8 Day Summer Self-Drive | Deep into the South Coast of Iceland with a Taste of Highlands

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Perfect travel plan
Fully customizable
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Tour starts
Iceland, Flexible
Duration
8 days
Available
Jun. - Oct.

Discover Iceland on your own terms with this fantastic 8-Day Summer Self Drive tour, exploring some of Iceland’s most beautiful regions, including the South Coast and the Icelandic Central Highlands. Those wanting to relax and fully unravel each of Iceland’s impressive natural features should not let this opportunity pass them by.

Both the South Coast and the Central Highlands are widely considered to be two of Iceland’s most picturesque regions, characterised by their towering cliff sides, cascading waterfalls and mountainous peaks, all illuminated under the omnipresent Midnight Sun.

Throughout the eight days, you travel to some of the most stunning natural vistas you’ve ever laid eyes on, with stops at Reynisfjara black-sand beach, Skaftafell Nature Reserve and “the Crown Jewel of Iceland”, Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. You will also have the opportunity to see two of Iceland’s National Parks, Þingvellir and Vatnajökull, as well as a take a day tour of the moody Central Highlands.

Self-drive customers are blessed with a number of unique benefits. For starters, they are able to set their own pace whilst touring, as they are without the pressure of tour groups or guides. They can also customise their pre-arranged itinerary, choosing only the attractions and activities that interest them and add on tours such as a glacier hike or an ice climb, a visit to an ice cave or a helicopter excursion.

Self-drive customers will also have 24/7 contact with a personal travel agent who can provide relevant information and answer any queries you may have along the way. This tour is also beneficial thanks to the fact that, for the vast duration, you will spending 2 nights in a row at each of your accommodations.

So what are you waiting for? Hurry now and you too can experience eight days of delight on this summer Self-Drive tour to the South Coast and Central Highlands of Iceland. Check availability by choosing a date.

Included

7 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)
Vehicle for 8 days (Toyota Aygo or similar, upgrades available)
CDW insurance for super budget level vehicle; other levels also include SCDW and gravel protection insurances
GPS system
Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland
Personal travel agent
Taxes

Activities

Glacier Hiking
Snorkelling
Caving
Hiking
Snowmobile
Super Jeep
Horse Riding
Whale Watching
Sightseeing
Boat Trip
Hot Spring Bathing
Cultural Activity
Helicopter
Ice Caving
Self drive
Paragliding

Attractions

Golden Circle
Reykjavík
Jökulsárlón
Vatnajökull
Landmannalaugar
Skógafoss
Seljalandsfoss
Gullfoss
Þingvellir
Katla
Reykjanes
Skaftafell
Silfra
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Vík í Mýrdal
Esjan
Haukadalur
South Coast
Diamond Beach

Daily itinerary

Day 1
Reykjavík has a multitude of sights and attractions, such as The Sun Voyager sculpture.

Arrival & Car Pick Up

Welcome to your first day in Iceland, and the beginning of your Self-Drive adventure. After landing at Keflavík International Airport, on the Reykjanes Peninsula, you will need to pick up your most valuable piece of equipment for your trip; the rental car! Make sure not to forget your driver’s license.

Once you have picked up your vehicle, you will begin the short journey to Iceland's quintessential capital city, Reykjavík, the northernmost capital in the world.

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 colours 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 arrived in the city, you will check in to your accommodation and prepare for the exciting days ahead. Why not check out Reykjavík’s vibrant nightlife, take a stroll in downtown or even check out some of the city’s landmarks, such as Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran Church and Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre?

Day 2
Þingvellir  is an important cultural site to the Icelandic people, and is often considered the place where the nation was born.

Golden Circle Sightseeing

Today, you will partake in Iceland’s most popular sightseeing route, the Golden Circle—comprised of Þingvellir National Park, Haukadalur Geothermal Valley and Gullfoss Waterfall—or, alternatively, spend the day exploring the city.

The first stop of the Golden Circle is Þingvellir National Park where Iceland's parliament, Alþingi, was formed in 930 AD. The area’s geology is also astounding; it is one of the only places on the planet where it is possible to see both the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates standing exposed from the earth.

At Þingvellir, it is possible to add on a snorkelling tour in Silfra Fissure. This glacial ravine boasts nearly 100 metres visibility and is often cited as one of the top ten snorkelling and scuba diving sites worldwide. 

The next stop on the Golden Circle is Haukadalur geothermal valley, home to the famed hot springs, Strokkur and Geysir. Strokkur erupts every five to ten minutes, shooting jets of boiling water high into the air. While waiting to photograph this eruption, guests are advised to check out some of the other forty steaming fumaroles and volcanic vents that can be found in the area.

The final stop of the Golden Circle is Gullfoss, widely considered to be the country’s most beautiful waterfall. Here, guests will watch in awe as roaring glacial water cascades over two rocky steps, dropping 32 metres into the rocky canyon below.

From the carpark at Gullfoss, it is possible to upgrade your tour once again with a snowmobiling tour on Langjökull glacier. Not only will such an experience provide another level of adventure and excitement to your day, but you will also get to see one of this country’s glaciers up close, as well as experience the incredible vistas as seen from above.

This evening, you will be spending the night at accommodation in Hella or Hvolsvollur.

Day 3
The Icelandic Central Highlands are only accessible during the warm summer months.

Discovering the Icelandic Highlands

Today, you will be entering the mystic and majestic central highlands of Iceland. Landmannalaugar ("Pools of the People”) is a hiking paradise. This stunning mountainous region is only accessible in the summer months due to the quality of the area’s gravel roads and the severity of the weather in winter.

For seasoned drivers, you can opt to drive to the Landmannalaugar base camp on your own. Keep in mind that you need a sturdy 4X4 vehicle to reach here by the mountain roads.

Or you can choose to let the experienced locals take the drive while you can save the energy for the hike. A simple bus transfer will pick you up from the designated meeting point closeby and take you to the basecamp of Landmannalaugar on a 4X4 highland bus. The hike is not guided and you can enjoy the freedom to explore on your own within the allowed time frame.

Alternatively, you could choose a more intimate Super Jeep tour to drive you into the kaleidoscopic, rhyolite hillsides of Landmannalaugar. The knowledgeable guide will lead the hike and share numerous stories and knowledge of the region. You will have a good amount of time to appreciate this rich and diverse scenery.

You will be spending the night at the same accommodation as the previous day.

Day 4
Seljalandsfoss is just one of the many hundreds of waterfalls found on Iceland's South Coast.

Highlights of the South Coast

The South Coast of Iceland is one of the most popular sightseeing strips in the country. Not only will you visit the natural gems, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, and Reynisfjara black sand beach, but you will also have the chance to add on extra activities; ice caving, ice climbing or glacier hiking.

Seljalandsfoss will the first stop of the day. This 60-metre high feature sees water tumbling over the lip of a towering cliff face into a small pool below. Seljalandfoss is a rare example of an Icelandic waterfall that can be walked directly behind, making for some truly unique photographs. Skógafoss, a little further up the road, is the same height, but much wider. Visitors here can climb the adjacent staircase to gain a number of perspectives of this incredible waterfall.

Further along the coast, you will come across the scenic fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal, an excellent spot to grab some lunch and even do a little souvenir shopping. Right next to the village, you will be able to visit Reynisfjara black sand beach, as known for its dark volcanic sand as it is the strange hexagonal basalt stacks imprinted into the near cliffs.

As aforementioned, it is possible to upgrade the day with some authentic, frosty activity. One option might be to try your hand at glacier hiking at Sólheimajökull glacier, offering you the chance to experience the joys and challenges of ascending an ice cap.

Alternatively, you could pay a visit to Katla Ice Cave, the only ice cave in Iceland accessible during the summer months. Stepping inside of these subterranean caverns is one of the surest ways to gain valuable insight into the geological upbringing that has come to sculpt this island.

You will be spending the evening at accommodation in the Kirkjubæjarklaustur area.

Day 5
 Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon is often described as the 'Crown Jewel of Iceland'.

Vatnajokull National Park & Jokusarlon Glacial Lagoon 

Today, you will be experiencing the scenic pleasures of Vatnajökull National Park, found further down along the South Coast and named after the glacier that dominates the landscape. The day is scheduled for some truly miraculous sightseeing, though there are upgrades available for those who wish to partake in adventure tours. 

For instance, those who have yet to experience the adrenaline surge that comes with hiking on Iceland's glaciers, today presents the opportunity to do so in Skaftafell Nature Reserve. 

Your final stop of the day is widely considered to be Iceland's most beautiful natural attraction, a glacial lagoon called Jökulsárlón. Here, enormous icebergs float peacefully beside one another, making their way gradually to the open Atlantic Ocean. Whilst here, it is entirely up to you whether you'd like to appreciate the lagoon from the shoreline or upgrade with either a speedy Zodiac or a slower Amphibian boat tour.

Boat tours take you right up to the icebergs, putting them into scale as you gaze up the gargantuan glacier above you. Boat trips also provide a new perspective of the resident seals who call the lagoon home— these curious little guys make a regular appearance here, so keep your eyes peeled!

A short walk from Jökulsárlón is a stretch of black sand shoreline decorated with hundreds of washed-up icebergs called the Diamond Beach. This area is particularly exciting for nature enthusiasts and photographers who will be eager to capture the stark contrasts between the dark volcanic sand and the pale blue of the ice. 

This evening, you will be staying at the same accommodation as the previous night. 

Day 6
Thrihnukagigur volcano is the only volcano worldwide that you can enter into its magma chambers.

Back To The Capital

Now it’s time to drive back to Reykjavík—that’s not to say a lot of fun cannot be had on the way, however. Given that the default action on your itinerary today is sightseeing, you’re free to stop off as you choose, personalising your adventure in Iceland even more.

There are, however, added upgrades available for those who like to fill their day with truly unique experiences. For example, on your return journey, you could stop off for a tandem paragliding flight, soaring over the South Coast and seeing its attractions like never before!

Don’t worry if you’ve never tried paragliding before—throughout the tour, you will be fastened securely to a qualified and experienced guide. All you have to do is relax, glide like a bird and have the time of your life.

Alternatively, if you as of yet have to experience the inside of a volcano, you can join the afternoon departure of the said tour as you approach the capital. The dormant caldera of Þríhnúkagígur volcano is embellished with colour and fantastical rock formations, making stepping inside all the more unique. 

That evening, you are free to enjoy the city as you see fit. You will be staying in local accommodation.

Day 7
Þríhnúkagígur is a dormant volcano in Iceland, having not erupted since the second century BC.

Free day in Reykjavik 

Today, the city is your oyster! Now that you're back to civilisation after your six days of adventure, its time to soak in some culture, basking in Reykjavík's vibrant social and arts scenes. One of the best ways to maximise today is to purchase a 24-Hour Reykjavík City Card, allowing you free access to numerous exhibitions, institutions and all public transport, as well providing discounts on shopping and dining. 

Thankfully, there are a wealth of galleries and museums in the city, such as the National Gallery of Iceland/Listasafn Íslands, The National Museum of Iceland or Whales of Iceland, to name only a few. You may also wish to pay a visit to the Settlement Exhibition where you can gain a deeper insight into this country's rich and fascinating history, or alternatively, spend a few hours learning about Iceland's fishing heritage at the Maritime Museum. 

If instead, you would like to fill your day partaking in tours from the city, you could opt in for an afternoon helicopter tour, flying out from Reykjavík Domestic Airport to make a landing on a nearby mountain peak. Seeing Reykjavík and its surroundings from the air is a true marvel, packed with adrenaline, and is sure to be one of the highlights of your holiday.

Alternatively, you could check out the man-made ice tunnel that has been built under Langjökull glacier, providing great insight into the strange, glittering and subterranean world of Iceland's ice caps. This is a relatively new attraction in Iceland but has already been met with much acclaim from visitors and locals alike. 

Nighttime in Reykjavík sees the city's bars and music scene come alive, with happy hours prices overlapping with live performances across downtown. Whatever your taste, be it blues, hip-hop or classical, you'll find something to your liking! If painting the town red is not your thing, the city is perfect for a quiet midnight stroll, boasting quaint inner-city parks and "The Pond", Lake Tjörnin. 

For your final night in Reykjavík, you will be staying in the same accommodation as the previous night, saving you the hassle of having to pack up and switch locations

Day 8
We hope that you've had an incredible stay in Iceland and we look forward to seeing you again.

Departure & Car Drop-Off

It’s your final day in Iceland and its time to say goodbye... at least for now!

If you’ve got some time to spare before your flight, you may wish to have a final appreciation of the city before beginning the journey across Reykjanes to Keflavík International Airport.

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. This might be your last opportunity to fit in some final activities, so make the most of the chance—why not take a short hike up the nearby Mt. Esja, try some of the city's most beloved cafes, or even pack in some final souvenir shopping?

We hope you’ve had a fantastic time in Iceland, and we look forward to seeing you next time.

If you have an early flight back home, we wish you a pleasant journey.

Map

What to bring

Warm and waterproof clothes
Good waterproof shoes
Swimsuit and Towel
Camera
Driving lisence

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 need either 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 snorkelling.

Wearing cotton or jeans as the outer layer during your trip to the Þríhnjúkagígur volcano tour is not allowed. Please wear suitable waterproof clothes and sturdy hiking shoes for this trip. It’s always the same temperature inside the crater – about 5–6°C (42–43°F). The Þríhnjúkagígur volcano tour involves a hike of approximately 3 km (2 miles) each way. The walk usually takes around 45–50 minutes (depending on the condition of people in the group). A guide will be with you at all times during the walk.

Although it is summertime, the Icelandic weather can be very unpredictable. Please bring appropriate clothing.

Accommodation

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.

Super Budget

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

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

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.

Super Budget 2WD

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.

Budget 2WD

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.

Budget 4x4

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.

Comfort 4x4

A medium sized 4WD (4x4) jeep or SUV such as a Toyota Rav4, or similar. Comfortably fit up to 4 travellers 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.

Luxury 4x4

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.

Van

A large 9-seater van such as a Renault Trafic (2WD manual), Mercedes Benz Vito (4WD automatic, has highland capabilities and better suited for winter driving), or similar. Comfortable for 5 to 7 travellers. If seated full, luggage space is limited. The driver must be of 23 years of age or above.

Meals

You can now add meals to your booking. Select to include dinner on every night as an optional extra, and we will provide you with vouchers as part of your booking confirmation. We will choose from top-rated restaurants that fit with your vacation itinerary and make your reservations for you. At the restaurant, you will be offered a set menu, from which you can choose from meat, fish or vegetarian options. If you would prefer something else, the voucher will act as a credit that you can redeem at the restaurant against menu items that are not part of the set menu. Please notify the restaurant on arrival about any dietary requirements. Vouchers are non-refundable.

Cancellation Insurance

This insurance guarantees that you can cancel tour and package bookings and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost. The cost of your cancellation insurance depends on the duration of your tour or package. A base cost of 5,000 ISK per person is applied to all tours and packages with a duration of 5 days or less. An additional 1,000 ISK per person will be added to the insurance cost for each day after. The cancellation must be made more than 48 hours before the listed starting time on your voucher. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact info@guidetoiceland.is and declare full cancellation. Please note that this insurance covers the cancellation of the whole tour or package. Individual services cannot be cancelled and refunded separately, but are all covered and refunded in case of a full cancellation.

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