8 Day Self Drive Budget Tour | Around Iceland and the Golden Circle

8 Day Self Drive Budget Tour | Around Iceland and the Golden Circle
This exciting eight day adventure takes you around the island to see all the best sights including the Golden Circle, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and the Mývatn region in the North of Iceland.
Vestrahorn is widely considered to be one of Iceland's most dramatic mountain ranges, making for truly spectacular landscape photographs.
Dyrhólaey is of volcanic origin and was once a separate island off the mainland.
Where better to get a little romantic than in the soothing, warm and relaxing waters of the Blue Lagoon Spa?
Whatever the season, whatever the weather, Diamond Beach is one of Iceland's most magical spots for unique sightseeing.
Þingvellir National Park, Iceland's only UNESCO World Heritage site, and the birthplace of the Icelandic nation.
Based on 7 traveller reviews

Save money by booking this self-drive budget package, for the chance to spend the whole of eight days exploring the wonders of Iceland. This tour is perfect for anyone looking to control their own journey and go where the wind takes them, without being worried about tour buses or stress.

On this excursion, the one and only Ring Road of Iceland is your guide as you trail along the countryside to behold a myriad of natural wonders. You'll spend time in the bustling capital city of Reykjavík, as well as the 'capital of the North' Akureyri.

In between, you'll embark on a Golden Circle exploration, behold the marvels of Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon, visit the beautiful Lake Mývatn and see countless other natural wonders, waterfalls, volcanoes and coastal villages.

During the booking process, you also have the option of adding extra activities to your trip at a discounted price. These include hiking or snowmobiling on top of glaciers, joining the renowned Jökulsárlón Lagoon boat tours, go whale watching in Húsavík or get to know the Icelandic horse on riding tours through scenic landscapes.

Other possibilities are going snorkelling in a crystal-clear lake located in a fissure between two tectonic plates, venturing into the dark on a lava caving tour, go inside a glacier or descend into a dormant volcano of an otherworldly magma chamber. This is your journey, the choices are yours and the opportunities for adventure are limitless.

So don't hesitate in making use of this wonderfully extensive and economical package to get the most out of your stay on the island of ice and fire. Create your perfect adventure now and check availability for this tour by choosing a date.

Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: May. - Oct.
  • Duration: 8 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkelling, Caving, Snowmobile, Horse Riding, Whale Watching, Sightseeing, Boat Trip, Hot Spring Bathing, Cultural Activity, Bird watching, Ice Caving, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Attractions: Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, North Iceland, West Iceland , Reykjavík, Akureyri, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull, Mývatn, Dimmuborgir, Húsavík, Goðafoss, Dettifoss, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Eyjafjallajökull, Dyrhólaey, Þingvellir, Hraunfossar, Deildartunguhver, Strokkur, Reykjanes, Skaftafell, Þríhnúkagígur, Höfn, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Jökulsárgljúfur, Borgarnes, Langjökull, Vík í Mýrdal, Egilsstaðir, Siglufjörður, Blönduós, Kerið, Reynisdrangar, Námaskarð, Tröllaskagi, Víðgelmir, South Coast, Diamond Beach, Ring Road, East Fjords
Pickup information:
  • Pickup time : Flexible.

Your car will await you at Keflavík International Airport when you arrive. You will drop it off at Keflavík airport, too, when you depart from Iceland.
  • 7 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast not included, shared bathrooms; more detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 8 days (Toyota Aygo or similar, upgrades available)

  • CDW insurance for vehicle

  • GPS system

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

  • Taxes

  • Blue Lagoon entry ticket (can be added during booking process)

  • Fuel

  • Meals

What to bring:
  • Driver's licence

  • Warm and waterproof clothes

  • Swimsuit and towel

  • 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 - Reykjavík Arrival

Self Drive tours allow the holiday maker to keep a level of autonomy to their experience; you choose when and where you go, and in what time frame.

Welcome to Iceland. Your car will be waiting for you at the Keflavík International Airport, where your first task will be to drive through the incredible landscape of the Reykjanes Peninsula to reach your first destination of Reykjavík City.

If you wish to begin your journey with a soak in the world-famous Blue Lagoon, you'll find it en route nesting in the peninsula's lava field. The geothermal spa is in high demand, so it is recommended to reserve tickets in advance.

After arriving at your accommodation in Reykjavík, venture out and get to know the locals of this charming capital. Feel free to discover the gems of the city's centre; be it museums, galleries, cafés, bars or restaurants, before retreating for the night to gather strength for upcoming days ahead on the ring road.

Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Super Budget

Rooms or dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostel. Located in the capital region. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Breakfast not included.

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.

Day 2 - Golden Circle & South Coast Attractions

Strokkur (Icelandic for 'churn')  is classified as a fountain glacier.

Your second day begins with Iceland's number one sights; the Golden Circle route. It includes Þingvellir National Park, the geothermal valley of spouting geysers at Haukadalur and the magnificent Gullfoss Waterfall.

Þingvellir Park nests in the rift valley of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where you have the opportunity to join a snorkelling tour in the crystal clear waters of Silfra Fissure and swim between the two continents of Eurasia and North-America.

At Geysir geothermal area you'll find the geyser Strokkur, which erupts regularly, every 5-10 minutes. As this magnificent hot spring erupts, it creates a water column that can reach heights of 15-20 metres. 

Next up is the beautiful Gullfoss waterfall. There, you can opt to embark on a snowmobile excursion of Langjökull Glacier. You can also sign up for a horse riding tour and get to know the unique and friendly Icelandic horse.

You will then continue along the South Coast, where it comes highly recommended that you stop by the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss; two of the most visited falls in the country. These majestic cascades lie in the shadow of the Eyjafjallajökull glacial volcano.

Your destination today will be the coastal village Vík, home to the black beach Reynisfjara; beautiful to behold but dangerous to ascend because of the powerful currents of the North Atlantic Ocean.

No matter how you plan out your day, it is sure to be memorable. After a day of adventure, you'll spend the night at an accommodation in Vík.

Preferred accommodation by Vík

Vík Super Budget

Puffin Hostel is centrally located in Vík. Dorm accommodation with shared bathrooms and a common lounge area. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

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.

Day 3 - Nature Reserve Wonders | Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Diamond Beach is named as such thanks to the glittering, jewel like icebergs that wash up against the black sand.

On your third day, you will continue south-east to the nature preservation area Skaftafell, which belongs to the greater Vatnajökull National Park. There, an array of trails, tracks, sights and activities will be waiting for you.

You can hike up to Svartifoss waterfall and behold its unique black basalt rock wall, or embark on a glacier hike to stroll on top of an ice cap amidst snowy formations and glistening crevasses.

As you continue along the road, your next sight will surely be another highlight of your journey. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is where majestic icebergs float before drifting off to the ocean. Here you have the option of going on two different boat trips where you can sail among these icebergs and try to spot some resident seals.

Closeby is the Diamond Beach, where ice from the lagoon has washed up on shore to sparkle like gemstones in the sun. Your final destination will be the coastal village Höfn, where you will spend the night.

Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Super Budget

HI Hostel Höfn is located in Höfn township. Dormitory rooms with shared facilities. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Budget

Guesthouse Hvammur is located in the centre of Höfn town and a short drive from Vatnjökull National Park. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

Day 4 - The East Fjords

Puffins shed the colourful part of their bill once breeding season has come to an end.

On day four, it is time to leave the south coast behind and venture into the wild fjords of the East. The fjords might seem endless as you trail through them one by one, but each one is unique and sure to take your breath away.

You will cross steep mountain ridges and rolling hills, with Vatnajökull Glacier visible to your west as you head up north. The East Fjords are a home to wonderfully diverse wildlife, including roaming wild reindeer, seals and a myriad of birds.

This day belongs to nature, so take it all in as you follow your route to your eastern destination of Egilsstaðir; a charming town nesting by the banks of Lagarfljót River; home to a mystic lake monster.

You'll spend the night at an accommodation in said town.

Preferred accommodation by Egilsstaðir

Egilsstaðir Super Budget

Guesthouse Olga is a family run guesthouse centrally located in Egilsstaðir town. Access to terrace and garden. Private rooms with shared facilities. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Egilsstaðir Budget

Guesthouse Birta is family run guesthouse centrally located in the town of Egilsstaðir. Access to terrace and garden. Private rooms with shared facilities. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Day 5 - Lake Myvatn and the North

The Norwegian waterfal, Sarpefossen, outmatches Dettifoss in terms of average water flow, but is only about half the size.

On day five of your ring road adventure, you will get to know the North and its incredible wonders. For a real treat en route, drive through Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon to visit the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss.

Your next stop is at Lake Mývatn; a stunning area of geothermal activity and home to the pseudo-craters Skútustaðagígar; the pass of Námaskarð; Dimmuborgir, a citadel of mystic lava formations; and Mount Krafla, one of Iceland's most notable volcanoes.

After sightseeing in the otherworldly Mývatn area, you can relax in the geothermal waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths, to recharge before you continue on with your journey.

In the town of Húsavík, you have the option of leaving dry land to go whale watching in Skjálfandi Bay. If you upgrade to a RIB boat tour, you'll be treated to a close encounter with everybody's favourite bird; the Atlantic Puffin.

Finally, you will head on to the town of Akureyri where you will spend the night.

Preferred accommodation by Akureyri

Akureyri Super Budget

Akureyri HI Hostel is a short walk from Akureyri's town centre. Dormitory accommodation with shared bathrooms. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Akureyri Budget

Hrafinn Guesthouse is located in the centre of Akureyri town. Guests have access to a fully equipped kitchen and fully furnished terrace. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Day 6 - Capital of the North & Trollaskagi Peninsula

If an Icelandic horse ever leaves the country, they are forbidden to return in order to keep the breed wholesome and isolated.

On your sixth day, you will wake up in Akureyri and see why it's called 'Capital of the North' by the locals. Spend your morning exploring the many charms of this town, be it shops, buildings, museums, cafés or parks.

A whale watching tour can also be added on this day, this time from Akureyri harbour. Once you are ready to leave, set out to the Tröllaskagi Peninsula and continue towards Skagafjörður. You can also opt to start the day with a riding tour in the outskirts of Akureyri and enjoy the beautiful Eyjafjörður fjord.

Your journey will then lead you out along Tröllaskagi peninsula. You will pass through the mountainous vastness, visit the old fishing village of Siglufjörður and the tiny town Hofsós; home to the 'infinity pool' that the locals love so much.

You will eventually make your way to the vicinity of the town Blöndós where you will spend the night.

Preferred accommodation by Blönduós

Blönduós Super Budget

Mikligarður Guesthouse is located in the old center of Sauðárkrókur town. Private Bedroom with shared bathroom and a communal kitchenette. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Blönduós Budget

Mikligarður Guesthouse is located in the old center of Sauðárkrókur town. Free Wi-Fi. Private Bedroom with private bathroom and a communal kitchenette. Breakfast not included.

Day 7 - Landscapes of the West & Settlement History

Hraunfossar is only a stone's throw away from another beautiful waterfall, Barnafoss.

On day seven, explore the last corner of the island by venturing to the great West, home to such diverse attractions such as the Settlement Centre in Borgarnes and Deildartunguhver; the largest hot spring in all of Europe.

You should also be sure to pay a visit to the neighbouring waterfalls Hraunfossar and Barnafoss, uniquely different but only a stone's throw away from each other.

If history is your thing, take a detour to the medieval research facility at Snorrastofa; former home to renowned Saga writer, scholar and poet Snorri Sturluson. In the backyard nests Snorralaug; the oldest pool in Iceland.

If you feel like going underground, you have the option of going on a caving tour through the lava tubes of Víðgelmir or see the inside of a glacier in the man-made ice tunnels of Langjökull.

Then prepare to head back full circle to Reykjavík City, but not before stopping at Fossatún, a waterfall guarded by a troll woman according to ancient legends. When you reach the city, you can even choose to join some seasoned mountaineers and descend into the magma chamber of the volcanic crater Þríhnjúkagígur.

You'll spend your last night in the capital.

Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Super Budget

Rooms or dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostel. Located in the capital region. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Breakfast not included.

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.

Day 8 - Departure & Farewells

'The Sun Voyager' was officially unveiled on August 18th, 1990.

All adventures must end at some point, so make sure to drop off your car at Keflavík Airport in time for your flight home. Depending on your flight schedule, you can fit in some last-minute shopping in Reykjavík, explore the Reykjanes Peninsula further or visit the Blue Lagoon.

Gather your belongings and your newfound memories and leave the shores of Iceland for now, knowing that you just experienced all the wonders of the Ring Road.


See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Super budget level accommodations will be arranged in hostel dorm beds. Budget level bookings for one person will be arranged in single rooms, and bookings for two or more people will share a twin/double or triple room(s). Teenagers and children will be arranged in the same room with parents. If additional room(s) is needed, additional costs will incur. Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available accommodation at the time of your booking from our preferred partners. Please keep in mind that hotel quality in Iceland varies among locations and availability is highly limited. If our preferred partners are fully booked at the time of your booking, we will find another suitable accommodation for you of similar level. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. Press choose a date to find availability.

Super Budget

Dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels. Located in the region of the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.


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


Below you can see the car rental options available for this self-drive tour. All our vehicles are new or current models. Super budget 2WD vehicles are maximum 5 years of age, and come equipped with a GPS and standard CDW insurance. Budget 2WD and Comfort 4x4 level vehicles are maximum two years of age, and come equipped with a GPS, CDW, GP and SCDW insurances. You can also upgrade to an automatic model.

Super Budget

A small 2WD vehicle such as Toyota Aygo, Hyundai i10 or similar, fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions. Compact and comfortable for up to 2 travellers with very little luggage. No highland capabilities.


A basic 2WD vehicle such as VW Polo, Toyota Yaris or similar, suitable for travelling in everyday conditions. Comfortable for 3 travellers with light luggage. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities.

Comfort 4X4

A medium sized 4WD (4x4) jeep or SUV such as Toyota Rav4 or similar. Fit for most travel, and good for snow and off-asphalt driving. This vehicle has basic highland capabilities. Recommended.

Cancellation Insurance

This insurance guarantees that you can cancel the booking of this package and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost of 5,000 ISK per person.
The cancellation must be made within a minimum of 48-hours before the listed starting time. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact our service desk by writing to info@guidetoiceland.is no later than 48-hours before departure and declare the cancellation.
Please note that this insurance only covers the full cancellation of this entire package. It does not cover cancellations of individual activities and services within the package. The cost of the Cancellation Insurance is neither refundable nor transferable.



Verified reviews

Average4.47 reviews
All ratings
Edit review
Iceland has been the true highlight of all my travelling to date. The vast array of scenic landscapes from waterfalls to glaciers to volcanos and geysers. Around every corner lies more breathtaking scenery. The itinerary provided by Guide to Iceland captured all the key sites but also provided ample opportunities to explore sites beyond the itinerary. Having the key areas of the tour sorted out in advance by the wonderful Cátia removed the stress from the trip. The accommodation although basic was all of a high standard and very clean. The car provided as part of the hire was as good as new. I couldn’t recommend highly enough the service provided by Guide to Iceland. I have already encouraged friends and family to consider an Iceland adventure.
Edit review
I had an amazing experience with Guide to Iceland! Embla was great and booked all my hostels for me and I enjoyed every single one. I was given an itinerary for every day along with the extra excursion bookings. There was an explanation for all the places and I was able to skip and choose which one I wanted to go to depending on my mood and time. I found it very flexible! The best part of this was that I had someone already doing all my planning for me so all I had to do was arrive into Iceland. There was a printer friendly and PDF and mobile version of my itinerary so I could use any version. There were also GPS links that opens up into Google maps with each location so extremely useful! All in all, I definitely recommend this to all my friends and anyone that would consider a self guided tour.
Edit review
We just got back from an incredible time in Iceland! 8 days, 2700 KM, we saw most of the places we wanted to see. Every event and hotel was pre-booked; all we had to do was give our name - that was quite a relief! I wish we could have stayed longer Advice to anyone taking this or any of the tours: * Guide to Iceland does a great job of describing everything in the area, but some are out of order. Use a road trip planner (we used furcot.com) to lay out your route. You may need to move some of the stops around. * If you are visiting wildlife, check to see if they are still there. We drove 3 hours to see puffins that migrated a week before we got there :( * Use Google Map's Street view to see what your hotels look like. Makes them much easier to find, specially if you arrive after dark. * No one uses cash! Bring multiple credit cards, we found that when one wouldn't work, the other usually did. * Visit every YouTube and web site for what to bring and how to dress. Helped us immensely.
Loading best prices
Free pickup
No credit card fees
No booking fees