the Mývatn Nature Baths. This luxurious facility is often referred to as ‘The Blue Lagoon of the North.’
Some of the other attractions in or near the lake Mývatn Area include; Krafla, a caldera just north of the Lake Mývatn area. It is part of a large volcanic system and is one of the most explosive volcanoes in the country. In the Námfjall Geothermal Area, you will see boiling mud pots, fumaroles pouring steam into the air and sulfur crystals in blues, greens, yellows and whites.
Another attraction in the Mývatn area is Dimmuborgir. This rock structure is sometimes called ‘The Black Fortress’ because of its resemblance to a medieval castle. In Icelandic folklore, these rocks and the surrounding lava caves are the home to trolls, in particular, ‘Grýla’ the mother of the 13 Icelandic Santas.
If you are more in the mood to get to the coast, you could check out Dettifoss and then head further north towards Húsavík. This seaside village is often referred to as the ‘whale watching capital of Europe.’ Many species of whales visit the waters around Húsavík and during some months, a lot of the tour companies can boast a 100% success rate at spotting these gentle giants.
If you would like to get out into the waters of the north and try to spot some whales you can choose to go on a whale watching tour from Húsavik. There are two kinds of whale watching tours you can take part in. You could opt for a traditional tour, where you take a standard boat ride out into the bay in search of whales, or you could choose a rib boat tour. On a rib boat tour, you are in a smaller vessel, meaning you can get much closer to these ocean mammals without disturbing them.
Húsavík also presents the opportunity to indulge in the geothermal warmth of Iceland. The Húsavík Geosea Baths are completely different from most hot pools in Iceland. They are filled with heated seawater. The waters of Geosea are rich in minerals and a constant flow from the sea means the baths are completely chemical-free. It’s a relaxing experience to bathe in the warm waters as you look out over the ocean.
As you make your way to your final stop for the day, you could see another waterfall. Goðafoss holds a special place in the history of Iceland. It was here in around 1000 AD that the Viking Chieftain threw his pagan idols away to symbolically show that Iceland was adopting Christianity.
By the end of the day, you will arrive at your accommodation in the Capital of the North’ Akureyri.
This is your last official travel day. If you want one more day in the capital, you could head straight to Reykjavík and do more exploring. If, however, you want to soak up a few more sites along the way there are some places you could stop at.
About 78 km northwest of Akureyri is the town of Siglufjörður. It is the northernmost town on mainland Iceland. Surrounded by incredible mountains, Siglufjörður is a beautiful representation of idyllic country life in Iceland. This is a great place to stop, stretch your legs and get a few more incredible shots of ‘fjord-life’.
Around 200 km southwest of Siglufjörður is the Hvítserkur rock formation. This mysterious natural monolith is an unusually shaped rock that sticks out from the sea. As with Reynisdrangar in the south, legends tell of a troll that met his fate being turned to stone by the sun and becoming the popular attraction standing there today.
As you head towards Reykjavík, two more attractions would be worth checking out. Around 130 km north of Iceland’s capital are two waterfalls. Hraunfossar and Barnafoss are situated quite close to each other. Hraunfossar’s name translates to ‘Lava Falls’ and bears a striking beauty reminiscent of fantasy films. Barnafoss or ‘the children’s falls’ rushes through a rocky canyon, creating powerful rapids.
After your day of travelling, it will be time once again to rest at your accommodation in Reykjavík. You might even want to head out and soak up some Icelandic nightlife before you head home tomorrow.
It’s your last day in Iceland. If you are taking an afternoon flight back home, you could spend a bit of time in town soaking up some last sights and sounds. This is the perfect time to get any pictures you haven’t managed to yet, visit some museums or grab those all-important souvenirs.
If you didn’t manage to on your first day, or you just want another soak, you could choose to visit the Blue Lagoon before your flight.
You will then drop off your car at Keflavík Airport before your departure. You will leave Iceland with some fantastic memories of your stay here.
Have a safe trip home, or as they say in Icelandic ‘Goða Ferð.’
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.
Some optional activities might need either a valid driver's license, or you might need to send additional information to your travel planner. Please note that you might need to present medical documents should you choose to go snorkelling.
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. For other 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). 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.
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.
Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.
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.
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.
You can now add meals to your booking. Select to include dinner on every night as an optional extra, and we will provide you with vouchers as part of your booking confirmation. We will choose from top-rated restaurants that fit with your vacation itinerary and make your reservations for you. At the restaurant, you will be offered a set menu, from which you can choose from meat, fish or vegetarian options. If you would prefer something else, the voucher will act as a credit that you can redeem at the restaurant against menu items that are not part of the set menu. Please notify the restaurant on arrival about any dietary requirements. Vouchers are non-refundable.
This insurance guarantees that you can cancel tour and package bookings and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost. The cost of your cancellation insurance depends on the duration of your tour or package. A base cost of 5,000 ISK per person is applied to all tours and packages with a duration of 5 days or less. An additional 1,000 ISK per person will be added to the insurance cost for each day after. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.