8 Day Self Drive Tour | The Ring Road & The Golden Circle

Based on 7 traveller reviews

Book this tour for eight incredible days in the Land of Ice and Fire. This self-drive tour is for anyone who likes to go where the wind takes them, rather than having tour guides in control. 

Using the Ring Road as your guide, you'll see as many of the country's natural wonders as you can fit into your stay, including the capital city of Reykjavik, the Golden Circle,  and the northern capital of Akureyri. You'll also visit Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, the beautiful Lake Mývatn, and more waterfalls, volcanoes, and tiny towns. 

During the booking process, you can also add activities to your trip. You can go snowmobiling on Langjökull glacier, or hike on a magnificent glacier; you can join the famous Jökulsárlon glacier lagoon boat tour, go whale watching in Húsavík, or saddle a horse for a riding tour through the countryside of Iceland. You can snorkel between continents at Þingvellir National Park, explore the dark places of the earth on a tour of a lava cave, or venture inside the pure, white halls of a glacier. There is even the chance to descend into the vividly coloured magma chamber of a sleeping volcano. The opportunities are endless.

A trip to the world famous Blue Lagoon is included in the price, so you can bask in its soothing water while you're here. Also to help you relax, the itinerary includes many spots where you can be virtually alone, in incredible locations most have never heard of.

So do not hesitate, take this unique opportunity to create the perfect 8-day stay in Iceland. Check availability now by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: Apr. - Oct.
  • Duration: 8 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkeling, Caving, Diving, ATV, Snowmobile, Horse Riding, Whale Watching, Sightseeing, Boat Trip, Hot Spring Bathing, Cultural Activity, Bird watching, Ice Caving, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: Reykjavík, Akureyri, Jökulsárlón, Dimmuborgir, Goðafoss, Dettifoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Dyrhólaey, Þingvellir, Hraunfossar, Deildartunguhver, Höfn, Vík i Mýrdal, Blönduós, Kerið, Reynisdrangar, Lake Myvatn, Skogarfoss (waterfall), South Coast, Ring Road
Pickup information:
  • Starting time : Flexible

Included:
  • 7 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 8 days (VW Polo or similar. Upgrades available)

  • CDW, SCDW and gravel protection insurance for vehicle

  • GPS system

  • Blue Lagoon standard entrance (upgrades available)

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

  • Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary

  • Taxes

  • Fuel

  • Lunch / Dinner


What to bring:
  • Driver's licence

  • Warm Clothes

  • Swimsuit

  • Camera


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 Reykjavík




Pick up your car at the international airport in Keflavík before driving through the otherworldly landscape of the Reykjanes peninsula to your accommodation in downtown Reykjavík. You can choose to go to the Blue Lagoon on your first day, on your way from the airport, or leave it for your last day as a way to bid the island a fond farewell.

After settling in at your hotel in Reykjavík, make the most of your proximity to the vibrant city centre, and discover the multitude of museums, galleries, restaurants, and bars on offer. Spend your first night in this beautiful, quirky city.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík budget

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

Reykjavík Comfort

The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 2 - Golden Circle and South Coast




Day two sends you to some of the best-known natural phenomena in Iceland via the route known as the Golden Circle. The first stop is Þingvellir National Park. Here, you can walk between the rift valley of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and explore an area which plays a huge role in Iceland's heritage; parliament was founded here in 930 AD, and it is also where Iceland converted to Christianity and declared its independence from Denmark. Here you can opt for a snorkel tour into the Silfra fissure, a crystal-clear ravine that runs between the Eurasian and North-American tectonic plates.

The geothermal valley of Haukadalur is the next stop, where you can see the geysers Strokkur and Geysir, amongst many bubbling hot springs. Strokkur erupts every 10 minutes or so, to heights that exceed 20 m (66 ft). Just a few kilometres away is Iceland's most popular attraction, the mighty waterfall of Gullfoss. A pathway takes you to the water's edge, where you can get a real sense of the incredible power of these enormous falls. From Gullfoss, those with a good sense of adventure can jump on an optional snowmobiling tour on Langjökull glacier.

If neither a snorkelling tour or snowmobiling tour appeal to you, you may instead opt into a horse ride.

Another popular sight is the volcanic crater of Kerið, which is well worth a visit before continuing to the south coast. The rocks of this crater are coloured rust red and fiery orange, and the water that permanently sits within it is an incredible, vivid blue. The contrast is stunning.

As you move onto the ring road in the south, you will see Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which you can walk all the way around for some great photos. A little further down the road is the mesmerising and mightily powerful Skógafoss waterfall, well worth a quick stop.

Along the coast near Vík, take a slight detour to stop and admire the black volcanic beach and the dramatic Dyrhólaey and Reynisdrangar rock formations. Be very careful of the ocean, however, as the waves along this stretch of coast are notoriously unpredictable and dangerous. Spend the night in Vík.

There are three different tours you can choose to opt into on this day. 


Preferred accommodation by Vík

Vík Budget

Puffin Hostel is centrally located in Vík. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms and a common lounge area. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Vík Comfort

Hotel Katla is a 3 star country hotel that's situated 5km to the east of Vík. Comfortable private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a hot tub and a sauna. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Vík Quality

Icelandair Hotel Vík is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Vík. Stylish private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Ocean or cliff views from each room. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 3 - Skaftafell Glaciers - Diamond Beach




On day three, you can choose to go on an optional glacier hike on Sólheimajökull glacier before driving towards the beautiful Skaftafell Reserve, within Vatnajökull National Park.

In Skaftafell, you can spend time taking in the many sights and activities that are available. If you enjoy hiking, you will find many trails and tracks here suitable for all levels of mobility and experience, including one that leads to the beautiful Svartifoss waterfall.

Continuing your road trip, stop by one of Iceland’s most famous and beautiful attractions, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Here, you can enjoy an optional cruise on the water, meandering amongst serene icebergs of all shapes and sizes, on either an amphibious boat, or a little zodiac. Even from the shore, however, the lagoon is stunning, and you have a good chance to see seals playing amongst the ice. After you have enjoyed the lagoon, take a short walk to the Diamond Beach, where many ice-flows wash up on the shore and sparkle like gems. You can then drive a little further ahead, and spend the night in the charming town of Höfn.


Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn

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.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Comfort

Hotel Höfn is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Höfn. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Quality

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is a 4 star hotel located right between Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Ocean or mountain views. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 4 - The Eastern Fjords




The driving on day four will take you on a rollercoaster ride around the rolling hills and seemingly countless fjords of the eastern coastline. Each fjord seems to have its own soul and spirit, and each promises to take your breath away. The great Vatnajökull glacier lies to the west, visible when you cross over the high mountain ridges as you make your way north. The many idyllic fishing villages en route make for perfect little rest stops, and grant you many opportunities to learn a little more about Icelandic history and culture. 

The East Fjords are also home to some of the greatest diversity of wildlife in the county. They have many incredible bird-watching sites and seal colonies, and the east is the only place in the country where you can spot herds of wild reindeer.

You'll stay overnight in the 'eastern capital', Egilsstaðir, or one of the nearby villages.


Preferred accommodation by Egilsstaðir

Egilsstaðir Budget

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

Egilsstaðir Comfort

Lake Hotel Egilsstaðir is a 3 star hotel located in a short walking distance from the centre of Egilsstaðir but also right by the lake. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Spa on site for additional price. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Egilsstaðir Quality

Icelandair Hotel Hérað is a 3 star hotel centrally located within Egilsstaðir town. Bright, private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included, with focus on local ingredients.


Day 5 - A Day at Lake Mývatn




On day five, you will head to the renowned Lake Mývatn. It is highly recommended to take a drive through the Jökulsárgljúfur part of Vatnajökull National Park on the way, visiting the incredible Ásbyrgi canyon, and Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

The Lake Mývatn area is simply stunning. It is known for its geothermal landscapes, including the Námaskarð Pass, the Skútustaðagígar pseudo-craters, the Dimmuborgir lava formations and Mt. Krafla, one of Iceland’s most visited volcanoes.

You can join a whale watching tour at the nearby village of Húsavík, known as the whale-watching capital of Europe, and even upgrade it to a rib boat tour to fit in some puffin watching as well. Skjálfandi bay is a very reliable place to observe the magnificent humpback whale feeding.

Later on, take a dip in the soothing geothermal waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths; it is the perfect way to relax after a full day of sightseeing. Afterwards, continue to the 'capital of the north', Akureyri, where you will spend the night.


Preferred accommodation by Akureyri

Akureyri Budget

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

Akureyri Comfort

Hotel Norðurland is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Akureyri. Spacious and bright private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Akureyri Quality

Icelandair Hotel Akureyri (Deluxe room) is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Akureyri, right next to the swimming pool. Private bedroom with a living room area and a private bathroom. Great views from the 5th floor. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 6 - Goðafoss Falls - Tröllaskagi Peninsula




On day six, spend the morning enjoying Akureyri, a charming town with plenty of unique shops and museums. It also has one of the world's northernmost botanical gardens, which is well worth a stroll through. Once you have made the most of the town, set out to explore the Tröllaskagi peninsula. You can also opt into a whale watch on this day.

Continuing towards Skagafjörður, a valley known for its abundance of Icelandic horses (where you can take another horse-ride), you will pass through the beautiful mountainous area of Tröllaskagi, the old herring-fishing village of Siglufjörður, and Hofsós, where you can enjoy the gorgeous scenery while you relax in the town’s thermal pool.

Spend the night in the vicinity of Blönduós.


Preferred accommodation by Blönduós

Blönduós Budget

Blanda Hostel is centrally located within Blönduós town in north Iceland. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom, lounge and kitchen. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast not included.

Blönduós Comfort

Hotel Blanda is centrally located within Blönduós town in north Iceland with a view towards Blanda river and the sea. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast is included.

Blönduós Quality

Hotel Laugarbakki (Superior room) is a 3 star hotel situated in the countryside south of the town Hvammstangi with a view over nearby river. Spacious private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to outside hot tubs and an indoor gym. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 7 - Landscapes of the Ring Road




On day seven, explore West Iceland with its diverse attractions, including the Icelandic Settlement Centre in Borgarnes, which details the history of the settlement of our nation, and Deildartunguhver, the largest hot spring in Europe. Further along, be sure to visit the captivating Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls.

History buffs may also enjoy a detour to Snorrastofa, the medieval research institute in Reykholt, where Iceland´s most famous poet, politician, and historian, Snorri Sturluson, wrote the saga Heimskringla in the 13th century. He is also the author of the bible of old Norse mythology, Edda.

If you have time, you can also opt for an exciting caving tour at the Viðgelmir lava tubes, or adventure into the incredible, man-made Langjökull ice caves. You can even take an 'into the volcano' tour, where you descend into the colourful magma chamber of Þríhnúkagígur.

On the way back to Reykjavik, take a short break at Fossatún, a waterfall said to be guarded by a troll woman named Drifa, before spending another night in the capital.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík budget

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

Reykjavík Comfort

The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 8 - Farewell to Iceland & Departure




Drop off your car at Keflavík airport in time for your departure. If you are lucky enough to be taking an afternoon or evening flight, you can fit in one last fantastic Icelandic experience - a revitalising visit to the world famous Blue Lagoon spa.

If you didn't visit the Blue Lagoon on your first day, then it is a great way to end your Icelandic adventure. The geothermal water is rich in minerals, giving it a turquoise glow, as well as many reputed health properties. 

If you did visit on your first day, then you can explore the many geological wonders of the Reykjanes peninsula, or simply do some last-minute shopping in Reykjavík.


Accommodation

See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Single person bookings will be arranged in a single room, while bookings of 2 or more people will share twin/double room(s) or triple room(s). Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available hotels and guesthouses 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. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. The sooner you reserve the higher quality accommodation we can provide. Press choose a date at the top to find availability.

Budget

Rooms with shared bathrooms in farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.

Comfort

Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.

Quality

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.


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.


Map


Reviews

Average rating 4.9 / Number of reviews 7

Iceland is incredible and this road trip helps you experience the unique sides of the country. Thank you to our service agent Olafur who helped with every detail. Guide to Iceland is a very professional company that cares about its customers and reputation. If we ever visit Iceland again we will use their service without hesitation.

Great adventure on a magnificent island. Would definitely do again given the chance. Planning was flawless and itinerary was a mix of exciting activities and relaxing days of sightseeing, exactly like what we were hoping for. You can book with these guys with closed eyes.

By far the best time of our lives. We had 8 days of incredible fun. Pickup from the airport was perfect and the tour overall was extremely well planned. They showed some off the beaten path places that no other tourists were visiting at the time we were there. We were very grateful they put in that extra detail for us. Can highly recommond this company.

We had an awesome trip in Iceland! Guide to Iceland was an amazing help during the planning process. Knowing that all of our hotels and tours were booked was a huge relief when we arrived. Thanks Guide to Iceland for all your help! I will definitely recommend your company to anyone I know that is travelling to Iceland!

We had a wonderful time. The tour info that was provided was very helpful & mostly well planned out though I would have preferred our 4th day to be a little easier - there was a lot of driving involved. Our hotel in Hofn wasn't really in Hofn & that threw off our timing a bit. It was a little difficult to fit in all the things we wanted to do, so we had to do some prioritizing, but all in all it was excellent. The 2.5 hr glacier hike was really fun. Our category 3 hotels were generally very good, & our car rental was very easy. The Blue Lagoon was another highlight that we thoroughly enjoyed. Our tour operator contact person was always very responsive via email to the many questions I had during the planning stage of the trip. I think a 1 night hotel stay in the Myvatn Lake area & a 1 night stay in Akureyri might have made the driving more manageable too, rather than the 2 nights in Akureyri.

The views in Iceland are fabulous. The tour is also very helpful in terms of cal rental and hotel bookings. Just one thing to improve in the future: the tour put us on a glacier walk on the second day, together with the golden circle visits on the same day. This is too rush in time arrangement, and we were not booked on the Sólheimajökull glacier tour but another smaller glacier tour. And we did not have time to go to see the beautiful northwest part of the island, but this is mostly because of our time limit. Otherwise the tour was quite great and provided us with a lot of convenience.

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