8 Day Budget Self Drive Tour of the Complete Ring Road of Iceland & the Golden Circle
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 journey and go where the wind takes them without worrying 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 Reykjavik, as well as the 'capital of the North' Akureyri.
In between, you'll embark on a Golden Circle exploration, behold the marvels of Eastfjords, visit the beautiful Lake Myvatn, and see countless waterfalls, volcanoes, and coastal villages.
During the booking process, you also have the option of adding extra activities to your trip. These include hiking or snowmobiling on top of glaciers, joining the renowned Jokulsarlon Lagoon boat tours, going whale watching in Husavik, or getting to know the Icelandic horse on riding tours through scenic landscapes.
Other possibilities are going snorkeling in a crystal-clear lake located in a fissure between two tectonic plates, venturing into the dark on a lava caving tour, going inside a glacier, or descending into a dormant volcano of an otherworldly magma chamber.
Don't hesitate! Make use of this wonderfully extensive and economical package to get the most out of your stay on the island of ice and fire. Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Reykjavík Arrival
Welcome to Iceland. Your car will be waiting for you at Keflavik International Airport, where your first task will be to drive through the incredible landscape of the Reykjanes Peninsula to reach your first destination of Reykjavik.
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 arriving at your accommodation in Reykjavik, venture out and get to know the locals of this charming capital. Feel free to discover the gems of the city's center, be it museums, galleries, cafés, bars, or restaurants, before retiring for the night.
Day 2 - Golden Circle & South Coast Attractions
Your second day begins with Iceland's number one sightseeing route, the Golden Circle. This trail includes Thingvellir National Park, the geysers at Haukadalur, and the magnificent Gullfoss Waterfall.
Thingvellir Park nests in the valley of the Mid-Atlantic Rift and has spectacular nature and history. While here, you have the opportunity to join a snorkeling tour in the crystal clear waters of Silfra Fissure and swim between the continents of Eurasia and North America.
Meanwhile, at the Geysir Geothermal Area, you'll find the geyser of Strokkur, which erupts regularly every 5 to 10 minutes. As this magnificent hot spring erupts, it creates a water column that can reach 49 to 66 ft (15 to 20 m).
Next up is the beautiful Gullfoss waterfall, renowned for its power and majesty. If you did not choose to snorkel, you could embark on a snowmobile excursion of Langjokull Glacier from here. 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 you will stop by the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. These two majestic cascades are 197 ft (60 m) tall each and lie in the shadow of the Eyjafjallajokull glacial volcano.
Your destination today will be the coastal village Vik, home to the black beach Reynisfjara. This shore is beautiful to behold but impossible to swim off because of the powerful currents of the North Atlantic Ocean. Its geology is also fascinating.
No matter how you plan out your day, it is sure to be memorable. You'll spend the night at an accommodation in Vik.
Day 3 - Nature Reserve Wonders | Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
On your third day, you will continue south-east to the nature preserve of Skaftafell, which belongs to the Vatnajokull National Park. An array of trails, sights, and activities will be waiting for you here.
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 following site will be just as impressive. The Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is where majestic icebergs float before drifting to the ocean, filling a vast lake and gleaming with beauty. 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.
Close by 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 Hofn, where you will spend the night.
Day 4 - The East Fjords
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 Vatnajokull Glacier visible to the west as you wind up north. The East Fjords are 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 Egilsstadir, a charming town resting by the banks of Lake Lagarfljot.
You'll spend the night at an accommodation here.
Day 5 - Lake Myvatn and the North
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 to the Jokulsargljufur Canyon to visit the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss.
Your next stop is Lake Myvatn, a stunning area of geothermal activity. Notably, it is home to the pseudocraters Skutustadagigar, the pass of Namaskard, Dimmuborgir, a citadel of mystic lava formations, and Mount Krafla, one of Iceland's most notable volcanoes.
After sightseeing in the otherworldly Myvatn area, you can relax in the geothermal waters of the Myvatn Nature Baths to recharge before you continue with your journey.
In the town of Husavik, you have the option of leaving dry land to go whale watching in Skjalfandi Bay. If you upgrade to a RIB boat tour, you'll get an even closer encounter with Iceland's gentle giants and everybody's favorite bird, the Atlantic puffin.
Finally, you will head on to the town of Akureyri, where you will spend the night.
Day 6 - Capital of the North & Trollaskagi Peninsula
On your sixth day, you will wake up in Akureyri and see why it's called the 'Capital of the North' by the locals. Spend your morning exploring the many charms of this town, be it the local shops, buildings, museums, cafés, or parks.
A whale watching tour can also be added on this day, this time from Akureyri harbor. You can alternatively embark on a riding tour in the outskirts of Akureyri and enjoy the beautiful Eyjafjordur fjord. Once you are ready to drive on, set out to the Trollaskagi Peninsula and continue towards Skagafjordur.
You will pass through mountainous landscapes, visit the old fishing village of Siglufjordur, and stop at the tiny town Hofsos before you reach Saudarkrokur. You will spend the night here.
Day 7 - Landscapes of the West & Settlement History
Explore the last corner of the island on day seven by venturing to the great West, home to diverse attractions including the Settlement Centre in Borgarnes and Deildartunguhver, the largest hot spring in Europe.
You should also pay a visit to the neighboring 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, the 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 an adventure, you have two options for an underground trip. You could go on a caving tour through the lava tubes of Vidgelmir or see the inside of a glacier in the artificial ice tunnels of Langjokull.
You will then begin your journey back to Reykjavik, but not before stopping at Fossatun, a waterfall guarded by a troll woman according to ancient legends. When you reach the city, you can even choose a final excursion and descend into the magnificent magma chamber of the volcanic crater of Thrihnjukagigur.
Day 8 - Departure & Farewells
All adventures must end at some point, so make sure to drop off your car at Keflavik Airport in time for your flight home. 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 spa is the perfect place to relax as you bathe in the warm, mineral-rich waters and look back on the incredible adventure you have just taken in the land of fire and ice.
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. 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.
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, 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 (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.