Amazing 8 Day Summer Self Drive Holiday on Iceland’s South Coast with a Taste of the Highlands
Discover Iceland on your own terms with this fantastic eight-day summer self-drive tour, exploring some of Iceland's most beautiful regions, including the South Coast, Golden Circle, and the Icelandic Highlands. Those wanting to enjoy Iceland's impressive natural features and exciting adventures should take advantage of this opportunity.
Throughout the eight days, you drive yourself to some of the world's most stunning natural attractions and landscapes, following an itinerary crafted for you by a local expert. This self-drive tour provides you with everything you need for the holiday of a lifetime, including your car rental, car insurance, and accommodation.
This itinerary arranges two nights in a row at each of your hotels for most of the trip, making it more relaxed.
On this eight-day adventure, you'll visit some of Iceland's most famous traveler trails, the Golden Circle and South Coast, and some of its lesser-known gems, like the untouched Central Highlands and hidden hot spring bathing opportunities.
Your stops include the Reynisfjara black-sand beach, the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon, and two of Iceland's national parks, Thingvellir and Vatnajokull. As this is a summer tour, you'll travel under the midnight sun, allowing you to sightsee from early morning to late at night.
Self-drive travelers 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. As such, you'll be cared for from the moment you land at the Keflavik International Airport to when you leave.
Another great benefit of a self-drive tour in Iceland is that you get to set your own pace and don't need to worry about the needs of other travelers. Your only obligations are reaching your accommodations each night and any excursions you book online each day.
Speaking of excursions, you can also customize your pre-arranged itinerary and add tours such as glacier hiking, snorkeling between the tectonic plates, visiting an ice cave, or a helicopter excursion.
Planning such an incredible holiday to Iceland can be a hassle alone, with the opportunity to miss out on key attractions and great deals. By booking this self-drive package, you can remove all the stress from planning your vacation and still receive a personalized, unforgettable adventure.
So what are you waiting for? Hurry now, and you too can experience eight days of delight on this summer self-drive tour to Iceland's South Coast and Central Highlands. Check availability now by choosing a date.
Day 1 - 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 can grab your bags, travel through the quick and convenient terminal, and pick up your comfortable rental car.
You can then begin the short journey to Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik, the northernmost capital in the world.
On your way to Iceland's capital city, you could 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 on the Reykjanes Peninsula if you have extra free time. For example, you can visit the new lava fields at Fagradalsfjall volcano, the Bridge Between the Continents, Lake Kleifarvatn, and the Krysuvik hot springs.
The landscapes of this region are defined by their moss-covered lava fields, cone-shaped mountains, and dramatic coastline.
Once you have arrived in the city, you will check in to your accommodation and prepare for the exciting days ahead. You can also use this time to visit some of Reykjavik's most famous sites, such as Hallgrimskirkja church, the Harpa Concert Hall, and the Sun Voyager statue.
The capital of Iceland has a fantastic restaurant scene, exciting nightlife, plenty of museums, and many parks and nature reserves, providing entertainment for all kinds of visitors. Otherwise, get an early night for your adventures tomorrow.
You'll spend the night at your comfortable hotel in Reykjavik.
Day 2 - Golden Circle Sightseeing
Today, you will leave Reykjavik and start your eight-day adventure in Iceland by visiting its most popular sightseeing route, the Golden Circle.
This journey includes stops at Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall. However, as this is a self-drive tour, you are welcome to go off the beaten track and visit lesser-known attractions that travelers on guided excursions may miss.
Thingvellir National Park is where Iceland's parliament, the 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 exposed above the ground.
At Thingvellir National Park, it is possible to add on a snorkeling tour in Silfra Fissure. The water in this spring has nearly 328 ft (100 m) visibility and is often described as one of the top snorkeling and scuba diving sites worldwide.
A dry suit will protect you against the cold water and help you float, providing a relaxing experience.
The next stop on the Golden Circle is Geysir Geothermal Area, home to the famous exploding hot spring of Strokkur. Strokkur erupts every five to ten minutes, shooting jets of boiling water high into the air.
While waiting to photograph this geyser going off, guests are advised to check out some of the other forty steaming volcanic vents that can be found in the area.
The final stop of the Golden Circle is Gullfoss, the country's most famous waterfall. Here, guests will watch in awe as roaring glacial water cascades over two rocky steps, dropping 105 feet (32 meters) into the rocky canyon below.
From the car park at Gullfoss, it is possible to upgrade your tour once again with a snowmobiling tour on Langjokull 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 and experience the incredible vistas seen from above.
You will spend the night at your accommodation in Southwest Iceland this evening.
Day 3 - Discovering the Icelandic Highlands
Today, you will enter the Landmannalaugar Nature Reserve, located in the Central Highlands of Iceland. Landmannalaugar is a hiking paradise with spectacular landscapes and natural hot springs you can bathe in.
This stunning mountainous region is only accessible in the summer, and getting there is a bumpy but exciting drive. If you did not opt for a four-wheel drive rental or would rather have someone else drive, you can arrange a super jeep to take you to Landmannalaugar instead.
In this case, a friendly guide will pick you up from the designated meeting point close to the reserve. After driving you across the more challenging parts of the route, which may include a river crossing, they will guide you on a small-group tour on a breathtaking hike, with time to enjoy the hot springs at the end.
By taking this option, you will also have their expert local guidance to learn about and discover the area.
One of the most striking features of Landmannalaugar is its colorful mountains. They are painted with vibrant hues like red, orange, and yellow, making it seem like a magical painting come to life.
Once you arrive, you can embark on exciting hiking trails that take you through this awe-inspiring landscape. The paths wind through rugged valleys, past gushing hot springs, and up steep mountainsides.
Along the way, you'll witness stunning views of vast lava fields, sparkling glaciers, and even the occasional puff of steam from geothermal activity.
One of the highlights of Landmannalaugar is its natural hot springs. These warm pools of water are perfect for a relaxing dip after a long hike. Imagine soaking in the soothing warmth while surrounded by the wild beauty of Icelandic nature—it's truly a rejuvenating experience.
Remember to bring sturdy shoes, warm clothing, and plenty of food and water when visiting Landmannalaugar, as facilities are limited in this remote area. And remember your camera to capture the unforgettable sights that await you in this natural wonderland!
You will spend the night at the same accommodation as the previous day.
Day 4 - 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 Skogafoss waterfalls, and Reynisfjara black sand beach, but you will also have the chance to add on either a glacier hike or an ice cave.
Seljalandsfoss will be the first stop of the day. This 197 feet (60-meter) high feature has 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.
Skogafoss, a little further up the road, is the same height but much wider. Visitors here can climb the adjacent staircase to gain many perspectives of this incredible waterfall.
Further along the coast, you will come across the scenic fishing village of Vik i Myrdal, an excellent spot to grab some lunch and even do a little souvenir shopping. Next to the village, you can visit Reynisfjara black sand beach, known for its dark volcanic sand and the strange hexagonal basalt stacks in the nearby cliffs.
You can also see the Reynisdrangar sea stacks from here, which are said to be trolls in Icelandic folklore.
It is possible to upgrade the day with an adventurous activity. One option might be to try glacier hiking at Solheimajokull Glacier, offering you the chance to experience the exciting challenges of ascending an ice cap.
Such an adventure provides incredible views over the South Coast and the chance to see features such as crevasses, ice walls, and formations.
Alternatively, you could visit Katla ice cave, one of the only ice caves in Iceland accessible during the summer months. Stepping inside these caverns provides incredible insight into the glaciers, and the tour is even more exciting, considering that it occurs over an active volcano.
You will be spending the evening at accommodation in South Iceland.
Day 5 - Vatnajokull National Park & Jokusarlon Glacial Lagoon
Today, you will experience the beauty of Vatnajokull National Park, found further along the South Coast and named after the glacier that dominates the landscape. In fact, Vatnajokull glacier is the largest ice cap in Europe, and its forces create your primary destinations.
The Skaftafell Nature Reserve is your first attraction and is a spectacular place, filled with snow-capped mountains, shimmering ice caps, and lush green forests.
You can go on exciting walks through these beautiful landscapes, marveling over mighty waterfalls that cascade down from towering cliffs, creating a breathtaking sight. Whether you're an adventurer or just love exploring nature's beauty, Skaftafell is a paradise you won't want to miss.
For 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 next stop of the day is the amazing Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, a vast lake separating the sea and a glacier. Thousands of enormous icebergs fill these waters, gradually floating to the open Atlantic Ocean.
You can appreciate the lagoon from the shoreline or upgrade with either a speedy Zodiac or a slower Amphibian boat tour.
Boat tours take you to the icebergs, putting them into scale as you gaze up at the massive glacier above you. Boat trips also provide a new perspective of the resident seals who call the lagoon home— these curious creatures make a regular appearance here, so keep your eyes peeled!
A short walk from Jokulsarlon is a stretch of black sand shoreline decorated with hundreds of washed-up icebergs called the Diamond Beach. This area is fascinating 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 in Southeast Iceland.
Day 6 - Back To The Capital
On day six, you'll travel to Reykjavik along the South Coast. Though you will have taken this drive in reverse before, there are plenty more attractions to see.
The Sigoldugljufur Canyon in South Iceland is a hidden gem that will leave you in awe! As you wander the canyon's edge, you'll witness towering cliffs adorned with vibrant green moss. The crystal-clear river flowing through the canyon adds a touch of serenity to the surroundings.
If you're up for an adventure, you can even hike into the canyon and explore its hidden corners. Because of all its waterfalls, it's called the Valley of Tears.
Dyrholaey is a magnificent rock arch that curves into the ocean. It is large enough that some pilots have even flown through it. In summer, this is one of the best places in Iceland to go puffin-watching!
If you time up the ferries, you can even go to the Westman Islands. These volcanic islands offer a unique and unforgettable experience. The puffins also make their homes here, and you can spot them nesting in the cliffs.
Don't miss the chance to hike up Eldfell, a volcano that erupted in 1973, and enjoy panoramic views of the archipelago. You can learn how the town was dramatically evacuated at the nearby Eldheimar museum.
Stokkseyri is a charming coastal village on the South Coast. Known for its tranquility, this little gem offers a glimpse into the authentic Icelandic way of life. Stroll along the sandy shore, where you might spot seals basking in the sun.
The village is also home to the fascinating Icelandic Sea Monster Museum, where you can learn about mythical creatures that are said to inhabit the surrounding waters.
You can forgo some of these sites to get to the 'Into the Volcano Tour' on time. This once-in-a-lifetime experience has you taken into the magma chamber of a volcano on a mine shaft to witness its spectacular, colorful interior. There is no other tour like this on earth, so booking is highly recommended.
You'll spend the night in Reykjavik.
Day 7 - Free day in Reykjavik
Today, the city is your oyster! Now that you're back to civilization after six days of adventure, it's time to soak in some culture, basking in Reykjavik's vibrant social and arts scenes.
One of the best ways to maximize today is to purchase a 24-Hour Reykjavik City Card, allowing you free access to numerous exhibitions, institutions, and all public transport and providing discounts on shopping and dining.
Thankfully, the city has many galleries and museums, such as the National Gallery of Iceland/Listasafn Islands, The National Museum of Iceland, and Whales of Iceland.
You may also visit the Settlement Exhibition, where you can gain a deeper insight into this country's rich and fascinating history, or spend a few hours learning about Iceland's fishing heritage at the Maritime Museum.
If you want to fill your day partaking in tours from the city, you can opt in for an afternoon helicopter tour, flying out from Reykjavik Domestic Airport to make a landing on a nearby mountain peak.
Seeing Reykjavik and its surroundings from the air is a true marvel, packed with adrenaline, and will surely be one of your holiday highlights.
Alternatively, you could check out the man-made ice tunnel built under Langjokull glacier, providing great insight into the strange, glittering, and underground world of Iceland's ice caps.
You still have your car, so why not drive out to see other areas like the Snaefellsnes Peninsula or West Iceland?
Nighttime in Reykjavik sees the city's bars and music scene come alive, with happy hour prices overlapping with live performances downtown. Whatever your taste, be it blues, hip-hop, or classical, you'll find something you like!
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 Tjornin.
For your final night in Reykjavik, you will stay in the same accommodation as the previous night, saving you the hassle of packing up and switching locations.
Day 8 - Departure & Car Drop-Off
It's your final day in Iceland, and it's time to say goodbye, at least for now!
If you've got time to spare before your flight, you can have a final appreciation of the city before beginning the journey across Reykjanes to Keflavik 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 and 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 last 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?
You'll also need to cross the Reykjanes Peninsula to reach Keflavik International Airport so you can make some stops along the way. The area has spectacular geological and geothermal attractions and some historic fishing villages.
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.
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.
Some optional activities might require you to have 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 snorkeling.
Although it is summertime, the Icelandic weather can be very unpredictable. Please bring appropriate clothing.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.