Best 1 Week Summer Self Drive Tour of the Ring Road of Iceland & Golden Circle
Book now and secure yourself an 8-day adventure to Iceland. Explore the stunning attractions of Iceland's South Coast, Eastfjords, North and West as you travel the full Ring Road. This road trip is for anyone who likes to discover new places at their own pace, rather than having tour guides in control.
Using the Ring Road as your guide, you'll see the most spectacular of the country's natural wonders and capital in eight days. This will include the capital city of Reykjavík, the world-famous Golden Circle sightseeing route, and Akureyri, 'the Capital of the North'. You'll also visit Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, the beautiful Lake Mývatn, the most stunning waterfalls, volcanoes, quaint rural towns, and countless other attractions.
During the booking process, you can also add some exciting activities to your trip. For instance, you can go snowmobiling on Langjökull glacier, hike on a glacier, or snorkel between two continents in Þingvellir National Park.
Nature enthusiasts should consider adding unique adventures to your trip. You can join the famous Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon boat tour, go whale watching from Húsavík town, ride an Icelandic horse through the rugged countryside, explore a lava caving, or venture inside the glistening white halls of a glacier. Each addition will leave you with incredible lifelong experiences from the land of fire and ice.
There is even the chance to descend into the vividly colored magma chamber of a sleeping volcano. And if you want to relax, you can book a trip to the world-famous Blue Lagoon, so you can bask in its soothing azure waters in the midst of a dramatic volcanic landscape.
We'll make sure to provide you with your personalized itinerary, which you'll receive upon booking. There you'll find many spots where you can be virtually alone, at incredible locations most visitors have never heard of. You'll also find in the itinerary information of your full comfort accommodation selections, which will include an ensuite bathroom and breakfast.
So don't hesitate, grab the wheel and grasp this unique opportunity for the perfect stay in Iceland. Explore the top attractions of the Ring Road as well its many hidden gems at your own pace.
Check availability by choosing a date and book your adventure to Iceland today.
Day 1 - Arrival in Reykjavik
Pick up your car at the international airport in Keflavík before driving through the lunar landscape of the Reykjanes peninsula to your accommodation in downtown 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.
After settling in at your hotel in Reykjavík, make the most of your proximity to the vibrant city center, and discover the multitude of museums, galleries, restaurants, and bars on offer. Spend your first night in this beautiful, quirky city.
Day 2 - Golden Circle and South Coast
Day two sends you to some of the best-known natural phenomena in Iceland via the sightseeing route known as the Golden Circle.
The first stop is Þingvellir National Park. Here, you can walk along the rift valley of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an area that also 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.
In this beautiful park, you can opt for a snorkeling tour into the Silfra fissure, a crystal-clear ravine of incredible underwater vistas 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 puts on an unforgettable display every 10 minutes or so, erupting to heights that exceed 66 ft (20 m).
Just a few kilometers 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 snorkeling tour nor a snowmobiling tour appeals to you, you may instead opt for a horse ride in the surrounding South Iceland nature.
Another popular sight of the area is the volcanic crater Kerið, which is well worth a visit before continuing to the South Coast. The rocks of this crater are colored rusty red and fiery orange, and the water that permanently sits within its basin is an incredible, vivid blue. The color contrast, especially when you add green-growing moss, is simply 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 behind its curtain of water. A little further down the road is the mesmerizing and mighty Skógafoss waterfall, a roaring beast with a 60 m (197 ft) drop and a width nearly half its height.
Along the coast near the village Vík, take a slight detour to stop and admire the black volcanic beach Reynisfjara, the dramatic Dyrhólaey rock arch, and the eerie Reynisdrangar sea stacks. However, be very careful of the ocean as the waves along this stretch of coast are notoriously unpredictable and dangerous―all part of the allure of traveling in Iceland.
At the end of your first-rate second day, you'll spend the night in Vík.
Day 3 - Skaftafell Glaciers - Diamond Beach
Get ready to head to the beautiful Skaftafell Nature Reserve within the greater Vatnajökull National Park on day three. You can choose to start your day with a visit to the natural ice cave within Mýrdalsjökull glacier. These are the only natural ice caves accessible outside the winter season, so don't miss the opportunity to visit.
In Skaftafell, you can spend your time taking in the many stunning sights and exciting activities that are available. If you enjoy hiking, you will find countless scenic trails and tracks here suitable for all levels of mobility and experience, including one that leads to the beautiful Svartifoss waterfall. It is also possible to snap on some crampons and opt for a glacier hike.
Continuing your road trip, you'll find yourself by one of Iceland's most famous and dazzling attractions, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Here, you can embark on an optional cruise on the water, bringing your closer to serene floating icebergs of all shapes and sizes, onboard either an amphibious boat or a zippy zodiac.
However, even from the shore, the lagoon is stunning, and you have a good chance to see seals playing amongst the ice. After you have enjoyed the lagoon, take the short walk to the nearby Diamond Beach, where many ice-flows wash up on the shore and sparkle like gemstones in the sun.
Then, drive a little further ahead, and spend the night in the charming town of Höfn.
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 Iceland's eastern coastline. Each fjord seems to have its own soul and spirit, as 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 get to know the locals and 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.
Day 5 - A Day at Lake Myvatn
On day five, you will head north 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 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 iconic 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 in the shallows.
Later on, take a dip in the soothing geothermal waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths―the perfect way to relax after a full day of sightseeing. Afterward, continue to the charming 'capital of the north', Akureyri, where you will spend the night.
Day 6 - Trollaskagi Peninsula
On day six, spend the morning enjoying Akureyri, a charismatic town hosting many 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, home to Iceland's tallest mountains outside the central Highlands. You can also opt into a whale watch if you skipped it the day before.
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 geothermal infinity pool.
Spend the night in the vicinity of Sauðárkrókur.
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 land, and Deildartunguhver, the hot spring with the highest flow 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 Viking 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, the Edda.
If you have the time, you can also opt for an exciting caving tour at the Víðgelmir lava tubes or adventure into the incredible, man-made Langjökull ice tunnels. You can even take an 'into the volcano' tour, where you descend into the colorful magma chamber of Þríhnúkagígur.
On your way back to Reykjavík, take a short break at Fossatún, a waterfall said to be guarded by a troll woman named Drífa, before spending your last night in the capital.
Day 8 - Farewell to Iceland & Departure
Drop off your car at Keflavík airport in time for your departure. 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.
Alternatively, you can explore the many geological wonders of the Reykjanes peninsula or simply indulge in some last-minute shopping in Reykjavík.
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.
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.
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.