Beautiful 8 Day Summer Self Drive Tour of the Complete Ring Road with the South Coast In-Depth
Take in the top spots of Iceland and more on this 8-day self-drive tour focusing on the South Coast, where the most famous attractions of Iceland abound. Discover the country's natural beauty as you travel around the Ring Road in a complete circle from Iceland's capital, Reykjavik. Take 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 Jokulsarlon 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 Husavik, 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 traveling 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.
Day 1 - Welcome to Iceland
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.
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.
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.
Day 2 - The Golden Circle
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 snorkeling 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 snorkeling tour of the fissure, you will see incredible underwater canyons with a visibility of up to 328 ft (100 m).
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 Hvita River Canyon. Gullfoss stands at the height of 105 ft (32 m). Its 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 Strokkur. Strokkur erupts almost 66 ft (20 m) 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 Kerid 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. Kerid's colors paint a vivid palette. Its 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, you could add additional adventures to your day.
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 Langjokull 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 in, or not far from the town of Selfoss
Day 3 - The South Coast
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 197 ft (60 m) 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, Skogafoss. Skogafoss is one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland. It cascades from a height of 197 ft (60 m) and 82 ft (25 m) 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 Solheimajokull, an outlet glacier of Myrdalsjokull. 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. You will be provided with a helmet, crampons, and an ice ax. 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 Solheimajokull, 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 Dyrholey. 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 Dyrholey 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 Vik. Vik 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 Vik. You could choose to visit the famous DC-3 plane wreck, an American navy plane crash-landed on Solheimasandur in 1973. Remarkably all passengers survived, and the aircraft was abandoned. Today the wreckage makes for incredible pictures.
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 VIk.
Day 4 - Heading to Jokulsarlon
Today is all about exploring more of the south coast and heading towards the east of Iceland.
You will begin by traveling through Skaftafell Nature Reserve, which sits in Vatnajokull 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, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. This body of water is the deepest lagoon in Iceland, reaching depths of up to 820 ft (250 m). Jokulsarlon fills with the meltwater from a tongue off Vatnajokull glacier, called Breidamerkurjokull. 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 Jokulsarlon. 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 Jokulsarlon to gain a real appreciation of their size.
Next to Jokulsarlon 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 jeweled appearance; hence the name Diamond Beach.
Your next stop is the eastern town of Hofn. 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 Jokulsarlon.
Day 5 - The Eastfjords
Today you will head into the remote Eastfjords. This part of Iceland is known for its remarkable beauty and abundance of untouched nature. You could visit many places 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.
Djupivogur is a coastal fishing town that sits beneath a large pyramid-shaped mountain called Bulandstindur. If you are lucky enough to visit Djupivogur during the longest day of the year (summer solstice), Bulandstindur is said to grant wishes.
Faskrudsfjordur 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 harbor. Eventually, most of these settlers were called away during the first World War, and the town eventually became mostly Icelandic. Many street signs in Faskrudsfjordur 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.
Egilsstadir is the largest town in the Eastfjords. It's a great place to stop, refuel and possibly grab a bite. The larger population of Egilsstadir 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 Vok Baths. This geothermal spa is only 3.1 miles (5 km) northwest of Egilsstaðir and boasts incredible relaxation in warm pools, among enchanting scenery.
To the east of Egilsstadir is the magical town of Seydisfjordur. This harbor 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. Seydisfjordur 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 Egilsstadir are three other attractions. There's Lake Lagarfljot, which is said to be the home of a mythical worm monster. Further along is Hallormsstaðarskogur, the largest forest in Iceland. Finally, there is Hengifoss, an intriguingly beautiful waterfall that falls in front of a dramatically colored basalt rock cliff.
After exploring the east, you will spend the night at your accommodation in Egilsstadir.
Day 6 - The Geothermal North
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 favorites.
On your way north, you might want to take your first stop at Dettifoss waterfall. It is a very large and powerful waterfall. Dettifoss is 328 ft (100 m) wide and drops 141 ft (43 m) with an average flow rate of 50985 gallons (193 cubic meters) per second. When you stand next to Dettifoss, you can feel its powerful roar. This waterfall is so impressive that director Ridley Scott used it in the opening scene of his 2012 film 'Prometheus.'
The Lake Myvatn Area is active with a lot of geothermal activity. This region is home to the fourth-largest lake in Iceland, Lake Myvatn. Its name means 'Fly Lake' and is a reflection of the small flies that are very common here. If you visit Myvatn, you might want to take a bit of a break at the Myvatn 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 Myvatn Area include Krafla, a caldera just north of the Lake Myvatn area. It is part of a large volcanic system and is one of the most explosive volcanoes in the country. In the Namfjall 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 Myvatn 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, particularly 'Gryla', 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 Husavik. This seaside village is often referred to as the 'whale watching capital of Europe.' Many species of whales visit the waters around Husavik, 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 Husavik. 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. You are in a smaller vessel on a rib boat tour, meaning you can get much closer to these ocean mammals without disturbing them.
Husavik also presents the opportunity to indulge in the geothermal warmth of Iceland. The Husavik 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 can see another waterfall. Godafoss holds a special place in the history of Iceland. In around 1000 AD, 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.
Day 7 - Heading back to Reykjavík
This is your last official travel day. If you want one more day in the capital, you could head straight to Reykjavik 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 48 miles (78 km) northwest of Akureyri is the town of Siglufjordur. It is the northernmost town on mainland Iceland. Surrounded by incredible mountains, Siglufjordur 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 124 miles (200 km) southwest of Siglufjordur is the Hvitserkur 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 Reykjavik, two more attractions would be worth checking out. Around 81 miles (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 traveling, it will be time once again to rest at your accommodation in Reykjavik. You might even want to head out and soak up some Icelandic nightlife before you head home tomorrow.
Day 8 - Saying Farewell
It’s your last 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.
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.
Some optional activities might require you to have 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 snorkeling.
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) 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.